The little child stood clinging on to the hand of his father as he tried to look through the crowd of people standing in the front of them.
They were all listening to some person, whom he didnt know, standing on a makeshift stage, giving a speech about some other person, whom he also didnt know.
The speech was about the heroics of this person and his bravery in battles that happened 100s of years ago.
But the little child was not bothered about all that. There was going to be a Mela after the speech, which meant he was going to get a lot of goodies to eat. He was just 10 years old and thats all he cared about.
This was an annual event and his father always went overboard in excitement, something which the little child smartly capitalized on and got himself the toys that he would have otherwise been refused on account of his father’s meager salary.
He had waited for the entire week for this day, perhaps the whole month. Plotting and planning on what he wanted to coax his father to buy him. Infact he had run all the way from the school, his schoolbag still on his shoulders to join his parents at the grounds.
He tugged at his father’s hand, “Lets go Papa, this is boring”
His Mother, who stood on his other side gave him an insistent nudge with her elbow.
“Shut Up and listen to what the Great Man is saying. He is talking about our ancestors. You should feel proud of the way your ancestors fought for the privileges you now enjoy”, his Mother chided him.
The little child frowned to himself as he adjusted his schoolbag on his shoulders.
He wondered what privileges his Mother was talking about. Yes, he went to the same school as everyone else, but his other classmates came in huge cars, whereas he had to walk five kilometers to reach the school because his Father couldn’t afford the bus fees. His other classmates had yummy stuff in their lunch boxes, while he ate two slices of bread and butter everyday because his Mother had to rush to clean up utensils in the colony adjacent to their slums.
During festivals, when other kids were flaunting new branded clothes, he was lucky enough to get something from the second’s shop near his house.
The only highlight of the year was this day. The day when he got treated with yummy food and special toys from the Mela and got to spend the whole day running around the grounds and got to sit in the small rides.
And that Man on the dais simply refused to end his speech thus proving to be the biggest obstacle between the little child and his goodies.
He looked up at his Mother deciding to make a puppy face which always caved in her resolve and thats when he noticed the stone flying through the air hitting his mother in the back.
His eyes widened with surprise, not realizing what was happening, when there was a sudden commotion all over the ground.
Stones came flying in from all sides and people started running around the grounds. He looked up at his father to ask what was happening, when he saw a soda bottle bash across his father’s face, leaving a bloody mess in its stead.
He looked around for his Mother for help and she had been pushed further away from him by the scampering crowd. A throng of people had descended on the assembled people wielding sticks and rods.
People were being beaten up by these new entrants. He watched his mother being hit a number of times on the head with a rod. He wanted to rush to save her, but his father, even though on the ground and bleeding profusely held his hand firmly, not letting him go.
“Papa, Papa”, he screamed as he tried to shake his Father out of the pain, but his Father was already closing his eyes.
“Run…..Run and Hide”, were the last words he heard from his Father, as the hand that held him went limp.
Run and Hide !!!
He looked around him, there was chaos everywhere. There was nowhere to run as all exits were blocked by people trying to get out of the grounds. He spotted an overturned cart, which was used for selling clothes. He quickly ran to the cart and got under it. He drew a jute back from the cart on the top of him which covered his tiny little body, closed his eyes and hid.
He put his hands on his ears to shut off the screams of helpless people coming from all around him as he sat there is his self made cocoon, his closed eyes imprinted with the visuals of his dying father and helplessly beaten up mother, of blood and mayhem and stones and rods.
He did not know for how long he sat there, but he opened his eyes when he felt someone moving the jute bag covering him.
He hastily reached for a stone lying next to him as he saw the face of the man, wearing white, in the front of him.
The man in white, smiled uncomfortably at him and reached out to give him a reassuring pat on his shoulder. He raised the stone in his hand making the man stop.
“Its alright, its alright… its over. I have come to help you”, said the man trying to calm him down.
“Hey guys, there is someone here….under this cart….make some space in the Ambulance for him”, the man in white shouted to someone in the background.
“Come on little child, lets go, we will get you checked up at the hospital”, said the Man in white to him in an almost endearing voice.
He ignored the outstretched hand of the man as he got up, the stone still firmly held in his hand, his eyes blank, the screams still ringing in his ears.
The Man pointed to the Ambulance waiting for them a few paces away.
“Do you know where your parents are?”, the Man asked.
He shook his head, his grip on the stone tightening as the image of his father’s bloodied face intermingled with that of a rod hitting his mother on her head.
“Nevermind, we will find them. You dont worry”, said the Man in white.
The Man tried to pull the stone out of his small hands, but his grip on it was so firm that the man had to give up.
They turned and started walking towards the Ambulance.
He stopped as his foot hit something on the ground. He looked down. It was his schoolbag.
He kept looking at the schoolbag which must have dropped off his shoulders when he had run towards the cart.
“Is this yours?”, asked the Man in white.
“No”, he said, “No, its not mine”
The man nodded as they reached the Ambulance. The man helped him up into the vehicle.
The Man in white looked at the tiny little figure sitting in the vehicle in the front of him, the blank eyes staring into nothingness ahead while the hand firmly gripped the stone even as the tiny knuckles went white.
The Man spoke to his colleague, “Take him to the Hospital, he might be hurt. And listen ….. be gentle….. he is just a child”
And he knew he was wrong even as he uttered those words.
What sat in the vehicle was the offspring of hate and violence and he could see it in those eyes. The innocence was lost ….. the child had died…….
Disclaimer: When we sow hate and violence what we reap will be products of the same. Our future generations will grow up to be what we want them to be. Lets not plant hate in their minds or we will lose an entire generation to violence and mayhem. Stop falling for hate-mongering and divisive forces……Please be a good parent…a good human, the future of our kids is in our hands.
This story, ofcourse is a work of fiction…..or is it?