by Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra
For all those bravehearts, whose names are lost in the pages of history, fighting so that the people behind them never need to.
13 December, 1992.
Radha-Krishna Nursing Home.
So that nobody ever does it again.
Vinayak rubbed the bridge of his nose, as his darted from the Delivery Room to the giant clock on the yellow walls. If he would have been in his right frame of mind, he probably would have turned his nose up, haughtily. Yellow walls, seriously?
But that was the point of the matter. Not the yellow walls, but the fact that he was not in his right mind. His wife was in labour, had been since the past eleven hours, and his baby was still not showing any signs of popping out. He had been sitting in the squeaking chair of the lousy waiting area of the nursing home since the past eleven hours. His bum hurt, miserably so.
He sighed, as his fingers moved to his temple, rubbing the flesh to ease the tension locked in there. This was not where his baby was supposed to take his first breath, cry his first cry. It was supposed to be in the Agastya Hospital, one of the best, where he had booked his wife a private room, complete with all the amenities. It was supposed to be there, not in this dingy, crap Nursing Home, where probably the surgeons were mediocre at best, and the coffee in the tea room sucked, and the-
His inner ranting broke off, as he spotted Gaikwad, his junior, hurrying across the lobby. His hair was wet from the rain, and plastered to his forehead. The rain, one of the two reasons, because of which he was here right now. It was unusual, even in Bombay, to rain so heavily in the month of December. Even catastrophic, some said.
Vinayak had never really been a believer of the superstitions.
He stood up, as Gaikwad did a hurried salute.
Yeah, he saluted.
He was DCP Vinayak Chauhan, of the Bombay Police Force.
‘Sir,’ Gaikwad rasped out. ‘Sir, I have a message for you, from ACP Shirke.’ He handed Vinayak a scroll which, thankfully, was dry.
The message was short and to the point. Which Vinayak expected, because ACP Shirke wasn’t the type of man to beat around the bush. Vinayak respected and liked that.
It was the message that he didn’t like.
The Bombay Riots were the headlines of the country now. The riots were an escalation; an escalation of hostilities after large-scale protests following the Babri Masjid Demolition in Ayodhya, by Hindu Karasevaks. No street in the city was safe. The fear of mobbing, large scale vandalism, stone-pelting et cetera hung over the city like a black cloud. Dark, and unmoving.
The ACP had requested his presence in the Central Police Station. He was being asked to lead a team to the Mumbai-17 region, and evacuate the under-privileged stuck there. It was a covert mission, to be completed within the early hours of the morning.
Under normal circumstances, Vinayak would have been all for a mission like this. With his trusted Glock, he would have finished the job with ease.
He had been on too many of such evacuation missions since he had joined the Police Force as a rookie.
Except, that this wasn’t normal circumstances. His wife was due any moment, his child was about to come to this world, and he was now obligated to go on a rescue mission.
Not obligated by his senior, but by his duty, and the oath he took, to protect and serve diligently.
But, how would he forgive himself if he missed the birth of his son? He wasn’t sure he would ever, be able to.
And Mihika. She needed him. Her parents could not come from Pune due to the same riots, and there was only him with her right now. How could he leave her?
He hesitated, locking eyes with Gaikwad, who was looking at him expectantly.
There was no right or wrong to this answer. Both were equally important in Vinayak’s life; his duty and his family.
But, when he had joined the force, since that day each and every person of this magnificent city and become family to him.
He would be the one, up all night, so that they could sleep peacefully. He would be the one who would stand in front of a blazing row of bullets and gladly take them on his chest so that they never feel a bullet on their chest.
He would be the one, who would lead a mission in the early hours of fourteenth December, missing the birth of his firstborn, so that no person would ever need to do that.
And that was why he kissed Mihika’s forehead, nuzzled her bursting stomach, dolled his uniform and Glock, and stepped out in the howling winds.
So that nobody ever does it again.
So that, nobody ever does it again.
About the Author:
Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra is a prodigy author, poet and TED speaker. She is twelve years old studying in std.8th at Apeejay School, Saket, New Delhi. She has published two books and many stories and articles in magazines and journals. At the age of ten, she published a 21,000 worded anthology of stories called ‘Treasure of Short Stories’. Last year her debut Novel ‘Manhattan to Munnar’ got released. Recently she has been conferred with a title ‘PRODIGY AUTHOR’ and an ‘HONORARY DIPLOMA’ by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Sh. M Venkaiah Naidu.