23 January, 2018: Like everyday, Kumud got down at her stop from the bus, today a little early as her college got over much earlier than the usual time, after a small celebration of patriotic song and dance, followed by speeches by the college authorities, owing to the birthday of the legendary freedom fighter, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. She was feeling patriotic, like every other Indian on such particular dates like 23rd January, 26th January, 15th August, 2nd October etc when they are reminded of the sacrifices made by our national heroes and freedom fighters for the sake of our motherland. As she was walking from the bus stop, towards her colony, she could hear the song “Kadam kadam baraye ja” and few children shouting Jai Hind. The sun was about to set and she always enjoyed the chirping of the birds as they return their roost. She noticed a small crowd at Bishu chacha’s tea stall discussing about Netaji, she was amused at the thought that how one man’s struggle remains to be a tea-time gossip for others, even after so many years. It takes around half an hour to reach her colony from the bus stop. Kumud usually takes a rickshaw which makes her reach home in 15 minutes but today she preferred to walk. She was feeling cold, so as she opened her bag for taking out the shawl from her bag, she saw Vinod standing under the Banyan Tree, pretending to talk to someone over the phone. This was a usual sight for Kumud. She knew Vinod loves her and stands in the same place everyday just to get a glimpse of her. But as usual, she ignored him royally. She has no feelings for a boy like Vinod who has no future. He left his studies after the 12th, after the sudden demise of his father and joined the factory as a worker, where his father worked earlier. Vinod was good in studies and dreamt to become a teacher but he had to sustain his family. His widowed mother and little sister are his responsibilty now, so he gave up his dream of pursuing higher studies and accepted the harsh reality. Vinod knew that Kumud deserves someone much better than him and has no regrets of the fact that she never acknowledged his feelings for her. All that made him happy was one sight of her and thus he stood in the same place everday. As kumud walked past Vinod and entered the next lane, she saw a bike of 3 men suddenly stopping in front of her. The daylight has already vanished and all the street lights have not not yet started glowing. Kumud felt uncomfortable as she found 3 strangers staring at her, blocking her path and making derogatory comments about her body. She started running but the bike followed and suddenly one of them pulled her hand and she fell on the road. Her knees got hurt and she started crying but that lane is usually empty. As she tried to get up, she felt someone pushed her on the road and tried to remove her dupatta. She wanted to shout but could not as someone has covered her mouth with his hand. As the man tried to jump on her, she heard a loud noise. She saw Vinod hitting the man at his head with a stick. The man left Kumud and turned back and attacked Vinod. Vinod hit him back but this time, his friends joined him and 3 of them attacked Vinod all together. Vinod fought with them and shouted at Kumud saying “for god’s sake Kumud, run, run, run”. Kumud was completely taken aback by the overall incident but she somehow managed to get up, took her bag and started running. She ran and ran and ran without looking anywhere else and somehow reached her home and fell down.
23 January, 2019
Kumud opened the gate and entered the house. She sat beside Gita aunty, clad in off- white saree sitting in front of the picture of her only son, Vinod. She had no more tears left to shed. Kumud put the garland made with Vinod’s favorite white flowers on his photoframe. The smell of the incent, the glow in Vinod’s smile and his dreamy eyes made Kumud burst in tears one more time. The more she looks at his pictures now, think about his stares when he used to wait for her, his silent way of saying her how much she meant to him, the more she is falling for him each passing day. The guilt that Vinod lost his life to the goons, the same day, last year just for saving Kumud, does not allow her to sleep at night. Vinod’s mother hugged her saying ” Don’t cry child, Vinod will be upset seeing you in tears”. Today Kumud has a lot to accomplish. Giving proper education to Vinod’s sister, taking care of his family and giving justice to Vinod. She wants to see those three men getting hanged and for that she will not keep any stone unturned. The sacrifices made by such unsung heroes like Vinod should not go in vain, at any cost.