“Arey Ammi, please, you are pushing your bag on my lap. As it is I have my luggage. Can’t you see? I have been trying to be good with you and all you can do is push. Please, please keep it with yourself” The man seemed flustered. In his mid twenties, clean shaven and wearing a smart blue shirt, the office goer had every reason to feel so. The lady beside him was one of the typical pushy ladies who take the whole world for granted. With silver streaking her scalp and pan staining her mouth, she was dressed in an old salwar. There was no jewellery on her body except the unusual pair of ear rings dangling from her ears. They were huge. Not one to be pushed back by life or even her co passenger, the lady replied,
“Arey beta, it’s just a small bag, you should hold it. I am your mother’s age. Why are you making such a big deal about it? My joints are anyways giving me a taste of hell. Why do you want to add to it? Can’t you help a poor woman? They took my son and you are not helping either. Good. See? Now you are being a nice boy. Hold it while I rest my legs a bit” The man was almost red with anger now. He was breathing heavily and sweating profusely but he looked out of the window. The woman continued, “You look like a religious fellow, a true follower of Allah. Tell me, do you think what they are doing is right? You know who I am. I am the mother of Aslam Khan, whom they have convicted of terrorism. I say he is innocent. The real culprits are the ones who made him one. But the governments, they have nothing to do but to punish the innocents. They don’t even let me see him. His father doesn’t want to talk to him. And I struggle, struggle every day to get a view of him. But…. Now you tell me, son, whose fault is it? Why is my son being punished? Because, he was caught with a gun in a bag? A big gun he was transporting? Sometimes I feel like having my revenge by punishing them for ruining my family. Sometimes, I get this feeling you know, of making them all cry. Maybe get a bomb myself and wipe out an entire area. But sadly I am just an old woman. All I can do is wish, try and wonder if revenge would ever be possible.”
The man looked at her. She did not look like someone who could ever harm anyone. But he had known people who had gone to dangerous extents to have revenge. He smiled. That was the least he could do. He looked at his watch. He did not want to be late for his appointment. But he felt bad for the woman. He got up to leave. But the woman was blocking his exit. She looked at him with a look his mother would have.
“My son,” the woman said, “If it wasn’t for the fear of the blood of innocents, I would have placed a bag under the seat, just like you. Ab buss beta, enough of this anger and revenge. Think about it son, think about your family, and the families of others you are setting out to wrong.”
He couldn’t meet her gaze. There was a strange rebuke in the way she was speaking to him but an equally strange hint of love and understanding.
“Pick it up, son, there is still time. There is always time.”
He did not know why but he picked up the bag, maybe he simply could not meet the woman’s gaze or maybe he understood her feelings. And maybe he was just over come with remorse. He walked away as the driver shouted, “This is not your private bus, smartass, get moving…out.”
“Man found drowned in Powai Lake”. An article in a small corner on the third page of a leading daily the very next day.
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