Amidst The Rubble

When the shouts for a revolt pierced across 1944 India, it was time to stop the natives from demolishing the British rule. Brent Allard Brooks, a British journalist, is secretly appointed as a spy by the Governor of Maharashtra to tell about the whereabouts of a particular village which has been suspected of having suspicious activities regarding freedom struggle. Disguised as a writer of a newspaper, he requests a local girl to guide him in the village. The problem occurs when his heart begins thump for the native girl involved in the freedom struggle...

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1. Prologue

Prologue

15 September 1945

This would be the last remnant of my existence you would see.

 I want you to bear this last part of me in your wounded palms and carry it with you until the day you break the chains around this land free. Mark my words for I shed my blood for you. My soul throbs on this land and it won’t rest peacefully till the day I see the blood of freedom smeared across your skin.

Each and every drop of red, splattered on the earth, is a shout for freedom, for liberty by our mother land.

Shhh, keep silent and listen to her struggle... Struggle to breathe, struggle to see, struggle to live! Keep your ears open. Her screams are louder than the sound of rifle.

The dead underneath are twisting with rage. REVENGE- they are shouting. FREEDOM- they are screaming.

The thumping footsteps from foreign land- it did not shudder them! It did not shudder me! It should not shudder you!   

Witness my death, that’s my last wish I want you to fulfil. Watch the blood rip out of my veins, taste it when it splatters on you and remember its smell. Memorise every ounce of second of my death- your fellow companion’s death- being brutally slaughtered for fighting for his mother’s land.

The day you take these bloody hands to smear the enemy’s hearts out, recall my blood- the dripping ode to freedom-, recall its taste- how bitter it was to be another soul dying at the feet of the devil’s children-, and recall its smell- how strong it was, tears were pricking out.

My sacrifice shall not go waste.

Netaji Bose said- You give me blood and I will give you freedom!

He gave up his blood instead and joined the brave souls who gave up their breaths so we could breathe.

It’s time to avenge all the souls who died smelling the dirt of their blooded boots.

It’s time for us to sweat blood.

It’s time for freedom.

Jai Hind!

Govindraj Deshmukh

The pen remained intact to the last tip of his name. Ink slowly seeped into the paper, forming a tiny cloud of blot on it. The crumpled paper which dropped from the pocket of the red-uniformed police man became his only source of giving his last message to the people of his region who would have to live, for a few more years, under the harsh autonomy of the colonials.

This was the end, it was over, everything was over but only for him. He had faith in his people, for their blood steamed as much as his did. He knew his sacrifice would not go waste. He hoped that this sacrifice would fill rage in his people because that is what they need- rage to break free.

The sound of the angry people outside the rusted walls quickly turned up his spirits. He would be seen hanging in the air any moment from now, but more than that, he needed the bullet to pierce through his skin.

Keys clattered on the iron bars.

“Enjoying this aren’t you?” Govindraj turned to face the man in red who twisted the keys to unlock the barred gate of his cell.

The red-uniformed white man showed no signs of emotions. His golden moustache that hung from his lip proudly curled round the tip and his blue eyes masked the shine of loyalty but behind it, there was something he always hid from his companions.

He stepped inside the cell, his leather boots clicking the chipped surface. The number of stars on his shoulders glittered his experience in the Indian Imperial Police. He was too young, a year younger than Govindraj, but not too young to be trusted.

“This is my last request to you,” the man whispered as he silently closed the door of the cell. The loyalty in his eyes disappeared, replaced by sympathy which was rare to be seen in other red-uniformed men. “Let me help you. You cannot do this alone, you need me. Just take my help.”

Govindraj laughed, unamused. “And trust one of the white men who wish to keep us under their feet? Never in my life.”

“Trust me, I am not like them. I don’t rejoice watching your men die-“

“So you are saying you are a traitor to your men?” Govind’s lip turned up into a devilish grin. “And why so intent on betraying your kind, may I know?”

 The white man exhaled a deep breath forcefully through his moustache, trying to maintain his calm. He intensely looked back into the black eyes which shone with amusement to watch a white man colour with emotions.

Without a word, he walked to barred window and gazed out at the patriotic natives crowded behind the closed gate of the police station, to watch another man sacrifice himself for them.

“I secretly went to one of their meetings after you got arrested,” he said, his back facing Govindraj. “Their hopes have crushed, without you, they feel helpless. They have decided to disband their plans of revolts they made with you. And without that message,” he turned around and pointed his gloved finger at the piece of paper in the prisoner’s hand, “all your hard work will turn into dust.”

The prisoner, his smile gone, watched the white man sceptically. He tightened hold around the piece paper. The colonials were harsh and brutal to the one’s demanding freedom, the years had shown. They were not to be trusted.

“You still haven’t answered my question,” he said, as emotionless as a police officer.

Looking out the window, the officer tightly closed his eyes, deeply inhaling the suffocating prison air. The only faint sound that could be heard in the cell was the sound of the people at the gate; all else was silent. The police was busy handling the crowd gathered around the station so there was no chance that some could have been around, listening to their conversation.

A lump was forming in his throat. He had to keep his emotions in check. Bring yourself together. The British man thought.

Struggling against the emotions welling up in him, he murmured, “It’s a long story. We-we don’t have time.”

The corners of Govind’s lips turned up and he peered back into the police station through the bars. No was visible in the periphery of the corridors.

“Four hours is enough to finish your fairytale. For a man who would be dead after that, it would be a pleasure to listen to a story before he dies. At least, I can imagine some adventures I didn’t have in my life.”

 The officer turned around. His blue eyes hid a life underneath the ocean of violent waves clashing against the edges. A life everyone was aloof from.  

 Govindraj knew something wasn’t right about the way this man was behaving- so un-colonial. Maybe there was some great story hidden behind the skin he was in. But, no, he shouldn’t trust him. He must be having some plan in his mind- the colonials are sly. The first time they trusted them and look where they got.

Still keeping his cool smile on his face, he sat down at the edge of the bed.

“Please, make yourself home,” he said, gesturing the man in uniform to sit on the chair in front of him. Curiosity danced in his words.

The white man hesitated, then took chair and calmly ensconced himself in it. His gaze shot towards the barred door and through it, towards the corridor, just make sure they were safe.

The man bent forward to his listener, placing his elbows on his thighs. “Promise me that you would let me help you after I tell you my story,” he whispered.

The prisoner’s eyebrows shot up mockingly, impressed. “Of course, if your tale doesn’t fail to amuse me. It sounds pretty important to you.”

Ignoring his reaction, the man’s eyes cut to a few engraving on the chipped walls. Names and words written in Hindi characters with sharp tools like nail of a finger or tip of a pen.

He gazed back at his listening companion. “Have you ever fallen in love?”

Govind gave out a loud mocking snort and laughed. “You know, I have better things to do before I die- like musing to myself like a crazy man or cursing your race- rather than talking to you about your useless beliefs.”

 “Answer me,” the man said, impatiently.

Govind started to think that this was a joke. The officers probably wanted to have some fun by making random useless enquiries to their caged pet before he died. But the seriousness in the man’s voice was difficult to ignore.  

“No,” he replied nonchalantly and laughed. “I guess you have. What is it like?”

The Firangi’s countenance turned red; his nose-red, his eyes- red. His gloved thumb swiped across the bottom of his eye, maybe wiping a tear, obscured by the lack of light entering the room.

“It’s a bullet which pierces through but leaves no visible marks behind, except for the pain which stays forever.”

A moment of silence dawned. Govind didn’t say anything. He still tried to blithely say something but felt it wasn’t right. Perplexed, he let the man continue.

“Life just twists your way as you continue to make your way through it,” he continued. “I came across many forks and chose different paths, leaving a million paths behind. Under the same stars, the same moon, the same sun, I crossed different directions. They all led me to where I am now. I have always been grateful to the merciful lord who guided me to the right way.

“But a time came when this lord hindered my way. And I wish I would have chosen a different path in that golden fork of misfortune...”

 

 

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