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Silent Devastation

Prahlad, Rita, form, silence, ward, blood, life, vital

In the night, in the absolute calmness, there lay a human form drenched in blood from tip to toe. Neither a wail nor shriek resulted from devastation so brutal in proportion. Such has been the raucous discord of our age. Peace and calmness drenched in blood.

The calmness was shattered by a wailing police van. Out jumped men in uniform and the torchbearers. They examined and strolled around. Few paces away, they spotted a tea-vendor, whose flickering lantern drew the uniformed men to him. The tea-vendor about to close his day’s account was asked to follow to the police-post. “For what fault”, he dared to ask. For keeping the eyes and ears closed. “Who are our eyes and ears?” he dared further. The uniformed men by then found the tea so nourishing that his question appeared rather irrelevant. They found no point in waiting any further as their shift was coming to a close. They patted and warned the tea-vendor, asked his name, number et. al. And left.

The stillness disturbed by the strutting men prevailed soon, as the night wrapped itself in another layer of darkness. By then the oozing blood had begun to coagulate. The limpid form had begun to get blind to life forces. Amidst strewn glasses, metal pieces and what remained of the bike, there lay just another mechanical structure. Gasoline and engine oil had mixed with blood.

Then it began to rain. The calm night became musical. The flashes of thunder added to the orchestra. The night was still, calm, silent and dark. Thunder and rain made it furious. Thunder subsided. Rain stopped but the night continued.

Water is life. It is sometimes even the ambrosia of life. There appeared a movement in the mechanical form. A split of a life had penetrated the meshy form composed of flesh, bones, marrow and water. A light guttural voice emanated from the spot. Perhaps the life was too thimble to be apprehended by matter as it slowly lost its brass to the huge, dark, silent and calm night splashed by the blowing wind.

A good samaritan had dialed 100 and coolly slipped out of the scene, before the police van arrived. Later that night he went to sleep with a cool conscience, which his not so cool wife might have wrecked. He narrated to his wife, the gory details of an unwitnessed accident, he witnessed accidentally, just having parted the company of a widowed lady, whose company and companionship he had nurtured even before the lady was married. He went imaginatively even to the details of how a truck had hit the poor soul and further to the extent of the police interrogating him for hours together. The suspicious wife inveighed him for venturing out late in the night. “What if he were in place of that poor soul?” she reprimanded. And the two of them put off the light and slipped inside the quilt.

Later that night, an ambulance arrived and the mangled form thrown on the stretcher was shoved inside the van. The oozing limbs almost dropping down held on to sinewy ligaments. The honking van forged ahead in the darkness, breaking the silence of the dead night and rushed straight for the casualty ward, before two uniformed men had to be woken out of their slumber. A routine note was made, of what was just a few hours ago, a vibrating human form. From the blood stained pocket, a diary could be retrieved, which gave the vital clue.
Name: Prahlad Singh.
Age: 32 years
Job: Marketing Executive for M/S Global exports, Delhi
Marital Status: Married
Residence: D-16, Janata Apartment, Vikaspuri

Having noted the details over the lost 45 minutes, the cops on duty went to sleep again. Meanwhile, the stretcher was being taken to the casualty ward for the body to be piled amidst a seriesed stretch of similar forms identified by number and date, where in the morgue it could languish for days on end.

Rita Singh, the wife of the victim couldn’t bear the shock of the news bluntly conveyed and fainted, even as the two young kids –3 and 1-oblivious to the enormity of the misfortune befalling them remained absorbed in the little world of their own.

The sudden and silent devastation had robbed Rita Singh of her emotional expression. The fury of silence is never any less devastating. Her next 24 hours passed in tearless wreck.

Miracles do take place. Even as the mangled form of Prahlad Singh was being consigned to the darkest cellar, an intern on a routine night duty casually examined his pulse, which indicated, all was not lost. Immediately thereafter the mangled form in suspended coma was transferred to the emergency ward, amidst a labyrinth of life saving devices, connecting what remained of the mangled vital organs.

Matter colluded with spirit. Liquid and chemicals, and oxygen interacted through fine needles to trap and reinvigorate what little remained of the elan vital.

Doctors gave another week before the hide and seek played by life and death could be concluded. An inconsolable Rita Singh, followed by the two wide- eyed kids and a motley of non-plussed relatives, sat motionless on the wooden bench, just outside the emergency ward, in a state women are prone to befall, when confronting a mighty cataclysm.

Gigantic cataclysm reflected its true proportions through the nimble form of Rita Singh, even as drip by drip vital salt saturated in water made a desperate bid to penetrate through the ruptured veins of Prahlad Singh’s form on the bed of needles.

Seventy two hours later, Prahlad Singh was still in coma, when one by one, the relatives tied to him by blood or the blood of his children vanished in the big world outside, leaving Rita Singh and her two children to their fate. On the fourth day, she shrugged up her victimized countenance to run the errands of life.

The first thing she did was to contact M/S Global Exports, whose proprietor Dharamveer Gulati had already been informed of the accident. Gulati refused to meet her. She persisted and kept sitting there for the whole day, when at the end of the working day, she was curtly informed that Prahlad Singh was on leave on 21st August- the day, he met with the accident. She could do nothing more than scream `noooo’. They asked her to leave as the office was being closed. The next day she reached the office, even before it opened and insisted on meeting Dharamveer Gulati, who refused to see her. The Personnel Manager called her in later and directed her to the accountant. The accountant handed her Rs. Six thousand ($125) as twenty days’ salary and made her sign the register.

The instinctual fight for survival arises in even the meekest of creatures, when nothing appears beyond the dead end. Such was the state of Rita Singh to whom Rs 6000/- gave enough breathing space to continue her fight. Now she insisted that Prahlad was on official duty on 21st August and created a scene in the office.

Meanwhile, Dharamveer Gulati along with the senior officials of the company had tampered the papers to ensure Prahlad was on leave on 21st August. His earlier leave application lying with the personnel manager was hurriedly digged out. Dates were tampered to show Prahlad was on leave on 21st August.

Rita Singh distinctly remembered the parting statement of Prahlad that he would come late in the night from office. Now Rita Singh threatened to report the matter to the police and move the court, which had hardly any impact on the system bound by watertight rules, regulations, evidences and proof. She was politely requested to leave the office, do anything she wanted to do and not vitiate the working atmosphere of the office. She sat on a hunger strike just outside the office, which had no more impact than the curious passers by glancing at her with an emotion mixed in amusement and pity.

Two days later, her two little kids also joined her. By now, the volunteers of Nari Dakshta Andolan had begun to frequent her. She was now under a makeshift tent in the company of her kids and a couple of placard wielding women from Nari Dakshta Andolan.

The heat of events was picking up when Dharanveer Gulati invited her to his office. The women activists warned her against arriving at any understanding. Dharamveer Gulati asked her price. “Prahlad back in working condition”, she replied. Dharamveer repeated his question offering two wads of Rs50/- currency notes. She refused to even touch them. The amount was increased, which did not move her a bit. Dharamveer offered Rs 50,000/- with a `take it or leave it condition’. Rita Singh thought for a moment, but foresaw no chances of a further bargain and accepted the offer.

Dharamveer Gulati reckoned that approximately similar amount might perhaps be needed to hush-up the matter at the post-mortem stage.

The next day, there was the tent. There were placard wielding women activists but Rita Singh and her two kids were missing. By the evening the tent and the placard-wielding women activists had also vanished.

The same evening, the doctors attending Prahlad Singh decided to disconnect the life support system, as he had no chances of survival. None from Prahlad`s family was there, when the life support system was being disconnected at 6:03 P.M.

A hurriedly concluded post-mortem report contained the crucial phrase, `heavy concentration of alcohol found in the blood’. Rita Singh had the chance to read the report. She re-read each word of that crucial report. Who would know better than her that despite all the weak and strong aspects of his character, Prahlad had never touched alcohol.
Published: 2006-12-25
Author: Ajit Jha

About the author or the publisher
I am a writer with 15 years experience having worked in Times of India and several other publishing groups. I am of the opinion that amongst the several other roles I have as an author, the most primary one is to use writing for creating evolved human beings and a pacifist world order. Although I have an experience in different genres, I prefer these days to write on spiritual, motivational and self-help subject matters.

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