Lollipops in their hands Ravi and Paresh, licked merrily at their precious possessions. The fourth standard boys of the government school returned home every day, through these by lanes.
Paresh suddenly suggested to Ravi, “Let’s pass by the market today; we haven’t done window shopping for a long time.”
Ravi nodded in consent; and both friends laughing happily, deviated from their usual path and took the detour.
Their enjoyment multiplied as they gazed with astonishment at the various electronic toys and robotic games, displayed at the large windows. There were many customers inside the shops, mostly children around their own age.
The admiration on the faces of Ravi and Paresh; were proof enough of their limited resources, and satisfaction derived as onlookers. These ten year old kids are testimony to the fact; that small things in life bring immense pleasure; to the less privileged.
They had walked nearly quarter of a mile from the market; when they heard a loud, deafening sound. They tripped and fell flat on the wayside by its impact. Terrified; they looked behind and saw massive balls of fire and black smoke billowing from the shops, along with shrills and shrieks of humans.
Ravi after gaining his foothold; grabbed Paresh’s arm, and scampered near a shed.
Bewildered, they gaped at each other for some time.
Paresh then spoke in a hoarse voice, “Something terrible happened, I believe.”
Ravi nodded in agreement, “It’ll be dangerous to move out from this place now.”
They both looked around, it was a tiny, dark place with a tin roof, hay stacked in a corner; with insects buzzing all around. There was a small window on the other side, above the haystack.
They peeped, and Paresh whispered, “The road is empty. How do we reach home?”
Ravi interrupted Paresh, “The police have blocked the road. Can’t you hear the sirens of ambulances and police vans?
Paresh started crying, “Sorry Ravi. I suggested the market trip, and landed you in this trouble.”
“Don’t cry Paresh,” Ravi empathized with his friend, “Let’s think of a plan to get out of this area soon.”
Paresh sobbed, “How? We do not have any access to anyone; we’re completely blocked from the outside world.”
He suddenly felt something warm flowing between his legs, and was embarrassed.
Ravi in order to lighten the discomfort of his friend; went behind the haystack, turned around and giggled, “Peace at last! Even I wanted to desperately relieve myself.”
They both sat and chatted about the events at school. It seemed that they were oblivious to the dastardly acts that have taken place a while ago, but their pure minds have been scarred forever.
Both friends; as they spoke could not forget the sordid scenes of death and destruction, people lying on the road, blood splattered all around. Ravi was overwhelmed by the sight of the severed torso that was flung high in the air by the blast, and Paresh visualized a small head rolling on the road.
It had turned dark outside and they had no idea about the time that had passed by. The pangs of hunger had crept in, and the faces of their worried, grieving mothers engulfed their thoughts. Suddenly they heard footsteps and hushed whispers outside the shed.
Firmly holding hands, they stood up, fear writ large on their faces. A beam of flashlight hit on their eyes; blinding their vision. A man spoke in a low but agitated tone, “What are you fellows doing here?”
Paresh stammered; out of fright. Ravi narrated the incident to the two men, who stood in front of them. One of them was in the attire of a policeman, and the other; a short, stout man in a black trouser and a dirty vest.
The policeman continued, “How do you plan to go home now? The entire area has been cordoned off; the roads are blocked by policemen.”
The other man whispered to the policeman, “Once I finish my work here, we’ll take these two boys through the narrow arterial road, and climb the courtyard wall behind the large house. I know the way to the front entrance of the house which opens on the main road, it’ll be safe there”.
They all looked at one another and the boys heaved a sigh of relief. At last they can go home, after today’s horrific experience. Quietly, after some time, they left the place, following the policeman through the dark lane.
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