The air is charged with tension that has been mounting in the neighbourhood for some time. An armed policeman climbs up to where I live while several cordon off the crowd below. I watch agape, oblivious to the hullabaloo that surrounds me. A strong grip on my neck ensures I lose my bearings and he quickly leads me down into the police van.
As the van pulls out, I wish they would have at least had the courtesy to explain themselves. They drive a few miles to the west and stop to bring in one more like me.
I look closely. He seems familiar. Ah, yes! We used to shelf together at the same electronics shop once upon a time. Though we came from the same factory, he was the one with better skills and a price to match.
Tongue-tied as I am, I look at him hoping he would know something about this ruckus. He seems way too lost and wearied to pass me a sign that he does. The trauma of uncertainty intensifies as I get no answers.
A sudden brake makes us tumble towards each other. The policeman mutters a curse.
“Raju, let me tell you if there are any damages due to your reckless driving, it will be deducted from your pay?”
“Not to worry Arif sa’ab, nothing will happen. Look, they are as sturdy as an oak,” the driver replies with a grin revealing his paan-stained teeth.
“Though if it were upto me I would banish them forever. Last month, my old father couldn’t sleep throughout the auspicious celebrations that lasted a week. His blood pressure shot up and the medical bills just went up the roof,” he continued.
“My daughter keeps pestering me too, to find a new house, one where her studies are not disturbed. ‘Worship comes from the heart Abba, not a loudspeaker,’ she says,” Arif commented feeling rather proud of her.
They get interrupted by a loud bang on the roof. A group of agitated people is pelting stones at us. Raju takes a sharp u-turn and Arif reaches for the microphone to alert his headquarters. The conversation that follows clears up my confusion.
I understand that there has been some violence instigated due to our work and it is us who are being labelled as the ‘trouble-makers’.
I feel as if a sharp knife has scratched my surface. It’s not as if we ask for all the pomp and show. Why blame us when they can always keep the volume down?
‘For Decibel’s sake people, grow up!’ I wished to blare.He also mentions an upcoming election and that how we will eventually be returned to our respective sacred places. All would be well until someone decides to raise the bogey of ‘community in peril’ once again.
Labelled a criminal, I am heartbroken.
I turn towards my partner-in-crime. At last, we exchange an understanding look!
Afterall we are creations of the same maker, aren’t we?
Connect with Penmancy:
Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!