A semi-unconscious Bilal was handcuffed to the chair, in the center of a dark, empty cellar. The rag gagging his mouth was soaked in blood, while open wounds seeped blood. An army intelligence officer, Bilal was trapped by insurgent forces three days ago and been subjected to inhumane torture since.
A creaking of the door, followed by steady footsteps brought his senses back. A tall, aged, masked man approached Bilal, removed the rag and punched him in the guts.
“Wake up, coward.”
Bilal spit out blood and in a tired yet determined voice retorted, “What are you going to do now that your brothers haven’t done and failed?”
“Open up some old wounds Bilal. Maybe tell you that I am the one who killed your father and now, I get to do the same honors for you!”
Bilal screamed in agony and anger. His long-forgotten childhood flashed in front of his eyes. Memories of the little time he spent with his dad, an army officer himself, came gushing down. The sadness of the day when five-year-old Bilal was told that his father was abducted, tortured and burnt alive by the militia engulfed his soul again. The deluge of emotions made him try to get up from the chair and reach for the masked man’s throat but the effort was quickly thwarted by a blow to his head. Bilal fell down on the floor, still tied to the chair.
“You are like your father, brave, passionate yet predictable.”
“Why did you kill my father?” yelled Bilal.
“It had to be done, need of the hour as they say,” said the man while withdrawing a sharp blade from its sheath.
He knelt down close to Bilal’s face and whispered.
“I killed him because the war, the country required it to be done. I killed him so that you would stay away but you turned out to be adamant just like him. I killed him to save you Billu because the country needed him to go undercover within the militia and weaken them from inside and it was easier if neither of us had a hope of seeing each other ever again, my son.”
He removed the mask and Bilal could recognize the withered, wrinkled face behind it.
“Yes, twenty years of staying undercover and I finally see you like this Billu,” he uncuffed Bilal and quickly gave him the dagger and a gun. “There’s a door at the back, move quick, I have arranged an extraction team for you 500 yards south.”
“Come along Papa, let’s go home.”
“I can’t. I am in too deep and this cover cannot be blown. You need to protect it like I did with my life. You should be the brave Indian soldier who took down his captors and embraced freedom.”
“I don’t understand Pa..” Bilal had barely finished his sentence when his father pulled Bilal’s hand towards himself driving the dagger into his guts, saying, “I always loved you Billu….”
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