He woke up with a start when the alarm tone sent disturbing waves to his eardrum. He had promised his daughter for a movie that day, but had also assured his fortunate few friends that he would join them for a trek to the steep forests. He had dreamt of trekking each time his friends fantasized and pontificated of their experiences. He hurried to the bathroom to get fresh and left a sticky note on the fridge door to his wife, that he would be back by nightfall. He entered his daughter’s room and kissed her on her forehead. The birds from the cage in that room-her pets seemed to be uncaring.
He joined his friends at the woods; his two friends bragging to each other on what food they had got for the day .They walked at an equable pace to the forest and could discern that they had stepped into it already as the trees grew thicker. The distant sounds of running streams merged with the sound of the birds chirping. The morning sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds, as the cold breeze swept across their faces. With silent steps, they enjoyed the environs of the forest and watched as the lives in forest slowly began to wake up from their slumber. They walked until afternoon and after their legs started crying, they camped at a nearby stream .Digging into their backpacks they had mouthfuls of their food and dozed off to sleep in the tent. He opened his eyes after what seemed to be an hour and joined his friends at the river bed. His two friends were reminiscing on their experiences to impress their new boss, also debating on her age.
After two hours of lazy talk on all the work that had to be scheduled at the office for the week to come, they took turns capturing each others pictures on a camera with a mixture of moods. After a while, they heard lurking footsteps at the nearby clearing. The footsteps grew louder and louder when all their senses began hunting for the source of noise.
One by one, the men appeared as though they had materialized out of thin air. Clad uniformly in their own code, each one of them pointed their weapons towards them, some rifles and some shotguns. The three friends stood motionless not able to ascertain what had just happened. The dark men handcuffed each of them. They wriggled to set themselves free from the handcuffs. From the hushed voices and accusations, it later became clear that one of the members of the gang had fled and let out the information about their hideout, to the police for his remuneration .
They mauled them and abused them asking for their identity while they began to search their backpack, the tent and at last their pockets, but to no avail. A heavy gargantuan figure pretending to be their boss ordered “Rip them fully, search thoroughly”. He stood there sternly as one of his friends was wrested a few steps to the front. The dowdy hands of an obsequious looking servant pulled down his undergarments. There was a huge uproar of laughter at the back. He stood there aghast watching his friend spit on the man’s face and kick him on his groin. The servant fell on the floor squealing with pain. The next moment, a shot from the gun deafened his ears as he watched the lifeless corpse of his stupid best friend drop to the floor. His face was splashed with his friend’s warm blood and perennial paroxysms of pain blasted through him as he began fighting his tears.
The two friends became numb, afraid and tensed at the same time, not sure of how to react. After the same checking was done unto them, they were taken to an old dilapidated building and locked into two separate rooms. He had had too much for a day. The stains of blood on his face were still wet. He wept into the night and fell asleep thinking whether he would ever go back to his family.
A platter of food was pushed from under the door in the morning. He grabbed it and gulped its contents. The dull silence of the rest of the day, the loss of his friend, thoughts about his family, all made him every bit uncomfortable. He sulked about the promise made to his daughter. He thought about the moments spent with his friends, the Sunday games and the weekend beers…….
He spent the next two days of solitary confinement in the same room ,a complete void without his friends or family. After four days, the food stopped. Water was spilled from under the door. He closed his eyes and licked the water to wet his throats. Fighting the tears that made their appearance for the second time that night, he kept telling himself “I must stay alive……….for my family”.
From the bright sun rays piercing through the windows, it was clear that it was noon and the day was hot outside. He woke up with his head pounding, realizing that he had probably overslept. He sat upright and began examining the room for some water. The trees outside began swaying and the dry leaves rustled and he could hear two helicopters approaching the building . He stood up and ran to the high raised window jumping to catch a glimpse of what was happening outside. The military men had encroached the forest and had surrounded the building.
As they began screaming threats to the gang though the loudspeakers, he heard hurried footsteps and incessant commotion inside the building. For that moment, his happiness knew no bounds and he thanked god for this unexpected blessing. He would finally be able to go back to his family…
The helpless smugglers were hauled from inside the building and apprehended. The door creaked and a group of over anxious military men pushed the door wide open. He raised his hands and started explaining himself ,panting for breath. They said “ We saw a dead body in the neighboring room. Is he your friend? “ . The paroxysms of pain erupted again. He ran to the next room and saw a thing made of bones and pale skin. It was his dead friend lying in one corner of the room. He must have been deprived of food since the day they were captured. This time there were no tears in his eyes, but dead silence in his mind. The god who had feigned to help him had betrayed him again…
He was taken to the military headquarters and asked to give a full explanation on the incidents that happened from the beginning. He was left free that morning, after a thorough investigation…………..
He came home that day and set the birds free from their cage. He had no idea how he would start the next day. …….