Satyarth Pandita

dear diary

In the darkest hour of the night, amidst the shrill cries and yells, the last caravan took off to an unknown destination. A chain of trucks and cars followed each other like ants following the trail of pheromones left behind by leading ants. The scent that each unit of this caravan emitted was of fear and horror. Inside the womb of these mechanical travellers were people, cattle, furniture, books and memories that formed the central part of the smuggling paraphernalia. The caravan passed through the tunnels, over the bridges, along the rivers, and beside the rocks. People remained in the murk, not knowing when the night gave over to the daylight. The tarpaulin cover of the vehicles kept them aloof from the outside world. After an exhausting journey preceded by the mental trauma of the events, the caravan came to a halt.

Sunlight greeted the beings when someone lifted the tarpaulin cover of the truck from outside. They deboarded the vehicles. The sunlight of the day was appealing at that time of cold winters. It infused life in lifeless beings. A small boy deboarded the truck at last whose face was dirty and bruised and his clothes tattered. A man helped the boy come out of the truck. The boy saw before him a throng of people, his people. The swarm of people brought the image of a giant beehive that he had seen back in his home. There were camps set all around the place. People were looking for their lost ones. Some met their relatives who had fled earlier, whereas others could not make it. The boy did not look out for anyone. He had witnessed the moments of his parents' final destination.

The place bore a stench which was inconceivable to the mankind. It reeked of urine, and the droppings of the cattle enhanced the stench. People stank of sweat and dirty clothes. The boy made his way through the rows and columns of the puny canvas tents, like a rat in an underground tunnel looking for a way out. Old folks kept themselves busy with wailings and their hubble-bubble. As the sun of this place struck noon, the food distributing volunteers showed up. The people rushed to get their hands on whatever that could keep them alive for the day. The families who owned the apple orchards now found solace in the rotten lots, as long as it kept them going. Among the big and sturdy build people, the small boy failed to secure food for himself. He sat at one corner on his haunches, watching people munch like cows. The agonizing cries of hunger forced him to steal the food from a tent whose inhabitants lay asleep. An amateur that he was, he got caught by a man who happened to enter the tent during his act. The boy got frightened by seeing the man. He was tall and good looking with a peculiar nose and dark moustache that complimented his persona.

"Never steal, boy", the man said in a solemn voice.

The boy could not utter a word out of sheer fear and guilt. The man then handed out some fruits to the boy and asked him to visit the nearby field the next morning.

Day gave over to the night, and the boy gazed at the twinkling stars. He wondered if the stars were twinkling or shivering just like his parents had shivered till they did no more. He looked up and questioned the presence of the supreme being who watched it all and still chose to remain silent.

Next morning, the boy along with the other boys of the neighbourhood gathered in a small cobbled field. The boy sat cross-legged as did the others.

The man with a peculiar nose and thick moustache, better known as Masterji appeared with a black chart paper and white chalk box. He taught the kids and boys of the camps, so they didn't turn to wrongdoings.

The radiance of the glowing sun lit his face. It lent enchanting charisma to him. Masterji began with a monologue.

"You all are the torch bearers of our community. You all have survived the mayhem. Some of you have also lost your friends and families. You have lost your possessions, but you all possess the greatest wealth of wisdom. And only by education can you all know the true worth of your possession. 'They' chose the arms against us, but we shall choose the weapon of the wise."

Masterji took a ballpoint pen out of his pocket and raised it to the crowd.

"This shall be our weapon. We all will begin from today writing a journal entry of the events of the past and the struggles of our life. We won't let the darkness of that night deprive us of our identity. People will hear about us. Who we were and what became of us? You all possess the potential to grow into truly great people. Let each of your diaries be a source of hope, inspiration, dream and ambition for others. You all shall see yourself grow with the growth of your writing. Don't worry if now the people don't listen to your voices and pleas because you all will have your diary ever ready to accept anything or everything that you have to say. Let your fear, sadness, joy and questions refect in your writings. Don't let yourself get trapped in the web of hate and anger, rather try to turn the negative experience into a positive aspect of life because 'it is not what happens to us that matters, but how we deal with it'." "Remember", masterji continued. "A poet once said 'I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.'"

After the speech concluded, Masterji handed over paper and pencil to the small crowd. The boys had found a new friend, a new hope.

They held their weapons in hand and wrote on top of the page 'Dear Diary'.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Satyarth Pandita is a BS-MS undergraduate student in Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal. He is doing his major in Biological Sciences. He has a keen interest in science, literature and cinema. For him, the journey of writing began with sending short stories and paintings to 'Springer'(Monthly Children's Magazine) and now many of his short stories, essays and articles have been published in the state newspaper like 'Daily Excelsior', and in 'Kitaab' magazine. He keeps posting his write ups on his blog panditasatyarth.wordpress.com. Follow Satyarth on twitter: @panditasatyarth