Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Compensation

She felt lonely.She felt cheated.She felt as if an invisible hand was suffocating her breathing space.

It happened like that.

Aditi's usual mornings were full of excitement.She had  loving parents,a sweet sister Neeti and a responsible brother Aditya. She was in class VIII at that time -the most unfortunate year of her life-1990.That day was a just another day in her life.She dressed up for school.She helped her mother pack her lunch for the three siblings and papa and then started for school.

Aditi's school was at a walkable distance from her home(hardly 3-4 minutes).It was a pleasant October morning.As soon as she reached the school premises ,she was exuberantly delighed to see the gate shut with this"The school will remain closed due to the Mandal Commission Riots taking place all around Delhi till further notification by the government."

"What is this Mandal Commission ,"she wondered for a while and discussed with all her friends going back .None clearly knew.
How could they?They were hardly thirteen or fourteen years of age.
But one thing was sure.It must have been something serious because as they all reached their homes ,their parents heaved a sigh of relief .

Days passed .
The first few days were like summer holidays in October.Surprisingly there was no holiday homework.The days would just pass in idle conversations with Neeti and her mother(she being a teacher was also lucky enough to have this sudden holiday fun).

Mother was glad that they were safely home.She explained to the children that India was burning.
The new VP Singh Government had implemented The Mandal Commission which gave the people from the reserved category a higher reservation in educational institutions and jobs but the other ones, espeacially the middle class and poor yet elite caste general category people were commiting suicides against the VP Singh government to take back their decision.

The hired mercenaries :policemen were using all kinds of ill methods from lathis ,dandas and teargas shells to disperse the angry crowd and defeat themwhenever they showcased their solidarity.

"But why is mummy telling me all this ?How does it matter to me?We are safe at home,"mused the bored Aditi.Neeti was busy in chewing her nail disinterestedly.Aditya  Bhaiya was out with his friends.He recently had made a new girlfriend.In the days of no mobliles and facebook the only way to carry on with a relationship was  meeting secretly which was surely quite a task.They would meet in shoddily made restaurants and public parks due to the strict monitoring of the one hundred and fifty rupees a month pocket money.

As Aditi moved away from her mother so that she may further not be instructed and enlightened about the Current affairs of Delhi,the doorbell rang.It rang and it rang.Which idiot is pressing the doorbell again and again...even mother was losing her calm.

She went up and opened the door.It was Sahil,Aditya's friend.He was in a bad shape .His dull brown complexion was full of dirt ,sweat and blood.His blue shirt was torn at places and his nostrils were oozing out filthy half-dried blood.
"What happened Sahil?,"asked Mother in desperation.
"I'll explain it later aunty.Please come with me."

He held mother's hand and took her out .Just outside the house were standing two hefty policemen with Aditya's body in their hand.Just behind them was a police jeep.
Mother was aghast .Her pale face got paler and fear stricken .She quickly turned back to Aditi who was peeping through the half open door with fear.
"Inform papa  that we are going to AIIMS Emergency."

Aditi saw her mother ,Sahil,and the two policemen leave hurriedly in the jeep.For a moment she couldn't decide what to do.Was she dreaming?

NO.That was real.She mustered the courage to look for the phone book to locate papa's office number.He  who  worked as a Scientist in DRDO .She dialled the number and explained to papa what had happened.

She didn't realize that it was late in the night and the both of them need to eat and sleep.Both the sisters finally made Maggi  at one in the night when mother called them to tell that they would not come and they have to spend the night alone.
They slept hugging each other in the fear of the unknown.

The next morning their maternal aunt came up to pick some clothes of mother and father.
"What has happened to bhaiya?Is he alright?When will mummy-papa come back with him?"
Aditi bombarded Suman masi with her innocent questions.She got no answer though.

The sisters got used to their new lifestylein afew days.The bai would come in the morning to do the dusting ,mopping and utensils.The neighbours gave them food three times aday.Masi would come and go off and on to the hospital.
"Would somebody tell me what had happened?",Aditi's mind was always bothered and tensed .She forgot to smile ,to dance and watch T.V.She would just keep Neeti busy in something or the other.

Eventually Bhaiya came back after one and a half month.
He was covered with a white shroud and he carried the same smile on his face which was loved by his girlfriend.The  unfamiliar rites and rituals assosiated with death became known to  the fourteen  old Aditi.How the dead bady was washed,flowers showered and then taken for the final ritual at the Nigambhodh Ghat .
Neeti was the same.She also metamorphosed like her elder sister and consoled mother who had not spoken a word since the day she had gone to the hospital .

Aditi asked papa what had happened to Bhaiya after everone had left the family alone.

Papa was silent for a while and then said,"As per Sahil,Aditya and a few of his friends were sitting atop Rajesh's car and having some fun cracking jokes.At that time the police jeep with four people sitting inside drove up .Mistaking your Bhaiya and his friends to be some sort of hooligans,they fired some random shots.Aditya was the most unfortunate that the bullet hit his head and he fainted.Since the day we had gone to the hospital ,your Adi bhaiya was in a state of coma.We were hopeful but we were not lucky."Papa broke down hugging Aditi .

                                                                       * * *

The doorbell rang with sharp tingling pain.The postman gave a courier to Aditi.She opened the envelope with careful deftness.
It had a cheque  of rupees one lakh for her father with the following note:

'In lieu of the accidental death of Aditya Narayan Sharma,a compensation for his family.'

She felt lonely.She felt cheated.She felt as if an invisible hand was suffocating her breathing space.

Aditi had tears rolling down her soft brown cheeks"Can I celebrate Rakhi and Bhaiya Dooj with this money?She wiped her tears off and woke up mummy to tell her about the compensation cheque.


  1. You left me speechless. I was part of this entire episode but what I have cried today,I even didn't cry that time. I have felt the pain again.

    It is really painful.

  2. can so feel Aditi's pain...I lost my brother years ago but just the thought of him leaves me numb with pain every time.......

  3. i can feel the loss of the person with whom you have spent your childhood and growing up with them.. i can empathize with Aditi's character...