Farewell, mother

He still remembered what his mother used to say when he was seven. “God is looking after you. You must serve him. For service to God, is what makes you divine.”

His mother was no more. But her words were etched onto his mind. He lived for his God. Life, to him, was nothing but service to the almighty.

He was thrown back into his childhood now. In this city — the streets had seen him grow, the people had seen him go. He would come across this road and that building, excited with childish joy as he recognized them easily with sweet memories he had held onto. This was the only place he had been a child in, for he grew up rather soon.

~

“Maa, no!” He had shrieked, but his mother wouldn’t come out of the room. Hours later, when the men with the swords reached his house, found his mother dead on the kitchen floor. One of them had been too frustrated — he had expected a skin to sink his teeth into, another woman to devour and destroy. The men beat the little boy up. Hours later when the boy woke up, he ran away.

~

He was pretty surprised when he found that his house was still there. He opened the door of his house and walked around for a while. Faint echoes of his childhood rang around the closed walls. He found it was very easy to imagine his mother inside the kitchen again, making something that her son would love. He fought a lump in his throat. His eyes started burning. When he couldn’t take it any longer, he ran away again.

~

He was nine when he ran away. He had no food to eat, no bed to sleep in, no arms to hold. But his God was there. He could see how troubled His little preacher was. He sent His angels for the boy. At least that was what the little boy thought when the three men took him to their home.

~

His ‘Baba’ looked very worried that day. It seemed like one of those fancy big town people had said something again that had upset him. He couldn’t see Baba like that, who had become a father figure for the little boy who had grown into a young man.

He saw Baba dialling a number on his phone.

“Why isn’t the work finished yet? These people cannot speak like that about my God and my religion. What are you waiting for? If you don’t do anything soon enough, I swear after killing them off myself, the next house I step into will be yours.” He roared. There was a brief pause. “Okay.” Baba cut the call.

He shook his head sadly as he walked out of the house towards a grand garden they had. He didn’t understand why people couldn’t understand the teachings of his God. When were they going to learn?

At first he had been really scared. But as time passed, adrenaline got the better of him. He had killed a handful of people himself, mostly inspired by their hatred for his God. It wasn’t fun, but he didn’t want to disappoint.

~

He walked towards the playground he had played in for years. It wasn’t the same. There were more rides and less children now. He smiled sadly. He had a job to finish.

The annual fair was as colourful and joyous as he could remember. However, the colours and the joy failed to touch him. He walked towards a stall that had children swarming all over it.

~

“I want to ask you for something.” Baba had said that day.
“You don’t need to ask for anything, Baba. Order me.”
“It may cause an end to your life…” Baba was hesitant.
“I’ll do anything for you.”

~
He reached out a finger and pressed the button. There was a moment of tumultuous calm inside his head. And then, he exploded.

~

The last thing he saw was not the smiling faces around him. As the bomb on his body exploded, he could see his mother crying. He couldn’t understand why.

Anwesha Tripathy

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