Brightest Night and Blackest Day (Episode : 4 — Born to be Wild)

Look at that girl. Beautiful, isn’t she?”, an old man teased his wife while I walked past their home.

The old rusty board read — WELCOME TO DODIYANA BUS STOP. And the bus stopped near me.

It was a 5-hour journey to Jodhpur which couldn’t have got so better. I now felt much safer than the place of my work. Despite I was sitting in a crowded bus full of people. I kept talking about everything that came across my mind with the lady who was sitting by my side with her 3- year old kid.

I sang songs for the kid and showed some play. The lady was about to surprise her husband who also works at Jodhpur.

Take notes, people!

We arrived a place called Sangariya. With my phone lost in Pushkar water, I inquired a few people but they never seemed to understand Hindi.

I finally found someone who spoke English. I came to know that I almost neared my friends who were staying one village far from here. But he insisted me to not travel after sunset. I just nodded with another question.

‘Why do a lot of people, even educated not speak Hindi?’

He smirked, “We don’t! Since you’re a traveler and a woman, feel lucky that you weren’t disrespected. Here, we don’t force anyone to speak a language other than their mother tongue. Wait here, I’ll call my cousin and let her take you to our home. I got guard duty here”

She drove me in a motor-rickshaw to their home and after a while they offered me food. The house was so big that it could fit an airplane inside. They gave me a room allotted for guests like me and to my surprise, it was much neater than their own bedrooms.

Sat on the cot to talk with myself, ‘Yesterday, I gave an emotional girl some company and now I’m looking at the sophisticated drawing in the ceiling. Both feels confusing’ and sunk in the bed.

I heard the door knocked and looked at the clock,

4:10 AM?

The guard’s mom woke me up and gave me some fresh hot milk and asked me if it was comfortable during the night. While I came out of the room, the entrance door was knocked systematically 4 times. It was him.

“Hello Sister! Good morning. Make yourself comfortable, get refreshed and we will be leaving by 5AM”.

He requested the driver to leave me at Salawas and return by evening. I was so pleased and bid a goodbye to all of them. The driver was so conscious about my safety. I closed my eyes to sleep but suddenly heard a loud sound like a shotgun. The driver was bleeding and asked me to wear the seatbelt. We hit a container truck and stopped. I cried for help but what came near us were not people but face-covered thugs.

They shot the driver again and another guy gave a heavy blow on my face. My nose was bleeding and vision was distorted. They forced me out and snatched my backpack. I tried to fight but there were lot of people but still managed to take down 3 guys all by my own.

A guy hit me with my own bag and banged my head to the car to pass out. Gaining some consciousness, it was all feeble so I concluded that I wasn’t dead yet. They were taking me somewhere in the same car I came. I could hear my bag being searched. It was blacking out. I woke up to find stranded near an isolated village with my purse abducted but not the IDs along with the emergency money I had in my bag’s secret pocket.

My head felt so heavy and my ears were ringing. I collected all the clothes scattered around and looked around in that mid-day and saw a bunch of kids who were staring at me in curiosity.

“Behen. Idharavo!”, shouted a small boy and I walked towards them. Another boy ran inside a house and came with his father, probably. The father enquired everything about me and asked his wife to give me something to drink. He asked his wife to translate in English for me.

“Where are you from? How were you lost?”, I said everything and repeated the story of thugs and waking up in some random village. His wife was alerted and grabbed my wrist and walked me to her room. It seems she was a local doctor.

“Did they touch you?”, she asked after inspecting my health. I shook my head sideways and she read my pulse looking at the clock. She looked into my eyes and asked, “Which day is it?”

‘I’m on 3rd day of my period’

“You’re lucky. Saved your body by your own body. Those thugs and some people in next village don’t even dare to see women on their week. In that village, we will be given less food, isolated from home to live in a dog kennel kind of place”

‘What the. Are these still happening?‘. I asked them if I could contact my friends through phone and he ordered the little boys to guide me over to police room in that village. He greeted and invited me in.

‘Hi. I was lost and came here. I need to contact my friends. Can you help me?’, he nodded and allowed me to use the phone. The music player was playing a classic rock song — Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf.

Wow! he really has some good taste in music :)

“Madam. I think I can offer you some favor. DSP of Jodhpur is visiting here by tomorrow morning. I can request him to take you along with him to Jodhpur so that you can go home safely”

My face got so bright and emotions spiked.

“Don’t worry. We are here only to help”, saying he smiled. “Children! Take her wherever she feels like home. Send my regards to your parents”

I felt energetic even after so much starvation and thirst. The dusk came so quick and so did the temperature drop drastically. The children went to their respective houses on our way back and the doctor’s son accompanied to their home again. He ran inside calling his mom that we came, and I just adored at the way village was silent.

It felt like home after a long time. Took a deep and long breath that felt like winter morning.

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