The Night Before The Darkness: Part 1

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That was a dark winter night. Somewhere on the Eastern side of the world, a 14-year-old girl was busy completing her school work. It was around 9 pm. She wanted to complete her school work tonight. She thought, “Tomorrow is a Sunday, which means there will be no school. I must finish my school work tonight. I just want to play all day long tomorrow. It will be fun chasing the butterflies in the farmhouse. I must take some salt and a kitchen knife to the farmhouse”.

She woke up from her thoughts when she heard a big bang next door. The noise had come from her main gate. She asked her mother, “Who can be knocking on the door at this time? People should not come out of their houses. Aren’t they afraid to get killed”?

Her mother told her not to be worried and she should continue with your schoolwork. Someone continued to knock at the door. Each time the sound was getting heavier and louder. The girl asked her mother, “No men at home to open the door”. She looked out the window, and her cousin had already opened the door. Four or five men entered the compound. They carried guns. They did not seem friendly. She saw one of them had pushed her cousin against the wall. Her mother told the girl, “They are not army people. Put on your shoes”. She quickly got off the bed. She had put her shoes on. Her mother yelled at her, “Stop, don’t touch it,” before the girl reached toward the gun.

The girl looked at her mother with the question, “I need to protect my parents” She looked at her bedridden and ailing father. Next, she heard the door between the two houses had opened, and her 13 years old nephew entered into her side of the house, followed by his mother. Her sister-in-law told the mother, “both kids need to run now. There are terrorists in our house”. 

Before her mother asked something, the sister-in-law had already locked the door from her side of the house. The girl’s mother had taken her daughter and grandson toward the back of the house. The mother made both kids climb the 14-foot fence and told them to run. The mother told her daughter, “You better run. Don’t look backward. Take care of your nephew”. Both kids ran through the farmhouses. They had avoided the main road. Both kids knew better how to make their way out of the crops. They had nothing to do all day long except wander into the fields. Both knew the way, but they did not know where their destination was.

The girl thought, “both in age and relationship, I am a older than the boy, so I must take the lead.”

Both got tired. Both stopped to catch a breath. They also felt safe that it was okay to stop now. They were out of the danger zone. Both took a few minutes to control their breaths. Both kids knew something was wrong, and they were in danger. But, it was out of their sense who was in danger and why they were in danger. Suddenly the girl asked the boy, “What the hell did you do, Binu? Why did those bad people come to our house?”. Binu looked at the girl, “No, I have not done anything wrong. I think they came for you”.

The girl was struggling to talk. Finally, she said, “seriously, they had knocked at your home, not at my home.” Both looked at each other in agreement. 

Binu said, “We need to stop fighting with each other. We need to find shelter until someone from home comes to rescue us”. I think they came for you”.

The girl shook her head in the sense of agreement. “yes, you are right.”

Binu was scared, “I am scared. It is so dark and cold. I don’t have my sweater on”. 

She looked at the boy, “don’t worry. I know who can protect us.”

Binu said, “Are you kidding me? Do you really want to go there?”

The girl looked at her nephew, “do you have any better idea than mine?”

Neither of them had any other options. Both were scared, but they continued walking toward their destination.

So far, they have not heard any gun sounds, which is a good sign. They stopped running when they reached the army camp. She sat in the dark while Binu went to talk with the on-duty guard outside the army camp. Binu came back in a few minutes. The girl looked at Binu to ask if he had told everything to the soldier. No, Binu did not tell the soldier anything. 

The soldier asked the girl, “Hey kid, why are you here? Do you run away from home? Did anybody say anything to you, which includes your mother?”

The girl felt a little brave as she saw her protector standing in front of her, “You better need to help us, soldier boy. The secret is a secret which I cannot share with you. I promise my mommy won’t kill you for this. But don’t ask any questions”.

The soldier knew the girl was stubborn. She wouldn’t share her secret unless she was ready. He also knew the girl wouldn’t come to his doorstep unless she was in real trouble. So the soldier told the kids, “Okay, hide behind me. Your mother will kill me in the morning”.

Both kids had hidden behind the soldier until they reached his cabin. The soldier asked the kids, “have you eaten anything yet?”

.The girl said, “Yes, we always eat our supper at sunset.” The soldier pointed the kids to his bed, “cover yourself, and go to sleep.” 

Both kids said simultaneously, “No, we can’t sleep in your bed.”

Both kids slipped under the bed before the soldier had said something. The soldier tucked in both kids with the heavy blankets.

The soldier told the kids, “Go to sleep. Don’t talk, don’t come out. I need to go now. I will be back soon”.

The girl asked the soldier, “where are you going? we will go with you. I don’t want to be alone here. I am so scared. Please don’t go”.

The soldier looked at the kids, “don’t be afraid. I am here. Please sleep soundly. Don’t you trust me”?

Both kids got quiet. The soldier left and locked the door behind him. The girl whispered in Binu’s ear, “Are you awake?”

Binu whispered back, “Yes, I am also scared. Do you think the soldier may harm us too”?

The girl was very confident in the soldier, “I am scared too. He is the only one who could protect us. I believe in him”.

Both kids talked until they slept. Neither of them knew where the soldier had gone. They learned later that the soldier went to make a round toward their house to ensure everything was okay. The soldier was smart enough to sense that the kids were hiding something from her. The soldier came back later, but both kids were in deep sleep. Outside of his cabin, he talked to the other soldiers, “Both are sleeping now. They won’t tell us now what made them come here. There are a few reasons. I know the girl’s family well. They won’t allow her out at this time. She is the most overprotected child. They came to us because they trusted us. They are our leads to something which we don’t know what is at this time? So don’t break their trust”.

The older soldier, whom the girl mostly called Soldier Uncle, agreed with the young soldier. The older soldier asked, “Have they eaten anything? are they in trouble because we are on their land?

 Every soldier knew both kids well. They often came to play around. The girl always came to tell the soldiers to move out of her play place. The elite team was very calm and did not want to take any step in a hurry. The soldier knew the girl won’t be able to hide anything from him for a long time. He went inside but alerted staff to a possible attack at the camp. The soldier saw both kids snoring softly. They hugged each other as they felt secure or afraid to get separated while sleeping.

The soldier looked at the boy carefully. The boy has fair skin, a skinny body,  dark and curly, short and brown hair. Then he looked at the girl. She had dark brown skin. She was so skinny that he could count her ribs through the shirt. She was taller than the boy. Her dark curly black hair was all over her face. The soldier mutters, “I am not sure when she will learn how to comb her hair”.

He pushed her hair away from her face. He compared both kids. They shared physically only two things: the shape of the nose and lips. The soldier continued comparing the kids, “Both share the warrior’s blood. Their roots are the same. The warrior had two sons: each kid belonged to each of the dynasties of each warrior’s son. They are 10 months apart in age: Aunt and Nephew. But they are also partners in crime and childhood buddies. They call each other brother and sister to cover the generation gap”. 

The soldier kissed her forehead. He took both kids’ shoes out. The girl’s ankle was swollen and possibly sprained when she jumped the 14-foot brick fence. The soldier massaged the girl’s foot with oil and then wrapped it with warm clothes. He kissed her forehead again, “Sleep tightly. Nobody could harm you in my presence. I will give you my life for you. Nobody dares to harm you. I will take their eyes out and cut their hands if anybody tries to harm you”.

The soldier continued to talk because he thought the girl was sleeping too. But, no, the girl was pretending to sleep. How could she sleep? She needs to protect her nephew. She is not worried about her safety because her protector was sitting on the floor holding the gun to protect the kids.

Before morning, both kids left the army camp. They were scared, but they needed to go back. They did not see any alarming signs, so they entered the compound. Her uncle ran toward the kids and hugged them. He cried while hugging them. The girl’s eyes were burning with fire. She shouted, “We deserve to know what happened last night. Why did Binu and I have to leave in the middle of the night while the other four kids stayed in the house”. Her uncle knew that it was not easy to convince the girl until she would find the truth”.

Her uncle pointed to her to come inside. She left the joint compound and entered her private house. She had sat on the edge of her ailing father. The girl kept her head on her father’s chest, “I don’t like to be here. I want to go back to my apple house”. Her uncle and mother sat in front of her on the chairs. Mother asked the girl while handing her boiled milk and eggs, “where did you guys spend the night.” The girl was always taught to speak the truth. She told her mother, “Who could protect your daughter outside the boundary of this house. There is only one person who is over-protector than you”. No, I did not share the secret”.

Mother got angry, “did he touch you? Did he try to harm you?

The girl laughed hysterically, “are you kidding me, mother? he is worse than you. How my protector harm me, mommy”.

The girl turned toward her uncle, “Okay, chachu tell me the truth. Be honest. Are the militants behind me or Binu? Who are they planning to kill, Binu or me? Do they know I am so close to the soldier?”

Her chachu said, “No, they want Binu to join them. Our ancestors fought against the British govt. we are patriotic.”

The girl shouted, “Are you kidding me? Seriously, Binu is scared. he is worse than a cat”.

Suddenly it came into the girl’s mind, ” yes, you are right. There are only two bravoes in this family. That is why you made only two children run out of the house. The bad people know it too. Everybody knows that I am so close to the soldier, so I won’t pick up the gun against my country. Neither Binu will pick up the gun. The blood of the warrior is in us. Promise me, uncle, you will protect my stupid nephew”.

Uncle sighed, “yes, but he has to leave the house. It will be harder for his mother. it will impact your life too. Both of you guys are like twins who were born from different mothers”.

Money talks and bullshit walks. Power is a game that changes everything dramatically. Along with the twins, Binu was hidden in their maternal uncle’s house on the other end of the industrial town. After a week, a 13 years old Binu and his older twin brothers, aged 15, returned home to say goodbye to the family. The twins were ready to leave for Russia, where they would stay with her father’s friend. Binu was ready to depart for the USA to live with his relatives. The twins were not smart enough. They were not intelligent like Binu. She grabbed Binu’s passport, “seriously, chachu, this is not Binu’s name.”

In her native country, everything can be bought with money and power. She hugged Binu and cried, “One day, we will meet again. We will live in the same compound. We will be partners in crime again. Moron, pay attention to your study and don’t create any problems there. I won’t be able to save your ass there”. 

The boys were sent to different directions of the world to save their lives. The girl was left behind alone. She ran toward the soldier. She hugged the soldier and cried. Finally, she said, “Can you pray for my nephews’ safe passage to their new destination.”

The soldier had spread his musalla on the floor and bent on his knees to pray for the safety of young boys. The girl sat by him and saw him performing the prayer. The tears were dripping out of her eyes. The soldier asked the girl after the prayer while cleaning her tears, “Okay, be honest, now tell me what happened that night”. The girl told the soldier everything. The girl was not secure. The boys were safe. She was always safe around the soldiers. 

The next evening, the girl was sitting on a chair in the middle of their compound. Suddenly, the army vehicle full of the soldiers stopped in front of their main door. The girl thought, “No, the soldier boy cannot cheat on me. He is no coward. He is a true Muslim. He will give his life but not reveal my secret to anybody”.

The middle-aged army officer who was highly decorated with the medals walked into her house with at least fifty soldiers. The girl was numb, and she could not move at all. She could hear echoing sounds in her ears, but she could not sense what was happening. Suddenly, her chachu ran toward the army officer. They hugged each other. They were laughing loudly. All the women in the house were surprised. The head of the house. Her chachu told the women to give some snacks to the soldiers. Both the army officer and her chachu arrived in her father’s bedroom. The girl followed them. Her eyes were wide open. She looked at the army officer’s name tag, “Col. Singh.” She saw the brightness in her ailing father as the officer hugged him. The girl could not control herself, “May I ask who you are? why are you hugging my chachu and daddy?”

The army officer asked her, “Come over here, kid. Both of those idiots are my cousins from my mother’s side”. The girl said, “It is okay, but you cannot call them idiots. They are the most genius humans on earth. You should ask sorry from them in front of me. You have not seen my anger yet”. The army officer laughed, “You are the daughter of that genius.” Yes, I am their daughter, so you better ask a sorry. Mr. Singh apologized to both men and advised them, “You better send her out somewhere close to the boys.” Uncle said, “Yes, we are working on her case too. She won’t leave her father alone”.

Destiny had taken three boys to different parts of the world. Finally, all three boys were gone. The girl ran toward the soldier.

She cries and talks at the same time. Finally, the soldier got frustrated, “Can you either cry or talk? I don’t understand what you are trying to tell me”.

The girl squinted both eyes, ” Abu, Abu, I don’t like the plane. It always takes my friends away. It used to take my father away, but now it has taken Binu and my other cousin somewhere. So I am alone again.”

She hugged the soldier and started to cry again. The soldier did not have any words for the girl. He said, “You will never be alone. I am with you now. I will always be with you”.

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