Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grenade: A blast that never happened, but hurt

Naara-e-Takbeer, Allah hoo Akbar
Hum Kya Chahte Azaadi!!
Hum Kya Chahte Azaadi!!

The slogans were resonating and all he could see was nothing, trying to force his way through the crowd. Mast Gul was standing on Tata 407, waving his AK in air while addressing a huge gathering. Shahnawaz was about 12. He had given school a miss and was roaming in downtown. Mast Gul fired in air as slogans gained pitch. The crowd followed the vehicle as Mast Gul drove away. The skinny little boy could only have a glimpse of the superstar. The fascination of holding a gun was growing every moment.

A few days later, his cousin Maajid showed him a gun.

“What is this?”
“Azaadi” He replied.
“Can I touch it?”
“Do you want to?”
“What would you do if I gave you this gun?”
“I would climb on Tata 407 and fire it in air, with people chanting my name like Mast Gul”

Maajid laughed and let Shahnawaz handle the prized possession. Irshad, a friend of Maajid entered the room.

“He wants to be Mast Gul”. Both laughed and left.

A few days later, Shahnawaz again gave school a miss and this time bumped into Irshad.

“Mast Gul how are you doing”
Early from school? What happened?
“I wasn’t feeling well”
“Where are you going?”
“So tell me you want to be a hero?”
Shahnawaz smiled.
“Right now like Mast Gul”
All you have to do is throw this, showing him a hand grenade, on the bunker near Gole Market.”

The smile disappeared from Shahnawaz’s face as Irshad took him to an isolated lane, handing him the grenade and let him feel it.

“What is this?”
“Azaadi! “Glory!”

Shahnawaz wasn’t sure about this at all.
“You have to remove this pin and throw it on the bunker”
“What if they see me?”
“This takes 5 seconds to blast and you have to throw it from the lane adjacent to the Bunker. You have enough time to run away”
“I will also give you 100 rupees for this”

Shahnawaz was growing nervous all the time. Irshad handed him the grenade and hundred rupee note. He explained the whole process again while walking to the adjacent lane leading to the bunker.

“I will wait for you at end of the lane, just throw the thing and run”
“What if it blasts in my hand?”
“It takes 5 seconds to blast, be brave like Mast Gul. You want to be like Mast Gul or not?”

Shahnawaz walked forward trembling with fear. “How difficult could this be?”
He had seen enough Bollywood movies to believe that it wasn’t tough. As he reached the end of the lane and took left, he could see the bunker. The Jawan standing guard was looking the other side. Two shopkeepers were busy talking to each other. On other side of the road, all the shops were open but no one was standing outside. A few people were walking by on other side of the road. There was a bit of traffic but not much. He looked back at Irshad, who waved at him giving him assurance.

He stood there for a while. He pressed forward, took out the grenade. No one had noticed him. He tried to remove the pin. Panic had engulfed his senses. He was trembling freakishly. His eyes were fixed at the Jawan who started to turn around towards him. Shahnawaz was completely nervous. The pin wasn’t coming off. Panic struck and he threw the grenade without removing the pin. The Jawan saw grenade coming. The grenade hit the net of the bunker and rebounded on the road. He jumped for cover and shouted loud. The shopkeepers talking also realised it and lay down on the ground. The traffic halted as everyone took cover. Shahnawaz stood still. Irshad was growing restless. He knew Shahnawaz had fumbled.

The Jawan stood up. A few others joined him. He shouted at Shahnawaz “ Oye ladke, zameen pe lait ja”

Moments later, everyone got up and started running. The place was isolated. A bullet proof Gypsy came and it was declared as diffused.

A BSF officer came to inspect

“Kahan se aaya”
“Sir, gali mein se fainka hai”
“Kisi ko dekha”
“Nahin Sir”
“Yeh bacha kaun hai”
“Wahan khada tha Sir, isne dekha hoga”
“Poocha kuch is se?”
“Abhi nahin Sir”
“Interrogate karo, dekho kuch bataata hai”
“Theek hai Sir”
“Khayal rakhna bacha hai. Zyada nahin karna”
“Theek hai Sir”

They took him to a dark stinking room, a heater, a battery, bamboo sticks, lots of wires, ropes... The retina took some time to adjust, psyche a lifetime.

Fantasies often come at a price, sometimes LIFE
Those who pay...LIVE