The Missing Son . . .

He was missing. The parents discovered this when he did not turn up till late in the evening. They went out frantic, in search. They asked the villagers. The villagers remained mum. They were struck by a kind of enigmatic silence. Only silence prevailed.

Did you see him in the morning? the parents asked.
Yes, the villagers said.
Which direction did he go?
The villagers refused to speak.
Did you see him after that?
The villages did not utter a word.
But you must have seen him, they insisted.
He plays in the paddy fields that way. And they pointed towards a direction.

Still they did not say anything. One suddenly mumbled, there was a police vehicle. Another said there was an army jeep. But they stopped short and did not say anything more.

Please, the parents insisted, did they pick him up, was he in the vehicle? They were near to tears. After sometime they started crying.

The father suddenly woke up at night. It was 3.00a.m, and he had not arrived. Everyone was sleeping. The next morning the parents sat at the veranda. They were waiting. Then, the next morning. Then, the next morning. His little brother asked the parents where his brother was? They told him that he would come back after a few days as he had gone to the nearby village to stay with his relatives. The brother knew that this was not true. Suddenly the thought of blood flashed his mind.

A few days later the villagers saw some spot of blood leaving a trail on the village path. It was a pucca road. But there was blood. They came excitedly to his parents to tell them about it. What has blood got to do with my son's absence, they demanded. No, no the villagers muttered you never know what the police and the army do. They kill. But he was only a ten year old boy they said. Who would harm such an innocent child? And for what? They shook their heads and left.

The parents were stupefied. What could it mean? What could they mean? What are they saying? He still did not come home. It was a year since he left. The mother had become mad, the father had gone mad but the younger brother remained normal and played around like a normal child. Did he miss his brother? Some people suggested to advertise in the newspapers about the absence. But they did not know what this was all about.

They went to the police and reported.
Why did you come so late? the police officer barked.
We were hoping they said. . .
Everyone hopes.

The son came back ten years later. He had a beard. He was tall. And around his neck a gun slung ominously. The villagers said, I told you so.


More by :  Ananya S Guha

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