16 January, 2020
Story by Ritika Rana has won the best story award in 999 Not Out – a story writing competition organized by IGenPlus.
I woke up. It was still dark. I saw my father going towards the paddy fields. The air was dry and the sky, cloudless. I got up to go towards him. My father is a tall, middle aged man of average build. He usually wears khakis and oxford shirts. He has curly brown hair. I could see him heading towards the backyard. I thought for a moment whether I should follow him or not. I didn’t feel like going after him but out of my ever-growing curiosity I followed him. I grabbed my phone and started following him. It was a weird feeling, after all I was following my own father. As soon as I reached the backyard, I saw him digging the ground. I couldn’t make out what was wrong with him. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I pinched my self to bring back my senses. No, I was not dreaming. I waited for a while to actually observe what he was trying to do. My brain was flooded with innumerous thoughts. I was waiting for him to stop so that I could actually find out the truth. I had trust in him and I was fighting with my own thoughts convincing myself that my father is not going to do something which was unethical or unlawful.
After a while I saw another man coming to the backyard. He was
tall and his face was covered with a thick black beard. The jacket he wore over his broad shoulders had neatly polished buttons and the scarf around his neck was tied so that the ruffles perfectly filled the space left open by his coat. I couldn’t see him clearly because of the fog that acted as an obstacle in my vision.
My father and that man talked with each other in whispers so I couldn’t actually understand what they were trying to say. As far as I remember I had not seen this man or met him before. I was waiting for them to finish their talk so that they come down to the real business. The man was carrying a jute bag with him which seemed heavy and full of something. It was moving continuously. I was curious to know what was inside the bag. A cool breeze passed by. I started shivering. I sneezed. The two men got alert. I hid behind a tree. I didn’t know what to do next. I thought I was going to get caught. I closed my eyes and put my hands on my mouth. I stood there frozen. I waited but no one came to catch me. They were too determined to finish their own work that they never took notice of me. I started peeking again from behind the tree. My father stopped digging. The man took the heavy bag with him and he put it inside the ditch that my father had dug. After the bag was fitted nicely in the ditch my father covered the bag with the soil back again. I wondered what was inside the bag. It surely was something which had life. The two men again started talking again. They were laughing as if they had attained the biggest victory of their lives. I was feeling helpless. I wanted to take that bag out and help that poor thing who was dug alive. Tears rolled down my eyes. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I put my hand on my mouth and started crying. Their continuous laughter triggered my anger. I wiped off my tears and started to think about my next step. The only thought that was revolving around my head was to call the cops and get these two arrested but somewhere inside my heart I had a soft corner for my father. I was still not ready to accept that my father could do such a thing. I started thinking about my family. I was scared what if my mother comes to know about all this. She will not be able to recover from this bitter truth.
Finally, I reached a conclusion. I decided what I had to do next. I crossed my heart and called the cops and told them the whole story. They reassured me and told me to be alert and not to worry. They promised to reach within fifteen to twenty minutes. After ten minutes of waiting I saw the police van coming. I ran to the officer and we all headed towards the backyard. As soon as the police caught both of them, I walked towards them. I couldn’t believe my eyes the man in khaki dress was not my father and someone else. He looked just like my father from behind- the same hair, the same dress code, and the same height. I was extremely surprised. I was feeling happy, guilty and contended at the same time. Suddenly a thought struck my mind. I stared digging the ground to take out the bag put inside the ground. The police assisted me in this work. I took the bag out and saw a baby girl inside it. The man confessed that he already had three daughters and did not want another one and so he decided to get rid of her. It was shameful to see that even now people have such a clouded and narrow mindset. The two men were jailed. I took the child home. As soon as I reached home, I hugged my father tightly and I started crying. My parents were scared they asked what the matter was. I narrated them the entire incident that happened with me. He did not scold me and didn’t even get upset with me. They asked me where the girl child was. I told my parents that I longed and pinned for a little sister and asked them if they could adopt her. After a long discussion my parents decided to adopt the little girl. I was very extremely happy. I hugged my parents tightly. They told me that they were proud of me and that now it was my responsibility to be a good sister. I decided that I would raise her more like a mother than a sister because it was after all I who had given her a new life.