Milenza Prison, Some where deep in the INDIAN JUNGLES -1961
“It’s time, Kabir.” The warden spoke,leaning on the door, his voice mildly reverberating in the lonely cell-number 251.
“Come on now, wake up. Don’t want to be late for your judgement day, eh?” pressing his voice a little more and clanged his lathi on the wall a couple of times like an alarm bell.
A few minutes later, the warden along with his prisoner, walked along the dimly lit passage way that had cells on either side. It was quiet and the only sound that gave them company was the sound of pouring rains on the roof.
“Sir warden, sir warden” came a subedhar running from behind, his heavy boots thumping on the cold floor and the loud voice cutting through the hallway.
“Keep it down, subedhar, what is it?” grinned, warden, as he saw the-out-of-breath subedhar standing in front with his hands on his knee catching for some air.
“It is the father” catching more breath
“.. from the church, he is running a bit late today. We have orders to hold prisoner - 1024 and keep him in the waiting cell next to execution yard until the father is here.” the subedhar blurted out his information.
The warden smirked, and turned around towards Kabir
“Good eh, you thought judgment was that easy, huh convict? Just when u thought you were ready for this, boom more waiting period. Feel that feeling running through your bones, convict. For what you have done, a mere hanging and taking away your life is an easy way out huh. Let me know when the father is here, subedhar” ordered warden as his stern eyes fixed gaze with that of Kabir
“Yes, sir warden” and he vanished running back towards his post.
A bunch of Keys clanged on the metal-door just below the key-hole as the warden unlocked a huge bolt. The waiting cell was a few feet away from the execution yard, initially built as a resting place for the church fathers that came from long distance of travel. After India got independence, hang-to-death sentences became a rarity and this abandoned resting place was turned into a waiting cell for prisoners. The cell was a small eight by ten room, poorly lit and rarely maintained. It had an ankle-height slab coming out of the ground on the right side, enough for a man to grab a sleep. There was a pillow too, which god knows when was washed last or changed. The cell had a damp smell and a small opening on the far end of the wall that served as a window having creepers crawl all over its rusted iron bars. The stench of moist air in the room, made the warden cough up a bit.
“Good, just about right for you, convict.”
He pushed Kabir in with his lathi and closed the door behind. Kabir turned around towards the door and what he saw made his heart skip a beat, as there was an old man sitting on the left of the door over a small platform coming off from the wall looking straight towards Kabir. Who the hell is he? Must be a fellow prisoner, waiting, just like me for getting executed.
“God the room is such a dump” the warden muttered to himself locking the door from outside and started to walk towards his chamber.
Coming back from the mild shock, Kabir turned away ignoring the continuous stare from this strange old man which he least expected to see. He turned around and scanned the cell. He walked towards the window and tried to peep out from the gaps between the creepers. He could see a bench, a small wooden platform drenching in rain, a horizontal bar and a rope hanging from the bar. Hmm, so close yet so far. He thought to himself.
Sobbing voice from behind broke his chain of thoughts. Kabir turned back and saw that the old man was kneeling on the floor and holding his palms to the face. He was uncontrollably crying. It was dimly lit, but Kabir could make out the tears were flowing down his hands and onto the floor.
“What happened old man? Whats the matter?” He asked inquisitively.
“I am… I am just .. glad that you are here.” The old man managed to say what he could in a squeaky voice, wiping his tears and taking a deep breath.
“Glad? Well that is odd, I have been waiting for death now for 10 years, and just on the day, I hear at least some-one other than me being glad about it. So yeah old man, thanks for your sympathy but save it for your-self. The father from the church will be here any minute and up on that bench with the rains as my witness and the clouds crying over my guilt, I will be hung and dead for ever and finally my wait will be over” Kabir spoke looking distantly through the window.
The old man smirked “Your true wait hasn’t even begun yet, you still have a long wait to go , son” the old man spoke clearly , who by now was back to his senses and stopped sobbing; as I know my liberator is here and now.
Kabir observed a strange sense of satisfaction growing around the old mans face. Also he was a little annoyed on that last comment by the old hag.
“Well, what? What did you just say old man? Have you lost it?Institutionalized for too long here in the prison?” his tone grew with every question he asked.
“Sit down son, for your real justice begins today, once you die. What happens with you after you are hange….”
“Wait a minute cranky head, I get it now, you are some old time jailer sitting here to console the soul of the prisoner before his end moments, so that he can take the name of thee-lord and gain mercy in after-life bull-crap, then buddy you got the wrong mate here. For I don’t belie..”
“It does not matter what you believe or not, son. And I am not what you think I am. I am a little complicated, all I can say is I am just glad that you are here and I will be, finally, free from this reality”
“oh stop it old man, give it a break. I am guilty already of what I did. I did kill her and her bastard child. I have served the so called justice from the courts and I did spend my prison-time for over 14 years now and waiting to be hanged so that I can end this miserable life”
“You call this waiting? Well you are in for some disappointment son, as to what comes ahead is far worse th…”
“Hey watch it now old man, I have been quiet and accepting your bull shit. I wont flinch an eye before taking that sneaky little life out side of you and you can then go meet your creator or what ever shit they feed your heads with.” Kabir closed in on the old man with a raised hand and holding him by his neck.
A momentary silence filled the room which almost instantly broke by incoming sounds of footsteps from the outside hallway. Kabir turned towards the door which made sounds of keys turning in and opened up.
“Come out convict, the father is here.”
Okay, that was quick. Thought Kabir and moved out towards the door and just before departing, he looked back into the room and said to the old man,
“You clearly suck at the job you are doing and this place is justifiably ain’t paying you well, you sh-muck. Get out and live the rest of your life in freedom. INDIA is free now. If in case you dint know.” Saying so he moved out with warden holding him by the elbow.
“Who were you talking to”? Asked the warden as they left.
“Some old bas..”
“Ah never mind, I care less what or who you were talking to, convict. People see things before they die, eh hahaha” joked the warden as he dragged Kabir out in the yard, under the pouring rain, towards the bench and made him climb on the wooden platform.
Kabir saw that the father was on the left of the platform standing under the umbrella held by the subedhar.
”I, Father, of the holy trinity church would like to ask you if you have any last wishes, my son”
“Well I don’t want to be masked while I am being hanged” Spoke Kabir almost instantly.
“That’s against the protoc..” the subedhar jumped back at this bizarre request.
“I want to feel the rain hitting my face, the clouds , the wind gushing in and the smell of earth before I die. That’s my last wish” Interrupted Kabir
Before any further delay by arguments, the Warden signaled the subedhar to grant what he was asking.
Soon, Kabir was on the wooden platform, hands tied, rope just got tightened around his neck and the hangman ready with his eyes gazed on warden, who himself was looking at the seconds hand in his watch ticking towards 12 and when it did, he looked up, nodded, Kabir heard a loud thud ..
The floor beneath me opened up and my foot was in mid-air, my hands began to twitch, rain water gushed into my throat, I was gasping for air. I was beginning to loose my vision. Things began to blur out. The last thing I could see was the small window of the waiting cell and a similar face of an old hag smiling back at me. I could see the light behind him in the room begin to glow and glow and became so bright that it reached out from the window into the yard under the rain over the platform and like a flash it hit me
I opened my eyes, It was pitch dark, I felt a small lump of saliva flowing down my throat which made me aware of the missing rope around my neck. With the obvious reflex action I moved my hands towards the neck which further made me aware of my hands not being tied. My legs were free too. But it was so dark that I could not make where was I until I saw a tiny dot below and in between my feet. The dot kept growing and growing as if quickly ascending towards me. What was a dot, now appeared like a small square box and as it kept moving up towards me, it was taking a shape of a room. With great speed, it finally came up and crashed onto me
Kabir woke up with a jolt of inertia and fell from the slab down on the floor of the cell. He quickly got to up and ran towards the corner taking a little time to adjust and register the events that unfolded.
“Welcome Kabir” a silhouette of a figure standing not that far in this eight by ten waiting room spoke.
He had a huge body, and was surely not the build of the old man, that was in the room before. The bright light behind him made it difficult to see his face, but before Kabir could ask the stupid questions, the figure spoke.
“You are dead. And this is not any after life bull crap. Also yes I am no god or Satan. I am just a facilitator, goes by the name Yama, who makes the scales of justice even. Your true endeavor of serving your sins has only began..”
“Wait what?Is this a joke? I was charged and sentenced to..”
“That was in mortal reality, my child. This is the balance of justice in the wheel of life. In this part of the land, they call it karma. So hear this carefully now, as I wont repeat it.
You will rot here in this very room until, you are ready and truly served your penance of guilt. You will not feel hunger or thirst , you will not be fully awake or fully sleep, you will not age and neither will be able to kill yourself. Your voice wont be heard by any one outside of this room, and you wont be able to leave this room. You wont enjoy the perils of nature as well, as you wont feel the rain or the wind or the rays of the sun. You are simply a soul waiting in this body for its final journey upwards. That is your true wait my child. And there is no escape from this. All you will feel is, the growing frustration of wait inside you which, sadly, you have to endeavor until you meet the person who will liberate you ”
“Liberate me? Who and how”
“You will know, when you are ready” Yama reverted calmly
“And when would that be? How would I come to know? and what would be the signal?”
There was an eery pause which broke, when Yama spoke
“When you are ready, I will make sure to pull the strings, so that the father of the church is late on one of his last rites for a death-execution and eventually an inmate would end up in this room, waiting for his time, just like you did…”
Kabir again jolted back this time really bad and fell of from the slab again, those last words ringing like a bell in his head. He dint feel any pain or shock or anything. Just a bad dream!! just a bad dream!! he muttered to himself and started to bang on the door.
“Helloooooo, anyone there? Hellooooo please help me, open this door, hellooo!!!” It was in vain. He turned around and moved towards the window, the rain was still pouring in hard, a group of men slowly descended a body from the wooden platform. A small cart came in and they kept the body over the cart. The warden signaled a third figure standing near the body, who lifted its hand and checked for any pulse. He muttered something and the warden scribbled in the note he held. The cart then moved towards the burial gate and just when it was making its last turn, Kabir saw that the body was his own, which was lying life-less, on the cart.
Milenza Prison (now known as Central Prison, MP) - 1983
“It’s time, madam.” The Head commissioner (HC) spoke, leaning on the door, his voice mildly reverberating in the lonely cell-number 104. “Wake up now!! Cant wait to watch you dangle like a fish to a bait out there, come now, UP!! ”roaring his voice a little more and banged his lathi on the wall.
“Paaji, o-paaji” came a hawaldaar (errand boy officer) running from behind.
“What is it?” asked the HC
“It is the priest from the temple, he is running a bit late today. We have orders to hold prisoner - 32714 and keep her in the waiting cell next to execution yard until the priest is here.” the hawaldaar blurted out his information.
The keys turned, and the lady entered in the room and just as quickly, the door closed behind her. Kabir froze in time and rose up ever so slowly. He could not believe his eyes as he saw a living soul after such a long time. Days, weeks, months and years had passed him waiting for this moment. This very moment that will liberate him for ever.
“Piss-of you pervert!!” The lady broke the chain of his thoughts. Tears broke down his eyes, he went on the floor on his knees and cried uncontrollably. He let out a huge shout, a huge cry. He could not comprehend the joy, his liberator, brought upon him, that his time finally came, that his wait was finally over. And just as fast as she came in, the door opened once again and the HC came in
“Lucky you, madam, they have sent an another priest. Now off on your feet and embrace your death, you witch” Saying so he dragged her by her hair out of the room and into the yard outside.
Kabir slowly went towards the window, tears still rolling down on his cheek. It was bright sunny day. He saw the HC pushing the lady over the concrete platform, the Jailer held her, tied her hand, pulled a mask over her face and tightened the rope around her neck. The priest was making some gestures in the air chanting some prayers, while the doctor stood in the corner lighting up a cigarette.
The HC looked at his watch and raised his lathi to signal the hangman and in just seconds the body of the lady was hanging mid air, twitching.
The light behind Kabir flickered. He turned back to his room. The odd buzzing of the bulb died and fresh glow gleamed and it kept becoming brighter and brighter until a figure came out extending its hand and speaking benevolently.
“Your wait is over”