It was a sultry day and the scorching summer peeped through the trees trying to witness the event that was about to take place. The air was humid with the weight of each moment that passed. The trees rustled in the soft breeze whispering the anticipation in the air. In the shadow of their whispers on a wooden bench sat an old lady with her head held stubbornly high. Time had taught her undeniably that surrender to destiny was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice. Time would put her through perhaps the most painful test a mother would have to face. Her calm demeanor cached the multeity of emotions within. She sat there, the tender grass at her feet, staring at the entrance of a grey imposing structure.. Waiting..
Behind the walls of the grey structure that marked a different world, behind the dark corridors that were stale with the stench of forgotten dreams, behind the iron bars that caged the despair of broken wings, he lay on the cold ground staring at the ceiling above him. Time had taught him to fight with the world for one’s existence no matter what the end. Time had made him immune to fear - even fear of death. He lay there feeling the cold seep into his bones, his heart beating in synchrony with each passing moment…. Waiting…
The sound of clink of metal broke him away from his reverie, as the supervisor of the prison opened the cell with food in his hands. He gulped the food and it went down his throat like little rocks. Later a doctor came to examine him. To check if he was healthy enough to die? He grinned at that thought.
…The breeze lifted the fallen leaves from near her feet. She took a silent walk through time, lost in the haze of memories. The images behind her closed eyes were entwined in darkness. The voices echoing in her ears were weaved in silence. The whispers knocked at the doorstep of her heart. She walked up the empty inner rooms of her memories calling out for the child that had been hers… The child that had clung onto her finger as he learned to walk… The child that slept against her bosom in blissful slumber… She had only herself to blame for the man he turned into. She may have loved him too much. She should have read the signs… The friends he hung out with… The long recurring trips until finally he vanished leaving her behind with a hole in her heart. She hadn’t heard from him until the arrest. “Aggravated murder and sentenced to death” the court had declared, not knowing how many lives would die with one. The leaves settled in some corner of the world.
In the other world, he waited till his time came. He had no remorse in life. He loathed the so called ‘law’ that thought it knew what is right for people. What does the ‘law’ know about the life in the streets? The law cannot feed people. The law cannot set one free. Initially he had felt trapped in the path he had chosen for himself. But later he was intoxicated by the money and the power it gave him. He felt as if he was empowered to rule the lives of people around him.
When the metal bars opened for the second time that day, he knew he was not coming back. The Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent and three guards stepped into his cell. One of the guards applied the restraints on him while the other two held him. Then the two guards held either of his arms and urged him out of the cell. He swung his arms away from their grip and said “I walked on my own in life. I can walk on my own to death.” So with one guard on either side, the other guard and officials behind him, he marched toward death.
At the execution room, the executioner was waiting for the convict to arrive. This was his first execution, not that he was looking forward for it. As the convict entered he felt a chill run through his spine. When the convict was taken past him to the scaffold, he looked straight into the executioner’s eyes, as if knowing he was the one destined to put his life to an end. The executioner saw the cruelty lurking in the corners of his eyes.
After the prisoner was made to stand near the scaffold, the death warrant was read aloud. The warders held the arm of the convict and mounted him over the scaffold, placing him directly under the beam to which rope was attached. The executioner, with professional indifference that he was trained at, strapped his legs tightly together, placed the black cap over his head and adjusted the rope tightly around his neck. To the executioner, the faceless figure standing at the scaffold seemed like any other man. He stepped down from the platform and everyone waited…
The arrow of time pierced the thin air. The pendulum swung solemnly, steadily. Time ticked by in the convict’s pulse, in his heart. His heartbeats raced with each tick of the clock. Everything around held its breath in anticipation of the next second. A sullen silence remained. For the first time he felt fear grip him slowly like a snake tightening around its prey. He felt his inner self writhing as if on a red-hot metal sheet. Just as the clock signaled it was time, as the executioner signaled the guards to withdraw from the scaffold, as he drew the bolt, as the rope tightened against the convict’s throat beneath the black cloth, as the ground he stood on gave away under him, just before he choked at his own weight, a loud cry escaped his lips that echoed within the walls of room, ringing hollowly in the minds of the people in it. That scream would haunt the executioner’s dreams for years to come.
At that moment time had stood still. Not a leaf rustled, not a soul stirred. Everything seemed to be frozen, captured in the ice of timelessness. Nature reflected the emptiness within a mother’s soul.
Later at the funeral house she waited to take her son back home with her. When his body was brought to her, she stood beside him and removed the white cloth that covered his face. Not a tear was shed… Not a sob escaped her lips… She stared at his face searching for her child, only to realize he wasn’t there.
She started her journey towards home with the corpse of her son; only she knew that she had reached the end of her long journey.