Aabaad

She gave the child a poster to hold while she answered the video journalist’s questions

I thought her answers were dodgy till I realised the questions were dodgy . She was used to these struggles .

The child was bored . He wanted to make a paper plane out of the poster . He even folded it a little awkwardly , enclosed as he was in the grandmother’s embrace which he made no effort to escape .

My attention wandered though the testimony was riveting . The lamb that had not even been born last year was being accused of muddying the water upstream , last year . Grounds were being prepared for swallowing the lamb whole . The Tiger was hungry but politically correct

If it wasn’t you it must have been your father
If it wasn’t you it must have been your sister or your sister in law or your mother .
It was another girl from the community . The mother was a part of the group that agitated for justice .

The interviewer was oily . The insinuators were clever . The mother was resilient . She struck to a bare narrative . She had no emotional appeal . She was not pretty . She too had spent time in jail.

She knew she would not be believed. She knew she had to tell her story . It was not her story alone . It was the story of her daughter now . It had been the story of another woman’s daughter then . The stories were interlinked . The stories never ended .

The incidents were not pretty
The police were not pretty
The cases were not pretty .
The girl was pretty

The family was gritty

The little boy was about to launch his imperfect paper aeroplane when the grandmother swooped down on it , unfolded it , and again made him hold it up like a placard. The poster was a computer print-out.

The child was stoic. He kept trying to fold the poster once more but to no avail . He sulked but not too much .

The woman held the child to her chest like a shield . The child was warm in the comfort of her lap . He did not want to run away . The woman did not refuse to answer a single question .

Finally , the interviewer got up . The woman and child watched him speak his closing piece into the microphone . His curled moustaches oozed privilege . He asked his viewers to judge for themselves .

The camera was switched off .The interviewer walked out of the gate without a backward look . He was about to step into his SUV .

A paper plane landed at his feet . One wing said FREE . The other wing said AABAAD . The rest was lost in the folds .

The little boy laughed

( AABAAD means ALIVE , INHABITED, FLOURISHING in Persian , Urdu , Hindi , and Punjabi )

( ASA )

( This is not a poem but a short story for the New Writing section )

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