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Before I proceed further, I would like toclarify why I have selected the title “The Square World” in these cyclicArticles. When I was a collegestudent in 1969, I had participated in a Gujarati Play “Choras Duniya” on celebration of our Annual Day. I had played the roll of a character and perhaps the theme of the play was the same as it is being narrated here.
Now, let us come back to the cell of the prison. Everybody is bound to remember one’s own cell number. If anybody fails to tell his cell number immediately when he is asked by any authority, he must suffer the slaps and blows falling upon jaws, cheeks, head and everywhere. Some foreigners, not knowing the state language, cannot speakinstantly and they also have to suffer the punishment. While punishing, when the hands tire; the kicks start. In abusive words, it is angrily said, “Cursed be your father and mother, you rogue, why can’t you remember your cell number?”
The new-comer, today, is a young, handsome boy – Mr. B. He is pushed in like an article into the cell. His blindfold is removed and handcuffs undone. For few seconds, he surveys the room, looks at the strange and depressed prisoners and breaks down. Sitting near the door, he bitterly cries. The seniors rush towards him, hold him by the hand and try to stop him from crying. They say, “Shame, shame, do not cry – you are a man.” He is served lukewarm water to drink. All sit around him to hear his story.
But before he starts, he wantstoconfirm how long he would be detained. All are like him and everybody has the same question in mind. Nobody is able to answer the question of Mr. B. He says crying, “But, they told me to accompany them for only ten minutes, ten minutes indeed! I am the only son of my widowed mother. She was out and they came in to pick me. My mother doesn’t know this. She would surely die not knowing where I have gone.” And, once again, he cries.
This time all allow him to cry just to lighten his grief. Soon after he lifts his headfrom his knees, tears rolling down by his fair cheeks and asks everybody how long they had been there. He gets variable answers in days, months and years as for two hundred and eight days, for four months, for one year etc.. Hearing them, he now weeps loudly once again and says, “But, they told me ten minutes! I am asthmatic and my widowed mother is old.”
* * *
Most of the detainees are youths. Such inhuman treatmenttowards them may inspire them to be a revolutionary in future if they are setfree alive. History witnesses that the oppressors never last long as they themselves create their enemies meanwhile their rulingfor their downfall and tragic end. Here, Mr. C is also a young man. He is a special personality, but here he is turned into a pitiable state of a goat or a sheep. Now, go on and see what he has been suffering and what his end will be.
Mr. C, sitting in a corner of the cell looks down through his parted knees. He is dejected and detached. He is hardly 22, slim and weak. His body clearly shows the marks of chains and the slashes which do not seem tobe healed. For the sake of entertainment, some inmates tease him. Sometimes, he becomes angry and sometimes he joins with them in joviality.
Mr. C is not an ordinary man, but is an engineer. He canspeak English and German fluently. He is charged as an activist against the rule on suspicious ground. When he is first caught, he was promised to give a very briefand informalinterview and he is here for the last five months. He is labeled as a traitor and frequently summoned for interrogation. Every time he is forced to confess the crime though he is innocent.
Now, be witness of the tragedy of Mr. C how terribly he is treated today. Please be patient and don’t be nervous as much more is yet to come.
A small window of the giant metalgate opens. The name of Mr. C is announced. A sharp merciless gaze of the guard shakes him from his inner most. He is given a blindfold to wear. He is pulled out like a doomed animal with the handcuffs fitted to his wrists. The door is locked and the rest inmates are waiting for his return to know about his fateful encounter.
After lapse of some time, poor Mr. C reappears walking slowly, pale and bent from his waist. Today is the most terrible day of his stay. The interrogators first serve him with blows and then whips. Then they tie him with chains around his wrists and ankles and wholly onto an iron frame. The hands are then pulled on either side till he feels that they come out of his shoulders. The same way the legs are also pulled till they dislocate from the hips. Like in a show of a circus, the frame hung above is turned so that he may lie upside down. “Speak the truth or you will die.” bark the hounds.
Then in a half dead state, Mr. C is brought in the cell. The poor fellow throws himself to the ground, unable to walk and talkfor three days. In his half wakeful state, the droplets of tears roll down his cheeks and in a weak groaning voice murmurs, “What have I done, mother, what have I done?”
For two more months, he is kept in the cell. His mind is split between hope and despair. Lastly, one day the poor man signs the confession of his so called crime; and is sent to the central jail. God only knows what befell him.
– Valibhai Musa
Dtd.: 30th December, 2007
[Continues on Part – III]