Under the Bed

“Mommy, mommy,” she came running in the kitchen, “what are you cooking for lunch?”, said the nine-year-old girl.
“Something very delicious for my love bug”, said mommy, ladling the curry in a bowl.
“Mommy, I want to eat with daddy.”
“Daddy is waiting for you on the table.”
The little girl smiled, revealing her two broken front teeth and ran back through the same corridor. The mother took the curry bowl and followed her.
“Here’s the father and daughter’s food”, she said, placing the bowl on the table.
“Saira, you must thank your mom for cooking a delicious meal every day”, said daddy, keeping aside his newspaper.
“Thank you, mommy”, she said, grinning cheerfully.
Her mother stroked her hairs and said, “Alright, I’m going to check the baby.”

The baby was crying in the cradle.
“I’m right here sweetheart”, said the mother, and pulls the baby in her hands affectionately, close to her chest. She lightly pats the back of her baby and sings a sweet lullaby.
It was a regular summer afternoon, the sun was shining brightly outside, and a family like yours and mine were having their lunch.

It was all calm until they surrounded the house and started banging at the door. The father who was listening to his daughters’ Superman story ran towards the door. He stood frozen at his spot for a moment when he heard the people outside shouting and screaming. He peeped through the window and saw men with sticks and rod. Then he rushed back and bumped into his wife. All of their faces were white.
“Take.. take the kids,” he stuttered, “and hide them,”
“Go!” he shouted.

The mother rushed towards the daughter who was licking the spoon, “Saira!”, she said nervously.
Saira looked at her mom with big, bright eyes and said, “mommy?”
The mother held Saira’s hand and took her in the baby’s room. She grabbed the baby who was lying in the crib. She asked Saira to hide under the bed and gave her the baby.
“Saira,” she held her hand firmly and said, “if you cry, the bad men are going to take you.”
“What’s wrong, mommy?” she babbled.
“Promise me,” said the mother and a tear rolled over her cheek, “say you promise, you’ll take care of your brother.”
Saira held her mother’s hand and said, “I promise, mommy.”

Then the mother moved outside the room and locked the door. After that, she walked hurriedly to see her husband. He was lying on the floor in a pool of blood and the men were kicking and beating him.

She cried, “please stop”. With her bare hands, she tried to fight, she fought to stop. But with her naked eyes, all she could see was a man lying helpless on the floor. And at that moment when the men raped her of her individuality, she struggled in her mind. Is there anything left to fight for, she thought. When they thrashed her on the floor, near her husband, she knew death is a moment away. And in that situation, she just wanted to see the faces of her kids for one last time.
They kept on beating her brutally until her hands stopped opposing. They didn’t kill her but killed her spirit to survive this incident.

Once again, everything was calm.
Saira was playing with the baby to keep him quiet. Then she moved out and knocked on the door lightly so that the bad men couldn’t hear.

“Mommy,” she said softly, “Daddy!”
And she kept knocking and knocking.
After about an hour, she heard sirens. A uniformed man unlocked the door of her room.
“Where’s my mommy?”, she asked the policeman.
There were so many people in her house so, she stood stunned.
“Where’s Daddy?”, she asked again.

Saira and her baby brother were taken to an orphanage. But her brother died two months after the incident.

She still mummers in her sleep
“I couldn’t take care of my brother, mommy, forgive me.”

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