The Last Run

Suman is the daughter of a Bihari Don and is about to jump from a running train, as goons chase her. Because she ran away with her lover. But why did she have to kill her beloved mother?

She was embracing him tightly enough to cause pain but he didn’t budge. He was as nervous as her. Someone banged on the door once, twice and then a feminine irritated voice followed ” How long?” 

She looked up at him and asked “How long? We cannot stay here forever.” As her head rested on his chest, she could feel his increased heartbeat and the fast rising and falling of his chest. He took a deep breathe. 

“We cannot stay here forever.” He repeated her words. She further pressed her face into his shirt. That was her only escape from the horrible smell that came from the railway compartment public toilet, where they stood. 

They stood in the same position for about half an hour more when they felt the train slowing down. She could feel him take another deep breathe. He placed his hand on the door lock. She instantly separated from him as if reading his mind. 

He opened the lock and moved the door nearly an inch away. He looked out and moved away the door another inch, placing half his shoe outside. The next second he hand signed her to move as he opened the door wide and said in minimal voice, enough to be heard by her “Come”. 

The rush of cool air from the now opened door hit her. She took her part of a deep breath and help his hand tightly. A metre away from the toilet was the main door of the railway compartment. But he paused at the door. The train was on a bridge. There was a river flowing down them. 

“There they are.” She heard a hoarse voice. 

Those three words were enough to pump fear in her veins thrice the time there already was. She pulled him and ran into another compartment opposite from the source of the voice. He ran behind her. 

“S5…S5” She heard the voice again “They are in S5”. 

They had somehow crossed the compartment which their predator referred to as S5. They banged on all the four toilets at the end of the compartment, as they ran with all their might. All the toilets were busy, they ran to the next compartment. 

“Now in S6” Came another voice from the opposite direction this time “I am in S6.” 

They were trapped. They turned around and ran towards the opposite direction banging on the toilets again. He pulled her to the main door. She could feel the train picking up pace again. He was looking down at the raging river.

“We need to jump.” She heard him. She took a last deep breathe and moved with him, still holding her hand to the edge to the door. 

She jumped. As soon as her feet left the floor of the train she started feeling weightless. She could no more feel the weight of the bag hung on her shoulders. Then she looked up. He was still there on the train. She never knew when he let go of her hand.

And in the next instant , he jumped joining her in the free fall. 

She didn’t know if she would make it out alive. But she knew one thing for sure, either way she would be happy. She knew it for she loved her mother whom she had killed some hours earlier while running away with the man she loved. 

She knew it was going to be a happily ever after for her. It had to be so. 

She hit the waterbody by her face. A splashing sound followed. All her clothes were wet and stuck to her body. She had stopped breathing and was moving her arms and legs in an attempt to go up. But she realised it was not working rather she was going down, deep. She closed her eyes and tried to move her limbs in sync but of no avail. She was running out of oxygen and opened her mouth to breathe in but regretted it the very next moment. 

She was going down but an arm circled around her waist and pulled her upwards. She stuck to the body of her rescuer like a leech. She was going upwards with her rescuer and at once her head was out of water. She had definitely engulfed some water. The man, her partner helped her to the nearby bridge footing. 

They both sat taking support of the wall. She looked at him, he was also wet and panting but not looking at her. She placed her palm on his shoulder. He instantly looked at her. 

“I think I swallowed some water. She said expressionless and exhausted. “Lie down on your belly.” He said to her in an assuring tone. 

She did as said and she felt like vomiting. He helped her remove the bag pack still on her shoulders and wet and then started rubbing her back. She puked but all that came out of her mouth was water. 

After sometime both of them still sitting at the footing of the railway bridge looking at the sky. It was twilight the time nearly five or six o’ clock. She tilted her head and rested it on his shoulder. Their clothes had dried to some extent. 

She looked straight at the sun and none of them spoke anything. She was thinking about all that she had done since last night. She had killed her mother and burnt her dead body. She had

eloped with a man. What an awful daughter she was. But what disturbed her the most was the fact that she didn’t feel guilty of doing any of these things. 

“Sameer” She said and Sameer looked at her. He lowered his face and rubbed his nose on her hair. 

“Don’t you think I am an awful daughter?” She asked. 

“No, I don’t think so.” He said. 

“I killed my mother. Which daughter does that?” She asked yet not satisfied with his answer. “Death is the only mercy, remember? Above all, you loved your mother.” He said and again started looking at the sky. 

Yes she loved her mother. She would have been so happy if she had killed her father instead. She dreaded her father. He taught her how to slaughter people but never taught her how to save herself from dangers. 

Looking at the sky she remembered all those horrific moments of her life. Her father made her kill a man when she was just fifteen years old. She killed the man but could not sleep at night for six months. She did her second murder when she was sixteen. That was the most brutal thing of her life. 

Even today when she thought of it she could see the man begging infront of her to let go of him and not kill him. Behind her stood her father with a shot gun. And there she was standing with a knife to kill the man tied to a chair. One of her father’s men held her hand and smoothly glided the blade across the man’s neck. Blood oozed out and spilled all over. 

Some of the blood also splashed over her clothes. The blade dropped to the ground from her hand. He father came to her and handed her the shot gun. She knew what to do next. She fired five bullets into the dead man’s body. Her father patted on her shoulder and left with the other man in the room. 

She had vomited the whole day. At last she tried to hang herself. But she was unsuccessful in her attempt and was saved. Rest five years of her life got worst. And today she was here. Running from her father. Hoping for a better future. 

A man descending steps to the sacred Ganges to immerse his wife’s ashes, whom his daughter had killed. He stood halfway into the sacred river and immersed the vessel into the waterbody as the priest who stood nearby him chanted mantras. 

***

She could not kill her mother, he thought. How could she? She loved her so much. 

He looked at the family photograph he held in his hand. There they were- He, his wife and his daughter. But now he is all alone. His daughter killed his wife and fled with one of his men, that bastard. 

He looked at his daughter. She was slender and tall with large black eyes, a sharp proud nose and small lips. A perfect feminine copy of hers. His daughter might look like a meek but she had killed a score of men. 

The walls of the room were painted yellow and a yellow lighted chandelier hung from the roof. All these light colours could not overshadow the black colourless and soulless furniture in the room. 

A man entered the room where sat, Pratap Thakur. His black clothes formed a big part of his dominating self. Even the man who was well built was affected by the darkness of the place. The room had a terrifying effect on everyone. 

“Any other news?”, asked Pratap. 

“Boss, they were sighted alive, sitting at the footing of the bridge.”, the man said with a straight face but yet a fear could be seen in his eyes. 

“Tomorrow morning. I want them. Dead or Alive.”, he stated. 

The man nodded and left behind Pratap who looked very patient from the outside but inside him was a cruel, violent beast who could kill his prey bare handedly. He had a last look at the photograph and then tore it into four pieces and stood up to leave. While exiting the room, he dropped the pieces into a nearby dustbin. 

*** 

Suman and Sameer walked hand in hand on the rural roads of Patna. The mud road had dried during the summer season and the left amount of drying grass made no sound as the pair walked on it. Someone on the way had told them that at the end of this mud road is a rural area and they could spend the night there. 

The fact they they were still in Bihar was a threat to their lives but leaving Bihar could be more of a challenge. This last run to freedom was not going to end so soon for them. 

“There”, exclaimed Suman as she sighted a lantern hanging at quite a distance from them. The fire in the lantern gave them hopes for they had found shelter and a place so rural that it would be hard for Pratap and his men to find them.

Although they were exhausted, they gained some speed on seeing their fire of hope. When they reached the lantern, they realised that there were a dozen of similar thatched roof huts made of mud with some madhubani folk art drawn on them. The night had silvered allowing them some light. 

Sameer took off the bag and pulled out some half wet cash from it and stuffed them into his jean pant pocket. He called out,”Is someone here? We have lost our way. We need shelter.” And even knocked twice at the already ruined wooden door of the house. 

A man opened the door. From the looks of him, one could say that he was not happy with his uninvited guests disturbing him in the middle of his sleep. “What do you want?”, asked the man in his thick bhojpuri accent with a tint of irritation. 

“We want shelter. We have lost our way.”, said Sameer in his mother tongue quite same as the man’s. He also dug out some cash from his pocket to offer the man. 

This time the man looked at the cash and then at the two of them. Probably a good amount had been presented to him, a good compensation. “Come with me.”, he said, this time calmly. He guided them to the back of the house to his cowshed. He untied the cow tied there and said,” You can stay here.” and looked at the couple. 

Sameer nodded approvingly and said,” This will do.” Hearing the reply the man left with his mammal. 

“Quite a good place to be alive ,isn’t it?”, asked Sameer directing the question at Suman. “He would have allowed us in if you had given some more money.” replied Suman. 

“He would have given us this place to stay even if we had offered him your father’s fortune.” 

Sameer and Suman had slept through the rest of the night snugging closest to each other as if enclosed in some imaginary cocoon. But in reality both of them wanted to protect the other one. 

The faint rays at sunrise were not responsible for waking up the pair but it was the ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ crowing of the roosters at the break of dawn. 

Their host was kind enough to provide them with some chapattis and chilli. The pair after a lot of debate decided that it would be better to leave the hamlet and not endanger the lives of people living there. So they gave their host some more money in exchange for some food and prepared to leave before sunset. 

***

“They are in a house in some small hamlet. They spent the night there. Sir should we kill them there or bring them here? Our men are monitoring all their movements.”, said a man to Pratap who sat in his usual place like a ruler. 

“Get them here alive.”, said Pratap and hand signed the man to leave. 

*** 

“So where next?”, asked Suman as she walked with Sameer, hand in hand in a mustard field. The plants with bloomed yellow flowers reached till their upper thighs. 

“You see that grove of mango trees after that one more village and we will arrive at Nepal border.”, he said patiently making Suman feel that was going to end good. 

“That sounds good but we need to be more careful now. By now he might have known that we are alive. We should pick up some pace.”, she said getting closer to him. He encircled his arm around her waist pulling her to his chest. 

“Hey how about we do a hundred metre run to the grove?”, said Suman. “At your command.”, he replied straightening his back as a sign of being prepared. 

“Ready…. Steady….GO”, shouted Suman and both of them started running. 

“They are running away. I repeat they are running away.”, shouted someone from behind them to which they looked back while running to find around ten men running behind them. The men were armed and their guns pointing at Sameer and Suman. 

The pair held hands and ran into the grove for cover. The men followed behind them. Once some distance inside the grove Sameer and Suman sat behind dense bushes. Sameer tried to unzip the bag as quietly as possible. They had been carrying it from the very beginning. He pulled out a pistol from inside it. 

“Stay here or run away if I die.”, he said as low as a whisper as he caressed her face and rolled to the other side while Suman went back some distance from him with the bag. 

There was constant firing. Sounds of bullets being fired filled the atmosphere which was filled with the sound of chirping of birds some time earlier. Two bullets had grazed Sameer and he was bleeding. He was also successful in hitting half a dozen of the enemy. A next bullet hit right on his knee. He turned back taking cover of a tree and shouted at Suman to run away. 

Suman instead ran to him with a magazine of bullets and reloaded the pistol taking it from Sameer’s hands. Seeing her actions, Sameer cursed under his breath. Some more time and Suman had successfully knocked out two men without even getting a scratch on herself.

That is when a bullet fired from some unknown direction hit Sameer in the palm. They noticed that from somewhere the troops had increased and they were surrounded by all sides. They were in the endgame. 

Suman sat beside a now treated Sameer who had bandages on his knees, thighs and hands. The room filled with men who had guns ready to fire an unlimited amount of bullets any moment. Pratap entered and the tension in the room got heated. 

“Leave”, he ordered and all the men left the place in a sequence. Quite well trained. 

Pratap sat just in front of his daughter, looked at her fierce eyes and no guilt glowed on her face. “Why did you kill her?”, he asked her with all the patience in the world. 

“Why do you care? Just kill us and it will be over.”, Suman spoke looking into her father’s eyes in a daring voice. 

At this he got up and picked up a nearby machine gun pointing it directly at his daughter. Suman was prepared for it or she pretended that she was. The sound of a bullet being fired echoed but Suman sat there unharmed as the fired bullet had hit the wall behind them. 

“Do you think I missed it?” He paused. “It could have hit you or him”, he raised his eyebrows and moved closer sticking the nozzle of the machine gun on Sameer’s forehead. “One simple question. Why did you kill her?”, he asked again. 

“She wanted it. She wanted freedom from being your trophy wife, from being under your control, from being under your eyes every moment and from being trapped inside your golden cage. All she wanted was freedom from you.”, she accused him with a solid and determined face. 

The words had some effect on Pratap. He removed the gun point from Sameer and sat back to his previous place, the gun still in his hands. “What did she say?”, he asked in a low dangerous tone. The silence in his tone hid inside him a storm of disappointment and rage. 

“She said that neither she hated you nor did she ever love you. She felt nothing for you. You held her captive and then she wanted freedom. Freedom not from your golden cage, but from you, your name and everything yours that she had. She said that ‘Death was her mercy.’ She didn’t want you to light her funeral pyre. She wanted me to burn her after killing her. She was happy that both of us would get freedom from you.”, said Suman ending with a smirk, she knew her father loved her mother but his love was never returned. She was never his and that was the only sorrow of his life.

Suman reminisced that night when her mother caught her red handed while escaping with Sameer. She instantly pulled out a gun from a nearby stand and killed two of the guards who were always with her, spies. Through them, Pratap monitored all her moments. She told Suman, “Kill me and run away; never come back.” 

When Suman asked her to accompany them, she refused. She was done being a possession and not a human. She asked Suman to burn her body after killing for she knew very well that it would break the insides of her husband. 

A tear rolled down Suman’s eye as flashbacks of her mother dying and herself crying while firing bullets at her resurfaced to her memory. 

Pratap instantly stood up and started firing bullets in the machine gun, which he was holding earlier, towards his daughter and her love. Pratap was a very patient man and this violent response from his part clearly showed how much the truth of his wife’s death had affected him. 

When the gun ran out of bullets, he said “Death is mercy.”, throwing the gun away and turning around to leave for he was done. 

Behind his departing figure, sat Suman and Sameer , alive.

Smita Kumari

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