I will never forget the 15th September’16 of my life. This obliterating day taught me the primitive rules of my life. The day that revived the beauty of the simplicity. The day that injured my pride teaching me the importunate lessons of life. The day I realised the ingenuousness of life and also the value of honesty. The day when the years of my hard work and reputation was all eradicated in a fraction of seconds. How can I forget that day of my life!
It was 5:47 in the morning. I was not able to sleep the whole night. Maybe, the thought of betraying the value of honesty or the fear of the punishment kept me awake the whole night. I don’t know whether I was waiting for the sun to rise up or to set. My wife was sleeping next to me, with a delicacy on her face but a strong heart. I know how broken and deceived she felt those days. I know she had many questions from me. I saw the fear of her children’s future on her face, after all she is a mother. She wanted to ask me that didn’t I even think once of our children before doing something this wrong but, she was my wife and she believed in the pledges to stand by my side throughout the life. Then finally, I got up from my bed at 6:10. I went to my children’s bedroom. They were sleeping with the glint of innocence on their faces. With my moist eyes, I went to the washroom to get freshen up.
I looked at the mirror. It was the first time when I was not able to look directly into my own eyes. I was feeling ashamed of myself. I was stuck with the cross feeling of dismay and amazement. Upholding my emotions, I finished my work. I went to the living room, sat there on the sofa with the confounded thoughts going inside my mind. After sometime, my wife came and sat next to me.
She said, “Its 9 o’clock. Get ready.”
I didn’t realise but an hour passed, sitting over there.
I got up and went to my room to get ready. I drank a glass of aam panna and then called my brother’s son.
“Beta, where are you? How much time will you take?”
“I am on my way. I will be there in 10 minutes.”
I hung up the call.
I was waiting for him. I looked at my wife’s face, she gave me a smile in disguise. Then she came closer, I hugged her tightly, she did the same. She knew the pain I was going through. Even though she was worried but still she was trying her best to be strong.
And then, after sometime Rahul came and touched my feet. We drove to the court.
On the way, we didn’t talk much. I didn’t have the grit to ask him about his opinions. We reached the court.
It was my turn. I went inside the court, for the first time. The court, a massive hall with its interior as strict as the laws of the constitution. The wooden benches arranged in rows, revealed the experience of tension, peace, calmness, justice, hope and dignity. A weighing instrument which was placed on the judge’s table, signified the victory of justice, scared me more. The silence gave the wisdom of the justice.
I sat in the first row with Rahul, waiting for the judge. After few minutes, the honourable judge entered the hall and we all stood up giving him the respect. He sat on his chair.
“Case can be proceeded.”
I was asked to stand in the witness box. I stood up from my seat and moved ahead with my heavy steps towards the box.
Then he started reading the script that said,
“The accused, Mr Daman Singhania is charged for encouraging the bribery under the section 171 B of Indian Penal Code……………………..”
For a second, I got numb, I was listening to everything but I was not able to accept it. I knew I was wrong but, when he read this to me, the feeling of contrite overcame my conscious.
“Mr Daman… Mr Daman….”
“Yes sir! Sorry”
“Do you want to say something in your defense?”
With guilty in my heart I said, “No.”
“This is how you people are eating up the money of our country!”
His poignant words made me freeze.
“Don’t say that to me please! I know I am wrong. I accept my fault. While taking the bribe, even I knew I was very wrong but the greed for money defeated the values that I have been taught.” I didn’t have the courage to utter these words because I knew no one was going to listen but, curse me for my deeds.
The case went on. I was listening to everything with mingled thoughts going inside my mind.
An hour passed, then the judge said, “The court finds Mr Daman as the victim and hereby, declares the punishment till he doesn’t get an appropriate witness.”
Police came and they grabbed my hands and locked it with iron manacles. It was the first time when even my soul wanted to leave my body. The policemen who used to demand for the money once, were mocking at me. I was sent to the jail and was locked up with several criminals.
The jail, I have heard a lot about this place, but I never knew that it is the real hell present in the earth. I met many people with different mind set. Some were the real criminals, who committed the real crime. Some were the victims of injustice, just because they didn’t get the chance to prove their innocence. Some wanted to get a chance to improve and become a better person. Some had the regret spilling out of their eyes. Some of them seemed to be detached from the world. The most common thing that I saw over there was the stagnant ruination of life.
That place was one out of an inferno, that I have never imagined in my life. I was given a blanket and an iron plate for food. Over there I didn’t have any name, I was just a number – “Prisoner No. 840”, which was allotted to me by the authorities. With my things, I went to my lockup. That place smelt like a rotten meat. In my lockup, there were many people wearing dirty and stinking clothes, with grownup beard and messy hair. Few people came to me and one by one asked me, “What did you do? What was your crime?”
I didn’t say anything, I kept quiet. One of them slapped me so hard. I was dumbfounded with his action. Then the other person asked me, I didn’t reply I got another slap and then another by the other person. The misery that I was feeling was boosted by the intense rage. I kept quiet, I took my blanket and plate and found a corner to live. I used to be the dealer of acres of land and now my fate has brought me here, in this cage, where I had to fight to get an area of 1sq. metres to live. It was a place where the journey of ending of the life begins. With every passing day, I realised the value of time. I came to know the importance of every single second. During nights, I tried my best to sleep but I couldn’t. We used to sleep in a line next to each other. One night, by mistake, my hands touched someone, he got up and slapped me hard without even opening his eyes. His one slap made me realise the comfort of my bedroom in the home.
Few days passed. I used to be the kind of person who was very fond of luxuries and now I was drowning in the oceans of my doom. One fine morning, I woke up after having a few minutes sleep. There was a barber, I asked him to cut my hair and shave my beard. He did it for two days. The third time, when I asked him, he said in a very cunning tone, “Kya karloge bhai, itna bhi kya hai? Jail me hi to rehna hai?” I didn’t ask him for anything after that.
Then I met two brothers of my caste. They were charged for some murder case and they were there since a long time. They helped me a lot. They used to have eyes on the people who tortured me. But one can’t protect you for a long time!
That place made my life heinous. The slow-moving time seemed so immense. Those were the days that made me realise the value of dignity, that once I used to have. The time befell, making my body and my soul weaker day by day.
It was my twenty fourth day in the prison. I woke up with the usual dizziness. Then one hawaldaar came near to our lockup and said, “Prisoner No. – 840, get ready, you have got bail!”
A current of agility ran through my body. I got up and started packing my things, though I had just a blanket and a plate! I folded my blanket and kept it aside with the plate over it. I kept my eyes on my things so that no one can take it away from me. I was waiting for the hawaldaar to come soon.
Few minutes passed. Finally, I came out of that lockup, that hell! I went to return the blanket and plate to the authorities. I was feeling very energised that day. I went to the inspectors table, completed some formalities and then met my brother. Inspector said, “You have got a bail till your next hearing.”
I didn’t say anything. I came outside. With my every step approaching the exit of the jail, I felt the different kind of freedom. I inhaled the vigorous and fresh cold air, very deeply. That was the most precious day of my life. On that day, I felt the real happiness. I realised that water, food and support of my family were not less than the five star luxuries. That day I came to know the meaning of life.
Twenty-two years have passed now. Today, sitting in this cell, I don’t have power to speak up, but I have this paper and pen to express my emotions. I don’t want to speak up now, because I know I was wrong at that time, I wasn’t loyal to anyone so, now it is my punishment.
People say that sword can kill millions. No! pen has much more powers. On 15th september’16, the almighty pen of the judge taught me lessons of the life. And today, my pen will carve this story in millions of minds, teaching them that
“Truth can never hide and justice is the nature of this world!”