Raj Chaudry had expected his trip to be something that he had gone to, once during his summer vacation.
It had been an amusement park and he had played all the games twice before it was time to go back home. He remembered he had cried like a baby when they had to go back.
Now, his father had promised that this vacation was for a lifetime and Raj couldn’t hold back the smile that stretched on his face. Having not to go to school, he was more than happy to nod his head to anything that his father would say to him.
It was little after noon that they had landed in the airport. If his father hadn’t pulled him along, he could have read the boards that said where they were headed to. Soon, a taxi was in front of them and his dad’s friends had come in a jeep to escort them.
All his dad’s friends said that he was very brave and promised him that his new vacation would be fun. The whole ride to his next destination was filled with laughter and stories. Some of them even gave him candies and soon, they became his favorite pals.
But his happiness bubble exploded when they reached the destination. It was not something he had in mind.
The whole area was covered in snow and no matter how much he craned his neck, there was nothing beyond the infinite snow that possessed the earth.
He looked at his father for some explanation, but he only patted his head. Raj knew what that gesture meant - he had to deal with it. It was the same thing when he had got the wrong coloured train for him last birthday. Raj had made a face at him asking for a different one, but Kamal had only shrugged and patted his head, just like he had done now.
For the first few weeks, everyone gushed over at him, asking him all sorts of questions. But by the end of one month, there was nothing left to talk.
Everyone had their own business to take care of. Some sat in the snow cooking the whole day while the rest gathered together in the morning only to disperse after a few minutes. A few of them ran and jumped within their own tent and sometimes Raj joined them too. It seemed that they were keeping themselves fit. But most of the times, he was left alone to fend for himself.
But by the end of the day, he was bored. All the calculation problems that his father had asked him to solve always took the background for the boy.
Those were the times when he actually missed school and his mother. At least his mother would have not left him all alone in such a foreign place. She would have made him laugh more and spent more time with him… unlike his dad who was out all the time.
The only time he saw Kamal was during early morning. By the time Raj woke up, Kamal would have already left for patrol and he could only have a glimpse of him. But no matter what happened, his father never forgot to leave studies for Raj.
And suddenly, study was the only thing that kept the two of them together. At least that’s what Raj thought. Since he was free most of the day, he often completed it sooner than anyone expected and sat by the window watching the snow fall most of the time.
But that day was different. He had found himself creeping out of the house in search of something that wasn’t white. He had dressed up with heavy woollen coats, gloves and a beanie that covered his head. Once he was sure that he would survive the cold, he carefully stepped outside.
It was a little adventure for him and it wasn’t like he would get caught. He was sure that his father and his friends were wasting time here in this place. They said that bad men were out there and he had to stay put. But where were they? Were they mad to come here where there was nothing but snow all day?
He started walking, turning back every once in a while to make sure that he wasn’t getting caught anytime soon. As he walked, he came across the twisted cables laid in front of him in great height.
It was present in horizontal line all the way till his eyes could see. Big board was put at certain intervals and Raj stood in front of one, trying to read it.
“Caution, electricity.” He read out loud after a few failed attempts. Though he didn’t understand what it meant, the ugly picture of a skull next to it was good enough symbol for him to stay away from it.
Raj walked along the twisted lines and to his surprise, he came across a small boy. He was turning to the other side, but Raj was more than happy to find someone of his age.
“Hi!” Raj shouted, waving his hand to the boy across the lines. “What is your name? My name is Raj.”
The other boy’s reflex was in great spirits. He whipped his head towards Raj with a gun pointed at him. His expression seemed to read something bad, but Raj didn’t mind. He wanted some company and he was making sure that he was getting one.
“Who are you? What do you want?” The other boy walked towards the crooked lines and stood directly in front of Raj, still pointing the gun at him.
Raj repeated his sentence again and put on a big smile.
“Go home, this is not your playground.” The boy warned. “Don’t ever mention you saw anyone here to anyone there.”
“Why?” Raj asked, innocently.
“Because if you do, we both are going to be dead.” The boy’s expression hardened.