Five Times

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Chapter 12

Abi swiftly sprang up, pushing her palms hard on the bed.

“Abi, please calm down,” Ahana said softly to her, with her hands supporting her shoulder. But Abi didn’t lend her ears to Ahana; rather she was engrossed in thinking about Adhi.

She sat up with the help of Ahana and crossed her legs across her knees. All the while Adhi was staring at Abi, with his arms crossed over his chest. That look disturbed Abi. She rolled her eyes in irritation and let out a frustrated huff, but she couldn’t raise her voice against him to tell him not to look at her.

“How do you feel now, Abi?” Ahana asked in a concerned tone.

“Hmm… I am a bit thirsty,” she said in a very low voice.

Ahana looked around the room for water but she could find only the empty water bottles. “Wait… I will go and get water” Ahana said and moved a little, but Abi pulled her back to the bed.

“I don’t need water. I can manage” Abi said and slightly turned over Adhi’s direction, still having her heads down.

Until then, Adhi was observing Abi’s behavior with a stern look. Now, he breathed out a little before extending his hands to Ahana for the water bottle. With no delay, the moment he disappeared from the sight, Abi threw so many questions at Ahana.

“Why is he here Ahana? You know, I fainted only because of him. Please ask him to stay out of me. I freak out whenever I see him” Abi blurted everything out in a rage.

“No Abi. Please listen to me. He is…”

“I need no explanation Ahana. Just tell him to be away from me.” Abi finished arguing with Ahana and sat straight in the bed, with a furious look in her eyes.

Ahana was annoyed at her sister’s behavior but she couldn’t control her. She took a deep breath and said, “Fine, if you are that much disturbed, then tell him. Why should I?” Abi didn’t miss the sarcasm in Ahana’s voice.

“Okay, I will tell him.” Abi snapped at Ahana. Then she moved her legs close to her chest and rested her head on her knees. There was an awkward silence between those sisters.

The moment Abi heard the doorknob tilt open, she jerked up from her position. She rapidly sat in the same position as she was before. Ahana pressed her lips hard to control her sarcastic laughter.

Adhi came with the bottle filled with water. He gently lent it to Abi. Abi turned her head the other side refusing to take the water from him. Ahana shook her head in dismay before getting the bottle from Adhi and handing it to Abi.

Abi hesitatingly took the water and drank it making her throat feel good. She looked at Adhi through the corner of her eyes to check with him. Adhi was again staring at her in the same way as he did before.

What on earth my face has?

There was again an unpleasant silence that filled the room. Neither of the three opened their mouth. Ahana with a slight smirk on her face signaled Abi to tell him everything she intended to. Abi was more irritated by Ahana’s reaction.

When both the girls were busy in talking in their secret language, Adhi voice caught their attention.

“Abi, I want to talk to you. Can I have a few minutes?” Adhi asked Abi and waited patiently for her reply. He had his hands into his pockets and his eyes were firmly on Abi’s.

Abi again felt the nervousness catching her back. She directly looked at Ahana and shook her head in sideways.

“Don’t worry Abi. Your sister will be here with you while I talk to you” Adhi added another point to his request.

Ahana too nodded in approval.

Abi understood that he won’t leave without talking to her. So she came to a conclusion and sat in the bed, facing the blue wall right in front of her. She was clutching Ahana’s wrist tightly and just said, “Hmm.”

When Adhi took a step forward, Abi’s grip tightened on Ahana’s and her body shook a little unknowingly. Adhi dragged a chair lying beside the bed and made him comfortable on it.

“See Abi, I know very well about your fear. And…”

“How do you know?” Abi burst at Adhi and without giving him a chance to answer, she turned around and looked at her sister questioningly.

“I didn’t tell him, Abi” Ahana confirmed her.

“No one told me. I found it myself” he lied.

Abi’s eyebrows joined together for a while in thought and then looked back at him in a way that demanded an answer from him.

“Well, I am a psychiatrist” Adhi blurted out.

Abi’s eyes expanded in shock. Before her mind could accept the piece of information she had just heard, she was loaded with the next.

“Abi, it is fine if you don’t take me as a friend, but accepting me as a doctor won’t be that bad. I can cure you with the counseling sessions if you wish. I promise you, your sister will be with you all through your sessions.” Adhi voiced his thought and leaned back in the chair leisurely.

Abi was totally muddled at the things that were happening around her. Psychiatrist…Counseling…me…man…

Abi pressed either side of her head with both her hands and squeezed her eyes in thought.

Adhi gave Abi a worried look and gazed at Ahana. He just nodded his head to Ahana to tell her not to worry. Ahana too nodded in approval.

“Okay, take your time and decide. Bye” said Adhi and left the room.

Intelina was thinking about the ring all day. She was glad for the dead rope on one hand, but on the other hand, she was worried about where the ring was. Suddenly the rope that was lying on the ground twirled in the air and rapped around her again. She was shocked at the view of it. She shuddered on all ways, but she couldn’t get out of that grip.

What’s happening?

The moment she was about to cry aloud at the almighty, she heard thunderous footsteps and she went silent.

What if Whalros already knew about the untied rope?

Whalros stormed into the room with the severe look on his face. The instant he saw Intelina in tears, his joy had no bounds. He literally enjoyed her tears.

“I am so glad to see you crying. These magic ropes won’t leave you for your tears,” he said with an evil smile.

Thank god!! He didn’t know anything.

“Why did you come here now?” Intelina busted at him.

Whalros’ face suddenly changed to a serious one. He slowly neared Intelina. With each step he took, Intelina’s heart skipped. There was just an inch gap between them. Intelina was breathing hard. Whalros leaned forward and Intelina pushed her against the chair. He extended his arms towards Intelina, which made her tremble with fear. She closed her eyes in disgust.

Intelina waited for the worst to happen. But, Whalros gripped the rope tightly and pulled it a couple of times. After being sure that the rope was hard on her, his serious look on his face vanished and again the egoistic smile spread across his lips.

Intelina slightly opened her eyes to check on the situation. Learning that nothing bad had happened, she parted her eyelashes fully and gave him a nasty look.

“Hmm… nothing. I felt something fishy. But now it is very clear. You can’t escape little girl,” he said and smirked one last time before marching out of the room.

Intelina exhaled with relief. Once the footsteps faded, the rope slacked and fell back on the floor lifeless.

Wow!! God is really great!!

“Please, God! Protect everyone until I am out of these four prisons” she muttered a silent prayer, closing her eyes.

The clock ticked 6 in the evening. After resting for half an hour, Abi splashed the cool water on her face to feel fresh and was finally ready to explore the iconic place in Andaman. She had heard great things about the Cellular Jail that had increased her curiosity to visit it soon.

The cellular Jail has a harrowing history which every Indian ought to know. Now, this may be one of the national memorials of India, but, can you believe that it was the same place where many Indians had lost their lives? Yes, it was after the first war of independence (1857); Indians were badly treated than ever. They were forced to deport from India and were imprisoned in this same jail in Andaman, separating them away from the Indian mainland.

It was in those days, crossing a sea meant a loss of their caste. And that would lead to the social exclusion of the very person who crossed overseas. The person would rather die than to live with the loss of their caste. Even though it looks irrelevant to today’s modern age, it was one of the traditions for those people. (No wonder!! Even today we could see murders in the name of honor killing). Indians were locked up and truly tortured to death. This structure stands as a witness to the torment, the freedom fighters had experienced.

After 15 minutes of the ride in the auto rickshaw, these two families got down at the entrance of the Cellular Jail. Everyone was spellbound at the sight of the massive building. The jail had a big tower at the center surrounded by 3 prolonged wings (4 wings were demolished). They were quickly taken on a short trip around the jail.

Abi was fascinated by the structure itself. She was eagerly following the instructor to explore more of it. She was excited at the architecture. But, on the other side, Adhi was so tight and firm. He already knew the history of this place which his grandfather (retired army officer) had told. His heart ached when he stepped into the place.

Everyone reached the cells where the Indians were locked up. There was separate cells for each prisoner so that they couldn't plan anything with the fellow prisoners and so the name 'Cellular'. There was only one small window at the side of the room, with the barred door on the opposite side. The instructor was explaining about the glory of the jail standing inside the cell. It was not more than ten minutes, Abi, Adhi, their family, and all others were sweating profusely in the cell. Many of them started suffocating with lack of air. Think of how much pain Indians could have endured staying there for long years!!

Then they were taken to a place which had an oil grinding machine. The main job of the prisoners was to churn out the oil which even the Buffaloes couldn’t do with ease. The rebelling Indians would be tied to the rope and would be forced to grind it. Abi’s eyes instantly welled up on hearing the ill-treatment that her former generations had survived. Her hands clasped her heart unknowingly, not able to even guess how much suffering the fighters went through.

After that, they all came to the most dreadful place, the gallows. Adhi’s heart sank the moment he saw the room.

“How many souls were hanged here lifeless, hoping for better India!!” he thought to himself. He couldn’t stand there for long and he excused himself from everyone.

After visiting the several galleries of freedom fighters and the art gallery on various floors, all were now ready for the prominent light and sound show. The show started and the jail was glowing in the live performance of the light. It not only beautified the structure of the building but had narrated the darkest history of the independence movement. Everyone could feel the pain and also the glory behind it, both at the same time.

Adhi had Goosebumps all over his skin and he couldn’t hold a drop of tear that escaped the corner of his eyes. He blinked his eyes faster than usual to hold on his tears. The show ended and everyone made their way to the hotel with a heavy heart.

The first day of the trip had come to an end. Everyone went to bed peacefully, with the pride of being an Indian, waiting for the next morning.

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