The strangled plea almost halted him in his tracks but he didn’t falter even for a second. The thought circling his mind was his mother and father were still inside and he needed to reach the police check post as soon as possible. Once the police arrive everything will be okay.
Grabbing onto Gera, he sprinted through the courtyard. His breathing became laboured by the time he reached the gate. Heaving, he lowered Gera on the ground and placed his hand on the latch.
As a piercing shriek resonated in his ears, a mind-numbing pain blinded him and everything went black.
Veera’s body twisted with pain as something heavy and leathery lashed out on his body. He tried to shake off the numbing sleepiness in his head but just couldn’t. Suddenly he felt something cold hit his face. As it trickled down his body, he cried out with agony and the pain was enough to drive away his slumberous state.
“Ah! Your boy opens his eyes,” he heard Thakur Baldev say as he blinked his eyes open.
The strong light in front of him stung hard and Veera closed his eyes groaning. Just as he did that, again something heavy and leathery lashed out on his body and he cried out painfully.
Heaving, he opened his eyes and stared straight ahead. The light was gone and finally, his eyes were able to register the scene in front.
His father was struggling with some of the henchmen trying to save Gera from being tossed around hand to hand. They would slacken the rope holding his father and just as he would reach Gera they would pull him back.
Anger and desperation doubled inside Veera as he watched the scene. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth and tried to gather everything inside him to get away from the ropes holding him captive but it was not enough. He cried out with frustration and instantly felt the leather sting his body. As his eyes opened with a snap, he saw the whip in Thakur Ratan’s hand.
“All this would be over for you Vikramveer, if you tell us where the deed is,” Thakur Baldev said nearing his father.
“Let them go first and I’ll tell you where it is,” his father replied glaring at Thakur Baldev.
Thakur Baldev’s and his sons’ snickering laughter rang in his ears but amidst that he could hear a grunting sound. Veera concentrated on it and his eyes shifted to his left side.
His whole body started to shiver as he saw his mother being dragged by a henchman. As she was shoved in front of him, he struggled against the ropes but nothing happened.
“AMMA!” he screamed with all his might.
But his mother lay there motionless.
“Wake her up,” he heard Thakur Virendra command one of the henchmen.
He saw one of the henchmen pour some water on her face but she didn’t move at all. Fearing the worst, he called out again to his mother.
This time he saw his mother move a little.
“Uma!” his father called out to her.
Veera saw his mother shift her head towards the other side to look at his father. Even though he couldn’t understand the silent communication that happened between them, still he could figure out his mother telling his father not to disclose where the deed was.
“Enough!” Thakur Virendra ordered and placed his foot on his mother’s back.
“LET HER GO!” he heard his father scream.
But the next instant he saw a piece of cloth being shoved inside his father’s mouth. And after that came his turn, then his sister’s.
Veera tried his best to scream but everything got buried in the cloth. He saw his father attacking the ropes again and again but failing to loosen them.
“Now comes the time when we show you what happens when someone doesn’t listen to us,” Thakur Baldev said to his father as he came and stood in front of his mother.
“Tie her up,” he commanded.
Some henchmen dragged his mother to the middle of the room and straightened her up. The moment she was on her feet, they tied her to the pillar in the middle. Then one of the henchmen picked up some water and threw it on her face.
Veera saw his mother cough hard as the water hit her face. As she blinked her eyes open, she realised what had happened. But her expression of fear changed into anger in a matter of minutes as she looked at his father and them. As her gaze shifted to the men standing in front of her, it changed to a raging glare.
“Let the children go,” he heard his mother say glaring even harder than before.
Thakur Baldev started to laugh and then his sons joined in, thereafter joined by the henchmen standing all around them.
The laughter jumped from wall to wall and started to slither through the deep caverns of Veera’s brain. He wanted to shout and scream to make it stop but couldn’t. Tears of desperation fell down his eyes as he closed them trying to block everything around him.
But the next second a scream broke through and he jerked his eyes open. One of the henchmen shoved a bloodied figure inside the room and his eyes widened with shock as he realised it was Ram.
Ram looked up at Veera in despair and then hung his head in resignation knowing well that his end was near.
“Were you trying to sneak out?” Thakur Ratan asked Ram, grabbing his hair and lifting his head.
When Ram did not answer, Thakur Ratan took the stick from one of the henchmen and raised it up in the air.
Veera saw Ram close his eyes and just as the heavy stick struck his head, he shut his too.
“Now Uma, how I have waited for this moment,” he heard Thakur Ratan say and instantly snapped his eyes open.
He saw Thakur Ratan approaching his mother and every sense of his cried out with rage mixed with fear. He saw his father struggling and trying to free himself but with no avail.
“You are a coward. You always were. If you have the guts then fight like a man,” he heard his mother say.
“I’ll show you what a man does to a woman like you,” Thakur Ratan said fuming as he clutched Uma’s head.
Saying this he grabbed her already torn saree and ripped it off her body.