It is becoming increasingly difficult to reply to all of your messages, mails, and comments at various social media sites. I try to reply to max but I hope you know that it is humanly impossible. Thank you for understanding.
I am overwhelmed with all the love and support. I have always been. And I am deeply grateful for each one of you who has stood by me. Thank you. Love you!!
People are people. Everywhere!
Across different continents, countries, and cities. It doesn’t matter where they belong to. Geography, location, faiths, beliefs, or distances may divide them. But one thing fiercely connects them to each other. And that is basic human nature.
At the deepest of the cores, we are all the same. A mix bag of different virtues and vices that define human beings. Some less. Some more.
And you find good and bad, both, here on this earth.
Anshuman kept his hands on his waist and drew a deep breath. He knew that he was in trouble. And this trouble was not a small one. He was in a foreign land without his belongings, without his wallet and his passport. And this was not just another foreign land. He was aware that the two neighbouring countries did not share a good political rapport. Very easily, he could land in a big trouble if he couldn’t prove his identity.
Still, something deep inside him convinced him that he simply had to keep a calm head on his shoulders and take one step at a time. He had done nothing wrong and there was no reason he wouldn’t be able to prove his purpose of being in Karachi. His phone was still in his hand and it was more than enough as he had several documents and identity cards saved in his mailbox.
He threw a glance at his phone screen. The display showed a sign of 11% battery life. Not a good sign.
He started walking in the direction from where the driver had brought him to this secluded area and kept walking for a long distance, quietly and as discreetly as possible, trying not to meet eyes with people when he started coming across some passersby. People, busy in their daily routine and personal discussions, didn’t really pay attention to the guy passing by them and looking down at the ground.
After walking for around 2-3 miles, he reached a market area. Without hesitating even for a moment and without making his situation obvious, he entered a store selling gadgets. He had a very simple plan – charge his phone, call the chief of PBB to use his contacts and inform people here that his wallet and passport were stolen, call the officials in India, and wait for the action to be taken. If he was not able to reach either of them, he would go to the nearest police station and tell them all the details about his experience and ask them to help him. But the first thing he needed to do was – charge his phone.
The shopkeeper, a stout, tall, young man in his early twenties, asked him, “May I help you?”
Anshuman showed him his phone and asked, “Can I get a charger for this phone?”
“Sure!” The man turned around and started taking out a big box where he had kept all type of chargers, and added, “But you won’t get an original here. We only have compatible ones.”
“That will do…” Anshuman shrugged, took the charger and fixed it in the plug kept on the counter before the guy. When the phone display on the top turned green for charging, he asked, “Can I pay by online transfer?”
“You don’t have cash?”
“No, my bag got stolen a while ago. My phone charger and wallet was in the bag. But I can transfer you money using my phone.”
“Okay!” The man looked at him suspiciously and gave him a number for online transaction. Anshuman opened his banking app and transferred the money at the number provided. Thankfully, he had beeen doing international transfers all his life due to the nature of his travel, so it wasn’t new for him.
The same was not the case with the man he was dealing with. The man read the name at the transaction id and then looked at Anshuman keenly, from top to bottom. With a grim look on his face, he asked, “Are you an Indian?”
With that, he picked up his phone, even without waiting for the answer. Anshuman immediately sensed trouble and tried to convince him, “Listen, I can explain…”
“I’m sure, the police will listen to you. You can explain to them.”
“I’ve already told you that I lost my bag and wallet. My passport and identity cards were in the bag. All I wanted was to charge my phone, or else I would have gone to the police myself. My purpose is not to hide or run away.”
“Spying?” The guy frowned at him and quickly informed the police that there was an Indian man in his shop without passport or any identity.
“That’s absurd!” Anshuman rolled his eyes.
“You would have thought the same about me if I was found in New Delhi without a passport!” The man quickly moved out of the shop, and collected men from neighbouring shops to tackle Anshuman in case he tried to run away. Anshuman knew that there was no point in even trying to explain. He raised his hands in air in submission and shrugged, “Fine!”
The police came in time and asked Anshuman to follow them. They had already informed their higher officials about this suspect. Anshuman explained to them in detail about his purpose of visit, how the autorickshaw guy duped him and how he was stranded here. The officer asked him to submit his phone. For the first time, Anshuman was nervous. If they did something to his phone, he had no way to prove his identity or authenticity. The creases on his forehead deepened and he sighed deeply, pressing his lips in.
The officer lifted his unibrow, “What??”
Anshuman asked, “I hope you will give it back to me? This is the only proof I have to show my innocence.”
“Of course! If we find your story convincing enough, you will get many chances to prove yourself. Before that we need to interrogate you.”
“What if you are not convinced?”
“Then, only your God can save you.”
Manasvi gave the instructions of the area where she wanted to visit as per her research from Google maps and some insights from the internet.
The cab driver safely kept the address with him and asked her about what made her come back to the place that she had called ‘home’ almost a decade ago. Manasvi told him her story in brief and replied with a deep pain in her words, “A lot of questions were left unanswered. A lot of knots remain tightly tangled. I hope to find some closure this time.
“A lot has changed in this duration. Government has changed. Power circles have shifted hands. How will you get what you want to know?”
Manasvi circled a few points in her diary and replied thoughtfully, “I have a degree in Journalism. This is what I do for a living. I hope I can put it to some good use.”
“Well, I hope you do.” The driver stopped at a dusty, dilapidated, secluded looking place and said, “We’ve reached.”
“Here?” Manasvi got down, “This area looks so underdeveloped and neglected.”
“Yes, it is. We are told that this area belonged to the communities which were destroyed few years back due to extremism.” The cab driver informed her.
Manasvi unzipped her bag to take out money to pay to him but the guy refused and said that she can pay him later as he was going to wait for her there. She was alone and he felt responsible so he was going to take her back to the hotel safely. He didn’t have to do that but his gesture touched Manasvi. She smiled and accepted his offer for help.
Then, she sent a message to Azfar Malik, the guy she had met at the Population Registry Office, and informed him about her stay in Kabul. He asked her to stay in touch, should she need anything. He also reminded her that she could call his mom and family who also lived in Kabul. If she got into any trouble, she could count on them. Manasvi couldn’t stop thanking her stars for these people she had met. She told the cab driver about Azfar and how he had helped her. Basically she wanted to tell him that she was not alone and knew people in Kabul.
The driver said, “I’m glad that you got people here. I just hope you get all that was taken away from you.”
Manasvi thought for a moment and replied, “I don’t need anything. I have made peace with my fate, my life. For I’m privileged enough to have everything I have ever needed. In fact, I’m privileged that everywhere I go, I meet people who make things easy for me. I have been well compensated by God. He has always given me protectors, like guardian angels. But there is one such angel who has lost more than me. Today, I’m here for him.”
“What can someone possibly lose more than you?”
“The basic human right to allow himself to be happy!”
I will make available the earlier parts by weekend, or as soon as I get time.