As he walked escorted by a guard back to his cell, he recalled the conversation he just had with the jail chief.
“We are cutting your sentence short by 6 months. You have anywhere to go to?”
“I had a home before the sentence.”
“That’s good, but your records say that no one has come to visit you in last 3 years.”
“I had asked them not to.”
Now he was within the familiar walls of his cell. The place where he had scribbled in his early days out of the enthusiasm of the days left to get out of the place. The enthusiasm died away like many other things. He started taking things one day at a time, every day as it came. Besides, it was difficult to keep track of the days, the window near the top of the cell gave equal light during days and nights and the meals all tasted the same.
Someone has to be blamed, they told him. He had told them that he was not to be blamed. He did not lose the money of all those people and he knew that the real culprits would never be caught. He had lost his job, was that not enough? Why blame him for simply doing his duty? The judge had found him guilty, and rightly so the papers cried. And then he was lost in the darkness of captivity, like so many others before him.
Captivity had been difficult in the beginning, post the fading away of the enthusiasm and hope. Who would take Munni to school? Who would get the vegetables from the market every day? How will Sunita manage life? She didn’t have a job. He had eloped with her against their parents’ wishes. At a time when a loving heart was enough to oversee the problems ahead. She had not completed her education.
There had been problems when hangover of love hit. But then Munni came to keep them together despite the problems. And life went on, this time lost in another kind of darkness – the darkness of run of the mill existence in a large city. The day came which blew the cover of this concealment.
He will be released in a few hours. Sunita would not know. Now new questions arose within him. Would Sunita accept him? He was not the same man, a shadow of his former self. Captivity is good at creating shadows, for shadows no longer scare you, light does. Would Munni be ashamed of telling her friends where her father had been? Would they accept this intruder into their daily lives? An intruder who would want to help them only to disrupt their daily routine. Had Sunita found someone else or something else to keep her sane?
The guard came to drive him back to reality only to put him in the light now, naked to the bone. He did not want to leave. He did not want the light. Fading away is such a charm. But he missed Sunita. He tried to remember the initial enthusiasm. Would he cry? Did he remember how to cry?
The guard led him on. He was made to change into his former clothes. Does changing to normal clothes, instead of jail clothes make you normal again? He walked the last walk out of captivity. Outside there was no sun, it was raining.