Sia takes apprehensive steps towards the intriguing gothic structure. Her mind is filled with myriad chaotic thoughts. She has lost her nation, her people, her family, her friends. The partition has taken its price. Sia has survived to tell the gruesome tale of partition.
Maybe this God will help me, thinking she rings the bell of the hall. The sound reverberates in the church, marking her arrival.
As she walks down the empty aisle, an auburn bench catches her attention. She has seen people kneeling there, so she kneels down on the bench and takes a second to look in the eye of the god. Is it prohibited to look into his eyes? She wonders and tightly closes her eyes.
After a few moments, she opens her eyes. She looks around and notices a small closet-like room. Sia walks towards it. As soon as she steps inside, she hears a solemn voice-
“Yes. my child?”
“Who is it?” Startled, she almost shrieks.
“I’m the priest. You can call me father. Are you here for a confession?” He asks.
“A confession?” she asks.
“When your heart can’t hold a sin or a mistake any longer, you unburden it by sharing it.” The man explains.
“Sometimes, I did not listen to my mother. Does it count?” she asks.
“If it helps you unburden your soul then yes.” He replies.
“Father, do I need to convert if I want to live? What is it, anyway?” She asks.
“God is one. It is just a path that changes. You are a Hindu, I believe?” He asks.
Sia nods in affirmative.
“When you convert you change the path, however, the destination remains the same.” He replies.
“What is about the journey? Will I be happy,?” She asks innocently.
“Sometimes there is no happy choice, my child, only one less grievous than the others.” He replies.
Her entire family was massacred right before her eyes. While she was hiding in the closet when the mob attacked. She stayed frozen, long after they were gone. At 18, she knew what risks she had if she stayed there for long. Around seven hours later, when she dared to come out, a gory sight was waiting for her. Her entire family laid dead. Her instinct told her that she had to find a safe place to live. So she walked on the road, at midnight and found the church.
She comes back to the present when she realizes that the priest is still sitting before her.
“Can I convert right away?” She asks.
The priest takes her to a pool behind the church. She walks down the steps. The priest anoints, chants some hymns and dips her head under the pool. The frozen tears thaw inside the water. She rises up as Sara, crying for the death of her family and the death of her old self.
© 20138 Priya U Bajpai.
This story first appeared on Artoonsinn.com