Hrudaya's father, Renjith, an RSS worker in his early forties was brutally murdered on 19th December, before his mother and wife. In one moment, the lives of all got shattered.
This new year would have been a great celebration at home with Hrudaya, elder sister Bhagya and their loving parents- Lisha, the mother and Renjith, father. She is in class six, good at creativities. Hence, a lot goes to prepare for the festivities. Her mother, Lisha, is a practising Roman Catholic who married Renjith, a devout Hindu, an RSS worker.
We decided to visit her soon, and it happened to be the first day of the new year. The afternoon was a bit hazy, and the lane leading to her home was deserted. As they say, the entire area was enveloped in a deafening silence.
Hrudaya's father, Renjith, in his early forties, was brutally murdered on 19th December, before his mother and wife. It was difficult for my family to remain composed and convey our heartfelt condolences. "Come Hrudaya, please sit with us," my wife said. She was shy, but her mother, Lisha, encouraged her, and Hrudaya came and sat with us on the sofa. "You are brave Hrudaya. What do you wish to become after education?" I asked. "Judge," Hrudaya replied without pausing for a second. "Wow, that's great. And you, Bhagya (Hrudaya’s elder sister)? I want to join foreign service," she said.
Both the girls were confident, sad, and yet very graceful in their grief. What could have been the reason for the mountain of grief that befell this sweet little family? Renjith and Lisha, both practising lawyers, had no animosity with anyone. On both sides of their home lived Muslim families. They had normal neighbourly relations. Not even the smallest scuffle. He helped everyone. But when tragedy struck their home, none of the immediate Muslim neighbours came to condole or say a word of sympathy. In one moment, the lives of all got shattered. Mother and wife were made to see their beloved Renjith die a brutal, painful death. Seeing Renjith writhing in pain and helplessness will never be forgotten. Each moment becomes heavier than death.
The Hindus in Kerala have been facing such incidents. First, there were CPM, workers, and now Communists have ganged up with Islamic Jihadis, Peoples Front and their political arm SDP. Some SDP workers have been arrested in connection with Renjith's murder, but how can that bring any relief to the family?
Hrudaya wants to be a judge, and Bhagya, an IFS officer. Who is going to help their education and upbringing? Life is a cruel joke on them now. They don't know the reason why their father was killed. Is being a Hindu such a crime in this independent country? None of the secular media paid any attention to them, and no interviews were done, no editorials were written, no leader came to their home to condole Renjith's death.
The loneliness in such cases is more killing than the death itself. Neighbours don't visit, relatives are hesitant, and friends get too busy.
In these Covid times, the schools have become online again. Little Hrudaya has to do her homework, look for answers, be online, and take care of her daunting mother. The family, Lisha, elder sister Bhagya, Grand Ma, Abhijit, her father's younger brother, is suddenly in a situation where questions are becoming more difficult, answers are elusive.
Lisha's sister Lini is graciously helping them and spends her entire day with them, trying to be as 'normal' as possible. The place in their home, where Renjith was hacked to death, terrifies all. But is there any corner of succour and light to move on? Yes, that light comes from the strong resolve of Lisha.
There are many stories to tell, more to weave and retold. Stories of her father's smiles, laughter, tight hugs, picnics, and the RSS work. Hruduya knows it all. She even knows the work of Haindav Keralam. When I just mentioned an article, I had contributed to their magazine in the passage, she said, "Yes, I know."
When Hrudaya grows up and Bhagya becomes an IFS officer, will those coming and sympathising know about it? She is sure her father will bless them from the heavens. But would she also know the difficult part of the life, maturing before her childhood dreams have even flowered, becoming an adult when she needed a shoulder of her father, is full of thorns? The questions she will have to answer when schools open finally, and her classmates come to her and ask difficult lines.
When she goes to market and suddenly a shopkeeper, perhaps known to them since Renjith's happy times, says something that brings tears to their eyes. All this and much more lies ahead.
We can only pray to God to give Hruduya and her family more strength. May Shiva bless them and fulfil their life dreams. May we all see Hruduya becoming a great judge and Bhagya, a smart diplomat. It's for us, the citizens and the government we choose, to answer the 'whys' of this story.
Politics is very ruthless and thick-skinned. May we all stand up and choose those who care for Hruduya and make a society when none of the Hruduyas loses their dearest father. And none of the mothers is forced to see her child killed by anti-national, anti-Hindu elements. There is no more excruciating torture than seeing our child helplessly being slaughtered before we bid adieu to this world.
Till then, the national anthem remains incomplete, and the famous song of Tagore, "Where the head is held high, and heart is without fear," is meaningless.