Silence, strangely, can be deafening at times. The car was on its way back from the railway junction and there was a turbulent quietude as the occupants were lost in thoughts of their own.
“Is it too late? I should tell him at least now” This was Amar.
“So much for my surprise! Is something wrong between these two?” That was Ashika.
“How long are they going to be hush hush about it?” And this was Ameen.
The uneasy calm was not just inside the vehicle. The street which they had entered into seemed to have contracted it too. Amar, feeling more uneasy by the minute, decided to break the silence and turned on the music. The song that started playing, by all means, was not the ideal one for that moment.
“Why do they even come up with stuff like this?” Ashika spoke first. That was a song she didn’t like.
“Oh, well…” is all Amar could up with, in reply.
Ameen kept mum. Not that he didn’t care to respond, he loved music. In fact, he considered music as his religion and its practitioners as divine. He wasn’t paying full attention, distracted by the deserted street’s eerie stillness. His focus intent on the road, like he was driving through the peak hour Coimbatore traffic – which had started to assume Chennai like proportions.
“Something doesn’t feel right. You guys OK?” Ashika quizzed.
“Everything is cool, I guess” Amar spat out, after giving up on his wait for Ameen to say something.
“Nothing is as it seems” said Ashika. These words actually echoed what was in the minds of all of them.
“That’s right. Quiet you two, NOW!” Ameen uttered his first words, in a while, as he turned off the music. Amar and Ashika were taken aback. Ameen noticed what looked like an act of violence. Having had his own trysts with such dastardly acts and his distaste for them, he snapped.
“Both of you stay right in here” he roared as he pulled over the car very close to the compound wall on the side of the road. He stepped out and locked it.
Barely few feet away a group of three, seemingly of the faith which Ameen belonged to, was attacking one man, lying lifeless on the ground. They were shouting slogans. There was no one around. Ameen’s dormant rage was rekindled. This was something he despised and had zero tolerance for.
He looked around for any kind of weapon and found a fairly big rock. He lifted it up and threw it towards them. It hit squarely on the knee of one assailant, who groaned and fell to the ground. The other two stopped attacking their victim and turned towards Ameen, their eyes filled with fury.
“I do not like people who embrace violence and spread hatred. I can and will do my best to fight them” Ameen challenged them.
The evil souls started advancing towards him; they had cricket bats as weapon. Ameen did not even flinch He was ready to take them on; he would rather give up his life fighting against hate. One of them came running and swung the willow at him. Ameen sidestepped and kicked hard at his lower abdomen. The guy cowered, dropped the bat and fell along with it.
The other guy, meanwhile, had sneaked behind Ameen and struck the back of his neck with his piece of wood. Intense pain coursed through Ameen, but he stood steady. He swiveled around, just in time to block another attack. He yanked the bat off him, gave a firm blow with it across his face and sent him crashing down.
Ameen threw the bat at the downed opponent, unlocked the car and started making his way back. Amar, who had reluctantly held himself him back till then, stepped out and rushed towards Ameen, who was staggering with that hit he had taken. He caught up with him and tried to steady him. That is when he noticed one of the assailants, back on his feet, running towards them with the willow in his hand. Ashika noticed this too. Not Ameen, though.
“AMEEN!” there was a shrill cry.
—— End of Chapter 5 —–