“Don’t light the match” I said.
I was holding his hand and moving forward in utter darkness, which was all around, the licking our bodies, scratching our faces with its jaws.
“Where are we?” he asked
“I don’t know” I replied
“It’s all stinking damp and dark, it must be The Gutter”
“Oh yes! I remember I fell into The Gutter” I said as I recalled from some faraway memory.
“How did you fall in The Gutter” he asked
“I don’t know, and I don’t remember for how long I’ve been here, but how did you land up here?” said I.
“I also fell down. I think you fell before I did, and trying to help you I got dragged in too, or I fell first and you tried to help me and in the end we ended up here!” said he.
Holding hands, we inched ahead, all the while feeling the slimy dampness of water somewhere around our feet.
“Can you hear the traffic?” he asked.
“Yes! We are somewhere under the main road” I said
“Then there must be an open manhole nearby, so let’s get out of here, or at least see the sky” He murmured
“Oh!” he jumped.
“What happened?”, I asked. He said he felt something, something touched his legs. He lit a match. A spark of flame lit up our faces.
“Here it is” he pointed at something. We took a closer look at it,
“A dead body… an infant” I sighed “May be somebody tried to hide their sins”
“Or may be his mother gave birth, here, in this Gutter, is that possible?” he added
“May be” I said and we moved further on into the darkness.
We were trapped in an underground Gutter, a never-ending damp tunnel and were trying to get out of this place. We desperately looked out for an opening from where we could escape.
The match-box was also getting damp with a few more matchsticks to go. We didn’t want to lose those tiny sticks. Our last flickers of an inevitably dying hope. With the dying flame of each matchstick, died our last rays of hope.
The situation was getting bad to worse. The fear of losing life was gripping our very souls. Hope was slipping away, the way a handful of sand eventually escapes a closed fist. Would we ever see the light of a day again? Would we ever see the bright sun again? It was all gloomy down here. We were kissing our own breaths to feel the life, to believe we were still alive.
Thus we kept on creeping slowly into a dark nothingness.
“Did you hear that?” he said
“Noise?” we could hear some voices – voices of children. A mix of shouting and crying. We could hear the sound of water splashing as we felt they were running towards us.
“What are these children doing here?”
“Light the match” I told him.
As he lit the match we saw a group of more than a dozen children, almost running past us.
“Hey! Listen” I yelled at one of those boys, who seemed to be around ten or twelve.
He stopped and looked at us with a wide smile spread across his face, ear to ear.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him
“We live here.” He replied innocently
“Here? You were born here?” I was extremely confused now
“Yes! All of us were born at this place in Rubbers” , he confused me even more.
“In the Rubber?” I repeated his words
“Yes! Our parents threw us here, wrapped in Rubbers” saying this, he ran away to join his group…
“Where was I born?” I tried to recall. At a hospital or at home … or …. or I couldn’t remember more than that or I didn’t want to think any more about it.
“Is it possible that we were also born here” His words shocked me.
“No… No..!!” There was a confession hidden in my quick denial.
Something cracked under my feet. We lit a match-stick, again, only to see some disposed-off bones.
“Who are these people?” Who knows who they were?
“Look! They are all gagged with duct tape ” I said, as I saw each of them held a pen tightly between their dead fingers.
Somebody sealed their lips before killing them or they died their own death by chocking themselves up.
“Poor folks” He murmured.
These bodies made scared us even more
“Can we ever see light again?” he asked vaguely.
“I hope” I replied, but I knew, living in this darkness, forever, was our final destiny.
As we moved ahead, may be a few feet, we heard screams, harsh and loud. It sounded as if someone was being beaten up, brutally or as if someone was being sliced into pieces! The dirty water at our feet felt warm and smelled nauseatingly salty. As we stared down, we saw, we stood, ankle deep in thick blood. There was no air to breathe in either.
We felt suffocated.
Those voices tore into our ears and ripped apart our souls!!
I asked him to light the match.
But there was no light.
He was scratching a match-stick against the match-box, but was unable to strike a light.
The Match-Box was wet now and the other Match-sticks were all broken into pieces.
He stood there, trying again and again, looking almost insane, but without any success.
“That was the last stick” he said, finally, giving up.
I took the match-stick from his fingers and kept it back into my pocket!
Rawalpindi is one of the most important cities of Pakistan. Before the partition of India, there were many Hindu and Sikh families living here. Several areas of Rawalpindi have Hindu/Sikh names like Amarpura, Angatpura, Krishanpura, Akaal-garh, Mohanpura, Bagh Sardaraan.
I have posted pictures of a few old and ruined Hindu and Sikh architectures. However, I have just been able to take the pictures. Most of these temples and gurudwaras are in very bad conditions. There is not much information available about them either..I have indicated the locations of these temples and gurudwaras.If you have any information regarding these heritage buildings, please let me know.