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Four years have passed. Captain Jagatsingh is the bravest soldier in his regiment; the more difficult a situation, the more courage he shows. He willingly offers to lead a campaign that others hesitate to undertake. Captain Jagatsingh leads from the front.
But, at the same time, he is humble, soft-spoken and always cheerful; he is loved by his men and officers. The officers have so much faith in him that they consult him on every matter. Ask anyone in his regiment, and they will narrate tales of his bravery: how he destroyed the enemy's arsenal, how he saved his officer from a rapidly-firing machine gun, and how he carried a wounded soldier on his shoulders and brought him to safety right through the enemy's line of fire. It was as though he had no love for his own life but was trying to embrace death!
During the nights, when he is free from his duties and alone in his quarters, Captain Jagatsingh's thoughts unfailingly turn to his family. The thoughts cause his eyes to well up, and a few drops of tears flow out. He sends home a major share of his salary every month, and writes to his mother every week. Jagatsingh's biggest concern is for his father who is suffering imprisonment for the son's wrongs. Oh, will that day ever dawn when he would lay his head at his father's feet and seek his forgiveness? And, will his father put his hand on his head and bless him?
Four years and three months have flown by. There is a crowd at the gates of the Naini jail. Many prisoners have completed their terms, and their family members are here to take them home. But, old Bhaktsingh keeps sitting in his dark cell with his head bowed down. His body is stiff and bent like a bow; the bones are protruding, and all that remains of his original self is a skeleton. At first glance, anyone would mistake him for a statue, sculpted by a master sculptor, of a famine-affected man. He has also completed his term, but no one has come to take him home. Who could come? There was no one in the family to take him home.
A prisoner, an old man but still strong, came up to him and shook him by the shoulders. "Say Bhakt, hasn't anyone come from your home?"
"Who is there in my house?" Bhaktsingh said with quivering lips.
"But you do want to go home, don't you?"
"Where is my home? I have nowhere to go."
"Then, do you wish to remain here?"
"If they don't drive me away, I will remain here."
Today, after four years, memories of his estranged son came gushing to him. The memories of a son who had caused him so much misery, ruined his home, and brought him dishonour; but Bhaktsingh, drowning in the bottomless sea of despair and grief, clung to the memories like a sinking man who clutches at a straw. What has become of the boy? He may be bad, but he is my son after all. He will at least shed a few tears when I die. Oh! I never showed him any affection, but punished him for the smallest mischief. Bhaktsingh remembered how he had hung the boy upside down simply because he had entered the kitchen without washing his feet. Bhaktsingh remembered the times when he had slapped the boy just because he had spoken loudly. I have been punished for not loving my son. How can a family remain united if there was no love among the members?
It is a pleasant morning. With the new day, the sun has brought forth fresh hope; today, its rays are more gentle and soothing than usual. The caress of the breeze is softer, the sky appears more delightful, the trees are greener, and the chirping of the birds sound much sweeter. The entire nature is painted in the colours of hope. But, Bhaktsingh is engulfed in darkness!
A prison officer instructed the convicts to stand in a row. He called out names, and one by one the prisoners walked up to him and collected their release orders. The prisoners were happy. The prisoner, whose name was called out, would walk up to the officer, collect his release order, bow down to the officer and, then, walk out a free man after embracing the other prisoners who had been his comrades through the difficult times. His kith and kin, waiting outside, would rush up to him the moment he stepped out of the massive gate. The happy families were distributing sweets, and offering gifts to the prison staff. Today, the effigies from hell had transformed into epitomes of humility.
Finally, it is Bhaktsingh's turn. With his head hanging down, he slowly walked up to the officer and collected his order without exhibiting any emotion. He approached the prison gate rather unwillingly as though huge sea waves were about to swallow him up. Once outside, he sat down on the ground. Where to go?
Shortly, he saw an army officer on horseback coming towards the prison; he was attired in a khaki uniform, and an impressive turban sat on his head. There was grace and poise in the manner in which the officer rode his horse; a vehicle followed the horse. The prison guards clicked their heels and smartly saluted the officer.
"He must indeed be a lucky person for whom this vehicle has been brought. And, here I am an unlucky man with nowhere to go," Bhaktsingh thought to himself.
The army officer looked around for a while, dismounted from the horse, and walked straight up to him. Bhaktsingh stared at the officer's face searchingly, and stood up astonished. "Oh my son! Jagatsingh!"
Jagatsingh broke down; weeping, he fell prostrate at his father's feet.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu