She huffed and puffed as she sat behind fairly huge water tank of a residential building, as bullets fired across the streets. She was terrified and sweating, her palms were so greasy and oily that she could barely hold on to the rod in her hand. A silence broke across the streets for a minute and she peeked across the tank and saw the streets all empty; empty of living beings but covered with blood and wounded bodies of people she grew up with. Her neighbours, aunts and uncles. Those traitors didn’t even spare the innocent children she thought to herself as she rose to move from her hiding place. She crunched and moved like a duck from the tank to the door which lead to the staircase. She gasped as she felt a hand over a shoulder. The grip so strong it could even stop a bullet. She turned over to see a grim-looking man with blood oozing from his arm. He wore black khaki pants and a white t-shirt, which had now turned red.
“Girl, what are you doing here? You shouldn’t be out, where are your parents? What’s your name?” He kept questioning her in a soft low voice. A voice unlikely for a person looking so stern.
“I’m Anu, My parents are dead and what I’m doing here is none of your business.” Anu sighed.
“Ah! So my girl, you come with me. This is not a place for children.”
“Who’s a child? I’m 11 years old!” said Anu with a sense of pride in her words.
Let me brief you about the brilliant 11-year-old kid! Oops sorry, a girl! A very matured girl for her age who lost her parents at a very tender age of three. She was brought up in her aunt’s house where she lived with just the basic needs for a human to survive. Her days in the recent few weeks usually began by helping her aunt in her chores and setting out to hunt and kill for food. Wait, kill? Kill whom you must be wondering. Well the city of Kanakpur was under the attack of the kings of all mafias, the Blue Diamonds. History said that a whole lot of wealth and treasure was stored in various parts of this beautiful city of Kanakpur when it was under the rule of the great King Kanakpur III. The attack was carefully planned and executed by the gang leader Ibrahim. First the security of the city was attacked, then the communication sources. He had gathered so many human resources and so much human knowledge that it became nearly impossible for the CBI, FBI, soldiers and police officers to enter the city without a bunch of innocent people losing their lives. The boundaries of the city were guarded by fellow gangsters carrying bombs, guns, knives and explosives. The residents of the city were deprived of any food, water and were threatened to death if they did not help them in searching for the hidden treasures or if they hid any information regarding it.
A major shootout occurred at the streets where Anu stayed. They killed all the women, men and children when they demanded and protested for staples. Anu managed to escape this killing just by a millimetre when a gangster attacked and she swung a rod right across his face hitting his head just hard enough for her to elude to a safer place.
“Ok, so dear 11-year-old girl, we need to move out of here before anyone sees us. My name is Hir by the way.”
He grabbed her arm and dragged her across the room without waiting for her to reply. As they both climbed down, Anu ran to her bedroom escaping from Hir’s grip and grabbed a white packet, cloth and headed right out the door.
“Anu! Stop! Don’t go! Let me clear the sight first.” Hir quickly took out his gun and spied out the door for any gangsters. “Come! Let’s leave from here. I know a friend who could help us get out of this city.”
Both step out the house and head towards the end of the streets which enters into the city’s biggest markets. Hir moved right from the building and hid behind a wall of a shop which was covered with blood stains. He looked behind to see if Anu was following up, and she was nowhere in sight. He went back for her to the building and called out rather in a soft voice. “I’m here! Don’t shout! Shh...” She grabbed his arm, wiped off the blood and wrapped a thin muslin cloth around it. He stared in her eyes as she wrapped it, wondering how someone at this age could understand the pain of others and even attempt to heal it? They both now moved gingerly. The market was located centrally located; sort of square in shape, in between and around it were different shops. At the centre of the space was a platform where vegetables and fruits were sold. They saw that the market was a haywire. All the staples were on the floor. The animals were slaughtered and lying on the ground where once they hopped around joyfully. Most of the buildings were broken down and dug deep. More than 50 men were guarding the market. Hir and Anu crept across the market until they reached the exit.
Anu’s shoulder touched a tea-cup holder and it fell making a loud noise. Immediately the guard at the paan shop sprung on them like a tiger Hir removed his gun and shot him right at the heart. Hearing all this chaos many other came running towards them. He kept shooting and grabbed Anu’s legs and carried her on his shoulder. It was not too late that he realised he was out of bullets. “Oh no!” He exclaimed. Anu reached out for the pocket in her pants and took out a gun and fired at the hooligans. Though she missed the aim it did keep some away. Hir saw a narrow gap between two buildings which to a darker place. He shifted towards the gap without a second thought. Both of them now started walking along the deep dark path which was astonishingly unguarded. He could hear few steps and a lot of murmuring and immediately hide behind a rack of what looked like onions and potatoes.
“We should be able to find the treasure soon sir. Our men are working very hard, shedding their blood and sweat,” said one of the gangsters to Ibrahim, he had a huge shinny medal on his black shirt. He looked like the Chief’s right-hand man.
“I don’t care how much more blood or sweat need to be shed to find the treasure, I need it in the shortest time possible, The state has been sending us warnings since a week, they threaten us to attack from air, If we don’t surrender. We need to wrap this up soon,” Ibrahim said with a worried look on his face. He wore 11 medals, all of which were pure shinny blue diamonds across his chest. Each of them he rewarded to himself whenever he was successful in an attack. This was his twelfth.
As they heard the conversation, Hir looked to Anu and asked her, “Where did you get the gun from? I don’t remember giving it you.”
“I took from my uncle’s arm as he lay dead on the ground while on the way to market.” Anu smiled as she said. Hir smirked on her wittiness, his nose started tickling and there came loud sneeze. The rack was not of onions and potatoes but of chilli powder. The members of the gang came running towards them and caught hold of the two.
“What should I do with them?” The handsman asked.
“A man with a broken arm and a little girl with two pigtails, what harm can they do? Put them in a cage and lock them. Make sure you’ve someone to look over them.”
Both of them were taken to a room where rest of the city members were imprisoned. Anu quickly grabbed a paper roll kept on the table as she was taken to the room. There they were sitting in the cage. “I’m sorry it was entirely my fault. I should have been more careful. We wouldn’t have ended up here if I wasn’t so reckless.”Anu had tears in her eyes as she said.
“No, no, Anu. We cannot give up now, you’ve some brains, think of something!” Anu took out the white packet and showed it to Hir.
“What is this?”
“This is a kind of powder my uncle used to treat his patients. It made them drowsy. May be we can use it for something!”
“Great, Now this is the Anu I met! I’ll dust it on the guard’s face.”
He took a handful of the powder and blew it on the guard’s face when he came close to the cage. The guard started wiping his face and searching for water. But the drug had already acted on it made him drowsy and he dropped down on the floor a metre away from the cage. “Oh no! How do we get the keys now?” Hir said.
They sat back in vain as that attempt made was of no use, but instead caught the attention of gangsters passing by. The handsman came with a grim face and saw the guard’s face covered with white powder. He asked the nearby people to leave the premises as he wanted to handle the situation alone. As the room emptied, Anu and Hir were sitting with tremor and fear, knowing that death is certain. The handsman bent down reached out to his pockets and removed a bunch of keys and opened the lock of the cage.
“I need you people to go out of the city and give this map to the nearest police officer and ask him to take you to a safer place. Here, take this diamond as well. It’ll protect you from other gang members. Tell them the handsman has given it you. They will know you’re of importance as this diamond is crafted with details only the handsman of Blue Diamond can posses.”
“Ibrahim doesn’t know what he doing. He’s killing so many innocent lives to possess something so lifeless. I was with him just to help him steal and fill my stomach with it. He’s grown into one greedy, cruel and arrogant person.”
Anu and Hir sat there struck with the act of the handsman. They took the map and the diamond and fled from there. They managed to cross many confrontations with the other members and those who worked for them. They came across a dry land where there was no sight of any person. They kept walking and walking hoping to find some police officer or a soldier or some agent. At last they sighted some tents and ran towards them.
“Anu, hand the diamond over to me. It’ll be safe with me. For before we may know they may not be officers and it might reach wrong hands.”
Anu gave a stay-away-from-the-diamond look and clutched it more tightly.
Anu ran faster than she had in her entire life, panting hard she handed over the map to a person standing with police uniform. Other officers came to them and started asking questions. The sight of someone alive returning from the city was bewildering. Hir explained all that happened. The officers opened up the map to find the layout of Ibrahim’s plan. The spots where the bombs were placed and the places where the there was more security was written down. The officers immediately called the head office and informed that they needed more forces and that a miracle had happened. Food and water was offered to Anu and Hir as they sat in one of the tents imagining of how many lives will be saved.
“We really did it. We made it out of the city. We even saved lives,” said Hir constantly looking at the diamond in Anu’s hand.
“Not only we.” Saying this Anu jumped to one of the officers, begged and pleaded him not to kill Ibrahim’s handsman.
“He’s the reason this was all possible.”
“Child, I don’t know about his death, but he will definitely receive a punishment for all the steal and treachery to his own nation.”
Anu returned to the tent, got down to her knees and prayed.
"My dear", one of the officers said looking at Anu pray so hard that even Gods of hell and heaven wouldn't go without hearing them, “You simply do not know life. The real life is cruel, so cruel. It is so bad that I simply do not know if it may get worse.”
"Of course it can", replied Hir, and pulled the trigger.