Col Verma was standing stoic, desperately trying to hold the tears from his red eyes that he had hidden behind the large sunglasses. The whole process of state funeral being accorded to his son, could be so torturous for a father, could not be fathomed by anybody out there. Rather till date, even he had not been able to empathize with the numerous family members who would have gone through this on many an occasion he was witness to. Col Verma couldn’t wait for this to get over, to retire and mourn in private. At his ripe age of 65, he had lost his only son, Lt. Raj Varma who was to complete 28 in a few months from now. He was engaged to his best friend’s daughter, Sheila, a budding advocate and both were looking forward to the wedding. But destiny had other plans.
Raj was found murdered three days back by Col Verma. He had rushed in to his room on hearing gun shots only to find Raj spot dead. Three bullets were pumped into his heart at point blank range. The Col had found him in a pool of blood and was shocked at seeing blood of his own son. He immediately called for the domestic help, Raju who was sleeping in the kitchen, but Raju slept real hard. Col called his friend Mr. Sharma, and asked him to rush in. Col Verma who had seen much more blood and gore in his life time and had been in worse situation than this, was at a loss. Raj’s childhood, the loss of his wife, Raj’s mother a decade back, single handedly taking care of Raj, his soon-to-be wedding with Sheila whom he loved like a daughter, and now his dead son who was bleeding, all flashed in front of him. He was in a stupor that he could not shake himself out of. It was Mr. Sharma who shook him hard as the people from the ambulance wanted to pick up Raj. “He is dead….he is dead” Col. Kept murmuring. A few hours later, the doctors certified – ‘brought dead – death due to gun shots, shot at point blank range’. A post mortem report did not add to the knowledge and after three days of that fateful night he was being given a state-funeral. He remembered how Sheila was inconsolable and he could not view that and he too broke down – something he had tried not to for so long.
The body was placed on the funeral pyre and Mr. Sharma was handing him a lit stick to place it on the pyre. A father lighting the pyre of his son, could god be as ruthless as this? He mechanically took the stick and did as directed by a broken Mr. Sharma, after all he was Sheila’s father. Everybody was in tears and everybody had one question, who could have killed Raj? And why?
Next day, Col Verma had his first set of guests who were not in white, the cops. They apologized for coming in unannounced, but then they were doing their duty. Col Verma was accommodating and he said he understood. They wanted to know