Yunus concentrated on what Mohammed was doing and where his eyes went. He’d started to understand what was going on in Mohammed’s head. His heart started to race at the thought that they’d be trouble if Mohammed figured out what he knew. Yet, Yunus never doubted Mohammed. In fact, he had immense trust in him, and he convinced himself that whatever Mohammed did was for their own good.
They had entered their new school, which was referred to Kaushayavardhan Kendra within the jail. The inmates studied different courses and skills here, and some even cleared their Class 10 and 12 examinations. But this was the first time Mohammed and Co. had joined the classes, and the jail authorities looked at them with askance. Mohammed overheard the conversation of the guards escorting them from their ward to the study centre; it was clear they questioned their intentions. “They are not here to study. These people are never going to improve themselves,” he heard them say.
Mohammed wanted to turn around and say something to the guards, but was distracted by music and song. He stopped as “Vaishnava jana to tene kahiye je peeda parayi jane re” reached his ears. He’d never heard the bhajan before, but he was immediately drawn to it. It brought a peace to his heart. He looked around for its source, but couldn’t find any. “Bapu’s bhajans are sung every day at Gandhi Kholi,” one of the guards told him, pointing in its direction.
Mohammed saw the place in the shade of the neem tree where Mahatma Gandhi was once kept and felt a sense of peace.
Once inside Kaushalya Kendra, the guards sent the inmates off to their different classes. Mohammed was sent to the MA English class, where a female professor had come to teach them. All the inmates were supposed to introduce themselves—including the crime they were in for. When it was Mohammed’s turn, the professor was shocked but quickly regained her composure. “It doesn’t matter to me what crime you are in for. My job here is to teach you and help you make your future better,” she told the class.
Mohammed and the teacher looked at each other. He laughed on the inside thinking, “What future? Once I escape, it will be a new dawn for me.”
Mohammed listened intently to the lecture, but every time the professor’s eyes met his, she’d feel a chill run down her spine. She’d taught many inmates before. It was probably the severity of his crime that bothered her so much, and the fact that despite being accused of it, there was an eerie sense of calm in Mohammed’s eyes.
She was the first woman he’s seen in eight years. She reminded him of his wife, Aayat. Mohammed stopped that line of thought as it made him nervous.
Mohammed and Aayat had been students together. Once he’d started practising law in Bhopal after earning his degree, his father suggested he get married. But the young man couldn’t find anyone he liked. One day, a person who knew his father well brought a marriage proposal from an educated girl who would be “best suited for Mohammed.” After refusing several times, Mohammed went to meet the girl, just to appease his father.
When he saw the girl was Aayat, he thought, “Yes, this is the kind of wife I want.” They both kept looking at each other. Mohammed hadn’t had any romantic notions about her in college.
The day the Ahmedabad and Bhopal police had come to their house to pick up Mohammed, she wasn’t afraid as it was common for cops to visit. After all, Mohammed was a criminal lawyer. But, as an army of policemen descended on their house, she stood in front of them saying, “You cannot take my husband away like this. You have no idea who he is. He’s a big lawyer in Bhopal. It will be very difficult for you to answer him in court.” Mohammed remained calm, but she was in no mood to relent. The local police tried to explain to her that they knew him very well, but the Ahmedabad team had a warrant for his arrest, which they showed to her. Aayat sunk to the floor in shock as she read the crime for which he was being accused.
In tears, Aayat tried to tell the policemen that they were mistaken and that Mohammed would never do something like this. As he was being taken away, she held his shoulder and told him to tell the cops that it wasn’t true. But he didn’t say a word, which surprised her more.
Aayat still lived in the same house, looking after their children and his ageing parents, but never had she come to Ahmedabad to visit him.
To be continued...
This is the 12th part of the serialized novel 'Deewal' based on the Sabarmati jailbreak attempt, written by Prashant Dayal, the editor of MeraNews.com.