Prashant Dayal (Deewal Part-68): Five months ago when a stray kite had landed inside the barrack, Mohammed had broken off its strings and kept it with him, with no idea how he might use it. Today while rummaging through his stuff, he found that thread, which he took out and put in in his pocket. After Yunus read upon tunnel engineering, the problem of loose soil was solved and the digging was work was making good progress, but the men had no clue how much more they were supposed to dig. Mohammed too has been thinking about it for some time and after finding the kite string, he thought of something. Next day as usual when everyone got to their chores after the barracks were opened in the morning, Mohammed took a stone and tied it to one end of the string. He then looked around and fixed his sights on the electric barbed wire fencing on top of the main wall of the prison, which was right behind their barrack. He aimed the stone towards the wire and hurled it with enough force that it reached there. Mohammed was successful in his first attempt itself as the string got tangled on the wire fencing with the stone. After breaking off the excess string from his side, Mohammed now began to pull the string hard as it began to tighten from the other end. After a few seconds, the string broke off with force. Mohammed pulled back the string towards him and then began to measure the length of the string like a tailor. Calculating the length as one arm distance would be one meter, he held one end of the string with his fingers, while pulled the string to the shoulder of the same arm. This manner, he measures the string to be the length of 62 arms. Doing simple math, he came to the conclusion that they will have to dig the tunnel till about 200 ft. He turned towards Yunus sitting beside him and asked, “How much have we dug so far?” “About 30 ft, I guess,” replied Yunus.  “How much can we dig in a day?” “I think 3 ft daily” Mohammed began mental calculations again, “Removing 30 ft from 200, remains 170 to be dug. If 3 ft is dug daily, means in a month about 109 ft could be dug., but we have 170 ft remaining to be dug,” Mohammed’s face lit up as he came to the conclusion. “What is it?” asked Yunus, to which Mohammed placed his hand on Yunus’s shoulder and whispered, “We’ll be out of here in a couple of months”

Yunus didn’t share Mohammed’s excitement and he looked serious. “What happened captain, why so glum?” Yunus looked around to see if no one is listening to them, a habit all the inmates had cultivated over the years, and began to speak, “We still have two issues to tackle. One that we have dug thirty feet but it is so dark inside that we are working simply on the basis of assumptions. Secondly, I am not sure if we are digging in the right direction. Though it looks all good from outside, one cannot gauge the direction when inside. I fear we don’t keep digging in the wrong direction and instead of coming out of the prison, we end up inside itself and all our hard work might go in vain.” This got Mohammed thinking, as what Yunus just said was indeed an issue worth addressing. Even as Mohammed was thinking of these two issues, Yunus chipped in with a third. “Major, the third problem we’re facing might not even have a solution and we will have to get ourselves habituated to it. The oxygen levels inside the tunnel are depleting. We’re facing this issue right now at 30 ft, imagine the situation as we go further. Normally people who dig tunnels this deep take oxygen cylinders with them.” All the three issues were serious ones. Mohammed stood up and walked towards the neem tree outside. He sat on the platform, visibly lost in the thoughts. Yunus still stood by the cell but didn’t go towards Mohammed. He believed in giving Mohammed his space when he is thinking something as he knew that Mohammed came up with good ideas when allowed his solitude.

Mohammed sat on the platform below the neem tree and kept doodling on the sand below with a small twig that had fallen off the tree. His mind was not at peace and thoughts were racing by. He would draw something on the sand as he muttered under his breath, and after a few minutes of thoughts, he’d rub it off with his feet. This continued for the next 30 minutes. It was Parvez and Yusuf’s turn that day to work inside the tunnel. Mohammed had instructed that Parvez must not be made to work inside the tunnel as he had a polio-affected leg. Yusuf would joke with Parvez that he is actually acting to be having a limp so that he gets less work. Mohammed didn’t like to make Parvez do the hard labor as he was handicapped. Mohammed was still sitting below the tree and he suddenly called Yunus towards him. Something had come into Mohammed’s head that he wanted to ask Yunus. “When is our hospital the most crowded?” “Monday… Why?” asked Yunus. The jail had a hospital for the treatment of illnesses and injuries for the inmates too. “One of us will have fall sick on Sunday night” Said Mohammed. Yunus was confused as he wondered how one of them, from all these well, built, healthy men can fall sick deliberately. “Mohammed continued, “One of us will fall sick, we’ll take them to the hospital on Monday morning. I have something in my mind which could be a solution to our issues”