One Eventful Day in the Life of Mishka and Sonali…
What does belonging mean in a life or to any life?
One fine day, two little girls were playing in the backyard of one of the girl’s house. Mishka and Sonali were neighbors, both daughters of unusual couples in the Contour States. Sometime later, there were exactly four gunshots and the life of both girls changed forever.
The weather was refreshingly sunny in Freetown, known for its multi-cultural society. It was a Sunday and the girls were taking turn on a swing set up in the green backyard of Sonali’s home. Mishka and Sonali’s homes shared a wooden boundary. A narrow opening in this fence made it easier for the two friends from different cultures to walk right into the other’s house, without having to get out of their premises.
Suddenly, out of nowhere there was a sound of screeching car from the lane behind. Their quiet suburban neighborhood was hardly used to vehicle sounds, much less unusual car sounds. Additionally, on a typical weekend such as this, most of their neighborhood was either inside or out on their bicycles. A car coming to racing and abruptly coming to a halt was out of the ordinary.
Surprised, the girls looked over the backdoor fence of Sonali’s home. A man with rough skin, long hair and crumpled white skin had halted his car abruptly on the road, exactly at the back of Mishka’s house. He got off the car and walked towards the house. In fact, he was half swinging, as though he just gotten off their swing.
The girls kept looking at his walk, both surprised and curious and then he disappeared over the fence. Mishka’s father had come over to the Basra’s, Sonali’s parents, for a casual chat. Mrs. Gorski, Mishka’s mom, was alone at their place when she heard the door bell.
The girls looked at each other and next towards Sonali’s back door. It seemed neither of their parents had a clue about this unusual development except Mishka’s mom. They heard Mishka’s mom open the door. But nothing unusual so they resumed their play. And moments later there was a sound of gunshot!
The girls ran back to Sonali’s house, where loud jokes being exchanged between the Basra’s and Mr. Gorski, blissfully unaware of the development next door. Mishka shook her dad with a dreadful face, trying to say something sensible. Sonali simply went in and collapsed in her Mom’s laps, too terrified to even raise her head or speak.
Before anybody came to terms with what was happening, there were more gunshots. A regular Sunday turned into a bizarre ‘Bloody Sunday’ in the quite Freetown neighborhood. The police arrived at the scene.
Sonali was so shocked that she did not let go the dead body she was holding on to! In fact, there were three dead bodies at Sonali’s house that fateful day. There was another at Mishka’s back door. Mishka had already been dragged out of Sonali’s house before the police arrived.
Later that day, Mishka and Sonali were reunited in tears. The authorities managed to trace Mrs. Gorski in the evening. She, after shooting the man at her doorstep, her husband and the neighboring couple, was trying to flee along with Mishka. Just before interception, she killed herself. No one knew why she did what she did or what she intended to do, had she escaped.
Mishka Gorski was born to a Ukrainian father and a homeless, orphan mother. Mr. Gorski had managed to seek refuge in Contour States after civilian strife had wiped out his family back home.
He had just begun to earn a decent living and had married Mishka’s mother in his new country. The newly married couple had visited Ukraine, four years ago, out of Mr.Gorski’s strong sense of belonging. This despite nothing that he recognized; man or material, remained. There, they had Mishka.
On the other hand, Sonali’s father Mr. Basra had not only lost his parents but an entire village to violence, in a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. He, too, got out of the conflict ravaged zone by the help of a humanitarian organization for whom he was working. His nationality wasn’t yet finalized for want of paperwork and formalities.
Sonali’s mother was disowned and completely cut-off from her roots, parents and family back in a small Indian city. Reason; she had married a Muslim and for all practical purposes, a Pakistani for them. No one from her side knew whether she was alive or dead. Not that anybody wanted to. Sonali’s mother only connection with her home or her people was a Hindu name, which she had also passed on to her daughter. Sonali Basra.
What was also frustrating for the authorities was that Mishka’s mother had no identity, even in her own country. Or was it really her country?
Earlier in the day, Sonali and Mishka were protected and safe in their own little worlds, separated by a wooden fence. As night fell, they belonged to nobody.
And they will remain so for now. At least, till the time they grow up and find new associations, just like their parents. Family, surrounding, relatives, caste, community or belonging meant nothing to them. Nationality, even if ascribed, will make little sense to them.
In other words, the present world, fighting over many identities, will make no sense to them at all.
For now, Sonali and Mishka have only one identity. That they are friends of each other.