Little Preeti is praying to god from the morning to meet her father. It is her birthday today. For last three years that her father Manoj was staying with them, he used to bring a new toy and new clothes for her on every birthday. But for last four months, he is not coming to their home. Preeti does not know what happened to him. Her mother Anjali too did not tell her anything about her father. Instead, she told Preeti to call Susheel uncle as papa.
Nowadays, Susheel uncle comes to their house almost every other night. Most often he stays over. Earlier when his father Manoj was staying with them Susheel used to come only when Manoj used to be away. But one day, Manoj came home in odd time and then there was a huge fight between Manoj and Anjali. Preeti did not understand what happened but she saw his mother and Susheel uncle beating her dad mercilessly so that he started bleeding profusely. Her mother called police and police uncle took Manoj away. After that little Preeti never saw her father but thought he would at least come on his angel’s birthday. She prayed to her god so that her papa comes to meet him on her birthday tomorrow.
The cell in district prison is shared between five criminals. One of which is political murderer Raghu Mastan, two other drug mafia dons, one history-sheeter (one who has a criminal history is known as history-sheeter among police) and a rapist Manoj. He was arrested three months back on charges of attempt to rape of his own daughter. Since the daughter was a minor, in this case only her mother and a neighbor Susheel Sharma’s statements were recorded. This case was on media headline for some time. In India, rape cases have increased so much that media has to step in every time a rape is reported to bring justice. Already many NGOs are demanding death penalty for Manoj.
While he went for dinner Manoj saw the date on warden’s wall calendar. It is 14th June. Tomorrow 15th June is the date of birth of his angel Preeti. He remembers that when he used to work in his high profile IT job, he used to bring a new toy and clothes for his little angel on her birthdays. But today he can’t access his own money, everything is taken over by his wife Anjali.
Court has denied his bail three times. Rapists can’t be given bail especially when the man tried to rape his own daughter. Setting him free would mean injustice to all women. Also, media would have pounced heavily on the court. Such orders are often reversed by higher courts on media and NGO pressure.
Manoj is waiting for some help from somewhere but not sure who will help him. This week Raghu will be released on bail after two weeks of confinement. The drug peddlers will also be released soon as the only witness against them is already paid off. Only Manoj does not know how to secure his bail. His plea to meet his daughter on her birthday was rejected by the court. He only has his GOD Shankar Bhagawan to pray. He prays to Him – Baba Bholenath! Mujhe Meir bitiya rani se mila do baba…..
In jail, rapists are looked most down upon by other criminals and jail staffers. Criminals respect murders, serial killers but hate rapists. Manoj knows that the main accused in Delhi rape case was murdered in his cell and hanged. Many other rapists face the similar treatment and no one demands their rights. The moment someone accuses them of rape, they lose all dignity of their life. Manoj too was attacked by other inmates and his cell was changed many times in last three months. Once one murder accused tried to rape him. But who listens to all these…He was deep in thought as he prayed to Baba Bholenath to take him to his daughter. He went to sleep.
Morning Bell is ruthless, does not allow anyone to have a peaceful sleep at the designated time. Nowadays it has become a habit for Manoj to wake up in time even without the bell. Today was no exception as well. He woke up, looked around and saw everything was changed. He woke up in a small and soft bedroll. As he looked around he saw he has become smaller. His hands become tiny, legs become small too. He did not understand anything. He discovered himself in the small babies’ room in his two bedroom flat that his wife is forcefully occupying nowadays.
Manoj got really scared. He looked around and then when he looked into the small mirror he understood. His soul has come to the body of his daughter Preeti. He opens the door, slowly comes out of the room and looks around for the master bedroom. The door was ajar as Anjali might have woken up in the morning. He peeped inside, Anjali and Susheel are sleeping in almost naked condition. He felt like killing both but restrained him as he hardly had the required strength in that tiny body.
He calmly started thinking about his next course of action. He remembered that they used to have a digital camera in the smaller closet. Manoj bought it in one of their anniversaries and gifted to Anjali. He reached out for the camera and took that out without making any noise. He didn’t want to awake his wife and bastard Susheel. He wanted to keep his calm and collect evidence. His prayer of coming close to his daughter was heard by his God and baba Bholenath has brought him so close that he became like his daughter. The daughter who was supposedly raped by him. He knew Baba Bholenath will give him justice. So Baba not only brought him closer to his beloved angel daughter but also gave him the opportunity to collect evidence of his wife’s unchaste behavior.
Preeti woke up because she felt the bed was pricking her. As she opened her eyes she saw herself in a dark room with four other people. She was afraid and felt like crying for her mama..but she could not cry. Tears were not coming out of her eyes. She wanted to be stood up and suddenly saw that she has grown bigger, much bigger…like her father. She touched her fingers. Those were not tiny anymore. Her whole body has grown big. She realized that she has grown a beard too.
Manoj.. you need to clean the toilets today. It’s my turn but I don’t feel like going today. Raghu ordered him. Preeti was surprised to see that an uncle is calling her by her father’s name. She did not understand anything. She murmured – Where am I?
You don’t know where you are..other inmates started mocking her. One of them explained to her mockingly and told her that – he tried to rape his own daughter and hence he is in jail. Then he reminded him to bring the breakfast in the cell again.
Now Preeti understood where her father went. Her father was his role model, her first love. She could not believe that her own mother has leveled these allegations against her father. Now she broke down in tears remembering her father. She cried out loud – “I love you, papa…I love you..”
Saala ..haaraami papa ko bulate hain…Other inmates mocked her.
Preeti could not withstand the shock or understand anything. She started praying to her GOD again that she wanted to go home.
Both Preeti and Manoj prayed to their god throughout the day to give them back their place. Preeti wanted to take shelter in her mama’s lap and Manoj wanted to go back as he could not withstand his wife’s behavior in front of his own eyes. He felt like killing both but with his tiny body, he didn’t have enough strength. He wanted to hire murderers from his own cell. Anyways Raghu is coming out in a few days.
Next day morning both Preeti and Manoj woke up in their respective places. Their god has listened to them again. This one day switch of their souls gave both chances to get answers to some of their questions of life. Preeti got to know where her father was sent to and why he could not come to her birthday. She will now hate her mother for her whole life. Manoj got much-needed relief of knowing the way of collecting some evidence against his wife.
The mental switch granted by the god for one day changed their lives for good.
On this Father’s Day – dedicated to all fathers who have been falsely implicated in different cases to keep them away from their own children.
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