“Papa one more game, please.”
“This is the last game for today. Then we will study. Promise?”
“Promise. You hide. On count of ten I’ll come to find you. One, two, three….”

**************

“Papa, what are we doing in this filthy place?”
“We are hiding, son.”
“Hide-and-seek game? But with whom?”
“Ssshhhhh. Don’t speak. They will find us.”
“But they did not count one- two-three before starting the game?”
“This is a new kind of game, dear. We have to hide before they know that we are hiding.”
“I don’t like the new rules”, he sulked.
“But, isn’t hide-n-seek your favourite game?”
“Not this one.”

*************

An hour passed.
“Papa, I’m hungry. Can we pause the game and go, eat something?”
“No, son. That is against the game’s rules. Now please keep quite.”
“I am not liking this game at all.”
After a few second pause.
“Mom, could have joined us in the game. Papa, why did she stay behind in the house?”

The father gave a helpless look. Momentarily, a bloodstained, lifeless face flashed in front of his eyes.

Suddenly the sound of boots startled him. With every step he heard he wanted to curl up into a tighter ball, engulfing his little one. The closer they came, the louder they got, the more they echoed off the tile floor, the harder he prayed.

“Did they find us, Papa?”

Desperately he tried to close the little mouth.But, too late.

Fire shots shattered the ethereal silence.

The game was over.

——-X——–

© 2018 Sreeparna Sen. All rights reserved.

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