The solitude of the night was shredded by the loud, harsh, rumble of the army diesel trucks, and the shrill whine of the Land Rovers as they came to a screaming halt in the middle of the road, in an unnecessary, intimidating show of force. Seconds later came the sounds of trampling boots over the solid, wooden bridge, then the loud demanding call of the soldier in command which was reinforced by the banging of the metal gates with the butt of his rifle.
It was two-forty five in the morning, and Pandit Mahadeo took two soft steps, then cautiously looked out from his dark room through the clear glass, in the middle of the upstairs windows. He saw three army trucks and two army land-rovers unloading dozens of soldiers, armed to the teeth with rifles, pistols, and bayonets. As most of them gathered front of his house, he could see others marching around to the back street where they can get to the back of his home.
....................... But this time around, they did not want to search the house or the yard. As Papa opened the door, the soldier in command, a young man standing at attention, was stern yet respectful as they always were. “Pandit, Mr. Mahadeo, Sir, we have come to search your farm at the reef for illegal weapons and we ask that you come with us”. He was surprised that they even knew about his farm at the reef, but Papa answered “Okay, give me a few minutes to get ready”.
It was a very dark, moonless night and the stars stuck out brightly, each seemingly trying to outshine the other. On surreal nights like these, the stars seem so close and low, that it felt like one could take a stick and poke the shining crystal beads out of the night sky.