Ranya breathed in deeply, as she saw the very faint light at the end of the tunnel. She put the fire torch in the handle at the end of the tunnel, as he saw the young child who was clutching her hands. Ranya's dogs were trained to perfection, as they watched around the two people, who were near the tunnel.
''Why are we here, mom?,'' the six-year old Sreya asked her mother, watching the light at the end of the tunnel.
''This was our home, baby!,'' Ranya said quietly.
''I do not understand ma! Why are we here?,'' Sreya said as Ranya led the child towards the end of the tunnel.
''Have you ever seen the sunrise?,'' Ranya asked Sreya.
Sreya frowned as her black eyes were shining with anticipation. ''I have seen sunlight,'' Sreya said watching her mother gleefully. ''From the holes in the caves, I have seen the sky!,'' Sreya looked at her mother. ''It is such a strange colour, mother! Sometimes, the sky colour is red, sometimes orange, mostly blue...Why?''
Ranya looked sad as she watched the child. ''We have never asked that question!,'' Ranya said, as they neared the edge of the tunnel.
''Mom! Why are we going to the Surface?,'' Sreya asked clutching her mother's hands tightly, as Ranya could feel the terror of her daughter.
The dogs looked around as Ranya studied them for any signs....anything wrong....
Breathe...Ranya remembered her father's words. Breathe and let it all in....See and watch it all....Immerse yourself. That is how you enjoy Nature at her best....
''This Surface was our home, darling!,'' Ranya said watching Sreya. ''It did not belong to the Droids! It belonged to us! I want you to see it! I want you to see Nature in one of her most beautiful forms, one last time before we go!,'' Ranya said pushing the hair on the child's forehead, as the child's tiny ponytail danced like it had life of its own.
''Where are we going?,'' Sreya asked as Ranya nearly laughed. Question...Always question...That was what her father had taught her. Her father would have been proud if he had seen Sreya.
''The sunrise, first!,'' Ranya told Sreya. ''Answers will come later!''
Sreya nodded as Ranya saw her animals. They were alert and showed no sudden movement. Ranya nodded as they both stepped out of the tunnel.
''Tiger! Jenny!,'' Ranya called the two animals. ''Guard!''
The animals wagged their tails as Ranya took in a deep breath, watching the faint light grow stronger, and she stepped out of the tunnel.
It was a beautiful sight. The sunrise was always the most beautiful part of the day for Ranya. For her, it marked the beginning of a new adventure....something new....
The rising sun, giving out a dizzy of colours, red, orange, yellow....brown.....And that mixed with the colours of the earth always made Ranya feel....powerful, like she was one with Nature.
Even after five years, the thing still took her breath away....
Ranya watched Sreya who was looking at sunrise and her heart ached as she wished she could record that expression on the face of the child. It was an expression of pure delight, one that could not be expressed. One that need not be expressed. It was something to be felt.
Ranya knew that Sreya was feeling it too, because for the first time, Sreya was not talking. Sreya was just content watching...Watching and letting it soak her...Both mother and daughter had climbed on top of the cave and were watching the sunrise and for the full ten minutes, Sreya did not speak a word.
''Who paints the sunrise mom?,'' Sreya asked finally.
Ranya shook her head, unable to hide her smile. ''A crazy artist!,'' Ranya said finally, because that was the only answer she could think of.
''This happens everyday?,'' Sreya asked as Ranya nodded.
''You said we are going away!,'' Sreya said as Ranya chuckled sadly. Always down-to-earth....Probably she should not be using that expression anymore.
''The Council has finally finished making the space ships, baby!,'' Ranya said.
''For leaving earth?,'' Sreya asked.
Ranya sighed taking a deep breath. ''Ever since the Droids came five years back, we have been trying various ways to destroy the machines!,'' Ranya said as her eyes were continuously scanning the sky. ''But the machines proved to be too strong! Almost indestructible! And nothing we did seemed to damage them! That was the reason, we moved underground!''
''What do the Droids want, mom?,'' Sreya asked, her eyes suddenly frowning as she watched Ranya.
Ranya sadly shook her head. ''We do not know! We do not even know how these machines reached earth! We just know that these machines spell destruction! Total and complete! So for the past three years, we have been devising various means of getting the remaining people off the planet!,'' Ranya paused to control the tremor in her voice.
She remembered that Friday well. She was coming back home to tell her father she had been selected for the ISRO training program, a special program for a a trip to Mars....Ranya wondered why Life always had such a weird sense of irony. Her father never even knew of her achievements...The Droids came before that. Destroying life as she knew it. The thriving human population of earth was reduced to a rubble...None of the major cities in the world survived the Droids. Millions of lives were lost that day. And the left over people were forced underground.
Ranya never knew why the Droids would not come underground....but they did not.
And now, the Droids had won their battle or rather the humans had lost.
Humans were leaving their home...Once and for all. Never to come back.
Which was why Ranya brought her daughter here....
Ranya did not know whether they would survive any of it.
But at least her daughter would know...
Sreya would know what it was that was waiting for her and if possible when the time was right, lead the people back....Back to their home, on earth.....
''Let's go!,'' Ranya said, as she got up, leading her daughter. Ranya watched the Sun one last time and bid adieu to it.....