Rudolf walked into the living room drenched and shivering. He had never seen it rain like this before. It seemed to him as if mother nature was trying to cleanse the country after all the sins that were committed in the past few years. Thousands of people were killed mercilessly. People were betrayed by their own leaders. Rudolf wasn’t one such leader.
“Where is the kid?” he said standing in the middle of the room as he left a puddle of rain water dripping from his over coat. The old wooden floor squeaked as he walked around inspecting the family photos.
“Downstairs sir.” the servant came running and took Rudolf’s jacket and hat and offered him a towel. Gently rejecting the servant’s offer, Rudolf walked towards the basement door and held his breathe before holding the cold door handle. He was burdened by heavy guilt and began to feel judged already. He said a small prayer, took a deep breathe and walked in.
Ten year old Benjamin Franklin was the last one alive in the family. The family that lived in the same house and managed the entire estate. In broad day light two weeks back, the men in uniform barged into the house and killed them. The family was in the attic going through old photo albums while Ben was in the basement feeding the firewood into the furnace. Only Ben as alive by the time they left. His sister, a smart 12 year old was shot in her neck when she tried to protest. The attic floor soaked in the family’s blood. Ben was found two days later by a local farmer who worked in the estate. He was too scared to take him home so he left him in the basement and contacted the secret society that was helping people leave the country.
Ben was writing his journal sitting near the furnace when Rudolf entered. He did not turn back thinking that it was the servant. The basement was warm because of the fire. Rudolf could listen to the rain outside. It had been raining for the last three days. The walls have become damp and the air was moist.
“Hello Mr. Frank.” Rudolf said after clearing his throat. Ben looked over his shoulder without turning back.
“I am Rudolf. I am here to help you leave the country.” Ben did not say anything but turned around and waited for Rudolf to continue. He did not recognise Rudolf. Not many people knew what the brother of the ruler looked like.
“That is, if you are willing to trust me. I am going to do all that I can to help you.”
“Help me?” Ben spoke for the first time in several days. He felt calm. Rudolf seemed like a good man. He needed someone to trust.
“Yes Mr. Frank. It is not safe here. I insist we leave right away. There’s a secret passage in the woods towards the southern river and I have my men waiting there with a boat. It wouldn’t be long before the dogs know about you. If they do, they’ll be here within a day.”
“But it is raining Mr. Rudolf.” Ben said pointing at the ventilator whose glass window was soaked due to the rain.
Ben’s sharp eyes reminded Rudolf of his younger brother. As a child, he was gentle and kind. Now, now he had become a monster to say the least. Power had corrupted him. He and his group of trained killers, the dogs as they were called, were solely responsible for all the cruelty that was going on in the country. They were also responsible for the killings of Ben’s family. That is also why Rudolf wanted to personally see to it that Ben was sent out of the country before the dogs found out that he was alive.
“How can we go now? It is raining heavily.” Ben said snapping Rudolf back to reality.
“It would help if the rain had stopped but we don’t really have a choice Mr. frank.”
“Please call me Ben. That’s what my sister used to call me. My mom called me Benny.” he said leaving a lump in Rudolf’s throat. He wanted to tell Ben that he was the brother of the person who was responsible for his family’s death. He wasn’t afraid of being hated. He hated himself more than anyone else. He was only afraid that the kid would no longer trust him and that he wouldn’t be able to save him. Guilt is often too heavy to bear.
Rudolf and a group of his students from the university decided to save as many people as possible and help them leave the country by sea before his brother, and the dogs caught them. As soon as he came to know about Ben’s situation, he wanted to personally assist his escape. He knew that it wouldn’t be long before the dogs come back. The rain could only delay them.
“Ok Ben. Get your things now. We must leave immediately.” Rudolf said trying to change the topic. He did not want to remind the kid of his family. This kid doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. Lives are at stake. Rudolf did not care about his own life. It was the kid’s life that he wanted to protect.
“You know my mother used to sing for me when ever it rained. I wasn’t allowed to play in the rain because of my pneumonia.” The kid said without making eye contact.
“Oh.” Rudolf did not have anything to add but he knew they had at least till sunset to leave and it was only noon. Even though it was dangerous, Rudolf decided to stay and talk. For the next couple of hours they sat on the chairs, looking at the fire inside the furnace and talked. Rudolf mostly listened as Ben spoke about many things. He was very smart for his age. But he was a very stubborn kid. He kept insisting that they could leave only when it stopped raining. Strangely he believed that he could control the weather.
“You just have to ask it.” He smiled. Rudolf looked at his smile and felt the urge to protect the kid at any cost.
“Yeah but it won’t listen to everyone. You need to have a good reason.”
“Who told you?”
Rudolf wished it was that easy. But it was getting late and they had to start. Just then the servant walked in and informed them that the belongings were ready and packed. Rudolf looked at Ben and saw a scared little kid. He had to do something now.
“Aren’t there any raincoats and umbrellas in the house Benny?” Rudolf asked.
“Did you just call me Benny?” The ten year old started to cry. He was alone. All alone. Rudolf realised that Benny was how his mother addressed him. He was mad at himself for making the kid cry and immediately hugged him. Ben was shivering. He must survive. He must leave the country.
“Okay Mr. Frank. I have never done this in my life, but since you think it is that easy, let me give it a try.” Ben looked up wiping his tears. It was still raining. Rudolf walked towards the glass window of the ventilator and for the first time in his life, began to sing,
“Rain rain go away…
come again another day…
Little Benny wants to play….
Rain rain go away….”
Within the next half an hour, after three days of continuous downpour, the rain finally stopped.
Benjamin Franklin managed to escape that day and managed to lead a life in exile in Pakistan. He converted from one Abrahamic religion to the other (Judaism to Islam) and called himself Basha. Basha Farooq. His journal was published later as “The dairy of a young man” but it was not a best seller like his sister Anne’s diary which was published as a book.
On the day Ben was sent away in the boat, Rudolf was caught by the dogs and his younger brother Adolf sent him to a concentration camp where he was the subject of several experimental drugs. Rudolf often sang the song in his prison cell. He died later the same year.