Naina found her seat and placed her cabin baggage before resting beside the window. It didn’t matter to her as to what the others in the plane were doing as she was lost in her thoughts about her grandmother’s condition. There was a part of her that wished she had built a more affectionate relationship with her much sooner but now, it was too late to nurture a bond.
While she was lost in her thoughts, a little girl arrived holding her grandfather’s hand and sat beside Naina in the middle seat while her grandfather sat in the last seat.
Looking at her, Naina smiled but the girl didn’t. Wondering as to what happened, Naina extended her hand before introducing herself, “Hello little one! My name is Naina.”
She looked at her grandfather before cautiously shaking hands. A moment later, she faintly whispered, “My name is Kreeti.”
Hoping to cheer her up, Naina offered, “Would you like to sit beside the window?”
A faint smile appeared on her face and soon enough, they swapped their seats. Looking at Naina, her grandfather said, “Thank you magalu. You saved me the trouble of persuading you.”
Before Naina could assure him that no persuasion would have been needed, she heard, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome onboard Flight AI 812 with service from Dubai to Mangalore. We are currently third in line for take-off and are expected to be in the air in approximately seven minutes. We ask that you please fasten your seatbelts at this time and secure all baggage underneath your seat or in the overhead compartments. We also ask that your seats and table trays are in the upright position for take-off. Please turn off all personal electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones. Smoking is prohibited for the duration of the flight. Thank you for choosing Air Express Airlines. Enjoy your flight.”
As soon as the announcement was completed, Naina enquired, “Why is she sad? Doesn’t she like to travel?”
Her grandfather replied, “She has lost both her parents in a road accident recently. I’m taking her to my home but she doesn’t want to leave her parent’s place.”
Naina was heart-broken listening to him. While she turned to look at Kreeti as she peeped through the window, her grandfather continued, “I’m all she has.”
It took Naina a while to digest the information. Leaning back in her chair, Naina couldn’t help but wonder, “How can this little one live all by herself.”
After the first round of refreshments was served, Naina heard, “Good afternoon passengers. This is your captain Aakash speaking. First I’d like to welcome everyone on Air Express Flight AI 812. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet at an airspeed of 400 miles per hour. The time is 1:50 a.m. The weather looks good and with the tailwind on our side, we are expecting to land in Mangalore approximately fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. The weather in Dubai is cloudy with a high of 31 degrees celsius. If the weather cooperates, we should get a great view of the city as we descend. The cabin crew will be coming around shortly to offer you dinner. I’ll talk to you again before we reach our destination. Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the flight.”
Hoping to set her mind at ease, Naina closed her eyes but she couldn’t help but remember her grandmother again. There wasn’t even one person from her family who took care of her. The only thing they consistently did was to drop money into her account.
She was adamant to not leave India and neither was Naina’s family intending to return to India. At the age of eighty-two, Naina’s grandmother was in her weakest state and was hospitalized yesterday.
For good or bad, Naina decided to return home with her as soon as she recovered. It was about time she started staying with them and since Naina’s mother is soon going to retire, they can make the best of their time.
Turning to look at Kreeti to see what was doing, Naina could see tears in her eyes. Hoping to help, Naina asked her, “What happened little one?”
She didn’t answer. Listening to Naina, her grandfather asked the same question. This time, she replied, “I don’t wish to leave home. Let’s go back, grandpa.”
At such a young age, children usually cry so loud but she didn’t. Naina couldn’t help but think that Kreeti was hiding her pain. She could also observe that Kreeti’s grandfather was in no way to help her.
It was evident in his tone that he was sunken in sorrow when he mentioned, “We are going to a better place mom's magalumom’magalu and we will return soon.”
Naina could see that Kreeti knew her grandfather’s words were lies but she just didn’t say it out loud. Looking at her grey eyes, Naina wiped her tears while saying, “You have beautiful eyes, Kreeti. Tears diminish their beauty.”
In sheer disappointment, Kreeti replied, “My mom used to say that... I miss her.”
Naina couldn’t help but control herself. What could she say?
Meanwhile, Kreeti continued by asking, “Will I ever meet them? Will they watch over me?”
Looking at the black clouds, Naina replied, “I’m uncertain if they will return Kreeti but they will always be watching you.”
Her eyes widened as Naina continued, “Out of the billions of stars in this universe your parents are two brightest stars themselves. No matter what happens, they will always be watching you.”
Holding her little hand, Naina mentioned, “They will be your guide and cast light in your way when you are surrounded by darkness.”
Kreeti just looked at Naina. For no reason, it felt as if she believed Naina. Without saying another word, she put on her headphones and started listening to songs.
A few minutes later, Naina and Kreeti ate dinner following which Kreeti fell asleep. Leaning in her chair, Naina recalled her grandmother’s words, “Why don’t you come and stay in India? You have enough wealth. What more could you seek if not home?”
Before answering her question, Naina fell asleep too and woke up to the announcement that the flight had reached Mangalore. She could observe that Kreeti was still asleep and so was her grandfather.
Looking outside the window, Naina could see that the Sun was just waking up and the plane was reaching the airport.
When the wheels hit the land, the jerk was so hard that a few passengers hurt themselves and within no time they felt like falling again before Naina and Kreeti were devoured in flames that emerged out of nowhere.
Part I - Day 0
As the cold winds swirled into the room through the open window, Bhaskar looked at his wife as he felt her for the first time. He could tell she was controlling her pain but her eyes were filled with tears. Unable to witness her agony, he pulled himself out of her and when he did, he could feel her bleeding.
He looked at her for a moment as she took a deep breath. A moment later, he leaned forward and kissed her. As she kissed him back, tears rolled down her eyes as she closed them. The nineteen-year-old Radha, he married a day ago, caressed his black curly hair after they kissed.
Looking into her eyes, Bhaskar could see her willingness before he felt her again. For a while, the couple moaned in pleasure before he passed the life gifted to him.
As he did, he truly felt the transcendence of power within and it was like never before and as she received it, she ushered in joyful pain looking at the man whom she chose to lead her life with.
Taking a deep breath, Bhaskar rested on his wife’s bosom feeling her heart pace. He felt the wait was worth every minute and life has never been more complete.
Feeling his warmth, Radha asked, “What would you wish the Gods for? A boy or a girl?”
Placing his chin between her life preservers, Bhaskar replied, “I would like to welcome Saraswati. What about you?”
With a smile, Radha replied, “I wish for a girl too. It would be like my elder sister being reborn.”
Recalling how the lack of medical facilities led to her ten-year-old sister die of sickness, Radha curiously asked, “What if the Gods give you a son?”
Thinking about it for a moment, Bhaskar teased, “Looks like madam would, after all, prefer a son.”
Glancing at her husband, Radha laughed before confessing, “It was my father’s wish. He wanted a grandson named Arjun. Though I would love a daughter, I would prefer a boy equally, too.”
Leaning forward, Bhaskar stated, “Arjun? Rather than name our son of an overrated protagonist, I would name him of a fallen antagonist.”
Finishing his sentence, Bhaskar kissed his wife on her neck. When they looked into each other’s eyes, Radha replied, “My husband should certainly read Mahabharat once again. Maybe then, he wouldn’t root for the fallen and realize the reason behind such a fate.”
Listening to her, Bhaskar just smiled. He knew she wasn’t completely wrong.
A moment later, he mentioned, “Honestly Radha, it doesn’t matter who it is. I just hope they are born healthy and continue our bloodline with at least the respect we hold now.”
Radha couldn’t be more glad. Her husband’s words gave her more pleasure than their actions.
Meanwhile, Bhaskar lied on her bosom and closed his eyes before falling asleep. Caressing his hair, Radha closed her eyes too.
For a while, she could see a man in his thirties standing behind them while three young children were playing before them on the floor while she sat beside her husband posing for a picture.
She lived the moment for a few seconds before losing it.
Part II - Day 15,702
Placing his plate of warm noodles on the dining table, Radheya recalled Mitram. He thought about how Mitram would have stopped him before he tasted his unusually sweet noodles.
Though he thought of taking a look at the portraits of all those whom he loved, Radheya started stuffing noodles into his mouth without wasting another moment. When he finished his noodles, he felt nothing.
It took a few moments before the intended reaction kicked in. While he was experiencing the pain, Radheya recalled about the online friend he invited for dinner. Observing the clock, he knew that she wouldn’t even arrive for the next twenty minutes.
Moments before his mortal form lost its soul, Radheya couldn’t help but think, “Why did I even strive in life if this is how it would have ended?”
More than pain, Radheya dreaded the thought of what would happen next. He was certain about Gods and demons being nothing more than mere elements of the mind and firmly disagreed on their existence in the fictional concept of the afterlife. However, when facing death, the uncertainty certainly terrified him.
As he pondered on the question, the doorbell buzzed. Glancing at the clock in the dining room, Radheya couldn’t help but presume that his guest arrived early. Trying to look calm, he walked to the door as he felt the pain in his stomach.
Looking through the peephole, he saw his friend standing steady. He opened the unlocked door to find a stunning girl in her late twenties wearing a black gown standing before him.
As his eyes closed, Radheya mentioned, “You’re early…”
Observing her getting tense, he raised his hand in assurance before he crashed on the floor. The moment he crashed, he could see his astral form still standing.
As his body landed on the floor, the girl just stood there for a moment. She could see he wasn’t breathing and just calmly left. He was surprised that she didn’t even call the police as he had expected.
An hour later, one of his neighbors noticed him lying at the entrance and called the emergency services. A couple of hours later, Radheya’s mortal form was before a drunk surgeon whose quest was to find what killed him.
Though the intoxicated mortal knew that even the strongest leaf shall have to fall when kissed by winter, he was just checking the math of self-killers. Even he knew that the world he lived in was filled with no emotional entailment and just survived on rational investments alone.
After the inspector determined that the corpse owner killed himself, Radheya was surprised to see his body parts were being snatched to be reused. The rest of the poisoned filth was packed into a black bag like a broken toy before being shipped on a conveyor belt that carried many other bodies.
Another officer took a look at the tag on the bag before marking it in his system. In absolute silence, the conveyor belt passed the body into the incarceration chamber and burnt Radheya’s body instantly.
Radheya could see the mortal form that he built for four decades turn into ashes in seconds. As he believed, neither angels nor demons awaited. It was the darkness that surrounded him as he always stated. In such silence, he knew not a single living soul was weeping for him.
Part III - Day 283
Picking up the transmitter, Bhaskar’s manager accepted his request to meet him. After signing a few documents, he waved at Bhaskar to enter the chamber.
He waved again listening to Bhaskar’s plea and Bhasker immediately rushed on his scooter to the hospital. Enquiring his wife’s name at the information center, he rushed to the maternity ward where he found his wife unconscious.
Walking towards the cradle beside the bed, Bhaskar could see his spitting image sleeping in silence. Happiness filled his eyes with tears as he extended his hand to touch him.
Looking at his son lying in the cradle, Bhaskar’s mother mentioned, “The Gods have given you an heir!”
Observing her son staring at the life he sourced, she continued, “Lakshmi will soon join.”
No matter what his mother said, Bhaskar couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful life that was before him. He knew there was a reason henceforth to strive and without a second thought, he promised himself that all his actions should serve his little one.
The moment he felt him, tears of happiness slid his cheek as his mother hugged him.
Touching his adorable finger, Bhaskar mentioned, “It’s him.”
With a smile, his mother acknowledged, “He couldn’t be away for long considering how much you loved him.”
Meanwhile, Srinivas stood before Rudra, staring at his third eye. Staring at the inordinate amount of energy, Srinivas asked, “Why was I summoned, father?”
With a charismatic smile, Rudra replied, “You shall have to relive another dharmic life in-order to become a part of me, child.”
Kneeling, Srinivas begged, “Forgive my sins father. I do not wish to live in that hell. I would rather take any other punishment. Please don’t send me again...”
Continuing to smile, Rudra mentioned, “You haven’t been cleansed yet, child. Your desires should be destroyed before you become a part of me. You were created from me for that specific purpose.”
Accepting his fate, Srinivas pleaded, “At least give me strength father!”
For one last time, Srinivas saw Rudra before being thrown into darkness. He heard nothing but then, he heard his wife and son.
He felt delighted that the almighty had decided for him to be born into the same family, but before long he had no recollection of them anymore.
As Bhaskar turned to look at his wife, his mother asked, “Are you planning to name him Srinivas?”
Not intending to lie, Bhaskar replied, “Not until I saw him. I always wanted him to be Karna.”
With a smile, his mother replied, “Since fallen heroes are today’s icons and distorted comprehension of epics cannot be undone. Taking his mother’s name into account, let’s name him Radheya.”
Silence prevailed for a moment before she continued, “You could have your wish. Just name him Radheya instead of Karna.”
After a moment of thought, Bhaskar suggested, “If it is Radheya, then let it be Srinivas Radheya.”
Part IV - Day 14,775
On a cloudy morning, Radheya opened his car door for Mitram to get in and after cautiously closing the door, he rushed to the driver’s seat.
Turning the key, Radheya mentioned, “I know you would want the window open but it’s too cold and you can enjoy nature as long as you want in the park.”
The Indian Spitz just stared at its master in silence as they drove. Just like any other Saturday, Mitram presumed that they would first go to a park and then shopping before returning home.
A few lanes later, Radheya took a turn that wasn’t usually their route. Noticing Mitram raising his ears, Radheya assured, “We are going to the Shiva temple.”
For a moment, silence prevailed before Radheya justified, “My father wanted me to feed him after his death. You could just say it was his dying wish.”
Rushing to the nearby Shiva temple, Radheya parked his car and opened Mitram’s door before paying the parking fee to a boy. Requesting him to take care of his dog, Radheya tied the leash to a nearby pole before entering the temple.
Paying at the shoe locker, Radheya thought, “Why shouldn’t dogs be permitted into temples? Aren’t they a creation of God?”
Stepping into the temple premises barefooted, Radheya had to follow the queue that led to the taps. Authorities insisted that visitors wash their feet before they stepped into the temple premises.
The more time he had to stay in the queue, Radheya grew more restless of having left Mitram outside. However, neither could he break the line nor control his thoughts.
Getting his feet wet, he rushed to the Puskarini to find someone he could pay to get the job done.
At the same time, in the world of the Eternals, the doors of the Immortal Lands opened and Radha’s spirit walked out along with many others to accept offerings made to her if any.
Though she kind of knew that she wouldn’t be offered food, not giving up hope, Radha requested an astral crow to fetch her if any food was offered.
Meeting the first priest on the stairs leading to the puskarini, Radheya asked, “Would you offer food on my behalf to my father if I pay you?”
Taking a look at the healthy man in his forties, the priest replied, “I wouldn’t.”
Without an argument, Radheya moved to the next priest and asked the same question, and this time a deal was made. While paying the second priest after giving him the details, the first priest mentioned, “Spare a few minutes for your parents child. They will be content with your offering.”
Without a word or expressing anger on those who lie in the name of God, Radheya left. Rushing towards Mitram, he untied the leash and apologized twice before hugging the dog.
Meanwhile, the astral crow heard the chanting of mantras before arriving at the Shiva temple. It could see that the priest who had taken up the task offered nothing more than just water.
Picking up a drop of water through its beak, it returned to Radha. On its way, it saw Mitram and for a moment, Mitram noticed him before howling.
Noticing the crow returning alongside a million others, Radha hoped she would be fed after such a long time but soon enough, she got to know she had to stay hungry for another day just like most of her companions.
Returning to the hall, Radha ate the last morsel of the fruit given by Rudra.
Part V - Day 7,300
On a sunny day, sitting behind his father, Radheya was reading the news on his phone listening to the priest chant Sanskrit slokas. He didn’t comprehend a word of what was recited and he was least interested.
While swiping the local news, Radheya read, ‘A Man killed in the name of God!’
For a moment when Radheya couldn’t control himself. He didn’t know who should be blamed for this? The rigid mindsets of the elders who force Gods on their children or the rebelling youngsters who want to overthrow a system they don’t understand.
Looking around him, he saw the temple and not intending to continue being a hypocrite, he stood up and left without saying a word. While the priest observed him, he didn’t stop his chants.
Completing the offering, Bhaskar touched the feet of the priest before returning to his car. He could see Radheya resting beside his mother.
Placing his angavastram in the front seat, Bhaskar controlled his anger and pleasantly questioned, “Why did you leave?”
Without a moment of hesitation and neglecting all of his mother’s advice, Radheya replied, “Couldn’t believe how you were being tricked by a priest. Didn’t want myself to be tricked too.”
Following his words, Radha asked, “Would you keep your mouth shut?”
Raising his hand to gesture his wife to remain calm, Bhaskar enquired, “You think our forefathers aren’t waiting for us to feed them?”
Disappointed, Radheya replied, “There is no such thing as an afterlife father! It’s a folly that is run by tax-evading businessmen.”
While Radha was shocked, Bhaskar smirked before asking, “What about Gods? Do they even exist?”
Radheya could see his mother getting emotional as he said, “Gods are elements created by humans in order to maintain order in an otherwise chaotic society.”
Disgusted, Bhaskar asked, “You think God is a tool of fear rather than a Creator?”
With a smirk, Radheya replied, “If there is an Almighty, then he or she shall have to be prosecuted for overseeing so many catastrophic events and doing little to nothing.”
As soon as Radheya finished his sentence, Bhaskar realized it’s too late to even teach his son. Controlling his anger and sorrow, he started the car and they rode home.
That afternoon while eating lunch, Bhaskar asked, “Can I ask you if you would offer us food after we die?”
His question was immediately followed by Radha shouting, “Enough of it for today!”
With her instructions, silence prevailed over the topic forever. However, Bhaskar always feared the consequences of such bad parenting even when Radha assured, “It’s not our fault. It’s the time we live in.”
While Bhaskar disagreed by stating, “Our knowledge is no longer a path to wisdom but is rather a defense for our ignorance. It has nothing to do with the times.”
He couldn’t help but agree that Gods have become obsolute and the few with their intellect and motivation are striving to nullify their mere existence. While others are using them for vile ambitions and create blind followers.
Part VI - Day 10,950
On a cloudy evening after their class, Supriya and Radheya decided to complete their evening routine before returning to their room.
After collecting drinks from the vending machine, Supriya sipped her tea before asking, “So you’re telling me that heaven and hell exist theoretically.”
Observing his coffee drip into the cup, Radheya replied, “Yes, in the minds of those who believe in them.”
Walking to an empty table for two in the cafeteria, Supriya replied, “I think it’s a well-crafted fantasy tale to establish order amongst humans.”
Sipping on his sweetened coffee, Radheya agreed before stating, “Imagine having no payoff when you die even after leading a life following every rule set before you.”
For a moment, Supriya didn’t say a word and Radheya waited until she asked, “What if they are right? What if there is a heaven and hell? What if we are wrong?”
With a smirk, Radheya replied, “I’ll be in hell before I would even realize I’m dead.”
Sipping her lukewarm tea, Supriya replied, “Worry not, I will be just behind you.”
With a smile, Radheya asked, “Do you think humans are still eligible to go to heaven in this messed up world?”
Supriya just nodded in disagreement before stating, “I think our belief system could be validated on the premise that the existence of a supernatural force like God who doesn’t respond is a flawed design. The early humans feared everything beyond their control and declared them to be divine beings before starting to worship them.”
Looking into her black eyes, Radheya pointed out, “Of course they would worship them. If they wouldn’t please them, these forces could destroy these tiny beings within no time. Imagine being eaten by the sea, burnt by the Sun, torn by the wind, or being drenched by the rain.”
Amused, Supriya continued, “It baffles me that people, even now, think these prayers work. Even after such scientific progress, do they seriously think Devas are resting in their thrones receiving our prayers? I don’t know how they believe that praying to these unseen forces could save us as a race.”
Looking at the grey clouds, Radheya pointed, “Fear forces people to do illogical things and the divine is one such force of fear.”
Holding hands, Supriya mentioned, “Our children should be given the choice rather than be forced like us.”
With a smile, Radheya mentioned, “I’m sure they would believe in Gods. The new generation is being fed in such a way that Gods are going to be their all-time companions. A war between the radicals on both sides is inevitable eventually.”
Finishing her tea, Supriya replied, “Let’s see how many messengers and avatars would come to our rescue.”
Placing their cups on the conveyor belt, they started walking towards their room.
As they walked, Radheya mentioned, ‘My mother wants us to get married.”
Controlling her laughter, Supriya replied, “Didn’t you tell her that I let you have me without the holy thread?”
With a smile, Radheya replied, “You will get me into trouble someday.”
Part VII - Day 12,410
Into the darkness, as the Sun faded and shadows grew, Radheya stood at the front along with his cousin holding the cot that held his father’s corpse.
Bhaskar’s mortal eyes were closed and on the top of his body floated his soul watching the procession. He could see people mourning but couldn’t feel it personally and as the four men representative of the four servants of the death bringer took him to be fed to the fire, Bhaskar relished in joy seeing the angels floating in the sky. They were the lights in the unending darkness.
Like the four men who held his mortal form, there were four angels who stood around his pyre waiting for the funeral rites to be completed.
Their rhythmic moves swung his mortal form and the chantings of the holy men kept the wild spirits away.
Looking at them trying to grab him into their darkness terrified Bhaskar. It seemed as if they hated the light and wouldn’t let a soul walk to the heavens while they suffered in their unending darkness striving to live once more.
As his mortal form was approaching the pyre, Bhaskar rejoiced until he heard Radha scream miles away.
Nothing pained him until this point but her sorrow made him want to live again. There wasn’t him without her and there wasn’t her without him.
He could see that she was running towards the graveyard even when women were prohibited. Bhaskar’s soul wanted to stop her.
Turning towards the four angels, Bhaskar pleaded, “Stop her!”
They didn’t move. This time talking to Mother Nature, Bhaskar pleaded again and the black clouds poured down along with cold winds.
At the center of the mortal and Eternals, prayers were offered before Radheya set his father’s corpse on fire. As the angels approached to hold Bhaskar’s soul, they could see Radha jumping into the pyre in absolute silence while no one even saw her coming.
They could see her smile as her saree got torched and her flesh burnt. Without even shouting once in pain, the fire ate her while she died glancing at her son in her final moments.
Everyone was aghast and before they could react, she was gone forever.
Seeing the woman kill herself, all souls from the darkness rushed towards her. For the sinners shall always be with them.
Observing the souls rushing towards them, two of the four angels, created their trishuls and the souls stopped at a distance.
As Bhaskar held Radha, she just smiled looking at him. After all, their belief was true indeed. The angels smiled looking at them before they opened the gates for the stairs that took them to the Gods.
Ascending the stairs, the couple entered a chamber following the angels to see millions of souls eating alongside Rudra. They picked the fruits from Kalpavriksham - a tree that stood like an umbrella above them.
Looking at them, Rudra stood up to approach them and they just bowed. While the couple looked stunning, he mentioned, “Times have changed children. Grab a few fruits.”
Observing them not moving, Rudra stated, “Radha, go grab some fruits. I wouldn’t like you to stay hungry.”
Without a second thought, Radha left while Bhaskar didn’t move his sight an inch. Turning to him, Rudra mentioned, “You have lived a dutiful life Bhaskar but you shall have to be reborn.”
Thinking about another life, Bhaskar couldn’t help but frown. Looking at him, Rudra mentioned, “You shall have to live your karma before becoming a part of me.”
For a moment, silence prevailed before Rudra assured, “It shall not belong. You shall not be a human this time but shall rather his companion.”
As soon as Rudra concluded, Radha returned with four fruits. Taking a fruit from her, Rudra replied, “You need to reap the fruits of what you have sown Bhaskar. You need to see what you have done.”
While Radha wondered what happened, Bhaskar knew it was his offspring that Rudra was talking about.
With a smile, the almighty replied, “You will soon be a part of me my child. This shall be your last life.”
Bhaskar smiled while Radha couldn’t help but begin to plead.
Part VIII - Day 13,510
Filling up the documentation, Radheya took a look at the Indian Spitz that was soon going to be his family member.
After finalizing the payments and the first checkup of his place to verify if he could provide the dog a good home, Radheya was given permission to adopt.
Finishing the form, Radheya took hold of the dog leash. With a smile on his face of having owned a loyal lifelong companion, Radheya walked out of the store to find many others like him.
As he walked in the sunset, Radheya said, “Hey Mitram, you must take good care of me. It’s you and me kid. We aren’t left with anyone who could offer us a long term commitment.”
For a moment, Radheya looked at the cute dog before presuming he heard him. After taking a few steps, Radheya continued, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do but at this age, I cannot take another betrayal and I promise not to betray you. I will stay loyal. The last time I did that to Supriya, she didn’t just walk away but even returned the favor.”
Both of them walked home while Mitram heard his master. It took a few moments before Radheya mentioned, “My intellectual mother, my saintly father, and my loyal partner fucked up my life…. You’re the only one I could rely on.”
They walked and Mitram rejoiced the cold air as well as it’s freedom. However, the chain still held him. He could figure out that his master has more issues than it seemed.
Meanwhile Radheya continued, “I hope she comes back. I hope she understands that it’s just the heat of the moment that I cheated on her.”
The very next moment he stated, “When she cheated on me, I never questioned. How come she gets to judge me?”
Listening to his master, Mitram could sense that darkness filled him. He thought, “How should I send him to therapy?”
Recalling the days when he was trained, Mitram thought, “So this is one in the most intellectual race? A bitter man having a psychological breakdown yet pretending his best.”
While he was lost in his thoughts, Mitram heard Radheya confess, “Even now, if she returns, I would take her back.”
Mitram couldn’t comprehend his thoughts and the rest of their journey, Radheya told him about the first time he met Supriya. When they reached home, Mitram could see video game decals, popstar posters, fashionable skulls, and lots of empty bottles.
He knew the journey had just begun. Either he would be dragged into the darkness or bring back light into Radheya’s life. The herculean task of reviving his master would be his goal.
Part IX - Day 15,695
Entering the garden of life, Radha followed the guards of Rudra as they led the way. The floating trees that grew on clouds represented every family that existed in human life.
As the two guards reached the Eluri’s tree, Radha could see a dying tree. Worried, she asked, “Is there a way one can protect it from dying?”
Both the guards just started walking and without paying heed took her to her second family tree, this time the tree was dead. Staring at it, Radha couldn’t speak a word.
After a moment of silence, one of the guards mentioned, “The cycle of life dictates that even the most powerful element existing shall fall prey. None of us can stop or change it. All we can do is learn to live with it.”
Still glancing at the tree, Radha asked, “So shall I presume that my maternal line has ended?”
With a smile, the other guard replied, “In a cycle, nothing ends. It’s either on the top or on the bottom. For every leaf that is dropping now, one more shall take its place. An imbalance is never a constraint. It is only a few of those who perceive it to be one.”
Following him, the first guard mentioned, “It’s true. Your son shall be the last of your family by blood but the family name shall live on through others.”
Thinking about her son for a moment, Radha asked, “Will I see him again?”
Staring at each other for a moment, one of the guards mentioned, “You might. However, if he doesn’t believe in God. Then we cannot help him.”
Doubtful if she heard it right, Radha asked, “An atheist doesn’t even belong in hell?”
Her question made both the guards smile. Noticing her sincere appeal, a guard replied, “God doesn’t punish non-believers. It is not even the least of their intentions.”
Following him, the second guard mentioned, “The non-believers are left in the void. They are left to what they believe in. Souls have the power to choose their afterlife and if they firmly believe in something after death, it’s highly likely they will end up there.”
Anxious, Radha stated, “My son doesn’t believe in God. What shall happen to him? Please don’t tell me he would be left in the void.”
Both the guards didn’t say a word but just started walking away and Radha understood the answer wasn’t complicated.
Part X - Day 15,695
It has been thirty hours since Radheya slept. Even if he tried, he couldn’t listen to Mitram wail in pain. He knew it’s time to say goodbye and Radheya held him while both of them slept on their comfy bed.
Looking at Mitram asleep, Radheya recalled the doctor’s words about losing Mitram soon before he closed his eyes. For an unknown reason, he recalled the first time he met Supriya.
A dorm party welcoming freshers. It was the first time most of the students met and after a couple of hours, when everyone introduced themselves, the first game began.
The ping pong game where you throw the ping pong ball into a glass to have a shot. While Radheya sucked at it, Supriya rocked.
She won so many rounds that she was filled with tequila. After the first game, there was some free time and Radheya approached her to ask her name.
The moment she informed her name, she mentioned, “If you have any other intentions than just flirting. My dorm is nearby.”
For a moment, Radheya couldn’t believe she said that. Looking at him, she teased, “I know how much time it would take you to get to me and I’m done pretending that I love the way you choose your words.”
He couldn’t help but smile and she continued, “So let me make it clear. I like the way you look and I suppose you do too and I’m sure this wouldn’t go any further than tonight.”
Looking into her black eyes, Radheya mentioned, “We never know. It might.”
Smiling back, she replied, “I know. It won’t.”
The next moment, she held his hand and both of them left the party. Entering her dorm, they dropped the keys, ripped each other’s clothes off and he felt her tongue sliding over his and admittedly, she was the best one until this point. Controlling himself, Radheya wore his companion before he rode her from the top.
She smiled wickedly and it drove him crazy. So, he punished her by racing like a horse. Though she shouted along with him, he still couldn’t wipe the smile off her face.
Flipping her like a coin, he pierced into her while the smile on her face faded. Holding her black hair with golden strands, he humped like a dog until the life within reached its pinnacle upon which he stood up while Supriya sat beneath him feeling the lukewarm power touch her face.
The moment her smile reappeared, Radheya opened his eyes. He couldn’t feel Mitram’s life and what was thrown away never returned when needed.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon following the morning service, the church hall door creaked as a stranger with a brown shirt and piercings all over the body walked down the aisle towards the confessional.
He traveled to this remote village after his mother gave the address, years after she gave up her revenge. Along his way, he observed the priest reading a book resting on one of the benches.
The priest closed his book observing the visitor and rushed to the other side of the confessional. It was rare that someone would come in the afternoon for such an activity and after a while both of them occupied their seats, in a hoarse voice, the stranger said, “Father, I have come to confess sins.”
Leaning his ear towards the white curtain that was separating them, the priest mentioned, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper child but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
With a smile, the stranger whispered, “Prior to the confession, I’m curious to know if killing the man who has destroyed my life would account as a sin?”
Taking a deep breath, the priest replied, “Put your sword back in its place. For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
The stranger couldn’t believe it. It was honestly strange listening to him after spending fifteen years behind bars.
After a moment of silence, the priest continued, “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.”
The stranger smirked before saying, “There was no law when my drunk father hit my mother after being questioned about his activities. Trust me, father. He didn’t perish.”
The priest for the first time turned to observe the stranger. Meanwhile, the stranger continued, “He used to hold my feeble mother’s long hair while making her feel the walls only if he didn’t prefer to make her kiss his belt.”
As soon as the stranger concluded, he felt the priest might have realized his identity. When the stranger no-longer remained a stranger in the eyes of the convicted, without a moment’s notice, the now possibly known stranger pulled out a dagger and rushed it through the curtain.
As it slid through the silk curtain within no time, the priest soon felt a piece of metal in his throat. His life portion spilled as he shrieked in pain and he couldn’t help but wonder how death walked to him in such comfort.
As his cry echoed in the empty church, he collapsed from his chair and his blood slid like a river. In his last moments, he could hear the stranger say, “This sinner didn’t even bother about his son’s presence while he played with his mother as his toy. Imagine being powerless when it is needed the most.”
Walking out of the cabin to reach the other side, the stranger continued while looking at the dying man, “However before long, my mother chalked out a plan to end her horrible torture. She stabbed her drunk husband three times on his chest the moment he returned home.”
As he said his sentence, he could see the priest didn’t wink. Kneeling on the floor, the stranger wondered as to how he transformed so much while his mother was whoring for existence. Observing the dead man, he revealed, “Foolish of her to choose his chest. She should have aimed for the throat too.”
Extending his hand, the stranger closed the priest’s eyes before concluding, “Sleep well, father. You deserve this after all the suffering you have inflicted on your family.”
Meanwhile, another priest walked into the hall to find his brother lying dead. He rushed back to the chamber he came from and locked the door before ringing to the police.
Observing the second priest running, the stranger shouted, “Don’t worry old man. My father sought redemption after surviving his earlier stabbing.”
After a moment of silence when the priest spoke to the police, the stranger mentioned, “Unsure of his success, I choose to liberate him to rebond him with my mother. She deserves a second beating after all!”
Finishing his call, the priest shouted, “You’re heading towards the monster within you. That’s why you could kill an innocent devoted man.”
With a raised eyebrow, the stranger shouted, “He isn’t innocent! He ruined my childhood while my mother ruined my life.”
Tensed, the priest questioned, “So you have decided to hunt your parents? Satan has taken your soul, child.”
With a smile, the stranger replied, “He did indeed. Couldn’t defy, especially after my father made my life a living hell.”
The priest behind the locked door shouted, “You’re a sinner who cannot seek redemption. You should be prosecuted by law!”
With a smile on his face, the stranger confessed, “I’m glad. I’m finally being prosecuted for crimes I did commit, old man.”
Hoping to reveal the truth, the priest mentioned, “My brother never married... He was innocent.”
This statement got the attention of the stranger. Rushing to the corpse of the dead priest, he could see some difference but couldn’t accept that it was another man. He inquired, “Are you certain?”
The moment he finished his question, a policeman holding a revolver stormed in from the door. Looking at it, the stranger revealed, “I’ve torched my mother enough for her to spit the truth before ending her.”
Standing behind the locked door, the priest held, “It isn’t him!”
This confirmation made the stranger decide not to get captured yet. Turning to the policeman, he threw his dagger before running away.
Escaping the dagger, the policeman shot him on his leg. Observing him racing his hands to his pockets, the policeman demanded, “Raise your hands!”
When the stranger pulled out his own revolver, the policeman shot two bullets sucking the life out of him.
Opening the door, the priest now approached the dead stranger with a smile before stating, “I hope God has mercy for this troubled soul and give him another chance to undo his misdoings.”
While I observed the black clouds settling down, Anupama sat beside me on the bench. She was observing her kid bowling. Folding Gita Darshan, I greeted her before enquiring, “Haven’t seen you in a while, Anu. Is everything okay child?”
Turning to me, the woman in her thirties replied, “I’m waiting for Anirudh. How have you been uncle?”
Observing her, I remained silent, before she mentioned, “Anirudh is celebrating his third birthday tomorrow. You must certainly join us at 6 pm.”
Throughout her invitation, she kept looking at Anirudh who was busy finishing his bowling over. Unable to comprehend as to what is bothering her, I enquired, “I certainly will but tell me why are you tensed?”
As if she mustn’t mention it, she leaned forward to whisper, “I’ve just heard the news mentioning about an impending cyclone.”
Taking another glance at the black clouds above me, I replied, “Seems like it has already arrived.”
For a moment, my words made her furious. After a moment of silence, she said, “Anirudh has been asking about organizing a birthday party for months now. He would be most disappointed.”
Relieved, I’ve suggested; “If not tomorrow, he could have his party on Sunday. A natural calamity isn’t your fault.”
I didn’t realize until she mentioned, “Tomorrow is the extra day in a leap year uncle. He only had two birthdays until this point and at the age of twelve, he is celebrating his third.”
Though, I understood the issue, there is nothing any of us could do. A twelve-year-old might not understand. Before I spoke another word, Anirudh arrived.
Greeting me, he invited, “I’m celebrating my birthday tomorrow uncle. You should join us.”
For a moment, both of us looked at each other before I agreed and they left. There was a part of me that wished Varunadeva would wait for another day. However, the moment they left, I could feel droplets touching me.
Returning home, I could see my wife watching television. Approaching her, I sat beside her on the sofa. Before I retired as a manager in a cooperative bank, I often criticized serials on television. However, over time, I have become an admirer myself. They often gave me something to look forward to on a boring day.
Getting me a glass of water, she sat beside me in silence. When advertisements played, I asked, “Anirudh is three years old tomorrow. What shall we give him?”
Without a second though, she suggested, “The same remote care we have Chinni. I never imagined she would love it so much.”
I just nodded but couldn’t accept the suggestion. I disliked that toy when it was for my granddaughter but silence is often the only choice.
Tomorrow, however, I will give him what I prefer. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to give him a wooden handmade toy from an artisan I knew.
Planning to visit the store after my breakfast the next morning, I rested for a couple of hours and opened my eyes to listen to rainfall.
Observing the drops showering all plants, I could notice water stagnating on the roads. Everything was closed and when I read the Gita Darshan as the daily was cancelled, I could see Anirudh from my balcony before his home looking at the clouds.
He wore a white dress, a new pair of shoes, a belt and a watch. I felt bad for him. His school is closed, his friends cannot make it due to the weather. I was certain the celebration was within the three members unlike expected. Hoping to cheer him up, I shouted, “Happy birthday Anirudh!”
With a smile on his face, he cheerfully shouted, “Thank you, uncle!”
That afternoon, even the power was cut and roads were flooded with water. The rain however continued until light gave up on us too.
During the sunset, I could hear the child crying when he hadn’t gotten anything. Unable to listen to him, I picked up the torch and rushed to our room to open the beeruva.
Picking one of the three parker pens, I tied my lungi before mentioning to my wife about my visit. Defying her resistance, I rushed through the water that reached until my torso and reached Deepak’s home.
Located opposite to my home on the north-western side, the individual home was closed but I could hear Anirudh weeping.
Knocking on the door, I was greeted by Anirudh’s father Deepak. A tall man in his forties apologized the moment he answered the door. With a smile, I said, “Anirudh, happy birthday son!”
As I extended my hand, he stopped crying and approached me. We shook hands before I passed him the parker pen.
He thanked me but hesitated to take the pen. When he got his father’s approval, he took it before I was welcomed by Anupama.
Insisting me to sit down, she made Kesari and filled it in a cup to reverse it like jelly. Meanwhile, I rested in a chair and Deepak took away the lantern to return with a diya.
Placing the cake made of Kesari and diya before it, both the parents sat beside Anirudh before mentioning, “Cut the cake Anirudh.”
Forgetting everything that was before him, Anirudh couldn’t help but cry the moment he realized it was nothing close to what he was expecting. As the couple sat on the floor pleading the child, I sat before them with tears filled in my eyes.
What wouldn’t I do to be in his position? Anupama reminded me of my mother as she lit up every situation and Deepak reminded me of my father. He always brought us a new ray of hope.
God gave Anirudh a party. It just happens that Anirudh is too young to witness or realize it’s beauty. A day shall come when he would realize how much more he has gotten today than that was ruined I thought.
Blowing off the diya in anger, Anirudh rushed to his room following the light from the lantern placed in his room. Taking a deep breath, Deepak relit the diya and Anupama smiled before she passed me a cup of Kesari.
Deepak then left to carry Anirudh back and laid him in his lap while promising him, “We will certainly celebrate your birthday as soon as the rain stops!”
Unable to redirect his anger, Anirudh stated, “I rather wait four more years!”
Like most mornings, the moment I opened my eyes, I could see the radium solar system on the ceiling. Observing the blue rings of Saturn, I picked up my phone to check the time to be 6:24.
Walking on the cold marble floor, I reached the living room to find Rahul skimming through the daily Eenadu. As I turned to the kitchen, he informed, “Your coffee is waiting.”
Approaching him, I could see Renisha sleeping in his lap. I kissed him on his cheek before picking up the lukewarm coffee cup on the black table.
As I did, he asked, “Have you thought about her fancy dress competition? We only have a week left.”
Resting on the adjacent sofa, I enquired, “I never get you. You remember her fancy dress competition but don’t even have a clue about my entrance exams.”
With a smile, Rahul folded the daily, before replying, “You’re old enough to take care of yourself but she isn’t.”
With a teasing smile, I enquired, “When did you wake up?”
After a yawn, he replied, “You play with me before you go to sleep and she plays with me after she is done with her sleep.”
With a smile, I replied, “Yet she gets kisses and I get rebuked.”
Observing me, he replied, “I’m not even giving her one-tenth of what your father did for you. What are you complaining about?”
Looking at Renisha asleep, I teased again, “My father didn’t play with me every morning nor did he have the time to let me sleep in his lap.”
Caressing the little one, Rahul replied, “He’s a banker and I’m a software engineer. We start our days and end them at different points in time. I’m sure your evenings were rejoicing and just not television.
Observing the light blue clouds and trees dancing as the cold wind pushed them, Rahul stated, “She’s too young to comprehend what this decision could mean for her.”
Observing Rahul staring out of the window, I nodded in agreement while resting on the sofa. The view from the third-floor was always wonderful and after a moment of silence, I replied, “I agree but without savings, we can neither afford Renisha’s college admission nor buy ourselves a comfortable home. Traveling around as we planned looks difficult as well. Rahul… we have to plan for the long run.”
Turning around patiently while looking at me, Rahul said, “You cannot stomach the fact that we cannot have a lot of what you just mentioned, can you? Your ambitions and aspirations must always be met.”
Knowing the truth, I just replied, “You will thank me for this Rahul. This is for our future. This job offer would keep you away for a couple of years and it would deeply pain you and leave you in isolation... but it would secure us our entire future.”
Continuing to stare at me, he replied, “My daughter is twelve years old Ritu and she needs her father just as much as her father needs her. If I seek money now, I can never forgive myself.”
Without a moment of hesitation, I mentioned, “You wouldn’t forgive yourself too if you’re forced to gift her a loan the moment she starts earning.”
I could see him stay silent for a while before mentioning, “At least... Let’s stay together. We will manage with the expenses.”
Considering the amount of savings, I nodded in disagreement. Observing me, Rahul shouted, “You think you are right, don’t you? When our daughter would start sharing about her personal life to a stranger whom she would love more than us, you would know what you have started.”
Before I spoke another word, he left the room.
As I chopped vegetables, my mother asked, “When will he be returning? It’s been three years you have been living away from each other.”
I just didn’t want to talk about my marriage life and stayed silent. Observing me, she asked, “Ritu, whatever you’re hiding from me doesn’t help either of us.”
I stopped chopping before turning to her. She could see it even before I stated, “We haven’t been the same… I think he is in love with another.”
For a moment, I could feel tears in my eyes. My mother for the first time in a while, stayed silent for a few moments.
Looking at her getting worried, I assured, “It’s just a suspicion maa. Rahul mentioned nothing.”
Holding my face in her arms as she wiped my tears, she mentioned, “Wives always know Ritu. You don’t have to lie to me. I should have warned you in advance.”
Looking at her, I defended, “It happens when you are three years all by yourself, ma. You cannot blame Rahul.”
With a smile, she asked, “Then why don’t I see you loving someone else? Don’t defend him Ritu. For me, it doesn’t matter how much you love him.”
For a few moments, silence prevailed before she asked, “Does Renisha know?”
That question broke me again. How could I tell my mother that Renisha speaks with her often and considers her dad’s decision to be fair because I was always a greedy mother who never loved her father after a certain point.
Ten minutes after Rajesh left, Renisha changed her dress before meeting me in the kitchen. The moment she saw me, her first question was, “What do you think of him?”
Continuing to clean dishes, I replied, “He seems good but I would never agree to your marriage.”
The very next moment, she mentioned, “Just as pa predicted. Is it because he doesn’t own enough property or a good job?”
After a moment of hesitation, I nodded in agreement and the very next moment, Renisha declared, “I don’t care!”
Her words reminded me of myself. That’s what I told my father when I brought Rahul home. I even remember my father’s words, “A software engineer from private sector? I rather marry you to a soldier. I’ll be certain of your future.”
As I continued cleaning dishes, Renisha got furious before stating, “I’m not you. I don’t see wealth and I’m marrying him!”
Finishing her sentence, she left to her room and on her way, she continued shouting, “Your greed killed my childhood! Killed my father’s love for you! I’m not going to let it kill my choice of companionship!”
What could I say? With a smirk, I just continued cleaning.
I know these are only a couple of incidents in my life and there are so many others that could be worth sharing. However, I just wanted to tell these few because as hard as it might seem, I’m the stereotypical villain in most movies.
The mother who always disagreed and destroyed everyone’s life in the family. Maybe I’m greedy. Maybe I knew what I was doing would harm me but I still did it.
When I sent my husband away, I knew that would affect our marriage. Yet for our future, I did it. I did it in my own greedy way that I paid my marriage as its price.
That decision reflected on Renisha’s childhood too. It in turn reflected her choice of companionship, thereby earning me a lifetime label; I must admit, I’ve earned.
What I’ve also earnt was loneliness, despair and anti-trust in life. The only force that pushed me was Renisha and no matter what anyone says, I just wish they would consider how much I’ve lost in this too.
I don’t expect anyone to sympathise and I know, I have started this but don’t you think I wouldn’t have felt happy to hug him to sleep every night? Have another child who might say a sentence about me without calling me greedy?
But, worry not ladies and gentlemen, I have given my daughter the education I hoped. I have traveled across the world and I’ve lived!
As the cold winds touched the Prince, he rode triumphantly on his horse followed by two soldiers. He knew, he had earned the ride, the one he waited for a fortnight and as he rode his horse, his light blue cape cut the cold wind with the warmth of his anxiousness.
Listening to the thunder of galloping horses, subjects walked out into the street to witness nature’s will. On the street mentioned two weeks ago, Prince Indrajeet waited for Lakshmi and its master. Observing the Prince filled with pride in earning his ride, a few of his subjects were worried about Lakshmi.
Their faces turned pale under the black clouds hiding the fierce burning ball behind it. The wind grew colder as Lakshmi finally approached them. On top of her was her companion Vishnu.
Resting on his horse, Prince Indrajeet raised his hand holding the demanded coin that appeared to everyone like a white dot in a dark world. While it felt as if nature had to surrender to tyranny, Lakshmi burnt like a golden flame eradicating the darkness.
As they stood facing each other, the fifteen-year-old Prince Indrajeet shouted, “Here is your price Mahout! Command your beast to bow!”
The fifty-four-year-old Mahout observed as the Prince threw the coin on the ground. Feeling his elephant’s anger, Vishnu replied calmly, “That wasn’t just my price, my Prince. It was an undertaking to enlighten you.”
With a raised eyebrow, Indrajeet shouted, “So cleaning the steps of Goddess Lakshmi’s temple while being the first one to offer prayers every morning is to enlighten me? You have failed as a teacher Mahout! Better conduct your sole business as only an elephant master henceforth.”
Vishnu smiled as Indrajeet continued, “I’ve done what you asked for and brought you the demanded coin from the temple after earning it. Now I want my ride!”
Leaning forward, Vishnu replied, “You have paid me, my Prince. Pay my companion too... if you want to play God and take his seat as you travel across your capital.”
With his eyes widened in shock and anger, Indrajeet shouted, “You know how many elephants the King owns! Do you even know that you will have to pay with your life for defying my command? I was gracious enough to get you your price and need to do nothing more! Now command your beast to bow!”
Silence prevailed for a moment while the subjects waited to listen to Vishnu. However, instead of him, Lakshmi the monumental beauty with Vishnu’s tilak on its forehead marched forward and hit the Prince’s horse with her trunk so hard that the Prince flew beyond his guards before crashing on the ground.
One of the guards immediately launched an arrow into Lakshmi’s eye while the other got down his horse to help his Prince. As the arrow pierced into her flesh, Lakshmi shrieked in pain.
The second guard raised the unconscious Prince and passed him to his companion before they rushed back to the castle. Vishnu collapsed on the ground as Lakshmi stood on her hind legs seeking help from God Vishnu himself by saluting to the dark sky.
As if Lord Vishnu commanded, the dark clouds poured and water washed the blood oozing out of the dead eye. Vishnu and a few other villagers got hold of Lakshmi to help her.
When Indrajeet opened his eyes, he could see his father standing before him. Realizing he was in his private chamber, Indrajeet barked, “I want that beast killed. I don’t care if it is the servant of Goddess Lakshmi. I’m willing to donate all of my wealth if needed to wipe out my sins for this crime.”
Looking at his son, King Bhagirath asked, “Do you think your wealth will wash away your sins?”
While Indrajeet stayed silent, Bhagirath continued, “I remained silent when Vishnu demanded his price believing that the ritual would change you.”
Gawking at his father for a moment, Indrajeet replied, “I serve the Goddess, not my subjects.”
Listening to his son, Bhagirath realized his education didn’t help after all. Approaching him, the King asked, “If you’re willing to respect an idol of our Goddess, why don’t you respect her living embodiment?”
Confused, Indrajeet shouted, “Because it’s nothing more than just a beast on which we ride into wars or travel.”
Taking a deep breath, Bhagirath reminded, “Remember how I instructed you to approach these beautiful beings?”
Recalling how he was hit yesterday, Indrajeet stated, “I would rather be hanged by you than bow to such a notorious beast.”
Without saying another word, the King left and the black clouds finally let a ray of light touch the beautiful city. Three days later, when the Prince could finally ride, he took off in his royal blue robe. This time followed by ten guards struggling to keep up with him as his light blue cape cut the cold wind with the warmth of his anger.
Though his father didn’t lend him his guards after failing to stop his adorable son, his mother helped him. Approaching the same street, the Prince waited for Lakshmi to return from the temple.
Subjects looked at their Prince in fear and as Lakshmi approached, twelve soldiers pulled out their arrows and a few aimed at the beast while the others at its master.
Looking at them with her one eye as sunlight touched them piercing through the dark clouds, Lakshmi continued walking and Vishnu observed them in silence.
As soon as they approached them, Vishnu questioned, “How can I help you, my Prince?”
With a stern look, Indrajeet said, “I demand my request be fulfilled, Mahout. If not you shall regret it.”
Vishnu smiled before stating, “As informed my Prince. You shall have to pay a price to get your ride. Shakti’s vahana doesn’t obey either of our commands if it’s not valued. So bow before it and you shall have your ride.”
Eyes burning black with anger, Indrajeet commanded, “Kill them!”
The very next moment, three arrows pierced Vishnu’s throat and he collapsed from his throne and fell into the mud whence he came from. Another four archers hit Lakshmi on her legs while five of them shot her on her trunk.
Rushing towards the nearest soldier, Lakshmi hit him with her trunk making him crash into the wall nearby. Observing one of his soldiers hurt, Indrajeet picked up a spear from his nearest soldier and shot it into her forehead in a single throw.
Shrieking in pain as the metal slid into her, Lakshmi couldn’t hold her ground and as she collapsed, Indrajeet got down his horse to mock her by bowing.
As he did, the only Sun’s ray got covered by dark clouds while Lakshmi’s fading golden flame was eaten by darkness, her eye was filled with tears and blood dripped all over her face, Lakshmi saw the Prince bowing and bowed back before closing her eye and reuniting with her master once more. Her last action, bowing to her own slayer, however, crushed the Prince to his core.
At dawn, after a three-hour discussion, Parikshit rushed ahead of an old man in his sixties carrying his bag. As they reached the green Hindustan Ambassador waiting for them near the entrance of the music school, the old man wearing a white dhoti and dark green angavastram entered the car after Parikshit placed his bag in the back seat and opened the door for him.
As the old man, Hastar settled, he confessed, “I was worried if you would have issues with what I was planning to tell you about Diya. However, after our meeting, I’m relieved.”
With a smile, Parikshit mentioned, “Trust me, sir. I will report nothing more than what you have informed me. Your institute will receive the best advertising through this interview.”
Glancing at the young interviewer, Hastar mentioned, “It’s good business for your newspaper too,” as Parikshit nodded, he continued, “Convey Akashvani my best wishes and thank you!”
As they exchanged smiles, the engine roared before the master left. After the car reached a distance, Parikshit adjusted his shirt, took a mouth freshener before getting started on his next interview.
The cold wind and the sunset enhanced Parikshit’s perception of the music school’s beauty. Entering the two-floored building, painted in light orange with classical instrument motifs on it, Parikshit reached the tutors’ chambers on the second floor.
Walking by the rooms named after ascending musical notes, Parikshit reached a dark green door. Taking a deep breath and checking his pockets, he knocked on the door before he heard a response to enter.
Behind the door was a twenty-eight-year-old violinist. A young woman with broad eyes, thick black hair flowing till her waist, honey-hued complexion and lean appearance stood up from her chair as he entered the room.
Approaching each other, they shook hands. Gesturing him to sit down, Diya settled across the round table. In the square room filled with white light, Parikshit pulled out his recorder and placed it on the dark green table.
Glancing at the empty room which had nothing more than a dark green table with three chairs along with a film magazine, a cup of coffee and a violin case on the table, Parikshit took another deep breath of the cold air gushing through the open window behind the violinist.
Observing her silky hair dance and feeling her soothing vibe, he turned on the recorder before stating, “This Christmas, I’m getting to know the journey of violinist Ms. Diya Snyder. My name is Parikshit Hegde and I’m from The Coastal Times. Firstly, let me congratulate you on your most recent endeavor of scoring the thriller movie Vichitram.”
As Diya heard Parikshit’s voice faintly echo, she felt as though they were on kailasagiri. That place made her recall the few times she honestly played the violin for herself lying in the lap of her mother.
From that thought, she jumped to think about the puppet she was being in this interview much to her mother’s disappointment. This thought made Diya stay silent for a moment. While she felt helpless unable to defy her materialistic master, she heard the cold winds whisper, “The truth is worth it child.”
Heading to the unasked advice from her only audience on kailasagiri, Diya replied, “Hello Parikshit. It’s nice to meet you.”
With a smile on her face, Diya looked at his pale oval face for a moment observing his round glasses around his black eyes. She wasn’t sure about her decision but firmly agreed that it was the right course of action.
Smiling back, Parikshit pulled out his pocket notebook while enquiring, “So would you like to tell our readers at what age did you start playing the violin?”
Diya stayed silent for a moment unsure about her decision. However, a moment later, she hesitantly replied, “When I was eleven years of age.”
With her answer, Parikshit’s smile faded. He was surprised, thinking about the contradicting numbers. He turned his notebook pages to read, ‘She started at 8.’
Observing him, Diya smiled before biting her tongue. Confused, Parikshit questioned, “That’s late... Can you tell us why you chose the violin as your calling?”
With this question, Diya’s smile faded. For a moment, she stayed silent again. A moment later, she confessed, “I never chose it Mr. Parikshit. It was forced upon me.”
Observing his notes, Parikshit read, ‘She picked it out of her liking.’
Without a second thought, Parikshit turned off the recorder. Observing Diya’s smile, he said, “I’ve earned only a little time of yours through this appointment Ms. Diya. I would appreciate it if you could simply tell me the truth.”
Crossing her legs, Diya replied, “If I’m to be your parrot and repeat your notes in a recording, you could have sent me the notes and made our jobs simpler.”
Nodding in disagreement, Parikshit confessed, “Your statements don’t match with the information your guru has provided me, Ms. Diya. Either one of you must certainly be… misleading.”
Taking a deep breath, Diya asked, “You’re interviewing me because you have been ordered to do so and since your editor is related to my master, she is only inclined in telling your readers what you were informed by my master. Right?”
Parikshit nodded in disagreement again. Observing him, Diya stated, “If you’re willing to at least listen to the truth, I’m least concerned about what you are going to report Mr. Parikshit. I’m certain both of us have little control over the outcome.”
With a wry smile, Parikshit asked, “You want to do the right thing even though it might not pay off?”
Leaning forward, Diya stated, “I’m just not willing to be an agent in promoting a business. That’s not how I intend to be grateful.”
Impressed, Parikshit turned on the recorder before asking, “Could you elaborate about how it was forced upon you, Ms. Diya?”
Feeling glad, Diya nodded in appreciation before saying, “My sister loved the violin and intended to learn it. However, since she was the breadwinner of the family and had no time to spare, I was forced to fulfill her dream.”
Jotting notes, Parikshit asked, “Why was she the breadwinner, Ms. Diya? I’ve been told by your guru that your relatives offered support after you lost your parents in an unfortunate car accident.”
Nodding in agreement, Diya replied, “They offered but my sister declined. She learned to tailor and fed both of us as soon as she finished school.”
Observing Diya not blinking, Parikshit enquired, “She was ten years older than you. Could we know if she was more like a mother to you than a sister?”
Thinking about it for a moment, Diya replied, “More like a strict father than a pleasant mother.”
With a smile, Parikshit asked, “If you were forced into it, why did you continue even after she got married? You were on your own while being given money.”
Without a second thought, Diya admitted, “Because I was good at nothing but playing the violin.”
Confused, Parikshit enquired, “Then, shouldn’t you be grateful to your master for gifting you a skill that made you independent?”
With a flat smile, Diya replied, “I’m grateful that he gave me a taste of music and trained me but I hate him for polluting the profession. His desire of becoming rich is unquenchable and it’s destroying the next generation of musicians.”
Frowning, Parikshit asked, “Don’t you think a talented musician should charge for his services?”
Thinking about her students, Diya asked, “Charge from those who cannot offer? For a skill, he could impart with little expense?”
After a moment of silence, Diya continued, “Artists are dying seeking professions they don’t belong in and the few who have earned their place in the lap of their mother are exploiting art lovers using position while being controlled by their weakness. Yes, they struggled but that doesn’t justify their actions.”
Parikshit chose to remain silent and a moment later, Diya decided to conclude comprehending that he wouldn’t even try to make a difference if truth be told. So, she just stated, “I’m not a gifted child Mr. Parikshit. I don’t have an ideal master and neither do I respect that my sister’s forceful attempt to make me learn violin helped me. Now if you intend to report this to your readers rather than glorifying me of having been born to only score films, I would appreciate it.”
Taking a deep breath, Prakshit enquired, “Is music your lover or feeder?”
With a smile, Diya replied, “Even though we have had our moments and I have immense respect for it, I must admit that it’s my feeder.”
Without saying another word, Parikshit turned off the recorder and put his notebook in his pocket. While packing his recorder in, he asked, “Can we meet for coffee? I would like to know you better. I’m certain there is a lot more but I cannot do it now. I cannot know all of it and not report it.”
Thinking about it for a moment, Diya replied, “I’m busy until the 4th of January. How about we meet for lunch on the 5th?”
Observing him agreeing, Diya picked up her handbag hanging to the chair and gave him her card.
Hesitating for a moment, Parikshit asked, “Can my girlfriend accompany me? She adored your most recent work.”
Controlling her laughter, Diya replied, “Even if she didn’t, she could certainly join. It would be fun. You could meet my husband too.”
Exchanging smiles, they shook hands as Parikshit thanked her once more before leaving. That weekend, the Coastal Times published an article in their entertainment weekly stating, “Ms. Diya Snyder: A Master’s Prodigy”.
As much as Diya wanted to burn the weekly, she dropped it on her table alongside the film magazine and left to attend her daily classes.
On 5th January, reaching the apartment, Parikshit knocked on the white door before being greeted by the tallest man he has ever seen.
Looking at the surprised man and the fascinated girl, Joseph shouted, “Diya! The questioner is here!”
As soon as he finished his sentence, Madhuri laughed along with Joseph before mentioning to Parikshit, “I like him!”
Passing the sweets and fruits to Joseph, Parikshit noticed that Diya wore a green saree. After introductions, Madhuri couldn’t help but mention, “This is the first time I liked Parikshit’s job. He finally got me to meet a celebrity.”
As they settled at the dining table, Parikshit began, “I tried but as you anticipated, my editor believed that truth will disappoint young minds seeking success. She believes that it might alter their approach to life.”
Diya laughed before asking, “So they chose to lie through my interview? How foolish of them.”
Meanwhile, Joseph started serving rice and Madhuri served the carrot curry along with fried fish. Serving water, Parikshit stated, “Truth cannot be hidden for long, Ms. Diya. Sooner or later, it shall be revealed. You’ll do many more interviews.”
With a smile, Diya replied, “Your editor didn’t lie for the young minds, Mr. Parikshit. Ms. Akashvani could have earned more using the sensational information. However, she acted like many others who cannot digest the truth. If such bitter pills are served every day, our minds shall not last long.”
All of them looked at each other and shared a smile before they started their lunch. They knew a secret that the others didn’t and the others knew a billion secrets that they didn’t.
Every Sunday evening, as soon as Raghav returned from his Lord’s bungalow to his hut, he and his little sister went for a walk. She was three years younger to him and was named Lakshmi. From their hut, they crossed the paddy fields, where Raghav worked occasionally, after which they walked past their Lord’s guest house.
A mile away from this guest house, resided river Champavathi and the closer the siblings got, they noticed that the roads ended first and this was followed by the absence of thatched roofs. They always felt they have entered their mother’s abode which was the dominion of nature.
The siblings always reached the bank before the moon woke up and turned the blazing sky into a black blanket as they loved to witness the change while the river sang.
The river was Goddess Champavathi herself and was worshipped by their mother before fever took her and the goddess’s materialistic form was their father’s livelihood until he was shot by Lord Andrew.
It was a foolish rebellion against his Lord that killed the father and it was his debt that killed his children’s future. As a repayment, Raghav was taken as a slave by the Lord himself.
The siblings were small and thin for their clothes since they had to wear whatever they got at the bungalow. The rest of their expenses were met by the little amount Raghav earned. Once a year, he tried to fulfill a few of his sister’s little wishes like buying her a pair of bangles.
They both had black eyes and brown skin, and whenever Raghav worked in the paddy fields, he was usually covered in the mud until his hips and Lord Andrew barked, “You brown dogs got a fitting job, didn’t you?”
Raghav and Lakshmi never spoke during their walks to the banks because they always saved words for the night. They rested along the banks of the sliding river, played with the water and Raghav often tried his best to catch some fish.
Lakshmi built sandcastles every week, but not one of them survived until next week. When it got dark, Raghav ignited their lantern and Lakshmi always remarked downhearted, “This place reminds me of Amma and Appa... At least, she should have stayed with us after they left.”
“She was given no choice Lakshmi. Believe me, she will return; she adores us.” Raghav affirmed every time before they tread the same path one beside the other in silence while holding hands. On their journey, they re-lived their warm memories of their peaceful past.
The next week, Raghav had to mostly work in the paddy fields. The sun burnt him but, fortunately, he got lucky for two days, when Lord Andrew demanded him to wipe the floors of his bungalow.
Lord Andrew Silverman was the Special Collector sent from Delhi to Visakhapatnam agency to curb the eschewing militancy. It’s been around four months, the last militant was shot dead, so Lord Andrew tortured every Indian rebel he set his eyes on.
Lord Andrew often passed comments of loathing and disgust every time he saw an Indian and Raghav hated listening to the curses every day. However, he knew, if he angered his Lord, he wouldn’t just lose his work but might lose his life too.
One day, while walking out of his room, Lord Andrew saw Raghav cleaning the chandelier. Commanding him to get down, Lord Andrew asked, “My lover is concerned about your future. Tell me, brown worm, what would you want to be if you were given a chance?”
“I... I would like to farm in my land, my Lord,” fumbled Raghav curtsying.
Leaning towards the weakling, Andrew whispered, “I always reward my hounds for their undying loyalty. Prove me you’re one amongst these swine and I’ll help you get some land.”
Finishing his sentence, Lord Andrew left while Raghav couldn’t help, but think of his mother who was snatched away from him. He knew Lord Andrew well enough to not believe a word of what was just said and he also knew he had to be contented with his life.
The next Sunday, during their walk, Raghav and Lakshmi were surprised to see their sandcastle standing tall on the banks of the river. As the river hummed, both of them saw the one they adored and ran towards her.
Embracing them, Ragini laughed. A moment later, Raghav could observe that her saree didn’t cover her shoulders and the skin below her neck. He couldn’t help but think about where she was coming from. Meanwhile, Lakshmi exclaimed, “I knew it was you. I couldn’t believe that the cows didn’t stamp my castle nor the wind ruffled it.”
Soon the three of them lay on the bank of Champavathi, admiring the sky filled with millions of stars while the river hummed and tickled their feet. Ragini was tall, freckled and her eyebrows were perfectly aligned. She was a typical girl from Tanda.
Turning towards her, Raghav asked, “Will you have to leave the village again?”
To which Ragini nodded in disagreement before stating, “Our Lord apparently cannot travel often now to his fort in which I was held. He has important issues to be resolved.”
Ragini’s explanation was followed by Lakshmi enthusiastically shouting, “Then henceforth, we’ll stay in one home!”
As much as Raghav liked the idea, he knew, he could not agree to it. While Raghav looked at the two curved black snakes on her wrist, Ragini replied, “Not yet little one but… one day, we will. When the village doesn’t outlaw me any longer...”
Raghav interrupted, “She has to work after sunset, Lakshmi. She will anyway meet us every Sunday.”
With a smile on her face, Ragini opened the red cloth bag she tied across her waist and gave them two laddus each. As they took them, Ragini mentioned, “Take good care of each other and I will meet you next Sunday.”
As Lakshmi began to eat, Raghav wrapped his sweets in his shirt while Ragini left.
The next few weeks, Ragini visited them and every time she did, she brought laddus and one time, she even brought copper bangles for Lakshmi. For her, they were the only relations she had after Raghav burnt his father’s dead body. As much as she wanted to live with them, her profession made the villagers deny permission and Lord Andrew made the situation even worse.
Every time they met, the three of them rested side by side while their feet touched the river and they gazed at the stars. They talked about everything they knew, built sandcastles and relished each other’s company so much so that every moment was blissful.
That weekend before they left, Ragini instructed Lakshmi to start walking before she informed, “No matter what happens to me. I want you to take this and live in peace.”
Finishing her sentence, Ragini untied her red pouch before placing it into Raghav’s hand. Before Raghav could say a word, she continued, “Mistress is visiting. I’m unsure about my future considering what I’ve heard about her.”
Raghav knew what she meant and without saying a word, he took the pouch and started walking towards his sister. Looking at them for a moment, Ragini left too.
As told, the Lord’s lady visited. She was called Meghan and never spoke to anyone except Andrew. Every sigh of hers was cold, and whenever she crossed Raghav, she tried her best to express disgust by twitching her lips, scowling and calling him names in the presence of Andrew.
That Sunday, Raghav, and Lakshmi waited for Ragini, but she never came. So, they returned home disappointed after building their sandcastles. That night, Raghav couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t help but recall Ragini’s last words.
The next week too, she did not show up. This week, however, Raghav returned to the river banks after leaving his sister behind in the hut and he found no one near their spot except for a dog.
For a couple of weeks, this continued. Lakshmi was convinced that Ragini had again left the village and she stopped joining her brother for a weekly evening walk. Nevertheless, Raghav continued to travel and two times every week just to make sure he doesn’t miss the opportunity to meet her.
Five weeks later, when Raghav reached the banks late night, he saw a group of people standing in silence while Meghan was kicking Ragini as she moaned in pain.
“You shameless wench! How dare you confound my husband!” Meghan shrieked.
“Your pain finally pleasures me after my hound’s repeated failures in searching you for five weeks now!”
Raghav could also see Lord Andrew standing beside his mistress helpless and not interfering. He knew trying to help now would cost him his life.
“You slept with a brown whore?” she turned to Andrew, “What kind of man are you? Has she got anything better than me?”
Andrew Silverman, the Lord, stood with his mouth shut gaping at his furious wife.
“Oh, nice, round and firm right?” Meghan barked in disgust.
“Shoot her legs!” she commanded and one of the policemen standing next to Lord Andrew, obeyed and shot Ragini on her right leg.
“Die in this darkness while your village is asleep,” Meghan roared in anger, “don’t you forget to be thankful. If this was daytime, you will have to satisfy a couple more creeps before your final breath.”
Raghav could see Lord Andrew was out-voiced by his woman. Before the company left, Meghan kicked Ragini for one last time.
It was a couple of hours to sunrise and Ragini was on the cot before she closed her eyes. Aiding her until the cot, Raghav rushed to the local healer to plead him for help. After the bullet was taken out, Raghav paid the healer from the red pouch before touching his feet for helping them at such an hour.
Without saying a word, the healer left before Raghav and Lakshmi fell asleep. Before the sun even completely woke up, Raghav woke up and changed his shirt to rags before rushing to the bungalow.
Reporting to work, Raghav was summoned an hour later. Standing before Lord Andrew, Raghav didn’t say a word. Approaching him, Andrew whispered, “Prove me your loyalty brown worm. Continue to aid my lover in your shelter which is beyond the reach of my devil’s suspicion until I reclaim her and you will be a landlord within a fortnight.”
Recalling his Lord’s words, Raghav returned home to find Lakshmi feeding Ragini. For a moment, silence triumphed until Ragini questioned, “Doesn’t he want me back? That’s exactly why yesterday’s meeting was placed in our spot.”
Raghav nodded before Ragini pleaded, “Don’t fight him for me. Your father paid his life doing that and I have no one left if not for you both.”
Looking at her, Raghav asked, “You want me to sell my mother for an unseen future of comfort?”
As Raghav continued, “I’ve done that once being feeble and unable to help but now I mustn’t.”
Ragini’s eyes were filled with tears. She knew why children were Gods themselves. They see people for what they are than what they could be.
Comprehending that the trouble was with the Lord, Lakshmi asked, “How about we leave this village?”
Thinking about it, Ragini replied, “Even if you are willing to leave all your possessions and run away, where will we go? Andrew will hunt us down.”
In a trembling voice, Raghav replied, “If we fail, we die. If we succeed in finding a new home, we can be liberated from his hell. Don’t you think it’s a small price to pay?”
Ragini couldn’t help but agree.
“The inspector could have waited for the forensic team!” shouted Andrew while we were on the way back to our apartment, and I was thinking of a nice title for his new, simple case.
A few hours ago there was a knock on the door and Andrew said as he updated his Facebook profile “That would probably be the inspector.”
I was having my breakfast and knew for a fact that he would not open the door; I did and the inspector stood before me.
“Good morning inspector,” I said greeting him and he just smiled looking at me and said to Andrew, “I think you must come with me."
Andrew looked at him for a moment and asked “Well, you look exhausted! The crime scene is nearby isn’t it?”
“Stop it and rush with me!” insisted the Inspector.
Andrew giggled and stood up. He tapped on the inspectors’ shoulder before both of them moved to the crime scene.
“Wait! I am coming!” I shouted. A moment later I rushed behind them down the stairs.
We crossed the street and briskly walked past a few blocks. Finally, we reached a three-storey building. Before the building was an ambulance and a few police cars. And neighboring people had already gathered with their presumptions of what might have happened.
As we ascended the stairs, Andrew asked: “So, what happened?”
Inspector explained saying “The housemaid called us saying her employer killed his wife for cheating on him. For some reason, he tied her before he killed her. We took him into our custody and he is now claiming that he didn’t kill her and the cherry on top of the case is that he is the one who hired you to solve his case.”
“Intriguing! Husband killed his wife and asks Andrew to prove that he is innocent?” I repeated. Without another word, all three of us entered the room.
We looked at the dead woman in her nightgown on the couch shot in her stomach. The housemaid was giving her statement to the policemen and the house was a mess. The quarrel they had the previous night might have gone a bit too far and I presumed that the heat of the moment might have made the husband attack.
“Inspector, give me a minute with the body. Tell your people to leave and let the husband stay” said Andrew as he still examined the body.
“So Mr. can you tell us what happened again?” I asked him as I pulled my notepad out.
“I have already told the police and I am saying it again! Although I tried to kill her, I didn’t kill her!” shouted the husband.
“So you wished to kill her but unfortunately it was not you?” I asked again.
He said “I was the one who shot...” but for a moment he stopped.
“That’s it then you are guilty” I concluded.
“Sir! I beg you to listen to me. I knew she was cheating on me and I confirmed it yesterday after looking at her right-hand wrist with some marks on it. So I decided to talk to her and sort it out but she started quarrelling with me. She walked out of the bedroom with her bedsheets and I left her alone. Seeing the marks I presumed that she was being physical with a person with whom she has been cheating. Now, please don’t assume I didn’t ask her, because I did and she refused to accept it. What made me furious was that she even tried to hit me before she left the room. That night, I slept for a while and woke up after a bad dream about my wife. I could not control my anger and what provoked me the most was that my wife couldn’t confront me but was willing to be hurt by another person. In the heat of the moment, I took my gun and shot her during midnight as far as I remember, as she was lying on the couch silently like a dead woman. However, you must note that though I was the one who shot her, it is not me who killed her as she was already dead when I shot her.” he said trying to assure us.
“What is this? Do you mean somebody killed her before you shot? Have you been on drugs lately? Andrew, this man is out of his mind lets go!” I said in a frustrated tone.
“Lewis gives me your phone and please call the police inside. He is not guilty,” stated Andrew taking a deep breath and started folding his handcuffs.
I called the police inside and Andrew returned my phone and stated “Well, the husband is innocent although he tried to kill her. He shot her exactly at her stomach so that means if she was alive, she would have cried in pain and the marks which you see on her hand are not the marks that form after being tied. Actually, those are the marks of Ricin, a poison made out of castor leftovers and it seems like the murderer tied her with a cloth which was affected with Ricin. If you look at her, it seems like she went there to have sex with him. The lipstick, the makeup on her face, and the strong perfume are all the signs that she went to a person whom she liked the most; but his intentions were different. One important thing to be remembered here is that ricin is a slow poison and its reaction takes place after a few hours of injecting it. Probably a day, but it looks like the dosage was high enough, so it reacted quickly than expected. So inspector, go and catch the person with whom she was before she returned home and most probably the husband might be knowing who that is and I would suggest you be fast.”
Andrew turned to the husband and said: “Please drop the cheque in my mailbox by tomorrow.”
As we walked back the inspector asked “So do you know the name of the man whom your wife met?” and the husband replied, “Who said it was a he?”
Walking through the corridor of that dreadful jail, I was still thinking about how he could be murdered. I reached the spot he was lying upside down in one of the private prisons. But this time he was a bit lean probably due to jail’s food. I turned to inspector John asking “How did it happen in midst of such tight security?”
“Sir, I have a perfect explanation for this...” he replied.
Murder at jail!!!
As usual Tuesday’s morning was busy and sunny, the central jail was buzzing with all wireless and commandant was shouting and yelling at each of his juniors “I want everyone to examine keenly.” The final year exams of engineering were about to start. One of the most clever and cruel minds was about to give his exam.
“Sir, the exam council is online,” said a junior after his phone buzzed.
“Yes, sir everything is set. You can send the invigilator” acknowledged the commandant putting down his receiver.
“Sir, may I come in?” Inspector John asked. Commandant gave a positive nod saying “Has he been shifted to the private cell?”
Before John responded Commandant continued “Make sure there should not be a single material which he can use to harm the invigilator and have you appointed the guards who will be guarding the cell? Because I don’t want to take any chance” the commandant spoke in an ordering tone.
“Yes, sir I have already appointed sub-inspector Abraham and Murray.”
“Good… very good probably this time you are too serious on your promotion hahaha…” said the Commandant.
“Well what is he doing?” asked Commandant.
Meanwhile, in one of the prisons, Mr. Elves was preparing for the exam. Mr. Elves a man in his late thirties was the biggest criminal mind but still had an interest in studying and was doing engineering through prison though being interested in being a biologist.
“Hey Elves...” cried Murray in his regular rude tone.
“No Murray he is “Mr. Elf” hahaha…” said Abraham teasing Mr. Elves.
“You morons can you chuck it or else you know what I can do,” said Mr. Elves.
“Yeah… yea…… now like a nice girl strip and get ready for your exam,” said Mr. Murray.
“You...” outraged Mr. Elves.
“Aah… keep your pants down Mr. Elf” ordered Abraham.
Mr Elves carried on with his work while Abraham opened the prison and Murray handcuffed him. Mr Elves was taken to the special prison which was totally made up of steel. Inside the room, only two tables and two chairs were placed in the middle. At the same time near the gate the priest arrived. He was checked by the door guards.
“Oh! Please don’t tear them they are exam papers” said the priest.
“I am sorry sir, what is this?” asked the guard pointing to a red cushion.
“Oh that’s my cushion for my piles, you know how they are,” said the priest feeling shy.
“Yeah, I can understand. Well, you may go inside and be careful sir.”
“God bless you, my child.”
The priest was accompanied by Inspector John to the private cell where Mr. Elves was seated. Abraham and Murray who were chit-chatting at the entrance of the cell got into positions seeing John. They saluted Inspector John and Murray opened the cell. The priest entered the cell and Murray closed the door behind and Inspector John commands both of them to be alert and leaves to his daily rounds.
“Well, let’s continue with your story although we have two and half hours to spare,” said Abraham.
“Oh yeah but we also need to pay a bit attention to what’s going on inside” suggested Murray.
“Yeah… I know” said Abraham in a careless tone. It was all normal until two hours fifteen minutes. Suddenly the commandant’s phone rang and it was from the exam board. To his surprise, they said the priest was busy up till now and he was about to leave for jail right away. The commandant’s head started ringing and he immediately called Inspector John but unfortunately, Inspector John was in his rounds. So the commandant rushed towards the private cell. Meanwhile, Abraham opened the door and accompanied the priest to the main gate and he gave a nice send off to the priest. Commandant reached the cell and cried at Murray to open the door. Murray was totally confused hurriedly opened the door and to their surprise, Mr. Elves was beaten to death. Both of them rushed to the main gates and ordered the guards to alert everyone. Anon alarms went on.
“This was what had happened,” said Inspector John almost out of breath. “By the time I could reach it was all done.”
“I told you beforehand not to entertain those morons but you didn’t,” said the Commandant furiously.
“Sir I am regretting what has happened but…..”
Suddenly there is a movement in the dead body and everyone gets alert.
“He’s alive quickly take him to the hospital” cried Murray.
Murray called the compounders standing near the ambulance which arrived as soon as the sirens went off and he accompanied them. The ambulance tires screeched as it rushed towards the main entrance of the jail.
The ambulance siren was slowly fading away and detective Andrew shouted “Stop the vehicle! Go fast and stop it damn it, you guys.”
“What’s the matter, detective?” Inspector John asked Andrew while sending the guards and alerting all the officers from his walkie-talkie.
“Do you call yourself policemen? Can’t you guys even predict that blood dries in just sixty minutes and the mishap has just occurred half an hour ago which means it is not blood it was just red colour water? Damn you, morons!”
Andrew hastily opened the car door and requested Inspector John to accompany him. Luke started the vehicle and the engine roared to life. Andrew was still thinking about Mr. Elves while Luke was calling him. His touch made Andrew come out of his trance and Luke asked: “Sir, why are you so much worried about a mere criminal?”
Andrew getting tensed checked his time and replied, “He is not just a mere criminal. He is a friend of mine.”
Luke was shocked and said, “Wh... What!”
Andrew replied in a reassuring tone “Yes we were childhood friends and I don’t know how he changed so much.”
A Childhood Friend
It was another day in school amongst all those bullies which made me loath my school. One day while I was being played by my friends, a pair of skinny legs appeared in front of me. He lent his hand and I stood up taking his support. He introduced himself as Elves and stopped others.
We became best friends and he was a very good chess player apart from many talented aspects. We completed our under graduation from the same high school, after which he pursued life sciences and I pursued law.
After starting my service as a detective I solved many cases. One day a case was issued to me and it encompassed the following details “A renowned scientist of national chemical laboratories was killed. The strange thing was that the scientist played chess with someone before his death. I thought it might be the killer he played chess with. To my surprise, it was a perfect stalemate situation from the scientist’s side. However, the cause of death was brain hemorrhage and that was because he was subjected to ultrasonic sounds.
Another clue was that the scientist held a queen in his right hand. Fun fact was it wasn’t the end of killings as a series of murders took place in the same manner in just a time span of three weeks and scientist were being targeted.
The government was pressurizing me as I was in charge of the case. I reinvestigated the case and observed everything keenly and I was perplexed seeing the chessboard arrangement and presumed it to be a coincidence as the playing pattern was same as that Elves.
I called him immediately to help me to solve this case. We had a nice time and that night after remembering those good old days & I told him about the case and showed him the photos of the crime scene.
I asked him for a game so that we can study the case properly but something else was going on in his mind and he had almost killed me.”
Suddenly Luke stopped his car and turned back.
I replied saying “You know bats are the only living beings which can be hypnotized easily but to snap them out is a difficult task and Mr. Elves used it as a weapon”
That night, while we’re playing the same stalemate situation, appeared and he took out a rook from his pocket and opened it. From it came out a small bat. It flew near my ear producing some type of sound which was too irritating. He was controlling that bat using his hand gestures and he hypnotized the bat and to trigger it he used the word stalemate.
Luckily I guessed his move and caught his arm. However, the bat did not stop and I was losing my grip.
“You got brains Andrew” he started with a cruel tone.
He smiled and continued “I thought you will arrest me as soon as we meet but you were asking for the killer’s help to catch the killer himself.”
“The scientists I killed didn’t like my invention and rejected to present it in front of the world. Even when I had invented such a seed that can be grown anywhere in minutes and can be feed to any living being on earth he said no as humans have no potential to digest it. So I made a few changes in my invention and fed it to this bat and used it to kill him.”
While I was losing my consciousness my partner Mr. Stuart took control over the situation and arrested Mr. Elves.
Now that we are heading to his lab which is the place where his work is stored. We have no other option but kill him. As Andrew walked into the lab he saw Elves waiting for him. Andrew asked “After a long time my friend. How have you been?”
Mr. Elves laughed and was already guiding his bats to attack in the meantime Luke and John who just came in shot him down.