Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It was an interesting day, as I visited some of the most farthest places in my knowledge today. Sitting here in Thiruvananthapuram today, I can only recall the tiresome journey to Radhapuram Taluk in Tirunelveli District, the birthplace of the saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, for some work. How beautiful can a country get? This is a question that often creeps in my mind, as each time I visit a new place, I am left speechless by the sheer magnificence of this nation's dazzle and colours, and it is really an amazing experience to discover the country, its people and places in the land that I proudly call India.
Anyways, I shall talk more later about some other issues, when I get back to Hyderabad. Right now, with people sitting on my head, can't say much now, can I???

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Murder and Death

And again, it happened. Shrieks filled the air, as the knife went past her body, and blood spurted out of the veins, and splattered all over the walls and the bed and any place that it could find to leave its impact on. The glass curtain that silence often tends to draw over the darkness of night was shattered to an infinite number of pieces, most of which could not even be counted, let alone repair; it had been permanently destroyed, at least for tonight.
I was standing outside the house, and had witnessed the knife go through her tender body, and which had started a fountain of blood that had even stained the table lamp that stood by her bed, and had quietly witnessed the gruesome crime being committed. Her shriek sounded as if a spirit was being tortured in hell; maybe it’s the sign of the Angel of Hell stealing your soul, seeking revenge for someone in exchange for their soul. But it was frightening, was the shriek, and the night was witness to all that it had surrounded, but conveniently decided to allow the crime to go unnoticed, were it not for me being there.
I was there alright. But was I willing to check the matter out? Why should I, when I already had figured the chain of events? I was standing there, quietly smoking the cigarette bit that was left in my hands, but there was some passion in that smoke, as my lust was finally silenced. I was satisfied for the first time in so many days, ad I could not figure out why, but should one wonder for the reasons for something so pleasing to occur? I was satiated after so many days, and there was an immense amount of pleasure that filled my senses. Good riddance from the bitch, I thought, as she had been tormenting my mind, heart and soul to the extent of making my life a miserable experience.
Is it wrong to lust for a woman? If women can lust for us, can’t we be attracted towards them? After all, any attraction that occurs towards another is purely physical. Liar is the person who says that he or she was attracted by a quality in the other’s personality; its all nothing but a pack of fucking lies. Fuck you all, who pretend to be someone whom you are not. Anyways, I was very much attracted to her. Everything about her made me want her even more; her hair, her neck, her naked back that I often saw peeking out of the window, as I stared into the house from a certain distance, from where she played her sick mind games with me. She knew I was attracted to her, and she felt glad about it. And yet, unlike others who would shudder at the sight of a stalker, she was rather pleased about it. She was an enigma to me, a riddle which could not be cracked by anyone; a puzzle no one could piece together. She was perfectly in sync to my imaginations, for what I found alluring. Her eyes, oh my! They were the eyes of the devil. They knew what to do to make you fall for her the minute they were laid upon you. There was a sickening feeling that would rise in the gut, as if someone had just hit you very hard, and made you wish that you could hold her back right then and kiss her till she bled from her mouth, trying to take revenge for what she did to your spirits with that sharp glance that accompanied the cruel smile etched on her face.
The night was still deep in its darkness, as he walked out of the house, his clothes smeared with her blood, as he wiped it out with the towel that she would conveniently drop when she knew that I was staring into the house from the edge of the lamp post that allowed a clear view into her house. The bitch knew, and would conveniently let it slip off her body, as she would turn around behind the curtains slightly parted, as if playing peek-a-boo with my wants. She would ensure that I would be tormented to every extent that was possible. At least the very factors of torment were eliminated to a certain extent. I was glad, as I butted the cigarette into the pole, and then squashed it to death under my feet, which had finally obtained some force in them, now that I knew she was not there to torture me, and make every moment of my life a never-ending saga of agony.
I am a loser, no doubt. I had lost myself to the wicked charms of a witch who had cast an inescapable spell on me. I had been running away from it, but its vice-like grip was too much to handle; even after death, it was following me, as I walked up towards the window, whose curtains were parted enough to allow me a glance at her body, which had been horribly mutilated. A lot of her inner organs lay strewn all over the floor, as her vacant eyes stared towards the ceiling. An expression of horror was frozen over her face, which still had that haunting quality in it, even long after the soul had parted ways with the body, and had begun its march towards hell. The mysteries of her face were still evident, or was it a figment of my imagination that made me see a mirage in the heat of the night?
I kept staring from the outside, even as the room was now stinking of death, as a moth started to wander around the now red light that the blood-stained lamp was emanating. There was a strange aura hanging over the room. The killer was long gone-who was he, what was his intention to murder her, I do not know. He too must have been a jilted lover or a man who was obsessed with her like me to the extent that he had been driven mad, the way I was, but much more beyond the want and the longing, and towards jealousy and outrage by her. There she lay now-she deserved it to say the least. Ruining so many people’s lives, tormenting them like anything, and such people deserved nothing less than hell as a punishment.
The sun was now rising, and I cast a final glance at her body. The face was the same, but I had, all of a sudden, tears in my eyes, as I quietly bade the final goodbye to her, and walked away, carrying with me all the memories of her that lay in my heart, and will stay with me for probably the rest of my life, which I shall end in a few moments from now. Her witchcraft has such a powerful net pulled over me, as I saw a razor blade lying on top of a heap of rubbish, and without even thinking, I picked it up, and sliced my wrists with it. What was the use of living, if the one thing that I was related to somehow was to be taken away from me just like that? I smiled, as I fell unconscious, and drifted towards death, waiting for it to cover half the stretch.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hyderabad/Secunderabad Diaries

Monsoon time is a strange time for our nation as such. People wait for the rains, and then they also wait for it to go away, due to the widespread problems that it creates evey year. It is highly depressing to see the widespread destruction that the rains have been bringing about in this beautiful nation. And it is still rythmic in nature, having a strange attraction towards it, that has inspired so many of us to write in its honour, to compose songs in praise of it, to sing ballads that remind us of its composure, its fury, its many moods, since time immemorial. Perhaps its due to the fact that the monsoons are like us humans, and has several aspects to its personality like us. And this will go on forever, till either the rains cease to occur on this planet, or till the human beings themselves cease to exist on this planet. 
For me, I love this season, and have fallen for it even more after having come to Hyderabad, for the beautiful chill that it has brought about is incomparable. Living in the hills does have its advantages, and this is one of them. I always wanted to live a certain kind of lifestyle, and as of now, this city is offering it to me. However, there are certain issues I still have with the city, like the ghastly traffic jams that arise due to the rains, and the incessant flooding due to the non-existent sewerage systems.  This weather is perfect to allow such aspiring b-grade writers like me to be inspired and write something nice. I have a whole bunch of compositions on that front, and maybe, if one day, I feel confident enough, I might share it with the six people who read my blog!! But honestly, I would like more people to read my blog, and give their constructive feedback, so that I can move towards one of my "Hazaaron Khwahishein". And by the way, I shall start giving movie reviews on another blog soon, for movies that are hard to find.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vande Mataram

“Please sign here, thank you,” said the jailor, visibly amused to see Ram signing the entry register in his jail. “By the way, what have you really come for? To plot another Naxalite strategy?” he remarked caustically, which was replied to by an iron stare by Ram, shutting his mouth and wiping his smile off effectively.

The havildar took the register out of hi hand, as another led the way for Ram, who had come to ___bad Jail for the first time. The prisons of this country are a legacy of the Raj that we had suffered under, which they ruefully demonstrate. The walls are dark and desolate, and they emanated a variety of odours which may incite an ordinary frail human being to throw up at its mere recall. There is no natural lighting in these jails, and for a garden or “green space”, they usually have a square meter sized patch that has some wild grass growing on it. But that’s another story unto itself, and of no concern to us.

Ram walked behind the havildar, who led him towards the “garden”, as he looked around to see people in their cells, appearing half dead. They were victims and criminals as well; criminals for their crime and victims of the slow and tortuous movement of the wheels of justice. And yet, there was very little that the administrators of this country saw. Their brethren would be somewhere in some of these jails, but living in cells that have been converted into five star hotel suites, what with the air conditioners and the refrigerators and filtered packaged water coming for them, even as the other ordinary criminals make do with the water mixed with sewage as drinking water. He sat down on a bench that had been “gifted” to the jail by an “eminent citizen of society”, as he waited in the bright sunshine under the shade of the only tree that covered this bench with his eyes closed, as he waited patiently for events to unfold out.

“So, you did come, after all. I was not expecting you to come at all, considering the manner in which you left us five years ago.”

Ram opened his eyes, as he realized the tone of sarcasm lacing the element of surprise filled in that voice. That voice was definitely him; it could not be anyone else.

“I had to Prasad. I was pleaded to by your agents to meet you here, in this jail, as you had something important to talk to me about,” spoke ram, even as remained seated, but saw Prasad walking from behind his back to in front of him. The policeman was asked to leave, who did so quietly, without making any noise, but with all eyes in them, were they really alone.

Prasad walked about in the green patch, and bent down to have a look at the flowers, which were at full bloom. “How are you, Ram?”

“I am fine, thank you. But did you call me here to exchange pleasantries with me,” said ram, who also sounded a bit irritated now.

“And what are you doing nowadays?”

“Helping the people of my country out, in the way that deems best to me, and especially those who need it the most,” spoke Ram, as he wagged his leg, and looked around the jail boundaries, to see a number of uniformed men and women moving around on duty, armed to the teeth. This is going to be a long affair, thought Ram, as he prepared himself for the upcoming mental onslaught.

“Help,” spoke Prasad, as he got up to come under the shade of the tree, even as he smiled, while taking a good look at Ram. “You’ve changed a lot, I must say, what with the glasses, and an even thinner body. Why, you look like one of those pseudo-intellectuals that keep barking on television on those hollow debates and talk shows.”

“But you have not changed even an iota,” remarked Ram, as he looked at Prasad, a crooked smile etching across his face at the same time. “Still look the same, though you have lost a bit of hair, I must add, and a lot darker too.”

“Running around in the sun does that to you,” replied Prasad, even as he now sat down on the bench, and watched Ram stand up, and lean against the tree, with his face directed away from him. “Age removes the hair, you know. It’s strange how much has happened in the last five years, isn’t it?”

Prasad took out a cigarette from his packet, and began to smoke, even as Ram kept on looking at him with a watchful eye. His hands had not changed one bit, neither had his entire physique, save for the hair, but he had changed a lot. He could read it in his tone, in his eyes, and everything that reveals a man’s personality and the effects of life upon it. There was a strange arrogance, an unknown rudeness that had permeated into his character, and Ram could not fathom why it was so. Yet, he was there, behaving as if the entire world was in his hands, with a conviction so strong it could not be shaken at all.

“So, how is life? What’s new with you?” asked Prasad, as he lighted another cigarette, and puffed away absently, even as he now stared at Ram, who, while not looking towards Prasad, felt his stare.

“Its okay, I am managing for myself somehow,” replied Ram, as he reseated himself on the bench to stare back at Prasad, who was staring at him with a smile.

“Managing? You made the __ Motors agree to a better compensation in Murshidabad than what they were offering earlier along with alternative land for farmers or a job guarantee. That too with your non-violent methods, is it not?” commented Prasad, as the tone laced with sarcasm struck a chord somewhere in Ram’s heart. But it did not reflect on the face at all, as Ram replied, “Yes, that was the case there, alright. We had to struggle a lot, but in the end, we got support from the common men and the middle class people from the cities as well. Hopefully, it will not all go in vain.”

“It will all go in vain, let me assure you my friend,” spoke Prasad, as he extinguished the stub in his hand by pressing it into the tree bark. “This was but an exception, and people will keep gloating in its glory, and conveniently forget and ignore any such other event in their lifetime, and even start criticizing these movements as ‘anti-industry’ very soon. You’ll see, it will happen in your lifetime.”

“Till I am alive, it is my sworn duty to help my countrymen, especially those who need me the most for what I can offer to them, which is a voice that will be heard loud and wide. I wish you did the same, but then, you cannot have all things at all times now, can you?” spoke Ram, as he got off the bench to stroll about in the tree’s shadow, with the sun’s inclination increasing with each passing minute of the day. “It will be my failure, and my country’s failure, if these voices are allowed to be forgotten by the people of this nation of ours.”

“Nation,” snapped a visibly irritated Prasad softly, “the nation is full of brainwashed people and fools, who think that there is no problem in this country. You call this a nation? Half of it has been eaten up by the termites called politicians, and the rest is already a hollow clamshell. If it were a nation, why is nobody happy in this country, save for a few, who are among the filthiest rich of the entire planet? And you tell me that it is a nation? You must be joking,” spoke Prasad, whose bitter sarcasm was at full swing, and which ram recognized as the weapon that he used to brainwash people easily.

“Why do you not tell me, then, what a nation is?” asked Ram patiently, as he stared at Prasad, who was constantly shifting from one point to another. “Perhaps you understood it better than most of us. After all, you are the intelligentsia, aren’t you? You are the ideologue. And your ways might help me understand my own country better with a set of fixed assumptions and theories.”

“You still think that way, don’t you Ram? You have not changed one bit, since that fateful day that you quit the People’s Army” spoke Prasad.

“Have you?” retorted Ram, as he stared at Prasad, who was now again leaning against the tree. “When you could not, how can you expect me to change? I too, after all, am a fundamentalist like you, except for the fact that my fundamentalism stems from the basic premise of respect for human life, unlike yours, which sees a human being as more of a robot than a living creature.”

“Huh, you cannot convince me with your weak arguments just like that, and you know that fact very well Ram,” spoke Prasad sharply, with a bit of anger too reflecting in his tone, which was absent, however, from his face.

“I did not come here to try anything, Prasad; its you who has insecurities in his mind, because of which you refuse to see the realities of life, and this has made you adopt a strictly fundamental stance about everything. You invited me here, so let us get to the point, and for God’s sake, hurry up please. I do not have all day,” spoke Ram, as he looked at his watch to realize the quantum of time that had passed by in playing this strange game.

“God-you believe in that nonsense as well now, don’t you? I see your pictures everyday, going to every place of worship that exists in this country. Tell me, does He come in your dreams and give you guidance in matters of everyday life?” mocked Prasad with a laughter coming out of his mouth. “Does He help you buy food, and does he help you to get a house, and a job? Does He have any identity proof? What is his address?”

“What God is for me or any of the millions of the people in this country who believe in Its force is beyond your understanding, Prasad. In this country, that is the only support structure they have; it is their only way to lead a difficult life. You have no right to question anyone’s faith, if they cannot question yours, or rather the lack of it. Does your ideology not teach you that? How to respect life? Oh, I forgot; it does not,” taunted Ram, as he now sat down, looking visibly irritated at this game of sheer frustration that was going on. He was regretting the decision to come here, but now that he was here, he had to face the music as well.

Prasad seemed a little taken aback at this sudden outburst. “My my,” he remarked, “So you found a tongue. I had heard about it, but to be in its august presence is surely a delight beyond comparison. But it repeats nothing but worn out words that have no meaning to them for anyone. They can offer nothing but hollow assurances which will be betrayed by the actions that shall follow it. Has any revolution ever been brought about by the use of the tongue? Look at the world around you, and you will realize that true power belongs to the people only when they picked up their cudgels to fight for their self-respect and honour.”

“Perhaps it’s you who has to take a reality check Prasad,” spoke up Ram, who was visibly irritated by the rhetoric he had so often heard. “Power to the people has come only when there has been a will to give people what they want in a peaceful manner. Have the LTTE achieved anything but more violence than ever? Did the Shining Path gain any inch over anyone by convincing them about all that happened? Have the militias of Africa helped anyone at all? Only when these people went to the people to represent them by the power of the ballot have achieved anything substantial. Look at yourself. What have you achieved after so many decades of violence? A handful of forests that you called liberated zones? People who fear you? Kids who shudder with fear at your very sight? Is this what you call revolution? I don’t think so,” mocked Ram, with a sarcastic smile etching across his face, even as a stunned Prasad now looked at him, surprised at the manner in which Ram had just burst.

“Look at this country, Ram. What do you see? Nothing else but hunger for children, pain for women, anger for farmers, humiliation for the tribes, and a force of hungry politicians that have eaten the country up like termites. And what have pseudo-intellectuals like you achieved for this country? Nothing but some amount of petty media coverage, when they are bored of covering such myriad range of issues like weddings, snakes, ghosts and movies. That is the extent to which this country has been brainwashed Ram, and sadly you are a part of the force responsible for it,” spoke Prasad, whose pitch kept rising with each passing minute.

“What are you offering instead? Child soldiers being sacrificed to violence for achieving nothing? Tribals being forced to join your army if they cannot pay your taxes? Violence begets violence, but an eye for any eye will turn the whole world blind, and that is all that you can achieve. It’s you who want to brainwash the people into submission, which does not make you very different from the very people you are fighting. You have reduced people into nothing but modern-day feudals in your liberated zones and the state is a banana republic, where your vigilante courts and instant justice run large. Your writ of violence cannot serve anyone. And how do you justify your contacts with those terrorists like the Islamic fundamentalists, the LTTE, and their likes? Is that not anything less than treason against your own people?”

“War demands that you take extreme measures that may not be the best but are necessary Ram. We are at war, at war with the dummies that the imperialists in this country have set up to counter us, as they are too afraid to actually face us, and talk to us about our demands,” spoke Prasad coolly, with a hint of tension creeping in on his face now, as he turned away his face so as to avoid the angry glares from Ram.

“At war with whom, Prasad? Against the very people that you claim you represent? These very imperialists are ruining this country, but then so are you equally culpable of this homicide. Brainwashing people into becoming mass murderers are nothing less than criminal, Prasad, and you know that, because of which you can actually not face me.”

“Ram, you do not know the number of people who are coming into our folds to support us. People from the best of institutions of this country are enlisting themselves for this war. What do you have to say about that, now?” asked Prasad, with a strong challenging tone evident in his voice, even as he continued to stare in another direction.

“Those people are bored with their lives, and want to have some adventure, Prasad.  Power is a powerful intoxicant; look at the manner in which these very people have been behaving with people of the lower classes. Is it not reminiscent of the Thakurs and Zamindars of UP and Bihar in their current avatars? How different are your ‘intellectuals different from them? You just want to replace a set of feudalists with another, but which exhibit their ‘leftist’ leanings on their chests whenever asked for.”

Ram appeared furious after saying all that he had. What was the point in having this debate on ideology, he thought, and what was Prasad’s motive? They had discussed this so many years ago, and the results had been disastrous; Ram had left the force there itself, and turned over that chapter in his life. But Prasad re-entered to create a mess all over again, and this time, Ram was prepared to fight for what he felt was right, not for what others had made him believe foolishly.

“Ram, we would like you to join us again,” said Prasad in a half-hearted manner. “With your support on our side, the people of this country would instantly rise up to help us defeat these imperialists. But looking at your conviction, I do not see this happening,” spoke Prasad, as he had started smoking again, with swirls of smoke engulfing his face in the evening sun, which was now a brilliant orange, soon to be extinguished by the night’s darkness.

Ram was stunned a bit. “So,” he spoke, retaining his composure, “You actually think I would be stupid enough to join you people again, after having now seen your true face. Let me tell you Prasad-your revolution’s days are numbered. People will rise against you; and against those imperialists as well, but it shall be through the power of the ballot and not the bullet. Hurt this country a little more, and you will see nothing but bullets against you from the very people you believe you represent. May God bless you Prasad, and give you some rationality,” spoke Ram, as he got up with his bag to leave.

“See you soon, Ram, and hopefully, by then you would be convinced,” spoke Prasad cheerfully, as he saw Ram walk out with his back towards him.

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

Ram opened his eyes to notice that it was already evening. A lot of time had passed, as he had been sleeping in this chair of his office, and he saw that evening had arrived, as he walked up to the window to see the world being drenched in a red colour.

Suddenly a member stormed into the office loudly, surprising Ram to the extent that he turned around to see.

“Prasad has been killed,” spoke the exasperated member, even as Ram’s face bore an expression of utter surprise. “How did it happen?” he asked, even as he turned on the news channel.

Amidst the television’s cacophony, he was narrated the raid cum jail break that the Maoists had conducted just a few hours ago in ___bad, and how in the cross firing Prasad was killed.

Ram turned numb, as he pondered over all that had happened a week ago. That was the last time he had met him. Prasad was now dead, as he thought of all that was happening and what would happen soon.

“Vande Mataram,” he spoke to himself, and sunk into his chair, even as other organization members now were coming in to hear the news on the television set.

 

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Storm

It was raining heavily that night, as if all hell had broken loose, and was heading towards the earth to soak it in its pain, misery, suffering and torment. And it was a bad night, was this one, for reasons one can only feel, but cannot express to himself, herself or anyone else, even to the person who is really close to the person in question. But it was a bad night, and would get only worse.
He was standing under the ledge of the window that otherwise allows people from within to look outside, but usually allows everyone to look in normal times: nature, people, animals, everyone and everything that can be conceived of. There was a strange expression on his face, as he was feeling the raindrops fall on his outstretched hand. Why would he do that, one would ask, and what is so special about him doing that? So many people do it, and so frequently that we could ignore it totally. But this guy was different, you see. He could not see at all, so he tried to make up for his lack of the sense of sight (which most people mistake for the sense of vision) with his other senses. And he could sense that the rainfall did not augur well at all.
As he turned around to re-enter his house, he heard a familiar set of footsteps approach him. A smile drew across his face, as he spoke up
"So, you came after all these years."
This "you" was a man of about average height, and did not look anything exceptional. He was wearing a raincoat, with the cape removed from the head, as he strode forward to talk to the blind man, who was moving into his house.
"I had some business with you," he spoke tersely, as the blind man lifted his stick towards the switchboard to turn on the lights, which were bright and cheerful, in contrast to the otherwise dull and gloomy night's darkness.
The blind man turned right to sit down in a chair, even as the other man took off his raincoat to sit down. The blind man spoke wistfully, in a strangely cheerful mood, "For me, these lights are of no use-mine have been turned off since childhood. But one has to live a normal lifestyle, isn't it? And so I turn on these light for no purpose at all. But enough about me, lets hear you speak. Specify your purpose, Gustav."
Gustav looked at the blind man, and spoke purposefully, "All these years have passed, and yet you have retained your cheerfulness. How can you, with the history that lies behind you?"
"I do not live in the past Gustav; it is not worth it. I have to suffer for my sins, but should that stop me from being who I am? What I did should not affect what I do now. And I intend to keep it that way. But why dwell on what happens with me? Why don't you talk?"
"I have been sent here to inform you about something that recently happened. It is important, so hear me out patiently," said Gustav, as he pulled out from a briefcase that he was carrying, which remained out of notice till now, a set of papers, which looked suspiciously like a letter, but this long? He cleared his throat, as he began to speak.

“Andrei passed away last night. The cause of his death was the injuries he had sustained while assassinating the Prince of ___, and in his last minutes, he had dictated this letter to Sergei, the clerk of our outfit, giving details of what should happen after his death. And he had instructed me that I should personally go to you, Alexander, and read out the contents of the letter, and there should be nobody else but the two of us during this interaction.”

Alexander sat thinking, his useless eyes pointed towards the switchboard, as tears streamed down his eyes, and a bitter smile etched itself upon his face. After all these years, he heard the news that gave him such bittersweet feelings. What was he to do, he thought, as he wiped his tears away, and spoke up, “Read the letter out Gustav, and make it quick. We both do not have time, and I want to get this mess over with personally. Please start.”

Gustav looked at the letter, as he began reading it:
Mon cher Ami,

I am in the last minutes of my life, and want to let you know that I know that I won’t be able to survive the injuries that I sustained this time. I am old and weak, and injuries of this scale do not allow someone of my age to live for very long. But I think it is time for me to make an important decision, and give you some answers that you so desperately had been seeking from me for so long, before I found your questions to be so intolerable I dismissed you from my presence. The truth, Alexander is that I did not wish to re-open wounds of the past that still hurt me, but which are related to your life so deeply that I find it imperative for you to discover, so that I can rest in peace, and leave behind me people with all their questions answered forever.

The truth is deeper and stranger than fiction, they say, and in your case, it certainly was. For you are no ordinary person, my son; you are the person who had been entrusted to my care when you were only a few days old by someone I wish you were not the son of, for it has been a heartache for me ever since to see who you really are. You are my own son, my own blood, who was born out of the illegitimate relationship that I had with your mother, who herself was a married woman. In that scenario, she left you to my care. I myself was married, and had a son as old as you, whom I had named Gustav, and yet I had not the courage to face the truth myself.

From the minute that you came into my presence, I could feel something special about you. I knew that you would become something the world would have not seen before; neither would it see something like you ever. Your mother had failed to inform me about your blindness, which made me suspect my own intuition deeply. For, how could one associate greatness with a blind person, that too coming from a background such as yours? And yet, in the first few years of your life, observing you reassured my belief in my intuition. A professional killer’s instinct is never wrong, they say, and I could believe in the same again. And with a sense of reassurance, I could look at you, and see you develop into who you are.

You had a special talent which few people have in them. You could not see things, but could sense and feel them even without touching them. This helped you become a great killer, for more than one reason. Most of us require a proper sight to kill someone, but you just needed to sense someone around you, and the job would be done. Your aims were immaculate, and you never missed the target. Moreover, the world is full of fools who believe in empathizing with the “weak” instead of testing their mettle. They think that someone blind would not be able to see anything at all, forget even raising a finger. But you proved conclusively my son, that you do not require eyes to have a vision. We humans have been given a gift, which enables us to realize our true potential power, which is not subject to any limit in spite of what anyone might say. And you were a perfect example of all that human beings can achieve in spite of any handicap that they may be given. You mad me proud of whom you were, and yet I did not dare show to the world what I really was for you; why I do not know.”

Alexander smiled quietly, his blind eyes pointed towards the loud thunder that accompanied the bright streaks of lightning that flashed across the sky. His face held no expression, while Gustav on his face had an expression of a quiet surprise written all over his face. To realize that Alexander was a brother to him was surprising for him indeed, but for what purpose?

“Please carry on,” said Alexander, even as Gustav nodded his head in agreement and carried on.

“You did jobs no one could do; not even me in my best of days or anyone from the best assassins. You had gained the name “The Blind Whisperer”, and rightly so, for you needed nothing but a whisper to locate anyone and kill them. But all of a sudden I had discarded you from our force, without giving you a reason. Well, now is the right time, my son, for me to reveal why I banished you from my sight. My son, I was unexpectedly faced by a choice one day between you and Gustav, and I realized how partial I had been towards you, whereas I had treated Gustav as if he was a stranger, and not my own blood. How could I have discriminated between my own sons, I lamented, as I struggled to realize what to do next. And it was then that I had to take the painful decision, so that I could give Gustav a fair chance.

My sons, both of you are here today to decide amongst you as to who shall head the team that I had assembled with so much passion and zeal over so many years. But my sons, I could not decide whom to choose between the two of you, as for me the two of you are as good if not better than the other. So, I leave it up to you on deciding it. As for me, I shall be happy with whatever decision that you take amongst yourselves. May both of you realize your true destiny in life.

Andrei”

Gustav folded the letter, and kept it back in his bag. He leaned back in his chair and let out a deep sigh, and closed his eyes. Maybe he did it to hide the true emotion in his eyes; maybe it was to hold back tears that streamed down his face. Nobody can guess what went through his mind, for an assassin never allows anyone to get even a glimpse of what lies in their mind or their heart; it is closed for the outside world.

He opened his eyes to find Alexander standing at the door, looking lost, as if he was not even in this dimension, this sphere of life. There was a strange tension in the air, which was effectively being pierced by lightning and thunder like it pierces the rain-there was a lot of drama, and yet it resulted in anything. Gustav spoke up

“What next?”

Alexander kept staring outside, as he spoke up, “It is for the both of us to decide. What do you want to do?”

Gustav lit up a cigarette, as he began to speak up, “So, you are my brother, after all. And yet, my father found nobody else but his bastard son to compare me with. Really proved a point didn’t he?” he commented, as he puffed a circle of smoke out, as he continued to stare at the roof.

He picked up the bag that he had been carrying all along, and pulled out a long katana out of it. The sword’s sheath was beauty personified-ebony black with a gilding of ivory adorning it as the hilt. It was an extraordinarily exquisite weapon of murder, if you could call it one, and walked up to his brother.

“I cannot tolerate this insolence from my father, and the manner in which he has berated me. I am going to kill you right here, right now, and I shall lead the force. You, who ruined me, my family and my father’s life-who are you to lead this force?” he said, as anger rose in his voice, but a strange calmness pervaded his body and his hands in particular, that held up the katana along with its sheath.

Alexander smiled bitterly, as he walked out of the room, and into the rain. “I do not want to ruin my house with bloodstains. Come outside, in the rain, so that all our sins shall be washed away tonight.”

Gustav followed Alexander outside, with the two of them drenching in the rain. Alexander had nothing but the stick in his hands to match the katana, as both stood far apart, waiting for the other to break the lull before the storm.

Alexander was blind, but he had a vision. He could see Gustav breathe even n this thunderstorm, and could even estimate the distance between the two of them. But what he wanted to hear, he could not. And so he waited patiently to hear the sound.

And then, he heard it.

The flick, with which the sword is unlocked from its sheath.

The sound of the cold steel metal being pulled out of the sheath, as it drags along its insides.

The sound of the metal swinging in the open, as it struck the rain drops on the way.

Alexander put up his stick just in time, though there was not a flicker of an emotion that may have been passing his mind, but the hand movement was enough to prevent the katana from moving forward.

“So you are still good enough I see,” spoke Gustav, a bit of irritation rising in his voice, as he moved back to charge at him once again.

“Why do you want to do this?” asked Alexander, as he heard Gustav charge towards him, and deftly moved aside, even as he raised his stick in self defense to avoid the blade from cutting him up.

“My father,” spoke and angry Gustav, as he kept attacking Alexander, who kept attacking a defensive Alexander, whose face betrayed no emotion, making him angrier, “ruined my life and then as redemption decided to do this to me! How could he have done this? He made my life hell, just so that he could look after his bastard son! How could he? How could he? I’ll make you pay for doing this to my life,” he screamed, as he managed to slice a backward jumping Alexander’s shirt, who instantly realized how close he was to being sliced up himself.

“Do you think I am happy with the truth?” spoke Alexander, as he moved about his walking stick to prevent the katana blade from moving any further. “Let bygones be bygones; at least the man confessed to his crime.”

“Easy for you, not for me Alexander,” screamed Gustav, even as he managed to make an incision on Alexander’s arm, which started to bleed, and the trickling blood got diluted by the water that the rains brought from the heavens. “I will never forgive you. How do you think did Sergei die? It was me who let out the information, much to the blindness of Sergei, who still mourned your departure? How do you think that made me feel, huh?” he shouted, as he swung the blade, barely missing Alexander’s neck, as he moved back swiftly.

“Let it be Gustav, I do not want anything. It is unfortunate that you did it,” spoke Alexander, as he moved his stick to hit Gustav, who stuttered back a bit, surprised by the intensity. “But I do not want anything, everything is yours, just let me live in peace.”

“You cannot live in peace at the expense of mine, Alexander,” screamed Gustav, who charged fiercer than ever, only to be pushed back by a move from Alexander in the nick of time. “I killed him, and I will kill you, even if I have to die for it.”

“Then so be it,” spoke Alexander softly, who was standing at a spot, as if he was rooted to it, even as an anger-blinded Gustav charged like a bull.

Alexander concentrated; as he heard Gustav’s footsteps create the sloshing sound. Just a little more, he wondered, as Gustav came nearer and nearer.

He heard the blade swing, as he turned back, and twisted his own stick, and swung it from below just in time.

The blade sunk in deep, as the katana fell out of his hand, and Alexander caught hold of Gustav’s now limp body, even as his hands were awash with his brother’s blood, which was carried away by the waters that the heavens poured on them. He gently closed his brother’s eyelids, confirming to the night that his brother was dead, and sat down on the grass, even as the rains continued to fall hard on the two of them-him and his dead brother for a moment.

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