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.

2 comments:

RG87 said...

the sense of sight (which most people mistake for the sense of vision)

This line was awesome.
The post was good, not great though :-)

kunal said...

awesome man!!!! the entire scene was so awesome. i would suggest fast drumbeats as a backgrnd score. add to it the effect of slo-mo rain drops, though keeping all other action in normal mode. what say? n wel, use dark ambience wid a spot wid a unidirectional light as the source. n ya, a travelling camera to it, which travels in a straight manner, not circular.


tell me hows dat for the portrayal for the scene? u can sense the extent to which i lyked it by the fact that i actually thot abt the scene created......

India’s Pre-emptive moves at Pangong Tso and What Should Be Our Next Steps

Indian Border troops and Chinese troops at Nathu La (Image Courtesy: Brookings ) For two days now, the news cycles have been abuzz about the...