Abimanyu was walking. It was not like any other day’s walk. His legs were stumbling. His every step seemed like his last. His face was very tired, like an exhaustion after a war. His features were rugged, like he has forgotten himself since ages. He doesn’t like having a beard, but, Rekha does. Rekha. He always was trimmed, slim, sleek and perfect. The day was nothing like a normal day. The evening sun was blazing through the blood which has marked his dark blue shirt. Twills. Rekha bought it for his last birthday. Rekha. The pattern of the shirt is beautiful. Abimanyu likes it so much. Abimanyu likes Rekha so much. In fact, Abimanyu loves Rekha so much. Rekha was his wife. Rekha.
His head was throwing him off. It was throbbing. It was dizzy. It was ready to go off. It was ready to die forever. His face was twitching. He was making awkward moments with his head. His fingers were twitching. He was making awkward gestures with his hands. People might thing he has gone mad. But he hasn’t. He has been to a war.
The blood on his crease stained, cream coloured trouser was blotting up. He was grabbing the attention of everyone on the busy road. He didn’t care about them. No, that is not true. He didn’t have any idea who was watching him and who were not. He was tired of being vigilant. He was tired of being guarded. He was tired of being hunted. Most of all, he was tired of hunting. He was looking for a place where he can go and sit. But on such a bust street, he couldn’t find anything. After a few moments of intense search with his tiring and shutting eyes, he could see an arch; an arch which says there is a temple in the street inside. Rekha likes temples. Rekha is spiritual. She always told him stories of Gods, Rakshasas, Angles and God-like-warriors. Rekha loves Mythology. Rekha loves God. Abimanyu loves Rekha. Rekha. Abimanyu loves only Rekha. Leaving the main road, he took the street, and even when he was grabbing people’s attention, he walked like he was alone in the street. Again and again, he looked at the sky, like he was waiting for someone to come down through it. In the meanwhile. He was near the temple. He looked at it. It was a temple of Sri Maha Vishnu. He didn’t know if he should step inside a temple after what he has done. He wanted to go away. But Rekha loves temples. Rekha.
Rekha was jumping on her bed. Her loose long hair was messing all around. She was excited. Her laughs were echoing all over the room. She invited her friend Mounica to join her on the bed. Rekha is so happy and Mounica doesn’t want to stop it. She just got on. Holding hands of Mounica, Rekha is jumping much harder and Monica too did the same. “I am happy,” Rekha said aloud, with a huge laugh. Mounica laughed at it. She said it can be seen. “I am happy that Abimanyu is going to be mine,” Rekha said again, killing the bed “forever.” Mounica is just wondering how Rekha could jump for such a long time. She should be tired. “Thank you,” Rekha hugged Mounica, cajoling in the same excited tone. She thanked her a hundred times till then, and she would thank a hundred times later.
“It is not me, it is all him,: Mounica said, holding Rekha’s shoulders. “He deserves you.”
Rekha raised her eyebrow, “I don’t deserve him?” she asked, in a mock-anger. Mounica, laughing, brushed off the question. “So tell me,” Rekha suddenly sat on the bed and locked her hair behind her ears. She dragged Mounica down and Mounica crashed to bed, “Tell me what has happened. Quickly.”
Mounica told her everything:
Abimanyu was standing at the window of the drawing room on the second floor. He was looking at two birds who were setting up a nest on the electric pole which was beside the house. He was smiling. He thought he would take this scene somewhere in his next book. He was looking at the minutest details which he could get. But, then, on the back of his head, he didn’t forget why he was there. He was there because, the aunt of Rekha has called him and asked him to meet her. For what, he don’t know. He and Rekha are in love, but who knows it and who doesn’t he doesn’t know. How the people in her house would react if they get to know this, he doesn’t know. But Rekha is very frightened about it. She is frightened at the thought their household would despise her even for a moment. A strange doubt entertains his head often; would she even dare to let the family know about them? His heart lurches at the doubt. He shakes his head, in a hope to shake the doubt off his head. But it doesn’t go off. Abimanyu is even afraid to put it before Rekha. She would cry and loose herself. He don’t want that to happen.
But may be, that is what Abimanyu loves in her. Her strange sense of love towards her family. Even loving him, she never crossed her line. She says she would be really glad to be with him all her life. That one line is enough for him. She would be glad to be with him? He will fight with the world if she just likes to stay with him. Yes yaari, he would fight the world if she just says she would like to stay with him forever.
“Manu,” a voiced called him and dragged him out of his thoughts. He turned back and found Mounica standing before him. “Aunty likes to talk to you.”
“Where is Rekha?” He asked immediately.
“After knowing what is happening between you and Rekha, do you think they will let you meet her again?”
“But,” he wanted to say something, but he knows, it is not to Mounica whom he should explain. He walked and was followed by Mounica into an inner chamber. There, an elderly woman was sitting in a rolling chair. “Namasthe ji,” he said.
The old woman set her glasses properly and glared at him, “Oh, so it you,” she said. Abimanyu simply nodded his head. ‘If she doesn’t agree, I will take Rekha out of here. She is mine,’ he thought immediately. But Rekha wouldn’t come. If she is a girl who would come, how could she help him? “I expected a bit bigger frame,” the Oldman aid, and strangely it offended Abimanyu. He is not a small man, but yes, not huge too. The old woman waited for his reply, and when it didn’t come, she looked at Mounica and said, “But he got a great hair,” there was a chuckle, “I can see why he is very confident.”
“She said you want to talk with me,” Abimanyu said immediately.
“Yes,” she said, “have a seat.” Abimanyu sat in the only chair that was present in the room, apart from the one the old woman was sitting. “So, it seems like, our Rekha wants to marry you.” That was a leap in conversation he wasn’t expecting. “So, I wanted to know about you.” Abimanyu wanted to say something, but she didn’t let him. “I read your book,” she said. “Not quite popular yet I believe,” he wanted to say something again, but she didn’t let him again, “But I can understand. First time writing and publishing, very hard,” he stayed silent. “I liked the way you treated all the characters,” Abimanyu didn’t get what all that means and where that was going.
“What is it you want to say ji?” he was anxious, “Would you let her be with. . .”
“She seems really happy with you,” the old lady said, and added almost immediately. “Stop all these phone calls, messages and meeting outside business. Let we; elders arrange for your marriage.”
Abimanyu didn’t understand what had happened. “So?”
“That is all. . . . ji. . .?”
“You expect me to stab you?” the old lady was laughing, in a really good humour. “We know you from the beginning as her friend. We saw you and observed your manners. We all talked abut this, but they let this old woman to do the talking with you. I don’t want this to be tiring, that is why I ended this quickly. That is all,” Abimanyu immediately walked towards her and bent before her touching her feet, for which in return the old lady caressed his head. “Take care of that girl. She believes in you. She loves you.”
Abimanyu did a pradikshan. Rekha would force him to do three, but he was too tired to walk anymore. After one pradikshan, he walked over the pavement and subconsciously he was being dragged towards the idol. Idol of Sri Maha Vishnu. Suddenly, he stopped. He knew he shouldn’t go. He was grabbing attention, which is not good. Searching for a corner-most place where he wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone, he sat, under a shade; covering his eyes from the dying sun.
What was spent up, totally. He didn’t want to move. He was exhausted, completely. He didn’t want to think. But he could stop to do so. His legs and hands felt as if they at last were resting and resting like it is the last. He thought he would simply sit there, and die without knowing to himself. He tried to close his aching eyes, he tried to soothe his throbbing head and he also tried to convince his grieving heart that there would be no need for it to beat any further. He completely leaned upon the stone wall which was behind him and then, closed his eyes, trying to take rest.
“Manu,” her face was all glowing. He was having a content smile on his face instead. “You don’t know how I am feeling.”
He laughed, “Don’t I?” he asked. “Even I feel the same.”
“No,” she said, surprising him. When he asked what she meant, she slowly walked towards him. Placing her hand on his heart, she leant on him. That was the first time she was that close to him. He was frozen, and didn’t move an inch in the fright of wriggling her off. He would stay so for the next five hundred years if she says she’d stay the same. “It is not the same for you and me Manu,”
He didn’t want to oppose or offend the happy girl, “Why do you think so, Rekha?” he asked, being confused if he can wrap his arms against her or not.
She heaved, as if she was going to take a burden off her. That particular moment, Abimanyu could feel the weight of hers increasing against him.. “I can’t explain,” she simply said. But Abimanyu waited, for he knows she will explain the toughest too somehow. “I have dreamt all my life to be with someone whom I love,” she said and immediately took the word back in a certain caution, “It is not like my people don’t like me,” her voice was like she was apologising for an uncontrolled harsh statement, “they love me more than they do themselves. But, it was more like, I always wanted to live with someone who would love me and at the same time understand me,” he was nodding his head. Daring a step, he placed his hand on her head and caressed her hair. Like she loved it, she melted much in his arms. “To be with someone who would believe me and. . . let me fly.”
“I will let you fly,” he said, with a huge smile occupying his face.
She looked into his face. She looked into his eyes. Her eyes were wet and crimson, “I know,” she said, and her face was like a blooming flower. “Not just me, everyone in my family believes you will care me and let me fly.”
“I am glad they do,” Abimanyu said.
“You don’t know how glad they are to have a guy like you,” she was talking endlessly. “Such a good man, everyone are saying. Such a nice person, such a brave heart, such a good artist, everyone are praising you. Apart from everything, everyone liked you because of the way you lead your life. . .; pure and simple, just like your heart,” she gave a pause. “Isn’t it, Manu?”
Abimanyu didn’t speak for a while. But Rekha could feel his breaths growing more and more heavy. When Rekha left him to what’s happening with Abimanyu, his hands were trembling and with pursed lips, his eyes were wet and crimson, unlike Rekha’s. Before she could ask what was that, “I have something to tell you,” he said, his voice almost breaking down.
That didn’t give Rekha a good feeling.
“Araku valley is one of the most important hubs of drug production and distribution in South India. The illegal transactions of drugs is rampant while huge amount of money is involved in the game. Starting from the sons and daughters of VIP’s, even ashrams of several Baba ji’s consume the illegal narcotics from here. The order would be taken, it would be passed down through several complex chains of hierarchy and finally reach the tribes of the forests, who, inside the safe premises of Mother forest, cultivate and develop the drug. Relaying on the freshness and depth of it, the consumers never think back to pay the demanded price.
Orders often come from cities like Vishakapatnam, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Chennai, Cochin, Bangalore, Tiruvananthapuram and Goa. Bangalore is one of the highest consuming capitals owing to it IT-sector development which is irrigating youth with works and drugs. Holding the pressure, halting the police; either by dealing with them off or creasing their hands good, the one who does all the job for Bangalore is a dynamic youth, who would seem like a very normal and everyday guy with reading glasses and silky hair, with books in hand and history on his lips, with gaze on girls and graze over google. . . he stays calm and good, for his name is Abimanyu, an aspired writer, for now a drug trafficker.”
With a violent intake, he woke up and fell front on the floor. It felt like someone has stabbed him. The next moment, he sat back again and leaned unto the same wall where he slept. Keeping a hand on his chest, he started pumping up, in the hope of a better breath. The moment was intense. His vision was going blur. He was slipping off the wall. He felt like the world is slanting down and he is skidding off into some kind of an abyss. Then was when, accidentally, he saw her.
Rekha’s eyes were wet and crimson again. This time not of overwhelming joy, but of out-breaking grief. The feeling of being defeated. The feeling of being heart-broken. More than anything, the feeling of being deceived. She was sitting in an old wooden chair in her room, with Abhimanyu standing in front of her, his head bowed down. “So,” she said, trying with all her powers not to breakdown. “You are just not what I have thought.”
How painful that should have been for that little heart to know that the only person she loved and she believed is not true but a fake walking before her? I just don’t want to imagine. I wanted to make this a decent write up without myself interfering, but, the way her heart would have been twisted, who can understand it? Such a pity. I don’t want myself to be under such a situation. Someone who we love dying is a thing, someone whom we love going away is one thing, but someone we love proving to be non-existent?
“Rekha,” he said, his tone low and filled with guilt. At that, she sobbed like a little kid. “I am sorry,” he started saying, “I am so sorry,” he walked from the wall towards her. “I did bad things Rekha, but,” he leaned on his knees before her, “I am not a bad man,” he placed his hands in her lap, cupping her palms with his. She didn’t pull them back. Good guy or bad, he is the one she loved. Tears gushed out and Abimanyu could feel a couple of drops falling on his hand. “Rekha please. . .”
“Manu please,” she screamed, shocking him, and he pulled himself back. the next instant, her face was in a weep again, “Manu please,” hiccups were killing her words. “I don’t even know who you are. . .”
“I am Manu, Rekha. I am the one whom you loved,” he went close again, holding her shoulders, “I did not cheat you Rekha. I didn’t lie. I did not try to fake myself. All the words I speak are true. My book is true. My ideas and thoughts are true. My love is true Rekha.” he was almost hugging her. “I really love you.”
“Manu,” she said, in her dying feeble voice. He was nodding his head already. “I can’t be without you,” she said, clutching his shirt tightly with her fingers. “promise me you will stop all that be the person whom I thought you are.”
He kissed her hair. Wiping off his tears and hers, he swore he wouldn’t touch any of it, ever. “I really love you, Rekha. Even I can’t live without you.”
She was a little kid. May be around 8 years. She wore a white frock with yellow and red dots of different sizes on it. She has clasped her hands in a namaste and was murmuring something with her eyes closed. She sat right beside Abimanyu on the floor. He was just looking at her with noting running on his head. The girl murmured for a while and opened her eyes and sat beside him. He didn’t move.
All of a sudden, “can I sit here, uncle?” the little girl asked, startling him. Her tone was low, but voice was strong and sharp. It would be shrill if she laughs out happily. Abimanyu stared at the girl for a while and nodded his head. “Thank you,” she said and sat there. A couple of minutes have passed. Any girl of her age would stand and go away. But she didn’t. A couple of minutes later, “My mommy said she will come to take me,” she said, particularly to no one. Abimanyu did not care. “May be it will be late for her.”
“What is your name?” Abimanyu asked, passively interested. May be that’s one of the last things he will be doing.
“Sasi,” she said, tilting her head to a side with a grin. “What is yours?”
“Manu,” he said. That was how Rekha used to call him. Manu. Rekha. “Abimanyu, but friends call me Manu.”
“Shake hand,” the Sasi said and offered her little hand. At the little gesture of kindness, innocence and purity, Abimanyu couldn’t stop smiling. With a smile, he offered his hand too and shook hers.
“When will your mother come?” he asked.
She shrugged, folding her lips. “I come here everyday. One old lady comes here and she teaches me Slokas,” the little girl turned her head searching for the old lady. “Then, my mommy comes at the end of the class and she takes me home.”
“Oh, the old lady didn’t come?”
She shook her head hard and said, “No, she also didn’t come and mommy also did not come. I am waiting.”
Instinctually, Abimanyu asked, “shall I drop you home?”
Sasi opened her eyes wide as if in a shock, and clasped her mouth shut, “No,” she mumbled behind her shut mouth.
“Why no?” Abimanyu asked in a surprise. “I am your friend, right?”
Sasi dramatically crossed her arms and placed a finger on her chin and started tapping her chin looking into the sky, “Right, yes,” she said, after a long thought. “But my house is not near.”
“Where is it then?”
“I don’t know the name of my place. But mommy comes here everyday to teach tuitions for some students. At that time, I will come to temple and I will learn Shlokas. So, mommy should come to take me.”
“Very fair,” Abimanyu said with a smile blooming over his face.
“Where is aunty, uncle?”
A COLD BLOODED MURDER IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
The city has been badly shaken by the murder which has seen light yesterday in the morning. The deceased, Ms Rekha Abimanyu, who lives with her husband in the Private Villas of East Kakinada has been found dead in a suspicious manner. Mrs Rekha Abimanyu has been married to Mr Siddarth Abimanyu – an establishing writer in Crime Fiction genre – since the past three years. The couple bore no kids. But a few reliable sources, including the parents of the victim, claim Mrs Abimanyu to be a third month pregnant. The reason of the murder still remains a mystery.
Yesterday, on 09th October, when maid of the house opened the door with the spare key she has, she found Ms Abimanyu laying dead on the floor in an inexplicable condition. Her throat was slit and strangled. Mr Abimanyu was in Delhi, who has come down to Kakinada in the next flight after receiving the news. The family is grief-stricken and Mr Abimanyu has rejected any kind of a contact from anyone and has also refused to meet media.
Further police investigation is under process and is proceeding in a vigilant manner under the commission of authorities. The police has taken the help of forensic department and are hoping to yield out all the possible clues soon. “The culprits will be found soon and will be brought to justice,” says K. Ramana Murthy, the local Sub Inspector.
“She went. . .” Abimanyu was thinking what to say next and every passing second was filling his eyes with more and more tears.
“Inside the temple?” Sasi added.
“To see god? Into the temple? Did aunty go inside the temple to see god?”
“To see God. . .” he murmured, trying not to let the droplets tear off his eyes. “Yes, she went to see god.”
The little girl looked around and hung her head in disappointment, “I think my teacher will not come today.” Abimanyu didn’t say anything. She continued, “I practiced all the slokas very well,” disappointment was evident in her tone and Abimanyu, strangely, wanted to do something about it.
“Would you tell your slokas to me?” he asked.
She was suddenly excited, “Would you listen?” she asked, hoping him to answer ‘yes’.
“Yes, why not,” he said out and thought inside: Rekha loves Slokas. Rekha. “Start then, recite the slokas.”
“Not here,” the little girl said, raising up. “I will take you to the Mandapa,” she asked him to follow her. With all the strength which was left in him, he stood up and followed her. She took him to the back side of the temple, where there was an ancient-looking stone pavement. Sitting on it cross-legged, Sasi teased Abimanyu for having colour all over his clothes. She said she plays Holi only on a Holi day but not any other day. Abimanyu smiled and sat before her, just the way she did.
He asked her to start and the little girl started with the sloka “Guru Brahma,” after that, she recited, “Shuklam-baradaram-vishnum,” the more she recited, the more he remembered Rekha. The more he remembered her, the more he wanted the little girl to recite and, at many moments he wanted the little girl to be with him forever, talking like how she did till then, and reciting like how she was doing.
Suddenly, the little girl stopped and jumped off the pavement, “Tortoise,” she cried and ran towards a chain of tortoise which were walking n the grass just a few feet away from them. Before Abimanyu could jump down and catch up with her, Sasi was already lifting a tortoise and was offering Abimanyu to hold it. He refused, and disappointyed, Sasi dropped it down.
“I am sorry,” Abimanyu said. “I am a bit afraid of these.”
“You are afraid of those too?” Sasi said, sarcastically. “How can you live in this world?”
“Abhi, Abhi, it is not me. No, Abhi, it is not me. I didn’t do anything,” Anil was crawling over the floor of a forgotten godown and was pleading Abimanyu. “I don’t know anything that has happened at that day. I don’t know anything about Rekha. Abhi, I was your best friend, Abhi. . .”
Abimanyu has raised the machete in his hands high, and in the midst of Anil’s dying screams, has sunken it in the left thigh of Anil’s. Anil’s cries teared the sky. Anil’s blood sprouted out and pooled his own body. Anil’s face was wet with tears and sweat. “Abhi,” he was crying. “Please leave me, Abhi, it is not me.” it really was not him. “I didn’t do any wrong for you Abhi,” he really didn’t wrong Abimanyu. “I never will try to harm you,” that, I can’t say if right or not. Abimanyu held the machete’s handle and pulled it out of Anil’s thigh. Again, the cries teared the sky. Before the cries could die, Abimany chopped of f the fingers of Anil’s hand which was stuck to the floor. Voice didn’t erupt from Anil’s throat. Only air gushed out along with the ugly sprinkles of saliva. But he was saying, “please, leave me,” Abimanyu looked serene. He looked normal and dull, like he was disappointed by a high-expected movie. Raising the machete high again, crossly this time, he brought it down to the throat of Anil’s. He ended his struggle. A splash of blood has spilled over Abimanyu’s shirt.
“Do you like to swing?” Abimanyu asked, looking ath e swing that was a bit away from them. “I will give you the push.”
Sasi immediately nodded her head eagerly, and like two kids, they ran towards the swing. before getting the swing on, Abimanyu gave a thousand precautions to Sasi how she should sit and hold the chains and how she should not jump over and how she should not be panicked and the rumble went on.
“I know how to swing,” she cut him short. “Every Sunday I and my friends swing here.” He against insisted her to be careful and then started to push her carefully. In the laughs of that little girl he suddenly found the solace which he thought would never be found. He remembered Rekha and how their baby would be. Would it be a boy or a girl? If its is a boy, would he be as smart as Sasi? If it is a girl, would she be like Sasi? How would Rekha and himself play with the kid? Suddenly, he again found his eyes welling up. Sasi was facing him through her back; she cannot see his tears, so he didn’t try to stop them. Sasi was laughing more and more shrilly and was probing him to push higher and higher.
Then, Abimanyu heard the name which would skip his heartbeat, “Rekha. . .” Some woman was shouting, “Rekha. . .”
He dropped the machete and walked towards a rusty, old and locked door. “I know you are in here,” Abimanyu said, in a voice which is devoid of any emotion we can dream of. “I will come inside Makesh,” he said in a raising tone, which I believe can give shiver over sine even for someone who is dead. “Come out, Makesh,” Abimamyu walked towards the door and wanted to bang it. But he didn’t. Instead, he looked around and found an old wooden table. He dragged the table towards the door and then. . . he started to bang the table with his fist, with all his might, screaming the name of the guy who was hiding.
“Makesh. . .” the voice was tearing itself up, and his hand was killing the table top.
“Makesh. . .” his eyes were going red, like his eyes were going to burst out with blood. His hand was killing the table top.
“Makesh. . .” saliva was spurting out of his throat and the nerves around his neck and forehead seemed to get broken at any moment.
“Makesh. . .” he was loosing his voice,; It seemed like his intestines were being pumped out with his ceaseless screams at the top of his tone. It was like a roar.
Before he could shout again, the door started to open and at the next fist, a corner of the table top broke down into a sharp piece of long wood. Immediately Abimanyu got hold of it. it felt like a wooden knife in his hand; comfortable at one end to hold, deadly sharp at other end to kill.
The door was open, and from the door, with shivering legs and weeping eyes emerged a guy who looked similar to the age of Abimanyu.
Abimanuy started walking towards him with a dangerous pace with the wooden weapon in hand. Makesh tried to open his mouth to explain something. In the meanwhile, Abimanyu caught hold of his hair, and holding it tight, he stabbed the weapon right through Makesh’s lower jaw, which pierced and passed through his lower jaw, tongue, platelets, upper jaw and got stuck in the skull, somewhere between his eyes. Makesh’s body shook violently. He was throwing himself. Abimayu held the hair more tightly and bent on the floor over one knee. On his right knee, he placed the head of Makesh and held his body tight for the next couple of minutes, when a lot blood, like gushing out of a leaked tap has come out and the body has struggled a lot to live somehow. After the feverish tremble of the body, it suddenly went silent. He has become it. Makesh was dead. Abimanyu looked into the dead eyes of Makesh, and pulled the wooden dagger out of his face. Blood was ceaseless, and the dagger came out along with little pieces of torn off flesh.
“Mommy. . .” Sasi stopped the swing with her legs and searched for the voice of woman. She found the woman walking towards her, and she ran against her. Sasi found the arms of her mother and pointed towards Abimanyu and was saying something. In the meanwhile, Abimanyu walked towards the child and her mother.
The mother was a bit taken aback by looking at dark red spills all over the strange man’s clothing, but Abimanyu couldn’t contain his question. “The name of the girl. . .?”
“Sasirekha. . .” the mother said, and dragged the girl away from Abimanyu. The mother has pulled Sasirekha’s hand down when she was waving a good-bye to Abimanyu.
“Bye uncle,” she screamed at the end of the road and turned away, disappearing from the vision of Abimanyu. But Abimanyu was still waving. A mad smile over his lips anmd tears again welling out of his dying eyes. “Rekha,” he said.
He stood there, waving, for the next ten minutes, and suddenly. . . His legs felt weak and he fell over his knees. He knees felt weak and he fell over his chest. With chest falling down to ground, his head stuck the earth. With head striking the earth, his eyes went dizzy. his dizzy eyes slowly closed. And, Mr Siddarth Abimanyu, an aspired writer who was a drug trafficker once, who is the loyal lover and loving husband of Ms Rekha Abimanyu has never underwent the trouble of opening those weak eyes again.
There never was a need for him to look at the world in which his love is not present.