Rajeev Masih

'A Night Stay In A Shop.'

 A Night Stay In A Shop.

The nation was reeling under the effect of a deadly virus and had to move to a precautionary step of a lockdown. But what happens during that time, when an infamous criminal, looking for a safe spot finds an unoccupied shop that had not been opened for a very long time.

Read on – A Night Stay In A Shop.

Repulsion has a new name - Narneech Kaam Haiwan.

It was a late afternoon time in the hot month of June and Narneech Kaam Haiwan, a fifty year old, shabby and a pot bellied man, dressed in a faded yellow shirt and brown trousers, stood at the end of a road in a local market.

He had been chewing tobacco pieces for quite some time after having consumed half a bottle of the illegal hooch, while the remaining content in the bottle was still in one of his trousers pocket.

He shrugged his shoulders as a habitual reflex and spat the remains of the chewed tobacco on the ground and then continued eyeing with a glint of greed, at a small desolate shop, which had an unlocked and a broken shutter and was located far away from the local market.

Infamous for many crimes, Haiwan, true to his name was frequently on the run from the police and was always searching for new places of hideout, since he had never bothered to carve out a permanent house.

An evil plan by a devilish man.

And now with the whole world and the country too, in the grip of a contagious virus was as a consequence, in a lockdown everywhere in the entire nation, because of which and in the absence of a proper lodging, the scenario had turned Haiwan, desperately searching for another temporary shelter.

Therefore on coming across, an old, empty shop at the end of the road and away from the local market; Haiwan wasn’t able to resist himself from targeting it as his next hideout; confident enough that the place will hide him securely for his nefarious adventure.

An obnoxious grin spread on his unshaven face as he touched his trousers pocket and patted the liquor bottle, he had with him. The night will be a good one, he thought to himself.

Excitement versus hesitation.

The late afternoon of June soon melted to a greyish evening and was slowly turning into night.

With no one visible on the road, Haiwan started moving towards the small desolated shop. He was feeling quite excited over his own plan of spending a night, without being disturbed in an unoccupied shop and yet somewhere at the back of his mind, a thought had abruptly made an entry.

He couldn’t remember the thought clearly of what he had heard about the abandoned place, except that it had been empty for many years because of a death that had happened there.

The recall immediately affected his onward movement and slowed his own steps, as even though his own name was devilish yet spending a night at a place with a disturbing background was something for which he was not at all prepared.

Welcome !

However, his indecision was quickly resolved when suddenly he realized that he had no other place to stay in, for that night and the police will be on it’s round of patrolling soon, moreover he still had to finish half a bottle of the illegal hooch.

A strong dryness in his throat overpowered his hesitation and otherwise also, he thought, that he was a criminal and criminals are not scared of anything, nothing at all.

With a new found confidence, Haiwan moved towards the isolated shop and lifted up the unlocked and the broken shutter just high enough to allow his pot bellied structure inside the shop and after some exertion; he entered the small premises, when a voice spoke from inside the vacant shop, “Welcome!”

Two empty glasses.

Haiwan was shocked beyond words and lay rooted to the same spot, near the shutter of the shop. For, he could not believe his own eyes as he saw an old man in a torn dhoti kurta, sitting cross legged in front of him.

The shock factor felt by Haiwan was somewhat reduced when he saw that next to the old man was kept a big bottle of liquor and two empty glasses.

Regaining some comfort on seeing his pet temptation, Haiwan got up and asked, “Who are you, baba? And what are you doing here?”

“Questions can always wait, but these glasses should not be kept waiting.” And saying so, the old man, started to laugh and even though, Haiwan had managed to put on a smile on his anxious face, yet the hollow laughter of the old man had started making him uncomfortable.

Further what increased Haiwan’s discomfort was the appearance of the old man, which he felt was changing by the minute and becoming more grotesquely wrinkled, similar to a skeleton and repulsively deviant.

Building up enough courage, Haiwan finally spoke, “Baba, you carry on. I have my own brand.”

But it seemed that the old man was in no mood to relent, “Oh! Come on, don’t disappoint me, now.” The voice of the old man had almost dropped to a hissing whisper , “I have been waiting for you for such a long time. A very long time...

A dead body near a drain.

A morning time during a lockdown due to a pandemic remains the same with nothing undisturbed; however that particular morning was different. A small crowd had collected near a drain after somebody had found a dead body, lying near it.

The corpse was of a male, in his fifties, having a shabby appearance and smelling badly of alcohol, as if, he had been soaked fully in the liquor but that was not all, as the most shocking thing about the dead body was the expression of the eyes which remained open, fixed in stark terror.

As the news of a dead body lying near a drain, began to spread, the police was called too, who identified the corpse after sometime. It was of Narneech Kaam Haiwan, a vile criminal.

The police searched the dead body for any trace of violence on it but found none, instead, one of the pocket of the trousers of the dead man still contained a half filled bottle of the illegal hooch.

Though there were few unanswered questions related to the death of Haiwan, yet the police took away his dead body and closed the case file; after all, there was no point of wasting time over a dead criminal. 

Was it a chain of continuous revenge?

The crowd began to melt away, realizing that they had to protect their own lives also from a contagious virus still on the prowl. 

However so, even as the group was gradually dispersing, they had started their discussion on the death of the criminal. Few were talking about the empty shop and it’s role in the death of the anti social element.

An old toothless woman, who had seen so many things happening in the past, spoke about the history of the desolate shop that how it belonged to an old man and how one night he had been murdered in his own shop only, by a criminal, who had poisoned the old man by offering him a laced drink and though the body of the old man was never discovered; the criminal who had committed the crime was also found dead within a few days.

Though from that point onwards, the shop had been abandoned and no one had ever tried to buy it or to even step inside the premises yet an unexplainable, chain of events had started which always resulted in only, the death of the criminals.

The End.

By Rajeev A. Masih.


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