“Why am I behind the bars?”, he roared in a deafening plea, from within the cell he was locked in. My heart was about to explode in anticipation as I slowly tottered my way past those stingy dungeon of police station full of disgusting prisoners. The darkness of the walls made me shiver and finally came its crescendo. I knew what I had to confront and its mere thoughts were freaking the hell out of me.
“It’s not my fault!”, the same voice growled, oblivious to the fact that it had not to be addressed to me. I stood there frozen; face to face, whose fate to decide was my fate! The man had a bizarre appearance and greasy matted black hair were enough to enhance his ruggedness. He had reduced to almost a skeleton and paleness of his skin added to the effects. His denture was yellowish and fingernails (with which he nearly scratched the iron rods) were cracked; dirty. The prison gifted robe was shabby but altogether the eyes glowed with innocence!
“Come with me to my table, Pranshu.” A hand landed on my shoulder which made my heart skip a beat but at the same time offered warmth to my shivering insides. I recognized him to be Inspector Yashwardhan Singh Rathore. We seated at the bench and he offered me a water bottle. After three sips, we came to the purpose of our meeting.
“So; you think he’s the one?”, said Inspector Rathore.
“Pretty sure;–that crazily shouting man;–bizarre to look at; –he’s the one!”, I went on dreamily.
“Would you care to get a final look?”
“I’m afraid to do so; but to assure, just a last look.”
Inspector Rathore escorted me to the miserably shrieking man. My heart flinched at his sight; full of disgust. And the worst part was the eye contact. He looked straight into my eyes and tried to break my soul down, on the verge of tears, saying, “It is definitely not me?”
“It is definitely him!” I couldn’t take it anymore. I sealed my eyes sharp. A cold wind ran down my spine and scenes within my brain changed rapidly – I was nostalgic………
The clouds had seemingly burst. The rain had not ceased since four hours and no vehicle was visible. Sarthak Vashishth, Tushar Kashyap, and I had planned a perfect August birthday bash for Aviral Nigam on the outskirts of the city but none had thought of heavy downpour. With no mobile networks and excessive rains, it was getting harder to tackle the situation. Planned to depart by six in the evening, the clocks were now ticking ten! Resigned to our fate, all the four youngsters decided to zoom through the way and pray for an assistance down the lane.
Just then, in the deathly darkness of the night; a dim flame flickered in our eyes. We ran with our full might. Slowly a figure of a house (enough to call a room) made its way. The light was coming through a small square window. Leaping and bouncing like mad youths as we were, we approached. But our mirth broke down. The voices from within urged our gladness to subside. We stealthily peeped through the rectangular window. The room was small but packed with guns and arms and ammunition. The light was offered by a bright glowing bulb in the center of the ceiling. On the casually scattered hay, lay a man, hands tied back and legs fastened by a chain attached to a table full of bullets. Another man, with his back towards us, was standing right next to him. And terrible sound emerged as he mercilessly whipped a leather belt on to the poor man’s chest. The man groaned cries of agony while the sadistic man shrieked his throat out in a harsh psychotic laugh. The masochist was thrashing belt mercilessly and somehow revelled in seeing him groan heart-breaking. His body had sustained many gruesome blows; evident from singed shirt and red swollen cheeks. A feeling of utter loathing for the tyrant filled our hearts.
Aviral agitated; took out his newly-gifted i-phone to record this act of cruelty. The man had no intention to halt..... a trimmer! That brain-wreck picked a trimmer from the table and sat beside the pity. With utter care he begun to shave the man’s head. He kept on refusing and bobbing his head- pouring in more angst in the crazy brutal. In a thunderous clap of time, he threw the trimmer, nerves of throat prominently popping; his hands ran to the Holster; fingers positioned on the trigger; and the barrel pointing at the poor chap; and BOOM!
Bullet was fired! Nothing but loud gasps of horror could reach our mouths. But oh! The worst was yet to come. The tyrant heard our cold sighs and looked straight into our eyes. His looks intense but bizarre; hair-greasy, black and matted; physique that of a skeleton and skin as pale as one could imagine. His sudden short growl had shown us his yellowish teeth and had eyes glittering with some kind of morbid spark; not with innocence!
Mad in fury; the cruel rushed to the door opposite to the window. Caring for our lives, we rushed as fast as we could have. There was a psychopathic thirsty of our lives, we surely had to. Anxiety and fear were at extremity, Aviral’s palm trembled while pocketing his new i-phone; and it slipped on the damp ground. We were carelessly running ahead; we heard another gunshot! Aviral had gone –forever!
I don’t want to remember how badly we ran afterwards, how dry-mouthed we found some safe place to ring up our parents, how watered-eyes had met that of Aviral’s parents. My friend had gone and for a day I had lost my senses. The other two witnesses had been scared easily to lower their voices. But I wasn’t. I will stand for granting Aviral justice; to make his soul rest in absolute peace and let him know that one of his friends is there for him, always. I had been to the police station to help them get the murderer’s sketch. The hunt had set out and finally the unwanted wanted was caught. Inspector Rathore had called me for the final verdict, after which a little more research will ultimately get the man executed.
Two months later; I still can’t fail to recall those innocence filled eyes which I saw behind the jail. Those gesture were quite different from what I witnessed on the rainy night. It makes me wonder if I could made a mistake. I try to dismantle it from my memory....... it has percolated my senses deep. One day whilst sipping my morning coffee, I read a letter. It was nostalgic- proving what we see can be deception, reality is omnipresent and quite astounding. I felt a knot of emotions in my heart which I wanted to open but couldn’t. The letter said-
“Hey, Pranshu! Well, I hope you remember the man you recognized. We combed grassy lands near the location, also found the carcass of another man along with your friends- and that i-phone too! The video you told us about- Umm..... it was quite shady! We got it witnessed. And the outcome is hard to put; but you were wrong–I mean he was the same man, but you saw another person and recognized another person. Rattle your brains out and then I will tell you- The man suffers from ‘Split Personality Disorder’
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