Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guilty or not?




“Kishore…this is the last warning to you. If you fail to speak anything, I will be forced to decide that you are guilty”

“---“


“In my opinion, 100 guilty persons could be acquitted, but one innocent man should not be convicted. So look at me now and say what happened”


“---“


The judge glared at Kishore for two long minutes and finally announced


“The court is adjourned”


Kishore was taken back to his cell. His cell mate was a very talkative man.


“What happened Kishore? Did they pass the judgment?”


“No”


“I am fed up with your mono-syllable answers. Why don’t you speak few more words? Anyone who comes to the prison for the first time will be like you for maximum one week. Then they will learn to accept the reality. But why are you still the same even after such a long time?”


“---”


“Oh! So you went to silent mode eh? Good! Next time when the warden comes, I will ask him to either change me to a different cell or replace you with some one else”


Kishore did not seem to listen to anything what his cell mate had been telling. He had gone to the corner of the room and as usual his mind drifted to the fateful day.



Six months back…



It was early morning 2:00 a.m. Kishore was sitting in the living room. There was an ashtray next to him overflowing with cigarettes he had been smoking for the past few hours. His wife and two kids were sleeping soundly in the bedroom. His new friend Kamal was with him. He did not even know Kamal’s real name. Kamal one day approached Kishore saying he had some important information to share but refused to say anything about himself. Initially Kishore ignored Kamal, but finally Kamal’s persistence won.


“Kamal…please do not torture me any more. Why can’t you leave me in peace?”


“I am sorry Kishore. I cannot do that. I can’t keep my mouth shut when someone is betraying a good man right before my eyes”


“If this was about anyone else, I would not be sitting here talking to you. I would have killed him instantly without giving it a second thought. But here you are talking about my…my wife”


“See…this is what she is taking advantage of. You love her, you care for her. She knows you are one big fool and she can do anything and get away without being caught. She needs to be punished for her deeds Kishore. Don’t you understand it?”


“Yes of course, I do understand. But…may be he was her friend and they met after a long time. There is a chance that you mistook her”


“No chance. I saw them in the most undesirable position. There cannot be any other explanation for that. OK, now tell me, what are you going to do?”


“----“


“Don’t be a coward Kishore. What is the use of crying? You should be bold. I suspect that your wife was involved with him even before you were married. And how do you know those are your kids?”


“Oh no! Please Kamal. Do not say that. I can’t bear it”


“If you can’t bear it, why are you sitting here and crying?”


“What else do you want me to do? I am totally helpless. How can you force anyone to be loyal?”


“Aah…exactly. You cannot make her loyal. But you can…punish her”


“How?”


“Do you want me to be more specific? Don’t you understand?”


“---“


“Yes, I know. You do understand. But you are scared. Fine, I will finish her off for you”


“Noooo. Please do not do it. Already I am devastated hearing this. Just leave me alone. I…”


”I am sorry Kishore. I cannot be like you. I came here to finish the job along with you. But what do I care if you do not play along with me. I have enough strength to finish her and the kids”


Without another word, Kamal went past Kishore to the bedroom. Kishore tried to block Kamal, but Kamal had suddenly become a monster now. He was not listening to Kishore any more. Kishore had no control over Kamal and within seconds Kishore went unconscious.


The next day when he woke up, he saw that Kamal had left. He ran to the bedroom only to find the corpses of his wife and children in a pool of blood. He fell over them and started crying. Hearing his scream, the neighbors came running. No one had to be told what happened. Kishore was immediately arrested and he had stopped talking ever since.



For the first few days in prison, Kishore waited patiently thinking Kamal will come to see him. But he never turned up. But that did not affect him. He vowed he will not speak about Kamal to any one. He did not want to blame Kamal for what happened. He did not have anyone left in this world, so he was ready to die.


After few days, his most expected judgment came.


“Kishore… You are found to be guilty and you will be hanged till death next month”



Kishore smiled for the first time after what seemed to be ages and went to his cell. Now he did not have any wishes and all that he wanted was to die soon.


One month is not a long gap. Time flew and his most awaited date came soon. The next day he was to be hanged. Evening he had his regular health check ups and the officer came up to him after all the formalities were over.


“Kishore…you are allowed to be granted one last wish. Tell me, what do you want?”


“Nothing”


“No Kishore. Somewhere deep inside me I feel that you are not guilty. But I am totally helpless. You are not uttering a single word. I have seen so many prisoners throughout my life. But no one has affected me so much like you. At least do this as a favor for me. Ask me anything Kishore; I will do it for you”


Kishore smiled weekly. He thought for a while and finally replied


“Two years back, I went to Ooty with my family. We took a group photo near the Pykara falls. Can you arrange someone to get it? Before my death, I would like to see it for one last time”


The next day dawned as usual as any other day for all. But it was different for Kishore. Today was his last day. He woke up early morning; saw the Sun rise in the east. He took his bath. His face looked bright than it had been in the past few months. But there was a tinge of disappointment hidden deep. He wanted to see Kamal for one last time. He was very sure that Kamal will come to see him at least by today. But Kamal never visited him.


There was only 2 minutes left for his execution.


Kishore stood near the rope and looked around. None of the faces had any emotions. They had seen similar scene for the past many years, all were totally void to what was happening. One last time he saw the group photo, closed his eyes and was ready. The black mask was rolled over him. All was set for execution.


Exactly at that moment, Kamal came. As always, Kamal started to speak to Kishore inside his head…


“Don’t worry Kishore. There is death only to the physical body, but not to the mind or soul. I will always live. Hopefully in your next birth, you will live happily” that being said Kamal vanished forever. Kishore could not control himself. Tears started rolling down his cheeks.


No one ever found out why Kishore started crying all of sudden right before his death.


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