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The Protege
by Pallavi Pratibha Nandan Bookmark and Share

I wish I had been there earlier. It might have made all the difference. So, all I can tell you is why he was murdered. He who did not have fear of death in his eyes. He who died telling me he was proud of me. The inception lay in the fact that I was born to my parents, Abel and Nathan. Nathan was a vicious abuser and Abel was the timidest soul I knew. Nathan was a handsome man, with all the charms to enchant his wife but at the same time he would turn into a monster and physically and emotionally abuse her. When God cursed me with a life on earth, I learnt love and pain go hand in hand. Love from Abel and pain from Nathan. I still remember that day very well; the day which changed my life. I can replay it in my mind whenever I feel like.

I had started helping Abel in earning money from a very tender age because Nathan did not bring any. I knew money bought us food and paid our rent. That day I was out on an errand of Abel’s. As I reached the road leading to our home, I heard Abel’s cries; I knew Nathan was home. As I knocked open the door, I saw Nathan holding a knife on Abel’s throat. She was begging for mercy. He was frighteningly happy with blood shot eyes. I tried to pacify both. Nathan told me to back off and not interfere in between. I moved slowly towards them as not to alarm Nathan. As I reached near Abel, I saw blood trickling down her neck. At that moment it felt as if Nathan was taking away the one reason I had to live. In an instant I picked the other knife on the kitchen slab and thrusted it into Nathan. For the first time Nathan shrieked with fear, blood coming out of his stomach.

He started shouting and Abel the receiver of his torture started caring for him, trying to bandage his stomach. Abel shouted for doctor, but Nathan announced that he did not want any doctor but police. He said he will not let a doctor touch him until police comes and arrest me. Abel swore all sorts of cuss words on me, and told Nathan to forget about police, but Nathan was adamant. Someone from neighbourhood called the police. Abel: one instant she was caring for Nathan and in another was grappling with me to say sorry to him. When police siren was audible, Abel fell on Nathan’s feet and begged for mercy. She cried, “Her life will be over, it’s very bad for girls in the prison, please forgive her.” Nathan stared hard into my eyes and said, “She deserves it. Abel choose your side, her or me.” It was then I realised, Abel did not get up from his feet. She chose him. The scene after that gets somewhat blurred and sounds ruffled as I was constantly trying to find Abel’s eyes and she never looked at me again, even when police arrested me and threw me into van.

Life in prison was bad but it did not seem to me much. It seemed as if someone has added a permanent contact lens on my eyes, grey coloured, gloomy, murky. All the prisoners kept distance from me; it was “my trying to kill my father” news or my manly looks, I did not care. Food was not eatable. Rats ran all over the place. The prison had an unfathomable stink. That uneatable food on the plate required to be eaten quickly else it was taken away by a rat. Another thing about rats which I learned the hard way was they loved blood and fleshy skin. One day while cooking food, I dropped heated curry on my leg. Doctor was on leave so our warden gave me an ointment. I applied the ointment on my burned leg with half of the skin still hanging out. At night while I was asleep, I felt some pain. As I gained some sense, I realised two rats were nibbling on my burned leg. I tried to shoo them away, but they were adamant. I picked up a plate and with all my force smashed both. Kept those smashed rats near my leg, another one did not disturb me for the night. There were umpteen things wrong with the prison, but the part which expected fair things from life was murdered inside me.

Life was bad, but it was about to get worse. It was an annual day celebration of the prison. We were taken to the main compound in another building and were told to stay in groups. I, as usual was alone. During the ceremony I got up to go to the toilet, I did not care asking anyone. As I entered the toilet and was taking a second or so to get accustomed to the stench, an excessively obese guy pinned me down. I used all my power to push him back, but his mere weight weighed me down. He had those freaky devilish laughing eyes and dirty black teeth. He started groping me from all sorts of angles. A dirty disgust ran down my spine. I gathered all my power and tried punching him everywhere; anywhere in a hope to find a vulnerable place. My efforts to get rid of him was not availing any result and he seemed to enjoy it and getting more hold of me every time.

As I was struggling hard, I saw an old man enter the toilet. I screamed and asked for his help. The obese man told him to mind his business. The old man behaved as if he did not even see us. He got busy washing his hands. As he turned back to go out, I screamed for him to call the warden at least. He paused, looked at me and barked, “Fight yourself.” The obese man smiled and waved a thank you to the old man. The old man did not go, he watched us as if he were watching a match. Then suddenly he spoke to me, “There is a nerve at the back of the neck, just three fingers down, if you can put some pressure on it.” In a hazy minute, I put all my efforts in pressurizing the nerve he told about. Suddenly that obese man was immovable. It seemed as if he froze. I used all my might, using my leg against the wall as a lever to throw him off.

I got up and the old man spoke appreciatively, “People generally take 2-3 minutes to locate it the first time, you were fast.” I did not answer. The obese man started shaking, “Isn’t he supposed to be dead?” I cried.

“No, he is just having a seizure, where is the fun in killing him. Now you’ll have peaceful time in prison.” The old man spoke as if he was enjoying the spectacle.
“I think I can use some fresh air.” I whispered fighting for breath.

“I know a place.” the old man offered. We left the obese man paralysed and went to the back of the building where there was a small garden.

“This is the place where I like to work, when I am here.” Both of us sat on two uneven boulders.

“Why are you here?” I was curious. The old man, not particularly looking at anything said, “They keep me inside when some major event is happening outside.”

“You are here for nothing”, I spoke aloud.

“I am here precautionary; they never get anything against me.”

“Are you that good?” I asked impressed.

“I love to give pain to deserving; it is a different level of high. People, who are guilty, and they know deep within, they will pay someday.”

“Yeah, I know some of them deserve it. I would love to see pain in those people’s eyes.”

“You know everybody call people like me evil. Whereas, we are God’s angles, sent on this earth to take away some of Lord’s load.”

“Why don’t the authorities have anything against you?”

“God’s job of paying back for evil is not an easy task. Its art and science, combined. You need to be creative every time. Different places different signatures. No trails. You cannot learn in a day. It takes a lifetime.”

“I haven’t killed anyone yet.” I confessed.

“There is a Goddess in Hindu religion, Parvati, a devoted wife and mother. When the demons took over the universe, she turned into a raging Goddess Kali. She killed all evil but was still unstoppable. Other Gods were worried and approached her Husband, Lord Shiva. Shiva then lay down in Kali’s path and when she stepped on him, guilt of keeping a foot on her husband filled her and cooled her down.”

I took a deep breath and asked, “Who stops a raging Goddess without a husband?”

Our eyes met for an instant. He did not answer. There was no need.

“Don’t you smile?” He asked.

“I don’t have those lines.”

“Me neither.”

That day and that conversation etched a different neurotic experience in me. For the first time in my life I found my peace. The old man and I kept in touch. Do not ask me how. In prison, there are rules put in place by the authorities and then there is a mesh of uncalled and unspoken rules, prisoner’s rules. After my sentence, the old man and I, served God; we became his angels.

Today when I reached the decided place, Nathan was already lying in a pool of blood. The old man was hunched near him. I stood there, caught my breath, and said, “How did you do it?”

“I placed my scalpel on his…”

“I want to see him dying.” I whispered.

“He was standing at that spot near the stairs. I asked him if he was looking for his daughter. He was emotional; he confessed to me again that he had been an abusive husband and father. How he has severed his daughter’s life. He wanted to meet you in person and beg for forgiveness. At that point, I could not contain it and put my scalpel on his neck and slowly slashed him. He took around five minutes to die. In those five minutes, his eyes popped out, a spurt of blood came out of his mouth and he gasped for breath as air refused to enter his pipe. At last when he died, he had those guilty and fearful eyes.”

“It was my job”, I murmured.

“I didn’t want you to experience that emotion; it may have affected our path.”

“Then why do I smell some emotion in you?” I caught hold of the old man.

He looked at me proudly and said, “You are my protégé; am so proud of you, I couldn’t let any emotion come in between.”

“I wish you would have known better. You have taught me well. Nobody messes with my work; this dead man was my job. Our work doesn’t permit emotions and you are reeking of it.”

He knew it was coming and I can tell you nothing else could bring that look of pride in his eyes. I killed the old man in an instant. No pain, he deserved it. He did not have an iota of fear in his eyes while dying. I would never ever get a chance to kill a man like him; he who is not afraid of death.

Later in the day, after Father Philip was ceremonially laid down peacefully in his grave, a rather frail Father Abbott called for a necessary meeting.

“As you know at this old age, I do not have the nerve to listen to ghastly confessions, I want one of you to volunteer for it. People need to be forgiven.” Father Abbott said.

A nun stood up and took Father Abbott’s blessings for her new job. Other nuns thought they were spared of a horrific task and Sister Angel with her manly looks just suited the job. On the other hand, Sister Angel knew a lot of people needed to be forgiven; now it was only her job and she needed to keep the tradition going.

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18-Jul-2020
More by :  Pallavi Pratibha Nandan
 
Views: 1321      Comments: 2

Comments on this Article

Comment Loved your writing simple yet elegant.Liked the flow of of the story.. Although not an ardent reader of fiction but this one kept me interested till the end..would love to see more of your work..

Saurav
07/19/2020 03:09 AM

Comment Well written.. as I was reading, the story was flowing like a movie in front of my eyes.. there is a space for the reader to imagine few strings as well. Last but not the least, peaceful ending makes u feel nice

Nishita mittal
07/18/2020 02:01 AM




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