Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The final choice : Short story

"Just do it!" was written in bold white with black background. Above it was the nike logo. There were other graffeti on the door but this one made krishna kumar hesitate for a moment. He was about to do which was not heared of. As he opened the door and stepped into the dark and gloomy room. It was his son's room. They were not affluent but still he had managed to provide his son a private room in the house which had just one bedroom, a kitchen, a store room and a hall. The store room itself was converted into a private room for his son. It contained all the unwanted furniture piled up. I also had a small cot and few books scattered on it. On the far end of the cot was a broken cricket bat balanced over it. There was a thin thread running diagonally in the room which was overburdened with the apparel of his son.

Krishna kumar had a look around the room and dragged a small broken stool from the stock of old unwanted furniture. He took out a large bottle of McDonals Whishky,2 Ltr bottle of Sprite, few chips from his leather bag and placed on the stool. He checked his watch. it was 12.30 AM. He knew his son would be back by this time today. As he sat on the cot waiting for his son he remembered something. Water. Though he never indulged in drinking he very well knew water was one of the important ingredients in a good drink. He got up and walked towards the kitchen.

A white Tata Sumo, with loud music parked outside a small house. A lean boy in his late teens got down. He was hardly able to stand. He stood their waving his hand and shouting something that hardly made any sense, as the Sumo zoomed ahead. As he turned and started to open the gates he noticed the lights still burining. "Another session of lecture and descipline. Dont these old people have anything to do? " he wondered as he walked into the house.

He wasnt suprised that door to his room was opened but he surely was surprised at the large McDonals Whisky bottle. He sensed something was different today but he hardly was aware of what was comming. He lifted the bottle and was examining it.

"Bit early today?" His father was behind him holding two glasses and stainless steel water mug. Rajesh kumar was did not know what he felt like. He had expected his father to start the lecture all over again frowning about his late arrival. But today his father did not show any sign of that. Infact he had arranged the drinks. He stood there watching his father pouring drinks into the glass.

"Thought we will share few pegs on the death anniversary of your mother. Hope you wont mind?" Krishna said with a smile. Rajesh was confused. He did know what to say. He just walked over and sat on the cot.

"I know you are suprised. But of late i have realized we have to be friends with our children. So i want be like your friends with you. After all these years of trouble in our relationship i want to make a fresh start." Krishna continued.

Rajesh had still not come to terms totally. He felt he was dreaming. The only way to test it was to down his most favourite whisky. He took the glass from his fathers hand and in a second gulped whole of it.

"Seems you are in a lot of hurry! Cheers my boy!" Krishna raised his glass, and took a sip. He did not knew it tasted so bad.

One hour later


Downing his last peg Rajesh was laughing. Krishna also joined him. Both of them did not know what they were laughing about. Krishna stood up and walked towards far corner of the cot. Rajesh was busy pouring the last remaining drops of whisky onto his glass. "Just do it!" Krishna though for a second. He lifted the cricket bat and with his full strength gave a mighty blow on Rajesh's head. Rajesh did not scream. He hardly had any strength for that. He turned around bleeding and saw his father. He knew it would be the last time he will ever see his father again. The man who was responsible for his worthless life had decided to end it all. For the first time ever Rajesh felt his father had done him a favour.

Krishna stood there as his son stared at him. Ironicaly his eyes were as innocent as they were when he held Rajesh for the first time. Krishna had lot of dreams about his son. He was supposed to realize all his dreams. But something along the way had changed. He had to end it all. He had to end the worthless life of his son. He had to end his dreams. He had to end the brooding parasite of the society. And then he knew the had to end himself as well. He took out a blade from his pocket and slashed his wrists.

He sat beside his son. Both men were staring at each other trying to figure out what was behind those eyes. As time would pass, all the blood in their bodies would flow out. It coulb be days before neighbours found them. Nobody was ever intrested in their house.They were sure to die.


"He will be like master blaster sachin" Savitha said excitingly as she and krisha saw thier son hold the small plastic cricket bat. Rajesh was 4 years old. He was a very hyperactive kid. His parents loved his mischiefs. Krishna was working as a school teacher. He was a contended man. He had a beautyful wife and a kid who he beleived was sure to be a great personality one day. He was an atheist. But soon he would pray to each and every god. Rajesh was doing well at his school. His teachers loved the way he behaved. He was "the perfect". Good in studies and extra ordinary in extra carcular activities. But soon all this was to be changed. Krishna was busy with his history class when he got the news. He rushed to the hospital.
Savitha had met an accident while returning from her daily shopping of vegetables. She was declared dead on arrival. Krishna was shattered. Rajesh was informed about this by his uncle who later took him to hospital. Few months later Krishna had just started to recover when the talk of his second marriage started among his relatives.

"You are still young and also have small child who has to be taken care of. You cant bring back your wife but you have the responsibility of providing your child the happyness of true family." They tried to convince Krishna. After much argument Krishna finally agreed. He wanted to give his son a complete family. He wanted his son to grow up with out missing his mother. With in one year of Savitha's death Krishna married again. Gayathri was a distant relative. Krishna felt he owed a lot to Gayathri as she had agreed to marry a widower and also bring up his child. Months flew by. Krishna was getting more engaged with day classes and tuitions. He was now teaching Higer Secondary students. Other than History he was burdened with Arts and Literature. He was the Head of Extra circulare Activities commitee.

Krishna beleived his life was on right path again. One day he was summoned by the Head Master of Rajesh's school. When Krishna returned home that day in the evening he was furios. "Where is Rajesh?" He enquired with Gayathri. "He must be playing with his friends" Gayathri answered. "You know what your son is upto nowdays in the school?" He thundered. "How should i know" Gyathri shrugged. She always hated "your son" being used by Krishna. Rajesh was not her son. He was Krishnas. She was craving for son of her own but Krishna never really bothered. When Rajesh returned back from his play he saw his father waiting for him. By the expression on his fathers face he realized his father some how knew what he had done.

"I never expected this from you. You have been given enough warnings in school for you aggressive behaviour and you dont seem to mend your ways. What do you think. You can go around bullying other kids in the school. And what the hell about your grades. Are you not intrested in studies? " Krishna just went on. Rajesh was not intrested. He was busy examining his cricket bat and thought "I need a new bat."

That was just the begining. Years passed by. Rajesh did not change. He failed more than once in his school. No matter how much krishna scolded and beat up Rajesh, things hardly improved. Rajesh was now the oldest kid in his class. With great difficulty he passed SSLC and enrolled himself in a college. Krishna tried to talk with Rajesh many times. He wanted to know why his son , a brilliant small boy, had turned into such a menace. He thought it was the occupational hazard of being a teenaged boy. Krishna sensed that Rajesh was not really bothered much about his father or mother. He relaized late that his son was going out of hands. He blamed everything on the friends circle of Rajesh. He beleived they had spoiled his son. The future Master Blaster. When ever he talked about Rajesh's friends rajesh would get aggressive. Krishna even though of sending his son to a college in different city but then setteled against it. Its better to have him in front of his eyes so that he could keep a tab on him. That was the reason why Krishna never allowed his son to go out of city for even tournaments. Rajesh failed again in his first year PUC. On the day results were announced he went home late. He was drunk. Krishna was more furious than ever. The same lecture about descipline followed with a request to shun his friends. When Krishna saw his son was not intrested and already had dozed off a chill went up his spine. "I have been doing all i could. But its getting worse. What am i supposed to do more?" He questioned himself without any answer in sight.

Then one fine day Krishna got a call on his cell during his training session for Annual Day celebrations. It was from Sub Inspector Vikram. "Your son under arrest. Can you come to the station". Krishna hurried towards police station.

SI Vikram was a loud mouthed policeman. He had intimidating personality and after nearly a decade in the uniform knew how to handle offenders. When Krishna reached police station Vikram was busy talking on the phone. His eyes searched for Rajesh. Rajesh was sitting at a nearby cell among few other of his friends. Rajesh turned away from Krishna. "You are Krishna?" SI Vikram asked keeping the receiver down. Krishna nodded. His expressions clearly stated he was going through mixed feelings of frustration,anguish,worry and fear of unknown. Sensing this Vikram said "Nothing much to worry. But it could have been worse."

"What worse than this? I am at police station for some unknown sin of my son and this guy says not to worry" Krishna thought. "Actually your son was involved in a drunken brawl at Gangothri Bar with gang members of some well known rowdy sheeters of the area. Bar manager called us and we were able to intervene at the right time. Since your son dosent have any earlier record we will leave him without booking any case. But I thought you should be aware of this and next time this can be serious. All you have to do is sign in here " Vikram handed over a thick register to Krishna. "Thank you sir. I assure you this wont repeat." Krishna was releived , though not completely. "By the way be careful. Big guys dont like small fish hurting them." Vikram advised as Krishna walked out of the station. Rajesh followed him.

Late that night when Krishna wanted to know what was Rajesh doing at Gangotri all rajesh said it was "Friends party". Before Krishna could grill him more , Rajesh was safely locked behind his room. Krishna felt helpless. How could he descipline a grown up boy. How could he make Rajesh beleive life has lot more to offer. He wanted to talk with but Rajesh was never willing. Krishna hardly knew what was going in Rajesh's life. His son had become stranger to him. A unknown mystery.

"Mommy... Look i got A+ again.." Rajesh was beaming as he ran into the room with one hand waving the yellow report card and other clutching the empty water bottle. Savita was working on her new saree with the sewing machine. She put aside all the stuff and bent down to hug her darling son. " I know you will always be on top " She said looking at the report card. And both of them hurried towards kitchen, Rajesh dancing around her. He knew another honey cake was in the offering. Rajesh and Savita shared a very strong bond. With Krishna spending most of his time away from home , busy with his cultural activities. Rajesh and savita spent most of the evenings together. Rajesh did go out to play with his friends but he always insisted his mother watch his batting from the balcony. He cherished every moment of it. His mother's cheers motivated him to be at his best. Savita made it sure Rajesh never missed on home works. With his ever smiling and compasionate mother guiding him Rajesh was quick with his work and did well in schools exams. Rajesh hardly missed his father. He was more comfortable with his mother than his father. He feared his father, but never loved him.

Rajesh was in for a shock when his uncle suddenly arrived at his school. Rajesh felt something was bad but could not figure it out. Rajesh's uncle looked tensed. He did not know how to break the news to Rajesh. Even after several repeated questions about why they were comming out of school before the last bell, all his uncle said was "Mommy wants to see you." Rajesh felt strange. "Mommy is going somewhere?" he asked. "How do i tell you." Rajesh's uncle hesitated. " She is going on long journey. So before she leaves she wants to talk with you." "I want to go with mommy.." Rajesh protested. "No you cant..." Before Rajesh could pester his uncle for more, they were standing at the entrance of Vivekanand General Hospital. It was the first time Rajesh has seen such a building. As they walked around the corridors, Rajesh saw people wearing white attire walking by. There were few people who looked sick and some were just roaming around casually. "Is this the big school?" Rajesh asked his uncle. Answer was silence.

As they approached emergency ward , Rajesh's uncle gripped his hand more firmly. Rajesh saw few people standing at the door. They were familiar faces. And among them was his father who was crying loud. Rajesh was confused. He had never seen his father cry. For that matter he hardly remembered his father having any expression on his face at all. "How is she now?" Rajesh's uncle asked one of the person standing there. "She is no more."

When Rajesh woke up there was silence all over the room. He wanted to meet his mother. He hardly remembered what happened yesterday. All he could recall was people crying aloud, then his mother being brought out of the ward with white bandages covering most of her face. Then he was at some ground and in front of him was a huge pyre like which Rajesh had never seen. All through this he expressed his desire to go to his mommy. But everytime he experssed this with whomever he could, he just heared wailing. He never thought adults cried so ugly. It took few days for him to realise his mother was dead and what "dead" meant.

As days passed by Krishna spent more and more time with his cultural activities. Rajesh was under the care of some distant relatives for some time. Then one day heared his uncle calling out for him. When he rushed towards the hall he saw his uncle holding a box of sweets. "You know what? You will have a new mommy!" His uncle was very excited. But Rajesh wasn't excited. He wanted to know what was this new mommy. But restrained. He had become very reculsive. It at all there was a person with whome he shared everything it was his mommy. And he had decided he will wait till he could join his mummy at the god's house and then bear his heart out to her. At school Rajesh was reculsive but he showed wild aggression whenever his classmates taunted him about his step mother. On one such occasion he had broken hand of a boy with hockey stick. Immediately his father was summoned to school.

After few months Rajesh was back at his home. This time he saw a stranger in the kitchen. That was Gayathri. His step mother. Since the day one Rajesh hated his step mother. He never knew why. There was some strange feeling that this woman was responsible for his mother going on long journey. Gayathri tried to gain confidence of Rajesh quite a few times but failed. Finally she gave up. Again Krishna was not at home most of the times. Gayathri spent her time reading magazines. Rajesh felt very lonely. He missed his mother. He would often sit in the room alone and imagine his mother at his side and start telling her his daily adventures and misadventures. He lost intrest in the studies. He no more liked to mingle with his friends. On occasions he saw his father and step mother share some joke and laugh. And Rajesh hated his step mother even more.

Years passed by. Rajesh was in college. For few days in college Rajesh avoided everybody. Then one day he met Ananth. Ananth was dark coloured and had curly hair. He always wore a silver chain which glittered in the sun. He had a strong physique. When few of the seniors were bullying Rajesh, Ananth had rescued him. Rajesh felt ananth was saving him because they belonged to same class. The truth was Ananth had already started establishing his own gang in the college and he wanted to assert his power among the seniors as well. Soon Rajesh was seen following Ananth wherever he went. For Rajesh it was the feeling of being safe and recognized with the powerful gang in the college. For ananth, Rajesh was yet another "Chela" of his. Soon Rajesh was smoking stuff. It gave him immense pleasure. Whenever he smoked stuff he felt disconnected with this world. He was in the world where his mother would still be waiting for him to hear all his stories. It was Ananth's birthday and he arranged for a party to all his "Chelas". It was supposed to be an all night party. Rajesh was eager to join the party. The party was arranged at a resort. For the first time Rajesh tasted Whisky. He loved the kick it provided. Soon after 3 pegs he collapsed. But the liquor bug had caught him. He went out with Ananth more frequently. And on some occasions stole from his home to fund the party.

During one such party, Ananth picked up quarrel with a group of persons sitting on the near by table. Later they realised they were the big boys of the area. Rajesh had thought Ananth yeilded enough power and influence to take them on. But he realised there were bigger and certainly more powerful gangs outside the college campus. Before the trouble could get worse police arrived and took all the involved culprits to the police station. Rajesh was struggling to speak. One of the constable put his hands in upper pocket of Rajesh and took out College ID card. From that card they got Krishna's cell number . One hour later Krishna was in police station staring at Rajesh.

Rajesh and Ananth were driving through Gandhi market. Ananth was worried as he knew he was taking a chance. At any turn he could be facing "The Garudas". They were powerful and had good presence in Gandhi Market. And the "Sultans", to which ananth belonged to, seldom dared to enter the market with out proper preparation. Rajesh was not aware of this. He was still under the effect of Whisky he had been drinking since morning.

They stopped in front of a small pan shop. Ananth parked his bike and asked Rajesh to wait. He then proceeded towards the Pan shop. Rajesh could see Ananth having a small animated converstation with the pan wallah and then walk with into a nearby lane. Rajesh was already feeling sober. He balanced himself with one hand firmly on the bike. Rajesh was took out his cell to check the time when he felt a strong hand on his shoulder. Even before he could turn back something hit him hard and he lost his balance. He had fell on the bikes parked near by taking them down along with him. When Rajesh recovered from this shock he saw around four guys surrounding him with hockey sticks in their hands. "Where is Ananth?" One of the guy who was wearing red chequered shirt and blue rough jeans, with blood red eyes and a thick mustach, roared at Rajesh. "I..I..dont know." His right elbow was hurting due to the blow. He was in lot of pain. "You are with him. Tell us where he is and we will spare you.. " The other guy chipped in. Rajesh was silent. His thoughts were full of pain in his body, that was increasing with every passing second. "Dont hurt him. He is already drunk and he will die if we hit him." Rajesh looked up. One of the guy had raised his hockey stick, appraently to hit him. The guy with red shirt was staring at Rajesh and studying him.

"Look there..." Somebody was shouting. When all the guys turned their heads towards the direction from where the voice came from, they saw a short and fat guy pointing towards the lane where Ananth had disappeared before they arrived. Ananth saw the guys and started running. The guys chased him. Rajesh was still on the fallen bikes and struggling to stand up. He was too drunk to stand and was helped by few people who had gathered there when he was surroneded by the Garudas. Rajesh hired an auto and headed towards home. All through the journey he though only one thing. "How could Ananth leave me in such a mess and run for his life? Afterall i am his best friend."

When Rajesh woke up his room was dark. He checked his watch. It was 10 PM. He had slept for 6 Hours. He remembered how Ananth had started running when he saw the Garudas. He felt betrayed. He felt depressed. How could his best friend leave him in trouble? What was Ananth doing at Gandhi Market and Why the hell had Rajesh accompanied him? Well all that did not matter him. He felt insecure. He felt betrayed. "Mommy..You know what....everybody is selfish... everybody...please take me where you are..." He thought as he stared at his mothers chair in his room and few drops skipped his eyes.

Krishna was busy correcting few test books when Mr.Shastry walked into the staff room. "You know the news? Saunshi is getting retired next month." He said. Saunshi was principal of the school. He was a doctarate in sanskrit. And was also known as "Bull Dog" among the staff and students for his strict dicipline. "Sounds great!" Krisha said with a smile.

"Actually thats good news. But you know what i was thinking of?" Shastri pulled a chair beside Krishna and slipped into it.

"What?" Krishna was inquisitive.

"Retirement. We will also retire in couple of years. But what has this profession given us. Are we financially stable?"

"But we will get provident fund, pension and more over just earning money is not important for a teacher." Krishna went back to his test books.

"How much pension do we get. It will hardly be able to get us two meals a day. And i have two daughters. Their dowry will kill me. My troubles are somewhat minimal compared to you. I atleast take tutions earn more than the salary. What about you? Are you not worried about from where you will get lakhs of ruppes when your son gets into engineering?"

Krishna experinced unknown fear. He had not thought about this. "I dont think he will do engineering. Let him clear his PUC exams first." He closed his test books, and walked out of the staff room.

Sitting at the library Krishna was thinking about what shastry had spoken about in the morning. "How will i manage finances for his studies?" He thought. But the most important question was how to make Rajesh get clear his PUC and get good marks enought to get eligble for CET. Krishna knew Rajesh could well get Rank , provided he concentrated. "But he is not concentrating on his studies. I need to talk to him." Krishna decided.

When krishna reached home, he went straight towards his son's room. Rajesh was in deep sleep. Krishna walked towards the cot and bent to wake his son. He smelled a strong odour of liquor. His temper rose. He stared at his son for a while and walked out of the room. "He wont change..."

Gayathri was packing her clothes in a suitcase which was already overflowing. She had to catch a train leaving to Mysore at 7 AM. Krishna was at his desk checking the train ticket. There was a air of excitment and joy around her. She always felt great to be with her parents, away from the lonely and depressing atmosphere at her own house. She heared a loud knock at the doors. "Comming" she shouted and the knocking stopped. She rushed to the kitchen to fetch a bowl to collect the milk. While passing through the hall she checked the clock. It was ticking at 6.15. "He is early today" She thought. When Gayathri opened the door, her facial expressions changed to that of unexpected fear. SI Vikram was staring at her. Two other constables were behind him. Last thing she ever expected was to find police at her doorstep early in the morning.

"Is Rajesh at home?" Vikram asked in cold voice. "Yes i guess" She wasnt sure. Rajesh was like a stranger to her and they never bothered to even say "hi" to each other. "Anything serious! " She was already trembling with fear. Meantime Krishna walked into the hall and was shocked to see SI Vikram standing at the door. He thought his worst nightmare had come true.

Vikram could read the minds of Gayathri and Krishna. "Can i come in?" He asked and walked into the house with out waiting for the answer. "What is the matter sir?" Krishna stammered. Vikram did not answer. Ignoring the stares he placed himself on the wooden chair. "Is Rajesh home?" His eyes were probing the hall. "He must be in his room." Gayathri was now slowly walking towards Krishna. Vikram could not longer hide his motive. He felt pity and decided he could no more play it tough. "Nothing srious. His friend Ananth was murdered yesterday night. And.." Even before vikram could finish his words Krishna was shivering. "Rajesh could not have done this.I swear. He may be a rouge but definately not a murderer." He was pleading.

Vikram let out a smile."I am not here to arrest Rajesh nor to interrogate him. Please relax. We have information it was gang rivalry. Just wanted to warn Rajesh to be at a safe distance from all this. And if he knows anything i want him to report me" Krishna and Gayathri looked at each other. "I am sorry. I just got... I I lost ..." Krishna hardly knew what he was talking. "I guess i have made myself clear. Its better if Rajesh is out of town for few days." Vikram suggested.

"Do you mean they are after my son?" Krishna got anxious. "Well may be and may not be. But prevention is better than cure." Vikram got up. "I am leaving. But again i repeat - Its better Rajesh keep out of all this shit." And he walked out of the home leaving Krsihna and Gayathri staring into unknown.

"Good morning sir..". His students sang in uncoordianted chorus as soon as Krishna stepped into the class. Krishna did not respond. He walked slowly upto the table, placed his books and chalk peice and stared at the students. There was no doubt among the sutdents that he was preoccupied with some thing in his mind. Krishna could hear the little murmurs taking place in his class. Krishna felt a chill and felt a terrible pain in his chest. He was sweating. Everything in the class room started to spin and he went blank. All he could hear was students running towards him and somebody shouting "inform the principal.."

Rajesh was unaware of Vikrams visit. When he was awake he walked into the hall lazily. Just when he was looking for the tv remote Shiva was at his doorstep. He was breathing hard. "whats the matter?" Rajesh asked. "Ananth is dead.."

When Krishna opened his eyes he was surrounded by school staff. Nobody had cared to call for ambulance. On duty doctor of the school had informed them that nothing was serious and krishna need just some rest. He was not qualified enough to know it was mild heart ache. Krishna knew that. He wanted to see a well qualified doctor at the nearest hospital but he though about it for a while and suppressed his feelings. He excused himself from the school staff and walked back home. Reaching home he found no one. He took out a letter and started scribbling. 15 minutes later he took the envelop and placed on the tv stand. He locked his home and walked briskly towards nearby wines shop.

As Rajesh was approaching the motuary he could see people at the door with moist eyes. Somewhere from inside he could hear cries of Ananths mother. She was inconsolable. She was surrounded by few woman and Vikram was busy with few papers in his hands discussing with some constables. Rajesh walked towards Ananths mother and sat infront of her. She didnt acknowledge his presence. Vikram saw rajesh and called him over. He did not show any sentiments. He blankly asked rajesh " Do you anything that i ought to know?" Rajesh's eyes were still fixed on Ananths mother. With each passing moment he though how his mother would have reacted in similar circumstances. "Do you know the killers?" Vikram asked again. Rajesh felst sick. He was unable to talk. He walked out of mortury without reacting to vikram. Vikram stood there staring at rajesh's back.

Rajesh walked straight to Krishna's school. He went to staff room and looked for his father. "Might be busy with class" He thought. He walked towards the center table, took out a plain sheet, scribbled something and placed in one of the test books his father was correcting. Other staff members were watching all this. They had heard about rajesh, so nobody wanted to involve him talks. Rajesh stared them for a second or two, and walked out of the room.

When he was out of school campus he headed towards his home. Just them a white sumo stopped infront of him. Shiva got down from the vehicle and came towards Rajesh. " We are going to drink in his memory... its too much for us to handle his loss... come join us..." He was sobbing. "No. I have taken a decision..." Even before he could finish he was being literally dragged by shiva. "In his memory..." He kept on repeating. Rajesh finally nodded. "In his memory.."


Vikram was staring at the cellar. He was amused by the incidents. Rajesh and Krishna were found dead early morning when gyathri returned from her tour. Later that afternoon Vikram came in possession of two letters. Its contents made him pity both Rajesh and Krishna. "Life is curel indeed.." He thought.

The End.

Note: We dont need to be very imaginative to know the contents of the letters. If you still feel i have to include them, then i will.

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