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The Indigenius' Den by Ankit Kumar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at www.theindigeniusden.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In Cold Blood

Loneliness. Solitariness. Desolation. The thesaurus can cough up many more synonyms for you if you care to look further. But, the point is - all these easily converge to one certainty – Suicidal Instinct. Loneliness is an emotional state governed by a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation. It is more than the emotion of wanting company. It is a feeling of being cut off, disconnected and alienated. It is an experience of inner hollowness or vacuum, with feelings of separation and alienation.

Picture this: A small single room- enough for only one living soul. One bed, one chair, two tables aligned perpendicular to each other to form a workstation - one housing a powerful desktop with violent speakers and the other regurgitating paper, stationery and odds and ends. A table lamp with no bulb (the bulb fused a long time back and the resident couldn’t care less about it!). A closet stuffed with dirty and clean clothes without discrimination to either party; numerous posters of sportsmen, bands, actors and actresses; a solitary calendar on the facing wall alluding to the wrong year! More clothes hung on hangers on the wall (not to mention many more unceremoniously strewn on the bed, the chair and the floor!). Windows with thick blinds covering them in order to prevent the tiniest streak of sunlight from passing through into this abhorrent dungeon. A rack lined with books on a plethora of subjects – brand new but disrespected by a very visible lining of dust and a few spiders. A mirror covered with a thick coating of grime hung over a big stack of disks and magazines on cars, bikes and of course, babes. The name plate on the door as you enter reads ‘Piss Off!’ in huge bold, black letters.

Welcome to the castle of a 25 year old software engineering and quite a famous hacker (famous of course only in the virtual world). He goes by Raghav during the day and by night he is called “Neo”. With a thorough calculative brain capable of many a divine feat, Raghav is a carefree, nonchalant guy with a nasty sense of humour and a very short temper. He has been into fights with most people he has run into – most of them because he considered them incapable of logic! Nevertheless, it is only a mean cutaneous exterior hiding from plain view a good heart. He works in a small time software company. Now, how small the company was could easily be guessed by the fact that it made enough to employ only fifty other engineers like Raghav. Obviously Raghav’s caliber was not in full use. Most of his accomplices swore by him when it came to the dirtiest, meanest pieces of code capable of breaching almost every secure environment on the World Wide Web. Raghav had few friends. He was basically a loner. He did have a girl friend but the relationship was on the rocks with due credit to his behavior.

His normal day began by swearing at his awfully loud; ear piercing alarm clock which, obediently, woke him up each morning from deepest slumber. He would get ready using the tiniest of bathrooms. This was all his meager pay allowed him while his escapades in the virtual world didn’t have much to offer. He would take a bus to office, standing in a long queue of office-goers in that busy, relentless city of day- dreamers and fortune-makers. Today was like just any other day. His work, lately, had been boring, to say the least. His boss was reaching newer, higher levels of sarcasm aimed at him. He reached office, late as always, got down to work and was called in a short while later. A huge man sat behind a desk creaking under the enormous weight of files and stationery. Mr. Menon didn’t seem much happy with him. This was usual. He told Raghav, “I think you better take a few days off work; clear out your brain and come back - will help you, I’d say.” Raghav retaliated by asking where he had gone wrong (the company in eye of the nearing recession, which was about to kick Uncle Sam in the groin, had been laying people off). Raghav knew this holiday pinned on him could as well last forever. “Son, (He hated it when he called him that) it will be good for you and yes, do remember to get that ink stain off your breast pocket the next time you enter my office” Mr. Menon added smugly. That evening Raghu packed his bags and departed for a small holiday fearing the worst.

He was subjected to a week off work to offer his over-exerted brain some relief; or so they had said. The first two days passed by without much consequence except for one. He had hit the bar at night to meet Aditi; had a little to drink. It was all pleasant till he got into a brawl with a few drunkards who had passed some cheap remarks at her. There were three against him. He got hold of the first one and twisted his wrist - it seemed as if he heard a crack. Seeing this, the second one just stood there, petrified. But the third one advanced. In an insurmountable fit of rage, Raghav broke a bottle on the counter and cut the third’s hand in a long gash. It started bleeding profusely. “You’ll pay for this! You don’t know who I am,” the third one shouted at him, his voice unsteady, gritting his teeth to overcome the pain. He was the thinnest and easily the weakest of the three. Aditi started screaming and Raghav came back to his senses. They had to run away from there. “I’ll kill you!” were the last broken syllables he heard. These incidents were not unusual in bars in this city. The Police seldom stuck their slimy nose into such petty matters. On the way back home, he got into an argument with her and her last words as they parted were “We are over!” He got back to his abode and a short while later called it a day.

It was from the next day on that the loneliness started getting to him. He woke up quite late in the day and ordered burgers for lunch. They arrived an hour late almost stale and quite inedible. But, he had been very hungry and hence didn’t mind their state. Next, he tried to find things to do. There were none! The Internet could offer solace but not for long. Chatting was a wasteful pursuit he had given up on as a young guy back in college. But, he even tried that today! Movies - there weren’t many left to be watched. At long last music did assuage him a little. But, the two main holes in his mangled life gaped at him: his struggling career and Aditi. He had tried calling her but each time - “No Answer”! Silence was now becoming deafening. The music had stopped a long while back. His cell phone hadn’t rung in three days. All this was eating him up from inside like a termite easily wading through wood; like a butter knife through butter! All this was getting maddening. Another day passed.

The room seemed to him a prison cell. Out of boredom, he even cleaned it up a bit. But, four years of accumulated mess wasn’t an easy task! In four days, his ears had become so used to the silence around that a small noise anywhere startled him. The cell phone was on silent mode. He turned it around and checked it every ten minutes for a message or a missed call from any soul, but more hopefully, Aditi. A slight noise, if any, demodulated in his head as a knock at the door. Never had he wanted to see another human being so much. He thought he would go out, roam around aimlessly on the streets. Hardly had he locked his door when he heard the rain pitter-patter on the roof. He went back in, depressed. He had tried to occupy himself in every way possible but all attempts had failed. He felt he was being drawn inside out. The pain was excruciating, probably much more than what the guy in the bar had felt because of him. He tried calling Aditi again but as was now usual – “No Answer”. He just wanted these lonely days to get over. Though he had always been lonely in office too, he at least saw other people there. He couldn’t believe it but now he actually longed to get back there! “Three more days,” he thought to himself… just three more. He now realized how dirty, filthy, and unhuman his room was. How did he create all this mess in the first place? Aditi had asked him to clean it up so many times. She had even started at it herself one day but he had forced the duster out of her hand!

Night never brought any relief. The darkness around only added to the grief and sorrow (Not to mention the heightened effect silence has by night). Things were now getting out of hand. He was lonely, depressed, sorrowful, and remorseful for all he had said to Aditi in a bad mood on so many occasions. She was the only one who had listened to his problems attentively each time he began talking about them. Now that she was not there, he felt this hole in him widening with each passing second. How he missed her, he wanted to tell her. He wanted her to see how he was struggling in this state. He wanted her to see him remorseful. He felt trapped in this small, filthy room. His state was like a frog which had fallen into a well - it could see the sunlight outside but could never reach the opening of the well in order to crawl out and be a part of the other things the sunlight fell on. Another day passed.

It was the sixth day now. He was now in a piteous state. The loneliness and desolation and the pain that accompanied it was getting impossible to bear. He could not take it any longer. He wrote Aditi a message professing his love for her and how he was sorry and waited for an answer. None came. He was sitting at his desk programming at long last when he suddenly heard a noise as if somebody was using a mixer-grinder - His cell phone! It was vibrating! The noise had enhanced due to the prevailing silence. He picked it with trembling hands – An unknown number! He answered nonetheless. He was expecting to hear a sweet, female voice when suddenly a heavy croak filled his right ear. “I told you I would kill you. I know where you live. You messed with the wrong guy. Start counting your last moments. It won’t last long though!” The guy from the bar hung up with roaring laughter. Raghav stood there petrified. The phone slipped out of his hand. He was not a coward though. He wouldn’t run away. That guy had insulted his Aditi. He would stand his ground. He waited the whole day for Aditi’s reply. Nothing came his way – not even death at the hand of that scoundrel!

Today was the last day of his imprisonment. He woke up and immediately, got the first bad news of the day. It was in a sealed envelope which had been slid in from under his door. It was from his company. His worst fears had been realized. He opened the letter expecting the worst and it was no less. The letter began “We regret to inform you…” He didn’t need to read further. He threw it into a corner. Now he was unemployed too! How could everything have turned around this way? All was well a week back. He decided to get to his office as soon as possible and at least ask for an explanation. This was the best and the least he could do. He got dressed and was about to leave when there was a knock at the door! The guy from the bar? Blood rose to his temple. The pounding grew louder. He walked with heavy steps towards the door, picking up a lock and a broken bat on the way, just in case.

“Raghav open up!” It was Aditi! He was overjoyed! He opened the door to find Aditi there with another guy! “What the hell is this?” were the first words she uttered. She was pointing at her cell phone. He looked at her flummoxed. “What were you thinking when you wrote all that to me when I had already told you never to contact me again?” she continued. The guy with her looked enraged. He was seething with anger. Raghav just looked at the two of them dumbfounded. Then Aditi dropped the bombshell. “Raghav, this is my fiancĂ©- Jai.” A bolt of lightning tore up the ground in front of him. “We got engaged yesterday. My family has chosen him for me”. “And, you dare not try to contact her again.” Mr. Jai mouthed the final words. The world had stopped for him. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. First the death-threat; then getting fired from work; now Aditi turning up at his doorstep with another man! It was ‘The End’ for him. Nothing mattered now. He was in a state of complete bewilderment and shock. The shock it seemed had overpowered him. He was startled back from his stupor when Aditi shouted out his name one last time. They took their leave. Raghav saw Aditi’s eyes moisten as she turned to go. He felt he saw something there – the same long, lingering look. He knew this look. He couldn’t misread her. After all it was Aditi. He ran after her begging her not to leave him. How could he be so stupid? Jai got hold of him and punched him in the face. Raghav fell down. Almost instantly, he got up and raised his hand to strike at Jai when he saw Aditi’s face. There was the same fear written large in her eyes as he had seen that night in the bar. He put his hand down and motioned them to leave. He had lost the battle totally now. There was nothing left to be won. He resigned to fate. He felt like killing himself. He was broken, shattered from within.

Barely had he entered his room when the phone vibrated again. It was the same guy. But, nothing mattered to Raghav now. That guy could as well take his life. He didn’t have much use for it anyway. “Start the Countdown!” The guy hung up with the same mocking laughter. Raghu had nothing left to cherish in life. Aditi was the only facet of it which had made him cling onto it barely by his fingertips. Even she was gone now. He decided to let go. He would end it once and for all. He decided to finally take his life. He didn’t have the strength to fight those goons who were moving closer every nanosecond. All the strength and raw power was drained out of him. He was suicidal. Nothing mattered now. There was nothing left. All was gone. He was all alone. All alone! There was no one. He didn’t cry. He was numb yet trembling all over. “The End” was all he saw written everywhere he looked. The ever powerful Neo was absolutely helpless now. He couldn’t bear this agony any longer. This pain was too much. Yes, death must be sweeter than this. He felt he was inching closer to it. He could easily see Death welcoming him with outstretched hands beckoning him on.

He had to put an end to this misery, this sorrow, this hell. He would be the one to do it. He won’t let another man touch him. He moved to his closet to look for a rope. He remembered he had one. He was a picture of serene beauty. Neither rushing nor hurrying; very calm and composed… as if all this had been planned for days! He succeeded in finding a rope but realized it wouldn’t support his weight. Sleeping pills… The doctor had prescribed him some for insomnia once. They might prove helpful. He found two in the box. No use. He started looking for something sharp: a razor, a knife or a blade. Yes, he had a blade somewhere on the table. He was an epitome of resolution, determined as the rock which stands its ground in the most tumultuous of waves, but this resolution was only to end his life – not face it! With a single wave of the hand, all the sheets were off the table. Then in some corner he saw a blade: quite rusty. He extricated it triumphantly. If he didn’t die of blood loss, he would surely die of infection: he thought. There was no looking back now. This was it. A final good bye to this unforgiving world; a world with no room for failures like him; a world meant only for the rich and the super rich: the successful ones.

He remembered his father and mother. They were waiting for him in their heavenly abode. Soon he’ll meet them again. In the mortal world, he had only Aditi to think of. He moved to the bathroom now. Standing in front of the wash basin, he looked at himself in the mirror. What had this world made of him? He had been a topper throughout. One hasty decision in college had proved so expensive - had made him suffer so much. He should never have jumped at the first opportunity to get a job. He should have waited patiently for the bigger fish - after all, he was very bright and deserved better. That decision ended up in creating the ‘Neo’ who stood in front of the mirror now with a rusty blade in his hand!

All these emotions notwithstanding, he was firm in his decision to put an end to all this. He rolled up his left shirt sleeve and stuck out his wrist over the basin. Clenching his fist, he moved the blade over the pale skin slowly. The first cut didn’t hurt at all! The metal had just made contact with the new skin. Nevertheless, blood stood out in beads over the fresh cut coloring the pale skin crimson. He was resolute to hurt himself; to finally deny all this pain and suffering. Yes, death would relinquish him from all of this once and for all. He made another gash at his wrist. This time it was more difficult to move the blade through the skin. The arteries and the nerves seemed to offer a little resistance along with the epidermis. Blood started oozing out from the fresh wound: Red as the eyes of the reflection he looked into in the mirror. The red liquid now streamed out steadily and profusely as he made gashes after gashes slitting his wrist wide open. A trail of blood made its way from his wrist into the white basin below coloring it red as it moved along, circling around till it reached the dark emptiness of the drainage pipe. What a waste of precious, young blood!

All the way he seemed oblivious to the pain. The pain this world offered him was much greater. His eyes were not steady anymore. They darted from corner to corner. His head started swimming as if in an atmosphere of ether. He almost enjoyed this heady feeling. Why hadn’t he done this before? This was much easier, much easier! His feet couldn’t bear his weight any longer and finally gave way. He fell backwards into one of the open doors of his closet and lay there… still, in a pool of fresh, warm blood. Images sped past his brain in rapid succession. The first time he met Aditi: the flawless face, the sweet smile, the way she looked at him, enchanted! The images were so vivid, so sharp - It seemed he was flipping through an album! His first day at his new job - he had been quite happy then. His days in school: the long corridors, the huge grounds. The basketball court: he had ruled this stage once. His college - where he had met the first girl he ever talked to, the friends he had made; the stories he had shared with them. Everything came rushing back to him as if somebody had neatly compiled them into a movie of flashing images for him. He had the same heady feeling again while lying in a red pool of his own blood. He was reaching unconsciousness when he heard footsteps outside. “Raghav, open up!” He felt he heard Aditi’s voice from behind the door!

Next day there ran a small story in a forsaken corner of the ninth page of a local daily: A young software engineer was found dead in a pool of blood in a closed, suburban flat in Bangalore. The post mortem reports claim that the man died of Exsanguination due to excessive blood loss from his slit wrist and throat. Still, the police have ruled out murder as the flat was found locked from inside and the blade used had only his fingerprints on it.

Epilogue

“Raghav, open up!” It was Aditi, alone. “Raghav! Please open up.” She knocked at the door many times but there was no answer. She tried Raghav’s cell phone – No Reply! She went down one floor to ask anyone if they had seen a young guy walk out into the roads a few minutes ago. No they hadn’t. She went out into the streets herself. On the other side of the door titled “Piss Off!” a young guy, quite drained, and with his face flushed regained consciousness. He was lying in a pool of blood. He tried getting up but as soon as he did that, he experienced an enormous amount of pain in his left wrist. He managed to look at it and saw it in a marred state. Then slowly, everything came back to him - the pain, the suffering, the sorrow, the anxiety, all that had made him do this. Now, even death had cheated him! He was still left in this mortal world to pine. He was back to feeling all that he had felt before. And he remembered with angst… Aditi. She was gone, far away from his life. She had walked away from him when he had needed her most. He didn’t have the courage to carry on. He wanted to end this misery and suffering, once and for all so that there was no looking back. Now, he could just lie there and let the pain kill him slowly or end it on his own. He decided on the latter. He decided to mutilate his already mutilated body some more… He was determined – to end it all even if Destiny thought different. He saw the blade in his right hand – it was scarlet. With a final gasp of breath, looking up at the ceiling, he moved his hand to his neck. This was a sure way to end it. He wouldn’t let anything stop him now. This was the final blow! He made sure that it was. With a single, fast swing of the blade he made a deep slash at his neck which erupted in a stream of blood. He didn’t feel a thing. All was over. Raghav lay still, as if in deep slumber. He had finally managed to deny all the pain and agony this miserable life offered him.

A few minutes later there was a shriek of horror in the corridor outside. “R-A-G-H-A-V!” Aditi had screamed out loud – in a state of utter shock and dismay – she had seen a trail of red, dark blood flowing out from underneath her beau’s door.

5 comments:

Priyanka said...

hmmm...
rightly brought out state of mind n properly justified course of action throughout ..keeps every reader intact til it meets its end..
to infer u r blessed wid d quality of keeping ur people wid urself..
keep it up!!

SHEKHAR said...

well, the story isn't a work of literature but a painting of words ...... every detail is painted with such a perfection that as if .... one can be a silent viewer of ragahv's life.
And the choice a colors( can be compared to words), makes it one of the finest arts imagination.. . .

my lil help in the story is as minute as advising the pressure on the brush strokes...


and foremost i would like to say for everyone that reads this that this story is a complete work of fiction and nothing relates to writers life ......... which is often concluded

any way up the good work

mtvfakeaccount1 said...

The Epilogue gives the story the much demanding closure. When I had read it without it, I had a little feeling somewhere down in my stomach craving for 'a little more'.

The narrative is descriptive just to the right extent. Anything more or less would've bored me.

Now, this suicide business, over a girl... I cannot buy it. Because, he was a hacker. I believe one would resort to killing himself in that low moment in life when one has nothing to look forward to. But, Raghav was one... and a good one at that.. and he could've only become that good because of his burning desire to know, to learn, to find out what he wasn't supposed to...

Such a desire in a person, seldom dies... he may have lost in his love life... but that desire to break the rules, to do what you're not supposed to.. it an insatiable feeling.. and that feeling alone would've given the needed purpose to Raghav's existence...

Shawna said...

I wish I had enough time to read all of this! Don't let it go anywhere, I'll come back to visit.

swati said...

well....
it kept me hooked straight till the end.its enough for anyone 2 realise that theres much more 2 life than what we have faced...many can relate 2 raghav and a lot more 2 aditi...after all...this is what that happens...

i wud say its a beautiful piece and a must-read!!!

good work,RATHER....AWESOME!!!!
keep it up!!!

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