The death note


He was sitting there, on the porch outside his house. He was seventy two but still smoked for a long time every day. His skin had started to sag and his face had become wizened but there was still a charisma about him. He had married four times but none of them lasted for more than three years. The first three wives did not make him happy after sometime and the fourth one died at a mature age of forty two. Yes, in Bismailbad forty two was a mature age. That’s why at seventy two, Karim Chand was easily the oldest resident of the village. He had seen seventy two and had no children. Every time each of his wives had taken him to the Panchayat for a settlement he had sorely lost; heavy alimony (which he duly paid by continually selling parts of his line) and no guardianship of the children. They had said the children are too young to stay away from their mothers. The fourth one just did not stay long enough. She was going to her maternal home to deliver her child and a twist of fate saw her lose her life.

Karim Chand’s life had been a series of sad moments and unfortunately (or fortunately) he had no one to remind him of them: no children, no wives and no school friends. Winston Churchill had once said that history would remember him fondly because he was writing it. Karim had written his own history as well but he had not been well known enough to make people know about his life and there was no one remaining to suggest he was right about his life. It is funny no one ever realizes that once you get old there are less people to corroborate your memories, to say you were great on that occasion, to go back into time with you and to just sit down and think about what lies ahead. Karim Chand sometimes wished he had not lived so long and that he would have walked the green mile with his fourth wife but it had not been so. His mother had always told him that God decrees a man to the world to achieve something and to serve a purpose. It had been seventy two years and he had not achieved his purpose, in fact not known his purpose. Soon it was about to change.

As Karim was sitting on the porch he saw a man in a ‘khadi kurta’ walking towards him. Since, Karim was the oldest in the village every politician that belonged to the area came to him as the elections arrived. The MLA genuflected in front of Karim and asked for Karim’s blessings and Karim duly gave his. Later in the evening when the sun had gone down and Karim’s helper had left for her home a man entered Karim’s home and did his job. Karim was no more. On the other side of the village a body was to be found hanging on the tree, near the river. With the corpse a death note would be found, saying how Karim would harass her when she was alive and that she was too ashamed to tell it to anyone. The death note would then say that Karim went too far that day. He tried to touch her breasts and in self-defense she struck him with an iron rod that was kept near the door. That rod had killed the old man and to since she had no dignity left, she had decided to give it up. The injury on Karim’s head (and an iron rod with blood on it) would suffice to ensure an enraged mob that this was all reality. An orator will tell the young men that all this needs to stop and blood demands blood. Riots would break out soon and the peaceful communities shall never remain the same. Votes shall be spilt like never before and the MLA would win comfortably. Karim’s life finally found a purpose, his death helped someone achieve something and the cost was the blood of some other vagabonds like Karim and loss of some ephemeral peace. Nothing lost and much gained, that’s economics at its best and the MLA its architect.

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