Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Prisoner

The metal felt different. The narrow bars, as I wrapped my hands around them, emanated an unknown quantity. This once, I was scared to hold on. The bright bulb before me never erred.

The steady, strong light hit my eyes again and again. My vision wavered; quite unlike ever before. My grip tightened; the rough iron flaked lightly. The index finger reached out involuntarily. This once, there was nothing to pull.


The river washed my feet. The dark waters swirled under the dim moonlight. The wet corpse turned around slowly, finally pulled under by the tide. Her death brought back life to me after these many years of living in shame.

Every time those men - who she had touched untowardly - walked by, I drifted back to my youth. Those years of foreboding and pain, which I lived through to merely have her as my own, inevitably returned with forceful agony. I couldn’t flinch anymore. But she wouldn’t listen. She had to go.


The light went off. Slow scraping noises, maybe of mice rummaging for scraps of that meager supper, inundated the narrow corridor. Voracious snores began their nightly crescendo. The regular rhythm began.

But I held on. The touch of cold metal reverberated through my body. My knees weakened, even as my spine stood straight. I had been through his before, but never in a confined space. The walls, it seemed, drew closer. The myriad stains left by numerous inmates taunted me. I had become a criminal.


I hadn’t thought of it when the night began. After an entire day of ensuring the minister got from a point to another, I was on the edge. It had been a particularly bad day. The minister was irked, and the traffic erratic. As a bodyguard, I had the job to do. My ward had reached home safe.

She had strutted in late, as usual. This time, though, with a paramour at her arms. I wasn’t supposed to be back this soon, but governmental plans tend to be fluid. He ran out at first sight. She had to remain. I had barely removed my holster.


The darkness begun to engulf me; I had to turn. The narrow window above my bed led out that sliver of light. I staggered ahead, hoping to draw my mind out of the vortex of memories, on to the bed. Sleep evaded me. I was alone.

The linen was sparse, with no mattress. The coir rope of the bed dug into my back. I had welts already; the interrogators had refused to be kind. My better half had been much more popular than I had ever thought.


She had smiled, almost without remorse. I had sat very, very still as she drew closer. That chiffon blew gently off her shoulder. She held my face; her hands grasping my rough cheek. Deliberately, her spine curved, till her mouth reached my ears. “I am sorry,” she whispered.


I looked down at my palm. My destiny had been written, I suppose. But I will die without remorse. Unlike her.


Malini chakravarty, UG III

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