I had a friend once who adored gangsters and psychopaths more than superstars and men of virtue. Because of these Superstars, creativity found a unique expression, and that saved our society from turning unscrupulous at its core. He read flashy magazines to feast his crave for show and lust, watched movies of rivalry and violence in a combination like ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ so that his destructive impulse finds manifestation. And he also heard stories of groundbreaking psychopaths who killed for pleasure and salvation. He has a keen interest in a man named Devdatta, who lived next door to his flat.
Devdatta often paid visits to the police station because of his depraved conduct and behavior, especially with women and girls. He showed his bruises in a loud beat of the drum as if it is an achievement that the whole world should know. His young, curious heart was inspiring him to adopt violence above all as a true man should, according to him. But, the blue bruises were a result of third-degree rather than a brave fight for glory.
I forgot to mention the name of my friend, and excuse me. I know I should have said at the start. His name is Pratap, after the brave Rana Pratap, who became famous for his courage against the Mughals. In the case of Rana Pratap, his fight was for independence. But, in the case of Pratap, he deliberately sought battle in a time of peace. It was fascinating for him though quite apparently every time he was in ruins.
Some people are often overwhelmed by an intense thirst to cause harm to others, only to experience misery after the act. Karma leaves no one and is integral to human existence. Or I would say, it is integral to all the life forms that exist on this earth. He is not so spiritual and aware couldn’t understand the Upanishads, and the concept of karma was something of an illusion to him from which humanity must move on.
I once tried to make sense to him by explaining the concept of cause and effect, which was nothing of great brains. But simple science which says everything experiences and equal and opposite reaction. For instance, the phone kept on the table or a man standing on the earth. Here the table is exerting the same force to the phone, and the earth is exerting an equal force to the man. If this law ever broke, then the phone and the man will plunge deep within the table and earth. Therefore, karma is no separate from science and applies to all whether living or non-living so, when an act is committed, a proportionate response takes place in any form comprehensible.
Alas! I could make him understand, but the harsh truth crept up my spine in a shock as he continued with his criminal misdeeds. Years passed like the clouds after a massive day of the shower, revealing the stars on the natural nakedness of the night sky. I was no longer an adolescent; neither was he quite evidently as we were of the same age. He was no longer my friend, and we took different ways in a mutual consensus never to meet ever in this lifetime. I couldn’t be a friend to a criminal, and he failed to understand a sane person. Thus, our childhood friends came to an abrupt end at the age of seventeen.
I went to college, found a job, and got married, eventually blessed with two wonderful children who are now grown-ups. And Pratap, during the intervening years before I met him again, had accomplished a Ph.D. in the field of crime mastering the miscellaneous arts of burglary, smuggling, trafficking, murder, and arson that enabled him to appear in the news once or twice.
It was drizzling that day, and I was coming back home from the office when suddenly I felt my purse to be missing: “It was right here, who could have taken it.” I immediately turned round in an impulse and saw a man dressed in a dark cloak briskly walking away. Yelling, I caught hold of him and was about to ask him for my wallet when suddenly in the speed of a glimpse, he pointed a small knife at the tip of my Adam’s apple, ready to slit my throat any second. I was taken aback and sweated profusely as the smiles of my children and wife began to fade in an instant; I felt at the moment that my last has come. He slowly removed the covering from his head, and I recognized him as bright as the sun shining against the azure blueness.
“Raj! How come…”
“If you can just move the knife away from my neck, I’ll be grateful.”
“Sorry, brother,” throwing the knife instinctively, he hugged me with all his warmth.
“So, how is life?”
“Amazing as ever, insatiable wife and troublesome children, I wish to be single again.” He was laughing cats and dogs and soon lost his breath but not his laugh. “You serious- insatiable wife, boy, I knew this would happen,” saying this he burst in another cheer of laughter which still rings in my ears. I felt exasperated and forgot for a moment that I was standing in front of a notorious criminal.
“Well, I don’t pay for love as you do.” I knew I shouldn’t have said this; his merriment vanished in a beat of the heart, and he stared at me with narrowed lids as if I had uttered an unforgivable blasphemy.
“Long time someone spoke back, long, long time as far as I can remember,” sensing my fear and restlessness, he calmed himself to my awe as generally, people like him cherish fear and pain in the eyes of the one in front. “But, for your brother- a privilege you can never deny is you can talk anything you like with me.”
“Boy, am I relieved!” We both laughed.
Promenading under the stars and the moonlight, we narrated scenes from our past. And how with time and separation life took a toll on us. And both failed to replace each other with someone else. Though I knew what he was, and we can not drag our friendship forever. Still, I trust him hearing the inner voice of my heart with high confidence. And I walked on and on as if we were boys again. Oblivious of all that bad this world contains with our eyes and lips gleaming in a smile which an adult can only imagine. Gazing at his face as he spoke, I discerned the good within him, which at least had not diminished; he was the same boy whom I knew before guideless adolescence, and the brainwashing by that confounded Devdatta. “We’ve reached,” I said politely.
“Alright, before au-revoir hand me your purse.”
“Sorry, brother, I won’t.”
“That’s it, time to get serious.”
“No, I won’t,” my voice became stern and rigid.
“You’ll die, you know that?”
“Better kill me, brother, I love you as my friend, and I can’t harm you no matter what.”
He bared and clenched his teeth, ever ready to devour me with his anger and hatred. “You think you can harm me, even the most wanted criminals fear me nowadays.”
“Who wants bloodshed! As I said, I love you as my friend. And giving you my purse will further encourage you to rob someone else. I can’t let that happen. And I should have said this when we were twelve, but I remained quiet to your ruin”.
“Isn’t it too late to repent,” he said mockingly, “ Hand me your purse and go make your wife satiable.”
“You’ll have to kill me first. And no need for a surprise, I won’t resist like I said I love you as my friend,” a crystal trickled down my cheek. For a moment, I saw the boy I knew as a boy myself.
“Ahhh….. you bloody son of a saint. You keep your drama and purse, and I swear I’ll kill you if we meet again, and this time not for your purse”. He stormed into the night and disappeared round the corner; I looked up at the stars` and prayed we’d never meet again.
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