Avinaba Sarkar

“Although I am not a believer of absolute good or bad but certain codes have encrypted in my mind since childhood which in practice I am unable to overlook. I always admired the villain as much as I did the hero, especially in Indian movies when I saw the hero wining the girl’s heart even after publicly teasing and in some cases even molesting her then I did commiserate with the villain. In reality my codes keep me from becoming the villain and as an escape from this handicap I write stories.” – Avinaba

Bidhannagar, located at the northern part of the city of Kolkata is a place named after the greatest doctor India ever had, Bidhan Chandra Roy. But mere naming of a place after a doctor does not make its inhabitants disease-free. Kajol is one of those who were born with such a curse. He was deaf in both ears since birth and at the age of three he was hit by polio and lost the functioning of both his legs. Kajol’s father owned a small shop in Basanti Colony – a slum located beside the Bidhannagar railway station. Kajol had lost his mother at his birth so it was his father who brought him up. They lived in a small one-room house in that slum. From early childhood his father tried to train him in business. Since there was nobody back home to take care of little Kajol, his father made him sit all day by him at the shop in the hope that he would learn how to deal with the customers and one day would be able to take over the shop. As he grew up he did take over the business. The customers who came to the shop were people from the same colony. Everyone knew Kajol and Kajol knew everyone. Since he was deaf no one usually asked him for anything; rather they took what they needed, showed it to him and he by the count of his fingers told them the price of the product. Thus Kajol’s old father was left with no worries about their income. Their shop was well looked after by his son. The old man spent his time mostly in drinking and it was drinking that took his life. Years of sitting in that shop beside his father had done a certain damage to Kajol’s life. He had no friends and he did not know what really meant by socializing, so after his father’s death he became all alone in the world. But fate had more in store for him. A year later, on a winter night in the year 2010, a fire broke out at the slum and like hundreds of his neighbors’ houses it consumed his house and shop, burning everything. Though six months later a new house was provided to him by the government, he never got back his shop – his only source of income. Since then Kajol had been begging for money.
One night at about 11:45PM Kajol was chewing a loaf of bread on the Bidhannagar footbridge. There were still one or two train-passengers who took the toll of climbing up the bridge, but they were not the ones for whom he had placed his crooked bowl in front of himself. They were in fact few in number and in even greater hurry than the day. His targets were the customers of the hookers who displayed themselves on the bridge that night. These men had a lot of time in their hands and would often drop a rupee or two in his bowl to show the extra weight that they carried in their wallet to the women at work. Kajol was sitting on one side of the narrow passage of the bridge, he was thin and short, pieces of bread stuck in his beard that hid almost half of his face, his eyes were big but his nose was small and flat. Often he would be scratching his tousled hair that covered both his ears with one hand, while with the other he ate the bread. Being deaf and friendless, Kajol was suspicious of anyone who would speak anything looking at him. If they did not approach him directly he would be certain that they were mocking him for his legs or something else. That night there were a couple of hookers who stood at some distance from him, he noted that they were looking at him and laughing every once in a while. He had not earned much that day, so he was waiting till late, while all his colleagues had fallen sleep. The laugh was rather irritating him, so he cursed the two women in his mind, “May the lord seal both your holes and you get no customer ever again’’, but then realizing his mistake he rephrased his curse, “Sealing one hole would be enough as with no income there would be no food and thus no shitting anyway.’’ The truth was that the two women were discussing matters of their own and were not bothered about him at all and neither was he the object of their jeers. The episode got interrupted by two prospective customers. While eating his bread Kajol kept staring at the two men. As they came from a different direction he had missed them as they appeared to the bridge, so he was hoping that on their way back they would pass by him so that he could ask for his share. Meanwhile a gentleman came and stood beside Kajol. He was ogling at a magazine in his hand that was full of nude pictures of women. A little less than half of the loaf was yet to be eaten by the beggar but it remained in his hand as he saw a picture on the page which the gentleman had folded behind. Kajol turned his neck as much as he could to see the flesh in print through the thick fingers of that man. On the other side of the bridge, the deal was not done. The women again waited for their next customer as those two men went back the same way they had come. The way he was begging his fate to get one good look at the magazine caught the attention of those two women. The younger one said to the older, “My my Didi! Look at this beggar, all this while he was eating his bread with such dedication and as soon as he saw the magazine in that man’s hand his whole direction of hunger shifted. What do you think is there in that book?’’, to which the older one replied, “I am certain that you know what kind of a book that is and want to hear dirty things from my mouth, sweetheart! Be it a beggar or a king, naked women drive all men crazy’’, and they had a good laugh. After a lot of trouble Kajol could watch the thighs of an Australian model, two pair of breasts – one Indian and the other American, and a half image of another American from her left under arm to her left knee, while the rest of the picture remained beneath those thick fingers. As the gentleman left, he hurriedly started packing his belongings, for once he looked at the two women who still did not get any customers and were looking at him with all their attention. He laughed briefly thinking that his curse was working, but he did not want to concentrate on them as the most important thing for him then was to preserve the images from the book in his mind so that he could replay them while masturbating, which he wished to do as soon as possible. As Kajol was about to leave the younger woman thought of teasing him and shouted, ‘Oi Beggar! Where are you going? Take a look, I am no less than the ones in the magazine. I love you.’’ it did not work and the older woman who knew the beggar for some time explained to her, why.

For a city-dweller, walking is a luxury that one cannot always afford. Following the clockwise rush, most of the travelling is done on the wheels. So the rate at which legs are used has fallen drastically. But Kajol topped the average city-dwellers at that. He could not use his legs at all, so with slippers tied to his knees he dragged himself down the bridge on to the main road. As he had a mission to accomplish, he quickly crossed the road and kept dragging himself to reach home. On his way to the colony he had to cross a housing complex. Because he stood upon his knees his eyes could see more things on the ground than a normal person could. In front of the housing gate he saw a packet of cake lying by the wall. As he picked it up he realized that it was empty but just then he saw something else fallen at a little distance from that spot. It was past midnight and the bazaar in front of the housing was closed. Vegetable and fruit shops were wrapped up tightly, empty benches and tables stood in rows looking like a pack of four legged creatures held still by an unknown spell. The ground was full of rotten vegetables and fruits and their skin. Kajol found this lost object at the middle of all this and he knew very well what it was. Who has not seen mobile phones these days! When he had his shop, a customer who had a mobile phone often bought stuff from him and in return instead of giving him money showed him pornographic videos that were loaded in the phone. So Kajol knew where to look and opened the gallery, and did find a list of such videos. “It’s a good day’’ – he thought. But there was one problem – as he was deaf himself he never bothered about the sound and did not know how to regulate it. He instantly decided to spend that lucky night at the playing ground, which was nearby and so big that even if the sound was at the highest level, it would not have reached any human ear.
When he reached the ground it was empty, the enormous sky above was black but clear, and the moon shone over the palm trees that stood by the boundary. At their feet sat small shrubs that mostly hid in the dark. Kajol saw the stars and the bright full moon and felt them close to his heart, which was also equally illuminated by his recent good fortune. The field lights were kept on all night but in a vast plot of land like this a crippled beggar could easily get unnoticed. The field was divided by a natural footway. To be on the safer side the beggar sat on that footway. Believing that it would be a matter of few minutes he took a hard look around and finding no human soul he unzipped his pants and played the video. It was a small clip of two minutes and fifteen seconds and was shot from aerial view from behind a man who was fucking a woman. In the beginning the cameraman gives a glimpse of his face to break the idea that the one behind the camera would never get any footage. Both the players were on a bed, naked by fashion and Indian by nationality. The hands and feet of the woman were tied to the head and leg board of the bed respectively. She was laying face down, both hands and legs stretched open due to the tightness of the rope and the man was penetrating her from behind. It was clear that there were three individuals involved in the scene and the one with the camera mostly chose taking focus of her hips and below. Though the cameraman had done an amateurish job but for the beggar it was no less than a National Award winner. His hand was tired but he could not realize the pain as the pleasure was so much more. However he missed the most interesting part of the clip – its audio. Two voices were heard during the two minutes and fifteen seconds, one was of the woman and the other was of the man behind the camera. The cameraman did not utter a word but was only laughing every time the woman was heard. The woman did not speak, neither did she grunt. She did shout until she could and when she got tired she cried and then shouted again. There were two things that were heard from her, “Help!’’ when she was shouting and “pls. I beg you’’ when she cried. The clip was evidence of a real-life rape and was made to keep record of bravery like a medal, but the criminals lost the phone before they could delete it from the memory. Kajol – unaware of this – kept playing it again and after five minutes his hand finally rested.
Next morning the bazaar in front of the housing complex where Kajol had found the phone came to life. Every shopkeeper shouted for his or her best quality of product and reasonable price loudly to draw the attention of the buyers. But the center of attraction became the housing gate that had gathered more people than there was in front of any shop in the bazaar. People with shopping bags in their hands stood in front of the gate. They too had found something that drew their curiosity. Just like the vegetables in their bags, in front of that gate, exactly at the same spot where last night Kajol had found the phone, laid Kajol’s dead body. Later the city police came and took the body but surprisingly the mobile phone was not to be found – neither on the ground where the body laid nor in its custody.

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