Who Am I?
I went to answer the call of nature. And that was when I saw it.
While relieving my bladder of its contents, I casually gazed around that dirty railway toilet. I frowned at the pungent smell that seemed to choke me and wondered why railway toilets were not a part of ‘Swach Bharat’.
“Was it because railway toilets were not a part of Bharat at all?” I thought with dismay.
That’s when my gaze locked onto the doodle on the toilet’s wall. No, it was not a doodle. It was a more deliberate, neatly written message with a blue marker pen. The message said: “Available @ cheap rate. Call Raja 9496352761. Ask for Sajina with a mole on her left breast… Fuck her as much as you want!”
“Some pervert who has no work…” I thought.
I finished my business, flushed the dirty closet and came out of the toilet. Then I went to my seat and made myself comfortable. I opened the India Today magazine and skimmed through the pages with little interest. I was on my way to Bangalore in the Intercity Express to attend my friend Kiran’s wedding. Arathy and Kiran were my colleagues in Zinfy Solutions. They fell in love and had come all the way to my village in Palakkad to invite me for their wedding. I had no intention of visiting Bangalore again, but the sincerity with which they invited me, prompted me to change my mind.
I boarded the train from Ottapalam Railway Station, since I lived a village called Mannur, just 15 kilometres away from Ottapalam. The train was moving so fast that the hot summer wind gushed in like a storm. Even though I pretended to be engrossed in the magazine, the reality was something else. Sitting opposite me was a voluptuous, beautiful and very sexy girl. She had boarded the train from Palakkad and I was stunned when she sat opposite me. She was wearing a yellow T-shirt that was so fitting that her ample bosoms seemed to be teasingly inviting me for a caress. If that was what made her voluptuous; it was her magnificently full, youth fed thighs inside that light blue faded jeans that made her too sexy for me to bear.
But it was her face that looked most stunning. Symmetry like I had never seen before. What skin she had! Those eyes seemed to tell an erotic love story when it brushed past my gaze. There was life erupting out of each and every cell of her body. Her eyebrows were threaded like perfect rainbows guarding her magical eyes. Her lips were sumptuous and full. There was a light shade of pink lipstick, but nothing was overdone. Her hair looked straightened and was coloured Burgundy. It glowed at the occasional touch of sunlight. She was listening to music on her iPad. I desperately wanted to strike a conversation with her, but had no clue on what pretext. Each breath filled my lungs with the fragrance of her shampooed hair (she probably used Sunsilk shampoo ) and the perfume she had on. She not only flared my sense, but fed my carnal hunger as well. My imagination ran wild like the speeding train.
The train reached Erode and that is when the OTHER GUY came. He sat next to me. Like in every story, the handsome hunk that plays the spoil sport for the hero. In the next 15 minutes, Mr. OTHER GUY charmed everyone around him with his chocolate-boy smile. Within the next 30 minutes, the girl was giggling at Mr. OTHER GUY’s jokes. I was frustrated seeing them discuss music, books and movies. I cursed myself for not striking a spontaneous conversation with this sexy babe.
“Did I lose my earlier self? Was Ritu still influencing me, making me scared to get into a relationship?” A random question that seldom had an answer kept bugging me.
Again, my bladder seemed to cry. So I folded the magazine and kept it where I was sitting and went to the same toilet again. While relieving my agonies into that dirty, stained closet, I saw that message again: “Available @ cheap rate. Call Raja 9496352761. Ask for Sajina with a mole on left breast… Fuck her as much as you want!”
This time the message seemed to lure me like a silent witch. There was a tingling sensation in my groin. For reasons unknown, I dreamed about this Sajina and how she would look in person. “Mole on left breast… Now, did that ring a bell somewhere? Forget it!”What if this Sajina looked as beautiful and sexy as the girl sitting opposite me? For a fretting moment, I felt like calling this pimp called Raja and setting up an evening with Sajina. But an inner voice stopped me. No. I was not that type. Paying money for sex was not in my culture. So I put aside those thoughts and went to my seat. By now the girl was sitting in my place, rubbing the tip of her bosoms over Mr. OTHER GUY in a subtle, tender way. Both of them were listening to music from her iPad, each sharing a bud from the same headset. When they noticed my quizzical presence, both of them apologetically requested me to sit on the girl’s seat. There was nothing that I could do but oblige with a fake smile. I sat there, skimming through India Today with Dalai Lama in the cover. I strangely felt like a Tibetan monk ousted of every pleasure in life by China. My heart burned and boiled as the girl and Mr. OTHER GUY started having a really good time, all at my expense. The biggest disappointment came when I saw them exchange mobile numbers.
I became increasingly angry and this time my bladder seemed to roar. So I got up again and went to very same toilet. This time, the message on the wall grabbed me. I took my phone. The burning sensation of jealousy and failure made me dial the number on the wall. I waited for 5-6 rings. No reply. The toilet was becoming agonizingly hot. I was about to cut the call but then, at that moment a heavy voice answered the call. A voice that sounded elegant and far superior to any other voice I had ever heard. I asked for Sajina with a mole on her left breast. Initially, the pimp seemed perplexed, but I convincingly made a deal at an astounding Rs.5,000 for that night. I could not believe my luck. I asked the pimp to WhatsApp the girl’s picture as well. Then I cut the call and went back to my seat.
I waited for minutes that stretched like hours. And then my mobile vibrated indicating Sajina had indeed landed at my WhatsApp doorstep. Quickly, I downloaded the image. I was shocked. The girl looked like Ritu in every sense. She was extremely beautiful and sensuous. I could not believe my eyes. Even in a simple white salwar she looked awesome.
A beauty that would put even the girl sitting opposite me to shame. I could not believe my luck. Finally I can enjoy a girl who looked like Ritu! My old team mate! I loved her so much, but destiny had something else in store for us. As nostalgic yet dreaded thoughts haunted my mind, the price for the girl is what made me feel that I had hit a jackpot.
“WOW! All this for 5K! My goodness! I’m gonna enjoy tonight!” My thoughts spread like a wildfire through my body. I immediately started a conversation with this pimp named Raja on WhatsApp:
“I like her…I will take her all night…is it fine?” “Okay…fine,” replied Raja
“Where should I come?”
“Come near Domlur flyover and call me…”
“At what time…?”
“Any time…today we are totally free…”
I assumed that business was dull for this pimp and the call girl. Why else they would settle for such a cheap deal? Nevertheless I relinquished my luck and fantasized enjoying the warmth of Sajina’s body. I mean how many men would be lucky enough to enjoy the body of a woman who looked exactly like his lost love? I could not take my eyes off her picture. I mused drinking that intoxicating beauty of hers. With open eyes I dreamed of running my fingers over that beautiful face, lustrous hair, sumptuous lips and every nook and corner of her sculpture-perfect body. Only when my black jeans felt a bit too tight around my groin did I notice that I was having an erection. I closed my thighs instinctively to control it.
By this time Dharmapuri, Hosur and Karmelaram had all passed. It was 7:30 PM when the train arrived at Cantonment station. Luckily the girl and Mr. OTHER GUY got off there. I felt a pang of regret when I stared at her curvaceous body. “Not everything one desires can be attained…” I thought for a moment. I brushed aside my regrets since something better was waiting for me! Life is always like that. When something good slips right through your fingers, you run towards something similar to avenge the loss thinking that it is a far better option.
It was 8:00 PM when I reached Majestic Railway Station. I walked out of the station breathing the night air. It was refreshingly cool. I strolled through the crowded, dust filled subway and reached Kempegowda Bus Station. From there I took a Volvo to Domlur. As the bus started off, I dialled Raja. To my relief, the pimp picked the call without much delay.
“Hello Raja…?” “Yes…”
“I’m on my way to Domlur… will reach there around 9:30…”
“Okay…get down below the flyover and call me…”
The remaining part of the journey, I kept looking at Sajina’s photograph. It was not Sajina I saw, but Ritu. I kept wondering what all we would do to each other that night. It felt ticklish to think of my flesh meeting hers. Finally, I got down near Domlur flyover and called the pimp. Raja answered the call immediately.
“I’m here as instructed,” I said
“In five minutes, I will come and pick you…” Raja replied
“Okay…how can I identify you…?” But before I finished, Raja cut the call. I waited under the flyover watching the vivid colours of the city. The bright neon lights of street lamps and a never-ending flow of traffic just mesmerised me like I was reliving an old dream. Suddenly, from nowhere, a maroon Skoda Rapid stopped in front of me. The driver lowered the window and asked me to get in.
“Are you Raja…?” I asked.
The driver nodded. I got inside the car. It had a thick fragrance of Ambi Pure car-freshener that seemed to punch my nostrils. The car’s interiors were all plush red leather. I looked at the pimp. Raja was too elegant and charming for a procurer. With fair skin and gelled hair he looked nothing less than a corporate executive. But I had lived long enough to understand that looks can be deceptive. I wondered how a pimp managed to keep a Skoda Rapid offering a high class call girl to customers for just 5,000 bucks per night. I could never make sense of Raja’s business model. Well, that was none of my business anyway since I was just here to enjoy a great evening. We drove through the buzzing city traffic for nearly 20 minutes and then suddenly Raja made a left turn in to a pocket road. Here the traffic looked amazingly thin and population on the road was almost zero.
“Where are we going?” I asked “Kalpalli…” Raja replied. “Ohh… so she is there?” I asked.
“Yes. In another five minutes, we will be there.” Raja’s reply made me feel good. True to those words, Raja stopped the car after five minutes. But the place was isolated. It was completely dark and silent.“We have reached!” Raja said and got out of the car. I followed suit. Raja opened the trunk of the car and took a bag. He hung it across his strong right shoulder, closed the trunk and then locked car. “Beep”…the locking sound seemed to echo in every direction. I became really tensed for a moment since there was not a soul in the vicinity and there was nothing but a street light that seemed long dead. The moon was full and bright. So there was no problem with visibility under that cloudless sky. Raja looked at me and smiled. As though reading my mind Raja said: “Don’t worry, come with me…”
“We have reached!” Raja said and got out of the car. I followed suit. Raja opened the trunk of the car and took a bag. He hung it across his strong right shoulder, closed the trunk and then locked car. “Beep”…the locking sound seemed to echo in every direction. I became really tensed for a moment since there was not a soul in the vicinity and there was nothing but a street light that seemed long dead. The moon was full and bright. So there was no problem with visibility under that cloudless sky. Raja looked at me and smiled. As though reading my mind Raja said: “Don’t worry, come with me…”
I did not trust the alluring smile of Raja anymore and said, “Man… I need to go back and take cash from ATM. By the way, where is she?”
“You can pay me after the business, Sir. Please come with me…” he reassured me.
Some intuition told me that Raja could be trusted. So I followed Raja into that night. The moon above followed us like a silent partner.
“The end of this journey could be worth the entire wait and all the risk…” I thought, suppressing an urge to take my phone and have a final look at Sajina before I saw her in flesh and blood. She looked so similar to Ritu. My fantasies raced like a wild horse in a forest fire. After a few minutes of strolling, we stood in front of a huge concrete arch. A watchman sat on a steel chair in front of it. But the guy looked totally drunk. He kept blabbering senselessly in Kannada, which I was not able to comprehend. Then, I slowly looked up and was appalled to see the words written over the arch:
“What the fuck!” I shouted at Raja.
Raja lifted his right hand to calm me down and then pointed across the cemetery, towards the other end: “Sir, do you see that flat over there? Across the cemetery? That is where she is. We need to walk silently and get inside the flat. We cannot take the car there! Sir, please trust me. Nothing will happen to you!”
I did not have a choice but to walk with Raja. He seemed to be a genuine guy. So we walked through the graveyard in the direction of the flat. There was nothing but hundreds or even thousands of gravestones around us. Suddenly, Raja stopped when we were somewhere in the middle of that cemetery. But I kept walking ahead without noticing that. Only after I walked a few paces did I find that I walking alone. As I turned around, looking for Raja, I found him standing still, like a statue staring at something on the ground. Raja’s head was bent. So I walked back to him.
“Hey… let’s get on with the business, man…Come, let’s walk!” I whispered aloud, tearing the silence of that night.
“We are already there sir…” Raja replied without moving an inch.
“What do you mean we are already there…? Where is Sajina…Where is she?” I looked around in confusion
“Where?” I looked around with zero understanding of what was happening.
Raja pointed to something on the ground. It was a grave stone. I looked closely and then stumbled backwards with my palm over my wide open mouth. It was horrific. There, inscribed over the black granite tomb stone were words that read:
W/O Raja Krishnaswami
22-July- 1986 to 24-June-2015
My legs began to wobble and I fell back. My head struck against something that felt like a low lying branch of a tree. As I gripped my head with both my hands, unable to bear the searing pain, Raja rushed to me and helped me stand up. It took me a few minutes to regain my balance. Then, I looked at a Raja who was sitting on a nearby marble tomb as if nothing had happened. His pale face, under moonlight, showed no emotion.
Finally I asked: “Who are you and what the hell do you want?”
“I’m Raja Krishnaswami… Sajina is…sorry… Sajina WAS my wife… ”
I could not believe what I heard. I was literally
“Why the hell did you write it on the railway toilet… that…”
“I did not write it…” “Then who did it…”
“I do not know…actually nobody knows who did that…All I know is that there are trains running the length and breadth of this country carrying the message you saw today. That my wife is a prostitute with a mole on her left breast and if someone wanted her, they had to just call me.” There were tears rolling down Raja’s eyes as he spoke.
“Then why you did not tell me earlier?”
Raja simply smiled at me. His smile carried more sarcasm than humour. Then there was silence. It just seemed to fill everything around me and Raja. A silence so deep, that it seemed to crush the very moonlight that surrounded us.
“I’m sorry, Raja!” I broke the silence with an apology. “No, there is no need to be sorry. It is not your fault.
Somebody loved Sajina so much that the person could not
tolerate her getting married to me… Or it was someone who knew both of us but simply wanted to…”
“Ruin your lives…” I completed the sentence for him. “Yes…exactly…and the person had an evil stint of success.”
Strangely, I felt comfortable with Raja. My heart went out to him and his dead wife. But one question kept haunting me like that silent dormitory of death in which I was standing right now.
“Raja… I can understand your feelings…but how did she die…”
“We were just a week into our marriage when calls started coming to my number. I had a nervous breakdown when people started calling and texting me with certainty on something physically secretive about my wife! I was shattered, she was shattered. Our relationship was tormented. We both plunged into depression.”
“There could have been a misunderstanding!”
“What misunderstanding? It was a deliberate attempt to destroy us…”
“There could have been someone she had an affair with…” I speculated.
Raja lost his temper at that point and shouted angrily at me: “Nooooo! No! That was not the case… I asked her a million times and she confessed that there was nothing of that sort…She was not the kind who would lie… Now I realize she was pure…innocent…”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
Silence was the only reply I got. I understood that this Raja was a lunatic and the best way to get away from here was to use sympathy and compassion as a tool. But somewhere I felt for the poor couple torn apart by the cruel fate. I churned my brain and thought of every possible explanation to this puzzle and use it as an excuse to make a safe exit. An exit from a trap I had created for myself. “What if someone loved her…may be one of her colleagues or friends? What if she rejected them ardently…with great force? What if she was wearing a tight costume that exposed her cleavage and this pervert accidentally spotted the mole…?”
“Yes… even she speculated things on the same line. But I was blind and mad. Life became treacherous each day… Our marriage had become a hell and there were fights. Each day I would receive a minimum of ten calls from unknown numbers… We tried to come to terms with each other… But we could not…”
“Man…you should have gone to the police… Or changed your mobile number…”
“Yes… but before that everything ended…” “What do you mean?” I asked
“You see that flat…” Raja pointed towards the flat we were walking towards earlier. It was more than 15 stories for sure, maybe even more.
“Yes…” I replied.
“That is where we started our life. And that’s where she ended her’s. She jumped off the top floor. It all ended there. I insisted on burying her here so that I could see her whenever I wanted to, from our flat!”
I slapped my forehead with my right palm. This was turning more sinister now.
“The police arrested me initially and I told them our story… They did some kind of investigation and made a few arrests as well… most of them were juvenile teens. They had nothing to do with the crime other than dialling my number. They called because the number was written in some railway toilet…”
I noticed that Raja was sweating even in that chillingly cold weather. He continued, “But we could not catch the real culprit…The one who did all this is somewhere out there… Walking happily amongst those millions of strange faces…”
I felt tormented and lost, listening to this sad, wicked tale. “I’m sorry Raja… I think we need to go back…”
Raja sat silently with his head bent and did not move a bit. I walked towards Raja and put my arms over Raja’s shoulders and said, “Come let’s go brother…”
“Come let’s leave this place…” I spoke a bit too loud this time.
The reply was a silence louder than the last. My skin crawled when Raja spoke: “Finish off what you came here for…”
“Finish off ? What do you mean …?” Raja looked in my eyes, held me by my left arm and made me stand and face Sajina’s tomb. “You came here to do something… DO IT…NOW…” he shouted in a voice filled with blood-curdling vengeance. I felt like throwing up at the thought of frolicking the rotting corpse of his wife.
“Are you mad…? Fuck you man…!” I shouted at Raja trying to get away from his iron grip. Raja pushed me over Sajina’s tomb. My head slammed against the cold granite.
“You came here to fuck her right… remove your trousers and get it done…NOW…” He shouted as if he had lost his mind.
I understood that Raja was completely nuts. I stood up slowly and pretended to remove the buckle of his jeans. My plan was to dash towards the exit. But unbuttoning seemed difficult since the buttons was stuck to some loose string. I bent down in desperation. Then everything happened in a fraction of a second.
I felt Raja’s cold hand holding my forehead from behind. I lifted my head in reflex. Before I could react, I felt the cold edge of a steel blade slit my throat. I saw my own blood spraying over Sajina’s grave. I wanted to shout, but the more I strained, blood spattered with more force, like a rhythmic dance of a musical fountain. A pain like no other I had ever felt, spread through every cell of my body. Like a fish thrown out of water, I struggled for life- air. Then after a few seconds, the pain receded like it was draining out of my body. I fell down, gasping for breath over the tomb. The last thing I saw was Raja’s blank face staring at me under the moonlight.
He stood there for some time looking at my motionless body. Motionless and emotionless. My blood formed a viscous, warm layer over the black granite tomb. Raja sat on Sajina’s grave and he placed the sharp edge of the imported commando knife over his left wrist. The stainless steel surface of the knife gleamed under the cloudless full moon sky. Raja closed his eyes and for an instant I was able to visualise the life he lived so far cascading down his memory lanes. And then I saw Sajina’s lovely face urging Raja to accompany her into eternity. After that, Raja cut his vein.
He fell down and hugged my lifeless head with love, as though it was Sajina’s. Blood flowed like a stream from his left wrist. Our blood got mixed over Sajina’s tomb and became one. Like brothers until death, we slept over her tombstone, deep into that night.
Between births and deaths, life dangles over two thin ropes of actions and consequences. If actions have the power to alter the very course of life, those digressions are what leads to the consequences that we face every moment of our existence here on earth. That is what defines who we are. And that very same thing defines who I’m. Well, you may be wondering “Who am I?” It is a long night and I have a short life. But within this short span, I will have to tell you a long story. My story. It is said that when a person dies, he has seven minutes of brain activity left. That is the mind playing back the person’s memories in a dream sequence. In that sequence, we find answers to questions that were left unanswered in this life. We also find answers to puzzles left unsolved in our previous lives. So before I leave this world to take another form, I want to tell you my story. But the events are all getting jumbled now as I try to rewind and recollect…
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