December 22, 2014


It was the story of a lifetime. If it ran, he'd never have to look back. Sam was on a roll. There was a problem though, the boss. She watched as she sauntered in and sighed. Priya Rehman was ruthless and difficult. And the Editor of the paper he worked for.
Priya clenched her fists as she read the draft. She felt like ripping it to shreds. She paced the floor as she waited for Sam.

"This! There's no way we could print this! I wanted a human interest story, Sam"

"Criminals aren't humans, you say!"

"It's a matter of principle. I do not want to kick up a row. And no reader would care what a petty criminal does in his spare time."

Sam was in a rage as he left the building. The woman was prejudiced, irrational. He couldn't understand why she had blown her top over that article though.

Priya did not hear Rehman come in. He tapped her shoulder and found her trying hard to control her emotions. One look was all it took, he knew something was really wrong. It had been so since college. She handed him the draft and watched his expression.

"The past has a strange way of coming back to haunt us."

She answered bitterly, "Not this time. This article will never see the light of day." She threw it the box marked Rejected.

She called Rhea and Anya to the office. It'd been ages since they'd met. Other than Rehman, they were the only family she had.

She was in a meeting when they arrived. They waited in her cabin. She smiled as she watched them chatter. Rhea was this bubbly brunette with a loud mouth. Nobody would guess by looking at her that she'd been through some really bad times. She was as talkative as Anya was silent. Anya bought peace to the surroundings. Priya felt a strange sense of belonging when she smiled. She remembered the fun they'd had in college, and the catastrophe that had bought them closer.

It was past midnight. She switched on the lamp and unfolded the sheet. She knew she wasn't supposed to be reading it. She had no business reading it. She had been sitting in Priya’s office, waiting for her and the name Vishnu had jumped at her from the sheet. She hid the sheet from Priya; she hadn't been able to help herself. She read the first few lines and stopped. But then she started all over. And read it, again and again.

Convict or Victim
By our correspondent Sam Johnson

He is an ex-convict. You wouldn't guess that by his demeanour. Meet Vishnu Saran. Currently self-employed; works for the local automobile factory.
His story isn't as simple though. Our correspondent traced him back to a very influential family. You would call it bizarre. Two brothers, in love with the same girl. Her love for one leads to the other being murdered in cold blood. Straight out of a Bollywood movie. Vishnu was convicted for murdering his brother in a fit of jealous rage. Twelve years in prison and now it's a self-imposed exile.
It's difficult to believe it though. The localites know his story and yet, he is quite the unsung hero here. He works from dawn to dusk, runs an orphanage and talks very little. And it makes you think, who is the real Vishnu Saran?

The letters had blurred. She saw him in front of her as if it were yesterday. The college, their group, the madness. Aditya, Vishnu, herself and the group. Aditya whose laughter warmed her heart. Aditya with his reckless, wild side. Aditya who'd made her feel alive like no one else. And then Vishnu had snatched her paradise away. She'd lived with it, the pain and the agony. She had wanted to meet him once and ask him what had made him fire the gunshot that had taken Aditya’s life. She lay down to sleep and for the first time in years, looked forward to a sunrise.

Vishnu watched the fishermen carry their catch home. Suddenly, he felt it. The way he'd known it everytime she'd been near. He looked back and saw the figure in white walking towards him. She hadn't changed a bit. She was still heartbreakingly beautiful. The girl he'd fallen madly in love with, a lifetime ago. The girl who'd loved his brother fervently causing him to hide his feelings. He looked at her and read the sadness in her eyes, a thousand years old.

She saw him gaze at her unblinkingly. It wasn't fear, it wasn't anger, it was a strange emotion that had brought her to him. She saw that he'd aged, his skin had lost its youthful sheen. His arms were tanned and coarse from the labor. She looked at the fingers that had pulled the trigger and stopped in her tracks.

Aditya had been her sunshine. But in the gloom, it had always been Vishnu she'd run to. Aditya had seen her laughter, Vishnu her tears. All her memories of Aditya were colorful. And the moments she'd run to Vishnu melancholy. Aditya had made her laugh, but Vishnu of the grim smile had let her cry. With Aditya, it had been a wild ride, but it was Vishnu who'd taken her hand when she'd faltered. She put a hand over her mouth as a cry escaped her. Time had this strange way of making things crystal clear. And suddenly she saw it all.

They stood silent, while the waves crashed against the rocks. Her lips trembled as she tried to voice her emotions, "You let me curse you, hit you, call you vile names. You never uttered a word."

"It brought you peace. It let you live."

"Never once, not even during his mood swings, did you let it out. You played the villian."
"Would you have believed me? I was all he had. Inspite of his recklessness, his addiction, inspite of the bouts of depression, he lived when you were near him. Yet, I couldn't save him from himself. I couldn't stop him from pulling the trigger that took his life."

She sank down onto the sand and let the tears flow unrestrained. "You did it for me. You kept quiet all these years, let me believe you'd killed him so that I'd live."

"Yes, Anya, for you!"

And as the sun set, he knew he'd been redeemed. So had she.