THE LAST WINE AND OTHER STORIES
Shipping (per book) : 45
Genre : Fiction
TARGET AUDIENCE: Teenagers, Adults
Pages : 180
THE LAST WINE AND OTHER STORIES
Vishakh and Vidyuta are in love. But like in most relationships they have hurdles in their parents. Finally they decide the future of the relationship over dinner and a glass of wine!
What if Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was still alive and decides to guide a few people into politics? What if Netaji walks up to a young man who has just lost his father and tells him to not let go of his father’s political legacy? What if Netaji addresses himself as “Your Dead Man” and continues to live?
These and more stories which will warm the cockles of your heart or make you sit at the edge of the chair or leave you intrigued at the end of it.
He stood there with a knife in his hands and blood on his face. He was smiling in the manner in which he had killed the person in front of him. Brutally. In the a brutal manner as he had raped the fourteen year old a couple of days back and escaped from everybody’s eyes. Now the rapist was lying in a pool of blood, it pleased his eyes. He looked at the blood and the dead body. And before walking away, he stabbed at the man’s heart once again with every ounce of energy his body allowed.
“Mom, I killed him. And just like he didn’t leave any proofs, I have ensured the same.” He beamed happily as he returned back home. Mom walked out of the kitchen, handed him his cup of coffee and ruffled his hair. “He deserved it Jhanula” she said and disappeared into the kitchen once again. He sipped his coffee. Walked to the bathroom, cleaned his knife, changed into his white pyjama and kurta. He went to his bedroom, and took out his diary. He looked at the pen resting on his table and picked it up.
He wrote in agonisingly detailed manner of how he killed his prey today. It was one of his many adventures over the years. In the last ten years, he had secretly killed eighteen people for various crimes or sometimes, just because the person had rubbed him off in the wrong manner. He had helped many urchins on the road. He had helped acid victims, made them stay at his place and further way with their Education. He was a happy man, over the years he had helped so many people redeem themselves.
He closed his diary. It was to give back to the society, to make it stronger, he thought. He had been wronged once, when his father was killed. It was since then that he had taken it upon himself to help save people from injustice. He was happier that way.
He lied down on his bed, and started counting reverse from hundred to zero. Just as he reached forty nine, the doorbell rang.
“Amma, will you please open the door, I just lied down?” he called out from his room, and when his mother didn’t respond, he walked up to the door and opened it. It was his doctor uncle, Ishwar.
“Hi uncle. Is it a month already?” he asked. “Yes Yudhajeshta.” He replied. It was very rare that he addressed Jhanula by his real name.
Jhanula ignored and called out to his mom, “Amma, see doctor uncle has come. Get him some coffee.”
Ishwar just awkwardly smiled at him and continued, “No, it is okay. I will go and make some coffee myself. Let me know, if you would drink some too!”
Ishwar walked into the kitchen, made some coffee for himself and came back to the hall. Jhanula raised half an eyebrow and sat next to him on the dining table. “What do you have to tell me this month?” Ishwar asked with a straight face. This had been a habit since his father had passed away. Every month, Ishwar would come, and try to know what had he been up to. And every month, Jhanula would tell him about the people he helped, the people he tried to kill and the people he had actually killed. Ishwar cringed every time he heard him say such things, but then he had to hear them out. Otherwise, the incident remained in Jhanula’s mind and his mood swings thereafter. His actions were a result of a medical condition, which he had faced at the time of the death of his father. Doctors had refrained from admitting him, saying he was too dangerous, and the police refused to file a case and arrest him for the lack of evidence. More so, for the lack of the dead bodies that were claimed by him.
This was Ishwar’s only way out. Every month he would thus come to Jhanula\'s place, listen to his tales, and then re-administer his medicines and then leave.
The house in itself, was a huge one. Though it had only a ground floor, it was huge, spread over a huge expanse of land. On the four sides of the house was a garden that was kept green by the gardener who would come every morning, well before Jhanula got up, water the plants, till the land, and prune the grass to ensure the garden was always spick and span. Jhanula always had the food ready, and he credited his mom for that. She had always been a very meticulous and serious person, Jhanula always told Ishwar.
“The one reason that mom doesn’t come to talk to you is because she doesn’t like small talks!” he used to say and Ishwar always smiled awkwardly at him.
Just like all previous times, Ishwar stood up after finishing the coffee and the talk. He silently opened his suitcase. This part of the medication was the one Jhanula hated and he always had to do it secretly. He took out the injection and the liquid quickly when he found Jhanula to be distracted. And while hugging before the goodbye, he injected it on his backside.
“Just like all other previous times, he would forget this too by the next month when he visits him again!” thought Ishwar to himself. Jhanula’s forgetfulness was one of the reasons why he had asked him to maintain a diary of the people whom he helped, killed or whatever. As Jhanula lay on the ground from the effect of the injection, Ishwar easily picked him up on his shoulder and put him on his bed. He smiled once again, not exactly at anyone and walked out the house, locking the door behind him.
He walked through the bushes and then to his car. His girlfriend waiting for him, ready to drive him out of the place and straight to their vacation spot, three hundred kilometres away from here.
Jhanula, woke up with a headache and sat up straight after almost eight hours. He rubbed his forehead and scratched his eyes.
He unsteadily stood up from the bed, cursed himself for not guessing Ishwar’s ploy of giving him an injection and like a child went to complaint to his mom. He headed straight to her room, and as the habit, entered without knocking the door, a luxury only he enjoyed. He put his head on her lap and tried to sleep as she kept ruffling his hair. He told about the injection and also mock yelled at her for not showing up when Ishwar was there. In response, she had only smiled and said, “He deserved it Jhanula!”
Jhanula got up from there after sometime, asked her if she would have some food, and she had nodded a no. He went to the kitchen, heated the food up, drank a glass of water and walked out to the dining table with the food.
He switched on the television and directly put on the News Channel. The channel played the same old news of political parties bickering about one another. Some cricket news here and some other sport news, that he was bored of hearing. A highlight of Sachin Tendulkar’s dessert storm innings as it was his birthday today. He kept switching the channels, and then stopped at one local channel that blared some breaking news. There was an acid attach victim. And the acid was thrown by her husband for talking to another guy. The husband was missing from the scene. Jhanula’s temple hurt, he held it with both hands.
After two hours of wildly pondering over the matter. He took out his laptop and started looking for areas where the man could have disappeared. He marked off the limits up to fifty kilometres. In his last ten years of tracking down such cases, he knew the culprit wouldn’t run for more than fifty kilometres radius of the crime committed, only to return in case there was any evidence pending.
The next step, he logically deduced that he wouldn’t go to the most expected of places. That knocked off the East, North-East, and South-East region, because they were already populated with the underworld. That would have become the first of places where the culprit would have been looked out for by the police. Jhanula was now left with West, North-West and South-West directions from the crime spot.
He further worked on the geography. He knocked off North-West and the South-West, on the premise that it were too empty for anyone to hide. Both the regions housed row-houses and one far away from the other, making it extremely difficult for a criminal to hide and very easy for the police to find him. That had left him with only one direction and he was happy. He had to head straight in the Westward direction from the crime scene. He was content with his analysis.
But before all of this, he had to get the acid victim home and help her out medically and he was sure Ishwar would help him. In a sense of urgency he left from his place, reached the spot where the victim was supposed to be there. He was informed that she was taken to a Government hospital. He cursed himself for being late, and he told others that they would not treat her well in a Government hospital and that she needed personal care.
He reached out to the hospital, tried to convince the relatives and hospital authorities that she needed personal care, and when they didn’t budge, as a final resort threatened them for their lives. They gave up, and let him take her with him very well fearing their own life and the knife that he carried with him on his left hand. Once in the confines of his home, he called Ishwar, who was vacationing at a faraway place and explained the case. Jhanula had been doing this for the last so many years, so he knew of the procedure and he continued with it. Once the basic procedure done, he let the lady sleep in his room and rushed out in search of her husband.
As deduced by him, the culprit was within the fifty kilometre diameter west of the crime scene. Once Jhanula got a look of him, there was no escape, like all the previous murders, he was ready for this one too. He silently walked behind him and once he reached the area with no one around, slowly tapped his right shoulder. As soon as he turned around, the first attack was on his right shoulder. Jhanula had simply assumed that it would be his stronger arm, and he was proved right. He didn’t waste any time and attacked his left shoulder as well. When both his hands were almost unusable, Jhanula went for the kill and stabbed at his ribcage and slowly manoeuvred towards his heart. When he felt flesh on his knife, he took out his knife and stabbed with all his intensity. It was a death blow, the man was no more.
Jhanula was content. He headed back home, checked on the girl and was assured that Ishwar would come in a month and take care for the rest of the procedure.
Jhanula had committed, three more murders in that month and otherwise had helped a lot of under-privileged children. It was happy hunting month for him, he thought. And after every murder, his mom had supported him and always said they had deserved it.
Ishwar was once again knocking at the door. But this time, he was accompanied with his girlfriend. He was terrified to bring her here, but she had insisted.
To his surprise, Jhanula had greeted her warmly and even touched her feet, giving the respect an aunt deserved. He had slyly commented, that she didn’t look old enough to be his wife, which both of them ignored.
Jhanula was narrating the incidents of the month, and what he had seen on the television and how he researched on the laptop. And with his every story, Ishwar’s girlfriend was looking more and more confused, she had wanted to run away from there. She was scared.
Ishwar understood, under the pretext of taking the acid victim along to the city hospital, he went to the room where Jhanula said she had been rested, and walked out with her. Before leaving, he again hugged him and once again, put the injection. He lifted him once again and put him onto his bed.
Ishwar walked out in silence with his girlfriend. As soon as they reached the car parking, she had hugged him and cried. She was clearly terrified.
“What was that?” she asked and without waiting for a response, continued, “There is no girl of acid victim. It isn’t April 24th of the year. There is no television, there is no laptop. I didn’t find any newspaper either. And his mother is not there. And for God’s sake you are not Ishwar. You are Debisht. What’s happening Deb?” she was yelling into his ears.
Deb waited for her to calm down. And then said, “Yes, all of what you said is correct. He is suffering from an acute case of hallucination. His mind is stuck at April 24th 2002, when his dad had passed away. His mom had killed him. Uncle was not a very good man, he had tortured aunty, and then one fine day was killed by her. When Yudhajeshta asked her why had she done it, the only answer that she gave was that he had deserved it. And aunty always said that Yudhajeshta was the solution of all her Uljhana, and as a child he would write the word in Hindi and read it in reverse, which is Jhanula. And that’s what he assumed aunty calls him. Aunty was given a death penalty, which he doesn’t know. He hasn’t moved on from that day. It is always that day, the set of news that keeps running in his head, and he keeps imagining. He can never walk out of this place. That’s the way we have built it. It is labyrinth, the exit of which only three people know. The gardener who maintains it, the cook who comes before he wakes up and leaves too and I. As for Yudhajeshta, he will never find the exit, and the day he does, he will come to this road which almost to fifty kilometres on both sides has nothing. And his stamina is not much, because of constant medication. So, there is absolutely no problem. As for my name. Ishwar is my dad, which you already know. He had helped aunty kill his father, and before he lost all his senses, she had told him that. And he has taken me to be my dad, that’s all!”
Once Deb finished and his girlfriend stopped gasping, she had hugged him. This was too complicated for her to comprehend, but then she finally asked, “So there is no solution for your brother out of this?”
Deb took a deep breath, turned his car on and started moving away from the place and finally replied “I don’t think so. The doctors have given up. The medicines that we now give him is only to keep him alive. The day he stops eating it or the day I don’t give the monthly injections, his survival would drop below one percent. It is his bizarre reality that he has to live in. It is his world, his reality, not mine, not yours. It is completely his Bizarity!”
About the Author:
Prashant Venugopal was born in Delhi and brought up in Mumbai. He is an engineering graduate and has an MBA in Marketing. He has worked across different industrial sectors in a career spanning 8 years. He has had a flair for writing right from the age of 6. This is his book, a collection of short stories without being genre specific. He is also a story teller by the weekend, enthralling audiences with his personal life anecdotes.
When not writing, he is a Marketing Consultant.
You can reach him at: email@example.com