Vishnu H Prasad : An Accidental Civil Servant

Water

Some Water!

“Pengale, kurachu vellam tharumo”.

The beggar asked for some water. He looked ruff. His trampled, unkempt hair flew over his forehead falling over to his eyes. Through their cover, Anu could catch a glimpse of his eyes. His look was cold. He was wearing clothes that were sewed from sacks. Anu hesistated.

The beggar again prodded. “Sister, some water”

Even though she did not want to give him water, she couldn’t resist giving water to someone who asked. After all, he would be long gone as soon as she gives him some water. No one was at home and she wanted him gone fast. His mere presence made her uncomfortable. Anu rushed inside to fetch some water.

She went straight to the kitchen. Initially she reached out to get the boiled water. But, why should a beggar be given boiled water? He must be drinking pipe water all day. She poured back the boiled water into the kettle and reached out for the pipe. They don’t drink piped water in these parts of the city. It is supposed to be hard. But, how does it matter? He is a beggar. He must be glad that she is even serving him water.

Anu filled the jar with the piped water. As she turned around, all she heard was a loud click.

“Clang”.

Something had hit her head. Anu fell down unconscious.

Some water!

As she woke up, she found that her clothes were all removed. Her hands felt constricted. The beggar seemed to be talking to himself about something. Anu was not still aware what was happening. Her head felt heavy. She tried sitting up, but her legs too were bound. Her whole world seemed to be spinning.

Anu tried shouting for help, but found her mouth stuffed with clothes. The beggar kept pacing up and down the room. Suddenly he stopped and looked at Anu. He seemed to enjoy her lying down there, helpless. He came close.

“Are you comortable, sister?” He asked touching her face. It seemed he did not expect an answer. He started laughing hysterically.

“You will run away with him, right? Now where is he, Sister?” he asked. Again it seemed like he was not expecting an answer. He started laughing again. The hair behind her neck stood up in fear.

Anu did not know the man. He seemed to be in his own world. He started pacing up and down the room again. He was rambling to himself.

“She will disappear when I ask for water. And I am to find that she eloped. How dare she! How dare she! Mistakes should be punished. Need to be punished. Need to be punished. She is a good girl. Good girl. A slight punishment and she will soon be back to her senses. Slight punishment only. But then, good girls are corrupted the easiest. Have to make sure that she doesn’t repeat. Make sure. Make sure”

He kept on talking something or the other to himself.

Anu couldn’t understand most of what he was saying. He didn’t seem to care that she was lying on the floor there. She did not understand why he had removed her clothes. As she lay on the floor of her own house, without a shred of clothing, it no longer felt like her house. She wanted to shout but couldn’t. She tried to make grunting noise trying to get the neighbour’s attention, but it did not seem to help. She tried to wrangle her wrists out of the knot, but it only seemed to tighten. She tried crawling towards the door. Suddenly the beggar seemed to notice her movement.

Cluck!!

Anu felt a sudden pain in her stomach. He had stomped her with his right leg. Tears rolled down her cheek. The beggar came close to her. His stench filled her and Anu felt like retching. But no sound came out. She couldn’t move anymore. She was overtaken by fear. Fear that she had never known before in her life. She started cursing that moment where she forgot to lock the door when she came in to fetch the water. She looked into the beggars cold eyes pleading for mercy.

He stared right into her eyes and started talking. “Planning to crawl away again, Sister?” And suddenly he relapsed into his monologue again.

“No, No, No. She has been brainwashed. Never can be brought back. Need big punishment. Big! Teach her some manners”

Anu was trying to shout at the top of her voice, but could only croak. She thought of her family. They must be vacationing thinking that she is back home safe. Her father’s face came rushing to her mind.

“Mole, Don’t forget to lock the door all the time. The times are not safe” He had said before they were leaving.

“What is this Acha! Who is going to come here and harm me? Especially in this city? Look around you! Everyone is just a shout away! What can happen? You are always paranoid. I am safe here.”

Tears kept gushing out as Anu thought about his words. She used to accuse her father of being paranoid all the time. She always thought that she lived in cocoon where nothing bad could happen to her. Everything that happened outside seemed to be from some other world.

The beggar had stopped pacing again. He took out a knife from his bag. He came close to Anu. He started caressing her face. Now tears were rolling down his face too. For the first time, she could see some kindness in his eyes. He genuinely was looking at her with affection. Suddenly it felt like he cared about her. She was safe with him. He would protect her from everything else. Anu hoped that she would be freed now. May be he had come to his senses.

Suddenly, Anu felt something brush against her neck. Something sharp. She could hear a whistling sound coming out of her jugular. Blood suddenly sprayed on to her face. Her whole body started to shiver. Blood was draining out of her neck. His face was still filled with genuine affection. He was crying frantically. He kept saying “No other way, No other way” and kept crying loudly.

Anu started feeling cold. Her body started to shake badly. Her head was starting to feel light. As she was drifting out, he suddenly took her head and kept it on his lap with much kindness and affection. He kept saying “Be good, sister. No other way”

Anu started feeling thirsty. Her mouth was going dry. She tried to mumble something. But the clothes in her mouth obstructed it from coming out. He could sense it. He pulled the clothes out.

“What is it sister? Tell me. I’m here for you”

“Water. Some water” Anu mumbled.

The beggar took the aluminium bowl that lay on the floor. He went to the tap to get some water. Then he saw the kettle kept near the tap. He filled the bowl with boiled water to give her.


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