Saturday, November 15, 2008

Destiny's Child

My first memories of life are of the tiny, cramped infant ward of the orphanage where I spent the formative years of my life. I can remember the cries of the other infants, some for food, some for water…some for love. I remember being the only infant who never cried, whether it was for hunger or thirst, and definitely never for love. The doctors and nurses would often come and examine me, sometimes thrice a day, as they were worried about me. I loved the attention and basked in it. I liked the glory of being the ‘child-who-never-cried’. Even as I was growing up, I never talked to anyone, preferring to nod and shake my head instead. And I enjoyed the silent attention I got; the whispers, the gossip, the so called ‘theories’ of why I was the way I was. I preferred to be by myself, not depending on anyone for anything. Dependence, for me, meant weakness. So life resumed in a silent and orderly fashion until one day, fate decided to turn my perfect life around in the most unbelievable way possible. 

It was a Tuesday, I remember, and I was walking back from school, as usual preferring the uncommon route back to the orphanage. I must have been all of fifteen years old. As I was walking back, the plastic bag which had conscientiously held my books for three whole weeks started to tear, and finally let go. My books, adhering to the law of gravity, fell with a loud thud on the road. As I bent down to pick my books up, I heard snatches of what sounded like shouting in the otherwise lifeless street. My curiosity took over, and I walked towards where the sound was coming from. It seemed to originate from the other side of the cement well, I soon realized and kneeled down to look through the tiny space towards the side. A man was tied to an old rusty steel chair in every way possible and another man (looking very much like the innocent faced head of my orphanage) bent down and to my utmost horror, lifted a long shiny black knife, which positively glistened when the rays of the afternoon sun caressed it. Slowly, he started to stab the man repeatedly, in various parts of his body. With each stab, the man groaned and screamed, struggling to escape, to get away from this torture. But in a matter of few minutes, a tired moan ended the story. He was dead, I realized. And the killer started to laugh, a shrill yet confident laugh which haunts me to this date and comes back every time I…anyway, I ran; perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of wanting to escape the situation. So I ran, as fast as my legs could take me, to the orphanage and flopped down on my mattress. I closed my eyes and the entire incident replayed itself in my mind. As my mind dissected the incident I had just witnessed in various ways, to my utmost surprise, a smile, or rather a wide grin formed in my face, leaving no doubt in my mind that…that this was it. This was what I was destined to do. 

I started in the orphanage, giving the honour of being my first choice (victim has a very morbid ring to it) to one of my roommates. I did everything as I had witnessed it, with the exception that I gagged him. The moans and shouts went completely against my quiet demeanor. And it was carried out just as I had imagined. However, nothing could prepare me for that indescribable feeling of pleasure when the knife entered the soft flesh; my blood raced inside me and goosebumps formed all over my body. It gave me an immense high, greater than any drug can give man. It was intoxicating, the feeling of power, of giving the gift of death to unknown people, from all walks of life. Some were doctors, some writers, some businessmen and some average working people. But binding them all was me; I gave them the gift of death, the chance to live life again. And so it went on, till one day, destiny decided to catch hold of me and change my life again. I fell in love. 

She was ethereal, arresting me with her cognac eyes and pulling me towards her like a magnet. Everything about her was perfect. And all her perfections began to cause imperfections in me. I could no longer think of anything else, and my sleep was gone for good. I couldn’t gift anyone death for months altogether, which made me even more restless. For the first time in my life, I was hungry…for love, belonging and security. Until one day, it struck me that I couldn’t fight my destiny any longer. My destiny was to be the giver of death, and I couldn’t escape that. So I did what my instincts told me to do; I gifted death to my beloved. It was done like all the other times before, except that I didn’t gag her…I wanted to hear her voice. But when it was over, I didn’t feel powerful and I definitely didn’t feel proud. I felt hollow from inside, as if someone had ripped my insides from me. As I looked at her limp and lifeless body, tied to the steel chair, I felt something strange. I was crying, I realized. I wept and wept, for my lost love, for my destiny and for my growing hunger. 

From then on, no matter how hard I tried, no matter who or how many people I murdered, I couldn’t fill the emptiness inside me. Regardless of what I did, I could never go back to being the person I used to be before she entered my life. I wept often, thinking of who I might have become, had it not been for my destiny. I had turned into a serial killer, murdering innocent people and robbing their lives. I had become so engrossed in the power and attention that I had convinced myself that I was doing the right thing. I lost all connections to the world and became a wanderer, aimlessly passing from one place to another. There was no goal, no aim in my life, as days, months and years flew by, escalating the grief in me. Until one day, my destiny called me again. And I smiled, the same way I had years ago on the orphanage bed. I went back to the town and the street where it had all started, where destiny had called me for the first time. Except this time, I was on the other side of the cement wall. I sat on the steel chair and lifted my knife. I could see my own face, staring down at me and telling me that this was it. And suddenly, a smile began to form, as the knife slowly slid into my flesh…

 -September/October 2002

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