“You need to die” his mother kept choking him. He held her hand trying to loosen her grip from my throat, but the more he tried, the tighter it got. He felt his soul finding its exit from his body, as his vision was blurring out.
Keshav got up panting. It was a nightmare. It was the fourth within a week. The series of nightmares where he sees his mother trying to choke him, consumes him inside. He picked up some pills from the table, and gulped them down followed by a sip of water.
“Are you okay? You wanna go for a walk?”
“Late night walks are the best thing a depressed man can take. Nights blowing out cold smoke which we humans term as "fog", hiding itself under the invisible blanket of darkness so that no one can watch it. But the night isn't afraid of me, for it knows I wouldn't tell anyone that it smokes. Apart from you, it is my only friend I have in my life. Sometimes, I share a blow with the night. It blows out cold smoke, and I choose the hotter one. And just adding to the beauty of this night, my playlist just got one song to play, "Ekla Cholo Re" by Robi Thakur. The only song which I felt home. And I dislike being interrupted listening to that song.”
“Do you have any idea why these nightmares hit you these days?”
Keshav exhaled. With one long drag of the cigarette, he looked up in the sky. “Six years back, I was 10. My father came home drunk, and had mercilessly beaten my mother. When I tried to resist, he slapped me, my head collided with the wall letting a slow stream of blood glide down my cheeks. My senses opted for a break and my eyes kept shutting. With hazy vision, I saw my mother stretching her hand towards me, her mouth wide open, probably with a scream. It wasn’t clear but I suppose tears trickled down her eyes, as she saw her son fainting. When my senses decided to get up, I struggled to open my eyes. My blurred vision witnessed hazy flames of fire and indistinct waves of scream reached my ear. "A little more" my senses whispered, and went for a sleep again. Next time I opened my eyes, I was in the hospital ward. Bandages were wrapped around my head. When I recovered a little, I was informed that I will live the rest of my life with a single ear. My drunk father had cut it off that night. On asking about my mother, the doctor heaved a sigh and told me that my mother was burnt alive that night. She couldn't survive the angry heat of the fire. That choad didn't only make me undergo a trauma for years, made my life miserable and also left me single eared for the entire life. I have the life of an orphan just because of that bollock.”
“Sorry to remind you of those incidents again.”
“Ah, it’s okay. I never forgot those. Always around me!”
“It was a great night under the starlit sky, sharing a blow with the darkness”.
Keshav got up, with a tight stretch, he exhaled and switched on the radio. "10th murder of this month! Who is this 'Serial killer?' Will the police be able to catch him? Is he a psycho? How can a man be so cruel to cut off an ear after killing someone?" the reporter babbled. “They will keep investigating, it isn’t easy to catch the killer” sighed Keshav.
“How does it even matter?”
“Hmm. I want some fresh air. Terrace?”
“You know there’s a serial killer out there, roaming free. It scares me. What if I am the next target? The killer kills people and cuts off their ears. I am already one eared. So killing me will just be enough for him” Keshav sighed.
“I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“Last night, ‘Jodi tor daak shune keo naa ashe tobe ekla cholo re’ and that's what I was doing. Walking alone. When I saw someone passing through the same road as I was, ahead. And it interrupted me, as I wasn't ‘ekla’ anymore. I paused the song and hastened my pace, wanting to overtake him. But as soon as I was about to cross him, he was dumbstruck. He gave me a squinted eye view, holding his neck he fell down. I hurried and reached him, and found an injection, pierced into the veins of his neck. He was dead. I crouched on the road, by his corpse, whistling the tune of ekla cholo re. I moved my hands on his ears. "Just soft like mine" I wondered. So, I took the knife out of my pocket, gently moved the tip around his ears, and then one swift movement, and it was done. The ear was in my hand.”
Keshav froze, as shock tickled his body. “You are the serial killer? Aren’t you?”
“How long can you do things without getting bored? I was bored of inscribing my feelings in those bloody shits of paper. Yeah, it's not a sheet. Shit it is. Silent. Calm. It lets people do whatever they want with it. It doesn't fight back. Coward. It lets itself lose it's clean, white texture, by strains of ink, colours and what not. It doesn't take revenge when it's arms are twisted and broken, to transform it to an airplane or a boat. But could I remain a coward like it? Of course not.
The flicker of anger turned to a fire seeking revenge. But my father was given lifetime imprisonment, which didn't make it possible for me to make him undergo the pain I did. So I decided to make 10 people look as scary as I do. If I had let them live, they would have got me caught. I learnt about snake venoms, how to extract it, how to inject it. My injecting skills got smoother with time. It was a new hobby. Making corpses look like me. Single eared. I am nothing but your reflection. The other personality that exists within you. The personality which isn’t coward like you in real are. You couldn’t save your mother. She was dying in front of you. And all you did is you kept laid there. Your mother won’t forgive you for that. She won’t! She will haunt you in your dreams. And to stop this, you need to die. Your father isn’t in the prison Keshav! He’s dead. Your mother killed him. And you won’t be spared either. Either you kill yourself or be ready to be killed mercilessly. ”
The hallucination disappeared. Keshav stood there, shocked. Still struggling to digest whatever he heard. All this while, whom he thought to be his friend was none but himself. The nerves of his head started stretching as whatever he heard was echoing in his head. With a ferocious scream he jumped off the terrace.
Keshav got up with a jump. He was sweating. Taking a few seconds to convince himself that it was just a nightmare. He gulped down a glass of water. He reached out to the drawer to find his medicines, but he found a knife inside. Painted red with blood. The knife he used last night in the murder. The knife which was supposed to be in his bag.