Fiction by Srinivasan Chari

Prologue 

“Dumbfound it is! I am the behemoth endorser of this antinomian social realm! 
The ever-attenuating ally of the bigots and miscreant emissaries of hostilities - besides entreating them to ravage the fabric of social rectitude!! Our coalescence is insuperably formidable and impregnable. Impetuous is my disposition and downright recklessness is the mantra of our clan!!!” 
Community malice flagrantly tooting its own horn! 
Drenched in impiety, prejudices and discrimination flail as pragmatic consequences of the hollowing obscurantist customs of society, largely. Of course, all of that hooping as “never-erasing” smirches to flit obtrusively and obstinately. For sure, inexorably flinty and barbaric in this officialdom! Nothing can be as ruinous building blocks of this colossus dominion called the “Universe” as discrimination and homicide that hound, tend to be. Humanity alienated or divided, obviates civilization and the whole human race from nurturing and flourishing. 
Selective massacre or bloodshed takes root and debilitates the whole ecosystem and its equilibrium shamefully. 
A warranted war is waging against parochialism and pernicious patriarchy; it is evident from the enormity of the battle yet falls deficient due to its ‘absoluteness and frugality’. Abandonment, slay, venom, stopped midstream or as the term goes ‘aborted’, neglect, strangulation, concealed alive in the ground or grave – Phew! The methods have been pre-discovered to eliminate life to death, much before the ‘beginning of life’. 
Well-contrived revolutions befall imperative against such “countrywide ignominies”. 
Could there be liberation from these, or ‘beyond belief’ but perennial rescue from those fetters? The contempt erodes afar than the oceans of the world put together, and rifer than any pestilential infiltration that took place through the generations. 
Awareness, movements, revolutions, and education perhaps falling dearth and inadequate in their scales and magnitude against the monstrously ‘never-to-end’ growth of prejudices! 
Propelling worldwide economies are vested upon the ‘Middle-class’ veins, to determine growth, by and large. Ostensibly, does it loom as a burgeoning factor, is the quandary here, given the distorted mindset. 
Evil practices and demonic approaches need to be stymied once and for all to subsist- predominantly; for economics, socio-economics, life, harmony, human-race and ecological existentialism, conjugality, espousing connection and relationships, social hobnobbing, intellectual transcendence, progeny and generation creation and building, constructivism, and more. 

Chapter 1 
Indumati’s Rapture Tops off - Thinks Adverse 

Hitherto life was nerve-racking for the whole world, from the way events ensued. Heaps lay obnoxiously obscure and unnoticed beneath the worldly-wise semblances. It may have been deplorable and full of spite in this part of the world - in this tiny hamlet that stomachs culturally dissimilar inclinations, and what unfolded a year and a half ago will quake us to disillusionment. Recounting something now might ride roughshod over our otherwise fathomable tenets of harmonious, rightful existence and dignity. 
Acoustically natural sounds of crickets sailed in the air, and gave frights unto trepidation; amidst a night that scowled densely, gloomed like an absolute black blanket to barely allow shadows of anything else to reflect here at this spot, in this village. It was a new moon night. 
Incessant water current and the alacrity of the cove alongside the coastline at the borders of the village were horrifically noisy, infinitely disturbing to disquiet. Numerous thatched and gawky, big, and small huts behooved the tiny village dwelt in by the plebian, proletariats and menial workers and the worldly riches were far beyond reach for them. 
Barely a few landowners or Zameendars owned and grabbed lands of the villagers by hook or by crook. Thus were affluent by all counts. Adjacent to one such hut, inside the nearby barn that was cohabited by 2 cows, 3 buffaloes, and 2 goats that bleated aimlessly, Sumitra was forced to languish in confinement here. It’d been 3 days already since she’d inhabited in the barn with almost no food and water. Starvation added to her other existing ordeals, like frequent physical assaults, domestic abuse, and of course, remaining in captivity in the barn quite sporadically and not allowed to meet or talk to people. She was overwrought but helpless as she was made to weather through these plights in her dernier days of pregnancy. The expression of labor pain could be recognized universally. While she was crying out of labor pain inside the barn, her husband, Ashok, and her mother-in-law, Indumati waited outside with bated breath; they suspected a girl again. Two babies have been eliminated immediately after their birth, by them before. The newborns were eliminated for being girls. Ashok and Indumati felt it may be ditto again. The same story might repeat. 
The wind gusted to its utmost strength, trees shuddered ceaselessly, and perhaps her groaning went unheard, as there was no life ambling around except Ashok and Indumati. Ashok didn’t look anxious like an expectant father. His eyes flamed ire and rage and the old woman, Indumati, kept aplomb as if she was to call a climax to it. She’d borne bigotry and her eyes virtually spewed it out now and then. She gazed at the barn unwaveringly, drumming her right-hand fingers over the fingers of the left fist, as if she knew it’s going to be a ‘girl’ again for the second time. As Indumati and Ashok ogled at each other with the same drift of brooding, 2 women rushed to the spot; they were summoned by Indumati to attend to Sumitra. One of them was a midwife - Janki, to perform her traditional obstetrical delivery errand. And the other was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant, Ragini, who relished the entire village’s adulations and reverence. The village brimmed with numerous fables and some such so-called ‘sophists’ enjoyed the dividends. Ages elapsed since the world evolved with civilization. As nothing could prevent a cataclysmic stirring, as much as obscurantism voiding up and barbarism permeating deep into this part of the world! 
Sumitra got stuck in this barbaric wheel with, perhaps, no way out. “Do as I told you”, said Indumati to Janki when she arrived in a rush. “Of course, I will, but do take care of me” she replied and whisked away in haste to attend to Sumitra, while Ragini waited outside, accompanying Indumati and Ashok. Sumitra’s groaning of pain undulated across and she finally shrieked out almost splintering her throat apart. A baby came out crying its heart out, after being in the enclosure of the mother for a long time, whilst the sound reverberated out to Ashok’s, Indumati’s and Ragini’s ears, another sound, slightly different was heard a few seconds later. Janki hollered out for Indumati and Ashok. “It’s twins!” She yelled out. Ashok turned unprecedentedly anxious, rapidly with changed expressions, and was curious now. He howled out, asking, “Are they boys?” Indumati, with eagerness, seconded him. Janki shouted out “the first one is a girl and a boy followed her” Ashok and Indumati seemed replenished partially with the news. Euphoria reloaded, but the ecstasy wasn’t complete as they felt the girl hindered the whole of it. 

Chapter 2 
Narrow-mindedness Turns Demonic 

Indumati turned to Ragini, and asked, “What now? We did what you always told us to, as you augured problems if we had a girl child in the house.” “What do we do now?” She further exclaimed. Ragini, gently chuckled, and replied, “The same again, eliminate her, but…?” She paused for a bit. “But what?” Ashok butted in. “If you kill her, the curse might chase your son endlessly” Ragini responded to Ashok. She added, saying, “Bury her alive tonight, she’ll collapse of suffocation anyway.” She continued, “Later, after a year and a half or so, you must perform a tossing ceremony for him. Mind you! Bury the girl in an unknown, uninhabited furtive corner. Spike her to faint and put her in a wooden box, and call ‘the end’ (with strong emphasis). After burying do not look back, leave the place immediately. I will perform a ritual at my place for your son’s wellbeing and the girl’s soul to rest in peace, to leave no signs of imprecation for the family. The ritual will be a secret affair.” Indumati asked, “Should it be done immediately?” "Yes! It should be done in complete darkness tonight” replied Ragini. “Now get going!” she exhorted. “Oh! Yes, I’ll need a goat, two hens, and some money to offer to the goblin I pray to. It’s the goblin’s power that makes me a complete clairvoyant, and he empowers me to foretell your future and warn you of the fatalities and dangers.” Ragini continued, with a gurgle. “Sure! Why not! All of that will reach you in an hour. We owe it all to you. Bless us!’ responded Indumati, and both, Indumati and Ashok bowed before her. Ragini leaves instantly and so does Janki after her, handing over a tiny packet of some powder to Indumati, signaling her with her eyes. Indumati is the wife of the late Sarpanch (head of the 5-member chiefs of the village). They live in their lavish mansion in the village, but Sumitra is often shunted out to remain in the barn next to the hut that serves as the outhouse to the mansion. “Okay, Ashok, now just dash across right away to Ramprakash, and get a casket immediately. I am sure he must be having something to spare,” instructs Indumati. Ramprakash is the local carpenter who manufactures caskets, coffins to supply to the embalmers in the neighboring town. He’s quite adroit with his workmanship and understands the requirements of the accord, as he’d assisted a Christian coffin maker for a few years and learned the art and knack of the trade, who died just a year ago. 
“But Amma (mother), do you think he’ll have a ready piece of this size with him, and what do I tell him, why such a small one, that too at this odd hour?” asked Ashok, in reaction. “You imprudent bull, all you can do is give birth to kids year after year, but you do not have even tuppence of the brain to do some worthy thinking.” Snarls out Indumati, at Ashok. “Just do as I say. Tell him, Sumitra’s pregnancy ended with a tragic climax; it was an appalling end. Sumitra delivered twins, but the girl that was delivered after the boy came out in a lifeless state. Pretend sorrow and say it was a shocker, heartrending for both you and me. And now, we need to cremate her but we’re told to put the baby in the box, as the soul lives and she deserves protection when laid in the grave, as advised by Ragini.” Ashok nods in assent and heads off briskly. 
In a jiffy, Indumati sprints into the barn, maneuvers the haystacks away lying in the way, and steers away the garbage laid strewn around, and smiles blissfully looking at the baby-boy, lifts him with both her hands, snuggles and pampers him boundlessly. Her ecstasy was manifest in her overjoyed reaction. She was, needless to decode, over the moon. Embraced him close to her chest and cuddled him with adore. Later, she placed him around a corner, cleaning the surface for him to lie down, and ensuring he does not get pricked by the haystacks. Now, she gets onto the business she’s mainly there for, in absolute poise. “Gosh! I really hate the sight of blood, even if it’s a few drops spattered around. Janki needs to be told again and again to manage things properly and clear everything before I play my role. But she is so bungling sometimes, despite her years of experience in midwifery.” (Soliloquy of Indumati - her tenor reflects disgorging malice). Then, she lifts the baby-girl between the left thumb and the index finger and rushes out, while Sumitra was still unconscious. She was lethargic for some time now and abysmally emaciated physically, and it seemed she’ll take too long to recuperate. Her fate was no less torturous, as much as her life itself, due to the recurrent emotional and psychological trauma she went through and yet delivered two healthy babies. 


Chapter 3 
Ashok is Uncanny & Twisted 

The twins looked divine with the somewhat opening and intermittently closing eyes due to the abrupt brightness they were exposed to. The little dim lights still bedazzled their eyes. They quivered to the slight prickling and tingling from the heat in the open environment they were suddenly uncovered to. Their adorably well-kempt hair looked as if they had a resident hairdresser inside the womb that maintained them for their day of release, to look spick and span. Their lovable brown complexion was attention-grabbing. The very sight would make anyone long for a cuddle, though they were still very tiny. Lying in the fainted state, Sumitra was oblivious of what was happening around her, except what she may have down pat was that she got a labor pain and groaning to almost departure. She might not know that she was spiked with a pill crushed and dissolved in water to gulp down to fall unconscious after delivery. The howling of dogs was loud and audible while Ashok trudges through the nearby quagmires that fall in the way, and serve as the single route to Ramprakash’s house-cum-workshop. Ashok, with a vexed look around, treaded warily through it all the way and reaches Ramprakash’s. His astonishing cunningness nursed virulence, and changed the plan a little, while on the way. Something eerie strikes his mind and he starts looking around his workshop. If he could find anything outside itself, or if he can sneak into the workshop somehow without Ramprakash’s knowledge, he wouldn’t have to make any excuses that might be suspicious to others. If it tattles out the happenings then the goose is cooked. Ramprakash’s sharp ears detected the sound of somebody’s footsteps - courtesy, the sticky swamp residues made Ashok plod around with heavy thumping of his feet in succession. Although Ashok was circumspect, he couldn’t help thumping his feet, as his slippers drabbled scum from the swamp along the way. He was still cautious of the tight spot he will be in if he woke up Ramprakash with the noise from it. Suddenly, in the gaping open space and cloaking deep darkness, while every being was in the post-midnight slumber, a curiosity turned Ramprakash jittery. A creaking sound was heard by Ashok from the outside and he immediately cowered and hid in the nearby bush that worked as a coverlet for him momentarily. It was the opening of the door latch. Ramprakash opened the door and hoofed it out to check who it was, with a battery-run torch in his hand. He looked around with restlessness to vain. 
He was quite cagey then as the sound had ruined his sleep already. After a few minutes of scouting in the dark, he returned helplessly, with no trace of anything. The devious thought of stealing away something from his workshop was doing rounds in Ashok’s mind. He now decided to go through with it. He took off his slippers and tiptoed into the workshop that has another entry at the backside; he tried to push open the rear door softly, but it was locked from inside. He scampers around in desperation to slip in, come what may. He then found a large window a little away from the door on to his left, as he’d reached the door from the right side. Again he tried pushing it slowly; it was futile. But suddenly, he noticed the pair of slats of the window has a portion of glass panes right in the center, and one of them was cracked in the middle, which he pushes with a gentle nudge, and a piece from it fell inside; to his luck, it landed on the wood chaffs, without much noise. He delved forward a little, to stick his head to the gap that was created after the glass piece fell down. He could manage half of his face and his left eye to spot the latch to the door. He noticed that it was a typically traditional latch that slides into the loop, and remains static with not much mechanical movement, and it can be opened by a push, if he finds a stick or rod, measuring some 4 feet long. Then, he started looking around and finds a slightly gnarled and twisted, but a strong branch measuring slightly over the desired size, which may be an offshoot of the huge tree that slants over the roof of the workshop. Gripping it tightly in his left hand, he skimmed it through into the window, holding one end of it, then twirled it slightly towards the door latch; slips, misses and miscues it a few times, and finally, he was able to make contact with the point of the latch and thrusts it away with force. He elated the success of having opened the door finally, with the push and shove and all the acrobatic efforts and labor. 


Chapter 4 
Plotted to Cover Barbarism 

He then entered and halted at the doorstep; stood for a trice at the entrance, and panned his eyes around, but he hasn’t got the luxury of even a second to waste. He sneaked in and started looking for the right casket with the handy battery-operated torch he carried along. The very sight must have overwhelmed Ashok for a moment; the workshop was cluttered and congested by some half-made and completely ready caskets, boxes, furniture, wooden planks, frames, sills, plies, and awkwardly done butt-joints, with scarcely spared space to walk in swiftly. The path enveloped by wood chaffs deterred him for a moment, but he treaded further on his mission, careless of the odor of the furniture polish, silicon, and polymers that engulfed in the tightly enclosed workshop and may have stung his nose. Thudding and stubbing through, with both his knees battered every now and then yet silently scuttled inside. Obviously, he was new to the topography, twists, nooks, and crannies of the place. He maneuvered through and eventually found the casket that was too big for an infant and too small for a grown-up man; of course, if the man is tall as per the normal standards and relative definition. But the casket he found was the smallest of all and had to either take it or leave it and return empty-handed. He chose the former, as he had no other choice. He was forced to take it. He carried it, and slogging through the swamp again, with injuries and bleeding in the knees, he makes it back to the barn. His left heel was also bleeding, perhaps a nail must have impaled and done its bit, which he discovered when he exited the workshop and was about to put on his slippers. There’s somnolent silence around and the atmosphere seemed morose. Perhaps nature was mourning silently on the recent happenings as if it had astutely sensed Indumati’s depraved intents. The temper was lugubrious all around. The wind blew strappingly, quivering the living and the lifeless around. It seemed it was on a rampage to lead to likely devastations. It unleashed ominous puissance, and anxiety was palpable to Indumati when she returned to the barn. She had gone to get some clothes to strap the baby tightly. She swaddled the baby with an old blanket, and there was no sign of remorse in their faces whatsoever. In a moment, Ashok reaches the barn. 
Indumati was busy cleaning up the place. Ashok broke the fleeting silence and called upon her to look at the casket he got. She glanced at it once but didn’t comment much on anything. Although Ashok wanted to croon out his painful adventure, she was unmindful of it, as she realized the seriousness of the act they were up to. She understood that they both are on a notorious, clandestine mission that can bear deleterious repercussions even if they are negligent by an iota. The very nature and demeanor were nefarious and indefensible in the world’s eyes and can ruin their future. She immediately placed the baby into the casket and locked it. The baby was asleep at the moment. They both started out to clinch their task, while Sumitra was still unconscious, back in the barn. Amidst severely windy and almost-to-dawn condition, darkness was still in its farthest and absolute. Indumati and Ashok spotted an open space in a vastly spread ground, enormously remote, alongside the inlet with no human movement whatsoever. They embarked on to finish the task. They dug a spot that may accommodate the casket, with the spade Ashok had carried along. He managed it with great difficulty, with the casket already in his hands; he’d placed the spade on top of the casket, and coped with it, balancing it along the way. While they had just managed to put the casket into the grave they had dug, they heard a dog barking and it emanated from somewhere very close to them. Anxiety soared, as they were dabbing the final patches after completely burying the casket. They sensed the dog approaching very close to them as the barking could be heard loud and clear, and it seemed it was just a few meters away and can reach them any moment. They sensed the footsteps and perhaps it was charging towards them. Indumati stepped forward and walked away quite a distance, to escape. It chased Ashok all throughout. Although he took lead, and it still had to catch up with Ashok, but by the time they crossed the inlet, it sped up the chase and bit him in the right calf. Ashok screeched out of pain for long but it was persistent for a long way, with his serrated canines penetrated a little, but the hurried movement helped Ashok slip off his jaws and he was spared with some not-so-deep bite marks and bleeding. 
They both reached home, almost out of breath, panting and gasping, but with the consolation of having completed the task, with perhaps no witnesses or onlookers. She spotted the packet of powder when she returned to the barn just to confirm if everything was all right and if Sumitra didn’t wake up. And she realized, in the hustle-bustle, she forgot to administer it to the baby. “Oh, no, I forgot to feed the powder mix with water to the baby Janki had given me, to keep her from waking up.” cried out Indumati, looking dazed. “Now, what if the baby wakes up?” asked Ashok with a fretful look. “We can’t help it. She might cry for some time, and then she will be silenced of suffocation. As it is, it’s a remote place, nobody will ever notice that. Also, she’s buried, so the sound can’t be heard.” She convinced Ashok. 


Chapter 5 
Tossed! Grab & Run 

Hymns are being chanted; hundreds of men and women swarmed below a building that stands over 50 feet. The street is cleared, garlands of colorful flowers and beads, incenses, coconuts bedecked magnificently on a big platter, lobes of flames emanated from the long twisted cotton wick to offer to deities, before the ritual that was to commence. All of this, supposedly, signifies it to be a ‘prophesied purity of a ritual’ to take place in a few moments. It seemed like an extravagant ceremony for which there was a huge congregation. 
The visitors that had gathered for the ritual murmured, saying: “it’s a spectacular event and has been directly ordained and it’s conveyed only to the divine ears of Ragini Maa” (mother – sometimes resounds like some so-called ‘godmother’ endearingly called by the villagers - it also serves as a shadowed yet disambiguated honorific suffix for someone who has attained some spiritual powers, in the villagers’ views. But to recall, all of that was self-proclaimed by Ragini, and it’s the ritual of baby tossing for good luck which she asked Indumati and Ashok to perform for Pushkar’s wellbeing (Ashok’s son) when he ages a year a half, and today is that day. Along with Pushkar, there are 5 more babies that will be tossed from an altitude of approximately 50 feet of the building which is an annexure to the local temple. A group of clergies and priests, some 20 in number surround right below the building to hold 2 layers of bedsheets to catch the babies, one after the other when they are chucked away, downward. In all today, 6 babies will be hurled down, which is believed to be part of a sacred ritual. “Beliefs, faith, rituals or some insular obscurantism?” asks a teenager who has accompanied 4 other teenagers, who are educated, and have come all the way from the neighboring town especially to attend the “baby tossing” ceremony. “Today, after a year and a half, Ashok’s son is the same age as the time that has elapsed since Sumitra delivered him and his sister who was dumped alive in the casket and it was buried. Although the year and 6 months have passed, the reprehensible act of eliminating a newborn lingers as derision of the right to live,” continued the infuriated teenager. His brusque tone unleashed indignation for the blinkered consuetude that keeps happening sporadically. Another teenager standing by his side gently stroked his upper back to calm him down. It was a team of 5 teenagers that posed like some warriors on some mission to accomplish. 
While this was happening, a howling sound hollered, chanted to cheer up and, the first baby was hurled down, and successfully caught by the 20 men that were holding the bedsheet. The battalion of 5 teenagers got charged, perhaps for the mission, they were there for. They stood close to the clergies. After the baby is caught, it’s handed over to the parents standing by their side. The band of seeming warriors inched closer to the parents that stood there, anxiously - though nervous and unpredictably, praying for no mishap to happen, but still delighted to be accomplishing something that will please the gods, and they will be bestowed with all riches and good luck for their babies. This time it was Pushkar’s turn, and the priest was raising him up and down as if he was gliding before a shot put throw. Then after 3 up and down movements, he yelled out loudly and tossed Pushkar down. In a trice, the baby was caught and slid through the hands of the clergies to reach Ashok. Much before Pushkar could make it to Ashok, one of the teens who stood in between, grabbed him into his arms and immediately shoved it to another, and disappeared through the crowd in a jiffy. They speedily whisked away, leaving Ashok bewildered and mystified. He was crestfallen and distraught about what happened in a split-second. He was ominously amort and fell in an impasse of thoughts. His mind got arrested for a shock. Indumati couldn’t take the shock. She was unimaginably astounded. Although Ashok tried to chase the bunch, but couldn’t catch up with them as they all were too quick for Ashok, who was a potbellied man, with saggy eyes, dangling chin, and a tier of the low-hung neck. The supposed battalion was dressed in uniforms. They wore white shirts, black pants and a black sleeveless overcoat each, and black caps. On the run, they also covered their faces with white scarves to avert any identification. 
Although the event culminated with the tossing of all the babies, Pushkar was missing, after he was tossed. The idiocy of the so-called proclivity ended in a fiasco for Ashok. The police were called, they questioned the bystanders, clergies, priests, and others all around, and drifting their speculations and possibilities and analyzing the modus-operandi, as it amounted to kidnap. Out of the 5 cops that reported to investigate, the senior of the lot spoke out, “I think we should wait till this evening for some clue, which can be crucial in our investigation. It’s for us to ripple out a message that the police weren’t called and no investigation has been initiated. This will enable us to get some clue as they might send out some messages for you to get in touch. It can be for a ransom. This will enable us to trace them and nab them red-handed. We should lay a snare to catch them.” Ashok encouraged their intent. Scuttling past the grave moments, Indumati and Ashok were in a completely hysterical and disorientated state. This group of 5 disguised as cops were on the spree with some ploy. They were at the dinghy already, which was parked by the boatman alongside the inshore where laid the sandy cove that runs off the coast. The ‘make-believe’ cops were yet another bunch of individuals that belonged to the same group of the 5 teens that had kidnapped Pushkar that morning. This was perhaps the actual trap to fructify some other objective, which only the group knew. Perhaps the intent was to beckon the villagers and some governing authorities to the clandestine or despicable crimes taking place in this tiny village. But their ploy was to pretend as raiders, chide Indumati and Ashok for their felonies, which they were aware of; blackmail, extort them, and to create a brouhaha of larceny that has been rampant all over - may it be for babies, money and other valuable belongings. 


Chapter 6 
Crooks Baffled – Exposed 

So, the rest of them ventured out to Indumati’s house. The count of the cops in disguise remained the same, but this time it was a combination of two teen girls and 3 men. The girls were dressed as male cops. Obviously they hid their long plaited hair and had them coiled as buns into their hats. It was all a hideous game, with an objective. The script was that the two girls will stand guard for the other 3, who’ll barge into their house, pretend a raid and seize their belongings. And all of them complied as scripted. The belongings meant everything to Indumati. It was not only their past, present but also their security for their future. Obviously, it was a financial safekeeping for their dynastic succession, which they had plundered over a period of time when her husband was alive and was the Sarpanch of the village. “Please come on in” flanked Indumati while letting them enter their house. “Have you been able to get any information about my grandson, Pushkar?” She asked. Ashok stood by their side, anticipating something positive. The in-dress cop looked askance at both of them and blisteringly stared at them for a few seconds and then snooped around their house. It was a palatial mansion, with many lavish fixtures and decorative pieces adorning the house. “Hmm,” He chortled and sniggered at their unwavering look and again drifted to the splendor of the house and, asked, “You must be one of the richest in the village, am I right?” “How does it matter?” asked Indumati, in a gruff tone. “Of course, to us, it does” replied one of the imposters with a wry remark. Ashok’s composure was dwindling, and with a curt voice, he shouted out, “Are you going to tell me about my son or not? Or else, I’ll call the villagers for your disdain.” 
“Please do! I’ll tell them about the casket story; of course, not only about your son but also about your daughter whom you buried alive more than a year ago. I believe she’d be of the same age as Pushkar today. Through my sources, I got to know that the kidnappers want all your valuables. Also, that they have dumped Pushkar in the same casket in which you’d dumped your daughter before burying.” Again one of them threatened. 
“What are you talking about? What casket? What daughter?” exclaimed Indumati. 
The imposters remained unruffled and one of them replied, “You may be good pretenders, but you can’t pretend to the police. I have got pieces of evidence and witnesses to prove your misdemeanor.” Do you want me to open the case and start investigating it all over again?” he asked, threateningly. They spoke in turns with Ashok and Indumati. “No. Please don’t!” he said, succumbing to the imposter’s suave reproach. “All I want is my son” “I am going to open the Pandora’s Box of your crimes; oops, the casket crime.” The imposter coerced. It was almost nearing the dusk, and the imposters successfully blackmailed the offender duo and managed to extort out currency, ornaments, and a lot more that was their life-saver. He dashed out of their house, with jubilation, and shouted out, saying: “We’ve got it!” when he reached the dinghy, where his other friends impatiently waited for him. Ashok surreptitiously chased them. “We’ll achieve it today, for sure” the others howled out in exultation. Ashok noticed all of that and discovered that it was all a game to extort their valuables and all of them were fake officials. He also spotted a casket in their dinghy and inferred that they must be carrying Pushkar in that. Indumati followed him out of anxiety and Ashok explained everything to her when she reached. The team boarded the dinghy, it was rowed down by a known boatman and they fled, while Ashok also ventured out, in rage, followed them, in another boat. 


Chapter 7 
Godmother’s Nobility – Orphanage Looms Virtuous 

Tales and tittle-tattle were floating around in the neighboring town about the crimes that were happening and reached the government officials, including the incident of baby tossing, followed by the kidnap that took place earlier that morning. Unobtrusively though but the proactive District Magistrate, an Anglo-Indian (DM) was at work, in his elfin looking room just alongside the busy town that shared borders with the immediate village where Ashok and Indumati lived, partitioned by the coast. Whilst sharing a discreet chatter over a cup of tea with the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the district in the near-to-the-dusk sunshine at the conservatively demarcated porch, a teen looking boy barged in on the spur of the moment, gasping heavily, requesting to talk to the officials. The DM allowed him in and calmed him down; he was immensely amiable though, but the boy didn’t have the patience to relish all that. 
Unwittingly, without recognizing the officials’ positions, he spurted out saying, “Let me speak to the DM. I have no time for all this.” The DM sniggered suavely, saying “That’s me you’re looking for, and this gentleman is the DSP for this district. Just relax, and tell us what the matter is.” In a comfortable zone, he was reassured of all support. The teen was Dinanath from the nearby orphanage. “No matter what crime, one can’t take the law into his or her own hands is what we were always taught by our godmother, and Rajiv’s sister, the new inclusion in our orphanage,” Dinanath started off. “The orphanage has given us everything. We never felt deprived of anything” He continued. She says idiosyncrasies, at times, can ruin lives, and one may have his or her own ideas of justice yet we are humans and we are born to respect others’ rights, privileges, and dignity, as much as a criminal’s right to be heard. I overheard Rajiv and a few other mates of mine from the orphanage talking about the plot that they are going to execute today. I can understand Rajiv’s pain and emotions, as it was his sister who was tormented and victimized by her husband and her mother-in-law, hence the resentment and rightful ire. But that doesn’t absolve us from our responsibilities of abiding by the judiciary and the legal system. Therefore, I would request you to take cognizance of the matter before any untoward incident takes place. Dinanath is a teen orphan and a mate to the other orphan teenagers that have started out to see it through, against Ashok and Indumati. “Rajiv was forced to live in the orphanage after his sister Sumitra was married to Ashok. He lost his parents immediately after his sister’s marriage. He was barely 10 years old then and Sumitra was just 16, and Ashok was 30 years old already then. It’s been 6 years now, since the bitter but true dogmas of life and existence ratcheted, and loomed indistinguishably volatile to many of us including Rajiv, his sister, and her babies.” He continued and recounted about Sumitra and Rajiv. Dinanath has done a lot of hard work in finding out the truth in the past few months and narrated the story as it unfolded to the officials. Dinanath continues: “I have given you the shreds of evidence and the witnesses’ statements that I got while enquiring about the injustice done to Rajiv’s sister and gathered far-reaching information, in the past few months. The police did act earlier, but due to dearth of evidence, they couldn’t initiate anything punitive against anybody. I was also told that Sumitra went missing just a few days after the incident that took place a year and a half ago. But now she’s the new inclusion to our orphanage I was referring to. She wasn’t even aware that she gave birth to twins – girl and boy. All she knew was that Pushkar was the only boy that was born to her. But she was always deprecated and humiliated and finally eschewed by her husband to get married to another girl. Now, the information is doing rounds that Ashok is going to get married again soon. Just 2 days back, after, gathering all the information, I told her about it. Before I could report it to the officials about it, Rajiv ventured into this radical faction to avenge for everything.” What happened to the baby girl and Pushkar?” asked the DSP. “Both have been saved.” He further continued, “It was Ramprakash, who suspected something shady after he woke up from sleep that dreadful night. He couldn’t get back to sleep; he was restless. He went around inspecting his workshop, walked around in the dark night, as he sensed something mysterious was happening. He walked till the spot where the baby was buried. He reached after Ashok and Indumati had left. As he was just giving everything the once-over, he heard the cry of a baby. He walked to the direction from where the sound emanated and rescued her immediately. After reporting, to the officials, they showed a very lackadaisical demeanor in investigating, which is why everything got procrastinated. It was Ramprakash, who eavesdropped the conversation between the midwife - Janki, and the police officers of the local police station. He learned that a farce was orchestrated as a ‘true story’ for others to believe. And it was that Sumitra gave birth to a boy and died immediately after delivery. And, on Ragini’s advice, she was buried, to avert any imprecation. It was corroborated by the officers by issuing false documents to substantiate it as the truth. Felonies after felony ensue, for a conspiracy that was hatched with malice to uphold personal, belligerent jingoism. It could have been done only by colluding with the officials. It was a stupefying systemic failure and the likes of Ashok and Indumati exploited it. Please intervene!” He solicited, after narrating the story as it happened. Now, I have several witnesses and pieces of evidence that can nail the culprits.” Dinanath said, enumerating everything in detail. The DM instructed the DSP and issued orders for immediate action in the matter, and the DSP along with his team and Dinanath, setoff. All was planned to prevent the revolting radicals from wrongdoing as well as apprehend the recklessly lawbreaking duo, Indumati, and Ashok. They also decided to take punitive action against the erring officers whoever is found guilty. Lauding Dinanath wasn’t enough; perhaps he may have felt it as mere tokenism. After rescuing the baby from the grave, Ramprakash sent her to his sister to take care of her, and she remained there until Dinanath found about the girl’s whereabouts, after learning about Sumitra’s story.


Chapter 8 
High Point of the Jinx 

Everything was dreary on the other side of the little inlet in the town that hailed as a populous place. The squad was ready to press the right buttons of the drama to follow. The casket resembled the one that was once buried in a grave with the just-born baby alive inside it, by Ashok and Indumati. Now, it was just an encore of it, to reverberate the pain an innocent newborn must have endured and the aftermath of that blight the utterly devastated mother must have suffered. All the groups, including the police force, district administrative team, and other officials positioned themselves at the open space, identical to the cavernous land space where Ashok once buried his newborn daughter. As the grave wasn’t entirely dug, presumably, a cursory effort, on purpose, it was to give an impression that the casket, in which Ashok dumped his daughter, will be buried soon. Perhaps it was to replay the diabolical episode all over again. The group of first 5 teens and the second squad that supported by giving a flustering chase to Ashok and Indumati also belonged to Rajiv’s team. Rajiv was rendering as the head of the group, and all conducted themselves as pallbearers, appearing in uniforms that they wore earlier to kidnap Pushkar, except Rajiv. Since he was playing the officiant, he wore a robe. All weren’t men in uniforms. It was a mix of boys and girls. They were all set to enact the whole thing all over again, with the members of the squad playing the characters as they appeared. While they were fastening themselves in the scene, it seemed like a ceremonious assembly with many people thronging in. Ashok’s groping eyes spotted Sumitra rushing in, from the other side of the ground, with her adorable daughter in her arms, and the godmother of the orphanage holding Pushkar, who was a few seconds younger to his sister. Rajiv’s cohorts kidnapped Pushkar to unite him with his mother that morning. The revolutionary squad gathered around the grave. They also carried the casket along with them, wrapped up in a flag that had an imaginary emblem of freedom printed on it - the silhouette of a bird with wings fluttered upward symmetrically, to symbolize freedom from bigotries and torments of the world. A priest was called to perform the ritual and chant hymns for the ‘make-believe’ cremation. The ritual had many attendees and a huge congregation. A flock of many known and unknown faces appeared, which included Ramprakash, the doctor who treated Ashok’s knee, heel injuries, and the dog bite, the next morning after he buried his daughter in the grave. Among the other known faces were, Ragini and Janki that were accomplices and soon to be apprehended for their crimes. 

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