A Benign Tragedy
A Benign Tragedy6 mins 21.4K 6 mins 21.4K
John was running at a frenetic pace. “Where is a bar when you need one?” he thought. He had not consumed alcohol for over two years. But that did not matter now. The very reason for his abstinence had ceased to exist. John had been an extreme alcoholic during his college days. He had lost faith in everything in life. He had dropped out of college and was in the habit of drinking unabated daily. His life would have been a lost cause had his mother not intervened. She brought him back from his PG in Delhi to his hometown Kochi. She made him undergo rehabilitation at the best clinics in Kochi. In a span of 6 months his situation improved profoundly. He had quit alcohol and gotten admission into a college. In three years’ time he had graduated college and even found himself a steady well-paying job. Everything was going well for John. But a phone call from the Old Fort Police Station changed his life forever.
“Is this John Matthews?” a voice had enquired over the phone. When John confirmed his identity, the caller resumed, “This is the Officer in charge of the Old Fort Police Station. We inform with regret that a red Hyundai Santro bearing registration number KL 03 2234 has met with a terrible accident near the beach area. The only person in the car, a female, has passed away as a result of the crash. We were able to retrieve your number from her mobile. We extend our condolences to her family for this unfortunate incident. Further, we would like you to rush to our station and identify her body as per the extant procedure.” John was in a state of shock. He did not know how to react. But his numbness was momentary. Soon the grief of losing his mother hit him. The bereaved son was in no mood to go to the Police and look at his mother’s dead body. So he sought solace in alcohol and ended up in a bar.
The bar was the shabbiest one John had ever been to. It was dimly lit. The paintings on the wall were old and scruffy. The ambience was downright depressing. Unsurprisingly, it hosted only a handful of people. John took his seat next to the counter. An old TV affixed onto the wall was broadcasting the evening news. A waiter approached John. “What can I get you?” he asked in a hoarse voice. “A beer please” replied John. The waiter took down the order and disappeared. John was in a state of delirium. His father had passed away when he was just 10 years old. And now his mother, the person who he cared for the most, had also met a tragic demise. All his blood relations had passed away. He looked around the dimly lit room and found that most of its patrons were having a good time. His gaze then fell on the old Television set. A bulletin was being broadcasted about a female convict who had escaped from the Kochi Central Jail that very morning. The broadcaster informed that she was extremely dangerous and was being tried for murder and arson. John shook his head and looked away from the TV set. “Is the Police any good?” he thought. “How can they let such a dreaded convict escape?”
As John was awaiting his drink, he heard a commotion from the table behind him and turned around. A group of three men were bullying a boy who looked to be in his teens. John assumed that the banter was in good nature and turned away. But to his horror, the group of men started assaulting the boy. The men pinned him down on the floor and started kicking him. Neither was the rest of the bar alarmed by the incident, nor did they come to the boy’s rescue. John could not bear to witness the scene any longer. He hurled himself on one of the assailants and was able to knock him out. But the other two caught hold of him and one of them took out a dagger to stab John. Somehow John managed to free himself and smashed an empty wine bottle on one of the assailants.
In the meantime the police arrived on the scene. Everyone involved in the melee, John included, was rounded up and put into the jeep. They were driven to the Central Police Station which happened to be the nearest one. John was put in a cell next to the Officer in Charge’s cabin. The other three were put in a separate cell. John pleaded his innocence with the policemen. He narrated the entire incident which had taken place at the bar and implored them to let him go. But the police would have none of it. They would not let him go. He could barely stand owing to fatigue and dejection and fell on the floor with a loud thud. “This is undoubtedly the worst day of my life” he thought. John remembered how he had planned a vacation to Allepey with his mother on the occasion of his mother’s birthday. But the incident of the day had dealt a fatal blow to all his plans. There was nothing that could be done. To add to his misery, he now found himself behind bars. If his employers were to know that he was jailed, then he might even end up losing his job. John felt that all was lost. He thought he would never recover from the situation that he now found himself in. “This is the end for me” he thought.
Just as he was losing hope, a miracle occurred. A lady he knew too well appeared out of the adjacent Officer in Charge’s cabin. John mustered all the energy he had and screamed “MUM!!” A feeling of intense happiness and relief surged through every fibre of his body.
Mrs. Matthews was aghast to see her son inside a cell. “What are you doing here?” she enquired. She requested the officer in charge to let her son out of confinement. Since Mrs. Matthews was a revered advocate of the city, John was immediately led out. He ran to his mother and gave her the tightest hug he could manage. “The police rang me up and informed me that you were dead. Thank heavens you are alive!” John recounted the entire day’s incidents to his mother. His mother listened very attentively to her son. At the end of it she smiled and said “I have a tale of my own to tell you”. She narrated how she was robbed at gunpoint by a female assailant who robbed her of everything including her car. She had then made a FIR of the robbery with the police. “Good Heavens” John exclaimed. Mrs Matthews continued with her narrative. “The perpetrator then met with an accident near the beach. The police informed me of the incident. So I came to the police station to complete the formalities. Moreover, preliminary investigation into the matter has revealed that the body found at the accident site belonged to none other than the female convict who had broken out of the Kochi prison this very morning.” John stared at his mother in disbelief. He opened his mouth to say something. But owing to fatigue, words failed him. He could utter nothing. Mrs Matthews had completed all the formalities. The police offered to drop them home and they accepted the offer. They got on the Police jeep and headed towards home.
“Too bad the car was damaged permanently” Mrs Matthews told John. John smiled. The car was the last thing on his mind at the time. He had no complaints. All that mattered was that everything had been set right. He had his world back.