Drowning Man's Justice
Drowning Man's Justice6 mins 148 6 mins 148
His hand and legs were tied; he was blindfolded and was carried to the small round boat by two men who got into the boat and roved it away, slowly.
The river was furious; with lots of water flowing in from the rain for the past few days.
The river moved swiftly and fell over 300 feet below with ferocious sound just a hundred yards away.
It was nature at its wildest.
The boat was hardly 30 or 40 feet away.
In few minutes, the boat will drift towards the end and the two men will dump the man with the tied hands and legs and he will be pulled by the current towards the end and will fall down with water in to the abyss.
She looked at the man whose hands, legs were tied and blindfolded; justice, finally is being meted out. She thought.
Twenty-five years is a long time to wait for getting the man who murdered her father and punish him.
She had to make a choice; either she can allow the man to drift and drown ending in the death of the person.
The death of the killer will not end her days of sorrow. It will only change the way it affects her. Every day, after today for the rest of her life.
Or, she can ask the persons in the boat to rescue the man and allow him to live.
life is not always just… the very act of saving him might take away the years of sorrow!
She remembered the story her father had once told her when she was around 12 years of age.
"Look, Naina. We always have a choice of being just or being fair." the bearded six-foot-long man who had bright grey eyes and a lovely smile spoke.
She looked at his gentle face and asked, "don't both these words mean the same thing dad?"
Her father flashed his famous smile and spoke gently.
"Just we use when we look at circumstances and then decide what to do. Whereas, fair refers to our action that treats people as they deserve to be treated based on our judgement.
Let me tell you a fictional story that some people say, emerged from an African tribe.
In the villages, when someone is killed by another person, the whole villages mourns the death for a year.
On the death anniversary, the villagers gather near the river, drink and eat for the whole day.
In the evening, they bring the killer, tie him up and take him to the middle of the river and dump him.
It is for the family of the deceased to decide whether he should be allowed to die or if they wish, they can jump into the river and save him.
They use a term called, drowning man's justice to describe this way of meeting justice.
I don't know whether the story is true or made up. One thing for sure; the family of the deceased will continue to be in sorrow for years to come if they allow the man to die.
On the other hand, if they save the drowning man, the very act of showing forgiveness will wash away their sorrow forever."
She had only a couple of minutes to decide whether to avenge or forgive!
But, it is easier said than done. The anguish and anger of losing your loved one to a rogue who had no reason to smother a gentleman's life who meant no harm to any living soul in the world, is too much to be just forgotten.
She shook wildly remembering the incident.
It was late night and her father, a factory worker completed his late-night shift and was on his way home when the drunken man in need of money, just mugged him from behind and killed him.
Then the ordeal started.
The police, unable to round up anyone as there was no witness virtually gave up. Naina shivered with the memory of seeing her daddy lying in a pool of blood.
As the years passed, the investigation just fizzled out and the police closed the case as another one of that unsolved murder.
It was by sheer chance that the culprit was caught.
He made another move and this time, he failed to silence his prey; the man who was hit hard from behind screamed for help and a couple of passers-by, nabbed the culprit while rushing the injured to the hospital.
The man was a history-sheeter.
He robbed men at night and used the money to drink; he never meant to kill anyone, he told the police. Just to injure them so that he won't face any resistance.
The police as their won't, just allowed the case to drift.
Again, it was sheer chance that a vigilant and bright young inspector went through the old files to unearth cases that were similar to the one he was handling and listed all the unsolved cases involving mugging and linked several cases; Naina's father was one of the victims identified by the inspector.
When Naina was informed about the arrest of the man who might be the killer of her father, Naina knew that justice though, delayed, was not denied after all.
The court case, where Naina was present throughout, went at a snail's pace.
There were no witnesses for most of the cases presented by the prosecution lawyer.
In the only case where the witnesses were available, the person had sustained minor injuries and the judge closed the case by just handing out a three months jail for the accused.
Naina didn't know what to do.
One day, she decided to take the initiative and found out persons who could do the job for her.
Naina, wearing a mask and covering her head with a dupatta, threw the money on the table.
The three men, who were contract killers and abductors, looked at her and listened to her requirement.
It was agreed to be done on the day the man would be released from jail.
They will abduct him and take him in a car to reach the place identified by Naina.
On the day of release of the accused, Naina woke up with a startle and found it was still 3 am; she was sweating profusely.
She knew what she had to do.
She took out her car and drove directly to her father's ancestral place where he was buried.
She sat in front of the tomb which was close to the flowing river and said her prayers silently.
She stood up after few minutes and walked with purpose towards men waiting for her with the culprit.
Naina once again came to the present.
She had to make up her mind now.
She looked at the man who had killed her father, desperately trying to save himself from drowning.
She shouted at the men who were circling near the drowning man asking them to pull the man from the water.
Even as the man was brought back to shore, she looked back at the tomb of her father and spoke; " I could have been fair as the man is a habitual mugger and allowed him to drown. But, I have taken the option of being just, daddy.
I am sure, you too would have done the same way."