RK's Death Dream
RK's Death Dream26 mins 237 26 mins 237
Ram Khelawan was dead; it had taken him nearly half an hour to die; half an hour of struggle to survive somehow, agonizing pain and trauma. He did all he could to prevent death. But his body seemed to be going down into the waters of the river as if some strong force, greater than his own will was pulling it. The muddy waters of the river seemed to conspire against him, not allowing him to surface and breathe. Water had entered him, and he was terribly suffocated. His eyes wide open, all he could see was water everywhere around him and in him. For some time, he could hear the roar of the turbulent river, but thereafter, he could hear nothing. Ram Khelawan knew he was dead when his body stopped resisting. He could not feel his breath, and there were an eerie silence and darkness everywhere. He was surprised that even though he was dead, he could still see himself. He was flying upwards into the skies, feeling very light and bright. He could also see his body as he knew it, gather weight and gracefully sink into the waters, in slow motion.
The moment his other body was thrown up into the skies, light shone everywhere, as if somebody had suddenly put them on. So blinding were the lights that he could see nothing but light everywhere, and he could feel his body getting lighter and lighter until he was just a feather, floating up and up beyond the clouds. He looked around in a panic, and to his amazement saw someone; he or whatever it was, was shrouded in dark clothing which shone in contrast to the light around him. Ram Khelawan could just stare at the face of the mysterious creature, a man, he thought, unable to take his eyes off him. The mystery man was talking to him: “What’s the hurry? Do something; earn a name; go back where you came from.”
Ram Khelawan suddenly woke up to the consciousness of his bed and body; and to the fact that he was alive and dreaming. It had always been like this; though his death experiences, each time was different. He had experienced death in many violent ways, always violent. He had been torn apart by fierce animals in forests; crushed by huge boulders falling off from mountains. Once he was mercilessly beaten to death by a mob, which then set his body on fire. Each time, the death was real for Ram Khelawan, not a simple dream sequence. He felt the pain, the suffering, the desperation to survive. He would ultimately feel the enormous helplessness weighing down on him as he awaited certain death, and every single time he would make this journey into brightness and encounter the stranger. And every single time the stranger would tell him: “What’s the hurry? Do something. Earn a name; go back where you came from.”
The dreams started coming when Ram Khelawan was still at the orphanage. When he was there, it was no less than a hell hole. The orphanage was packed beyond its capacity, and orphaned children swarmed all over the place, like the flies that also seemed to have made their home there. The children were brought there for various reasons. Most inmates had been abandoned by their parents soon after their birth. Many would-be dumped there because they were the products of passion. Ram Khelawan was admitted to the orphanage by the police soon after all his relatives including his parents died in a fatal bus accident. There was a marriage in the family and the entire clan was traveling from their native town to attend it. The bus carrying them slipped into the deep valley from the mountains when it was negotiating a sharp bend. All others died, but he survived the crash. Ram Khelawan was an infant at that time, and no one came to claim him. The authorities too burdened with their own responsibilities did not make much effort to find out whether any of his relatives were still alive back home. Ram Khelawan grew up in an orphanage without a name or identity. The administrator of the orphanage named him Ram Khelawan, after his own son who had died of cholera at the age of three. The orphanage did strange things to people. There was the usual abuse of boys by officials and others. There were rackets of every kind, and everyone responsible for the management of the place seemed to have his or her fingers into some side business.
Ram Khelawan learned to live all on his own in the orphanage. Though he mingled with others out of sheer necessity, he hardly made any friends. The grown-up boys were always pestering and bullying the juniors, with the management taking no serious notice. After a stage, Ram Khelawan stopped bothering him about bullies and problems, and to his amazement, people stopped bothering him. Left alone, he would crawl into his void, a world where there were no thoughts or plans. It was then that the dream began. In the beginning, the dream scared him, and he wanted to scream and tell someone about it. But there is no one to listen to dreams in a place like this, Ram Khelawan learned on his own to live with the dreams. What surprised him even to this day was the ways in which one could die. He saw death around him, real deaths; boy’s dying of neglect, diseases, being killed. It was routine and no one cared for the loss of life. The ways he died in his dreams were so different and refreshing from the deaths of orphans, that Ram Khelawan found himself mesmerized by the dreams. The only thing that bothered him was the mystery man. Why did he always send him back? What was the hurry he always spoke about? And what name was he referring to; making a name made no sense to Ram Khelawan?
When he grew up sufficiently to get out of the orphanage Ram Khelawan roamed around without any objective or purpose. The head of the orphanage would many times deliver lectures where he would say to the orphaned children that they could become someone big if they wanted to. He would cite examples of great men who were orphans or led a miserable childhood. Many grown-up orphans would take up menial jobs that came their way. Others who were intelligent went to the school run by the institution. They would then be sent to bigger schools for higher studies.
Ram Khelawan lived for the day, and this did not bother him at all. He slept wherever he could, and this too did not matter to him. He never thought about what would happen the next morning when he woke up. Something always came by and the day would pass for him. His world was still the void; no thoughts, no plans; only the dream. The only thing he looked forward to being the dream, where he would die horrible deaths and still wake up alive.
Ram Khelawan was now working as an assistant to a grocer. The grocer ran his small grocery shop all by himself, and the fact that he was getting old did not seem to affect his energies. The grocer attracted Ram Khelawan for various reasons. For one, the old man did not ask him any question when he wanted the job. Secondly, the grocer allowed Ram Khelawan to sleep at the shop at night. Then there were these customers who came to buy stuff at his shop without any money. Chacha, as the grocer was known and called by all, would happily hand over whatever they wanted. The customers would promise to pay him soon, and Chacha would smile “De Dena”, give it back as you please. He would never care to note down who took what on credit and how much one owed him.
There were other customers who would come to him for advice. Sitting in the shop, men and women alike would pour out their hearts to him. Chacha would never interrupt and listened with great attention to what was being said. There were wives being beaten by their husbands and wanted to escape the misery. There were old people ignored by their children, who were helpless and prayed for early salvation. There were men who could not run their family for want of money. People, Ram Khelawan thought, were all brimming with some problem or the other. It struck him strange that the aging grocer attracted so many people; what surprised him more was the attention the grocer paid to each person who came to him. He would sit sometimes with eyes closed; ears wide open and keep shaking his head as he listened to people. When someone burst into tears, Chacha would put his hand over their head and caress gently. At times, he would offer some advice; but most of the time he hardly said anything of substance.
Ram Khelawan asked the grocer about this one day.
“Chacha, you spend so much time listening to people. Why do they come to you? You hardly do anything to resolve their problems?”
Chacha laughed heartily and said: “What makes you think that people want me to solve their problems?”
“They come to you and cry for nothing? They expect you to relieve them of their misery. Don’t they?”
“Yes. They come to me for relief and go back relieved. Did your sharp eyes notice that?”
“Yes. But how can one feel relieved without getting a solution to their problem?”
“Look, kid. You hardly speak, which means that you too, like me listen. Someday, people will come to you with their problems. Look around you; do you think anybody wants to listen to anyone, particularly tales of misery, abuse of one human being by another and financial problems? The number of mouths and tongues far outnumber the number of ears in this world. So, people come to me, to burst out before me like pregnant clouds waiting to shed water; these people do not have ears to listen to their fellow human beings, because nobody listens to them. These people and others too are all the time thinking about themselves, their problems, their issues, their misery; every human being, if you can get close to them, has issues of life and death to resolve, and knows not what to do or where to go.”
“You mean, they come here just to talk to you?”
“Yes; because I do not preach or talk back. They know I am the last person on earth who can find solutions to their problem. They also know I can keep their problems confidential; that I will not spread it around the town. They come here to get rid of accumulated thoughts, thoughts that carry only dead weight and nothing of value. Once they are empty, they feel relieved and go back to start accumulating more thoughts.”
“They do not want to solve their problems?”
“No; they don’t even understand their problems.”
“You are a funny man Chacha. How can you sit there and tell me that these poor miserable people do not understand their problems at all!”
“Son, believe it or not, that is the truth. Now, tell me something. I have seen you sitting here all day long and saying nothing. I also know that you have nothing specific to say or do in your life. You hardly bother about yourself or the world. But I can also see that you have something on your mind always. I do not know what it is, nor am I interested in knowing about it. But some thoughts constantly bother you. When something bothers you and you are unable to explain to yourself or do anything about it, it becomes a problem. God gave everyone the ability and freedom of expression, which we use for many things; but mainly to communicate with each other. We can also communicate with God or with ourselves, and when we do that, the way in which we express is different. Thoughts, as I told you, will find their own expression, for they must be released from the prison of your mind.
“Most of us find it difficult to get our thoughts organized or find the right way to express and release them. The people who come to me and seem so expressive about their problems find it difficult to speak at home. They are afraid they will not be understood, or worse, they will be misunderstood.
They all feel that the problems they face have been created by someone else. They feel that they must suffer for the mistakes of others, which logic they have come to strongly believe. They even blame God for their misery. Since they believe that someone else is the root cause of their problems, they all think and believe that unless the other person is forced to change or changes on his own, the problems will not be resolved. To add to their misfortunes, human beings have created different hierarchical levels; power centers, you may call them. Everyone feels that he or she is being suppressed by a person invested with greater power and authority. So, they feel helpless and look outward for relief. They find there is no one who will listen to them; that everyone is blaming someone for his own problems; one may end up getting blamed himself for speaking up, and so they come to me. They go to the Gods, but Gods they find, are passive. With me, they feel comforted and relieved even if I touch them once or nod my head. They can feel my presence more than they can feel the presence of God in them. I know, it sounds complicated, but to put it in simple words, they come to me for relief and get relieved. So, they keep coming.”
Ram Khelawan was fascinated. This simple grocer was telling him that for those who came to him, he was God. How did he know that the dreams had occupied so much of his mind that it was becoming difficult for him to think of anything else? Should he tell him about his dreams?
“Chacha; can you really understand people so well. Don’t you have any problems with your own? Don’t you ever feel the need to release your thoughts to someone?”
Chacha laughed once again. He was enjoying the conversation. “Who said I do not have problems? After all, am I not like the people who come to me? But one thing that I believe is destiny. God, I believe, gave every single creation all it needed to be born and to survive. Beyond this, he also gave each creation a purpose, an objective, a goal to seek during its lifetime. This is destiny. But cunning as he is, when it came to human beings, he made it mandatory for them to unravel their destiny through their own intellect. He gave human beings free will to exercise as they deemed fit. They must use the freedom to solve the jigsaw puzzle of their individual destinies.
“Whatever we are doing now, we are just taking a step towards unraveling our destiny. Though it is easy to say what you want to do, it is very hard to find out what you are really meant to do in your lifetime, God gives you enough indications to help you find out. The problem is we do not recognize the symbols, the signs, and indicators even when they are staring at us. In the process, we make a total mess of our lives. That is why you see so much of misery all around you.”
“Chacha, I do not fully comprehend what you say. But if indeed it is true that every individual must achieve something special that he is made for, then why is it that most of us end up doing just the opposite of what we are supposed to do? How can you become aware of the symbols you talk of? I have never spoken to anyone about this, but I must tell you, something inside me forces me to tell you this. From my childhood, I am seeing these dreams where I die each time in different ways. At the end of the dream, there is this mystery man who appears in bright light and sends me back saying that I need not hurry; that I must do something; earn a name. Tell me Chacha, can you make any sense of this?”
Chacha was serious now, he laughed no more. He looked intently at Ram Khelawan and then closed his eyes for some time. “My child; It is not for me to say what your destiny is or could be. When people come to me, I can most of the time see their true destinies unfold before my very eyes. But I say nothing because while most people talk of destiny and fate, few belief in these things. Fewer still ever try to understand their destinies. There are many ways of finding out your destiny. In fact, it is He who leads you on paths that will help you understand your destiny. People who come to me are sent with a purpose, but they hardly understand the purpose. They feel I am only a good old man and a passive medium for them to communicate and get relief.
“I already know what I am destined to do in this lifetime, but I do not know how that will happen. I wait patiently for Him to send me the word, the symbol of the messenger. I search for the message everywhere, in everyone. All your dreams deal with death. But the message they carry is different. We all know death as something that is a final and certain event in our lives. But death symbolizes a major change in our lives. Your life will change in a very significant way, how I cannot say. The change will happen with a messenger who will approach you; when I cannot say. All I can say is that, from today, be conscious of the messenger, look out for him in every person. And when he does arrive, do as he bid you do. Just one more important thing for you to remember. What happens to your life after the messenger arrives may be good or bad; all you must remember is that there is nothing good or bad. As for the name, I am certain that when your task here is over, you will be remembered for long. Again, I cannot say in which way.”
The grocer fell silent. Ram Khelawan did not know what to say or ask. After a while, the grocer said: “Son, life is so very interesting. It pits us against challenges every day and tests our mettle. You came here because you had to find out what your dreams meant. But you have come here for another purpose also, so it seems to me. You have brought a message to me as well. I will not speak about it now, but I think our destinies are linked.”
With every day that passed, Ram Khelawan grew restless. The old grocer did not speak much after that day. Ram Khelawan waited for the messenger to arrive. Any and every person whom he met could be carrying the message. How would he know? Would he recognize the right messenger, understand the message?
It was a few months later, when Ram Khelawan was sipping tea at a local tea stall, that the messenger arrived. He was a short, dark-skinned man, wearing a white shirt over white trousers, with a pair of white sandals on his feet. Tucked beneath his underarm was a white Rexine bag. He was sitting there, right opposite to Ram Khelawan, talking to a group of boys rather animatedly. As he sipped tea, Ram Khelawan tried to overhear what was being said. The messenger was talking to the boys about jobs in Bombay, the big dream city. He was apparently convincing the boys to go with him to the great city where he will put them in good jobs with good money. Even as he was talking, the messenger looked at Ram Khelawan and caught him staring at him. Their eyes locked with each other on a couple of occasions.
The man was now done with talking. He was shaking hands and patting the backs of each boy and telling them to contact him tomorrow. When the boys left, he called the tea stall owner and paid the bill. He then abruptly walked up to Ram Khelawan and sat before him.
“What’s your name?” He asked
“What do you do? Are you a local? Do you work somewhere? Are you educated?”
“No, I am not educated. I do not belong to this place; I do not belong to any place. I work for the old grocer there, across the street.”
“What other jobs can you do?”
“I don’t know. I have no particular skills for any job.”
“Come to Bombay with me. We will find you a job.”
“I am not interested in doing any job.”
“Don’t be stupid. At your age, boys will die for a good job. Without education or skill, you will not survive for long. What do you want to do anyway?”
“Earn a name.”
The messenger almost fell from his perch when he heard this. He roared with laughter. “Earn a name. Earn a name? What name? Look at the boy; he wants to earn a name. Ok, I will give you a name, RK. To earn this name, you must come with me to Bombay and do what I say. I bet you have no parents or relatives if you had you would not be talking like this.”
The messenger returned to Bombay after a few days, with Ram Khelawan and a few other boys. He put them all up in a decent hotel near the railway station and asked them to be careful. “This is Bombay; remember that well, not your native town. This is a big place with millions of people living in it. Here, no one knows each other; no one cares what happens to others. All you will find around you is a vast sea, one with lots of salty water in it and the other full of human beings. Many amongst the crowds are thieves, and therefore you must be careful, lest you become their victim.”
Three days after they arrived in Bombay, the messenger took Ram Khelawan to someone he described as “boss”. Obviously, this “boss” was a person who was very resourceful and powerful. He did not look either. Bald, fat and short; Ram Khelawan found nothing to mark him as a “boss”.
“So, you are RK; my man here speaks very well of you. He says you want to become famous; earn a name and reputation. You do not look handsome, or I could have fixed you in Bollywood. You are not one of those strong and tall men, otherwise I could have put you in some hotel or beer bar as a bouncer. Your eyes, yes, I see something in them. Observant, but blank. My man tells me that you have no one to cry for and none who will cry for you. Good. Very good, I say. Look at all these men;” he waved his hands to the men surrounding him and continued “ all these men keep crying all the time; this problem, that problem; family needs this, relatives need that. But you have no family, friends or relatives, and that is why I say, ‘very good’. Now let me see what I can do for you. But before I come to that, tell me what you can do for me?”
“Nothing,” RK spoke with a blank face.
The boss and his men looked surprised at his reply. “What did you say?” Asked the boss.
“I said I can do nothing for you. I have come here to do something for myself; if that helps you in any way then fine, you can consider that I have done something for you.”
Boss laughed and everyone joined in on cue. “We have a special man here, RK. Quite a specimen, isn’t he? Now, RK, what will you do to earn a name, May I know?”
“Anything and Everything?”
“Will you kill somebody if that gives you fame?”
“You know how to fire a revolver?”
“No. But I know about death and the ways in which people can die.”
Boss laughed again. He liked this man, RK. Here was a perfect recruit. One who believed in doing, not just talking. People, he believed, were confused by the variety of objectives life offered them. Here was a man who had none, and therefore would be the most clear-headed person. Few people, and he had seen many, possessed such quality; a rarity.
“So, RK, today you can start earning a name for yourself; but you have to train first; learn how to shoot. I have a gut feeling you are going to become famous.”
RK had just been hired as a sharpshooter, though he hardly knew anything about the job. He was taken away by the messenger and put on training. RK learned well and learned quickly. After a month, he was assigned his first job. He was shown a photograph and given a piece of paper with details of the person written on it. The man in the photograph was to be eliminated; because someone wanted him dead. RK was not told the reasons, nor was he bothered about them. He was told that since this was his first assignment, he would be working with a senior professional. RK politely refused, saying that if he had to do a job, it would best be done alone by him. But what if he failed? He would not, he replied. The boss mulled over this and finally said ok.
RK was now a skilled contract killer. He's never missed. Nor did he mess up. Boss was pleased that he had selected a gem, one who will make him rich and proud. Contracts kept coming and RK kept killing.
Ram Khelawan, or RK as he was now called by all, was now famous; or more precisely, notorious. He had worked all these years with great pride and sincerity to earn this notoriety. He was a commercial killer, and by the standards of the industry, one of the finest. He was known worldwide as the killer who shoots to kill. He was also known as the mystery man, someone like the phantom, the ghost who walks.
It was RK’s simplicity that helped him earn his place amongst the very best of the mercenaries. He did not kill for money, though money followed him like a slave. Those few who had the privilege of meeting him and knowing a bit about him wondered how a man can live without a single vice. For them, RK was something of a paradox, an enigma; because, in this material world, people who did not have vices are considered virtuous; and it was quite difficult to call a killer virtuous, particularly a cold-blooded killing machine like RK. Where did he come from? What did he want? Why did he take up killing? What drove him?
As human beings always fear the unknown, RK inspired fear among those in the business who needed his services. Some employers tried the ‘honey trap’ to test him but could not get anywhere. RK shunned women and wine assiduously. Others tried to get friendly with him, seeking to touch the emotional chords within the man. They failed as RK preferred to be with himself and within himself all the time. Then there were those new recruits to the industry who had heard of him and wanted him to be their mentor. RK was not interested in teaching anything to anybody; just as he had refused to learn from anybody. Finally, people left him alone, admiring him for his ruthless efficiency, wanting to emulate and be like him.
RK was what he was; both inside and out; A rarity amongst the human species. He killed because he believed in destiny; he was destined in this lifetime to live the role of a killer. Once you know what you are sent to do on this planet, nothing else will matter, Chacha had told him. Nothing was good or bad. That he was a criminal under the laws of every land on earth did not matter at all.
He had been receiving a lot of money; too much for him to spend; So, he asked the messenger who had recruited him, to send the money to the wise man at the grocery shop. Some of it he gave the messenger. This became an established practice as the contracts grew in numbers. There was this tacit understanding between the messenger and RK that no one else would be involved in their personal matter. No one should know where the money went or how it went. If the messenger cheated, he would be killed.
The deal was good enough for the messenger. He did not quite understand why RK was doing this, but there was something about RK that made the messenger do what he was bid. And there was no reason to complain either since he was getting paid quite well for the service.
His dreams were still troubling RK. The mystery man would not stop repeating his message. RK had still a long way to go, it seemed.
As the flow of money increased, his remittances grew more frequent. The messenger was thrilled; he had been given so much, and so much more was still to come. He would faithfully remit the money by hawala to the wise man at the grocery. The wise man did not question the money coming to him. He knew who was sending this and why. A good part of the money was used for charity. Local educational institutions got funds on the condition of anonymity. India is known for its benevolent but invisible donors. Part of the money went to a few select spiritual organizations. Part of it was used to improve his condition, but not much.
The overflow of money compelled the wise man to create a trust which he named after RK. No one knew who RK was; no one had even met him. Meanwhile, unaware of all this, RK was growing in strength and stature. He was now feared and revered for his awesome reputation. He even got offers for marriage which he duly refused. He had a long list of patrons and an even longer list of people to be terminated. Businessmen, politicians, social workers, union leaders, estranged lovers—- the list was endless.
The killings hardly affected RK. He had no moral qualms. There were, he understood, two sets of human beings in the world. One who killed to survive and the other survived to kill. Every death had its own reason and story. He never bothered.
Soon, he went global. Middle East, Africa, Europe, America. His identity changed as frequently as his contracts. He traveled under different names, different passports, different nationalities, and different religions. The only constant factor was the messenger, who was now his faithful slave. RK still had no use for money, wine, and women.
The messenger kept his word and kept sending money to the wise man. Now Chacha was a popular spiritual head and had built a sprawling ashram. Lacs of devotees thronged to seek his blessings. Famous personalities frequented the ashram which, incidentally, was named after RK. The wise man traveled far and wide and his name and fame touched dizzy heights. He was never spoken to by RK and he would never try to speak to him.
The messenger slave had turned into a prosperous industrialist. He owned factories, property, cars and was even considering buying airplanes. Some of his factories were named after RK, but no one ever knew who RK was.
One day, RK lost his dream. They simply vanished and so did the mystery person. RK was disturbed. He wanted to know why he dreamt no more. He called his slave and told him to go to Chacha to seek answers.
The slave returned with the answer. His mission for this lifetime was accomplished. He now had a name. A name that now had its own identity; did not depend on him; he had thousands to keep it alive forever. This was the essence of the dream, and he had accomplished it. Not only this, but he had also helped the wise man and the slave to unravel their own destinies. RK remembered what the wise man had told him; that his destiny was linked to RK’s. The slave told RK that Chacha had also told him that RK was the person through whom he, the slave, would also fulfill his destiny.
RK wondered what his dreamless future will be. But then, he had never bothered about the future; so why bother now? He will continue to work if it was demanded of him. RK felt light, just as he used to feel in his dreams. He was ready for the stranger. He knew he would meet him soon.