Settlement17 mins 189 17 mins 189
Nata, my friend, and I were notorious beyond limit. It would be hard to imagine that two students, who were expected to devote time in study, could be so depraved. It will be a big volume of a book if I start to compile the stories of our wickedness. Therefore I will narrate the best of the lot that exemplifies our audacity, ruthlessness and recklessness.
My role in the story was trivial and negligible but Nata (Mr. Natabar Lal) performed the role of a super villain. This was a Spine-tingling plan of acid-throw on the most beautiful girl of our college which was executed flawlessly. The sequel of that episode was still more intriguing and interesting. You must have read a lot of acid-throw stories but I can assure you that the experience that you are going to derive from this story is going to be the most unique and enchanting that you might have ever come across.
Both of us studied in a college situated in a small town of Odisha, India. Nata came from a place outside of Odisha which was famous for hooliganism. He was as such very amicable, always laughing but very short tempered. He loved to play pranks with students of college as well as common people for which enraged victims retaliated sometimes. He used to be infuriated for minor conflicts which should be ignored but he would not hesitate to hit someone for that. None in the college except me wanted to be associated with him due to his bad temperament. Both of us in combination used to be engaged in nefarious acts which we thought to be practical jokes. At present, I feel ashamed when I recapitulate our activities during those past years.
He used to stay in hostel and had no relative or family member in the town but I was staying with my parents in our ancestral home. Very often people came to our home, enumerated my misdeeds in loud voice before my mother who was very strict and liked discipline. She used to abuse me in front of them only to pacify them. She did not take any stern action against me as I was her only one dear loving son.
This continued until one morning when she lost her patience. My mother, who used to cover all of my guilt with a screen of love, caught my left forearm by her right hand and dragged me out of the home. She shouted at me, “Get out of my house you naughty rascal. I don’t want to see the face of a son like you until I am alive. I will prefer to be sonless than to have a wicked son like you.” I was stunned, humiliated and infuriated. How could she drive out her own son from home being a mother? Is it a motherly act? I also shouted back, “You scoundrel, witch, I will never come to this house again even if I perish.” I walked with long steps to a nearby temple and sat on its veranda.
Gradually morning, afternoon and evening passed. My anger placated with time when hunger overtook me. I was sitting still. Her acts of love dawned in my mind slowly.
The way she used to feed me with her hand, staying awake throughout the nights when I used to fall sick! How she protected me from the onslaught of anger of my father! The loving gestures of my mother flashed vividly in my mind. Why and how did it happen! What foolish acts did I do! Tear rolled down my cheek when her loving face flashed in my mind. I just remembered my naughty acts. We thought the acts to be practical jokes but that inflicted pain and sorrow to others. What I thought to be games were real cruel acts. I was laughing when the victims used to cry. Then and there repentance came to my soul. I continued to think, ‘where to go? Could I live without my mother?’
It was late evening when I saw my mother coming from a distance with small steps. Her eyes were swollen. The dried up tear mark from her eyes along her cheeks were distinctly visible. I stared at her face, could not control myself and burst into tear when she reached me. After few minutes I knelt down in front of her and mumbled, “Mom, excuse me, I swear not to do any wrong act until I am alive.” At this juncture she lost her control and cried loudly.” Both of us hugged each other tightly.
I didn’t tell Nata anything about mother-son episode. A great mental change overtook me from that day onwards. I felt light in my head as if a load lying on me for a long time was removed. Thereafter, I devoted myself to study. My association with Nata continued but I did not take any active part in his activities.
One day Nata surprised me when he told, “My dear friend, I have fallen in love with a girl.” With a smile I queried, “Which girl’s fate is going to be doomed?”
“Shut up’’, replied he, “no no, I have started loving her earnestly.”
“Does she love you? ”
“I don’t know, but she is in talking terms with me. I feel splendid when I see her. She is in our college, less than three standards of our class. You must have known her. Her name is Madhu.”
I lied and told him, “I don’t know any Madhu. I see all the girls of the college but that does not mean I know all of them.”
“She is occupying my mind both in college and hostel. My study is reduced to zero. I don’t know what to do! Probably I will fail in the university exam of this class.”
Gently I advised him, “Please study with concentration. This is final year and the exam is drawing near.”
I learnt later from other friends that he used to meet her and hand over small gifts. Madhu always refused to accept. “What shall I tell when father would ask where from I got that. He doesn’t like any love affair of the children. I can’t tell him the truth. If I speak, my college study would end. So please excuse me.” Nata used to get angry. He mustered courage one day and told Madhu, “I love you dearly and want to marry you.” Immediately Madhu ran away telling not speak about marriage again. Persistent Nata used to ask at intervals whether she would marry or not. Each time he got the denial answer. Gradually anger cumulated in the mind of Nata.
Three days before the last exam, Nata met her and asked, “Tell me the truth, do you love me or not.” Madhu replied, “I am sorry to say, I have never told you in the affirmative. Actually I love another boy.” Red with anger he shouted, “Who is that boy? What is his name? What does he do?” Without answering, Madhu left the place leaving Nata behind her trembling in anger.
Nata’s face looked flushed when he met me in the evening at my home. Both of his fists were tightly clenched. He walked to and fro in my room restlessly. I was certain that something bad is going to happen. I had seen such feature previously when he finalizes to hit someone. He mumbled, “I will not spare her, never, not at all. How dare she refuse me and tell that she loves someone else? For two years she has been associating with me and ultimately today she tells that she loves someone else. So proud of her beauty! Treachery with me! She will face its consequence definitely.” After a little pause he told, “I will throw concentrated sulfuric acid on her face. Neither she will have the beauty nor a lover; even nobody will spit on her face.” I was terrified. I was sure, he would definitely harm her.
I tried to pacify, “Don’t be enraged so much. Your blood pressure will rise and you will fall ill. Tell me, what happened.” Nata told me about his lost love in detail. I was convinced that Madhu associated with him only due to fear. Who would love the renowned goon of the college? He would definitely harm her. This type of anger creeps on him at intervals. In order to pacify him, I told him, “Well, you come tomorrow and we will plan something. You are not in a mental state to take decision today.”
He came to my home in the next evening. I thought he would have calmed down by that time and would not come. On the contrary, he came just in time. I took him to my study room and asked, “What do you want?” “If she is not mine then she will not be anyone else’s. I will definitely throw acid on her face.”
I tried to pacify him. “Hey friend, don’t be so angry. Remember, she is a girl and she has a choice and mind also. Love is not exchanged like books. The flow of pure love should be from both sides. Probably she has no love for you. Please forget her. Such one sided love is not tenable.” He stared at me with red fiery eyes and told, “Well, I don’t need your help. I can do myself whatever is required.” I was terrified to see those eyes. Ragging and commenting are different acts from throwing of acid. I sat there against my will. At last I asked, “What do you want to do?”
“I will bring a bottle of acid from the market which you will keep in your room. I have selected the last day of our exam. She usually goes to temple alone in the evening. I will go there in the evening and hide behind one of the trees near the temple. You will also hide with me and keep the acid bottle with you. One borrowed motorcycle will be kept hidden at some distance. Just blow whistle to let me know if you find someone else coming. I will throw the acid when she would come to the temple. Then I will run towards the hidden motorcycle and drive to hostel. I will collect my luggage, go to railway station and leave this place for ever. That evening will be my last stay here and I will go back to my home.” I was relieved a bit as he didn’t tell me to throw the acid.
I told him, “What will be our fate if we are caught red handed by any chance? Both of us will land up in jail.” “Since when have you become so timid?” he answered. “My plan is foolproof and certainly we will be safe.” I kept quite. How could I have told him about my violent mother! I had nothing more to tell after that. My heart beat accelerated on the mere thought of the plan. My mother would strip away my skin from the body or cremate me then and there in the ground if I am caught due to bad luck.
On the day before the final exam he brought a big bottle with wide opening, half filled up with acid, and handed over to me. I hid the bottle behind my back carefully and moved towards my room slowly to avoid spilling of the acid. Suddenly my mother shouted from my back, “Hey, what is that you are hiding?” Spontaneously I answered, “It is a reagent, used in chemistry lab. I will practise in home for the exam.”
At last the scheduled D-day arrived. I put the bottle in my bag and went towards temple. The temple area was deserted at that time. Nata hid behind a big tree. He had a dark cap on head, mask on face, a pair of blue glasses on eyes and gloves in hands. He took the bottle carefully from me. Again we looked around to see if anyone was there.
Evening set in. We saw Madhu coming slowly with elegant walk and reached near the place we hid. All on a sudden Nata ran towards her, emptied the bottle on her face. With shrill voice shouted Madhu, “Oh my God, I am killed with burning pain, I am killed.” Suddenly from nowhere appeared a tall strong man with a large stout stick and ran towards Nata who also ran towards the motor cycle placed at a distance and drove away. The man could not catch up with him.
All along my heart beat very fast and I was trembling with fear. Sweating profusely, I also ran back to my home. Fortunately my mother was not there at home. I entered the bathroom straight forth, undressed and stood nude below the shower of water for quite a long time. I felt that my sin might have been washed away.
I could not sleep throughout that night. As soon as I felt drowsy, the voice of Madhu, “I am killed, I am killed”, echoed in my ears that brought me awake. I could not imagine what would happen to me if by chance mother could know my role. As an accomplice, I am also guilty for the act that was committed. I prayed God to pardon me. A bad friendship can wreak havoc. I slept towards dawn and woke up at ten o’clock in morning.
To my utter surprise, there was no sequel to that incidence. Nothing came out in news paper or in digital media. There was no discussion about the event in the town. My discomfort grew more gradually. It appeared so very unnatural to me. Later I thought, probably Madhu left the town out of fear or might have gone for treatment to some remote established hospital without disclosing the crime either to police or her relations. She also might have moved away to avoid media. My heart cringed as I visualised the possible burnt face of Madhu. Alas! The innocent girl’s face must be looking terribly black. Nobody would come forward to marry her. Her life would be doomed. With heavy heart thereafter, I often used to think of Madhu. The guilty conscience caught me like pincers of a crab. I could not excuse myself on any account.
My life completely changed thereafter. I undertook a course of master of computer application. After completion of the course I joined in my first job at Bengaluru and kept myself busy in my work. After an interval of one year, I came home without any prior intimation to see my parents. My mother was very happy to see me.
An unknown car arrived in front of our house in the next evening. The persons in the car were invited by my parents to our lounge. After a few minutes I was called in to join them. My father introduced me to them, “He is Mr. Manmath Samant, his wife and daughter.” I greeted all of them. Mr. Manmath told me to go to my room with his daughter and talk with her. Further he told, “There is no hurry.”
I glanced at the girl. She looked like Madhu. She asked, “Do you recognize me?”
“No”, I said.
“I am Madhu. Do you remember now?”
I trembled inside. Has she come to abuse me for my past deed! Recollecting the past I shrank with shame. I looked at her and saw no disfigurement or scar in her face. Has she undergone a plastic surgery? How could it be that she is looking more beautiful at present than past days? I could not solve the puzzle. She continued, “Why don’t you answer me?”
“Probably you are thinking about my features that are as beautiful as in the past?”
“I am deeply sorry for my past deed. I have already repented and decried myself for my ghastly deed. Please forget the past and excuse me,” I told.
“You did not commit any ghastly deed, rather you helped me,” she told. Hearing this, I was thoroughly surprised. Wide eyed, I looked at her incredulously.
“How come”, I asked her in disbelief?
“Just think, where is burn mark on my face? Actually your mother and you saved me from that upcoming disaster.”
“But how could it be”, I spoke in utter surprise?
My mother entered into the room at this juncture. She told, “I did not believe you when you told me to excuse you on the day I drove you out of house. You had a bad friend. I kept an eye on all of your activities. You know the proverb: tell me your friend and I will tell who you are. I guessed something bad is going to happen on the day you brought your unruly friend to our house. I stood close to the other side of the door of your room and heard all of your talk about the flinging of acid. I was convinced that you have mentally changed.”
“Do you remember the day you brought the acid? When I asked what you are hiding, unnerved, you told that was a reagent to be used in chemistry lab. You forgot that you were a student of Arts, not science. Immediately I detected your lie. I took out that bottle when you were not in home. I could know there is acid in the bottle when I smelled that. I threw away the content of the bottle and washed with four bucket full of water. Further I cleaned and filled up the bottle with water up to the same level of acid that was there. Both Nata and you could not notice the change.” I started thinking, then why did Madhu shout I am killed, I am killed!
“Listen what I did”, continued mother. “I went to Madhu’s house and told her, “Dear Madhu, I live in a house near the temple you often visit. You know Nata of your college. He has planned to throw acid on you.” She turned pale out of fear that was written all over her face. I continued, “Don’t be afraid. I have made a plan to escape his onslaught. My son is his intimate friend. Nata has entrusted my son to keep the acid with him. I have changed the acid to water when I knew their plan. I will keep a strong man hidden behind a tree with a long thick stick in hand. I will also hide there with a blanket. Nothing untoward will happen to you.”
“Nata is a wicked person. Such persons commit the crime once they decide to do. He will do the harm to you anytime, may be today or anytime in future definitely. We can’t check him. Once he thinks that he has done the work, he will not come here and will not keep any news about this incident. You know fear is the greatest enemy of human being.
“What will be my role”, Madhu asked.
“You just shout, Oh my God, I am killed with burning pain, I am killed”, when some liquid from the bottle is thrown on you. If he tries to touch you, you shout, “Save me, save me.” That is all you have to do. You may ask your parents to join us. They may stand hidden on his return path.”
Madhu told, “I shouted at the top of my voice as advised by aunt (my mother) as soon as liquid was thrown on me.” Nata ran for his life as soon as the strong man arrived from nowhere. I turned back to see that scene and suppressed my laughter with much difficulty.”
“I have a doubt. Did he not query, whether my face has been burnt or not?” I replied Nata, “Yes, her face has been turned into a mass of coal.” All of us laughed loudly.”
“But you told him that you loved someone else.”
“Oh, that one! I told just to escape from his persistent approach.”
“A little while ago, you told that I helped you. I don’t remember helping you on any count.”
“Unknowingly you have rendered the greatest benefit for me. Just think, you brought your friend to your home, for which your mother could detect the plan and acted accordingly. Otherwise we would not have known the plan and I could not have escaped the hazard.”
Mother continued, “Madhu met me seven days after that incidence, touched my feet and said “Aunty, you saved my life. I can’t forget your help in this life. You protected me just like a mother. May I call you ‘mom’?” I smiled and told her, if you really want to call me mother, be my daughter-in-law so that you would get the privilege of calling me mother genuinely.”
Wide eyed, I looked at my mother and told, “I didn’t know you to be so intelligent. For so many years you kept this a secret from me. I would have got rid of the guilty conscience had I known this before.” I tightly hugged my mother.
“For this guilty conscience you could become a perfect man, otherwise you would have continued to be a wicked person. Sometime, parents have to endure unspeakable trouble in order to get their children grow.”
Mother took me to a short distance and asked, “ok, would you like to marry this girl?”
“Yes,” I said with a low voice. Hearing this Madhu’s face glowed with happiness and shame. I also loved Madhu in my mind for which I also washed the bottle once without knowing that mother had already washed that. I wrote many love letters and poems for Madhu but did not send to her. If I had disclosed my love, Nata would have thrown the acid on me instead of Madhu.
I thought I will give a surprise to Madhu by showing these letters on the first night of our union after marriage.