The Evil Twin
The Evil Twin
It was another one of those bleak, gloomy nights. I was sitting on the side railings of an old bridge staring at the calmness of the river below. I wondered if the river too, like me, concealed a wild storm beneath all the calmness. A cold breeze flew swiftly across me as my body cramped up a bit in desperate need of warmth. I remembered how I was deprived of warmth throughout my life. When I was a two-year-old crying with other kids in the orphanage, when the orphanage owner had thrashed me up for not cleaning the floor properly, when I had finally managed to escape the orphanage but had to sleep on the street, all I craved for was warmth. I lifted myself off the railing, rummaged through all my pockets and finally found a cigarette, my alternative for warmth, and decided to head back home.
Just a block away from my home, I saw a guy running straight towards me. The street light above was flickering so I couldn't see his face properly. Initially, I didn't think he was running towards me. But after throwing a quick glance over my shoulders, I realized the road was deserted, and so it was me his fiery eyes were looking at. I didn't know this guy, but clearly, he was furious. As he came closer and closer, I could see his face more clearly, and I was bewildered by what I saw. This guy looked exactly like me except that he was poorly thin and pale. He seemed like an ill, disgusted version of me. But before I could ask him who he was and whether he knew me, he crashed a punch right into my face, and then into my rib cage, and he kept on trouncing me. A few blows later, I fell down on my back. I was in severe pain. I tried to retaliate initially, but he was too rampant to control and also, after a few more strong blows, there wasn't much left in me to stand up to him. Lying on the ground, I saw the street light still flickering. It hadn't given up to the darkness. And so wasn't I going to give up.
Once I was on the floor, he put his legs to work. He kept on kicking me, and when he was done, he crouched next to me and told me that this is what I deserve for doing what I did to him. " But I don't even know you. Who the hell are you? ", I screamed back at him. "Who the hell am I? Huh? Okay, maybe this will help you remember me", and he pulled out a gun. I panicked. " Wh. . what . . is. . th. . Listen, I sw. . swear I don't know you. Maybe you are mistaking me for someone else. Please leave me ", I pleaded with tears in my eyes. "Yeah, sure," he laughed sardonically and loaded the gun as he aimed it at me. I tried getting up, but my legs had been brutally battered. I had to do something. I couldn't just stay there lying while some guy took my life away just like that. I tried getting up again. This annoyed him. He kicked me back to the ground first and then he used the heavy metal gun to pound on my head. This was it. I started losing consciousness.
My eyes started closing and opening involuntarily. I was trying hard to keep them open. I managed to somehow see what happened next, but only in flashes. So all that I saw was . . he was about to press the trigger when a guy wearing a big jacket suddenly emerged from an adjacent lane and stopped him, but I couldn't identify him as he had his back turned towards me. . . . The jacket guy took off his jacket's hood which left my assailant dumbfounded. . my assailant then pointed the gun at the jacket guy. . finally, my assailant threw his gun and fell to his knees, covered his face with his palms. He clearly was distressed. A few moments later, the jacket guy disappeared swiftly into the darkness. The flickering of the street light had now intensified. And with it, my heart rate also started escalating as I saw darkness spreading in all possible directions. After a while, the flickering light finally quit, and the darkness now managed to spread everywhere, even inside my eyes as they succumbed finally to the darkness, making me unconscious.
My eyes opened and all of the wounds from last night suddenly scowled at me. I groaned in agony. There was an old television set right in front of me. My assailant was sitting on a chair next to me, eating a variety of food items placed on a small table in front of him. He was eating haphazardly as if he had been hungry for months. There was a comedy movie playing on the TV, and unlike last night, my assailant seemed cheerful and happy. I tried to get up from the chair when I realized I had been tied to the chair I was sitting on. I tried force breaking the rope at first but the knot was just too strong. My assailant understood my discomfort as he wished me a 'Good morning' with a smug smile on his face.
A few minutes later, I started agitating the rope vigorously while I stared at him, not in an attempt to break it but to express my anger. My assailant didn't bother at all as he just kept on munching his food and laughed as he enjoyed the movie. By now, the animals in my stomach too had started roaring in anger. " I want food," I screamed at him after a while. He just looked at me, turned back to the TV and continued watching the movie. A few minutes later, he got off his chair, went to the washroom and returned with a napkin, drying his washed palms. Then, he removed a gun tucked between his waist and his jeans. Using the same napkin for polishing the gun, he slowly walked up to me. I started panicking. He picked up the small table containing all his half-eaten food and placed it right in front of me.
Then untying my hands, he gestured me to eat that food and sat back on his chair with the gun pointing at me. If not for my tied legs, I would've kicked the table right then. I almost puked even thinking about eating it. "There's no way I am eating that," I said looking disgustingly at the leftover food. "Then I suppose, you're going to have to stay hungry for the whole day," he said very calmly and tied me up again. He went into the kitchen with the food and returned after a few seconds. His face looked too calm, totally opposite to what it looked like last night. "Do you need to go to the toilet now?" , he asked me. "What do you mean by now?" , I blurted out. "I am leaving for work. And you'll be tied the whole day. So you know, either now or in the night. One of the very few decisions you can take in this house ", he guffawed scratching his head with the gun. "But you can't do this to me. I mean. . . "
"I can do whatever I want," he interrupted in a calm tone. But his intense eyes were suggestive of his anger. "You see this gun. I can make a stammerer to sing, and I can make a cripple to dance if I want, using this thing. So, don't you dare doubt about me controlling your bowel movements, because trust me, I can fucking tell you when to shit and pee". I didn't utter a word. I just stared into his fiery eyes. They seemed like they had gone through a lot. The pain that he was inflicting on me was probably the outcome of all the pain he had had to bear. "This thing's got power, buddy . . This thing's got a lot of power", he smiled, staring at his gun. "So, you want to use the toilet now?" , his anger had subsided by now, and his voice decibel levels had also returned back to normal. I nodded in affirmation. He quickly untied my hands and asked me to untie my legs while his gun aimed at me the entire time. I entered the toilet. It was very dark. There wasn't even a window inside. I asked him to turn on the lights to which he replied, "You in there to shit or read?"
After I came out, he told me to sit back on the chair. Then throwing a rope near me, he told me to tie my legs to the chair and made sure the knot was tight. He then told me to place my hands behind my back and tied them. Finally, he checked if the rope tying my legs was strong and once convinced, he ambled towards the door, opened the door but suddenly stopped and turned around. " You might wonder why you are going through all this. But trust me, you deserve this. I am doing this for you. You need all of this ", he replied with a big smile. I wondered what he meant by that. I wanted to ask him a lot of questions at that moment, but he escaped quickly, switching off the lights on his way out. There wasn't any other source of light. Like the toilet, there weren't any windows in the living room as well. My perplexed mind was left to wander in the gloomy darkness. And of all places it could take me to, it decided to take me to my initial days on the streets. . . .
I had just escaped from the orphanage and was searching for a place to live. But with the amount of money I had with me, there wasn't any place I could afford living in. I was sitting on a sidewalk thinking about what I could do next when I saw a family sitting near me. The kid was running to and fro hitting a tyre with a stick. He seemed elated whenever the tyre travelled a fair distance without falling down. His mother, a saree clad thin woman, was preparing for bedtime as she took out a big piece of cloth from a handbag beside her. Folding it over several times and placing it on the ground, she called out for her son. The kid, totally engrossed in watching the rolling tyre, couldn't hear her mother's weak, tiny voice. After a few more cries, she somehow managed to force herself to stand, walked up to her son, slapped his back and brought him back to his 'bed'.
The kid started crying as he was taken away from his tyre that had now tumbled down. He slept on the 'cloth bed' while his mother slept beside him on the ground. The sidewalk tiles beneath me suddenly started to feel colder than before. The mother pressed the kid against her chest and patted his back gently while singing a sweet lullaby. Within minutes, the kid stopped crying and fell asleep. She gestured her husband to lie down as well. All this while, he had been sitting beside her, staring at their son and the tyre he was playing with. He was gazing intently at the tyre that had toppled down, probably wondering if it could be able to stand and roll again, making his kid smile the same way again. His thoughts were interrupted, as the sweet voice of his wife encountered his ears. He turned towards the sleeping mother and son and a smile appeared across his face. His wife gestured him to lie down. " I will lie down in a while. You sleep". He watched the mother-son duo sleep soundly.
I went and asked if I could sit beside him. He patted the ground beside him with a smile indicating me to sit there. I introduced myself, and we started talking. His name was Rakesh. He was tall but frail. He hadn't shaved in days and both his hair and beard had turned grey. Every time he smiled, he looked creepy as he had lost the lower half of one of his teeth. I told him how I had just escaped the orphanage which was the worst place to live in. He too, told me about how he had come to the city with lots of hope and against his family's will but had experienced only losses in all of his ventures so far. Now, he worked at a small factory while his wife worked as a labourer. Even though they earned enough now, they had a lot of debt on them which is why they were hardly able to have 2 meals a day. I was saddened hearing his story.
I informed him that I needed some work. He quickly replied that a guy at the factory had recently left the job and there was a vacancy. I was delighted. He told me to accompany him to the factory next day and assured me that I'll get this job. Then after discussing various other things, he finally told me that he was sleepy. He adjusted his handbag as a pillow and offered me half of his 'pillow' to rest my head on. This was new for me. I felt blessed to have met such a nice guy. The stars above shone brightly, and the moon smiled back heartily at me. My eyes slowly began to close as I felt the sidewalk tiles beneath me. There was warmth in them now, they weren't cold anymore.
When my assailant returned in the night, he saw me toppled down along with the chair. He didn't say anything but just smiled. "I need a cigarette,"I screamed. "Sorry, I don't have one," he replied immediately. "Y. . you have to bring me a cigarette, I ca. . can't. . . I will die if I don't get to smoke now", I pleaded with tears in my eyes. I had been craving for a cigarette for the entire day. This time he decided to totally ignore my request and strolled towards me. "It seems like you tried to run away, didn't you? Listen, I know you don't want this, but there's nothing you can do about it. Even if you somehow manage to run out of this house, I can track you down and bring you back here ", he said with a smile as he brought my chair to a standing position and untied my hands and kept a plastic container in front of me.
"Why don't you understand that I need to fucking smoke?",I screamed as I quickly started untying my legs. He pulled me up by my hair and gave a severe blow to my head with the back of the gun. I held my head in dismay. "But why am I in here?What have I done?",I pleaded ardently. "You'll know that when the time comes. Now eat that food ", he replied, switching the TV on. "But I seriously need to smoke,"this time I cried like a small baby. He stared at me for a few seconds, and then removed a cigarette out of his pocket and threw one at me and just as I was picking up the cigarette, he threw the matchbox as well. I placed the cigarette in my mouth hurriedly and quickly lit the matchstick. Burning the cigarette, I exhaled smoke, and it felt like I had been just pulled out of an endless dark pit. Gazing at the smoke, I started reminiscing how I had stepped into that hole. . .
I had got the job at the factory as promised by Rakesh. Within a few days, I had made new friends there. Shekhar was one of them. He was a tall guy with broad shoulders, a muscular physique, and had a deep, husky voice which intimidated me until I had realized that he was indeed, very friendly. He used to invite me to various of his outings with his friends. I used to politely reject to the invitations initially because I didn't smoke or drink at that time. Also, it wasn't something I could afford to do since I had just started earning. He had sensed my hesitation and dragged me forcefully with him a few times initially and had paid for my drinks and cigarettes, after which the hesitation had disappeared completely. For an 18-year-old, who had just embarked into adulthood and who had been caged into an orphanage until now, this was like flying over the clouds. In the cigarette smoke I exhaled for the first time, I could see myself, escaping the cage behind me and flying into the skies, beaming with joy about the new found freedom.
But I had soon realized it was all an illusion, that I had chosen the wrong path. And rightly so, it was all downhill from there. There is a thin line of difference between need and greed. And when greed passes over need, that's when things start getting dirty, and you start losing control over yourself. I had mistaken all that Shekhar had introduced me to, for freedom. But it wasn't. It was an even larger and stronger cage. And steadily, even though aware of it, I was falling prey to this trap. It wasn't long enough that I got addicted to cigarettes. A day wouldn't end until I smoked dozens of cigarettes. I wanted to give up on this addiction, but it had gone well past my control now. It was affecting both, my work and my personal relationships. Rakesh had seen me smoking a lot of times and had tried telling me to keep it under control. He had stopped trying to convince me after I had told him not to interfere with my life. Soon, I also realized Shekhar and his friends weren't really cool people as my 18-year self had assumed initially. They were just a bunch of sad people who lived a monotonous, tiring life and their way of dealing with this was to get drunk and forget about it. It was as if they had accepted their fate.
The truth had started sinking into me slowly. I stopped hanging out with Shekhar and his friends. I was still very younger than them, so I knew I still had a chance to get my life back on track. I promised myself that I would never turn into one of those obnoxious people. The alcohol was easy to get rid of as I wasn't addicted much to it but getting rid of smoking was a hard row to hoe. Eventually, I got rid of alcohol, but smoking was still an issue. There had been some progress as the number of cigarettes per day had decreased, but it was still an addiction. One of the main reasons for this was that in this process of quitting my addictions, I had grown more and more lonely. I had chosen to stay away from Shekhar and his friends, and Rakesh had turned his back on me after I had been rude to him. Sometimes, I wouldn't even have a single conversation with anybody for the entire day. It was horrifying. Even worse than the orphanage. I used to spend most of my evenings at an old bridge, staring at the calm water. And just when I had thought that life couldn't be any worse, I had ended up here, in this dark shady hell.
My assailant laughed boisterously keeping his eyes transfixed on the television set. I kept staring at the television set as it reflected back blurry images. The monstrous laugh too slowly started subsiding, and all I could hear clearly was the sound of my heartbeat, quivering woozily like a candle flame yet managing to keep the light alive. And if this flame would have to face the wild breeze even once again, it'd inevitably surrender. And all those images won't be blurry anymore for they would lose their light. And all that I'd be left staring at would be complete absolute darkness. . .
I was staring blankly at the wall clock, wondering about how the last six months had been. They had seemed no less than six years. Every morning for the past six months, I would be woken up by my assailant hastily. I would open my eyes, scared and palled by the sudden collision with reality, and his smile suggested he liked that expression of fear. Then he would lock me up in the toilet until he got ready for work. I was supposed to do 'all my things' during this time. Once, when I wasn't done with 'my things' in time, he had kept me locked in the toilet and left for work. The toilet hadn't been washed in months, and the smell was so strong that I had puked. It was the first and the only time that had happened. Thereafter, I would make sure that I finished my things in time so that I didn't end up spending the whole day inside that stinky hell. Once out of the toilet, the gunpoint would guide me to the chair where my assailant would then tie my legs to the chair and place my breakfast in front of me. In the few minutes that followed, I would eat as much food as I can and drink as much water as I can because I wouldn't get any of it until my assailant returned in the evening. Then, tying my hands up, he would amble towards the door and push the light switches next to it before leaving the house. Also, on many occasions before leaving, adorning a smile, he would tell me that I deserved whatever he was doing to me.
Once left into the darkness, my mind would be left exploring the nooks and corners of the dark room and pondering over all that its walls had witnessed. It would soon wander off to the good times when I wasn't tied up and wasn't tortured in this sombre dark room. I used to think about things I would do when I would be finally free from my assailant and away from this depressing place. All these things managed to keep me occupied initially. 'However long the night, the dawn will break', I used to tell myself. But with time, I started losing topics to think about in the darkness. I just wished for time to pass. There also came days when I tried thinking of something, but I couldn't and ended up trying to just sleep throughout the day and wait until my assailant arrived in the evening. Life was getting more and more tedious, and with every passing day, my mind was telling me that I might never be free again, that I might never be able to see the outside world again and that I should be prepared to face all of it.
The only good thing that had happened in the last 6 months was that I had gotten rid of cigarettes. It had happened very slowly, and there had been many breakdowns on the way, but in the end, I was proud of myself, even though it was my assailant who had forced me out of this addiction. Somehow, the newly found pride had injected a tinge of positivity inside me and given birth to a new tiny ray of hope. Hope - It is a good breakfast they say, but a bad supper. It was something that had kept me going initially. But with time all my hopes were slowly succumbing to the evil powers hovering in that house. I had started accepting that there were very fewer chances of me getting out of that house and that I needed a miracle to help me out of this situation. Until one day, that miracle really happened. I finally escaped. . only to return to the same house again.
It was a bright sunday morning. Sunlight crept in through the partially open door and travelled across the living room in a straight line. I was having my breakfast with my eyes fixed on the TV. An advertisement informing about a comedy movie that was going to be telecasted the next morning showed up. I remembered this movie. It was the same movie I had seen about six months ago when I was first brought here. I imagined how much my life had changed in the past six months. I had not seen a single person except for my assailant, which was just like looking in a mirror, except that we had different body-builds. I threw a quick glance at him as he ate his breakfast while speaking on the phone. He wasn't weak anymore. He had put on a lot of weight in the past six months and looked completely healthy. Staring at the gun sleeping soundly on his lap, I wondered if it was responsible for his increased strength. Whereas my physique, on the other hand, had slipped down to the lowest state. It seemed as if we had acquired each other's frames in the past six months.
Someone had been constantly calling my assailant that morning. The initial calls had been pretty short and formal. But with the increasing number of calls and probably because of the tone on the other end, my assailant was getting frustrated. Very soon, the discussion turned into an intense, heated argument, loud enough to distract me from my breakfast. Just then, a beep sound interrupted him as he saw his mobile screen. It was a low - battery warning. He got up quickly and started searching for his charger. Meanwhile, the gun had swiftly slipped down his laps and landed on the chair he was sitting in. He was in the room inside. 'If I could somehow get my hands on that gun, I am free again', I told myself. I quickly started untying my legs, but the knot was on my backside where my hands were unable to reach. I realized that it was my only opportunity and I had to somehow get to the gun. So, I abandoned untying my legs and jumped towards the other chair along with the chair tied to my feet. I fell just a foot short but managed to grab one of the legs of the chair.
Hearing a sound, my assailant quickly rushed out in the living room. I pulled the chair closer and quickly snaffled the gun and pointed it at him. "Don't you dare. . ", he screamed at me and started rushing towards me. In reply, my trembling hands quickly pressed the trigger, but the bullet missed the target. My assailant stopped right there. " Listen, trust me. You should not be hurting me. If you hurt me, you are going to end up in trouble too. Give that gun to me, and I promise you that I'll leave you. Please listen. . ". I interrupted him with another bullet. This one missed as well. But I was just so overwhelmed with this feeling, that it didn't matter if the bullet hit him or not. He was dancing to my tunes, and that's all mattered to me right now. I wanted to see fear on his face.
He had realized that words were not going to calm me down anymore. So, he slowly started to move towards the door while trying to convince me to give back his gun. I understood his move and pressed the trigger again. This was the first time in my life I was holding a gun, so I wasn't surprised when the bullet missed him this time as well. He took advantage of the situation as he quickly escaped through the door. The door was wide open now, and plenty of sunlight barged into the living room. All these months, I had been craving for a single ray of light, and now I suddenly had plenty of it. I could sense freedom flowing in through me as I inhaled the fresh air. Quickly untying my legs then, I rushed out of the house. But he had disappeared until then. Just then, I realized I was seeing the outside world after such a long time. The hot sun above my head, the cars honking unnecessarily; nothing bothered me anymore like it would have, six months ago. I was able to breathe properly again unlike inside that house where I always felt suffocated. And so, I began searching for my assailant to kill him and avenge for all that he made me go through for the past six months. After searching for him throughout the day, I finally saw him on an isolated road in the night. Without any second thoughts, I rushed towards him. He saw me but acted as if he didn't know me. I started with a few blows until he fell down to the ground after which, I started kicking him.
I bent down close to his face and told him that this is what he deserves for what he had done to me. He was confused and said that he didn't even know me. I apparently thought that he was lying, to somehow escape before I would kill him. So, I pulled out the gun and pointed it at him. He panicked and started screaming. He said that he really didn't know me and that maybe I was mistaking him for someone else. He didn't stop at that as he started crawling with his injured legs, trying to run away from me. This infuriated me. This guy had tortured me both physically and mentally for the past six months, he had made my life miserable, and now he thought he could outrun a bullet with his injured legs? He had to stay still there and bear whatever I did to him for what he had done to me. He had to fucking watch the bullet come out of the gun and pierce his body, taking his life away while my soul laughed boisterously. So, I punched his head hard with the end of the metal gun and turned him around. His eyes began to close and open as he started losing consciousness. I aimed the gun at him and placed my finger over the trigger. Just then, a guy wearing a big jacket arrived there and stopped me from pressing the trigger. On asking who he was, he simply pulled down the hood over his head. I was shocked. This guy too, looked like my assailant. He understood my bewilderment and started explaining me everything.
"I am the one who's been torturing you for the past six months and not him," he said pointing at the guy on the floor. Hearing this, I turned the gun towards him. He continued, "First listen to everything that I tell you. Then do whatever you want. " I nodded in affirmation while still keeping the gun pointed at him. "See, this is a bit hard to digest, but you, me and that guy on the ground there, all of us are the same person. I am your 6-months future self while that guy is your 6-months past self. "He realized that I was completely baffled. Yet, he decided to continue further. "Now, the reason I did what I did to you was that I had been told so by my 6-months future self, exactly 6 months ago when you were lying down on the ground there while I was in your place, holding that very gun. And now, you have to do the same with your 6-months past self as well", he said, pointing at the guy on the floor. "What? No. You can't tell me what to do. Besides, if I kill you both, how would you. . ". "Don't even think about it," he interrupted abruptly. "Listen, there are very few things you can manipulate in time-travel and death clearly isn't one of them. If you kill me now, six months later that guy lying on the ground will kill you. And trust me, you can't change it. It's destiny".
I kept quiet for a while, trying to muse over all that he had told me. "And what if I kill him as well? ", I asked, pointing at my 6-months past self on the ground. " When you kill a person, all his/her future selves cease to exist. So, if you kill him, both of us will also die. That's the reason I didn't kill you for the past six months. If I would've killed you, I would've also died", he replied promptly. "Also, don't leave him on his own. You can see how sad and depressed he is. This is probably why he has developed an addiction to cigarettes. If you leave him on his own, he's not going to be able to take care of himself. So that's why, do all that I did with you for the past six months. Keep him away from cigarettes. Give him a life. " I couldn't think of anything anymore. I threw my gun away and covered my face with my palms. My assailant (or my 6-months future self) walked up to me and explained that it was just six months that I had to get through, after which life was going to be really great. He told me all that I had to do for the next six months, and once I was made aware of all my responsibilities, he disappeared into the darkness. I carried my 6-months past self back to the house and tied him to a chair.
After six months of hating it, I had finally managed to escape out of that house only to be forced back into the same house again. The next morning, I bought a lot of snacks to eat. I hadn't eaten enough in months. I ate a lot while watching the same movie I had watched six months back. Unlike the last time, I enjoyed the film a lot this time. After having eaten enough, I placed my leftover food in front of my 6-months past self which he straightaway ignored to eat. So, I began getting ready to leave the house. I was really excited. Unlike last night, I was more cheerful and excited to go and see the world outside. After getting ready, just as I was about to leave the house, I remembered something. I turned around and with a big smile, told him, " You might wonder why you are going through all this. But trust me, you deserve this. I am doing this for you. You need all of this, " and I closed the door on my way out, leaving him back in the darkness while I stepped out into the light, ready for this new inning of my life. The bright sun made me smile while all the trees around welcomed me into this lively world. I realized that I no longer was a person tortured and controlled by someone else. I was over my dreadful past and was heading towards a beautiful future. Content with that thought, I smiled back at those trees.