From time immemorial Raja was the ugly duckling in every class he had been. He was short, stubby and very dark complexioned, and was always the source of ridicule amongst his friends in school, so much so that his nickname was “AsingaRaja”.
It was not his fault he came from a low class family, with Dad a bus driver & Mom a Flower shop vendor. It was not his fault that both were dark complexioned, but none of his friends seemed to understand that.
He tried hard to shed that name by trying everything he can, from excess make-up, to spending excessive time in front of mirror trying different styles. His favorite actor was Dhanush who made him feel people like him can look good with some good makeup.
With the constant ridiculing he passed through 12 years of his school life, and not blessed with much academic prowess he got into a Polytechnic college outskirts of the city.
He usually went in that bus daily, when he first spotted her. She was fair, tall, lean, everything he couldn’t be and instantly he fell in “Love” with her. He saw she wore a school dress of a school near his Polytechnic. As he was in dream-land, she got off and went away before he could tail her.
Next week or so he couldn’t see her, he purposely tried different bus timings to catch her somewhere, but it was not possible. As he was beginning to give up hope, he saw her again, this time not wanting to repeat the previous mistake, he got down immediately behind her, his friends screamed at him, that this was not their stop, he ignored them and followed her. He didn’t care if he went late to his college, because of this sojourn, he didn’t care if it rained, or even a volcano erupted next to him. All he wanted was to see her.
Next few weeks, he located the bus stopping she hailed from, and by the help of conductor uncle, who was his Dad’s close friend, he got her name from her Bus pass. DIVYA. ‘Soon to be Divya Raja’, he dreamt.
Next day he officially “introduced his girl friend” to his friends. They all congratulated him on his “achievement” His friends asked when he was gonna propose to her, His friend gave idea to write a romantic love letter.
“Machi, ella ponnungalum azhagana love letter a padicha udanae mayangiduvaanga. Nee mattum nalla letter onnu ezhudina mathadhu ellam ok dhan”
He went home wrote a letter based on the lyrics of all the romantic songs he had heard. He wrote & wrote like he had never wrote in any of the exams in his life so far. Finally after writing for 13 double sheets, he finished his “master-piece” read and re-read it proudly. He folded it and covered it with a pink cover he got from shop, and plastered a Red rose, he stole from his Mom’s shop, and thus he was all set for the eventful day tomorrow.
Next day he woke up early, bathed and dressed in his cleanest Polytechnic dress, spent double the time than he usually does in front of Mirror, checking and rechecking whether he looked the best.
He went to her stop, boarded the bus behind her, entire journey he was mentally rehearsing the various ways to propose her. He got off behind her, then finally mustered all the courage he can and confronted her.
That day was uneventful for her, she was on her way to write her Mid-Term Maths exam, when suddenly a guy confronted her, He was a Polytechnic student she gathered from the dress he wore, and to be frank she thought ‘He is hideous looking’. He was obviously very nervous, and tried to blurt out some movie song, she knew where this was going and was dreading it. In the end of a very poorly rehearsed monologue, he said ‘I love you’ and gave a Pink colored letter with a Red Rose.
Tears started pouring out of her eyes, as she didn’t know what to do, she cried and ran away from that place. Evening she went home and blurted everything to her parents. Her Dad, a Police Constable, was extremely angry on hearing it.
Next day he accompanied her to the stop, and there he was, the guy who proposed her. She pointed finger at him. Her Dad reassured her to go to school and he will take care of everything, grabbed the guy by the scruff of his neck and dragged him away from the bus stop to his station.
He was a extremely pious and short tempered man, who wore his caste even more prouder than his Police Badge. When he heard the incident from his daughter he wanted to thrash the guy into pieces. The next day when he got hold of the guy he took him to the station, and with the help of other constables, beat the guy black and blue.
He abused Raja extremely, to the point he began comparing both their appearances,
“Yaen da, karuppa panni madhiri irukura unaku, sevapa azhaga irukura en ponnu kekudho, endha dhairiyathu la da en ponnu kitta vandhu love letter kodutha? Un moonji ya nee kannadi la parthirukiya? Ungappan yaaru panniya, panniya irundha kooda innum konjam nalla paiyana pethirupaan”
After some heavy thrashing, abusing and a little advising, he finally asked his parents to come and collect them from the Station and warned them too of severe consequences if it ever happened again.
After they left, he felt a little bad if he over did the punishment, but he reassured himself ‘I did what every responsible Dad would have done’
That day he could never forget, more than the physical abuse, it was the mental abuse that really hurt him. It took him 2 weeks to return to normalcy, and further 2 weeks for the physical wounds to heal and for him to go to college. Surprisingly his parents didn’t say a word about it after that, presumably out of sympathy and humiliation, he thought.
Inside him there was a burning desire to take revenge. But he was after all a Polytechnic student and her Dad was a police constable, there was no way he could take revenge on him. That’s when his friend suggested,
“Machi ava azhaga irukaradhala dhane ella prechanaiyum, pesaama ava moonji la acid oothidu. Ella prechanai um mudinjidum. Aparam ava moonji kevalama aagidum, vera yaarum avala kalyaanam pannika maatan, Unna paarthu kaari thuppina avan appan naaliku un kaal la yae vandhu vizhundhu ponna katti ka solli keppan”
He liked the idea very much, plus it was very cost effective too he thought. His friend assured him he could get a concentrated acid for about 100 rupees, “Adhulam periya matter illa machi, naan arrange panni tharaen’, he reassured.
Then he feared, what if he gets caught by Police, his friends suggested, after its done, they all go to their respective native places, stay there for 2 weeks, and then return. They decided to wear a black mask and do it on the way from where she got down from the bus to school, as that place was deserted most of the time.
His friend had got the acid as he assured, and first they tested a bit of the acid by pouring it on a plant. He saw as he poured, the plant wilt in front of his eyes, with a pungent odour emanating. He felt a weird sense of pleasure. Tomorrow the same is gonna happen on her face and at the end of it we both will be the same, he thought and grinned foolishly.
Next day, his friend brought his bike, they waited by her bus stop for her to board the bus, and followed it. Just before her stop, they overtook the bus, put on their masks and waited by the alley near the bus stop.
As soon as she left the bus, they ran towards her.
As she was going to the school, she saw couple of masked men running towards her with a bottle in their hand. Before she could comprehend what was happening, one of them opened the bottle and poured it on her face. At first her whole face became numb, there was a bright flash of light, then everything became dark, then the unbearable burning sensation began, she tried to rub it off, but her hands started to burn too, and finally she let out a endless shriek of agony that pierced the early morning silence.
As he poured a little bit spilled on his hands, he could think of that, as he quickly ran back and started the bike, as he heard her scream behind, He quickly looked around and saw nobody had noticed it yet, and sped away in his bike.
As he sped away, he started to feel the unbearable burning sensation in his hands, he thought by the end of all this he will feel relieved, pleasurable and the sense of triumph. But he felt none of it. He started feeling guilty, a drop of the acid in his hands caused that much pain, he was frightened to imagine what the girl must be undergoing. He then thought, ‘That b**ch deserved it for her Dad’s actions’.
As he neared his home the pain was unbearable, he asked his friend if he could borrow his bike to the nearby hospital to treat and then they all could escape the town.
After getting the bike, he started speeding towards the hospital which was beyond the railway crossing near his home. As he was driving he was thinking of the only acid he remembered, H2SO4. His Chemistry teachers voice, still echoing in his ears,
“Dei Raja, Sulphiric Acid a vechi velayaadatha da. Adhu romba diluted form la udambula pattalae thol vendhudum”
The guilt began to increase, tears started rolling down his eyes, as he realised the magnitude of the action he had done.
As he saw the Railway crossing was free, although it was barricaded, a possible train was coming he thought, but there was always a sideway which motorists used to cross even after it was barricaded, as he saw both sides he saw the approaching train was very far away and the pain in his hand was unbearable, he had to go to the hospital quickly. So he calculated mentally, he could easily pass the crossing before the train approached. He sped the bike and as he manoeuvred through the narrow barricade, he realised the train was too close than he calculated….
There was a loud noise, as the tea kadai owner, near the level crossing, saw a bike and a man thrown 20 feets up in the air and fall around 100 feets away from the crossing.
“Ivan usuroda iruka vaipae illa”,
1. I wrote this short story affected by the recent increase in frequency of Acid attacks. Its highly disturbing to see people resort to such regressive attempts. I tried to understand the mindset behind committing such regressive actions, how criminals get abused mentally, physically & socially before they attempt this. That being said, not all criminals go through this, there are few psychopaths who do this with least provocation, just to see others in pain. Such beasts of humanity should never be allowed to lead a public life in my opinion.
2. Such poetic justice, occurs only in short stories, as in real life, such criminals are let off free in more than 90 percent of the cases. A disturbing statistics i read yesterday was that “Of all the crimes that occur in India, more than 30 percent are by Jail Convicts, escapees and criminals released earlier than their sentenced time. Thats 30 percent more lives we can save, by implementing the law strictly. As long as the law doesn’t become strict enough to punish such miscreants, such kinda incidents keep happening.