[Now, we want you to tell us what happened yesterday and whether it happened before. Everything you say is important. It may save your son or may send him to jail. Now you have been warned. But we prefer you tell the truth. Keep in mind we can always verify what you say. You can begin.]It began as an ordinary Sunday.

We give the servant an off day on Sundays because she’d come way too early in the morning and ring the bell. And we like to sleep in on Sundays considering it’s the only off day we have. Rahul’s mother, my wife, she just makes Maggi in the morning and we’d all sit around the table and eat it. A normal Sunday for a normal family.

Except we weren’t, a normal family that is.

Rahul was different. He would always assume the worst. No, it sounds wrong putting it that way. He-he always imagines something extraordinary when he sees something ordinary. Yes, that was it. And he always acts thinking that that extraordinary, was true.

In his childhood, we always passed it off as a child’s overactive imagination. He used to yell dragons and run off. He used to swing his ruler in the air and said he was fighting pirates. Now I know this all seems pretty ordinary for a child. But this continued for a long while.

It was, I think, when he was 9 years old that we understood how serious the situation was. Rahul was playing with his friend on the stairs when he pushed him off. The friend had a fall and slightly fractured his arm. When we asked why he pushed him off, Rahul said, with the utmost sincerity, that the pirates were going to cut his friend’s head off and thus, to save him, he pushed him.

Now this alerted us first to his situation. We had to leave our old house because of the incident and we moved into a new apartment. We sent Rahul to a counselor, who convinced him that there were no such things as dragons and pirates. It was all in his imagination. He was, well, ordinary, for a few years after that. There was no talk of monsters and no imaginary battles. The counselor and we both thought that he was finally cured of whatever it was that he had. Or so we thought.

It was 6 months before today, I think, that I first started having my doubts again. One day, police just suddenly came into our apartments and went into one of the flat owner’s house. It was one floor beneath us that this happened but we heard it from our neighbors. The police said that they received a call from an unknown person saying that a person he knew was smuggling guns and the caller gave them this address. The police did not find guns but they found many pirated film disks. They uncovered a piracy racket and were satisfied with that. They did not investigate the caller.

When Rahul first heard about this when we were talking around our dinner table, I saw his expression change. It was excited, but there was also disappointment. Excited I could understand, but disappointment? It was then that my doubt began. Was the caller Rahul? I asked myself. The counseling had gone so well and he had shown no signs of going back. But was he starting to, now?

I pushed all these thoughts away. I did not want to believe them. I did not want to believe Rahul, my child was not ordinary. That he was- he was- he was crazy in the head. I did not want to.

And nothing happened over these past 6 months again. I caught myself looking at Rahul continuously, without meaning to and I caught him looking back at me warily. We both knew we did this but we did not say anything. It was like this almost everyday and as I said, nothing happened.

Not until yesterday.

As I said before, sorry for my rambling till now-

[No-no, every part is important. We prefer you tell us everything, however insignificant it may seem.]

Thank you. As I said, it was an ordinary Sunday yesterday. After having our breakfast, my wife went out to meet a friend of hers. Rahul was watching TV and I was reading the newspaper. At around 10.30, the door bell rung. I told Rahul to open the door.

“Sir, I come from a non-profit organistaion trying to raise money for charities. I’m selling encyclopedias today. Can I speak to you for 10 minutes?” a rough voice said.

There was no reply from Rahul. I looked up from my newspaper and saw a rough looking man standing at the doorway with a big bang slung on his shoulder. Rahul was standing in front of him, holding the door, saying nothing. He just sort of stared at the man with a blank explanation.

The man saw me, and called out to me. “Sir, once check these out, sir. These encyclopedias are very useful both to you and your son. There are science encyclopedias, history, geography, biology – Sir, and all these come at a fair price.”

The man was rough looking, yes, but he was also very thin and he looked almost like a skeleton. He seemed to me like a man who was trying very hard just to live.

Now, I did not know what made Rahul stand there like that just looking at that man, I do now but, then, I just saw a salesman who was trying to be cheerful but looked like he would fall over any moment. So I invited him in to show me the books. I do not know whether I would have actually bought them but I wanted the man to rest for some time and maybe eat something too. My wife says that I am too kind for my own good but it’s just the way I was.

The salesman looked at Rahul who was still blocking the door. I said, “Rahul” and he looked at me, looked at the salesman and finally moved. At that time all that was on my mind was the thought ‘what can I offer him?’ because as I said, it was a Sunday and there was nothing cooked; and so, I did not notice Rahul’s odd behavior.

The man came in and I made him sit on the chair. Rahul sat on the sofa and I sat opposite to the salesman. The salesman started to take out the books and started explaining their uses to Rahul. I said I will be back with something to eat and went into the kitchen. I saw some apples and with them and a knife to slice them in a plate, I came back and set them on the tea-pai. The man looked at me gratefully and saying thank you he started eating slicing the apples and eating them.

All the while he was explaining about the encyclopedias. I went to get him some water from the dining table.

“Sir, and we are offering all these books at just rupees 3,999. At their original cost, it would be 14,999. This is a kill, sir. This is money well spent,” the salesman was concluding.

I had the water in my hands and was coming from behind the salesman. Rahul saw me and for the first time, I truly looked at him since the salesman came in. He was like in a trance first, but after the salesman spoke, it seemed like he was afraid, and then when he saw me coming from behind, he suddenly jumped up, grabbed the knife from the plate and slashed at the salesman.

[…]

[Can I have some water, please? …Thank You.]

The rest of it, you know. I did not understand what just happened. The salesman was lying on the floor, a cut in his neck spilling out his blood. I watched as the white rug turned red completely. The salesman was trying to speak with a terrified look in his eyes. I did not do anything, I could not. I was too shocked. It all happened so fast and ended so quickly.

Rahul was looking at the now dead salesman and kept repeating to himself, “I did the right thing. He was going to kill me and take all the money. I did the right thing. He was going to kill me and take all the money. I did the right thing…”

And then someone screamed and I looked out and saw my neighbor there. She was screaming and screaming and then more people came. Even a friend of Rahul came and that little boy saw what his friend did. It was horrible.

And then you people came.

My mistake was not seeing things clearly. If I had questioned him that time the police came, then this death could have been prevented. It was my fault. My fault. My fault…

[Thank you, sir, for your co-operation. That’s enough.]

The statement made by Rahul’s father

Made on the day after his son, Rahul killed the salesman, Chaanakya who came to his house to sell books.

 

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