Jul 02
Tanvi Nagar's picture

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

 

LEO:
3: 09 am
22nd August 2017

As I came face to face with my evil doppelgänger my heart raced and then skipped a few beats. It was his look that said it all. It was like I was staring into a misty, smoky mirror that reflected myself but showed much more pain, a vow for revenge and acrimony, but the most prominent emotion that emerged was, venom. That was the last memory I had before I blacked out and awoke to darkness. I felt stinging pain. The smell of fresh paint and blood both mixed together made me feel filthy. It was dark and I felt a rope cutting through my skin on my left wrist, probably exposing a few drops of blood. My ankles were bound by thick ropes and my mouth was firmly taped and I felt the strong adhesive upon my lips. Looking around, I saw only pitch-black darkness. I could feel that the room was filled with dusty, stale air. I despised the feeling, thoroughly.

ASHBURY:
5: 26 am
22nd August 2017

It’s another cloudy day, the grey skies encircle the city of Vienna. Vienna is a quiet city known for the happiness quotient of its citizens. It sits in the northeastern part of Austria, a calm and a serene city. Though, in the darkest corners, criminals commit the most gruesome crimes, unimaginable. My phone buzzes and I read “Message from Leo.” I flick through it. It says “Sir, Megan’s been caught by local police after information from one of our men.” I text back “Great news!” I have been at Vienna for a couple of days and I’ll be going to the Netherlands, to the headquarters pretty soon. Being a part of the Europol, we always feel that Europe is one big nation. Instead of being divided over our social or economic issues, we feel strength in oneness. Leo never takes the credit himself, yet at the back of my mind I know that it wasn’t any one else but him who tracked the drug mafia this time. What makes us unique from other “units” is that we don’t follow the usual protocol of a boss presiding over his junior officers. Now a commander, I have always known how it is to be in a subordinate’s shoes. It’s necessary to treat your juniors with equal respect, if you, want the best of their potential.

JACK:
5: 26 am
22nd August 2017

I smile. The feeling of vengeance rises in me. I send the “thumbs up” emoji. It feels nice to not only be in Leo’s shoes, but also to be using his identity and fulfilling his duty to “protect” the nation. I am beginning to feel satisfaction. A flash back, like a black and white movie running before my eyes comes back and forth. I oscillate between the past, present and the future.

18th December 2016:

A beautiful winter morning, white snowflakes fell to the ground and made a soft snow bed, which felt like sugar getting crushed under your feet. The dove grey sky looked like an interplay of clouds and the sun above, the whipped cream like weather made the atmosphere look like an exquisite piece of artistry. But happiness wasn’t something I deserved, destiny had etched a very different painting on the canvas of life. It planned a very different road for me. On the soft snow bed lay blood splashed all over. She was as lifeless as a bagpipe’s drowsy drone. My Jacqueline was no more, the truth struck me hard like a knife stabbed into my chest. He stood there too, his hand gun poised like a snake, once it’s struck. I watched from the dust speckled window as he turned his back towards me and I saw his jacket read, “Polizei” My Jacqueline spoke her last words in astonishment and utter dismay. “Jack” I knew how she must have felt. I knew he was my doppelgänger. She didn’t and nor did Jack. My dying wife, would never be at peace with her lover, who couldn’t explain that he wasn’t guilty of a hideous crime she thought he had committed. A lover who she thought betrayed her all her life. I stood motionless and tears were swimming in my eyes. In the next room, oblivious to their fallen mother my toddlers giggled. I knew I would never find myself at peace, even in my grave till the moment I had sought revenge.

In the morn when the wax-melt sun is beginning to look like a celestial fireball, I say to myself:

When it’s morning, when the sky is the same pale blue,
My heart still beats, beats for you,
My eyes see just enough to make you out, among all those shades of destiny,
For I know your heart lies close to me,
My lips crave to touch yours, soft and delicate,
My heart still beats for moments of togetherness, O’ soul mate.
When the sun looks like a glowing medallion in the sky, I remember you, sweetheart.

My heart speaks aloud:

When it’s afternoon, in the hot sunshine,
My hands wish to feel your skin run against mine,
I wish for love, I wish you were here,
I wish we could go on one last walk together,
I wish we could spare just one more life time, for each other,
Be close, through life, both the sunny and rainy weather.

When the daylight is draining away, the velvety darkness of night begins to envelop the sky,
the subdued colours in the sky remind me of your last breath. I compose this melody for you:

When it’s evening and the stars have just started to twinkle,
When the sunshine has just started to dwindle,
The sun’s rays spread across the horizon,
The treasured memories would be your only everlasting symbol,
The colours of fading red and yellow, stretched across the sky,
I still grieve that destiny didn’t let us bid a final goodbye.

It’s night and orange glow of the street lights give warmth to my soul. I calm myself and I beckon you:

When it’s night time, for you, I search frantically in the heavens above,
My heart beats, beats to show its love,
My eyes are wet with remembrance, I know you are watching the show,
My true love for you, soul mate, is all what I know,
If we don’t reunite, never consider my love untrue,
Remember that my melting heart is beating, beating for you.

I flash back to the present.

ASHBURY:
11: 15 am
22nd August 2017

There’s a fresh leave application, on an uncreased A4 sheet. It’s waiting for me on my mahogany wooden coffee table. I open and read it, unexpectedly its undersigned as ‘Leo’. It’s been years since he has asked for a couple of days off.  I sign the form and I observe that the reason for leave is mentioned as ‘personal’ and I wonder what it could be. Was it Leo’s young son, Tomas’s new session beginning? Did Tomas want his dad to accompany him like all the other parents do? It could even be Leo’s elder daughter’s wish to visit Disney Land with her? Did she want her dad to hold her in his hands and bestow love upon her, as if she were an angel? It could even be Michell, his adoring wife who wanted the family to share moments of love, before it got too late.

At times I begin to wonder what we, police of Europe, in short, the Europol really do. Every officer accompanied by the canine squad who proves to be more faithful than humans, feels powerful, sufficient to tackle criminals. Every K9 officer-a trained dog accompanies a brain washed human who wants to protect every citizen from the jaws of crime, so they lead a safer life. Most nights and days are spent in tracking criminals, arresting them and in doing so creating more enemies. Why do humans really fall for crimes, are they irresistible? Our duties must be fulfilled for the sake of citizens risked by their own kind, ironically protected by their own kind and secured with a better future because of “mankind’s best friend.”

MICHELL:
22nd August 2017
2:50 pm

Leo has just returned home. He is unusually quiet and I fear he is getting sick of his reiterating duties. I am afraid he feels monotony and boredom each minute. He has so much work for the week lined up that I cannot suggest a walk down the street for a cup of coffee. Tomas is playing in the room and Diana is studying. I try to be the best parent, provide the utmost care and support but it’s more like being a single mother, a single parent. I am not complaining, don’t take me wrong. I love him. I want to spend more time with him, seek more love and a little bit of happiness.

JACK:
22nd August 2017
4:05

I am living Leo’s life. Living the life of a man who shares his looks with me, who killed my wife in an encounter. The man because of whom my family fell apart.

19th December 2016:

Even the trees in my backyard seemed to be expressing remorse. The thing that brought adrenaline rushing to my ears was that neither did Leo face trial but he came on the evening news. He was an awarded hero. I was nothing but a big loser.

I had thought of a plan.

1 year has passed and the time has dawned to settle scores with Leo. The ‘Donau Zentrum’, the largest mall of Vienna is going to be blown up by a bomb this afternoon as people flock to buy food and clothes, they will buy death. I will make sure that I am captured in every street camera. The bomb is one of medium intensity and enough to injure many and kill some. It’ll be enough to put Leo in jail for the rest of his life. I will board the next flight to Hong Kong. 11 hours later, my twins and me will be in Hong Kong, secure and probably I’ll go in for a plastic surgery. Nobody would know. It was a perfect plan, waiting to be executed.

I plan to plant the bomb on the 25th, the Friday. It’ll be triggered as soon as somebody touches one of the wires. The dark web has a plethora of ideas and solutions. The deal has finally been struck with an engineer who will supply the consignment placing it in a trash can across the street garbage bin. It is a homemade bomb which will go undetected by a metal detector. I’ll hide it in my house for a day before I plant it the next day, giving me time to place it at a strategic location. The timer will be ticking off, just another 48 hours and ‘boom’. I feel content.

ABELLA:
23rd August 2017
4:59pm

Being Jack Whittington’s neighbor, I never thought I would see his house fall to shambles one silent evening. There was a fiery smoke ball and dust, still boiling up from the remains of the house. The bomb had reverently shaken the ground. The skyline was varicolored and there were blinding flashes of yellow and red stretched across the sky line. The column of incandescent gas and smoke rings arose from the horizon, just at the next moment the small house collapsed in the distant. I wondered if the children were alive? The cops rolled two stretchers outside and I felt a queer feeling rising inside me. I felt like throwing up, seeing the bodies of two burnt children being carried away. Their faces were charred and the skin on their legs was black and red. The bodies were horrifically seared. I lay down the shutters of my window and wondered what would have happened in there. Probably Jack would know, if he wasn’t a part of the rubbles and remains. If he wasn’t, I wonder how distraught he would feel when the heart rending news would reach his ears. I wondered if he knew already.

JACK
24th August 2017:

Death snatches away those who you are close to and those who you love. My life is nothing more than a distraught, endless vicious cycle of love, hate, revenge and death. There’s nothing but a cold feeling of guilt, remorse and penitence that’s left in me. My mind is like a cold and empty vessel. Death trod in a dark hooded veil, disguised such that I couldn’t see. The dealer lied to me. The timer wasn’t set for 2 days ahead but just a few hours. It wasn’t a medium intensity bomb but a small bomb just capable enough to make a house collapse. It would be a futile chase trying to track him, the dark web is a mysterious and dangerous place, with servers so closely routed through different countries making it impossible to track. The police investigation suggested that a stove had blown off in the house, leading to the death of the members of the house, who happened to be my 3-year-old toddlers. The case was rested and I was not tried by law. Life put forward a trial of love, hate and a cold war between right and wrong. I have come to a conclusion that nobody is above the cycle of life. We don’t have any right to take destiny in our hands. What goes around comes around. Its karma, it works. I have let Leo go scot free. Who am I to bind someone with materialistic ropes? The soul is as free as a bird soaring free. The soul is only bound by the emotions like abhorrence, resentment and hostility that restrict moral character. I am just a puppet controlled by the invisible strings of life, dancing to the Supreme power’s tune.

LEO:
25th August 2017:

I must say my doppelgänger is very strange. I do not know how to react to his unusual story- to mock at it or take it seriously. He lost his wife in an encounter. She was a drug dealer and had made two successful escape attempts, due to which I had strict orders to shoot the accused at first sight. I have decided that I’ll be offering him a backup unit opportunity. He will join me officially tomorrow. I believe in giving second chances. The circle of life has to teach us our own lessons. Jack understands this well and has accepted the offer to work for me, readily. Having a backup unit will ensure that I get to spend adequate time with my family, Michell will be pretty happy now. It’s rightly said by a great scholar that, “Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve.”