= * = * Black Out * = * =

It was after seven in an autumn evening. The bright, rising moon in the eastern sky could be discerned behind a dark, wet cloud. Since afternoon betel nut trees were repeatedly regaining their postures after being bent down by gust of wind. The heat of the summer had long gone, the cold weather of winter was about to announce her arrival.
Proloy, a student of class seven, came running out of his house. There was hue and cry from every corner which was made worse by the barking of dogs; people were shouting “thief, thief” with the top of their voices and whoever had heard came running out of his house. Even though burglary was not uncommon in the village but no house was ever burgled that early in an evening. Soon people started pouring into the main lane. Many had come out with sticks or some other commonly used weapons generally used by villagers for beating thieves and also used for self-defense. Suddenly there was a blackout and the entire area plunged into pitch black darkness. Everybody started running following the source of the ‘thief’ sound, where a narrow lane, having two low lands on its both sides, running along north south, forked into two narrower lanes running east west, making a ‘T’ junction. The low lands were inundated with water due to the ‘just ended’ rainy season. Every year, rice was being cultivated in those two lands but that year, for some unknown reason, the lands were left idle and therefore the surface of the water was compactly covered with water hyacinth. At the ‘T’ junction a large crowd had already accumulated. Only few had torch-lights with them. The water levels in those two rice fields were almost three feet deep.
Whoever had torch-light with him started rotating the light all around to locate any suspicious object. “Look here in the water” someone tried to draw the attention of others on an object visible in the light from his torch. It was a large object visible through the gap created by its fall on the plants; when few more lights were focused it appeared like the back of a person. Few suspected that the thief was hiding in the water. A young man was carrying a small implement, used for catching fish in shallow water, made by piercing 8 to 10 long, thin iron rods, used in an umbrellas which give its parachute like shape when unfolded; each thin rod was about four inches long, were pierced at one end of a bamboo cane about one inch in diameter and 5 to 6 feet in length, the outer end of the rods were sharpened like nails. The man threw it with a huge force pointing to the person in the water and the iron spikes pierced into the body. As the body still remained motionless he immediately jumped into the water and gripped the other end of the cane, using it like the first system of lever he raised the body few inches above the water. Lights from torches were focused on the object which made it look unusually bright in the background of pitch black darkness. It was a man whose neck was almost detached from his body by using something very sharp with enormous force; the head did not fall of completely due to a small section of skin near the front of throat which was still intact. Blood was oozing out. Few more men jumped into the water and turned the body to have a look at his face. The dark cloud, which had been covering the moon, drifted away creating a series of motionless long shadows which suddenly disappeared in the water after a brief journey on the ground. Someone from the crowd identified the body, “This is our Shanti Baruri.”

[to be continued]


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