The sound of the idling engine came to a halt and Ramu understood that Raghav has come back home. He went running out of the house to welcome Raghav. The driver took out the folded wheelchair from the boot of the car and placed it on the ground. He then opened the passenger door of the car, carried Raghav out of the car, and made him settle on the wheelchair. Raghav looked at Ramu and gave a weak smile. Ramu did not know the reason behind Raghav’s sadness though he understood a few things. One thing he did know was that Raghav could not walk anymore. Few months back a bomb that Raghav failed to diffuse in the right moment absolved his legs and his right hand. Ramu did not see Raghav for many days and one fine day when Raghav came back home Ramu understood that Raghav’s legs were missing. Raghav was bed ridden ever since. He did not go around on wheelchair anywhere. Ramu saw that a new woman came home every day from the time Raghav came back home and was always beside him. For some reason, that Ramu could not comprehend, she disliked Ramu and always shooed him away from Raghav’s room. Ramu understood that Raghav was oblivious to his problems as he was engulfed in his own ordeals. Ramu tried to stay away from Raghav as much as possible, but it was very difficult for him. Raghav had adopted Ramu seven years back and he had never left Raghav’s side ever since. Raghav had always said that Ramu was his Son. Ramu depended and lived on only one thing in the world – Raghav’s love.
‘My Son, where are you?’ he would call as soon as he came back home. He would cuddle him, feed him, and take him for walks. Ramu missed his morning walks with Raghav. The driver who was the namesake caretaker of Ramu now managed to feed Ramu on time. Ramu could not expect any more affection from him.
‘Sir has definitely gone insane,’ driver Sekhar said to nurse Sumathi.
‘You don’t know what he is going through Sekhar. For a person who has served in the police for more than 15 years being disabled and staying bedridden is a nightmare. He just wants release from his life.’
‘Yeah, but I do not understand how such a brave person can think of suicide!’
‘It is not suicide, it is called Euthanasia.’
‘Whatever you doctors and nurses name it. What do you call it? Mercy Killing. So, the court did not accept his plea right?’
‘Yes. I told him; even the lawyer told him that the attempt was useless. However, Raghav Sir would not listen. The laws around mercy killing are still developing and for Sir it is beyond question because his mind and body are still in perfect condition.’
‘Hmmm! We tried to talk him out. What else can we servants do? Anyway, it is dinnertime. Let’s go and fix dinner,’ Sekhar said to Sumathi. They walked into the kitchen together.
Sumathi passed an irritated look to Ramu who was sitting on the bed next to Raghav. Raghav however was staring at the ceiling.
‘Why do you hate Ramu so much?’ Sekhar asked Sumathi noticing her look. ‘I don’t hate him, I just dislike his looks. He is so black and his ears are huge. I wonder how Raghav Sir liked him,’ she justified herself.
‘He was very cute when Raghav Sir adopted him. He has been Sir’s son ever since. Let me tell you Sumathi. I strongly believe that Ramu’s love for Sir would one day succeed in bringing back Sir to this world. They have a great bonding. Let him spend his time with Sir. He will definitely divert him.’
‘If you believe so who am I to object. I can ignore him as long as it is of benefit to Sir. Even I wish for Sir to go ahead in his life leaving his past behind. I have lived in Bangalore for more than six years and often heard of Sir’s bravery. It hurts me to watch him in this state.’
Ramu sat on the bed and waited for Raghav to turn his attention to him. Waiting for a while, Ramu felt that Raghav was gazing at the small black bag on the cupboard. Ramu understood that he was not mistaken, as this was not the first time he had watched Raghav looking at the bag. When Sumathi walked into the room with dinner plates for both he contemplated if he had to ask her to bring the bag down and gave up the idea. He knew that Raghav needed the bag but did not understand about why Raghav did not ask Sekhar or Sumathi to bring it down. If Raghav did not mention the bag to them, even he should not mention it.
After few days when Ramu walked into the room with a tennis ball and gave it to Raghav, Raghav played for few minutes. After a while, Ramu saw that Raghav was back into his dejected state and was again staring at the bag. He too gazed at the bag but knew that he could not reach that height to bring it down. He thought of various ideas to bring it down. He decided that he could do anything for Raghav. Right at that moment, his eyes fell on Raghav’s wheelchair in the corner of the room. He went out of the room and looked for Sumathi and Sekhar. Sekhar was busy cleaning the car and Sumathi was busy in the kitchen. He used all his strength, pushed the wheelchair to the cupboard, and climbed on it. He looked back and his eyes met Raghav’s. After months, Ramu saw a glint of happiness, a look of anticipation in his eyes. Though it was less than the delight he felt during their playtimes in the past, yet he felt encouraged. He could go through any difficulty to win back the loving days. He jumped on the wheelchair in trying to get hold of the bag. After three failed attempts, he could finally get hold of it. He climbed down the wheelchair with the bag and carried it to Raghav.
He saw that Raghav extended his left hand and brushed his hair adoringly. Ramu longed for this touch. He leaned against Raghav’s right shoulder where from in the past ran a long hand that caressed him always. Raghav unzipped the bag and took out a black metal object from it. Ramu knew what the object was. Raghav once when he was teaching words to him had told him that it was a gun. He had seen Raghav carry it with him always. He would never let him touch it so he ignored it and rested on Raghav’s shoulder enjoying his close presence after a long time.
A blast of a sound resonated in the room after a minute and Ramu jerked back from Raghav’s shoulder. Red liquid oozed out of Raghav’s left temple. The sound of Ramu’s screams mixed up with that of Sumathi’s who ran into the room. Ramu shook Raghav who was now leaning on the cot’s headboard but Raghav did not move. He would never move.
A day passed as Ramu sat in a corner of the same bedroom and no one paid him attention. He saw that many people came inside the house and carried away Raghav somewhere. Raghav did not come back after that. Everyone had talked about the gun. Police had asked hundreds of questions to Sekhar and Sumathi but no one suspected Ramu who was always by Raghav’s side.
‘I am leaving Sekhar. I will be back on hospital duty from tomorrow,’ Sumathi told Sekhar. ‘What about you?’
‘I don’t know. I have not thought anything yet. I have worked for Sir for years. I never thought of changing job. I want to take a break before I search for a new job.’
‘I can understand your pain Sekhar. Any idea what will happen to Ramu?’
‘Not sure. The Inspector who came yesterday was telling that he will be sent to some care centre.’
‘Sekhar, do you mind if I ask you a question. Did you give that bag to Sir?’
‘Goddammit Sumathi! Have you gone crazy? How could you even imagine that I would do something as crazy as that?’
‘No Sekhar. Do not get me wrong. I was just asking to confirm my doubt. I know for sure now that it was Ramu.’
‘What? Ramu! You mean Ramu gave that bag to Sir?’
‘Think about it. Don’t you think he is capable?’
‘But why did that crazy idiot do it? I think he has also gone mad.’
‘No Sekhar. All the days I was here, I disliked him but I understand him now. He did it out of love though his love and care unlike ours was irrational.’
Sekhar fell silent. ‘Why did you not tell the police?’
Sumathi laughed. ‘By telling police you mean complain. It does not matter if I tell or not. Either way he will land up in that home.’
‘Why am I feeling that you have started liking Ramu?’
‘I don’t know Sekhar. I am not sure if it is like or pity. I think it is pity, pity that he orphaned himself in ignorance.’
‘Yeah, let us stay quiet. He will be anyway taken to home tomorrow.’
Ramu listened to their conversation. Though he did not understand every part of it he knew that Raghav was never coming back, he had to go to Raghav. He left the house in the middle of the night. He did not doubt if he could find Raghav. He walked for four miles and reached the graveyard. He was tired. He had not ate anything since a day. He rested beside Raghav’s grave and sleep took over him immediately.
Eight months later
Ramu was used to the frequent processions that marched into the graveyard. It was the same routine every time. People dug a pit, dumped some person into the pit, and covered him up. Many saw him but ignored him.
A man in his fifties stared at Ramu for a while. He walked to the graveyard security. ‘I had come to this graveyard a month back and I am sure I saw the same dog. Have you kept it as a security?’ he asked him.
‘No Sir, that Dog came to this graveyard eight months back. He never left. He sleeps next to that police officer’s grave. Never leaves that place. He eats only if people who come here or I feed him.’