Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017 Featured Karthick S

Child Forever

Fate is the consequence of karma. Here is a lineage which has been coming across an unchangeable fate. For every thirteen years, a child in the lineage had met his final fate. The conspicuous coincidence of the deaths was that they all died at the age of twelve.

The members of the lineage believed that the children died because of the curse made on the lineage. Long ago, an astrologer predicted that the village leader’s line of descent would be ruined by a girl. The village leader’s strong belief in astrology and the desire of conserving his lineage, made him to implement a devastating rule in the village. He declared a rule that thereafter, if any female child to be born in the village, she would be put to death. On the same day when the rule was implemented, a female baby was born to a couple who had been childless for five years after their wedding. Before even anyone could protest the rule, the leader ordered his men to bring the baby to him. They executed the order from the leader. Receiving the baby on his hands, the leader violently threw her on a tree in front of her mother. Unable to bear the agony of seeing her long awaited child being put to death, the woman furiously cursed the leader’s lineage. The curse was that if any upcoming female child in the leader’s lineage was not killed on the day she was born, all the impending male children which would be born after that would not survive for more than thirteen years of age.

But, fate gave no chance for the woman’s curse to play any role because, since then, fortunately in the leader’s lineage, there were no female children born for over five hundred years. The lineage gave births only to male children in these many years. But, its fortunate period came to an end when a female baby was born in the lineage. Scared of the curse, the members of the lineage asked the baby’s parents to kill her because according to the curse, if she was not killed, all the impending male children would die before thirteen years. But, the parents didn’t want to commit such a sin for the curse which was made five hundred years ago. They ignored the curse and refused to kill their child. They named their daughter Annie. They didn’t pay much attention to the curse. The fate wished to threaten them for ignoring the curse. After two years, they gave birth to a male baby as well. It was at that moment, the baby’s parents began to consider the curse made on their lineage. They feared that they may lose their male child before he turns thirteen. So, they wanted their son to cross thirteen years of age and prove that the curse was mere superstitious. So that they can get rid of often worrying about the future devastation of their family. 

Twelve dreadful years passed on with frequent nightmares for Annie’s parents. Then arrived the time for the long awaited curse to prove its existence. Annie’s brother passed away due to food poison when he had gone to his school tour. Annie’s parents realized that the curse have come true as they feared. The male child in the lineage did not live for more than thirteen years because they didn’t kill the female child when she was born. They even felt that they committed a mistake by not killing Annie on the day she was born. But, they didn’t disclose to anyone that such a murderous thought flashed their mind.

Although the curse proved itself through the boy’s death, Annie’s paternal uncle Adams was still not interested in corrupting his mind with any superstitious thoughts. He believed that the boy’s death was mere coincidence. But, how long would the fate allow him to realize that the death is not mere coincidence? Within a year, twin babies were born to Adams. A male and a female baby. Another twelve years passed on. 

One day, Adams’s twelve year old son was carried to his home by his friends with his head bleeding. His friends cried and told that the boy’s head clashed a sharp stone in an attempt to catch a ball while playing. It was at that moment, Adams gave his thoughts to the curse. He took his son to the nearest hospital by car as fast as possible. But, his attempt to defeat the curse was in vain as the doctor confirmed the boy’s death.

According to the curse, as the female baby Annie was not killed on the day she was born, the two successive male children who were born after her, have not survived more than thirteen years. They both died at the age of twelve.

Sorrowful days passed on after that. Time arrived for Annie to get married. Soon after her marriage, she too gave birth to a male baby. Although looking at their children growing up would bring delight to any mother, every birthday of her son, brought to her the sensation as if her son is stepping closer to his death. Her son attained the scary age of twelve. She knew that she can’t sustain the loss of her son too in the age of twelve. The terrible fate of her lineage’s children made her to protect her son more cautiously than before. 

One day, Annie’s son asked her to allow him for his school tour. That reminded her of her brother’s death when he had gone to school tour. So, she didn’t allow her son to his school tour. She restricted him from playing with other children as well because it reminded her of her cousin’s death which occurred while he was playing. He was unable to bear the boring days sitting lonely at home. One day, he was adamant to play with his friends. He yelled repeatedly to allow him to play. Irritated with her son’s behavior, she locked him inside a room. From the locked room, her son cried and wooed to allow him to play at least for an hour. He kept shouting inside the room pleading to open the door. She didn’t respond to his noise. Gradually his noise subsided. She couldn’t bear her son hating her for such action. She decided to unlock him and let him play safely on her sight. So, she unlocked the door and stepped inside the room. But she couldn’t find her son in the room. She called him by name. But, there was no reply. She bent down and searched under the bed. He wasn’t there either. She noticed the windows being kept open. She peeped outside the home through the window. She saw her son lying on the street with blood spilled around him. She realized that he had fallen down from her home through the window in an attempt to escape from home, to play with other children. She hurried to her son and found him dead.

She was trying to protect her son by locking him inside the house. But she didn’t expect that would turn out to be the cause of his death. The fate couldn’t be changed. Now the leader’s lineage has lost three male children who were all twelve years of age when they died.
The whole lineage believed that the three children died because of the curse made by the lady. Is that true? Did they all really die because of the curse? 

A hidden truth about the curse was that it was valid only for five hundred years since it was made. But, the female child, Annie was born after the end of these validity period of five hundred years. Then, how did all the three children die at the age of twelve? Only Annie knows the truth that the three children have died not because of the curse made by the lady but of the boon asked by Annie.
When Annie was ten, one day, she noticed a bunch of coconuts about to be fallen on a sage who was lying on the ground in the shade of coconut tree. Annie swiftly woke him up. At once he woke up and moved aside, a bunch of coconuts fell in the place where he had been sleeping. Perceiving that his life was saved by a little girl, he was very relieved. He decided to grant her a boon. So, he asked her to make a wish. As she didn’t expect the sage to offer her a boon, she got scared, refused to make any wish and moved her foot backward. The sage came closer to her and advised her not to waste the boon and that she would not get such an offer again in her lifetime.

Annie remembered her grandma often saying with tears that male children won’t be affectionate when they grow up and that it would be better if they remained children forever. That sunk deep into Annie’s mind. Annie swirled to look at her brother and feared that her brother too won’t be affectionate with her if he grew up. So, she decided to make use of the boon to get rid of such worries. Annie, the ten year old innocent girl made up her mind and made a wish to the sage to let her brother remain child forever. The sage granted her the wish she made and got away from the place. Although Annie made the wish to let her brother remain child forever, within four years since then, her brother died as a twelve years old child. Instead of being child forever, her brother died as a child. So, Annie thought that the wish didn’t come true.

And today, while worrying for her son’s death, Annie saw the sage standing near the building from which the boy had fallen down. She went near him and lamented about all the three children deaths which occurred after he granted her the wish. 

The sage closed his eyes for a while as if he was tranquil. He opened his eyes and explained her “I’ve granted only the wish you made. You wanted your brother to remain as a child forever. That’s what has happened. Your brother, cousin and son are not three different children. It’s your brother who had been REINCARNATING again and again as your cousin and your son. Because, a person can’t remain as a child once he crossed thirteen years. So, your brother died at the age of twelve as a child. He came back to you as your cousin and lived twelve years as a child. If he had crossed thirteen, he would not have been a child. So he died again and returned to you as your son. He again lived twelve years as a child and passed away. Thus he remained as a child forever. And your wish is fulfilled. The wish cannot be undone.” 

Clarifying the mystery, the sage left the place. Long ago, an astrologer predicted that the village leader’s lineage would be ruined by a girl. So, the leader declared a rule to kill all the female children. Now, Annie understood that the girl whom the astrologer predicted was none but herself. She ruined the lineage by making such a terrible wish to the sage when she was a child. Annie had a guilty feel that, if she had not made that wish, the three children would not have died.

Inspector James was appointed to investigate the case of the boy’s death. He observed the three floor building which appeared to be high for anyone who viewed from the street. Near the building, on the street, he bisected the crowd which was surrounding the twelve year old boy who was lying facing sky with blood spilled around his head. There was no movement in the boy’s body indicating apparently that he was dead. The inspector noticed that the boy’s relatives sitting near him were lamenting. He bent down and took a closer look at the dead body. He noticed the wounded parts which led to the terrible fate of the boy. Then he looked up at the building which consisted of three floors from which the boy had allegedly fallen down. He asked his constables to collect details about all the residents of the three floor building. 

The inspector investigated the boy’s relatives and gathered information about the curse on the lineage and the other two coincidental deaths in the age of twelve. But, he considered anyone who says superstitious stories as a fool. Not getting any convincing information from the boy’s relatives, he started investigating the boy’s mother expecting to know the practical cause for the death. Annie told him about the boon and her son trying to escape from the locked room. Hearing yet another superstitious story of Annie getting boon from a sage gave him more frustration. Attending a supernatural case for the first time in his career, he didn’t know whether to write such details in a police report or publish it as a science fiction novel. But, his conscience and experience kept assisting him to move ahead with his crime investigation.

Inspector James took a look at the boy’s dead body once again and snapped a picture of the boy. He walked to the room in which the boy was locked and captured a picture of the room. He went near the window from which the boy allegedly fell down and snapped again. He ascended to the top floor of the building and met Annie’s paternal uncle, Adams appearing with his walking stick in his home. Adams and Inspector James sat in Adams’s room and discussed about the boy’s death. Suddenly, the inspector dragged Adams by his collar to the police jeep. Adams was arrested by the inspector. Annie rushed out of the house. She was perplexed about what was happening. No one in the lineage could understand why Adams was arrested.

“Why are you arresting my uncle?” asked Annie with bewilderment.
“He is a murderer.” Said the inspector evidently.
Not wanting that to be true, Annie said “No, he can’t be.”
“Yes, he is the one who murdered your son.” Said the inspector very firmly.
Perplexed Annie asked “How did you come to this conclusion?”

The inspector being vivid about his deduction, explained “In your son’s dead body, I found his forefinger injured and was bleeding. A person could not have injured his finger without having any injuries in his hand while hitting the ground from the building. So, I realized that the finger injury had not taken place by falling down. Before falling down, the boy must have been scrambling the bottom of the window while escaping the locked room. So, I took a look at the locked room’s window. There were some blood stains on the bottom of it. So, I realized that something must have hit his finger severely to cause the blood stains. No one could have hit his finger from your floor because, the only room from which the window is accessible was locked. So, someone from the room above the window could have hit him on his finger. I found your paternal uncle living above the floor in which you live. I went to his room which was exactly above the window from which your son fell. So, I suspected him. Then I perceived the bottom of his walking stick when he arrived. There were blood stains on his walking stick too. So, he should have hit the boy’s finger with his walking stick while the boy was scrambling the base of the window by the support of his hands. Thus I came to the conclusion that he is the murderer. So, hereafter please stop saying stories about the curse or the boon.”

“But, why? What’s the reason for him to murder my son?” asked Annie desperately.
Inspector replied confidently “That’s what I’m yet to know from him. I’m sure I’ll find it within today. I’ll let you know the reason as soon as I find it.”
Investigating in lockup, Adams revealed the truth.

Adams deposed “My father has written a testament that all his assets would be presented to the youngest male heir of his descendant on the thirtieth year after his death. If I had to attain the asset, I had to be the youngest male heir after thirty years since my father’s death. But, Annie’s brother was the youngest then. So, I killed her brother by poisoning him when he had gone to school tour. Then I became the youngest male heir of our family. Then, my son was born. I was happy that the whole asset would be presented to my son who was the youngest then. But, unexpectedly my son too died while playing. Yet I was likely to receive the asset in my name as I became the youngest then. But, a male child was born to Annie, who in turn became the youngest. I attempted to kill him several times. But, he was always under Annie’s care. He attempted to escape from the locked room through window to play with his friends. When he was grabbing the bottom of the window and balancing his entire weight by his hand, I severely hit his hand with a walking stick from my room’s window which is above the room he was locked. Unable to suffer the pain, he lost his balance and fell down the ground. Now, I have become the youngest male heir again. Four more years to go for the completion of thirty years.”

Adams was sentenced to death. After a year, he was hanged. Everyone understood the real cause of the children’s deaths. They realized that the lady’s curse or Annie’s wish had nothing to do with them. Adams’s daughter Julia gave birth to a male baby. After three years, the family asset was written in the male child’s name as he was the youngest male heir. Annie and her family members no more feared to lose that child in the age of twelve as there was no Adams to kill him.

One day, Annie had a nightmare in which people were calling her for a long time, but not by the name Annie. She was being called as Andrea. She could see the scene of getting her child remorselessly thrown on a tree. The blood spilled from her child’s body made her to wake from her dream. She realized that those were not mere dreams and were the true occurrences of her past life. She was none but the lady who cursed the lineage long ago. She has reincarnated in the lineage which she cursed.

She called all the lineage members and cried “I was the one who cursed our lineage long ago in my past life. I didn’t expect that I would be reborn in the lineage which I cursed. Although the curse was expired after five hundred years, I am reborn and I unintentionally made a wish in this life which ruined our lineage. Thus, I have taken my revenge on the village leader’s lineage in this life. But, I wouldn’t have taken this revenge if I had known that I would lose the three lovely children who were all affectionate to me. What sin did they commit to die in such a young age of twelve?”
Julia’s twelve years old son interrupted “No Andrea. You need not worry for those three children. It’s my action which led to all such sorrows. If I had not thrown your child on the tree and killed her in my past life, our lineage would not have suffered all these miseries.”

The entire lineage members were perplexed with what exactly was going on.
Annie asked to the little boy “So, were you the village leader in your previous life?”
Julia’s son answered “No, not in my previous life. In my previous life, I was your son. Before that, I was your cousin. Before that, I was your brother. Before being all these, I was the village leader who ruthlessly killed your baby. I was not aware of these many of my past lives in my past lives. Now, the past life memories made me realize the sin I had committed. As a punishment for my sin, I have been dying at the age of twelve in all my succeeding births. It’s not you who ruined our lineage. I ruined our lineage. I suffer for my unforgiveable guilt.”

As some sins are unforgiveable even after the death, the fate keeps punishing the one who committed the sin. When Annie was fifty three, Julia’s son met up with road accident. He passed away on the spot. He was also twelve years old at the time of his death. According to the boon, Annie’s brother remains child forever.

Fate is the consequence of karma.

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