Read Part Two:
Read Part Three:
Inside Central Prison ( Part Four):
By Neel Anil Panicker
Date: January 14, 2015
Place: Cell No. 3, Barrack No. 12, D Block, Central Prison, Delhi
Time: 03. 10 am
The piercing hoot from the prison guard’s long whistle echoes and crashes into the four walls of the cavernous barrack. It is official sleep time. One by one all the cell lights are switched off. Soon after, the only sounds that one can be heard are the slow metronomic beat of receding footsteps. Prison guards begin retiring to their rooms for a well deserved rest; few breaking out in beaming smiles, relieved their shifts have ended.
Soon after the central metal gates clang shut. The barracks descends into complete darkness.
Like a bat that spreads its wings enveloping everything under it in a darkened hue, time hangs still from every corner of the dome shaped corridors leading all the way down to the ends the rectangular hallways, either sides of which houses a neat row of 12 cells in all. Every cell barring one houses six inmates each.
An eerie silence pervades the place. It will last for the next eight hours. All the 71 prisoners have surrendered to sleep__their antidote against pain, boredom and inertia induced loneliness.
In his corner cell, second right from the last, Bob is wide awake. His mind: a cauldron of conflicting emotions. Sleep is a million miles away. In fact he hasn’t slept properly since the first night of his arrival here, and that was a good seven days ago.
Something has changed. It was as if he has woken up and he was a different person. That he had a different body and a different mind and even a different name. That he comes from a different country, and worse, that he didn’t even know who he was, or what he wanted. Or worst, even why he was living.
The events of the past one week were all a first time for Bob.
For the first time in his life the international contract killer had failed; failed to execute an order; to honour a contract that he had taken to kill someone.
The hired killer closed his eyes and immediately the events of the last week sprang alive in his mind in resplendent technicolour. There he was at the intersection…hands in his pocket, waiting for the signal to turn green…the target a mere metres away… then the move, the slow practiced walk, the false stumble… and then the twisting of the long blade into his prey’s heart.
But guess what?… nothing of that sort had happened. Bob had frozen, his hands failing to extricate themselves from his pockets.
Something else had caught his attention…to the corner, to his left, a lone figure in a long midnight black robe ambling past the white Gothic walls __the girl, not a shade over twentyfive, her eyes__ a striking pastel blue___half mocking, half smiling; the walk, strong and graceful like one of those lead dancers that he had once seen in a Moscow hall during a gala sing and dance extravaganza, a few years back while on an assignment for a Spanish client.
And then the blackout.
And then, four hours later, on regaining consciousness, the victorious, power drunk hawkish eyes of the City Police Commissioner and his alcohol scarred slur, “Welcome to our city, Mr Bob. I hope you enjoy your stay here”
The booming voice behind those words hit him again much like the full knockout punch of a heavyweight championship player’s fierce left jab under the chin just before the final whistle signaling the end of the game.
He had been floored, beaten at his own game, and that too by a mere girl.
Who was she… where did she come from…how does he know her… or does he even know her… those cat eyes, all blue, half friendly, almost welcoming, a trap, a bait, powerful and enchanting enough to force him to abort his mission and get caught.
His mind raced through the silence of the night hunting for answers to questions, questions that racked his brains making them hollow with each passing hour.
Two hours later, his mind and eyes locked in quiet contemplation, Bob found his answer. It lay in his past. The resolution to his present dilemma and even his future course of action lay in he undertaking a journey into his past.
He fastened his memory belts and lifted himself up into the stratosphere. Like Noah’s Ark, his mind’s float would soon come back with answers.
©neelanilpanciker2016#come,light my fire#04