The evening was perfect for the travellers who were in the Railgate city. The sun was bright, the wind was calm. The trees were gently moving to tunes of the wind. The city park was peaceful except for the laughing and giggling of the children playing around the pond in the middle. It was a weekend that every person desperately needed and it was the place to be on such an occasion. The travellers were taking photos, eating their snacks, boating in the pond and every single thing a normal person would do. But on a bench in a quiet end of the park sat a man of middle age yet he looked old in his brown overcoat. His once jet black hair started to become grey and the cute fair face that the women loved started to become wrinkled. But the subtle beard was able to compensate with the wrinkles. He wasn’t alone in the bench, a book he had been longing to read was accompanying him, taking him to places that he had never seen or meeting new people who were never real.
An inspector of the Railgate city should be on duty at this time, but he didn’t want to be on duty on such a beautiful evening. All the stress he had, all those sleepless nights, the tiring run behind an unknown person has got a hold on him. But all those could be kept aside for this evening. “The world doesn’t end tonight,” he told his assistant while coming out of his office early that day.
He wasn’t paying any attention to the surroundings but he was aware of a person walking up to him. It was a public park, there were hundreds of people around and many more would come eventually. But he was sure someone was coming straight to him. He just ignored that as he was deeply engaged in the beautiful romantic story he was reading.
“Good evening, sir,” a rough-voiced man stood beside the bench. The man was looking really old, older than the police officer. He wore an army green jacket which was muddy and looked older than him. The same colour hat was on his head, hiding his baldness.
“Can I sit here?” He asked very gently, his voice was clear and low but was holding a weight in it. Maybe of a tiring journey or of his old age, the inspector thought. He didn’t want anybody to disturb him that was why he sat at the back end of the park still an old man came straight for him and wanted to sit on that particular bench.
“Yeah, good evening. There are other benches in this park. You could sit peacefully there.” The inspector out of frustration raised his voice against him.
“Oh! I am sorry, sir. I am new to this city and I know nobody here. It was just I was scared to be left alone in this large place. You looked like a nice gentleman, so I thought I could just sit beside. So I could feel a little safe.” The old man said with his words stuttering in between.
His face looked helpless. The old man reminded him of his long lost father. For a second, he cursed himself for his misbehaviour. The old man kept smiling and turned back to move away from the bench.
“It’s all right, you could have a seat here,” The inspector smiled back at him and made room for the old man to sit. The old man’s eyes lit up, he slowly sat on the bench thanking the inspector. They both sat there for some time, nobody talked. The inspector honestly wanted to know why the old man was here in this crowded city all alone. That mystery kept him from returning to the books. But the old man was even anxious to start a conversation with the young man and he did.
“It is a lovely evening, isn’t it?” the inspector turned towards the old man. “It looks just like my village except for these cars and tall buildings.” The inspector felt very comfortable in the way the man was talking and he closed his books and thought of enjoying a real-life company.
“Oh! really, Its mostly like this in the spring season. But the summer’s could get even worse.” the inspector tried to give a good picture of how his city was but he wanted to know more about the old man’s life. “Where are you from?”
“I am from a village called Rimmerett. It is really far to the south of this city.” The old man got something to start his conversation with. “I am a farmer so was my father and his father. The village is a magnificent place to live in. Green hills and clear river valleys. You should come to visit one day.”
The inspector felt very happy for somebody calling him to visit his village, from what he said, he was able to feel the peaceful life the old man have. It must so great to be a farmer in such a place.
“Yeah! after I have finished some of my works I would definitely visit the place.” The inspector told the old man, he wouldn’t possibly visit the place but he didn’t want to tell the old man that. For some reason, he didn’t want to see the old man’s face go dull again. “Then what brings you here to this city?”
The old man’s eyes widened, his face became pale white. His forehead was sweating which he rubbed away with his wrinkled palm. Then slowly he returned to his normal state.
“Uh, I was here at the police station. I have a case filed here.” the old man stuttering throughout his words. The inspector was little amazed to see an old man far from south to have a case filed in this city. He wanted to know more, but the old man’s face left him in silence and thought of asking no more. They both sat quietly like fish in a pond searching through their minds for something they did not know. After some moments, the old man was humming to a song, it was rough and tough still it made the inspector feel happy.
“That is nice, do you sing?” the inspector asked the old man. The man blushed, nobody has told him that before, except for his lovely wife. He smiled and kept shaking his head agreeing but still not wholly agreeing.
“I used to sing while I was a child, but my wife writes poetry and I sing them for her,” He told the inspector.
“Oh! that is great. Then why don’t you sing one of her poems,” The inspector was trying to make the old man feel very free to talk. At first, the old man tried to get away from the subject but the inspector kept on asking him and finally, he agreed.
Long away, from the sea,
I could see you on the tree.
The west wind brought your cry,
leaving the seas to dry.
The seas raging and sore,
my mind diving to its core.
It’s taking longer than I thought,
but I will get there soon and soon.
Be with my child,
and take care of my heart.
For soon shall I come and
make a home again.
Take care of your own,
but none shall hurt you,
I can’t bear to see,
my home left all alone.
Stay strong my child,
Stay with my wife,
I will fly as fast,
as fast as wings could take.
I will bleed to death than
see your broken heart.
Make nicer songs,
for your father to sing.
I will reach soon and soon,
but no sooner than I thought.
There is war before noon
and I’ll fight with the rose I brought.
The old man’s eyes filled with tears as he finished the song. The inspector felt the pain in the song although he never liked poetry. But something in him just kept gnawing him.
“I am sorry, It is not that good, my wife, you know just writes the poems for me. So, it won’t be as good as the real poems you people read.” The old man was trying to make the situation lighter.
“Well, if this is not what they call poetry, then I am not going to read their books anymore,” the inspector and the old man smiled each other.
“My wife, she says it is about a father bird who goes far away to find a new home for his family which was destroyed by the attack some foul creatures. But you know, I think it suits perfectly for a man who is in the army, fighting a war, where he writes a letter to his family far away.”
The inspector smiled at how the old man had interests in his wife’s writings, “Its a poem, there are hidden meanings in it. Everyone would have different views on it.” The old man shook his head and looked at the sky which was now slowly getting dark. “So, why didn’t your wife join you here?”
The old man was not paying attention to the inspector anymore he kept staring at the sky for a long time and the inspector left him in his thoughts. Slowly he spoke in his stuttering voice.
“My wife has written thirty-seven poems so far. She never went to a college or got a good education. But she had a good heart which could give her the power to write good poems.” The old man looked at the inspector, with a face full of joy in it.
“I am sure she does have a great kind heart.” the inspector agreed with the old man.
“There was one occasion where she sang one of her poems at a wedding function in our village, there were so many people who loved to hear her songs. She was really nervous and kept asking me to join her on the stage and I did sing with her. Everyone stood up and applauded her when we finished.” The old man had a big smile on his face, his black eyes were glowing like the sun, he stuttered no more. The inspector listened to him very enthusiastically.
“Two days after the function, I was going to the market a little far from my home to sell the vegetables we farmed. She was writing a new poem which she promised would sing at another wedding which was a week later. It was raining and I had to take my brothers truck to the market. I could still see her standing at the doorways waving her hands at me.” The old man stopped, but he was looking at a tree far away like he was looking at his wife in his village. Then he continued.
“It took me some time to get the things sold and the rain was strong and roads were muddy and difficult to drive. I got home almost before lunch. But my home didn’t look the same as it used to be. The doors were wide opened and our garden in front was burned. I paced into my home looking for my wife. But all I saw was a motionless, cold white figure. The redshirt she was wearing was torn apart and I could see finger marks on her cheeks. She was strangled to death as the autopsy report said. She held a piece of paper in her hand which had a poem written on it. The one I sang to you now.” The old man started crying, he rubbed his eyes with his kerchief. The inspector was startled to hear the change of events, he was a police officer he wanted to know more about it.
“What happened? Who did that?” The inspector curiously asked the old man. It took a little while for the old man to respond to the question.
“The police said it was an attempted robbery, they believe there must be three or four people. My wife was a bold woman, she may have stopped her, and they have punished for what she did in the most brutal way.” The old man was crying again. The inspector moved towards him and put his hands over his shoulder and tried to comfort him.
“Did the police find them?” the inspector asked him just to find something to ease the pain out of his mind. The old man shook his head.
“No! they said they might have got into this city and I filed a case here three years ago and still nobody has found anything.” It was getting somewhat familiar for the inspector now, he remembers a case filed three years ago on a murder of a fifty-six-year-old woman at Rimmerett. He felt sorry for the old man, he couldn’t help him find justice.
“I am sorry, they will find the people behind it. Please don’t worry.” The inspector comforted the old man and he nodded and rubbed his tears with his kerchief.
Time past by, nobody talked to each other. It was getting dark, people were clearing the park and getting back to their burrows and nests. The old man broke the silence.
“You see, I and my wife were together for forty years and never had she ever complained me for anything. She always told me that God would take care of us. I was a practical man, God was just another word in the dictionary. But she prayed to God for me too. She always prayed for my good health, for my better future. But never had she prayed for herself. She knew, If I were alive and healthy I could take care of her. And her prayers were answered, God left me alive, healthy and strong, and for what. What is the purpose of this life if there is no one for me to live for? Sometimes I wish that she could have often prayed for herself than for me, then we both would have been alive and together. It is the philosophy of life, You can’t have everything in your life at once.”
“Everything happens for a purpose, we can’t change what happened. Sometimes the fate is cruel.” Said the inspector.
“It is getting dark. I have to get back to my village before morning. There is a lot of work to finish.” the old man slowly stood up from the bench and stretched his back and adjusted his hat. “You are right, inspector Sekar. Everything happens for a purpose.” The inspector was confused he never told the old man his name or he was an inspector, he was not even wearing the uniforms.
“Don’t worry, I know you are the inspector of this city, I have come to you several times. But you never had time to listen to me.” The old man smiled at the inspector. “I know why the Gods left me alive so that I could find the people who took away my wife from me. Let me tell you a secret, you need not have to look for the killers anymore, their business has been settled. I killed all of them just like they killed my wife. Actually, it was fun, watching the life squeezed out of their body. It made me feel like God. The same God my wife used to pray to.”
“I could arrest you right now. You know that, right.” said the inspector to the old man who turned out to be not the same guy he was talking to. The old man smiled.
“Yes, you could, inspector. you could. I really came here to kill you. I needed to confess everything to someone and I thought you would be the right person for that. Well, as I am finished I guess its time for you to join my wife.” The old man picked out a gun from his pocket. The inspector was really familiar with the gun, it was his. He had had it strapped to his belt. He searched the belt and the gun was missing. “How did it happen?” he thought to himself. And he found out that when he was trying to comfort the old man while he was crying he might have taken it from him.
“You are a clever old man.” the inspector frowned at him.
“My wife used to say that. But I still believe I am young. In my mind, I am still the young cool guy who used to roam around the villages with my friends. Well, you see I am really tempted to kill you, but I am going to leave you. Just because you liked my wife’s poem.”
The inspector laughed, he knew the old man was not as foolish as he thinks. “And you think you could escape?”
“I don’t think before doing. I just do things.” He took out a piece of paper and gave it to the inspector. That’s my address, I’ll be there when you wake up. You could come and catch me if you can. Remember, it is the philosophy of life”
“Wake up?” the inspector asked and suddenly his head banged into the bench and it all went black.
He was sweating, the heat was immense and his head ached. He slowly opened his eyes to see the bright sun and a number of joggers in the park. His senses returned to him and he stood up. Something was clenched in his wrist and he looked into it. That was a paper the old man gave him, it was written,
East Remmerett village,
I will be waiting. I will not surrender. Come with your force to catch me.
The inspector smiled at the old man’s message. He could have gone after him. But deep inside his mind, he knew there was nothing wrong in what the old man did, he did what the police couldn’t and let the Gods decide what will become of him. It is the philosophy of life after all. He tore the paper and left it for the wind to play with.