“We need to teach that bastard a lesson. We can’t let him go just like that after what he did to us.” Samir was seething with rage.
On his left sat Harsha, bent low with pain after another of his coughing fit and on Samir’s right sat Saras, a thin and lanky 15 year old boy, wearing white fitted vest and tattered jeans.
Samir was the eldest of the three. He had a devil-may-care attitude about him. Being the son of a local MLA whose influence level and clout reached to the top bureaucrats and police officers. helped boost his over confidence and his smug arrogance.
Currently though Samir was seeing red and the entire force of his aggravation was directed towards Mr. Varun Mathur, their Science teacher. Earlier that day, Mathur had found the three boys behind the large water tank on the school high terrace in a highly intoxicated state. The three boys were missing classes for almost a week, but Mathur hadn’t been greatly distressed knowing very well that the wayward and troublesome boys attended school only to keep their parents happy and to kill time until they could go back to their home.
But when he had found these boys drinking merrily in as sacrosanct institution as a school, he felt infuriated. He would have dragged the filthy boys to the principal’s office but the boys were in no condition to walk. So he brought the school principal to witness the foul and horrible deeds of his students.
Few hours later the trio, in a much sober state, stood in front of the school principal in his office. Mr. Mathur stood beside the principal shaking his head solemnly and enjoying his fame in catching the culprits red-handed.
“Such shameful behavior in our school. You, Samir, have failed for 4 years and remained in the same class and now you want to spoil the future of the other students. We have kept you in our school because of your father, but now it’s getting out of hand. All three of you are suspended for a month and you need to get your parents tomorrow to school. Failing to do so will result in a permanent expulsion, so better take this warning seriously.”
The principal lectured the three students for an hour before finally letting them go. Samir was livid. He was a Chauhan, son of a powerful politician. Some old school principal couldn’t dare talk to him in that way.
He dialed his dad’s number on his mobile phone. He knew that his father would set things right.
Samir narrated the whole incident to his dad and emphasized that he and his friends were just having a little fun when one of his teacher had caught him and dragged him to the principal’s office.
“What is this Samir? How many times do I have to save your ass? Look, I’m busy in the election campaign and I can’t do anything that’ll give the opposition party a chance to smear my reputation. Do me a favor, lie low for few weeks. Take your friends and go to Goa. Don’t bother me”.
Samir was disappointed that his father couldn’t come to his rescue. He banged his fist against the nearest wall in frustration. His friends had overheard the conversation too.
“It’s ok Samir. We were not interested in classes anyway, maybe we should go to Goa”, Harsha tried to console Samir but it was a lame attempt that added fuel to the already raging fire within Samir.
Harsha started coughing badly and almost doubled up in pain. For the past few months, he had had incessant attacks of dry coughs and it took all his strength to survive through these bouts. He took out a small carafe and started drinking from it.
Immediately Saras perked up. “What’s that? Is that alcohol? Pass me some”? Saras, whose nerves had already started feeling jittery without alcohol running in his veins tried to whisk away the carafe in Harsha’s hands.
Harsha moved his hand away. “Its cough syrup, you idiot”, replied Harsha indignantly.
“Stop it you two, we need a plan to show Mathur the consequences of meddling with us”. Samir was now hell-bent on teaching his teacher a lesson. They decided to play a prank on him that he wouldn’t forget soon.
The three of them decided to visit Varun Mathur’s house and give him a scare, rough him up a bit.
“I have heard that his wife also lives with him. What if she opens the door”, asked Saras, still nervous and jittery.
“Then we teach her a lesson too”, replied Samir smirking at the thought of revenge.
“I have heard some rumors of his wife being dead and that ever since, he has been a little off-hinged, you know what I mean?” Harsha tried to explain, making a circular movement with his hands near his temple.
By now it was quite dark. The three climbed Samir’s car and headed off towards Mathur’s house. The light in the porch were out. Samir instructed Harsha to sit in the car and keep an eye out for Mathur, and to call them immediately if he returns home.
“Your coughing fits would alert anyone in the house. Just keep your eyes open”, Samir warned as he and Saras walked towards Mathur’s house.
Harsha, sitting in the front of the car, tried his best to keep his eyes fixed on the entrance of the house. But the cough syrup that he had consumed was having its effect. He slapped his face from right to left, but his eyelids drooped and sleep struggled to take over his mind.
He took his mobile and tuned to his favorite radio station and plugged the earphones into his ear. But unfortunately the radio station was playing a song that could even put a person high on the strongest of weeds to sleep.
“So gaya ye jahan, so gaya aasmaan,So gayi hain saari manzilen, so gaya hain rasta”
Harsha was fast asleep even before the first stanza of the song had been reached. If he had been awake he could have alerted the two boys when Mathur opened the gates and drove his bike inside.
But Harsha awoke only when a pair of hands pushed him aside violently and the car jerked forward in a breakneck speed.
Samir was steering the vehicle as if he had just seen a ghost. With his left leg he kicked Harsha hard on his shins and cursed him.
“You son of a bitch, you were supposed to call us. You would have killed us, you idiot.”
“But what happened inside? Why is Saras shaking like a leaf?” asked Harsha, a little disoriented by being woken up from his deep slumber.
Saras was shivering and sweating like a pig. “We saw his wife. She was there.”
“So?” replied Harsha bewildered.
“She is dead. There was a skeleton dressed in a sari and garish makeup with lots of red vermillion powder and a dark lipstick on her lips. I think Mathur killed her and has preserved her body in his house. It was a really scary sight.” Samir replied when Saras was unable to speak a word.
“How did you know that it was his wife”? Harsha asked, now scared of the evil Mr. Mathur, who he had always thought of as a harmless little man.
“Well, when Mathur saw us inside his house, he gave us a maniac grin and said, “Welcome aboard my house, boys. Do meet my wife, the pretty lady, Mrs. Mathur”, and he looped his hand in the arms of the skeleton.”
Harsha swallowed hard and almost fainted imagining the scene in his head.
Back in the house, Mr. Mathur was having a silent chuckle. It was good that he followed the three pranksters and heard their plans to play a joke on him. He patted the skeleton affectionately; he would have to return it to the biology lab tomorrow. He grinned to himself thinking that he had killed his non-existent wife. A bachelor murderer, yes that was him, alright.