It was getting dark and cloudy with a nip in the air. I could see no one around in the park and did not wish to sit there anymore. As I was getting up from the bench, I saw a dark figure hurrying towards me. I could only see the silhouette signaling frantically with its hand to wait for him. I was a little jittery and wished to move away quickly. But, the figure was faster than me and was by my side asking me to sit down for a few minutes.
It was a tall and big man draped in black blanket with a long mustache. The eyes were big and sharp and the white teeth pronounced. He looked strange though he smiled at me.”Do not be afraid. No harm will come to you. I need a small help from you as you seem to belong to this place” he said.
I mustered courage to ask “Who are you? You don’t look like a human with your unusually large frame. Tell me first before I decide to help you or not”
“Ok, let me not beat around the bush. Hold your breath! I am a Yamaduta(messenger of God of death) looking for one guy in this town” he said
“Where does my help come?” I asked
“It is like this. Such a thing has never happened in the annals of Yamaloka. Our boss Chitragupta maintains a record that is known for its infallibility and accuracy. Strangely and inexplicably something that is unheard of, a few pages of the record is found missing. There cannot be vested interests tampering with records as in your world. We are moving heaven and earth to locate. Our master Yamaraj is furious and worried about his reputation.
By chance we came to know that one Sugavaneshwaran from this town is due to die today . I have no clue about him except for his name and town. I must take his life today if I value my job. You must tell me where that guy lives here. Luckily his name is uncommon and can be easily found out” narrated the worried Yamaduta.
I assured him “Do not worry. I was born here and am living all my life and know almost all the people here being in the postal department. Give me five minutes to think undisturbed. Ply me with no questions”
“Take even 30 minutes. You are my savior. But remember I have no clue except his name and town. Make sure you do not make a mistake”
An evil idea took over my mind. I have been under great financial strain. My landlord who lives a few houses adjacent to mine has been pressing for the rental that I owe for seven months. Three days back he made a scene outside my house with neighbours watching and threatened he would throw out my belongings outside if I failed to pay within a fortnight.
My wife had also been complaining that he frequented the house almost daily when I was not there casting his lecherous eyes on her and even obliquely suggesting a couple of times that the problem of arrear rental can be sorted out amicably.
This was a god send opportunity to solve my problem. I wasted no time. Pretending that I suddenly remembered the victim’s name, I uttered rather loudly “Eureka, I know where your quarry lives. I remember his name very well. Have no worry as your problem is solved.”
The Yamaduta jumped in joy and exclaimed “Where is he? Tell me here and now. I will carry out my assignment and be gone to my place in satisfaction.”
“The man lives close to my house. He is a short and fat fellow. He is middle aged and answers to the name Sugavaneshwaran. He is married…”
Even as I was continuing to describe, the fearsome man cut me short telling,” I don’t need all these details. I will rely on your word. Just show me his house. Is there any other man in the house to confuse me?”
I said none even as I pointed out my landlord’s house. He thanked me and disappeared in thin air.
The next morning my wife came running hurriedly as I was lazily rolling on my bed and said “I cannot believe it. It seems our landlord died of a sudden heart attack around 7Pm yesterday. The poor lady is wailing in great grief at this tragedy. Get ready .We will go there.”
The next day when I left early for work, my wife asked me why I was leaving earlier than my usual time. With a poker face I replied “I am going to Newspaper office to insert an advertisement changing my name to Sukumar from Sugavaneshwaran.”