Jumping off a moving bus is an art form all public transport users in Kolkata are well acquainted with, and Soumya was no different. He took a couple short quick steps to balance himself, and then came to a halt.
He took a quick glance at his watch, a scruffy steel Titan, it was ten to two. His eyes then turned to the employment section of the newspaper clutched in his right hand once more.
There were about six read circles marked around the page and most of them had a large X through the middle. He looked at a particular ad on the third column for a few minutes and then started walking with an eye on the buildings.
In a few moments he reached the address. It was a large four storey apartment building that still looked to be in the final stages of construction.
Soumya glanced at the Ad again, “Glamorous desk job in a fairly recent start up. Looking for young, dynamic and talented people from the newer generation. Lucrative salary for the right candidate.”
By no means did it look like a well equipped building, but in the second line it read, “Office on 2nd floor, Walk in 10 am onwards.”
He muttered a hasty prayer to the Gods above, just as he had a thousand times in his 3 years of unemployment. He quickly used his reflection on the store window beside him to smooth the creases of his white shirt and grey pinstriped trousers.
Thoughts of past failures weighed heavily on his spirit even as his feet carried him up the stairs.
He was pleasantly surprised when he arrived on the 2nd floor. In front of him was a pleasant looking modern Plexiglas door with the words, Miracles Unlimited Pvt. Ltd., were stamped.
Pushing open the door he found himself in a quaint little reception. A middle aged man, wearing broad rimmed spectacles, behind the desk looked up at the sound of the door. He smiled when he met Soumya’s eyes. “Here for the interview?” he asked. “Uh, yes. Yes I am.” Said Soumya.
There were two chairs and a sofa arranged around a coffee. The gestured to the sofa with his right hand and said, “Please take a seat. The boss will see you shortly.” He gave a small nod towards the only other door leading out the reception. This was a solid wooded door, highly polished to a mirror like finish. Strangely there was no name plate on it.
Soumya sat on the sofa and casually looked around the reception. It was sparsely decorated. The white walls were decorated with a few framed certificates and pictures and a potted plastic fern stood in one corner.
A few minutes passed on and slowly apprehension started to creep in. Why weren’t any other people coming? Was the interview already over? Was he too late? All these nasty thoughts started swirling around in his head. He did badly at the other interviews and was banking his hope on this one.
He was just wondering on whether the receptionist was in a good enough mood to ask if he was late when he felt eyes on him. He looked up to see the man staring at him with kind eyes over the top of his glasses.
“Nervous?” the man asked with a smile.
“Yes, it’s so late and the ad didn’t specify the number of vacancies and –“
“No need to worry son, the boss is a benevolent guy and believes in a fair shot for everybody.”
“Ah that’s really good to hear. Now I know I have a shot. That’s some good news for a change.”
The man gave a sympathetic nod and offered him a glass of water, “Been on the market for a while now, huh, son?”
The man’s voice was had a magical elegance to it and it struck a chord deep inside Soumya. Before he could stop himself he poured out his tale. How he was unemployed for nearly three years after finishing his studies, how his friends slowly deserted him as they adjusted to their new careers and roles, no matter how much he wished he couldn’t keep them close. How much he hated seeing the disappointment in his parent’s eyes. He did not belong to a poor family but it was a financial drag to support a man in his twenties with no job.
“Been to too many interviews have you son? They say you get one job for every 100 interviews.”
He had left his desk and now sat on the chair next to Soumya with a reassuring hand on him shoulder.
Soumya gave a little smile before he started recounting the number of interviews he had been to and been rejected.
“Nowdays I just leave the house every morning with the employment page. My parents have stopped caring about where I go. Every night I promise them tomorrow will be different but I can see the glint of hope dying in their eyes little by little each day.”
‘There there, beta you never know your life might just change today.”
“You are the perfect candidate for this post. You might have noticed that the ad called especially for people like you. The boss also faced the same plight, shunned by both society and family because of one tiny mistake. He toiled hard for years till he came up with a brilliant idea and set up his own venture.”
“Wow, so he’s a self made man, that’s inspiring. Hope this interview goes well.” Soumya said, quite impressed with the boss.
“Don’ worry so much. As I said son, the boss is a good judge of people. Just look at me! An old man as the receptionist in such a swanky office. Would you believe my rivals in the interview were young attractive women?
Your story really touched me. I will put in a good word for you, don’t worry.”
There was buzz from the phone at his desk. The man got up and went back to his desk.
“The boss will see you now. Just relax and take it easy.”
“It’s show time.” Soumy thought as he stood up and started walking towards the door. Even though he was yet to lay eyes on the elusive ‘boss’ he could feel a sense of respect for the man rising up within him.
He knocked twice with his knuckle and pushed open the door.
“Good afternoon” he started to say but the words died in his mouth and feel like stones to his stomach as he scanned the more closely.
The entire room was bare and covered with plastic sheets. A lone metal table dominated the centre of the room. Before he could even think of turning around a hand clamped a damp cloth over his face and soon his nostrils were engulfed in a sweet sickly smell.
Soumya tried opening his eyes but his eyelids felt as heavy as lead. He was vaguely aware of a whirring sound coming from the roof and the icy grip of the metal table on his back. Slowly, after blinking a few times, he managed to get them open. All he could see was a bright light, then he realised that he was lying on his back and staring at a powerful light that shone on him from the ceiling. He tried to move his head but it was impossible to do so. It was secured with a thick leather strap across his forehead.
“Now now Mr Soumya, that’s not nice.” A cold voice emanated from somewhere to his left. He heard the crinkling of plastic as the receptionist stepped into the light.
It was the same voice, except now it was devoid of its warmth and chilled him to the bones.
The words were spoken with nonchalance, paying no heed to the mortality of the situation.
“Where am I?” Soumya tried to ask. No sooner than he had opened his mouth and uttered a few groggy syllables a rubber gloved hand clamped his mouth shut.
“Sssh. Let me tell you a story.”
“There once was a boy who dreamed of being a doctor and helping people. He thought his dreams as about to be fulfilled when years of hard work paid off and he was accepted in one of the premier medical institutes in the country.
For three years it was everything he had dreamt it would be. But alas, he did not realise that fate had other plans for him. Soon everything changed.
He had a lot of friends in college but He was closest to his roommate Sankar and his girlfriend Shivani. Young and in love, they fooled around until one day Shivani got pregnant.
The distraught young couple sought help from their prodigal friend. They all but fell on his feet to perform an illegal abortion on her.”
“Oh stop it with the 3rd person, I know this boy is your boss.”
“Yes” came forth a frightening whisper, “he is. I am self employed you see.” A short burst of high cold laughter followed those words.
“Now where were we?” he mused stroking his chin.
“I was willing to do anything for my friends, I knew pre marital pregnancy would forever ruin Shivani’s reputation and I wasn’t going to let that happen to a good girl. I convinced myself that I knew all the procedures how difficult can practicality be? Let me put my skill and knowledge to good use.”
“Alas, it did not go as we had planned. There were some complication with the procedure and Shivani ended up being admitted to the hospital with lacerations on her hymen.
Sankar did not bat an eye and threw me under the bus. My scholarship was cancelled, my reputation was tarnished and I was thrown out of college.
Dark days ensued, darker than you had ever have had to face. No money, no friends, no one to turn to for help, shunned everywhere I went. I thought I had gone mad for a while.
One day an article in the newspaper caught my eye. A young couple engaged in the medical profession had opened a new clinic in the city. No prizes for guessing who they were. Sankar and Shivani, still together and happy, now legally married with two kids and a great future ahead of them. Out there living their dream. They didn’t even spare a thought for the best friend whose life they ruined. No invite to the wedding, no attempt to get in touch. The two faced bastards took everything that was supposed to me mine and now they were out there rubbing shoulders with every who’s who out there.
Five years had passed since that fateful day and I decided it was finally time I took control of my life.”
“How?” screamed Soumya half in rage and bursting terror. “By killing innocent people?”
“No son, I asked myself again, I know it all, every aspect needed to properly to dismantle a human body. How can i use it? And that was when I came up with the idea of this business.”
He started to slowly pace around the table, calmly watching Soumya’s futile skirmish against the restraints.
“Do you know how much you are worth on the black market?” he asked, gently picking up a scalpel from a tray of instruments kept nearby. The light glinted of its keen edge as he brought it close to his eyes and examined it for a moment.
He then placed its reverse edge on Soumya’s bare chest and slowly traced out the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
Soumya started shivering the moment the cold scalpel touched him and as it wove around his body he started trembling uncontrollably.
Another short cruel bark of laughter followed these words.
“You see Soumya, not only will I carve out your organs but I will drain your blood, harvest your spinal fluid and salvage your retinas.” He whispered lovingly. This was clearly a man who loved his job, an artist in his own right and there was a fresh canvas every week.
Soumya’s heart was beating louder than drums in his ears but it still felt as if his blood had stopped flowing, a freezing numbness was slowly creeping in. Wild ideas of escape and ridiculous fantasies of rescue raced through his inflamed mind.
“Sir, let me go, I promise not to tell anyone.”Soumya managed to sob out. “I don’t even know who you are Sir. Please. My parents will go mad with grief. If I disappear you will be caught. The police will find –“ before he could go on with his tirade of ranting and pleading the hand clamped down on his mouth once more.
“Son you will have to do better I am afraid. I have heard far more lucrative offers and far harsher threats than what have to offer. It did not stop me before and it certainly wont stop me know. I have been doing this for nearly two decades and thanks to the contributions of my patients the black market never faces a shortage of organs. Business is so good that prices are actually coming down.”
“As for your parents, they might be sad for a while but soon they will come to terms with the fact that their no-good failure son couldn’t take the humiliation any further and finally ran off.”
“You are a FUCKING monster.” Soumya managed to scream through the clamped fingers.
There was a shuffle as the man finally brought his face close to Soumya’s. The warm inky pools which engaged him in the reception had turned into black holes, contracted in fury.
In a calm voice he said, “To you I may be a monster, but to the thousands of destitute waiting to die and praying for a miracle I grant life. To them I AM GOD.”
He then picked up a syringe from the tray and pushed the plunger to test it. He then placed the needle on a vein in Soumya’s neck.
“Goodbye Soumya, be comforted with the knowledge that in life you were a useless cretin of society but in death you will finally be of use to people. And do not bother praying to your Gods, for if there are any they have long abandoned you. After I am done what’s left of you will be buried deep under layers of garbage where not even the worms will find you.”
The sharp prick of the needle and was the last sensation Soumya ever felt before being washed away in the crushing darkness.