At the Russian Roulette table

I was at the table. And he was there, too. And there was a gun, at the middle of the table. There were people all around us, around the table, standing on the top of other wooden tables, chairs and desks all around trying to catch a glimpse of the two of us. And we were here to play Russian Roulette.

The rules of the game, I was told, were very simple. There is a revolver and two people, and the gun is loaded in only one chamber. You keep doing turns and pull the trigger at your forehead. The last man standing, literally wins. I don't know why or how I was there. It was like your dreams. When what is happening in the imemdiate vicinity matters and the how or why disappears.

The man in front of me was slightly older: 40, maybe. The men around me were a mixed bunch. Their dusty yellow clothes seemed to be splattered with red spots. Some were older. Some even younger than I. And there was a man who was taking bets. His hands stuffed with notes and a small blunt greasy pencil and a paper pad. In the general commotion around, he was the only one who seemed to know what he was doing. The dust, the dim yellow light on the top of the table, the drunken voices --- it was all a kind of heart-throbbing stupor.

The man before me loaded the gun. All six chambers were empty, and he carefully inserted a bullet into one of them. And then spun them around. And the house went silent. I seemed to remember, right then. He was a man who had survived the last two such games he had played. The first one had been with a young lad -- maybe my age. The man had gone for it first, and in the second shot, when it was this young man's turn, the gun had gone off. The other time, again, the man in front of me had gone for the gun first. He was facing a sturdy fellow, someone who had seen the world. But after the first set of blank fires, the fourth chamber had killed him off. And now, the man, the 'survivor' in front of me, went for the gun and the first shot, again.

The room had been silent for some time now. But the silence around me was deafening, as he lifted the gun to his temples. There was a wry smile on his face, as if he knew that this was not his death. He closed his eyes, and I felt my heart stop. Gradually, the lines on his face drew to an intense expression, and he squeezed the trigger. Pufft!... it went. No bullet. And along with the rest of the room, I heaved a sigh. I realised that I had held my breath for a long long time. But then it dawned on me, it was my turn!

I could not look up towards the people around me. The collective murmur that had gathered after the last shot died out as I reached for the gun. I found my hand shaking. But this was not a time to be unsteady. "Steady, my friend!", I told myself. With a shaking hand, I raised the gun to my head. And then I closed my eyes... As I began to squeeze the trigger, I had a thousand thoughts racing through my head. Will I live? How are my mother and brother? Will I ever hear a sound again? What will happen? Can I not just run away?

Too late. I head the cranking of the inside of the barrel. The hammer went 'Clannnnnn... kk!!'. The sound reverberated through the barrel of the revolver, and close to my ear. But it was empty. The clank that I heard was the pufft that the others around me had listened to. And they heaved a sigh again. Whhoohh... said, everybody, and whoohh, said I. And I breathed normally again.

For the first time that evening, I was able to smile. I felt insanely happy, that I could breathe some more, could hear some more, and could see light for a little more time. But the man in front of me did not seem to share my happiness. This man was a winner of the last two games... this would be a hattrick if he sat through it. If I died, I though. With a grim face, he picked up the gun, and raised it to his head. It was so sudden. Perhaps it was too sudden for the rest of the room, too! They had just recovered from my shot, when this guy had it already to his head. And they all felt silent. This man seemed to have an attitude that said, "Enough, now lets get on with it". He seemed to know something, and was quietly confident. As soon as the noise in the room died down, he went for it. But you cannot be relaxed with a gun at your head. Just before he pulled the trigger, his face contorted with an indescribable expression -- the expression of one who sees death in his mind. This time, too, the familiar "punfffft" came out of the gun --- he was alive!

There seemed to be no escape as I went for the gun. The man who was taking bets around us suddenly seemed to be more popular. Everybody was eager to know the figures or to bet some more money. I however, suddenly felt as if I had nothing to lose. And so as I raised the gun towards my head, it seemed to go wonderfully empty. I was suddenly aloof, beyond the situation. I will face this, I thought. I wanted to see death come to me, and so kept my eyes open this time. It was wonderful, watching the expressions on the faces of people around me. Either they had not seen a man shoot himself with his eyes open before, or there was something really amusing around here. They seemed to have a blank look on their faces --- something altering between wonder and eagerness.

I pulled the trigger. The familiar clanking sound came out. The people who had placed their bets for me cheered loudly. And I came out of a stupor. "What was I doing here? Oh my God, please tell me this is a dream"... I thought. But unlike nightmares that end when you jerk them off, this didn't end so easily. As I tried to jerk my arms off the table and run away. But I was held down. By the people who had their bets on me. Or perhaps against me? There was no escape. I suddenly realised the meaning of "It was either him or me now".

The man in front of me reached for the gun again. He was smiling as he examined the gun. And then I realised. Oh my God!! 2-4-6!! I was to be killed in the sixth one... the others who had played with this man before me had perished on the second and fourth shots! And now I destined to die by the sixth! Perhaps this man knew how to spin the chambers! Perhaps this was a conspiracy! Perhaps I was mad!! Oh yes, I thought, I was mad. Nothing else explains all this madness!!

With my hands and shoulders tied down to my chair by a dozen men, I watched as the man raised the gun to himself. The was smiling the wry smile yet again. But his calmness was not to be seen. Perhaps he had not expected this to go on so long. Perhaps he was too sick by this time. Gradually, his smile faded as a sense of intense hatred and fear came over his face. I perhaps felt more sick than he did, and in spite of the sweat and shaking that my body had launched into, I could not move an inch as I was pinned down to the chair by those dozen arms. The man in front of me then pulled the trigger.

BANG!! The gun had gone off! I was expecting the "pufft", so to say, but instead, it was a bang! The brains of the man had been blown off, and the blood added fresh stains of red on the clothes of the people around me. Some just dusted it off. Others gathered around the man taking bets to get their dues. The people who were holding me down released me from theri grip. Blood seemed to flow through my arms and shoulders once again. I was shaking from head to foot! And was drenched in sweat, and dust. But for the first time in my life, I felt, ALIVE!!!



Ok junta... I am going home. So I will not be able to write for at least 20 days I think. Please bear with me. And yes, one last word --- the above was a work of fiction. I haven't gone mad... yet!

Comments

  1. Edenburgh!!!

    Well, Laddie,

    Try an Old Man's Blog...

    www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sudipta that was really some thing...My God!!! the way it was written!!! I was also caught into it....real good work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. hey ... i am loving it :)
    start on a book
    36 point some one ???? :)
    how about our 4 years in hostel please..

    This was really good.. give me more...

    ReplyDelete
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  5. woh...good one. that was a close shave!!
    anyway, remember me sir???
    Scotland is such a dreamy place..must be awesome being there. whats are u up to?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Snake Hunters, hey! welcome aboard. Will visit your blog in some time for sure. Not really full of time right now.

    Oindrilla, thanks :) You should have known my mom's reaction.

    Arumoy, thanks a lot. Now, I am beginning to wonder why you would specifically want 36-point someone? We'll see.

    Ryan, I have to give you this: you came, even passed word verification and then commented. Sorry, I am not going to your casinos :)

    Tweaky, I do remember you, dear! A lot of things... will tell you in some time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bristi, I don't know where you commented... so I'll reply to you here. I was at Asansol, and that is where my home is. Where are you from?

    ReplyDelete

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