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Broken Balance

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He had an insane smile playing on his face. Death was funny to him. Every single time he held that gun, he felt like he was playing god. The Brahmin with the red windbreaker was on the ground with a neat bullet wound in his temple. The smell of iron was heavy in the air triggering the reflex to vomit. He whispered, “Lucky shot.”

The black water laps the shore. The cold air brings a bitter chill to my bones. The echoes of my footsteps fill the empty silence. I walk forward following the in and out breathing of the river. At the edge of the shore there is a little boy huddled in an oversized sweater. I nudge him with the toe of my boot.

“Boy, what is your name?”

He wakes up with a jolt, roughly wiping the tears off his face. “I don’t have one.”

“What do you mean? Everyone has a name.”

“Not me.”

I stop for a second. “I usually go alone, but I think I can make an exception. You’re just the person I’ve been looking for.”

He looks up to my clean-shaven face and eyes the red windbreaker. He stands motionless. “Who are you?”

“My name is Vashi, I believe that…”

I pull out a picture of Shiva, “I believe that this god, is me.”

He nods slowly, his face blank. I take out a book from my pocket and scribble a tally in the pages.

“Come on boy, let’s go.”

I take him on my back, his arms tight around my neck, and I start to walk. We settle down in an abandoned trailer for the night and I get a small fire is going. There is nothing to say. I take out my notebook and flip to my chart, mentally calculating my next steps.

He is first to break the silence. “Why do we cry?”

I pause my frantic scribbling to look up. It takes me a second. “I don’t know. I’ve never cried before.” I smile instead and stand up. “Let me show you something.”

My hands are trembling as I offer my notebook to him; on the pages are a mess of tallies and markings scribbled all over. On one side, the word good is scrawled across the top, and the word evil on the other.

“What is this?”

“I have a theory. We are the game pieces and the gods are the players. I am here to find the shortcut to moksha, for every evil I do, I can compensate with the balance of good. I think I can win.”

I take him outside to the back of the trailer. The body’s still there, the dark hole in his temple evident against his pale skin. I nudge the corpse with the toe of my boot. “For every evil, I make a good.”

“You killed him.”

“I had to.”

I wake up the next morning to the rain and the gun is pointed against my temple.

“Why did you have to do it?”

The hard steel bites against my skin. He shifts the gun between his fingers, the weight uncomfortable in his hand.

“Because life is just a sick game being played on the world. To help people like you, people like us. We are not just the untouchables. We are more. We both need a second chance.”

He pulls out a lighter. “I’m not an untouchable.”

“What?”

He flicks the flame on. “I’m a Brahmin.”

I can’t register what’s happening, my face contorts in shock. Then I finally realize. “That man. That first evil...”

He swallows. “You killed my father that day.”

The boy’s sweater is drenched no longer in brown, but red, the same red as my windbreaker. I touch my jacket wondering how this could change everything. I was so sure that we could start over, but I now know, I’m wrong.

“Why are you crying?”

“I don’t know. It’s a new feeling. ”

“You’re going to die.”

“I know.”

The flame licks the edge of the paper and I watch as the book burns. The pages curl into bits of ashes, some fly astray and land on my cheeks.

“Yet you still smile?”

“Because I am thankful that you gave me a moment, that you gave me this chance to reconsider the world. I can feel again and it’s not that bad.”

The boy’s grip on the trigger trembled.

“Why are you hesitating?”

“I’m not.”

“Are you confused?”

“No.”

“It’s okay. This is your duty as a son and I understand.”

“Why did you have to make it so hard?”

I close my eyes.


“I don’t want this.”

I open my eyes and the gun is on the ground.

“I’m sorry.”

It would have hurt less if I had taken the bullet than watching him leave.







MORAL: people cannot dictate other people’s fate only the gods can determine fate




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