- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
The Red Piano
- 22 Sep - 28 Sep, 2018
I would have probably strangled him to death since I could see the redness on his neck.
“Oh, dear God! I’ve murdered someone again.” I said in despair.
I moved around the house oblivious of my next move and looked at the walls, feeling as if they were watching me. I felt terrible for what I just did.
Then I opened the balcony’s doors and left the space. I dragged the piano as hard as I could and put all my strength, for it was really heavy. I hauled it to the balcony but it got blocked because of the railing. But I decided to destroy it once and for all, by throwing it down the building. I should have known that this was an emotional decision that I would later badly regret.
I lifted and pushed the piano with as much force as I could, until half of the piano’s body was in the air. Then I pushed the instrument and finally it was out. I peeked outside and saw while it falling down on a vehicle.
The fall produced a loud noise. It felt as if the whole building had collapsed. After this, I moved back and thought of escaping the spot.
Within few minutes, I picked up all my belongings, except for the mattress. To calm myself down, I freshened up in the bathroom. Then I locked the house, kept the keys with myself and finally escaped.
Several minutes later, I was standing outside a cheap two-star hotel. I needed a place to stay or should I say a place to hide myself. I took the name of God and went to the reception to enquire about the charges.
“How much for one night?” I asked the receptionist.
“Rs. 2000,” the receptionist replied.
“And what about food?”
“What about it?” he got confused.
“I mean, do you guys serve food?”
“Yes, we do sir. We have different menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
“I see. Anyway, I’ll be staying here for at least one week or probably more. Please arrange a clean room for me.”
“One more thing, I need you to make sure that the room you’re giving me does not have anything with the colour red in it.”
“Does not have anything with the colour red?” he repeated my statement for confirmation. “Sorry, I probably didn’t listen to you carefully?”
“You heard me right. I don’t want anything red in the room.”
“Seriously? Can I ask why?”
“No, you cannot. I’m sorry, pardon me please.”
He gave me a weird look, as if judging me.
“Really?” he asked with curiosity.
“You know what, forget it. Just forget it. Give me whatever room you have, and then I’ll remove whatever I need to.”
Then he looked at the key holder and after taking a thorough look, he coincidently picked up a red coloured keychain. Before handing it over to me, he realised the mistake, then apologised and immediately removed the key chain, and finally handed over the keys to me.
Next hour, I unlocked the door and entered inside. I switched on the fan and lights. The room was as big as the rooms of the apartment I was previously living in. I somewhat liked the place but was conscious about the colour red, which was why I was still looking for it everywhere. Apparently, I couldn’t find it anywhere but kept looking with a conscious eye. My next step was to sleep for as long as I could, so that I could get proper rest. My mind was in need of freedom – freedom from guilt, desire and the pressures of life.
As far as my luggage was concerned, I was totally clueless. Because today I received two calls from the airport and I missed both. My luggage had really important stuff but I didn’t really care anymore because right now, I wanted nothing more than peace of mind. The more I was seeking it, the tougher it was getting for me to be at peace.
If only money could cure my state of mind, I would have invested all of it. But I was trying to keep myself away from all kinds of drugs because the only thing that badly scared me was addiction. And it is the worst of all curses that can happen to a human. I had destroyed the root of my addiction but who I knew, I was going to regret it afterwards.
After a while, I locked my room and went outside the hotel with my wallet tucked in my trousers. I actually came for lunch but spotted a clothing shop nearby. I really wanted to change my clothes that I had been wearing for a long time. As I stopped outside the shop, I saw a 50 per cent discount sale. I walked into the shop in excitement and immediately picked up some comfortable clothes. Then I walked towards the counter to pay the bill. After that, I went back to the hotel, as I was really hungry. So I walked up to my room and unlocked the door. All this while, I was afraid of seeing the colour red again.
However, I opened the door and everything was fine. I felt relieved but my heart kept beating really fast. I felt that something bad was about to happen and to some extent this feeling turned out to be true.
I looked at my face in the mirror and then as soon as I turned towards the opposite direction, I bumped into someone. I fell back in fear and as I looked up, I saw the doctor, whom I had killed, standing right in front of me. His forehead had a bleeding hole. I screamed in terror. But he was there for just a few seconds and then disappeared. I looked around the room but he was not there anymore. The sight left me flabbergasted.
I then realised that it was not real and I was probably hallucinating because of my loneliness. I stood up and began to move towards the bathroom and shut the door in fear as soon as I stepped in.
I had a feeling that I would hallucinate again and prepared myself to not be afraid of it. I exhaled and turned behind to check if there was someone but there wasn’t. I smiled looking at the mirror and saw the doctor’s face again. I got startled and yelled out moving backwards.
As I blinked, he wasn’t there anymore. Well of course, he was just in my mind and wasn’t going to leave me so easily. I felt my heart beating really fast and wondered if it’s a heart attack.
Speaking of heart attack, it reminds me of Raheel’s father. I am a murderer of his father, as well. Nobody really knows but I have also, indeed, killed him. The heart attack was caused because of no other reason but my own immorality. I deserve this life of pain and suffering. I am not a good person. One can’t reason with a guy like me.
People don’t speak of me at all. I think they hardly know me. I murdered people to grab their attention. One can consider that but it is absolutely not true. I killed because I was forced to. The part of me that became the murderer was not in my control. Honestly speaking, I am the kind of guy who has always been afraid of seeing murders. And whatever part of me has actually become a murderer, is certainly not me.
That night while asleep, I woke up shivering. As I opened my eyes and looked around, I felt extremely uncomfortable. My ears and my sense of hearing were affected. I didn’t know what was happening. How do I know what I want? I had no idea.
But I realised that all I needed was to hear the tunes of the piano, for it was getting really painful for me to bear. What should I do now? I wondered. The piano is not available anymore. But I was severely in need to hear its sound. I cried for someone to save me.
My body was shaking, especially my hands. How could I stop it? I had never felt as hungry, as thirsty or as sleepy ever, for I was now craved for the sound of the musical instrument.
I sat up and looked at my body, as it kept shivering. I wanted the piano so much that I couldn’t help it. How could I get rid of this feeling? Could somebody help me get through it? I kept crying asking for someone’s help.
The whole night went on like this but I eventually fell asleep.
For two or more days, my condition was the same. I was avoiding the colour red and my body was in dire need of the piano that I had destroyed. I used to go and take a bath whenever I felt uncomfortable. It felt as if the time had stopped. One minute felt like one hour.
When things were getting beyond control, I finally did what I should have done a little earlier. I called up my friend Raheel and told him about what I was going through. Then I asked him to visit me and take me to the doctor.
He arrived within an hour. I told him everything about killing the landlord, destroying the red piano and my days here at the hotel. I noticed a white envelope in his hands. After listening to me, he said, “Look Amir, now here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to ease your conscience by getting rid of your guilt. You’re going to make just one phone call and then everything will be fine. You will feel normal after a few hours.”
I got really curious as to what he was about to tell me to do.
“Pick up the phone and...” he said and continued, “call the police. Confess everything and surrender like a good citizen. You will feel better, I’m telling you.”
I don’t know why I didn’t argue and silently agreed with him.
Then he said, “If you want all those dead people to get justice, then let the law decide your punishment. You might not like the idea now, but you’ll thank me later.”
I gave it a long thought and asked Raheel, “What will be my punishment?”
“Most probably death, but it could be life imprisonment or something similar.”
“No, I want death. That’s the only thing that can save me from this torment.”
“Maybe. So when are you making the phone call?”
I held up my cell phone and asked him to dial the police’s number. He dialled and handed the phone over to me. I was really afraid but I waited for them to answer my call. A man picked up my phone and I started confessing without even giving my introduction.
“Hello sir, I am a murderer of three innocent people. I killed them with my own hands and have left no trace behind. I just want you to come here and arrest me for my crime.” I said giving them the address of this place. Then I saw Raheel check the envelope he held in his hands. After that I ended my call saying, “Please come here as quickly as you can because I am a dangerous person who can kill anybody, any time now.”
I disconnected the call and Raheel kept smiling, as I looked up at him.
“Mr Amir,” he spoke trying to encourage me, “I am really proud of you.”
I didn’t reply because I had no words. However, I was quite afraid of what might happen.
After five minutes before Raheel left, he handed over the white envelope to me and said, “Amir, this is for you. But I want you to read it after I leave.”
“Sure.” He left the room immediately and after few minutes, I opened the envelope and took out a paper. Then I finally read the note written by Raheel.
Dear Friend Amir,
You have always been very secretive but today you’ll know that I am better than you in keeping secrets. You never let me know that it was you who planted the crime on my brother that cost my father a heart attack. And likewise, I never let you know that I knew it all time. But that’s not it, I am here to finally reveal that you have never murdered anyone deliberately; all of the people that you have killed – your ex-wife’s husband, the doctor and your landlord. They were all murdered by me. I had been following you everywhere since the day you arrived here. I planted all those murders on you, the moment you experienced the blackouts. In short, you are completely innocent. But you will pay for my crimes the way my father paid for your actions.
The paper fell off my hands, for I was in shock. I realised that I had no memory of committing those murders and how Raheel was standing right behind me during the doctor’s murder. I’ve been framed.
The next thing, I heard was a knock on my door.
“This is the police. Open the door!” I heard the police shouting. I was getting arrested for a crime that I did not commit. What should I do now? I wondered.
I think I should now surrender, as there is no other option for me. I walked towards the door to open it but I soon thought about escaping. I could actually escape through the balcony, like I earlier did. Then I thought of surrendering.
I had to make a choice. I have two options and one choice. Time, as usual, is short and the choice is big. During moments like this, instead of making a decision, I don’t select my option giving it a thought. I just do it.
So I left the door and thought of escaping. But how far can I go? What if the cops are standing downstairs as well?
Or should I give this escape a try.
Here, I was stuck between an escape and surrender. •