- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
The Final Victim
- 04 Nov - 10 Nov, 2017
Yousuf, Mikhail and Neha rushed to see what had happened. Two girls standing outside the faculty cubicle were crying in agony. Mikhail asked one of them, “What happened?”
The girls could hardly speak. They were pointing towards the cubicle.
“Let me see,” Yousuf said walking towards the cubicle.
As he peeked inside, there was a lot of blood on the floor. A woman had just cut both her wrists and was trembling, as if she was about to die.
“Oh my God!” uttered Yousuf. He came out immediately and made a phone call.
“What is it?” Mikhail asked impatiently.
“Ma’am Sophie just tried to kill herself,” he spoke while on the phone.
A bunch of people were coming towards them. The place was crowded once again.
“I’m calling the ambulance,” Yousuf said.
There was a lot of noise. People were gathering and asking questions. Mikhail got a little angry and exclaimed, “Everybody, please quite!”
The faculty and staff was also gathering and making its way towards the cubicle. The two girls who had witnessed the scene were trying to tell Mikhail what had happened.
“Miss Sophie was quite upset since morning and she had asked us to arrange a knife for something important. We did as per her instructions. Then she asked us to leave. While we were leaving, we heard her scream. She had cut one of her wrists and as we went to see, she was cutting the other,” the girls told him.
“But why?” Yousuf inquired handing over his cell phone to Mikhail, “Do you know of any reason as to why she did this?”
“No, we don’t have a single clue. It was surprising for us.”
The male faculty members were making their way towards the cubicle.
“They are not answering,” Mikhail said regarding the helpline.
Yousuf looked at Neha, she was talking to a guy who had a brown beard and moustache. The guy’s forehead was hidden with his hair. Before Yousuf could reach them, the guy left. Feeling insecure, he asked Neha, “Who was he and what was he saying?”
“I don’t know who he was,” she answered, “he was asking me what had happened.”
Yousuf looked at that guy with long brown hair while he was walking away.
“Strange,” he whispered.
Looking at the tragic scene, almost everyone was making phone calls. Mikhail looked at Yousuf and said, “You wait here, I’ll go get a picture of her.”
Yousuf and Neha waited outside and looked at the crowd. Most of the people were crying, and the others were disturbed by the incident.
Next morning at the corridor of the campus, Mikhail and Yousuf were waiting for Zarish to show up. The friends weren’t talking as both were quite disturbed from what had happened a day before.
Zarish showed up after a moment, the boys looked at her, as if expecting some news. Zarish said, “I asked the management, the funeral prayer shall be conducted day after tomorrow.”
Mikhail nodded his head. Yousuf looked aside and closed his eyes. He had a glance of Saba before him. He opened his eyes immediately.
“Shall we?” Zarish asked referring to go for lunch.
“Sure,” Mikhail agreed.
The three of them started to walk until they heard a voice from behind, “Stop!”
They turned around to see. It was Professor Haseeb.
“Yes?” Yousuf spoke.
“I want to talk to you guys,” their professor continued, “there’s something you guys need to know.”
The three of them paid close attention to what he was about to say.
“I have heard of something that might be interesting. I’m telling this to you guys only, no other members in the campus.”
“Ok,” Yousuf said curiously, “what is it?”
“I’m sharing this with you guys because I find you three very intellectual.”
“Thank you,” Zarish smiled.
“What I’m telling you guys is that the suicide that took place yesterday was not exactly a suicide.”
There was silence for a moment.
“It was murder,” the professor continued, “not an exact murder but an indirect murder.”
“What does that mean?” Mikhail asked getting confused.
“Look, let me explain clearly, yesterday there was a suicide. Last week a student of our campus, Yahya, also committed suicide. While last month, a girl named Jaweria also killed herself, apparently.”
“We didn’t know of that,” Yousuf added.
“So my point is that there’s a connection in this series of events.”
The three of them agreed with his point.
“Days earlier,” the professor continued showing his cell phone, “I received a phone call from an anonymous guy. He said there will be suicides in your campus.”
The three of them looked at the cell number.
“So what I think,” he finished his statement, “is that this guy is forcing these people of our campus to commit suicides.”
The three of them were quite amazed.
“What do you want from us?” Zarish asked.
“As I told you,” he answered, “I find you three quite intellectual, so I just want you to investigate this. Police cannot be asked to do this job due to lack evidence.”
“Show me that cell number please,” Mikhail requested.
Yousuf was least interested but Mikhail had a reason to give it a try.
Hours later at Mikhail’s home, the three of them were seated in his bedroom. Zarish was writing down the names of the three suicide victims on a piece of paper. Mikhail was dialling the anonymous guy’s number, while Yousuf was least bothered to do anything.
“Why should we bother about it?” he said. “I mean, what if these suicides were just coincidental.”
“I’m doing this for my friend Yahya. I’m still grieving for him.”
“But I can’t see a connection between them,” Zarish added.
“Well, the number is powered off,” Mikhail told them, “we don’t have much to start with.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Yousuf made his point, “we don’t know for sure that whether there is a killer behind this or if all of this is just a coincidence.”
“Do you think Sir Haseeb is just making this stuff up?” Zarish spoke up.
“No, not at all,” Mikhail replied confidently. “He’s not like that. We all know him for his honesty and high morality.”
“Well then, let’s just wait,” Yousuf suggested.
“For what?” Mikhail asked.
“For another suicide,” he answered, “if another suicide takes place inside our campus then we can know,”
“I think he’s right,” Zarish supported him.
“Ok,” Mikhail agreed, “so in the meantime, what should we do?”
“Let’s concentrate on our studies as usual,” Zarish suggested.
The three friends talked for a while and had supper.
That night, as Yousuf had returned to his home and was about to sleep, he heard his cell phone ringing. It was Neha, so he quickly answered the call, “Hello, Neha!”
“Yousuf, how are you?”
“I’m good, is everything ok, my love?”
“I didn’t want to disturb you but I need a little favour”
“Sure, no problem,” he spoke impatiently. “What is it?”
“My uncle from Canada, I miss him and want to speak to him. I’m running short of credit.”
“So you need credit for your phone?”
“But I don’t want to give you any trouble”
“Oh, no trouble at all. Just wait, I’ll go and get it for you.”
Yousuf left everything and went out for her. He loved nothing more than pleasing Neha because she meant everything to him.
He discovered that his bike was out of fuel. So he walked towards the easy load shop, instead.
As he reached there, he noticed that the shops were closed.
For a while, he kept thinking where else to go, and remembered a place that was quite far from where he was at that time. Also, it was not safe for him to go there at that time of night.
Without giving it a second thought, he started running towards that place. It was a journey of several miles. However, he covered it within half an hour.
He transferred Rs. 500 worth of credit into Neha’s phone. After receiving the balance, she called Yousuf.
“Hello...” he answered the call with a deep, tired breath.
“Yousuf, you’re so kind,” she said in a pleasing voice, “I’m so sorry to put you through this.”
“Come on, don’t say that.”
“You’re really a very nice person. I really wish I could return this favour,” she told Yousuf.
“You don’t have to. Just take care of yourself.”
“Thank you, Yousuf.”
“Love you… bye!”
He disconnected the call feeling extremely delighted at what he had done and made his way back home.
Few days later on a Sunday night, Mikhail was with his cousin, Abid. They were standing at Mikhail’s balcony and talking.
“Zarish means a lot to me,” Mikhail said, “but she’s not everything to me.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that while I do love her, I am not willing to sacrifice everything for her. My love has limits, and it should.”
“But that’s the problem with my friend Yousuf. He doesn’t understand this. I’ve tried to explain this to him that his love for this girl Neha is becoming an obsession – one that might have bad consequences.”
“Who’s Neha? His girlfriend?” Abid asked.
“Not exactly his girlfriend. She’s just a friend to him.”
“Yousuf… is he the one because of whom a girl committed suicide.”
“Yes,” Mikhail replied.
“Oh, I know him. He’s a nice, sensitive guy.”
“Sensitive and weak.”
Meanwhile at another corner of the city, Zarish was with her maternal aunt, Zamrud. Her aunt was very close to her and she used to visit her every Sunday.
That day she spoke to her aunt in a rather sad tone.
“Things are getting really depressing at our university. People are committing suicides.”
“No kidding, really?”
“There have been three suicides this year, consecutively.”
“That’s too bad,” her aunt responded, “suicide is an act of cowardice. People who are not strong enough to move on and confront life, commit suicides. It’s a big sin.”
“Life is painful though. I think we would understand them if we would go through the same.”
“No Zarish, you have to be strong. Everyone faces tough times, it’s all about strength and courage.”
Zarish remained silent and gave her aunt’s words a thought.
Days later at their campus, a 22-year-old girl Parvati was standing at the corridor, paying attention to someone who was talking to her and convincing her about something.
“You lost your mother’s love because of your boyfriend. That inhuman boyfriend dumped you for another girl. You have no idea about how much suffering you’ll face in life.”
“Oh God!” she wept silently, “what am I going to do?”
“You’re going to see signs everywhere. The biggest of them would be your mother’s hostility towards you for the rest of your life.” She cried even more.
“You know what I would have done?” the mysterious person continued talking, “I would have ended this suffering once and for all. I would have committed suicide.”
Meanwhile at the cafeteria, the three friends Mikhail, Yousuf and Zarish were seated. Mikhail’s cell phone began to ring and he received the call.
“It’s Professor Haseeb,” said the voice from the other end of the phone.
“Hello,” said Mikhail.
“Mikhail...” Professor Haseeb spoke helplessly, “I just received an unknown call. The caller told me that another suicide would take place in the campus, within few minutes.”
“Oh no, really?”
“Yes, and his voice seemed similar to the previous one.”
“Oh my God! Ok, we’ll do something about it.”
Mikhail disconnected the call.
“Who was it?” Yousuf asked curiously.
“Professor Haseeb just received a call,” Mikhail explained standing up, “from the same caller few minutes ago. And that guy told him that there will be another suicide within few minutes.”
“What?” Zarish got shocked.
“What if someone’s just doing pranks on him?” Yousuf asked.
“Well, we should do something about it,” Mikhail said before leaving the cafeteria.
Back at the top floor, Parvati was crying out loud. The mysterious person kept convincing her.
“Your mom will make your life hell. Your father will also hate you when he’ll find out. The guy who dumped you doesn’t have any feelings for you.”
“I don’t care about him!” she explained angrily. “He didn’t dump me, we had a breakup.”
“But what you’ve done cannot be restored. Your friends and relatives will look at you with utmost disgust after they find out about it.”
“I just want to die, but I’m afraid.”
“Don’t be afraid, my dear. Suicide is not painful, trust me.”
Meanwhile at the other side of the campus, Mikhail and Zarish were running around to inform others. As they were stopped by a group of students, they started to tell them the whole story. But before long, they all heard a scream of girls from a distance. Mikhail and Zarish left the students and rushed to see what had happened.
A crowd was gathered near the building. Mikhail ran as fast as he could to see what he was already expecting. Parvati was lying dead on the ground. There was blood all around her head. Mikhail heard someone saying, “I saw her. She jumped from right there.”
“Yes, it was a suicide,” someone else added.
Mikhail looked ahead and saw Yousuf standing. Yousuf was shattered. He was looking at the dead body as if it reminded him of something. He wasn’t moving and was getting pushed by the crowd.
“Yousuf!” Mikhail called him out.
Upset, Yousuf left the spot instantly.
Moments later, while he was standing at the parking area of his campus, he hallucinated that Saba was standing right in front of him. Avoiding the image, he rushed towards his bike to leave.
That night around 11 o’clock, Yousuf was sitting in a nearby garden with a close friend. His friend saw that Yousuf was silently weeping, so he asked him politely, “If you don’t mind Yousuf, can I ask why you’re so upset today?”
“I’m running from my past.”
“Running from your past?”
Yousuf looked straight for a while and saw Saba’s image once again standing before him. He turned his head down to avoid her.
“Are you ok?” his friend asked.
“It has been more than three years,” Yousuf started narrating, “it was my second year in college. There was a girl, Saba. She was dark-skinned and not at all attractive. In fact, she was ugly.”
“I see, so what happened?”
“She was in love with me. I swear that I’ve never seen anyone as kind and caring as her. She had a very kind heart, especially for me”
“Is she not alive anymore?”
to be continued...