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He Should Have Realized It
by Archana Sarat (Prose - Short Story) | Published On:

These were people he did not know. He hadn’t seen them before in the Party Office. He should not have gone out with them. When they poured out glasses and glasses of the country hooch, he shouldn’t have drunk it. He should have realized it but he did not.

They took him for the funeral. He always cried when he was drunk and he cried there too. She lay there, in the coffin, shrunk, shriveled and embalmed—a mere shadow of what she was before. He wept his heart out, though it wasn’t for her. People saw him; they comforted him. He should have realized it then but he did not.

Then, they fed him chicken biriyani—it had actual chicken pieces in it! It wasn’t like what Rafeeq Bhai served—a bowl of flavoured rice with few pieces of bones that resembled the remains of a crow rather than a hen. He ate three plates. They looked on fondly urging him to eat more. “You won’t be able to eat this again… So, have more,” they said. He knew it was the truth; he could never afford this. This must be when he should have realized it but he did not.

When they took him to the center of Gandhi Market, he was too drunk and bloated that he could barely keep awake. He kept laughing and crying. The crowd, milling about him, ignored him. They had no time for another wasted drunk.The men must have signaled to each other but he did not see it. Maybe, if he had seen it, he would have realized it but he did not and so he couldn’t.

Suddenly he was wet. What were they dousing him with?The smell was pungent and the liquid went into his mouth. He felt nauseous. He asked them to stop but it was too late. The flames were already on him. The crowd gathered around. They gave him no place to run. He walked around in circles pleading for help in a voice that never left his throat.

So, he was the human sacrifice to mourn the leader’s death. Finally, he realized it but it was too late.

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