He was the executioner. The robber of life. The giver of death.
The king had announced yet another death punishment. The criminal was a young man in his mid- twenties. Handcuffed and blindfolded, he was shepherded to the execution platform. Hoots and cries of the crowd rose in the sky- Kill him, Kill him. The crowd jostled, pushed and shoved, in sheer anticipation of witnessing the show.
“What is your last wish”, thundered the king.
The criminal pleaded, “I want to see my father for the last time… He is here in the crowd”.
Hush! A deafening silence fell.
The king ordered, “Take off his blindfold at once”. The soldiers complied.
A cloud of suspense enveloped the crowd. People muttered and whispered. Their eyes sharpened and their ears twitched. Waiting for the lid to be taken off.
“The executioner is my father”, claimed the criminal.
A bombshell dropped. The crowd, the king and the ministers all got jolted to the very core.
They all babbled. But the executioner kept gazing at his son. Scanned his face up and down. Up and down. And finally recognized him. The criminal was indeed his own son.
A spurt of emotions followed. His eyes turned misty. His hands and legs trembled. He squirmed.
He scrambled to hug his son. The father and son in arms of each other. Hugged tightly. They caressed, fondled and stroked each other. Their sobs wafted in the air. Rose higher and higher and melted the hearts of the crowd. The women, the men, the children all cried. All sobbed. All pained.
Gong, Gong, Gong! The crowd yanked out of its emotional outburst. But the executioner kept hugging his son. Two soldiers barged in. One pulled the father apart, other the son. Forcefully. Mercilessly.
The king ordered, “Execute the criminal.”
The executioner fell to his knees and begged. He begged, “Your highness, Pardon me”. His entire frame shivered. A runnel of tears poured down his face. He faltered.
The king thundered, “If you do not fulfill your duty, your whole family will be hanged”. The executioner rose to his feet, stumbled and rose again. He stuttered “Yyoour hhhiighnness! Please kill me. How can I kill my own son.”
But the king prevailed like a rock in the sea. Unmoved by the wave of emotions.
If you do not hang your son, then your whole family will be hanged. The sentence echoed louder and louder in his mind. It blared, honked and tooted in the walls of his mind. His heart, mind and soul all convulsed. In pain. In agony.
Reluctantly, he trudged towards the gallows and released the trapdoor.
Thump! The criminal plunged a few feet down. His neck broke. He died.
The crowd sighed.
The executioner collapsed on his knees. Wailed. Groaned. Howled.
He saw a shadow on the floor. A snarl. Two horns. Two claws. And a giant figure. A beast. Ready for the next execution.
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