Memento Mori

Updated: Oct 2, 2018


Criminals would rather embrace death than be my guest. I believe in dishing out swift, cold justice. In a career spanning two decades, I have made outlaws wet their pants and confess to crimes, not necessarily committed by them.

I have an eye for devilry and pride upon my gut instinct. We were all gathered at the Chief Minister's party that evening, when I spotted him from the corner of my eye. Sure, he was wearing a shiny new suit and had well-gelled hair, but he was fidgety sporting them. Something seemed wrong here.

He limped across to the bar and sat down on the stool. His risen trousers revealed his right ankle to be infested with wounds. I accosted him. My huge frame matched his equally beefy body.

"Haven't seen you around here before. How do you know the Chief Minister?", I asked bluntly.

"Oh Inspector!" He was clearly taken aback. "Yes, I am new here", he responded.

I was trying to place his alien accent. Was he a mercenary from the enemy State across the border?

"Not a big talker, huh?" I placed my hand upon his shoulder and let out a fake smile.

"No problem, no problem. Speak little, but speak truth", I added.

"I always speak the truth," snapped the stranger, gaining in confidence.

"Take a seat, Inspector", he said, patting the stool next to him.

"Inspector Mrityunjay Singh". He read the name off my uniform's badge and gave a wry smile.

"I'm sure you must have befriended death, with a name like that."

"Actually, I disburse death everyday in my line of duty", came my insolent response.

"You and I are not very different then, sir."

"Quit your bullshit now. I know why you are here. You think I can't see through your disguise?" My state of vexation reflected in my tone.

"This is rather unflattering! I thought this was a good cover. I make a living by masquerading, after all." He sniggered at his own remark.

"Evidently you are not suited for your profession", I quipped.

"Well, it is a rather dirty job, you see. But, since there are few takers for my profession, somebody has to do it."

I was by now at the end of my patience. I covertly thrust my gun against his sides and said - "I am putting you under arrest for attempted assassination. Let us not create a scene at the party. Surrender like a lamb and maybe, just maybe, we will go soft on you."

He submitted meekly without so much as a word. I led him out of the CM's residence. It was all too good to be true. Why did he not protest? What were his motives? How did he plan to kill? Why walk into the lion's den unarmed?

It was going to be a long, interesting night in the lockup.

We were walking at some distance from the mansion when he placed his hand upon my wrist.

"Inspector Sa'ab, the Chief Minister will die tonight, one way or the other. I have a task to complete."

He tightened his vice like grip on me before continuing.

"Please don't make it difficult for both of us."

Tucking his finger into his mouth, he produced a sharp whistle, and out of nowhere suddenly, came two mongrels running. They pounced upon me and pinned me to the ground. Their menacing teeth ready to sink into my flesh at their master's order.

I looked up aghast, wincing in pain.

"I am sorry. It will all make sense when we meet again, I promise."

I peered into his cold, steely eyes.

"Do not follow me for your own good."

Saying this, he dashed for the residence again.

Mustering every ounce of strength in me, I swept the dogs aside and hastily followed him. It was too late to call for backup now. I had to neutralise the terrorist myself, before he could reach the CM.

The mansion's butler informed me that the Chief Minister had retired early for the night as he was feeling unwell. I hurried upstairs to his room with my revolver trigger-ready.

I opened the door of the dimly lit room, to the sight of the politician sitting at the edge of his bed. With erratic breaths and pleading hands he faced the intruder. Had he been poisoned?

I turned my gaze to the forbidding figure in the room. His attire looked quite different now. The ever faithful hounds were at his heel. A rope's noose dangled from his left hand. Indiscernible incantations at his lips. Was he going to strangle him?

"Freeze!", I shouted. The terrorist paid no heed.

"Freeze or you die!!", I threatened again, with the loaded gun lodged in my quivering hands.

He turned around, waving his hands in protest.

By then it was too late. I fired. The bullets left my gun's barrel in quick succession.

I could scarcely believe what my eyes saw next. With inexplicable witchery, the bullets went through the stranger's body and pierced the Chief Minister's chest instead, killing him in an instant.

The intruder stared at me with his unblinking, unflinching eyes for what seemed like eternity. Finally he let go of his gaze.

He took what he came for and then left.

My head spun. Words hardly escaped my mouth.


Only the thick rope, lying on the floor, whispered back a reply.

"Inspector Mrityunjay Singh, you were caught red-handed at the scene. For your monstrous act, I hereby sentence you to death. Do you have anything to say in your defence?", unsympathetically questioned the judge.

I shook my head and confessed to a crime I did not commit.

Memento Mori (Latin for 'remember death') is an object, usually a coin or a ring (and in this case, a rope) that serves as a reminder of the inevitability of death.

Yama, the Hindu god of death, is often depicted with a noose of rope in one hand which he uses to entrap souls. Fearsome, four-eyed hounds guard the abode of this kind and righteous deity.

Yama was cursed by his mother Sanjana to have his foot afflicted with sores and vermin. This permanent damage lent him the sobriquet Sirnapada or ‘shrivelled foot’.

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