This is a work of fiction.
I never thought my first assignment as a journalist would be the most impactful one, in my entire career. I just passed out from the journalism school and I was assigned to interview a murder convict who killed five people within a single day. He was being carried in a train to the hanging site and news leaked to our editor, who assigned me for this job.
I boarded the train as a normal passenger in the unreserved compartment and after the train started moving, I slowly went to the compartment where the convict was held. There were more than a dozen policemen around him, for security. Since my editor knew the DGP, he got the permission for the interview and the police would pretend that I was never there.
I went and sat on the exact opposite seat to where he was sitting. This guy was tall, well-built, had a soft-looking face and thin mustache. I thought he was a farmer – He didn’t look like a convict at all. In fact, he had no cases of violence or even petty crimes registered against him, before this incident. I tried to start a conversation.
“What kind of a person will kill five fellow human beings?”
Silence. Not exactly a conversation starter, I guess! I then told him the truth,
“See, I am working as a reporter in a major newspaper and this is my first assignment. If you have something to tell, I can convey it to a wider audience. This maybe your last chance”
I didn’t know if he knew about the hanging, but I guess they should have informed him. He spoke rather softly without expressions,
“What do you want to know?”
“Why did you kill those people?”
“They killed 20 persons in our village. Mine was only a retaliatory attack. What else would you want us to do? Sit and wait for justice? Before the justice is delivered, if at all, our entire village might have been wiped off by these criminals”
“But how can violence be the answer to violence? What’s the difference between you and those killers?”
That kind of talking would have invited the wrath of any convict, but this man did not flare up. After thinking for sometime, he said,
“You know that I am going to be hanged in a short while. I ask you the same question – How can violence be the answer to violence? What’s the difference between me, a Killer, and a Government that wants to kill me for my crime?”
That silenced me.
He continued, “You know what, I’ll never let the Government take my life”
With so many police guards around, I thought escaping from there was not a practical option. After sometime, he told the guards that he wanted to use the restroom. Two guards followed him. I looked out of the window and saw the train moving on a tall bridge built over a dry riverbed.
On the way to the restroom, he suddenly turned to his right and jumped out of the open door of the train compartment. We pulled the chain and the train stopped just after crossing the bridge, but there was no way he could have survive that fall. His body lay on the bottom of the bridge, along with a pool of overflowing blood.
He took his own life to save the Government from becoming a killer.