“ This man said that he belongs to the army and you believed him and gave him free entry to the house and got ready to marry your daughter to him. You should have tried to find out whether this man is speaking the truth or not.”
“Prabal, what is your plan?” -asked Narendra.
“I’m thinking that this girl whom you are calling a wild cat- I should tame her and make her kow-tow to my every wish.”
“Leave her, I don’t think it is possible for you to make her surrender to your wishes.”
“Time will tell what is possible and what is notpossible”, Prabal became serious, “You just get her mobile-number somehow and give it to me.”
Narendra somehow managed to get Shalini’s mobile number and gave it to Prabal.
Prabal rang up Shalini that day itself, “Hello Shalini”
“Excuse me, I am not able to recognize your voice. Will you give your introduction?”
“My name is Prabal Pratap Singh, I am in the army. These days my posting is in Kashmir, I have come here during the holidays.”
The arrow that had been shot in the dark, found its target. The coincidence was that Shalini had a lot of respect for the army and the army-men. It was her thinking that the civilians were able to live without fear only because the soldiers were alert at the borders. Therefore, she spoke to him with respect, “Prabalji, I’m fortunate that an army-man is talking to me, but can you tell me from where you got my number, and what do you want to talk to me about?”
“Shalini, even though you don’t know me, I know you.”
“That is what I’m asking you- how do you know me?”
“Shalini, I can reply to your question with a beautiful lie, but I hate lies, cheats and frauds.”
“An army-man like you should be like this only”, Shalini was in a dilemma as to the identity of this army-man and what he wanted from her, “Tell me the truth only.”
“You might take offence if I speak the truth. It is possible that you might not want to talk to me afterwards.”
Shalini thought for some time, then said, “I promise, I will not take offence. Now, you say, what you wanted to say.”
“I saw you going to college. I swear you are one in a million.”
“Prabalji, don’t praise me, it will be better if you come straight to the point.”
“O.K, then I’ll come to the point without caring for the consequences”, Prabal’s voice became serious, “I saw you and fell in love with you. I want that my love should be reciprocated. You just need to say ‘yes’, and then we can get married and spend our life together.”
This sudden talk of love and marriage made Shalini’s head reel. She had never heard or seen anything like this. She could not utter a single word.
Prabal’s voice was echoing in her ears, “Why have you become mum, say something! We are taught to make quick decisions in the army and to stick to them. According to this principle I want to marry you as soon as possible.”
Shalini’s thoughts got a positive direction.
After her father’s death, the entire responsibility of the family was on her mother. Shalini knew that her mother was under constant pressure to perform her duties. Shalini had seen her mother walking to and fro on the terrace of their house at night, and also heard her talking to close relatives- ‘Shalini is of marriageable age now. I plan to get her married once she completes her inter. The problem is that being a woman, it will be difficult for me to look for a match for her. How will I manage to do the work of welcoming the ‘baraat’ and looking after the guests all alone?’
Shalini felt that fate had worked a miracle for her- that an army-man saw her, started loving her, and now wanted to marry her. She was lucky to have received a proposal sitting at home- there were many people who had to move heaven and earth to find a suitable match for themselves or their children.
Since Shalini was deep in thought, Prabal thought it better to keep talking, “Shalini, you must be wondering what I look like- whether I have a moustache like Ravan or a body like a mountain. Believe me, I’m not like that.”
No man had ever talked teasingly like this to her- it was the first time for Shalini.
Prabal’s voice echoed in Shalini’s ears again, “Please, tell me what do you think about the matter of loving and marrying me?”
If it had been someone else, Shalini would have ticked him off, but Prabal was an army-man. It was Shalini’s opinion that those who protect our motherland are not liars, frauds and betrayers. Surely, Prabal was also not like that. He must have fallen in love with her at first sight, and he must have felt like making her his own, that is why he had obtained her cell number and telling her his innermost feelings. That is why, when Prabal kept on prodding her, she told him, “Only my mother has the right to make this important decision of my life. You talk to her. If she agrees, I will also start loving you, and get married to you.” Then she disconnected the phone.
Shalini was expecting Prabal to call again. For some time she kept staring at the phone, thinking that it would ring, but it did not ring.
A fire started burning in Shalini’s heart. It did affect her adversely, but gave her immense happiness. She had always been in awe of army-men. Now, an army-man was claiming that he loved her, and wanted to marry her. That night she kept on thinking of Prabal. Someone kept appearing in her dreams. She did not see the face of this person, but he was in army-uniform, so Shalini guessed that it must be Prabal.
When she got up in the morning, she felt a feeling of love for Prabal in her heart.
Like always, in the morning, she started for her college. She had just covered half the distance when a biker came and stood before her on the deserted road. Shalini just missed colliding with the bike. Her eyebrows shot up. She growled at the biker, “What sort of rowdy behavior is this?”
“This is not rowdy behavior, Shalini, it is the style of a lover to show-off to his beloved.
Shalini recognized the voice instantly. The anger disappeared from her face and a smile took its place, “Oh, it’s you Prabalji!”
“Yes, it’s me”, Prabal’s smile widened, “You recognized me!”
“Last night you talked so much, so your voice has got embedded in my conscience. That is why I recognized you.”
“You’re going to college?”
“Bunk your college and come with me”, said Prabal, “We’ll go and sit in some park or hotel, and make plans about our future.”
Even though Shalini felt that Prabal’s age was somewhat more compared to her own, she thought he was handsome and smart. Shalini had dreamt of a life-partner like Prabal only. Therefore, she could not refuse his offer and sat on the bike behind him.
Prabal Pratap spent the entire day in taking Shalini around on his bike. He told her that the ‘sampark marg’ that was being made in Bhadevna, was under contract to his friend. He had come to Hardoi to meet his friend only and on seeing her, he had fallen in love with her.
Shalini’s heart melted. She asked him, “How did you get my mobile number?”
“Those who search, are able to find pearls from the bottom of the sea, your mobile number is a small thing”, Prabal commented.
Shalini also did not think it necessary to go deeper into the mystery as to how Prabal had managed to obtain her mobile number.
Shalini was so influenced by Prabal that she became ready to marry him, “Meet my mother and talk to her. What you want will be achieved.”
“I will talk to your mother, let our relationship strengthen first.”
Shalini smiled, “Sure.”
Their love-affair started. Prabal used to meet her after college- she would immediately sit on his bike and they would roam around for hours, and give wings to their love.
One day an acquaintance whispered in Rani’s ears, “Get a hold on your daughter. She goes from home to go to college, but instead of going there she roams on a bike with a boy. I have myself seen Shalini with her arms around his waist and her head on his shoulders, and I don’t think these are good signs.”
When Rani asked Shalini about the matter, she told her mother everything about Prabal.
Rani was happy to realize that she had found an excellent match for Shalini without having to go and look for it. She had herself wanted to get Shalini married as soon as she finished her inter. The biggest advantage was that Prabal was an army-man, and was of the same caste as them.
Feeling happy with herself, Rani said, “beta, if such is the case, then get Prabal home one day.”
Shalini brought Prabal home the very next day.
Rani was also happy on meeting Prabal, and her other children were happy too. He was a well-behaved young man who talked sweetly. Rani decided that she would get Shalini married to Prabal. She said to Prabal, “Beta, tell me the day and I will come and meet your parents.”
Prabal managed to tarry Rani with +some excuse. After this, he made new excuses everyday in order to prevent Rani from reaching his house.
Gradually, Prabal managed to win the trust of each member of Shalini’s family, and more or less lived in her house only. He spent the nights also at her house. Since, in a manner, Shalini’s and Prabal’s relationship was almost sealed, Rani and the others had no objection to Prabal’s staying in their house. He used to get the same respect in the family as a son-in-law gets at his in-laws’ house. Prabal took advantage of the freedom and established physical relations with Shalini. Once they were made, they continued as before.
The wild cat had been tamed. Prabal’s work was over. According to the plan, after he had managed to win control over Shalini’s body, he had to continue on his way, and sitting among his friends he had to narrate his tale of ‘victory’ and twirl his moustache. But, Shalini became so much a part and parcel of his life that he could not imagine himself turning away from her.
Prabal knew that it was a crime to marry a second time, if the first wife was alive. Even if he married by overriding the law, his family would not accept Shalini. So, he could not have married Shalini, but he did not want to leave her either.
Things became ugly when one day, Deepu saw Shalini and Prabal in an objectionable condition.
The 16-year old boy could not tolerate the immorality that was happening before his eyes. He created a scene. Prabal tried to pacify him by saying, “I am soon going to marry Shalini, so you or anybody else should not have any objection to our intimacy.”
Deepu growled back, “You are ‘about’ to marry her- you have not ‘yet’ married her. Truth be told, I have doubts on your being in the army. Go from here immediately, and bring proof of being an army-man, otherwise I will not spare you.”
Prabal showed Deepu his photograph in army-uniform, which Deepu refused to accept as proof. He retorted, “You must be having some sort of id-card of the army, salary-slip, medical-card or travel-warrant, show me that.’’ then Deepu glowered at his mother, “ This man said that he belongs to the army and you believed him and gave him free entry to the house and got ready to marry your daughter to him. You should have tried to find out whether this man is speaking the truth or not.”
Prabal assured Deepu that he would soon show proof of being in the army to everybody. Not only this, he would take the entire family to his house, so that the dates for the engagement and wedding could be fixed.
At that time, Prabal managed to tarry the whole thing, but he realized that till Deepu was there, his fraud of showing himself as an army-man and trying to marry Shalini would not last long. But, he did not want to leave Shalini at any cost. When he could think of no other alternative to keep on living in the house, he made a plan of killing Deepu. He included his younger brother-Gaurav, and friend-Munna Verma, in the plan.
Although Prabal and Gaurav were real brothers, their relationship was like that of friends. Both were cheats and frauds by nature. They could do the worst possible deeds. They had no shame, no pity.
According to the plan, Prabal reached Deepu’s house on 11th March, when he was preparing to leave for his last examination. His examination centre was in Lonar situated on Hardoi-Farrukhabad road. Prabal made Deepu accept his offer of taking him to his centre on his bike by saying that he was going in that direction only and would drop him.
Deepu sat on the bike. On the way, Prabal said to him, “After the examination is over, you come with me to my village. See my village and meet my family, and I will show you proof of my being in the army. You meet the villagers and assure yourself that I am really an army-man.”
Deepu had no inkling of any sort of trouble from Prabal’s side, so he got ready to go with him.
Prabal left Deepu at the examination centre and went somewhere.
When Deepu came out of the centre, after giving the exam, he found Prabal waiting for him. Prabal made him sit on the bike, and took him to Majhi hotel in Farrukhabad. Both of them had lunch there. After that, Prabal took Deepu to village Runi Chursai under police station Jahanganj. This was the village where Munna Verma, alias Pandit, lived. Prabal’s manner changed drastically as soon as he reached there. He and Munna beat up Deepu and made him captive.
When Rani’s phone came about the sudden disappearance of Deepu, Prabal showed false sympathy and went back to Hardoi.
Deepu was kept prisoner in Munna’s room till 13th March. On 13th evening, Gaurav also came there. All three of them caught hold of Deepu and killed him by strangulating his neck. After this, they took the body to Garhakhaira village on the bike. At first, they tried to burn the body by dousing it with petrol. The upper half of the body got burnt, but the part that was in contact with the ground was saved from burning. After this, the three of them threw the body in Brijkishore’s well.
Prabal was thinking that his crime would be hidden, and he would continue his physical relations with Shalini, but this did not happen.
Along with Prabal, Munna Verma also came under police arrest. It was tried that the second accused, Gaurav, should also be arrested, but he was found absconding.
At the guidance of the accused, the police recovered Prabal’s bike-UP-76 RN 1764.
At the time the story was written, Prabal and Munna Verma were in jail, and Gaurav was absconding. Shalini had not been able to overcome her grief, or her shock. Her love proved to be a fraud, and her brother lost his life.
‘Those who act without thinking, regret later.’
This verse has not been written in vain. Shalini and her mother did not think deeply about Prabal, and showed blind faith in him. They were taken in by his sweet-talks and thought him to be their well-wisher. He made a fool out of them and kept on fulfilling his desires. This story is a lesson for those girls and for their mothers who easily believe in other people and give them a place in their homes and hearts.
(The story is a dramatic-representation of facts based on police sources.)