by Sundar Viswam
The Emperor was a famously kind but strict ruler. The worst thing you could do in his Kingdom was to break the law. From the smallest crime to the most heinous, the investigation was quick and punishment was brutal. It was reported that crimes had come down drastically since he had come to the throne, but the newspapers were full of reports of crime and highlighted the ferocity with which the crimes had been tackled and punished.The newspapers also extolled the efficiency of the Emperor’s methods and the way justice was being meted out. The Kingdom was reported to be at its safest and people felt most secure. The Emperor’s popularity was soaring higher and higher each day. It was in this Kingdom that a low-class fiend chose to commit the heinous crime of rape and flee. The Emperor was furious. He swung into action. He went on national television and issued a frightening warning to the criminal and ordered him to surrender at once. He would see to it that justice was done fairly but if he failed to surrender, the criminal would feel the full weight of the law. He was given two days. Now any fool would have trembled at the Emperor’s words and surrendered. But this criminal seemed to be especially foolish and did not surface. That was it. Nobody ignored the Emperor’s command. The reaction was swift. A large task force was assembled and they armed themselves with pickaxes and shovels and huge machines with wrecking balls and surrounded the criminal’s house though they knew he was not there. The Emperor went on national TV again and with a video of the troops and equipment running continuously in the background, issued a thunderous warning to the criminal to surrender before sunrise the next day, failing which the criminal’s house would be razed to the ground. The television showed how the public was going crazy with adulation and love for the Emperor. Now which criminal would hesitate to give himself up in the face of such a threat? Who would want to rob his family of the roof over their head, even if it was leaky and flimsy? But this idiot did not surrender and did not even acknowledge the Emperor’s orders. The reaction was unhesitating. At the stroke of sunrise the next day, the machinery and men plunged headlong into action and within no time reduced the criminals home to rubble. Huge roars of victory and celebration arose from the enormous crowd gathered to witness the demolition amidst loud chanting of the Emperor’s name. The television showed the terrified family of the criminal huddled together, cringing in misery and fear as the crowd shrieked abuses and threats against them. The people surged against the police cordons and it seemed at any time they would burst through and shred the family with their bare hands. Finally, the police took the family into protective custody and took them away in a van. But justice had not yet been delivered. The Emperor was back on television again. Against the background of the demolished home, he issued forth another thunderous warning to the criminal. The next step, he said though not unkindly, would be the arrest of the criminal’s family members. Immediately, the television cut to the scene of the family in police custody, loosely chained to each other but free in all respects otherwise. The Emperor was growing impatient. He even outlined the future steps. If despite the arrests, the rapist did not surrender, the Emperor would have no option but to start executing the members of the family one by one, one each day. And he was prepared to go even further. Once the family had been executed, the Law would move on to the extended family and then the neighbors and then the community. Early the next day, crowds started gathering all over the Kingdom, in anticipation of the surrender or the punishments. Surely no criminal in his sane mind would risk the wrath and consequences so terrifyingly enumerated by the Emperor. A national holiday had already been announced. But the sun rose higher and higher and then sank lower and lower and there was no sign of the surrender happening, not even news of a sighting of the criminal. The Emperor’s anger knew no bounds. It burst through from his head and went through the roof. His face was red as he went on television again and without preamble, gave the next order. In a flash of a second, a series of explosions shook the Kingdom as bombs went off all over the criminal’s neighborhood and pulverized it to dust. Hundreds of men, women, and children were blown to smithereens. In a few seconds, nothing remained of the neighborhood or its people. That was the Law of his Kingdom. Criminals would be shown no mercy. This was for rape. For murder, the army would be called in with their tanks and bazookas to destroy the neighborhood first, instead of just the criminal’s house. For multiple homicides, the airforce would be called in and the general area would be bombed out of existence. And if there was rioting and arson, the Emperor would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons. That was the Law and that was justice, he thundered as a roar of approval rose over the Kingdom from his adoring subjects. Unfortunately, though, there was still no sign of the criminal, leave alone his surrender. The Law was stumped. The Emperor was perplexed. How could any criminal defy such consequences? It just went to show how merciless such criminals were, he roared on television. They are cowards and selfish maniacs who were willing to let hundreds die for their crimes. But the Emperor would not give up. A Kingdom-wide manhunt was set in motion and every man, woman, and the child was pressed into action. Every inch of the Kingdom would be combed and literally, no stone left unturned to root out this elusive criminal. The loyal and patriotic subjects wholeheartedly went into the manhunt, treating it like a picnic and festival. They carried knives and swords and daggers and guns and vied in their enthusiasm to be the first one to catch and kill the criminal. For days, the manhunt went on, but with no success. The criminal had just disappeared into thin air! The people started becoming restive and enthusiasm waned. The Emperor was at his wit’s end trying to come up with ploys to keep the manhunt on. Suddenly, one fine morning, a huge roar went up. The criminal had been found! The Emperor rushed to the spot followed by an enormous crowd shouting his name and his victory! They had found the criminal! He had been found, not far, far away but just a block and half away from his home. He was found under an abandoned bridge, where he had been hiding. He had not even been able to see or hear all the trouble he had caused. Because he was found dead. The autopsy revealed that he had died from a snake bite under that bridge just hours after the rape.
About the Author:
Sundar Viswam is a writer, blogger, and occasional columnist. His articles have appeared in US and Indian newspapers. He blogs for his own website www.mynuscript.com and has his own YouTube channel GUT FEEL. His FB page is @sundarwrites. He tweets at @viswamsundar.