In the desert of Jaisalmer, very few houses were holding their ground in the face of desert storms and a lack of source of water. But the winds had formed sand dunes which was a tourist’s attraction.

One of houses was Ramlal’s. His wife Reshma used to fetch water from a well far away from there. She used to make two trips to the well every day. 

Being near a path usually traced by the camel-riding travelers, Ramlal’s house had become a popular shelter in that area among the tourists as well as regular travellers. Ramlal's 6-7 years old son was providing the passengers a good service and used to entertain the guests with their folk music.  

Kanhaiyalal was a regular traveler and so a regular visitor to Ramlal's shelter.

He was impressed by the brilliance of Sukhdev, Ramlal’s son. During one of the visits, Kanhaiyalal proposed to take Sukhdev with him to Mumbai, & train him up for 8-10 years the tricks of the business there. After he was mature enough, he would start his own business and then he would come back there to take them to Mumbai. Ramlal's imagination started thinking of his son, Sukhdev growing up and turning into a big businessman. He shared his dream with his wife Reshma and decided to hand over Sukhdev to Kanhaiyalal for grooming him into a businessman.

And Sukhdev went to Mumbai with Kanhaiyalal. While departing, Reshma gave Sukhdev a locket and told him to keep it safe as that was going to protect him in a difficult situation.

After Sukhdev’s departure, Ramlal and Reshma worked hard to keep the customers happy staying overnight in a room kept extra neat and clean.  

The days were passing smoothly.

Once the customer was demanding extra comforts, appeared super-rich. He told Ramlal to give him a glass of lassi in the night before sleeping.

Ramlal filled a glass with lassi and entered the Guest room without knocking on the door as it was kept unbolted.

He kept the glass on the table and came out of the room. But Ramlal was aghast to notice a lot of treasure in the half-closed bag of the customer. He went to his own bedroom and told Reshma his noticing the costly jewelry in the customer's bag. Both were tempted to steal the ornaments. But pondering over the idea, they thought that if he noticed his treasure missing, he would report to the police and that would put them behind bars.

But they were not at ease with the idea of the guest having so much wealth.

At midnight, after ensuring the guest was fast asleep, Ramlal entered the guest room with a sharp sickle. Without making the slightest noise, he went close to the guest. Using the sickle, he cut the guest's throat. With very little movement, blood oozed, and instantly the guest was dead.

After burying the customer in a trench dug by them behind their house, Ramlal and his wife cleaned the blood stains in the house. They got hold of the big set of wealth. Reshma was extremely happy. Ramlal was delighted that he got so much treasure in just one night.

Ramlal planted a flowering plant over the trench and watered it regularly. It was growing well.

The isolation of the house from the village ensured keeping the murder a secret. The next day, another traveler took shelter in Ramlal's house and the business went on as usual.

After a couple of month’s regular business, again a rich traveler took shelter in Ramlal's house. Noticing a big amount of wealth with him, Ramlal sharpened his sickle. In the night, Ramlal and Reshma executed their plan with extreme ease. They took the treasure into their kitty, and they buried the body in the trench in the open place behind their house.

Ramlal placed another flower bearing plant near the earlier plant.

Both the plants were growing healthy and started blooming.

Every 2-3 months, a new plant was getting added to Ramlal’s garden.

Years passed by.

Ramlal and Reshma were missing their son Sukhdev.  Kanhaiyalal was informing them about his well-being. Sukhdev had joined a morning school and was studying along with learning trade. Sukhdev also started writing his diary detailing the activities of the day. Kanhaiyalal had assured them Sukhdev was doing good business and would visit them soon. Months had passed but there was no trace of him. Meanwhile, more plants were added to Ramlal's garden.

That evening a young traveler came to take shelter in Ramlal's house.

The bright, young businessman had dinner with them. After dinner, the young customer was readjusting his suitcase. The door of the room was not bolted from inside. Ramlal took this opportunity and took a glass of lassi to the room. 

Surprised to see an unexpected entry to the room, the man closed his suitcase in a hurry. But not before Ramlal could notice a large number of expensive ornaments in the suitcase.

He kept the glass of lassi on the table and left the room.

Ramlal started sharpening the sickle. Reshma was also getting ready with another flowering plant to be implanted.

After finishing Lassi, the guest lay on the bed fast asleep.

Ramlal entered the room with the sickle. He saw the young man calm and lost in the dream world. Ramlal was a bit hesitant but the expensive jewelry he had seen in the traveler's bag, pushed him to finish his job quickly. And he did it.

After burring the body in the trench behind their house, they also placed one more flowering plant.

Before dawn, the couple cleaned up the room. They carried the customer’s bag into their bedroom.

They opened the suitcase. Looking at the very expensive jewelry, Reshma was getting excited more and more as new ornaments was being picked up from the suitcase. 

Reshma saw an old, small box. She found it familiar. Opened it and saw the locket she had given to Sukhdev when Sukhdev had gone to Mumbai with Kanhaiyalal.

“My God! That means the customer we buried in the backyard, was our son, Sukhdev.” Reshma fainted instantly.

Ramlal rushed and he heard Reshma bawling.

He picked up Reshma and took her to their bed.

“We buried our own son, Sukhdev. We killed him” Reshma was whining.   

Frantically,  Ramlal searched the bag for any more confirmation. He found a diary.

He opened it, and tried to read it with whatever knowledge he had.

“ I have told Kanhaiyalal Uncle to not let my parents know the date of reaching home. I will act as a customer. I want to find out whether they recognize me. “ Ramlal read these lines and he too collapsed.

August 23, 2022 04:45

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.