The Pangs of Conscience

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The Pangs of Conscience

— M. Menonimus

The Pangs of Conscience

The Pangs of Conscience

The Pangs of Conscience

Mr V. P. Buchanan is one of the reputed millionaires of India. It is told that he spends a good deal of his earnings on the cause of the poor and forlorn. On every 31st December night, he arranges a great feast at his house with great enjoyment where he invites all his business associates, friends, journals, scholars, professors, doctors and so on. He welcomes every New Year by giving away some hundred pieces of dresses to the beggars. Thus he has become a symbol of charity and generosity.

This year also he has invited all his friends. All the invites arrived on time and gathered in the large hall. Half a dozen waiters have been engaged in serving the guests. First, the guests are served sweetmeats, fruits, tea, and some other light delicacies. Thus the first stage of taking their refreshment has passed. Then they began to discuss a variety of subjects. The journalist begins the conversation with politics. Some have thrown their glib remarks on the possibilities of the rise of leftist in Indian politics in the following election. Some of the guests have commented that Indian democracy is virtually a plutocracy, and the political leaders are puppets in the hands of fistful millionaires. Then the conversation turns to business matters.  An associate of Mr Buchanan expresses hope that within the coming five years they would be able to occupy the monopoly in distributing food grains throughout the country. Then the host orders the waiters to bring the bottles of red wine imported from France for this special occasion. Accordingly, the waiter brings in some dozen of bottles and places them on the round table. The host grasps up one of them and turning his face to his right utters, “Friends, I wish the best of luck to you all. By the good grace of God I am one of the happiest and most successful persons in the present-day world, isn’t it?” Saying so, he begins to laugh boisterously. Some of his friends reply in unison, “Yes, you are.”

Among the invitees there was a philosopher, he replies, “No, friend, I don’t think you to be so.”

“Why?” the host asks something angrily. “Prior to only ten years, I had been almost nothing and now what not! I have two hundred goods carrying transports. Fifty business branch offices, hundred acres of land, foreign-made personal cars, some thousand employees under me, palace-like the premise, lines of women besides Helen-like beautiful wife. Yet am I not a successful person?”

The philosopher, who has his seat face to face with the host, places his right hand on the table and repeats what he said earlier, “No, Friend, I think you are neither a happy nor a successful person. Instead, you are one of the unhappiest and probably the most unsuccessful people on this mortal earth.”

Everybody of the invitees looks at him obliquely. The host seems to be exasperated. One among his associates, who was silent till the time, opens up his mouth and says, “Don’t mind, sir. He is a philosopher and the philosophers are devoid of practical knowledge.” The other one, sitting behind the journalist, says, “Let the matter be left here and go to another topic.”

The professor who was sitting beside the cameraman stands up from his armchair and says, “We demand an explanation from the philosopher for his comment.”

The philosopher, who seems from the very beginning, to be always in a cold mood says, “I am ready to give the explanation for what is commented by me. Please, may I ask our honourable host one or two questions?”

The host replies, “Yes, you may ask me whatever you like.”

The philosopher begins to tell, “You say that you have everything as big business organization, cars, palace-like abode and lines of women. But my question is, ‘How many women do you enjoy in a year?’

The host looks at the philosopher something bitterly and replies, “I have not kept any record of how many women I enjoy in a year but the number would not be less than three hundred a year and I have been enjoying the like for the last twelve years.”

The philosopher looking at the gathering says, “In spite of taking the possible contraceptive devices, is there any possibility of getting pregnant any one or two women among every one hundred who undergo sexual plays?” 

Someone from the invitees replies, “Yes, according to a reliable survey led by the  U. K. there is a possibility of getting pregnant at least ten women out of a hundred in spite of taking every possible contraceptive measure.”

The philosopher resumes, “If it is true then at least three hundred sixty women have got pregnant by you within the last twelve years. Isn’t it?” 

Many of the gatherings cast their eyes downwards and nod their heads in the affirmative. 

The philosopher says, “Majority of the women that become the victim of the lust of the happy and rich people, like our honourable host, belong to the classes of society who are generally poor, afflicted and wretched or outcaste or who have no social standing. And some of the children given birth to by such women through debauchery are killed after their birth and some are kept to be living. But do we know how are they brought up? We see that the male children often become thieves, drunkards, beggars, and often happen to be accomplices of big crimes and some of them happen to work in the hotel or happen to live on the sympathy of strangers. If the child is a female one, then she happens, most time, to take up the profession of a prostitute.”

Saying so, the philosopher addresses the congregation and asks, “Have I not told the truth?”

Many of them remain silent but some nod their head and reply, “Yes, you have told the truth.”

The philosopher resumes, “Then our honourable host is the father of at least three hundred and sixty such boys and girls who are either beggars or drunkards, either thieves or mentally crazy, either waiter in a hotel or charwoman in the household of the well-to-do where they often become the victim of the lust of their masters or become public prostitutes.”

The philosopher pauses and resumes again, “Whereas some of the children of our honourable host are beggars, some are thieves, some are mentally crazy for want of proper upbringing, some are prostitutes who have been devouring the curse, kicks, blows of many and becoming the object of disparage, then in such a state, how can a living man with sound conscience claim himself to be happy and successful in life?” 

Saying so, he looks at the congregation. Then it is seen that one of the business associates of Mr Buchanan stands up in anger and pointing to the philosopher, speaks out, “It is the philosopher that has ruined our enjoyment.” And then turning to his other mates, he resumes, “We have gathered here neither to hear the lesson of philosophy nor to develop our conscience but to enjoy the night as we like. I think the philosopher should leave us. 

The other one beside him commented, “I think the philosopher should be driven out.”

The doctor who was all the time silent now opens his mouth and says, “Let all these things go,” and calling up the waiter resumes, “Let a glass of water be fetched and pour down upon the head of the philosopher.”

The philosopher standing from his seat utters, “No need to drive me out. I am going out willingly. If anyone of you bears a sound conscience then think whether I am right or wrong.” Saying so, he deserts the party.

The host seems to be immersed in deep thought. He suddenly turns gloomy and melancholic. It seems that something has begun to disturb his mind.

Afterward, they take their super, and at about 1 o’clock the party comes to an end and all have departed.

Hundred of scenes come to his mind. He remembers how much debauchery he has committed. There are certainly some cases that he can’t forget in life. How some women happen to suffer for becoming pregnant by him, how many of them implored him to get rid of his cruel crutches! Among many, particularly the scene of a Bengali maid appears to his mind incessantly. It begins to chase him. The remembrance of the case carries away his sleep. He begins to be sweat out of it. He goes to his bed late but he can’t get sleep. He tries to forget the scene but the more he tries to forget, the more it wraps him up.

The next morning he notices that he has grown tall and feeble. The pang of conscience begins to kill him bit by bit, inch by inch. By the end of the week, he falls ill.

Then he is admitted to a hospital. The reputed doctors are called in for his treatment. They examined him with much care and declare, “We have found nothing in him to be called disease. But his heart is very weak. Perhaps he has been suffering from some mental shock. However, we are trying our best to cure him.”

The next day he is shifted to the Psychiatric Dept where Dr Bhargav, the renowned Indian psychiatric doctor takes the charge of treating him. He sticks to him all the time. Then he says to the patient, “Think of me to be your best friend. I am your well-wisher. I hope you must be a cure for your problem very soon. I need your co-operation only. Please friend, would you not tell me about your secret that has been causing a disturbance in your mind?”

Mr Buchanan looks at him and gives a smile. He seems he is eager to tell something. The doctor sits by him as if he is ready to hear something interesting from his dearest friend. Then Mr Buchanan says to him that he is suffering from mental agony pertaining to a maid named Miss Nashiketa. The doctor says, “Tell me, friend, I am eager to know your affairs but believe me- I shall never disclose it to anyone because you are one of my best friends.”

“Is it?” 

“Yes.”

“Then I can tell you.” Saying so Mr Buchanan begins:

I embarked on my business about twelve years ago. My first business office was set up in my home city, Haryana. Then within a year, I progressed so much in the business that I wished to expand my business to Calcutta, and afterward, I opened a branch on Lake Street. Then it was almost outside the main city but I foresaw that in the near future it would turn into an advantageous business place for that kind of mine. It was naturally a charming place where people frequented less, but more safe place for manufacturing my goods. Labours were found almost at a cheap rate. I had to frequent there though I employed a manager to it. Then I was a stout youth of twenty-five. As my business progressed I became more and more addicted to the satisfaction of lust. I could not spend a single night without the company of a charming maid in my bed. For one or two hundred I began to enjoy the flesh of virgin women. But one day I happened to see a girl about fourteen. She was so bewitching that if one’s eyes ever fell on her buxom body it would have been impossible to remove the eyes from hers. I began to be desirous for her at least for a night.

The next day at nine o’clock in the morning, I saw her again going towards the market. I sent my ward boy to call her. He ran to her and said, “Madam you are asked to come in by our host.”

She hesitantly drew up to me and looking downwards asked, “Why have you called in me, sir?”

I said, “Lass where are you going?”

She upheld her hand to the market side and replied, “I work there.”

I took the change and asked, “Would you work for me here in the office?”

“No, I am engaged in a household as a charwoman.” She replied. 

I have to get my room cleaned if you come in the evening it would also do.” I said.

She said, “O. K. then I shall come while returning home.”

I was awaiting her anxiously. At about 5 o’clock she arrived and I took straight to my bed-chamber. She followed me and I silently bolted the door behind me. On the outside, it was getting dark but my room was shining with the electric bulbs. Then I approached her and asked, “What is your name?”

She gave a straight answer, “My name is Nashiketa but my employer calls me by the name of Daisy. What is to do, sir? I must return home soon. “ 

“You need not do anything. I want to enjoy you, hope that you would not refuse.” Saying so, I grasped her.

“Please sir, what do you do me? I am not a spoiled girl.”

Already I hold her tight unto my chest and said, “Don’t try to get free. I shall pay you well.

She tried her utmost to get free from my clutches. “But what is a girl to a corpulent youth like me?”

She began to shriek out. Already the sun had gone down and the darkness fell on the lap of the sea. Anger came on me and I gave her a heavy blow on her head. She fell down senseless. And I began to enjoy her. After half an hour she came to sense and began to weep. After an hour I released her and offer a handsome payment of five hundred rupees to her. But she did not take it and being dumbstruck she ran out of my room and disappeared into the darkness. While she did not accept the payment I thought that she might take legal action against me. But I had nothing to be afraid of the law. For some days she was not seen in the street. I thought she had shifted her working place.

But one autumn evening, after three months of the event, she came involuntarily direct to my chamber. I looked at her and found that she had got a drastic change within these three months. She had grown tall and seemed melancholic.

I asked, “Are you, Daisy?”

She did not answer but remained silent standing in the doorway. I asked her to sit down. She turned left and approaching me said, “Sir, what had you done to me? Now I think I am pregnant. What shall I do now? We are poor? How shall I live?” saying so, she burst into weeping.

I said, “No thought. I shall do the needful.” Saying so, I instantly put out ten notes of hundred rupees and said, “Take them, go to any nursing home and get an abortion. Then all will turn o.k.”

Her weeping grew louder and said, “I will never do that.”

“Then what do you like to do?” I asked.

She kept silent and then she began to strike her head against the wall.  Anger got on me but being cool down, I began to admonish her saying that abortion was the only means to get rid of this blemish.

She, in loud voice, began to yell and said, “No I will never do that. If you can enjoy me why can’t you marry me?”

Anger rose up to my head. I began to see darkness in my eyes. “Why should I need to marry a street girl? You prostitute.”

She kept demanding, “You must marry me.”

I thought if she would keep on demanding so then the matter would go against my status. So I called out two of my guards and ordered them to strangle her to death. Already I had put my towel to her mouth to stop her shrieking. The two guards seemed to be hesitant to act upon my order and one of them said to me, “Murder is a big crime. Please find out other means to get rid of her.”

I asked, “What can be the other means?” 

He said, “First send her away anyway and then we will think out what to do.’’

The guards interrupted me to pursue the action and took the towel out of her mouth. She was already moribund but after some time, she began to take a long breath. I went out of the room ordering the two guards to do what they like to be good and safe. They said, “Keep yourself away, we will manage somehow.” 

At midnight they managed her to leave the place somehow and one of the guards suggested to me that I should stop coming to the office and the office should be shifted to another far-off place instantly. Then a poor girl like her would not be able to find you out as the girl is uneducated, uncultured and naive.

Accordingly, I left the place at dawn and ordered my employees to shift the office with all its belonging within twenty-four hours. They shifted the office with a warlike prompt to the far-off northern east of Calcutta where there was no possibility for a girl like Daisy to find out.

And the case of Daisy was left there. Already twelve years have passed. For some days the pangs of conscience have been disturbing me incessantly. I don’t know what happened to Daisy. Had she given birth to a child? If she did what the child was- whether the child was a male one or a female one. If he was a male one- what is he doing? Has he been provided with the necessary nourishment and proper education? Or has he been left to be a street boy? Or if the child was a girl – what has she been doing? Has she been forsaken to be a prostitute? All these thoughts have been killing me bit by bit.

The doctor asks him, “Has your story got an end here?”

The patient replied, “Yes, the story of Daisy has come to an end here. But I have about a hundred such stories to be told.”

“If it is so, then I think it is better for a man like you to die than be living.” Saying so, the doctor takes his pad and pen in hand and writes down something on it, and says, “You are released. Leave the hospital promptly.”

Mr Buchanan gets on a special Maruti van with his attendants. On the midway home, he gives a loud shriek and falls swoon. Then he is taken to a nearby Nursing Home. The doctor came in and after a proper examination declares, “Sorry, he is no more.” 0 0 0

The Pangs of Conscience

N.B.  The short story ‘The Pangs of Conscience’ originally belongs to the book ‘The Fugitive Father and Other Stories‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

The Pangs of Conscience

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books of S. Story by M. Menonimus:

  1. The Fugitive Father and Other Stories
  2. The Prostitute and Other Stories
  3. Neha’s Confession

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.

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