They make a web of lies and deceit so well planned that in some time they don't realize when the reality stopped and the play they had conceptualized in the head became true in the real world.
Such a world was made by Lokmanya Shinde. Shinde has had a meteroic rise in the world of drama and theatre, having acted in many blockbuster Marathi plays that won critical acclaim.
He retired a rich man albeit a lonely one – never having married – though his house was teaming with servants and people who came in and out under the pretext of favors and needs. They fed his ego and pumped his macho-ism. As time passed, flattery led to illusions of grandeur making Lokmanya think of himself as the Master of the whole Province. He began making grand statements of his ancestory, elaborating on them as time went by. A day came – he was hardly known any more as the finest actor. Rather he acted as the finest royalty.
People supplied to him wines and mistresses at night and fed him with flattery in the day. He soon turned to opium to add a taste to his delusions. Slowly with no income to fall back on – his debts mounted. He started giving away his ornate furniture and precious jewels that he had the sense to buy and save in his theatre days. Opium and mistresses whetted his appetite and food was something he avoided. Servants started leaving him. He let them go, thinking that they were spies from his jealous neighbours and friends. He didn’t need anyone anymore. Only one faithful one remained. Shankar took care of his master without any grudge. Lokmanya abused and kicked him too many a times in a day. Shankar took it all without a whimper. He would look to his Master’s needs and tend to the wounds with turmeric paste at night. Everyone told Shankar to leave. He didn’t budge. They thought he was foolish.
Lokmanya wanted people to remember him as an aristocrat. When people began their sarcastic remarks he would slay them with poisoned words. His flatterers saw him wasting away and they too started noticing that the house was appearing emptier by the day. The flatterers also fled. All he had with him was Shankar and those random mistresses whom he tried to convince to stay. They too started withdrawing and running away, never to return. He was getting thinner by the day, glazed eyes sunken in the socket and yet opium made him see himself as a healthy man with a great lineage to boost of.
Gradually, Lokmanya took to bed, still unable to stop the intake of opium though it was getting lesser by the day. He thought that he was being swindled from his regular portion and believed that people were not giving him fair quantity. What he didn’t realize was that Shankar was somehow managing to providing him with the stuff .
Since last two days, Lokmanya was spitting blood. He hardly cared. He thought it was just a bout of cold. Shankar knew better. Today, it was a lot more. Shankar wiped his Master’s face and put the opium away from him. Lokmanya was too weak today to ask for it anyways. It seemed he didn’t have much energy left to fight. Shankar gave him a good wipe with the hot wet towel and Lokmanya felt better. He mumbled something about lawyers and went to sleep. Shankar called for a lawyer. He came and stood near Lokmanya. Shankar gently woke up Lokmanya. Lokmanya said two line before that bloody cough racked his lungs :”The house is now Shankar’s. Give my everything to him.” The lawyer nodded and sat down to draft the document while Shankar slowly wiped his Master clean. After signing the will in presence of a neighbour, the lawyer took his leave. Shankar merely bowed his head mutely.
Another cough came and it laster longer than usual. Lokmanya merely closed his eyes in helpless resignation. Shankar wiped his face and covered him well with blanket. Then he came to the other side of the bed and reclined himself in sleeping position besides Lokmanya. Lokmanya didn’t stir. Shankar peeled off the mask on his face and the upper wrinkled skin of his hands. Shankar Ahirrao had a youthful face resplendent with a serene smile. The son avenged the woman in love who was wronged by his Master. The future will now begin….