They say he used to buy a packet of milk and a few biscuits on his way home. He had two little boys waiting for him, growing up fast, as they do in these days but years away from puberty. This was a nightly treat, or the morning snack before school. A packet of milk and a few biscuits. On a mason’s salary, it was all he could afford.
The rustle of the plastic, the dimming of the head lights as he pulled up outside his house, the squeal of the tires, if it had rained, enough to alert the young ones that ‘Acha’ was home.
That night he finished the evening shakha, the cool breeze of the night soothing away his cares and fatigue as he made his way home at the end of a long day. The thoughts running through his mind… what could they have been?
Maybe the biscuits that had to be bought and the last packet of milk that the shopkeeper saved for him. Maybe he would have to work longer hours to replace the necklace he had taken from his wife and sold, so they could contribute to the welfare fund for murdered swayamsevaks in Kannur. There was still time, he was only 34, she younger.
Rajesh bought the milk in the evenings, unlike others who bought it at the start of the day. But then he was different. And this was a small colony in a big city, indulgent of the quirks of its residents.
The evening shakha he had just finished was an escape from the identity that society pressed on him, there they were known by first names alone. It was the way of the Sangh. He had taken his little boy to a gathering once, the little one holding on to his finger, two images in ordinary wooden frames, Dr Hedgewar and Guruji Gowalkar sat on a makeshift table, and the little boy danced in front of them.
It was somewhere out in the open, a garden maybe, bereft of tall walls, of the physical kind and those that human beings construct around themselves. He had taken a photograph of his little boy at that moment, free and unselfconscious, as he had never been at that age and posted it on Facebook, “I am proud that my son belongs to the RSS” he had written above that image.
They say the shopkeeper fainted. They say the hand that held the packet of biscuits and milk was chopped off first. They say it fell to the ground, away from his body. They don’t say if that hand was still holding on to the packet his boys were waiting for at home.
They say he received 89 cuts to his body. They say it is a new record; the last murder at this scale of brutality had set the previous record at 51 cuts.
Rajesh was always meant to be different.
They say he is dead… and yet he lives on.
(Editor’s Note: Rajesh Edavakode was hacked to death by suspected communists on July 29 in Kerala. He was among the fourteen RSS worker killed in nearly as many months, ever since the communists came back to power in the state. Advaita Kala has been one of those relentlessly pursuing this string of killings and bringing those under focus, as the mainstream media largely has been apathetic to the killings earlier. Here, she pens her thoughts about Rajesh. A tribute to the departed)