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Apr 9, 2022

One Day in the Life of Comrade Aakrosh: A Short Story

 (This short story of mine was shortlisted as one of the top 7 stories out of the 175 submissions in the 2021 edition of the Writing Nepal: A Short Story Contest.)

Comrade Aakrosh sighed, crumpled the paper in his hand, and threw it into a small carton box he had been using as the dustbin. His annoyance was gradually morphing into a seething rage.

The speech he had been trying to write since the morning was of utmost importance. It was the first formal event of the combatants after the peace agreement, where the party supremo was also attending. Aakrosh was determined to make an impression with the party supremo. Moreover, he wanted to rouse his comrades with his speech and let them know that the days of struggle had not ended just yet. An even more arduous struggle was ahead of them, and they should not lay down their arms and rest on their laurels just yet.

The prospect of an elongated struggle, albeit in a new form, did not bother comrade Aakrosh. What did bother him though was the form of struggle – all the nuances and intricacies of bourgeoisie politics. All the lies, prevarications, manipulations, bickering, and backstabbing he was sure was going to take a toll on the spirit of honourable, straightforward people like him and his fellow combatants. He wished things were as straightforward as they were during the glorious war.  

As he peered out of the window to an overcast sky, his thoughts rambled to the good old days of the glorious war.


Comrade Aakrosh’s reputation preceded him in the party. He was as known for his ruthlessness as he was for his loyalty to the party and, therefore, the cause. His loyalty and uprightness were as fearsome as his ruthlessness. He was not a man you messed with or shared your moral deviations with. For him, killing the enemies of the cause was a moral duty and hardly an inconvenience. None of his killings had bothered him, except perhaps the killing of Gyanendra, the journalist. A killing that had sent shockwaves across the party and cemented his reputation for ruthlessness. Comrade Aakrosh almost wished that things had transpired differently that day.


‘Journalist babu! Oh, journalist babu!’ the neighbour lady called out from the roof of the adjoining house in the direction of Aakrosh’s room, bringing him out of his trance.

‘Yes, didi,’ he shouted.

‘It looks like it will rain today. You might want to take your clothes inside, she shouted, peering down at the window, trying to get a view of Comrade Aakrosh. Although it had been several months since ‘journalist Aakash’ moved to the neighbourhood, he remained a mystery to her. He did not exactly rebuff her approaches to know him better, but deftly manoeuvred away her questions every time she posed them. For a curious creature like her, ‘journalist Aakash’ was becoming a greater mystery every passing day, heightening her desire to solve it.

‘Don’t worry didi, I will take them down in a while,’ he shouted in her direction and returned to his thoughts.


Gyanendra had been a different captive. Comrade Aakrosh had captured, tortured, and killed many enemies before, several of them being journalists. But Gyanendra was different. To the dismay of his kidnappers, Gyanendra provided no resistance when he got buttonholed at his home and realized that there was no escape. Neither did he complain nor beg for his life throughout the six-hour long excruciating walk from his village to the rebel stronghold.

When finally presented before Comrade Aakrosh to decide on his fate, he had shown no fear or hatred. Just a calm, Stoic indifference. He had confessed that he had indeed informed the army of the whereabouts of the rebels.

What infuriated Comrade Aakrosh was the confidence and moral uprightness with which he had confessed. It had sounded more like a declaration than a confession. While his convictions fueled him, convictions in his enemies were unnerving to Comrade Aakrosh.

Comrade Aakrosh’s fury had not totally subsided the next day as they left the village, with Gyanendra’s dead body tied to a volleyball pole and his head barely hanging on a half-chopped neck, with a note that warned the villagers not to touch the body and to take it as a lesson not to spy for the enemies of the revolution. A pin badge with Mao Zedong’s picture and his quote ‘All political power comes from the barrel of the gun’ adorned Gyanendra’s pocket as he lay on a pool of his own blood. But this personal gesture Comrade Aakrosh performed on all his slain enemies seemed so tasteless that day.

Had it not been for the remnants of the bitterness in him that day, the teacher’s life in the next village would probably have been spared, Comrade Aakrosh ruminated. 


A knock on the door brought him out of his trance. Who could it be? He wondered. No comrade was supposed to meet him today. And there were only a handful of comrades who knew where he was living. The knock persisted.

Am I in danger? Is someone coming to attack me? Thoughts rushed into his head. But then, he thought to himself, the war was over already with the signing of the peace agreement. The party was on its way to rule the country. Who had he to fear except maybe a vengeful widow or an orphan he had created? He laughed silently at the frivolousness of his thoughts.

The knock came once again. It must be the nosy neighbour lady, he thought. People minding other people’s business had been a source of all his woes, he remembered.

There was a gap of silence before the knocks resumed. Reluctantly, Comrade Aakrosh walked to the door and opened it slowly. On seeing his visitor, he was startled at first, but then amused and pleasantly surprised.


Gyanendra’s gruesome killing had probably struck terror in the hearts and minds of the villagers. The village would probably not see any more spies against the party. But instead of jubilation, Comrade Aakrosh felt defeated. Defeated by the conviction, Gyanendra held. Disappointed by his failure to make Gyanendra beg for his life, denounce the wrong path he had chosen.

As his squadron moved to the next village with an arduous march for the next three nights, Comrade Aakrosh’s disappointment turned into a seething rage. He was unable to shake it off his mind, no matter how hard he tried.


‘Sheela, you?’ Comrade Aakrosh exclaimed with disbelief. ‘How come you are here?’

‘Yeah, it’s me, Sheela. Won’t you let me in?’ Sheela replied with a hint of playfulness in her voice.

‘Of course, sure, come in!’ Comrade Aakrosh replied meekly, still unsure how she found him.

Draped in a bland green saree, Sheela looked as beautiful as she did in her college days, as captivating as Comrade Aakrosh found her when they were in love. Now, however, a hint of what seemed like a permanent sadness ran over her face that was only noticeable when one observed her closely.

‘I will prepare tea for us,’ Comrade Aakrosh said.

‘No, don’t bother. I will do that. Just show me where the stuff is,’ she replied.

‘Come on! You are my guest and, besides, it should not be only women’s duty to cook,’ Comrade Aakrosh replied. ‘While I prepare the tea, you tell me how you found me, how you have been all these years.’

‘I stumbled upon Rajeev, our classmate from our college days, or Comrade Raktim as you guys call him these days, she replied, as she sat on the bed near the chair Comrade Aakrosh was sitting on earlier. ‘He told me you were in town and gave me your address.’

‘Oh, I see,’ Comrade Aakrosh remarked, as he looked at the boiling water and threw some tea leaves into it.

Comrade Aakrosh poured the tea into two cups, brought them to the table and sat on the chair. ‘Here you are! I would like to believe that I still make as good tea as I used to during our college days,’ he said. ‘Remember, you used to be a fan of the tea prepared by me.’

Sheela said nothing while she silently sipped her cup of tea.

‘It might have been so because we were in love,’ Comrade Aakrosh said with a hint of sarcasm.

Sheela seemed to be startled at the remark. ‘No! No! It’s still delicious,’ she said, as she tried to smile.

‘So how is your husband? Did you guys have any kids yet? I hope you are happy!’ Comrade Aakrosh asked impatiently.

‘I have a son, Adarsha,’ she replied. ‘Pradeep is not with us,’ she sighed.


Sheela quietly sipped her tea, lost in thoughts.


 Sheela did not have much to complain about her conjugal life. Pragmatism had triumphed over the romantic aspirations of Sheela as she and Aakash broke up. So she had said yes to the marriage proposal from Pradeep. Although the wounds from the break up were still fresh and the scars would probably never heal, she agreed to meet with Pradeep and found him to be affable enough. Pradeep was a government teacher who was posted across the country to teach social studies to secondary level students. A man of great intellect but few words, romantic gestures were not Pradeep’s forte. But he was loyal and did not need much to be happy. Although it was a marriage borne out of pragmatism for Sheela, she quickly learned to love Pradeep for all his simplicity and loyalty.

Their eventless life was disrupted by only two events – the birth of their son Adarsha and Pradeep’s acceptance of the government’s order to be posted in a school in a remote village in Sankhuwasabha. The latter brought much discord between the husband and the wife but Pradeep had finally convinced Sheela to move to the village, telling her it was the right thing to do and more importantly, just a temporary move. She would not notice the time passing before it was time to return to an urban area, he had told her.


‘So, after all it turns out loyalty is very important, eh, Sheela? Who would have thought the guy would leave you, eh? A guy you barely knew when you married him.’

Comrade Aakrosh’s sarcastic remarks brought Sheela out of her rumination. Her face distorted as she tried to contain her indignation.

‘But isn’t the main question where your loyalties lie rather than whether you are loyal or not, Aakash,’ Sheela retorted.

‘Wasn’t it you who put the party above our relationship?’ she asked, staring into his eyes. ‘Wasn’t it you who was all too eager to sacrifice our relationship for your loyalty to the revolution?’

Comrade Aakrosh was at a loss for words. ‘But…’ he muttered.

‘But Sheela, I had told you it was just a matter of patience, hadn’t I? I told you our revolution would succeed, didn’t I?’ he said, regaining his composure. ‘All you needed was to believe in me, Sheela. Look at me now, I am all set to change the face of this nation and go down in history as one of the comrades who liberated his people.’

‘Loyalty is indeed very important, Aakash. But is loyalty to the revolution above everything else? Can’t people put their family above everything else?’ she asked.

‘That’s how the unenlightened proletariat thinks, Sheela. They can’t think beyond their own immediate self-interest and their narrow relations such as their families.’

‘What did this guy Pradeep do anyway? I never got a chance to meet him.’

‘He was a teacher, a government school teacher. He used to teach social studies.’

‘Oh, I see!’

‘You must have tortured and killed a lot of them, didn’t you?’ she remarked acerbically.

‘I am not a soulless killer, Sheela. You know that,’ Comrade Aakrosh looked hurt. ‘But for the cause, I had to kill a few of them. They were spying for the feudal, oppressive, bourgeois king’s army, you see. Some of them were portraying the revolution and us in a negative light in their bourgeois curriculum.’


The teacher was not supposed to be killed. He had been sympathetic to the revolution and was paying his dues regularly albeit reluctantly. Despite his sympathies for the cause, he was vehemently opposed to the violence. He had been teaching his students how wrong the way of the violence was despite the justifiable ends it intended to achieve. ‘Violence begets violence, my dear students. Once you believe in taking the shortcut of violence rather than persuasion, it is a slippery slope from there,’ he used to tell his students. The party had ordered Comrade Aakrosh to warn the teacher, as it had been receiving complaints from some of the students who were members of the party.

To the chagrin of Comrade Aakrosh, the teacher repeated the same arguments when presented before him and refused to take the warning. Comrade Aakrosh was in no mood to hear his arguments or be convinced. How come everyone has started opposing us? He thought with annoyance. First that journalist and now this teacher? The bourgeois accomplices have now started teaching us how to run our revolution.

As his seething rage refused to calm down, Comrade Aakrosh decided to teach this teacher a lesson which would serve as a lesson to all the critics of the revolution and its modus operandi.

Comrade Aakrosh’s anger finally subsided when he pinned the badge with Mao’s picture and his quote to the shirt of the teacher, as his dead body drooped from the volleyball pole in the school ground to which both his hands were tied. As the pool of blood flowing from his slit throat turned black, Comrade Aakrosh’s spirits lifted. He felt relieved and accomplished. But how was he to know that the events of that day would come back to haunt him for a long time?


Sheela felt the earth move when she heard of Pradeep’s gruesome death at the hands of the rebels. She felt everything spin around her and struggled to find a footing. She fainted. She had barely slept the night before while she waited for Pradeep to come back. Although she knew he was a supporter of the rebels and was unlikely to be harmed by them, a part of her feared for his well-being every time he went to meet the rebels. The meetings were few and far between and each time Pradeep had come back unharmed. How could she believe that he had been killed gruesomely?

When she came back to consciousness, she found herself surrounded by the villagers. They refused to let her go to the site where Pradeep had been killed and where his body still remained, as the rebels had warned the villagers not to touch it or remove it. She acquiesced but remained adamant in her heart to visit the site. It is the fearsome Comrade Aakrosh who must have done it, the villagers whispered.

As the day passed and the urgency to dispose of the dead body increased, the fear of the rebels subsided and the villagers started the final rites for Pradeep.

Sheela accompanied them adamantly and refused to be left behind. As the villagers cut down the ropes and put the mangled body into a shroud, Sheela reached out to the body and snatched off the badge with Mao’s picture pinned to Pradeep’s shirt.


The sound of a lightning strike startled both of them and brought them out of their reverie. It started to rain.

‘Journalist babu! Oh, journalist babu!’ the neighbor lady shouted again in the direction of Comrade Aakrosh’s room. ‘It’s raining. Do take your clothes inside. I had warned you earlier.’

Comrade Aakrosh rushed to the roof. He bundled his clothes in his arms and turned back to go down to his room.

‘Babu, what were you doing? I had warned you earlier. Were you busy? Do you have a visitor?’ the neighbor lady inquired.

‘Nothing as such. I was reading a book and lost my sense of time. That’s all,’ he replied quickly and rushed downstairs.

In the room Comrade Aakrosh found Sheela refilling their cups with tea she had just prepared.

‘It was my turn to prepare the tea,’ she said with a smile.

‘Thank you, Sheela,’ Comrade Aakrosh replied.

He started spreading the clothes on his bed to dry them. Some of his shirts had been soaked.

‘I see you still prefer the color red,’ Sheela remarked. ‘What’s that badge that you have on that red shirt?’

‘Oh, it’s nothing. Just a pin badge to showcase my loyalty to the revolution. I had them specially prepared for me,’ Comrade Aakrosh replied. ‘Want one?’


Sheela’s fingers trembled as she ran them over the straight-faced Mao and his quote on the badge.


As soon as he finished his cup of tea, Comrade Aakrosh started feeling dizzy. He felt a strong desire to lie down and sleep. He mustered his will power to fight the urge but failed. He fell asleep.

When he woke a while later, he found his hands behind his back and tied to the bedpost. He was still feeling dizzy and was barely conscious. He squinted his eyes to make out the face of Sheela peering over him. A stiletto glinted in her hand.

‘Why, Sheela?’ he managed to blurt out.

‘Loyalty, Aakash aka Comrade Aakrosh! Loyalty!’ Sheela said in a steely voice. ‘Remember the teacher that you partially beheaded in Sankhuwasabha?’

A whiff of regret passed through Comrade Aakrosh’s mind as Sheela slit his throat.


‘Journalist babu! Oh, journalist babu! The sun is up again,’ the neighbor lady shouted towards Comrade Aakrosh’s room. ‘You might want to bring the clothes up to dry them.’

‘The sun is up again’ was the last thought that crossed Comrade Aakrosh’s mind before he closed his eyes forever.

The End