Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Death of Prime Number

I received the monies today. One billion, seventy nine million, six hundred seventy six thousand, two hundred eighty seven Indian rupees. All transferred from my husband's account. Its evening time and I am in a grocery store. I am not very good with Maths so I walk up to an old man who is picking mangoes and ask him, "How much is twenty three plus eleven?". The old man gives me a strange look, thinks for about nineteen seconds and says, "Thirty four". I don't like that number. I think for a while and ask what's twenty three plus eleven plus two. "Thirty six" he says. I don't like that number either. I ask again, quickly this time, "What's twenty three plus eleven plus three". "Thirty Seven" he says. "That's it, it works. Thanks" I say leaving the old chap confused and rush towards the section of the store where I find what I was looking for. I knew it will be there. I had bought it before. I buy thirty seven black plastic bags and head home. I will use twenty three of them tonight, eleven tomorrow night and burn down three after that. It will take forty one minutes to get home. I am driving at seventy three kilometers an hour in cruise control. The radio plays a number by AC/DC. I hum the song, my fingers tapping on the steering wheel I go back the memory lane and think about the day I had met my late husband.

"Marry me. I love you p to the power n, where p is a prime number and n tends to infinity." he said. He stood with his two eyes fixed on me. The eyes appeared three times bigger behind his metallic circular spectacles barely resting on his nose. A marriage proposal was the last thing I had expected that day. My boy friend Montie had dumped me last month and had asked me to vacate his apartment in thirty one days. To make matters worse I lost my job eleven days after that. I had burnt all my cash in cigarettes and alcohol. My bank balance could get me the cheapest place in town for not more than two months. I had defaulted on my last credit card payment and had already received five calls from the bank. Montie was out jamming with his band "Kaala Sarpa" preparing for their next show. I loved to see the band jam and get high with them. I wanted to go that day also but Montie asked me to stay away from the band. I was no longer a part of it he had told me. After he left I stole seven cigarettes from his pack and was smoking my stress away sitting on the stairs when the weird proposal came.

I had never spoken to this guy before, I had no reason to. All I knew was that he lived next door. The two patios were next to each other and I had seen him seventeen times standing there gazing at the stars as if he was counting them. One drunken evening I and Montie planned to make out in the patio. I remembered vividly how he peeped through his window and watched us. I felt a little embarrassed the next morning but I am the last woman in the world to be perturbed by something like that for long. I had also seen him two times in the building parking lot. He drove an S-class black Mercedes Benz. I knew that because that was the one of a kind in the building full of dented Maruti's and second hand Honda's. The car's number was too unique to be forgotten. Four five six seven.

"Piss off dude, I don't even know your name" I said in the rudest manner possible. "No worries Aakriti. I know your name; I scanned the building papers one day to find out. Sorry. I have been watching you for some time and I fell in love with you seventeen days ago. I tried to share my feelings before but succeeded today only in my seventh attempt. I will not trouble you no more. You can call me whenever you feel like talking to me. My phone number is the largest ten digit prime number" he said and before I could react he was gone. "Moron" I said to myself as I smoked my fifth cigarette in the last thirty seven minutes.

I forgot about the incident instantaneously and began to think of what I needed to do to get out of the mess I was in. I called up seven friends for money. All fair weather friends. No help. I called up three banks for loan. No surprises, they all turned their backs too. As the sun set that evening, so did my hopes. Montie came back with his new girl. He entered the house screaming my name and asked me to leave immediately. "Where will I go in the night Montie? Give me two three days. I will find something. Please don't do this to me." I begged. "I don't care" he said and started throwing my stuff out of the house. My ego didn't allow me to say another word. "I will give it back to the bastard. No one gets away humiliating me like that. My time will come." I thought. I asked him to stop and give me an hour to pack. "Not more than an hour" he shouted. It took twenty nine minutes only. Clothes, some old rock CDs, some books, cheap perfumes, five pair of sandals, two pairs of sneakers, a couple of photo frames, and my laptop. As I packed it all in the two bags I thought about my options. There weren't plenty. Do I call my parents? I had not spoken to them for three years. I decided not to. I thought of all the people whom I could call and seek shelter. I could not think of any one. I left the apartment feeling sorry for myself. I heard Montie bang the door shut behind me and say, "Don't show me your face again, you bitch". "I will cut the prick into little pieces one day" I promised myself.

I felt like crying but I did not. I thought of suicide as an option but I knew I would not be able to kill myself. I saw the door to the next apartment and that's when I thought of the proposal. I stood there for seven minutes. I had no better choice; I made up my mind and rang the bell. I thought there was no harm in seeking shelter for one night. Flat number six one nine. There was no answer, so I decided to wait. I waited for fifty nine more minutes and then I thought I'll call him. I tried to remember what he had said. Largest ten digit prime number. I vaguely remembered studying prime numbers in school. I hated Math’s and my Math’s teacher as much. He was a handsome guy though. Despite the loath, in school I fantasized making out wild with him. I switched my laptop on thinking about the Math’s teacher. I could still connect to the wireless network and after thirteen minutes of searching I located the number - Nine nine nine zero four five four nine nine seven. I dialed the number. The ring tone was bizarre, a male's voice humming numbers to a tune that I could not recognize. Twooooh, threeeeeeh, fiveh, heyyyiaaa, seeeeevenaa, eveeeeeelenaaa, heyyyiaaa, thirrrrrteeeen. "Preim, how can I help you?" the voice came from the other side. I told him that I was the girl next door, explained my situation and asked him if I could stay at his place for that night. I told him I would leave first up the next morning. He said he would rush down to the apartment in less than thirteen minutes. I disconnected the call and as I put my phone in my hand bag my eyes fell on an envelope that lay on the floor. I picked it up. It was a bank statement for some one named Preim Pnumber. I knew I shouldn't open it up but my curiosity got the better of me. I looked around to see if someone was watching and opened the envelope. The statement showed his bank balance - Twenty crores and thirty three rupees. I saw that number and I started thinking what any practical girl in my position would think. I stood there for seven minutes motionless, deep with in my thoughts. "Hi, I hope you did not wait for long." he said. Seeing him approach I crumpled the envelope in my hand and silently dropped it in my hand bag. "No, thanks for helping" I said giving him a smile. He smiled back, opened the door and said, "No problem. Come in".

His was a three bed apartment as compared to Montie's one room pigeon hole. The apartment had a class room look to it, a class room that some hooligans had just left. Papers on the ground, three white boards on the walls, few markers on the floor. The apartment smelled like an old newspaper. I walked in to see that two of the three bed rooms were locked. There was an unfinished meal lying on a small old table in the living room. Every chair and table around was three legged. It all looked like a store room, not a house that belonged to someone who had twenty crores in his bank account. "Sorry for the mess. You can sleep in my bedroom; I will manage on the sofa. In any case five days of the week, I sleep on the sofa only. I will get you some tea" he said. "Thanks. I don't know how to thank you. You have been very sweet and helpful" I said. While he made tea, I walked around. I noticed that the bedroom had three televisions. There were five book shelves in the living area. I walked up to one of them to check out a few books. They all were academic books I had never heard of and for some reason there were two or three copies of every book. I did not bother to ask him when he came back with tea.

As we sipped the tea he asked me to be comfortable. We hit upon a conversation. Even though I knew it from the envelope, I asked, "What's your name?”. "My name is Prime Number. It is spelled p r e i m p n u m b er, the P in the second name is silent" he replied. "That's a strange name" I said. He told me that his birth name was Prem Plumber. He had lost his parents in a car accident very early in his childhood. He was raised by his single uncle who used to be a famous Mathematics professor. The uncle went insane working on a research paper on prime numbers. He was admitted to a mental asylum where he had died of a brain hemorrhage. Prem continued his work and completed the research after working on it for eleven years. That's when he changed his name to Preim Pnumber. The result of the research was three papers and five cryptographic algorithms. He owned the patent to the algorithms and every time a company needed to use the algorithms in their software he was paid a handsome royalty. He told me that he did not care about the money and his entire focus was on another research on prime numbers that he was working on for the last three years. He said he also wished to get married. He did not ask anything about me and even if he did I would have lied. In a normal conversation I would have no trouble talking about my troubled relationship with my parents or my various relationships in college and beyond. This was not a normal situation though. I wanted to leave a good impression on Preim. Even though he did not ask I lied to him telling him that it was me who dumped Montie. "I was looking for someone more sensible, someone who would care for me, love me and understand me." I said trying to sound as genuine as I could. The last thing before we went to sleep that he said was that I could stay at his place till the point I find an accommodation for myself.

"This is it! Who cares what he is working on or if he wears those stupid spectacles? I can savor all the money he has for a life time and beyond. He is not interested in money at all. If I have to marry him to become rich, I don't mind. If I don't marry him, I will be unhappy. If I do, I might still be. But I will have the cash and all the comforts of the life. He is not even close to someone I want to marry but who knows over a period of time I might fall in love with him. I don't care even if I don't." I slept with all these thoughts running through my veins.

I woke up next morning and I knew this was the day that would change me life. I remember it was twenty fourth of July. I stood besides the sofa. He was fast asleep. I pulled a three legged stool towards the sofa, sat on it and started caressing his hair. He woke up after a while but I continued to play affectionately with his hair. After a little while I stopped. "Do it three more times. You have done it forty four times only, do it three more times to make it perfect" he said. I did just as he had instructed. I ignored why he asked me to do it three more times and started with the lines I had rehearsed more than five times since morning. "You are so kind Preim, you have a huge heart and you are so full of affection. You are the man I always wanted to marry but I don't think I deserve you. You deserve something better than me in your life." I sobbed and sniffed. He fell for the trap and said, "All I know is that I love you p to the power n, where p is". I interrupted him, "where p is a prime number and n is infinity". He said, "No. n is not infinity, it tends to infinity". I didn't understand what it meant, I didn't care. I pretended though that I did and gave him a bear hug. "Let's get married today only." I said. He said that we could have tied the knot yesterday but we couldn't do it on that day because it was the twenty fourth. We will have to wait for five more days and get married on twenty ninth. I failed to read him once again. I did not question. I had decided that till we get married and I get hold of all the strings to control him, I would agree to whatever he says. We got married on twenty ninth in a local temple. In the period between I got to know that he owned one more Mercedes and had one more house in the out skirts of the city. I convinced him to move there after marriage. I wanted to stay away from Montie. We shifted to the second house on the twenty ninth itself.

First night. Preim told me that he was a virgin and he was very pleased losing it with someone he loved. I tried to remember when I lost mine. Almost thirteen years, I had even forgotten the boy's name. Preim didn't appear to be someone who could please me in bed and satisfy my appetite. I thought that this would be one lame night. I thought of going with the flow. We kissed for five minutes and then he got rid of his clothes. I did not find his naked body attractive. He asked me to remove my clothes and then asked me, "How many prime numbers can you count starting from the first one?". The question threw me off but I did not react. "Be nice, be nice", I repeated in my head. "I don't know but I can try" I said. He asked me to go ahead. "One" I almost whispered. "One is not prime number" he said moving away from me. I could see he was really annoyed. "Sorry honey" I said trying to calm the situation down. He got up and brought a blank piece of paper and a pen. For the next ninety seven seconds he scribbled numbers on the paper. He handed the paper to me and told me that he had penned down the first hundred and sixty seven prime numbers. I looked at the numbers on the paper. They started from two and finished at nine hundred ninety one. "Please read out the numbers slowly in your soothing voice. Be gentle to them." he said. "Two, three, five" I started. He stopped me and said, "You are going to fast honey, slow down. Enjoy them.". I remembered the ring tone and gave it a second try. "Twooooooohhhhh, Threeeeehhhh, Fiveeeeehhhh, Sevennhhhh...". "Niiiceee, go on honey, go on" he said seductively. I continued with all my focus on the paper. After seventeen seconds I looked at him from the corner of my eyes and saw that the numbers were turning him on. Soon I reached thirty seven. "Fortyyyy oneeeeh" I continued. All of a sudden he pounced on me like a tiger and said, "Keep going, keep going, don't stop, don't stop". He started thrusting into me. It was all very rhythmic. Every time I said a number he would push into me. If I read the numbers fast, he would speed up as well. I controlled the pace just as you do when you drive a car. "Go fast now, speed up" he said. "one thity seven, one thity nine, one foty nine, one fifty one, ouucchh, ufff, Preim, ufff, one fifty seven, ...,..., to to thee, oucch, to to seven, to to nine, ..... for ate seven... stop Preim stop...". I could hardly see the numbers, it was all getting blurry. The pleasure and the ecstasy were killing me. The paper dropped from my hand and he started to calm down. Gasping heavily for my life I passed out.

I got up next morning thinking about the last night. He was an animal, a savage better than anyone I had slept with. His meek personality hid the monster that rested within. I was glad that I wouldn't have to sleep with another man. Who would want to go out looking for a comforter when you owned the sun? He was lying naked and fast asleep. My thighs hurt and I wanted to lie down in the bed for a little longer but I had to start showing him affection. That was the quickest way to his bank account. I got up, went to the kitchen and started to cook breakfast. I fixed two eggs, toasted four slices of bread and made ginger tea. I put it all on a serving plate and got to the bedroom. "Wake up honey, it's a beautiful morning. The breakfast is ready" I whispered in his ear. He woke up stretching his arms, smiled and kissed me on my cheek. His cheerful mood though got sullen as soon as I served the breakfast. "Four slices of bread! One cup of tea! No. No. Get me one more cup of tea. Take away one slice of bread" he said annoyingly. I did not understand what he was up to but I did as he said. He finished his breakfast but kept on brooding over it. For five minutes I stood there besides him thinking what to do. Then my eyes fell on the piece of paper from last night. I picked it up and started, "Twooooooohhhh, Threeeeehhhh, Fiveeeeehhhh, Sevennhhhh...". The animal woke up. That morning I could only hold the paper till two fifty seven.

I asked him to take me to shopping that afternoon. He agreed. I thought of taking him to a diamond shop but changed my mind. It was the first time I was going out shopping with him. I did not understand his spending habits and how much money he will be willing to spend. Instead of the diamond shop, I took him to a local cheap shoe shop. I picked up a decent pair that was worth two hundred fifty rupees. I showed him the shoe and his nod told me that he liked it. I thought that it was a good start but as soon as he saw the price tag he asked me to keep the shoe away. "What a miser this bastard is?" I thought in my head. He declined to spend two hundred fifty rupees to buy me a pair of shoes. My best laid plans seemed to be in troubled waters. I hid my discontent and made another plan. I walked up to the men section, picked up a pair of shoes and handed it over to him. "Buy this for you honey" I said. That pair was worth nine ninety one rupees. He looked at it and made a face indicating that he did not like it. He was about to keep it on the shelf when suddenly he said, "I like it, I will take it.". I smiled and patted him. Inside I was fuming and I was confused. "That's a great shoe honey, isn't it" I said and took the pair from him. I looked at the price tag once again and then it struck me.

Nine nine one!!!!! I remembered this was the last number from the list yesterday. A prime number!!! For the first time in my life I wished I was serious about Math’s. Any fool could have guessed what was going on. My head started to spin. I saw Preim thrusting into me on the count of numbers. Three legged tables, three white boards, three slices of bread, eleven years of research, marriage on twenty ninth, two cups of tea, three TVs in the bedroom, two houses, two cars, five book shelves, two or three copies of every book. I could see them all right in front of my eyes. These were all numbers from the sheet. My mind raced and I thought of testing this theory. I wanted to find out that what I was thinking was true. Right there.

I remembered the number two fifty seven from morning. I asked Preim if he would wait there while I go and check a pair of shoes for myself. I rushed to the women section, picked up the same pair I had picked earlier and went to a guy who was helping people visiting the store. I said, "Can you please change the price tag to two five seven? The price is written with pencil, all you have to do it rub that zero off and write a seven instead. Don't ask me why, just do it please. I promise I will buy it right away at that price if you do that.". He didn't understand so I repeated myself again. He was reluctant but I some how managed to convince him. I took the newly labeled pair and showed it to Preim. He recognized the pair and said, "No, I told you. We will not buy this one. Go pick something else.". "At least take a look at it honey. I really like it" I said placing the shoe with the price tag in such a manner that he would see it. He did. He was speechless for eleven seconds and then he said, "My love! I am so sorry. What a foolish I have been. Yes indeed! This is a great shoe. We must buy it right now". I smiled at him, got close to his ear and whispered in his ear, "Twooooooohhhhh, Threeeeehhhh, Fiveeeeehhhh". He held my left hand tight and we got to the cashier. "One thousand two hundred forty eight, sir" the lady on the counter said. To the utter surprise of that lady Preim asked for two separate bills and paid for each item individually. The drive back home was pleasant. Every now and then I would spring a couple of prime numbers and Preim would get all worked up. I couldn't believe how quickly I had obtained the key to the gold mine. It was the best day of my life and I lasted till seven eight seven in bed that evening.

Seven hundred one days had gone by since our wedding. I had learned all the numbers on the sheet and way beyond. I could spell the first two thousand three prime numbers on my finger tips. I kept three cheat sheets with me all the times for numbers greater than that. Preim though was a genius. Give him a number, no matter how big and he could tell in less than seven seconds if it was a prime number or not. The two year period had worked like a charm. I could make Preim dance to numbers. Making my wish come true was easy. "Can you fix me three eggs honey?" "I want to buy the diamond necklace, it's worth one lac thirty eight thousand five hundred seventeen rupees only" "It's twenty third of the month today, let's eat out" "It's July, the seventh month of the year, let's go on a Europe trip" "I need some money to shop, can I have thirty seven thousand three hundred seven rupees". I was adding at least three or five prime numbers to my memory every day. In bed, we took turns to say the numbers. At times we would sing in harmony. At times I would start, he would say the next number, I would say the next and it will go on till we were exhausted. I would stutter at times when it was my turn to hum the number but he never did it. I admired him for this quality of his. Life was unbelievably good. All good things come to an end.

I got pregnant. Both of us were very excited. Preim told me if it's a boy we would name him Alpha, if girl we would name her Aplhi. Two sixty three days later we were blessed with a baby boy. Alpha was a beautiful child. Two days after his birth Preim returned home all agitated. "We have to work on a new baby. We have one kid. I don't like it. We need two. Let's make a baby right now." he told me. "Honey, Alpha is just two days old. Give me some time and I will be ready to conceive the second child" I tried to calm him down. "No, I can't. Twooooooohhhhh, Threeeeehhhh, Fiveeeeehhhh, Seveennnnaaah.." he started to hum. I felt weak at the knees and the next moment I was all over him humming the numbers. For the next three months we did one thing. We worked on the baby. I got pregnant again and both of us anxiously waited for our next baby. Destiny had its plans. I gave birth to a triplet, one girl and two boys. The girl was named Beti, and the boys Gamma and Delta. Preim was happy that I gave birth to three babies but the original problem still persisted. We had four kids now and he did not like it. Somewhere even I didn't. "Let's make a new baby and make it five" he said one month later. I had gained thirty seven pounds during the course of two pregnancies. I needed to get back to shape but Preim was obsessed with making a new baby. I was not ready for one more pregnancy. I said, "Preim! This can't go on. What if I give birth to twins now? Come on; let's live with what we have." He did not listen to me and using the trick that had started to work on me like a charm he convinced me once again. Soon, I was pregnant again. Dark circles loomed beneath my eyes. My skin was dull and I appeared seven years older than my age. I prayed every day, "God, No more games. Please give me just one baby this time". God obliged. I gave birth to another boy and he was named Epsilon. I had gained seventeen more pounds but was happy that the problem was solved. We had five kids. No more pregnancies, I could start working to get back in shape. I was wrong. After five days Preim said, "We need to work on more babies. We have four sons and one daughter. I don't like it. We need to put in some more hard work honey. One more son and one more daughter is all we need to set it right".

"This man will kill me if I don't do something right away. This rat race to set things straight could go on for ever. What if the next two babies I give birth to are both boys or both girls. We will be back to square one. My life will be ruined delivering babies." I thought that night. I did not know what to do. A letter that I received that day showed me the way. It was an official letter from the other house regarding a late payment. The other house reminded me of Montie and I started to hatch a plan. A plan that will kill two birds with one stone. All I needed was a pen and a paper. I labored for forty seven minutes to do all the Math’s. "I will plant the seed soon. I have to act like I have never done before." I thought and rehearsed few lines eleven times every day over the next few days. I asked Preim to move to the other house for a few days. He was unsure but I convinced him by telling him that a change will be good and beneficial to baby making. After we moved back there, I was waiting for the date - 11th November 2011. That night I was humming the numbers while making love. I changed the track suddenly; "Today is Friday, the fifth day of the week. The date is eleventh of November. It is the eleventh month of the year two thousand eleven. At five pm today I caught a cab numbered one six two one to buy thirteen eggs. Montie was hanging out there with his seventh girl friend. He told the girl pointing a finger at me that I was his fifth girl friend. Then he used three bad words for me. I could take that but then he used seven bad ones for you. Preim, kill him for me. Look at the calendar again. It reads eleven, eleven, two thousand eleven. A perfect day. Kill him. I have bought thirty one black plastic bags. After you kill him, cut his body into thirty one pieces and put the pieces in thirty one bags. Divide these bags into three groups - three, eleven and seventeen bags. Bury the first bag in the backyard of building three three one. Throw the next one in the sea from the bridge on the eleventh street. Put two liters of gasoline on the last one and burn it down by lighting two match sticks. Go now, it's eleven 'o clock. Kill him." I said it all in one breath.

It worked! "Yeah! How dare he use three bad words for you. Yes. Thirty one pieces, give me the bags" he said. I moved swiftly and gave him three butcher knives, thirty one bags and a key to Montie's house which I still possessed. He barged out of the house in a prime number trance. I saw him getting into Montie's house and acted as I had planned. I made an anonymous call to the police and told them that there is trouble brewing in a house and gave them the address. My plan was simple. Preim will kill Montie, that's the first bird. That's how I would get my revenge. The police will nab Preim red handed and he will certainly get a death sentence for his crime. That's the second bird. After he is dead, I will not only own all his assets but also be entitled to receive all his monies. Three minutes after the phone call I was waiting to hear the police sirens but instead I heard two gun shots. I panicked but did not come out of my house. The police came five minutes after the gun shots and entered Montie's house. They found two dead bodies inside. Montie was dead and so was Preim. According to the official police statement Preim entered Montie's house with an intention of killing him and stabbed him in his neck. Montie didn't die immediately and some how located his gun. He fired two shots at Preim killing him on the spot. Montie succumbed to the wound on his neck minutes later. The police was not able to explain the thirty one plastic bags that lay in the blood pool.

It didn't go exactly as I had planned but it didn't matter. I had given it back to Montie. I was free from Preim Pnumber as well. Preim Pnumber was dead. "I am sure he is happy because it took two bullets to kill him." I laughed to myself. I missed him though and missed his genius as well. I passed time humming the numbers and spending the money as Preim would do, only in prime numbers. Fifty nine days had passed after the eleventh November night. Everything was going on fine. I had lost seventeen pounds. My face had a glow and I looked more beautiful than ever. I could now spell out the first five thousand seventy seven prime numbers on my finger tips. I was glad I had gotten rid of Preim Pnumber but something was not right. Something had to be corrected. Four sons and a daughter was not right. As every day passed, I got more and more pissed with the fact. I had to change it. I planned to get pregnant again but the pain of pregnancy and the uncertainty of a boy or a girl associated to it was a let down. I was growing impatient by the day. I was taking shower and it was then that I thought of pain free plan that will solve the problem once and for all. After this plan is executed, I would have truly gotten rid of Preim Pnumber and all my problems.

I come crashing out of my thoughts as I almost ram my car into a truck. I break and come to a halt. The AC/DC song is long over. The radio jockey is talking some nonsense. I turn the radio off. My house is not far away now. Just two more minutes. I finally reach home. The kids are sleeping. I eat three bananas. I drink two cups of coffee. I learn five new prime numbers. I pass my time humming the numbers. I wait for the clock to strike eleven. Two minutes before eleven I pick up the twenty three bags. I go to Beti's room and kiss her for one last time. I will choose the boy before lunch tomorrow.

I will be free from Preim Pnumber tomorrow night!