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James Rajanayagam

Doppelganger

First encounter

            It was 1:59 pm. Just a minute left for the quarterly progress review meeting. This was the first meeting for Corak after he had joined the firm that produces ready-to-eat products.

            He opened the link and clicked the Join the Meeting. He was horrified when a message appeared in the screen:

            “coxxx@rexxxxd.com” is already logged in.

            He couldn’t afford to miss this meeting. Desperately he sent a text to the administrator to give an alternate id and password to enter.

            When he managed to enter, he was already late by 4 minutes. The vice-president of the north zone was on his presentation.

            Among the participants, he saw his name with the audio muted.

            When his turn came, he tried to share the screen. He couldn’t.

            The imposter had already shared the presentation, started explaining the numbers. The voice was same. It was the same presentation that Corak had so diligently worked on for the last week. Even the fonts, background and the graphs were the same. It was ‘his’ presentation.

Second encounter

            Corak saw him in the aisle. He had just finished his cart with the groceries and joined the queue of about a half dozen customers. He could see him from the side. He had the same features, height, physique, colour of the skin and even, the hairstyle. He took out the wallet to pay the bill. He seemed an impostor in physical form.

            Corak controlled the urge to push behind the queue and grab him. The impostor paid, carried his groceries and started towards the exit.      

            By the time he regained himself, he was at the counter and the lady was shouting at him.

            He heard her say, “How long will you stand here, Mister? Will you keep way for the next, please?”

            He mumbled, “How much?”

            She was angry.

            “How many times you want me to repeat? You have already paid. Leave now or I will have to call the security.”

            He hurriedly left with his groceries.

Final encounter

            Corak was on his way to the office.

            Suddenly he felt the urge to turn around and go back home. He was so sure the impostor was at home. There was sweat on his forehead.

            He opened the door with his keys and went straight to the hall. On the sofa, with his head propped by his hands, the impostor sat. He was deep in thoughts and didn’t seem to notice Corak.

            The next moment, Corak dived to the dining table and grabbed the knife.

            He shouted loudly.

Denouement

            “Why did he stab himself?” the doctor took his seat and questioned Mrs. Corak.

            “Semiconsciously Corak was mumbling that finally he killed him”, added the doctor.

            She was nervous and she was trying to control her tears.

            “Was he depressed, of late?

            “No.”

            “It seems to be a psychological case. He claims to kill someone but stabs himself. What might have led to this?”

            Mrs. Corak was silent for some time.

            “Yes, I guess I have an idea. Of late, he was nervous and seemed to be scared when he was in the social media. No, he didn’t post anything. It started when he was fired from his previous job for a scandal. He felt some one impersonated him or someone made it look like him. A clip was shared in his office in which he was in an intimate position with his colleague. She launched a complaint in the office and denied any involvement. My husband was fired. He took up this current job very recently. I fear he still believes his online identity is abused.”

            The surgeon seemed to grasp the issue.

            “I guess he is under a delusion. It is a feeling that there is someone online and real, who might be an exact mirror-image with intent to do harm. Both of them might have already encountered online in various social media. Corak might be expecting to meet him to settle matters once for all…”

            The surgeon advised, “Corak needs urgent psychiatric support”.

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