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For over thirty years, Janardhanan Pillai was the aratchar, the hangman, on call for the prison authorities in the kingdom of Travancore and, after Independence, the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. After the courts had passed a death sentence, it was left to him to put the condemned man to death, swiftly and clinically. Each time he returned from the gallows, he told himself that it would be the last time. But he went back, a hundred and seventeen times. Printed Pages: 256.