Of two things I was sure.
I knew you’d killed Rajiv.
And I knew you’d killed Suhana.
I knew in my gut that you had killed her, in that moment when I found out Rajiv died by drug overdose. It turned into certainty when I came to know through that Diener which drugs were being peddled through that hospital.
Was I prepared for it? No. Did I want you even after I came to know what you’d done? Yes! I shouldn’t have but I did. You still drew me to you even after I came to know your true, destructive self. I was a moth and you my candlelight. I knew you weren’t good news, Pihu, but I couldn’t help being drawn to the false warmth you offered.
Why was I still drawn to you? Because I understood where you came from now. I understood that you’d been horribly wronged by this world. No one deserved a life like that. You’d been forced into drugs or at the very least, introduced to them by either Rajiv, or your Father, and your Father was the source of the drugs that night when you killed Rajiv. But was he also the source when you killed Suhana? Why and how, were the questions tearing my throbbing head apart.
Or maybe I knew why… Could you kill for jealousy? Could killing someone have become so easy for you that all you had to do was decide the when and how? Had Rajiv, the shit-storm he brought on and the drugs messed you up so bad that you were willing to do just anything… anything to have your way?
I had no way of finding you in the city for my answers. I wasn’t even sure if you were still in the city or had fled. I had no idea of your address, none of your whereabouts. I knew you only a month, but through that one month I hadn’t come to know you much. I thought you were shy, secretive, and you opened up slowly. I wanted you to trust me by yourself.
God, if I only knew….
I drove back home in hopes I could call and lure you to me. I knew better than to expect you to come, but I had to hope… I had nothing else left. I wanted to help you through this… but I had no way of knowing that you didn’t need help.
I reached my apartment building around 9 at night. The rundown building complex never had a guard, so the parking lot was always a mess. Someone else had parked in my spot! Fucking brilliant! I cursed. I came back out to find another parking space on the road or maybe in the building compound, when I noticed that the lights in my room were on.
Who the heck’s in my room? Sushant?!
I left the bike where it was, and doubled up the stairs. I had reached the door to my apartment when I noticed that the latch was hanging loose in its place, which meant the door wasn’t bolted from the inside, just closed shut. That was odd. I knew it would get stuck from time time, but it wasn’t like this when I left in the morning. Why would anyone snooping inside not bolt it from the inside?
Tentatively, and carefully, lest I alert whoever was in my room, I slowly opened the door. And almost immediately, the lights in my room went out. The apartment was now bathed in eerie darkness. The kind where even the silence screams at you ‘there’s something wrong’.
“Sushant! I know it was you in my room. What were you doing in there? And why are the lights out?”, I talked as normally as I could, to buy time and to distract, as I groped my way to the switchboard on the adjacent wall. Whoever was in my room wasn’t Sushant.
I had now reached the switchboard and was pressing the light-switch on when I heard a soft click on the other side of the room. Someone had finally bolted the door from the inside. Beads of cold sweat popped over my brows and my lip. My senses were screaming at me ‘run…scream…do something‘ like a shrill ambulance siren. And worse still, the power in the room had been cut off from the mains!
The MLA’s men?
I began to shake involuntarily as I turned around to peer in the darkness of the room. The curtains in the room had been drawn close. There were only slivers of faint moonlight here and there, but not enough to help me see. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the dark so it was difficult to make out anything. But there, near the door, I could make out a dark blob. Someone.
The blob spoke, “You weren’t supposed to be here!”
Your voice startled me bad and I lost my balance, slipped on something and fell on my left, trapping my arm under me. Something went squish when I fell down. I freed my arm and felt a wetness on the skin and the sides of my shirt. Water? I held up my arm to a sliver of light. It was something dark…. Blood, and it wasn’t mine.
“SUSHANT!!” I screamed involuntarily and you flew towards me like a phantom, holding a scalpel to my throat, “Don’t scream, pleaaaaase”, you hissed, “I don’t wanna hurt you too!” You peered into my eyes, the sliver of light only illuminating your crazed, hooded eyes, making them looked inflamed with a molten, auburn fire. The rest of you was still dark, but I could sense your breath on me, hot and rapid. I’m not going to lie, I was scared in that moment like I’d never been before.
You withdrew from me and walked backwards towards the door. You crouched down there, with the scalpel held loosely in your hand. By now my eyes had adjusted enough to see that, and then I dared to look to my left and had my worse fears come true. Sushant’s body lay there in a heap, still, like the still of the dead. Please God, let him be alive. I ran the options I had in my head. I realized I didn’t have many. If I screamed for help, or pretty much moved a muscle, you would gut me right here.
Engage her in talk. “What have you done?”
“Finished what I started,” you answered in a deadpan, eerily calm voice, as if it was just a bug you had squished under your foot.
Change tack. Try being nice. “Payal…”
“I HATE THAT NAME! I’m Pihu, not Payal,” The sudden force of your outburst had me quivering in fear all over again. I hadn’t even realized when both my hands flew up before me in defense. I peered through my fingers to look at you. You were shaking in rage, your breath came out raggedly, and you looked ready to kill.
Placate her, you asshole!
“Oooookay…. okay Pihu… I…. I wanna help you.” I really did want to. “Look whatever happened to you was wrong, I know that now. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can get away from it all… We can resolve this…”
I trailed off because I could sense you weren’t listening. You had your head bent. It’s only later I realized that your shoulders were shaking with suppressed laughter. When you finally looked up again, your eyes were bland but your lips held a dirty smirk between them that told me, once and for all, you needed no help.
You sauntered back towards me, scalpel still out but held less tightly, “Ohhhhhhh, love, you are sssssweet… and naive!” You cupped my face in your hands and gave me a fluttery kiss.
“Why’d you have to kill him? He had nothing to do with what happened to you.”
You smirked. “Is that what he told you? That I ensnared his brother? That I was the whore of the town who peddled body and drugs out to whoever could give me my price? Fucking scumbag!”, you kicked his lifeless form on the side and it responded with a sickening squelch. He had obviously lost a lot of blood. But wait, did she notice that twitch of his hand? I prayed that she hadn’t.
Distract her from him! “I know you killed them both”.
You looked back at me impassively for a few seconds, then walked back to your place near the door, and crouched down again, this time more relaxed. Good.
“I know Rajiv deserved to die…. but why Suhana? What wrong did she do to you?” I was genuinely mad at you now. You took her life for no reason. Correction, you took her life for something as petty as jealousy. I may not have loved her anymore, but I still cared enough for her not to wish any harm done to her. And this was much more than mere harm! If it hadn’t been for all the wrongs committed against you, I would have turned you in myself. That was still the plan. But now it was for other reasons, mostly, to save you from destroying yourself before you reached a point of no return.
“She was in love with you still. She was never going to give you up! She told me as much the night I killed her. She loved just like me… fiercely, completely. Even… if… her love was flawed. But you…” and you started crawling towards me on all fours like an animal, “You, baby, you are…” you had reached me now and straddled me, “…something! You’re like another drug I can’t give up. I couldn’t have her coming between us. I couldn’t bear anyone coming between us anymore… Rajiv!“
What the fuck!
Were you high, or was it a permanent sort of damage that the drugs and your situation done to you? It was really in that moment that I gave up all hopes of saving you and started to get scared about myself instead. Your transformation that night was so complete, it was difficult for me to even relate to you anymore. How could have I missed this impassiveness, this crazy neediness in you?
You laughed at my woebegone face, “Oh baby, don’t be scared. I have grand plans for us.”
“No one will ever bother us anymore. We’ll go faaaar away from here. All you have to do is be a good boy, and stay by my side…” and you poked that scalpel hard into my chest. Not very deep, just enough to get a trickle of blood out. And as I gasped in pain, you silenced me with a deep kiss. God, you were sick! I really needed to work out a plan to get myself, and if possible, Sushant, out of there too. Fast!
Talk, talk! Maker her loosen her grip on that scalpel!
“How did you…”
“Oh, it was easy. It’s funny how easy it becomes when you’ve done it once. It’s really a mind thing, this ‘thou shalt not kill’ shit. Once you overcome your conscience, it’s as easy as slaying a chicken. Have you ever slayed one?'”
“What?” I wasn’t even in the conversation. I was desperately looking for a way out.
You laughed affectedly, like we were just plain talking and I’d said something funny, “Slayed a chicken, silly! I know you’re too good to ever hurt anyone… As for why I did it… you always were so worried about her even after you’d left her. You had no idea how much it hurt me to hear you just go ooooon and oooooon about how you would do things together, and what she did do, and what she didn’t. It was like she was there even when she wasn’t there. I was so sick of her!” You wrinkled your nose in disgust, but you didn’t stop talking, “So that night when I drove to her friend’s place where she was putting up, I was honestly…” you kept your free palm on your chest and mimicked a good girl talking, “…hoping that a little talking, or maybe even threatening her a bit would do the job. But I’ll have to give it to her, she was steadfast. She wasn’t ready to give you up!”
The scalpel was now on my throat, just below the Adam’s apple, and your free hand grabbed the nape of my neck. One move from me and you’d slice me open. I had no chance of escaping you. You knew this game well.
“I killed her the same way I killed Rajiv. Sneaked up on her through an open window in the bathroom, stabbed her with Fentanyl and Morphine. She was so surprised to see me, but lucky for me she was half-drunk already. Didn’t take long for the drugs to hit her.”
Your eyes had a faraway look in them now, like you were watching it happen before your eyes, but your hand was still firmly in place, leaving me no option but to wait, “She was soon woozy, tottering on her feet like a fat penguin gasping for breath. When she finally fell, the drugs slowly taking over her, all she kept saying was, ‘you can’t do this to him, you can’t do this to him‘… “
The faraway look was gone now. Your bitch face was back on. “Bitch still loved you! Who wouldn’t?” You disengaged your hand from my neck and traced a finger on my lower lip without breaking your stony gaze, but I noticed your hand had dried blood caked over it, and under your fingernails too. I felt bile rise up in my throat. I almost threw up in your face.
I was disgusted by you! Disgusted by how easy it was for you to kill, how easy it was for you to play with someone’s life. Sure Rajiv may have deserved it, but Suhana didn’t. When I decided to help you out, I didn’t think you could ever go to such lengths. I had imagined Suhana may have aggravated you somehow, or maybe that her death was an accident, that you hadn’t intended on going as far as actually killing her. But what you confessed only smacked of cold-blooded murder. And that I couldn’t forgive!
When I flinched from your touch you grabbed my hair from the back, making me gasp in pain, forcing me to look up, “Disgusted are you? Pained by how I killed your ex? Are you thinking of how unfair I was? You know nothing about pain and unfairness! NOTHING!”
Your tone had steel in it. Your face suddenly seemed to have aged ten years. The harsh lines around your mouth and on your forehead stood out in stark contrast to how I remembered seeing you first.
You quickly grabbed the edge of your shirt and hiked it up, revealing that tattoo covering the stab wound on your waist, “THIS IS REAL PAIN! This and the thought that someone you once loved so much, trusted so much, could do this to you! What hurts is that no one, NOT ONE FUCKING person, came to my aid. My faggot Father only saved me because had I died, it would have brought him more trouble. So he, and his father…” you pointed your scalpel-holding hand to Sushant’s body, “…saved me even though it was his own sons, who tried to kill me.”
You got up suddenly and moved to Sushant’s prone body, “It was HE who stabbed me!”
“He, who ground that knife inside me and gutted me. He who kicked me senseless in the head. He who killed the life inside me and the girl I was! He’s the reason why I’m still in pain so bad that I’m hooked to Fentanyl for life!”
“HE!”, you kicked him in the side with all of you.
“HE!”, one kick on his back.
“HE!!!”, you drew up the scalpel high in the air, and plunged down at his prone body.
“NOOOOOOO!” That was me.
It was now or game over!
To Be Continued…
Copyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
Image Credits: OwensArt at www.pixabay.com