This short story of close to 1500 words was written by the writer for the ‘Write India’ TOI competition. Though it did not win any award, this website gives way for amateur authors to showcase their dreams and aspirations. If you liked reading, do let the writers in this short story section know the loopholes in their writing and how they can improve in the same.
That One Moment
Murderer! Whore! Cheat!
She was sick and tired of being called with these monikers on a constant basis. What had she done after all? Killed a man whom she disliked, was that not reason enough to kill him? That she, well, disliked him.
But you couldn’t actually call it murder, it was like an accident. A God-sent accident prepared like a healthy piece of gift for her, it looked like an unfortunate accident which saved her jail time but getting saved from the voyeuristic eyes of the society was quite an impossible mission in the society she lived in.
Though her name did not suit her personality, Radhika was a woman whose life had been an unpredictable mass of events.
From being born in the most unconventional family to landing in the family of a man who wanted to know everything about her; from the amount of food she ate to the kind of lingerie she bought. Her life had been full of shocks and surprises.
Of course, it was not arranged. She had fallen in love with him in her recklessness and her trademark stubbornness caused her to officially become his.
And now, she was bored.
Bored and imprisoned with a man who was not as delightful as he was back in college, her crush had changed into an obsessive mother-lover who danced to her tunes and was like a little puppy whose tongue ceased to function whenever she was around.
Being the only rebel in the quiet house, Radhika was bored and highly frustrated. Stubbornness prevented her from filing for a divorce, thus, there had to be another way out of this.
Report domestic abuse? No, that would be too mainstream. What could free her of this boring life without affecting her stubborn pride?
Wipe off the boring element from her life? Kill him?
How could she go to such insane lengths, and if she could how would she do it? Was she ready to become a murderer for the rest of her life?
Oh, if only something could happen that would do the deed without harming her guilty conscience…
That evening while Radhika was cutting onions, her mother-in-law Mamta called out, “Radhika, why do you take so long in cutting a bunch of onions? When I was your age I could chop all the vegetables in the blink of an eye!”
Radhika stayed quiet and purposely reduced her chopping speed to the pace of a snail, irritating Mamta all the more.
“The most stubborn bahu I’ve got”, Mamta grumbled while she walked off for her evening puja.
While chopping the tear-inducing vegetables, Radhika racked her brains for the kill. She did not want to be hen-pecked for the rest of her married life.
Slowly and steadily she thought her plan through and after numerous trial and error attempts, she set her mind for the big leap. Continuous scrutiny by her in-laws made it impossible to add poison to Lakshay’s food to make him kick the bucket.
She had to do something more violent and certain to wipe off the life she had made for herself.
What could it be?
After many dangerously evil musings which turn the brain into the seat of the frightening devil, Radhika decided to buy a sharp-bladed knife while her sister-in-law purchased the groceries for the night’s meal. She had to finish him off tonight, somehow, anyhow to get out of her gloomy life.
She bought a cake along with the knife on the pretext of some first college date they had on that particular day and how she missed the wonderful times and how cake-cutting would be like an inauguration of good things to come.
She begged him to keep it personal and make it an intimate night instead for just the two of them.
With the appetizing chocolate truffle in front of him, Lakshay grabbed the knife from Radhika, ready to gorge on his undeserved feast.
No sooner had he reached the cream of the cake than Radhika grabbed his hand which held the knife and stabbed him with all the force she could muster right inside his stomach. He cried out with shock and fright but the routine based in-laws were already snoring in their deep slumber.
She twisted the knife around his wound to increase the rush of blood from the stab because stabbing him multiple times would smell of plain murder.
After he fell with a river of blood rushing out of his wound, Radhika sprinted to the cupboard, wore a pair of gloves and quickly shoved a crumpled note she had prepared in his hand-writing which was addressed to his mother. Imitating hand-writing was no big feat for her idle sharp mind.
After changing her bloody clothes she started wailing like the girl she felt she was, that day back in 1987 when she thought she was madly in love with this guy. This guy who was now lying on the floor in front of her, killed by her very own hands.
Which turn had her life taken? How had it happened? Had her brain started registering the mess she had made or the devil inside had spread like wildfire through every cell she was made of.
Those mass of cells that made her body whole and those nerves of feelings that had developed into such a high rhythm that not even one voice called out to her to stop, to think twice over what she was going to do, to just restrain her from acting on the impulse that is popularly called choice by the thinking men and women all of us are.
While she stood there, turning into a mess with every second that passed and a screeching howl erupting from the insides of her lungs did she feel the hands of her in-laws shaking her trembling figure.
Some slapped her, some stared in shock, some screamed while some hugged. All were in a daze as to what had happened and tried processing the scene in front of them.
Mamta’s son was dead while her bahu stood breathing in front of her. Which stroke of luck was this? Was he really dead?
Suicide! She could not believe that her very own son would end his life. There was no reason which would make him kill himself. There was more to the scene than met the eye and she would get the right answer by hook or crook.
The sight of the crumpled note in Lakshay’s hand arrested Mamta’s attention and she pulled it away from his hand with a tearful face.
You gave me birth but never gave me life. You treated me like a prisoner in my own house. Nothing I said made you happy and I only lived through you. It was a double life I lived. One in my heart and mind, the other through my physical body. The body that functioned like a puppet operated by you.
You let me marry the girl I loved, but you made sure I did not live the life I had dreamt of with her. You made me your puppet and I can’t bear you doing the same with her.
So, what I can do is kill myself to end the torture I face every day. I still love you like you want me to.
The letter jolted Mamta upright, her own son ending his life due to her! No, this could not be real. She shook Lakshay’s body to revive him somehow, to hear it from his lips, not ready to believe the piece of paper she was holding.
While Mamta howled, Radhika stared. She did not feel any particular emotion at that moment. She moved towards Lakshay’s corpse, took the knife out of the stab and left the house walking like a person who has lost all sense of reason or emotion.
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.
Her mind was far away from her body, back into those moments when she was with Lakshay: flirting with him, wanting to know everything about him, learning things that he liked, reading books that he liked, learning to behave around his family to understand their mindset.
Oh, how lovely those days were. Those days when they could not get enough of each other, those days when they mindlessly made an unbreakable promise to spend the rest of their lives with each other.
Yes, she loved him and that was enough! She was ready to be with him for the rest of her life because she liked to hang out with him. They did not have much in common so what? Opposites attract and they could easily live with each other for as many lives as they lived.
In that moment of profound love when she was turning twenty, Radhika had decided on how her life would be from that moment on.
She had decided to marry this guy and was convinced, in fact completely sure that her whimsical fantasy would be the best life she could chart for herself.
And in that very moment, she planned her life.
That moment when she had fallen in love with him, unconditionally and selflessly.