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You look at his eyes – lovely, brown orbs – now fixated, unseeing, bulging out of their sockets. You crouch on the floor next to him, trying to level your own eyes with his. Do you spot a hint of fear in them? A morbid kind of shock? You relish that look frozen in his eyes…it gives you a sense of power, of control, something that you never tasted, these past four years.

You impulsively capture it on your phone. Then, in a moment of recklessness, you send it out.

The empty bottle of sedatives – your partner in crime, quite literally – stares at you. You bring your palm very close to his nostrils. You don’t seem to feel anything…neither the faintest breath, nor the slightest quiver. You are relieved. The chef’s knife had been a good investment, after all!

“But why keep such a scary thing at home, Soham? Can’t we buy ready meat instead of doing this drill every time,” you had asked, when he first brought home this beauty.

“No sweety,” Soham had replied with his characteristic panache, “Only customised meat for our hotshot barbeque unit!”

You had always viewed the cleaver with dread and distaste. Until today. Today, you finally conquered your fear. You not only picked up the deadly knife, but also used it with elan. The deep, oblique incision on his neck spoke of your craftsmanship. But the aftermath bothered you – the gasping, throbbing, hoarse pleas for help – you weren’t ready for them. Luckily, they subsided within a few minutes.

Now, there’s a pleasurable silence all around. You always liked quietude. More so, because you knew how ugly noise could be. You remembered too acutely the shouting and blaming bouts your parents indulged in. The commotion that crushed your 14-year-old petrified self when they brought down your mother’s limp body, dangling from the ceiling fan. All these years, when a thousand deafening voices clamoured inside your head, you craved silence. You begged the voices to stop. But they only grew louder, threatening to consume your sanity. Or whatever was left of it.

You rise grudgingly and look around. The scarlet trickle is steadily forming a pool – a slow, sticky cruor. The mess bothers you…you feel compelled to fix it.

You spot the powder pink bath robe hanging on the dining chair. The one with an A embossed in one corner. You scrunch your eyes, trying to remember what Soham had said in the morning. That the robe actually belonged to you…that your condition had worsened, and your brain was turning foggy! But you knew it was not yours, it was Akshara’s.

You smile at the memory – a complacent kind of smile, knowing you were right. One that hovers around your mouth but doesn’t quite reach your eyes.

You yank the robe and drop it on the floor beside him. Yes, that’s the perfect place for it, you decide. It soaks up some of the liquid. You want the carmine flow to stop right there…the living room is way too beautiful to get stained. You and Soham had lovingly done it up, right after marriage. When it was just you and him. Sana and Soham.

You plonk yourself on the floor near him. You feel unusually calm. The voices inside your head have fallen silent…after ages. The only sound you hear is of sirens blaring in the distance, gradually getting closer.

Be patient, my dear girl! Your mom’s words ring in your ears. You decide to obey her. You wait. In patience.

***************

A month earlier…

“How many times should I repeat, Akshara, that I’m trying,” Soham sounded genuinely agitated on the phone. “I’ve stopped giving her the required medication. My lawyer is getting the property papers ready. But fact remains, Sana hasn’t yet reached a stage where we can shift her to a sanatorium.”

Soham paused briefly and continued, “Darling, I’m literally walking on eggshells. One wrong step and we risk losing the enormous inheritance for which I married Sana…that schizophrenic weirdo!”

A mild rustle of fabric outside the door made Soham disconnect the call abruptly. What if it were Sana…what if she had heard snatches of their conversation? He shuddered at the thought.

A few days later, Soham noticed a bulky package on the breakfast table. Curious, he opened it, only to find Akshara’s pink bath robe inside.

That foolish girl! She must have forgotten it when she last came here, the day Sana had her marathon session with the shrink!

He could swear, it carried a whiff of his own eau de parfum, the one he had generously splashed on, just before they stepped out of the shower!

“Soham, did any one come home in my absence? I found that garment in the restroom.”

“Of course not, Sana! It’s your own robe…the one I got you from Bali last year. Don’t you remember?”

Soham secretly marvelled at his own ingenuity!

“Really? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m quite certain, it’s not mine. Who’s is it, Soham?”

“You’re doubting me, Sana? Like, really?” Soham sounded incredulous. “So much for marrying you and taking care of you like a baby, all these years! But now, I’m done, Sana!” He literally spat out the last sentence. “Today you’re being rude, suspicious…tomorrow you might get violent, who knows?!”

Sana looked at him enigmatically, as if an epiphany had struck her! Some word there seemed to catch her fancy, and she quietly exited.

Gosh, that was close! Soham exhaled in relief.

Around noon, Soham had his customary black coffee. Shortly afterwards, he started feeling groggy. He struggled to remain seated as his vision blurred, just in time to see a broad, glinting steel blade, dangerously inching towards him.

Was that Sana holding the cleaver? But how was that possible? Soham’s thoughts clouded…he slumped on the floor, hoping to escape.

A swift swish across the larynx, a lacerating pain, a warm liquid oozing out, some hoarse whispers…and finally, a liberating descent into sweet oblivion!

*************

PC:  Tatev Arsh on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

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