I still remember that fateful night, I relive it every day. Like a slapping scene on a Soap Opera it keeps repeating on and on. Every time I took a step and it pained, every time I looked into the mirror, every time Naresh introduced me to someone and he went from his name to Oh ….
We were an insane couple who were insanely young and insanely in love with each other. It was when Kavita was 6 years old; we had left her with the neighbor and finally had some time to ourselves. It was the welcome party for his friend who had left India for USA and had to come back when the dot com bubble burst. As any America returned he was full of energy, the idea that India was shit and good Bourbon.
And Naresh had plenty of it; every time I asked him to slow down he sped up. He was drunk and driving his new bike that he bought with the royalty cheque. We were giggling like school children and I punched him in the arm every time he sped up. I remember my laugh, because that was the last time I ever laughed. It was over in a flash, it was blind turn and he got a car coming in from the side, I saw a headlight in my eyes and in the next second I heard was scratching, like metal sliding on metal. And then nothing.
I woke up in some place which looked like a hospital. Naresh was crying, the first time I had seen him like that and he swore on my life never to drink again. He didn’t have a scratch on him, while I had tubes running in & out of me everywhere. I had one tube going in my mouth, one coming out of crotch and the third coming out of my arm. The mouth one fed me food, the crotch one took it out and the arm one sent things through me to lessen the pain. Morphine they kept feeding me, just enough to make the pain tolerable, not enough to make life tolerable. I had the same dream every night, Naresh pushed me off a building and I fell screaming, screaming until I couldn’t scream anymore. Then there was this silence, a tranquility like no other, an agreement reached with death, then there we no worries, no anger, no pain, just the spirit of being in the moment. And then I used to wake up. Why do our dreams never continue after death, why doesn’t anyone see this life, the life which is better than life?
After 3 months I was released from the hospital with a stern warning not to look in the mirror. I limped my way through my daughter with extended arms, though the ‘Welcome Home’ sign, through everything which was supposed to make me feel better. I limped directly to the mirror where I saw my disfigured face, they had tried their best to stitch my face, but it was worse than the worst patch job I had even seen. I had a scar and stich marks running across my face and the right leg which didn’t work well as it had lots of plates and screws in it. I was asked not to walk too much, not to pass through a metal detector and to see a Physiotherapist. I didn’t do the first or the last.
I took a job in an IT company near my house as an Accounting consultant and gave up on my dream of being a financial advisor, I took a desk job where I didn’t have to travel at all, and I used to walk to and back from my office and hardly ever saw the Physiotherapist assigned. It was a shit life and I got used to very fast. Naresh used to apologize to me every night and he used to mean it, he tried to kiss the scar on my face but I pushed him away, I closed my eyes and waited for him to push me off the roof. I wanted his love instead of pity. I wanted to pretend that this never happened, instead of coming to terms with it, but looking into his eyes always made me remember, so I stopped looking into his eyes. After a while my cynicism won and he stopped trying; trying to apologize, trying to reach out to me in spite of my sarcasm and anger, trying to pose in front of my daughter that it was all right.
We had finally become the couple we were always supposed to be, broken, bitter and non-believing. Only Kavita kept us together, the 6 year old girl who used to walk around with her Barbie was soon transformed into a 16 year old discontented child who used to walk out on during arguments, family outings and us in general. “If you two can’t live with each other, how can you expect me to?”, her words.
But even after all this she was my greatest regret, greatest regret of dying. Leaving her alone in this world. She was a typical 16 year old, angry, insecure, illusioned, and worrying over pimples and hair extensions. I wanted to tell her that all this will pass, and life’s biggest worries have not even crossed her mind yet. But I don’t think she will listen to me, like all teenagers she also thinks her parents were born old and will never understand them. I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t always this bitter, self-righteous bitch that I am. I was young, pretty, carefree and risk taking like her; who used to sneak out at night to try cigarettes and watch Madonna videos. And her dad was handsome, slim, funny, charming, confident guy who used to debate professors to tears and steal answer copies from their desks while they were sleeping. I wanted to tell her that whatever we advise her to do is not something copied from a scripture or a “Morally correct mother’s guidebook” but something that is statistically proven to yield best results. But as I said, she wouldn’t listen to me.
Naresh was sleeping off his hangover when Kavita was ready and out of the house. She was practically jogging and didn’t go through her morning beauty routine, which meant she wasn’t going to school. She took an auto and I realized to follow I had to hop on to it, so I did.
She was texting the whole time and I was having a difficult time following what she was typing. Apparently she was informing someone of coming over to her. It was a short drive, didn’t realize the time at all. She got out, paid the auto guy and started walking into a thin street. The locality looked pretty dingy, I was getting worried about her safety but she didn’t, she took calculated confident steps, she walked up stairs and walked straight into a house.
It was Sid, her ex-boyfriend. Or at least that’s what she had said when I had caught her with grass in her handbag. It was her ex-boyfriend’s, she had meant to return it, she doesn’t smoke, and it’s all over; that all was her answer. I gave her a stern warning and a promise that I will toss her out of the house the next time she did drugs, along with the promise that I won’t tell Dad and she won’t see that guy again.
But she was seeing that guy again, in fact she just ran upto him and hugged him. He was too groggy to say anything; he just held her and tried to breathe her in, like I used to breathe Naresh in when we first used to date. As soon as they separated she let out a scream and shouted “I’m so happy that she is dead, you know I wasn’t convinced it was you the first time when they told me, but then when they told me it was a hit and run by a car I was sure it was you.”
“You know when Najeeb Bhaai first told me”, she continued “that an SMS is going to go to the owner of the card, I was so shit scared. I thought we were caught and like she is going to find out that I am paying to get her ring out of mortgage from her own card.... She is very smart you know, that way my Mom.... She was gonna come around here sniffing and she was gonna find out that I paid for our stuff from Najeeb bhaai by mortgaging her wedding ring. She never used to wear her anyways, just this credit card would have been the pain". "But what could I do?" She let out an question to no one in particular, "Najeeb Bhaai was after my life to pay the money and take it back, I really had no option.”. She stopped for breath and continued “I swear baby when I first called you about our problem I didn’t know what could you possibly do? But killing her was the master stroke, she is gone now. My Dad is happy, I’m happy and she is never gonna find out about her card”. She punched in the air and lit a cigarette, or maybe it wasn’t just a cigarette considering the stuff that was lying around in the house. There were rubber tubes, syringes, silver foil, candles, rolling paper and lot of other stuff present to prove that this wasn’t just another teenage boy’s house.
I let out my breath, fell on my knees and started laughing while tears fell down my eyes. I suddenly remembered Nietzsche “Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter”, I couldn’t agree more. But I was happy that I was killed for more than a few thousand rupees that my daughter had borrowed from a drug dealer, I was killed for love. That guy Sid did it to protect Kavita from me even though I would have done nothing so bad, I probably would have ignored that SMS like the dozen others I ignore every day. But I was glad, there were only two reason men waged war, money and love. And wars waged for love were always more brutal. I was bittersweet about the whole affair, while I was just murdered, my daughter had someone who would kill someone for her love.
As I was gloating over the whole thing when I realized that Kavita had already left and Sid was left on bed. He crawled over to drink some water, light a cigarette and started typing on his phone. His hands were shaky and he had to correct a lot but in the end it read something like this “Im sorry Ka bt it wasn’t me. It ws someone else. Bt I luv u anyways.”
God Damn! So it wasn’t him either. So maybe it was some other random guy in that dark sweat shirt, just a random hit & run after all. Who knows? Maybe he didn’t want a witness and me made sure by running over me twice, maybe some psychopath looking for kicks on a Tuesday night. But my gut feeling; and I still had one, didn’t let me believe that and I still needed to know who killed me.
<To be continued... >
<To be continued... >