When someone you love dearly is faced with the same dilemma that you faced as child, to what lengths can one go to protect a loved one?
Here’s the story-
The hearse bearing the corpse of the deceased man is en route to his residence. The mourners have no corpse to wail over, yet. Instead, they gather in the garden and talk; the grave voices and hushed tones belied by underlying eagerness. Recent snippets, juicy gossip and long forgotten bits of information are rehashed.
They are oblivious to the murderer, who with a posture of grief and the mourner’s uniform of white clothes and dark glasses blends in. With a flash of humor, the murderer, a recent Harry Potter fan, compares the disguise to Harry’s invisibility cloak.
The first bunch of ‘mourners’ are discussing the accident. No one pays attention to the eavesdropping figure of the murderer.
“A two-wheeler accident? Why take that old two wheeler to the temple, when he had the cars?”
“Arrey yaar! An old habit….some relic of his hand-to mouth days, the same vehicle and same temple. A superstition of his, this weekly visit.”
“But the heavy vehicles on that steep road and that rickety moped; asking for trouble, you know!!!”
The murderer walks away, thinking, “So far, so good. As yet, no news of the brakes being tampered with. Should hopefully stay that way. That crash course in the workings of two-wheelers was worth it.”
One of the groups is all women; so it is domestic gossip.
“According to my husband, the son is a no-good.”
“With a dominating father, what else can happen?”
“But that daughter-in-law is smart and ambitious, not letting anything stand in her way. She will take over the business empire, mark my words.”
“Has anyone seen that nerdy daughter? She is back after her divorce, I heard.”
“Wonder what she looks like? No friends or anything, she always had her nose in her books.”
“Not seen here in the last five years; since her marriage, in fact. Last month, she just comes back, bag and baggage, from that God-forsaken town where she was staying.”
“Hmm… I heard that her husband alleged non-consummation or something like that.”
“Ya…So, no children, either.” Someone cruelly giggles.
“Wonder what really happened. A mystery….”
The voices trail away as the murderer walks away, thinking, “Mystery? Her father had been sexually abusing his daughter since she was four. Can the daughter ever have a normal marriage? ”
Wandering through the rooms of the mansion, the murderer watches the dead man’s daughter-in-law. Her innermost ambition realised prematurely, she has happily assumed the mantle of matriarch. ‘Well predicted, ladies’, the murderer thinks!! ‘The compromises that she has made for this ambition will be a secret forever.’
The murderer walks towards the granddaughter’s room and quietly enters. A room littered with too many toys and pretty, costly things; designed to hide lack of concern, and excess of pain.
Like the room of the dead man’s daughter, twenty years ago.
Two similar fates, twenty years apart. The daughter, perhaps his first victim and the granddaughter, certainly, his last. Both related by blood to a ruthless man, who preyed upon them.
Ignored by the rest of the family, who turned a blind eye to the facts, for their own reasons; greed, ambition, fear of the man or just apathy?
There is none more blind than those who do not wish to see!
The murderer feels a surge of anger and grief. Anger for a terrible injustice. Grief for a life ruined.
No one had intervened when the man had abused his own daughter all those years ago.
As history seemed determined to repeat itself, however, the murderer has intervened.
The man’s death has freed his granddaughter from the shadow of his predation. Unfettered by dark memories, the world would be her oyster.
The little girl looks up at the murderer and asks,“Is he really gone forever, Atyaa (aunty)?”
The murderer continues in a whisper, almost inaudibly, “I will have to squeeze out a few tears. I am his daughter, after all. It is the last act that I will have to put on for him.”
The dead man’s daughter gently touches her niece’s hair. A gesture of protection; one of the few times in many years that she has willingly touched another person.
As she does so, she notices the stain of vehicle grease from brake-tampering, on her fingers. Lady Macbeth with a twist, she thinks. She does not wash her hands, preferring to treat them like a badge of triumph. Lifting her fingers to her face, she takes a deep breath and smells their greasy odour. Ah, even the perfumes of Arabia could not have smelled sweeter.
Today, the world holds infinite possibilities. Carpe` diem.
Aloud, she says, “I could read a Harry Potter book to you, while we wait. Today, I will truly relish the vanquishing of old enemies.”