In Retrospect

The sky was blue. White fluffy clouds cluttered the horizon. She knew it wasn’t going to rain but yet she could not help wishing wholeheartedly that it would! That it would storm and flood!! As she walked down that same old street, many memories came rushing back to her, knocking her over in their haste. The memories she had long ago buried in this very same alley, along with her heart and soul. Memories she had vowed to never return to, to never revisit. But they came flooding back. And it was as if time had stopped. As if she was a mute spectator, helpless to stop the images of her past life from playing against her eyelids. She could see her younger self, the girl she had been three years ago. The girl whose face was shining with happiness and love, who was smiling like a besotted fool at the man next to her. At Raj. At the man she was going to marry in a few days. He was her Sun, her Moon, her Star. He was the man she loved and trusted even more than herself. The man who was a cheat and a consummate actor, unfaithful even as early as from their second date itself.

The 26 yr old mute spectator could find no fascination in the man next to her 23yr old self. But then such was life. In retrospect things are always so glaringly obvious. In retrospect one can point out with certainty all those signs which jeer at you, screaming shrilly how things are not alright. That things are far from alright. His anger at her when she touches his phone. His anger whenever she playfully threatens to read his messages. His evasive answers when she questioned him on the lady caller with whom he talked for over two hours. His irritation when she visits his workplace unannounced. Those tales her friends used to tell her, of him with other women, usually at bars and pubs. Those credit card statements of so many flowers and gifts bought by him but which never found their way to her. Those long and unexplained business trips. Those overtimes, from which he would return more pleased than tired. But this power of retrospection is only gifted to those who have already moved on from their present. Who are the children of the future. But by then it usually is too late.

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By then he would have already tried to kill her a hundred times, already killed her a thousand different ways. By then she would already have miscarried after being pushed down the stairs. By then he would have already alienated her from all her family and friends, confiscated all her money and made sure that she was all alone and friendless, in a new city. By then she would have been so broken, so despaired, so angry at herself and at him that she would already have hit him repeatedly with the poker. By then she would have been sitting down benumbed, helplessly looking at the scarlet liquid oozing out of his head, seeping into the carpet. By then the man would already have stopped breathing. Then would she stop and do what she should have done long back- switch on the retrospect camera. She would go through the video feed in her head, looking at everything she has done. She would think of the places she has touched, wiping at her bloody fingerprints. She would think of all those who might have seen her entering the house and when she can zero in on none, she thinks of making an alibi. She would then leave the house just as it was- as if she never ever was even there!! She leaves after cleaning the poker of her fingerprints, after she wipes herself clean. She gets out of the house thanking the gods for the non functioning cctv over her back door. It has been 8 mins since the murder. Towing the vegetables and fruits in her jute bag, she rings the door bell. Repeatedly. Until the lady next door comes out to enquire. She acts worried, wondering as to why he isn’t opening the door. She calls him on his phone. The lady gets worried too and suggests trying to enter the house via her balcony. Jumping to her balcony from the lady’s, she enters the house through the open backdoor. Then she screams. Suddenly people gather. They burst in through the door. They find her embracing him, as he lies there, his blood pooling around her. The police gets called. She faints.

Three long years. Three years of therapy- she was barely alive, they said. Three years of being an insomniac, of hardly daring to sleep- she would call out to him in her sleep, they said. Yes, she called out to him- in her nightmares. Where no matter how many times she hit him, he just would not die, would keep coming at her, grinning evilly! Three years of being pitied and comforted by neighbours, friends, family- who were no longer alienating her! Three years of facing guilty police officers, who could only smile apologetically, shaking their heads at the trail gone cold, at being burdened with cases far more sinister and heinous. Yes, the world had bought it all. She was never even doubted. Why would she be when, at the estimated time of murder, she was out bargaining over vegetables? After all, her alibi was perfect!! And moreover, she loved him so! Alienated from friends and family, having no one to confide in, no one knew what really went on behind the four walls of their home. No one knew of the psychopath behind his kind face. The police could find nothing. He was a model citizen, a model husband, a model worker. Kind, loving, patient. As his affairs were discreet, no one knew him as the model lover. Because of his perfection, no motive could be found. The open back door through which the murderer apparently fled was a dead end. It opened to the balcony, which was just a one floor drop to the ground and faced an alley going off in all directions. No clue, no evidence was left behind, was to be found. It was a cold case in no time.

Walking down the same road, she thinks of her hurried flight through the back door, knocking things over. Of that one floor drop- a jump that scared her much much more than her murderous act, but which saved her nonetheless. Of her hurried walk through the back alley, of going to the market and buying the vegetables, filling the jute bag she picked up from the balcony. Of taking a rickshaw home. Of banging at the door.

As if in answer to her fervent wish, it rained. Though the sky was white and blue, it soon got cornered and stifled by dark snarling clouds. It rained with a vengeance, storming with wild energy. And amidst all the racket of the pouring rain and the howling wind and the thundering clouds, an almost menacingly maniacal laughter went unheard.

 

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