The room now was very quiet. Golden light fell on the table top next to my chair. The other chair on the opposite side of the table was lying on its back on the floor. Except for the low hum of the air conditioner nothing else made any sound. To me my heart beats were silent, unlike some half hour ago when they had seemed to be making a deafening din. The room was actually small, but due to the limited illumination it seemed like a big hall. The heavy drapes had been pulled shut over large windows. A faint hint of tube light glow tried to sneak under the door slit. From where I sat an odd strand of the fluffy door mat was disturbed now and then by a wisp of air conditioner air and the tube light glow would fluctuate somewhat. The telephone lay directly under my left hand. I was waiting for it to ring. The ring would relieve me of my self imposed confinement, but in my double mind I was not too sure the soft electronic ring would bring absolute relief. My eyes had adjusted well to the low ambient light. The sofa set was a three seater and two single seat blocks. On the shining glass table top was an up-turned flower vase. Some of its flowers had fallen on to the thick plush carpeting. Where the water from the vase fell a damp spot was visible in a darker shade. On the other side table was lay a camera and some 4”x6” colours snaps. These, I could not see now, and only knew that they were there. On the three seater lay a human form with his face down and left arm dangling loosely. His right foot was beyond my vision but I knew it rested on the far side arm rest.
I had smoked away the two cigarettes which I pulled out from the dead man’s pockets, now I was forced to light one of my own. These were of a cheaper brand and no match to what I took away from the body. I was at full ease with the smoke drifting my nostrils and lazily flowing under the table lamp. It formed nice wavy pattern. It was visible in the light cone and vanished immediately at the fringes. I wondered how long more I was to wait for all this to end. Other than that my mind was calm and no other thought crossed it.
I reached forward and laid the gun from my right hand on to the table, just outside the golden stab of light cone. The gun made a pleasant clutter unlike the sound it made some half hour ago when three beautiful bullets left its muzzle. Now that is why I had come to Romy’s office, I mean to release the three beauties. It was a beautiful body that had stopped all three. No wonder that he now lay on the three seater. His body had now gone limp after his reflex motors quit on him. In part I had helped to put him there and rest were his efforts to reach there as he staggered uncontrollably. I had entered my husband’s office around 4 a m.
Earlier for some time had sat in Romy’s chair, waiting, I just knew that he would come here from where ever he had gone. There was this camera and those colour prints and a roll of fresh film on the otherwise empty table. I tried to look at them, but the light was low. I reached forward to press an ornate switch and shuffled the chair closer. The photos showed two people. Two people- the same pair in all five snaps. Nothing really objectionable, but from point of view – unbearable. In the first photo the two were standing on a yacht with sun goggles on. The man wore a bright coloured beach wear and a slouching hat. The girl was very pretty and in her early thirty’s, slim and graceful. She was in a swirling medium length dress and a yellow top. Her hair was tied in a huge bouquet with a red ribbon streaming through.
The other photographs were of the same couple at different places. One was at the Airport, one at the Race-course and two were shot in this very room. None of them were objectionable; except of course their relationship. The man was Romy and the beauty was his secretary. That is understandable as a Boss and his secretary at the Airport, Office and perhaps the occasional week-end at the Race-course was not out of reckoning for me. But that is not the point. As a matter of fact the sender of these photographs was Mickey herself.
Romy has always been like that, reckless and cockeyed at the sight of white thighs in flowing skirts. We had now been married for exactly ten years. A long time, I reflect now. We had a lovely time all these days and today was our anniversary. I wished him to remember that as I thought we were all that to each other as any one after ten years would be.. Our only shortcoming was that we were childless.
Nine years ago, I recall …….
We were celebrating our first anniversary at Hotel Swathi. Lights were dim, music loud and the mood just right. We were on our feet all night, cheek to cheek. The right way to enjoy a year’s togetherness I thought. This was one year that had pleased us the most. I was sure that neither there has been a year so good, nor will ever be again. Next day morning I awoke well past mid noon. I suddenly got a wretched feeling and threw-up in the toilet. This I attributed to last night’s drinking and dismissed it. But, then, it happened again and again over the next few days. Mercifully, Romy had been on one of his eternal trips. Fear gripped me and I rushed to my Gynecologist. In due course I was confirmed 12 weeks pregnant.
PREGNANT? Who? Me?
I just did not want a Baby now; it would ruin my modeling career. My mind became a whirlpool of confusion as I imagined my self as a common house-wife. Did I not enjoy the power to have a baby on choice? The event creeping up to me was surely loathsome. I pleaded with the Doctor, but he refused as he foresaw complication for abortion at such a late stage. I came home dejected and even more resolved to terminate the pregnancy. A friend told me about a shrink in Pune. The Doctor there would do what was needed if the price was right and to me that was no constraint. I left for Pune shortly after that, Romy suspected nothing as it was usual for me to go on long show tours. By the time I managed to get my self finally cleansed, it was the fourth month and complications happened. The small operation turned to major surgery and I ended up with are moved uterus. No more babies, a nurse told me. I was weak and pale and returned to Bombay.
Romy noticed my plight at once and I had to put him off saying that in Pune I had a sever case of food-poisoning. He agreed without suspicion. Thereafter he proceeded overseas and by the time he returned a month later I was fine. The subject faded out of his mind. But for me the thought of cheating on Romy, myself and the unborn became a psychopathic hallucination. I did not realize when I had drawn a shell around myself off which would bounce all adulations of Romy. He also, perhaps, found some stretch between us, but rarely had any time to mend fences as both our jobs kept us on the move. Now and then he offered to take me with him. Some times I agreed, but mostly wriggled out of it. His frustration began to show, he wanted to reach my soul but failed due to lake of time on his part and lack of willingness from me.. On an outward stance we still saw each other, talked about the mundane and even had sex. I hid my soul behind me, life had changed track for ever.. This was one secret I could never share with him. As a marital right, I, his wife could not contribute to his family tree and this was to be denied to him clandestinely. I was scared that he would never have forgiven me. The thought of him remarrying to have a family made me shudder. I stuck to my artificial face and cocooned my soul, mind and ego.
As time went by, I was happy to note that he got ever so busy with his own work. His tours took most of his time. Back home too there would be increasing number of business dinners. I was happy to be left out of those. My feeling was that of an errant child who would wish that his parents would not return home and find out the misdemeanor. In this new routine I found happiness in solitude. Work fizzled out and I read books, watched TV serials and took up gardening in real earnest. Romy disliked all this. Then there were times that I liked best doing nothing in the privacy of my room – just day-dreaming.
I always visualized a small child come up to me and cry. It was always a dead child and always kept crying. The face of the child was non-descript, but his crying always left me helpless and gloomy. But, I still loved life. Now I rarely thought of Romy. He would routinely take me to a clinic for what he called “soul searching”. I was firm that his search had revealed nothing. Personally, Romy saw me less and less. He even began to sleep in another room; this made me the happiest as I could stay away from him. If I ever got the feeling I was going wonky I would dispel it as a hallucination. I enjoyed the solitary life and hated the scheduled meetings with the psychologist. Every time the doctor said I was improving, but once they admitted me and gave me electrical shocks. That was painful, but I was obstinate that my secret was safe with me. After that I refused to talk to both, him and Romy. The Doctor described it as positive progress when later I resumed talking to them again. I always responded to them where I felt a passive attitude would do. The Doctors saga became permanent. Romy took greater interest in me and some times we even went for movies. Some times I let him have sex too. He behaved in such a schoolboy fashion that I began to feel pity for him.
Yesterday it was Sunday and I had been in the garden talking to my favourite plants when the hot air from the guest room air conditioner hit me. I thought it would be a good idea to get Romy too in the garden. As I walked into the room I saw them fast asleep in each others arms, Romy and his secretary- whatever her name! Tears began to trickle down my cheeks as I kept watching them in their sonorous sleep. Suddenly some thing stirred within me and I became more alert and more possessive of Romy. I could not let him go that way, after all I let him have sex when ever he wanted. Why on earth should he cheat on me?
For a long time then I had stopped thinking. But right now, I was surely thinking.
By evening my plan was perfect. That night I called Romy to sleep in my room and bolted the door from inside. Around midnight I woke up to find him gone. I got very angry and went to check the guest room, but he was not there too.
I was now very cool. I drew his gun from the locker and went to his study-cum-office and waited. Some how in my mind I knew he would come there. The telephone had been ringing, but as I put my hand to it the ringing stopped. I left my hand there to grab it on the first ring, if it rang again. I was sitting on his chair and then I saw the cameras and the prints. This made me very furious and I was beside myself with rage.
I heard a rustle and had not realized as to when he came in. He saw me looking at the colour prints as he eased himself into the chair opposite the desk. As he lowered himself into the chair his face became visible in the dispersed light of the lamp. I roughly pushed the camera, prints and roll of film towards him. He picked them up and the shock expression on his face remained. He did not look up.
I slowly leveled the gun at him and fired, till it stopped with a click. He had stumbled backwards knocking the chair down and he was standing with both his arms by his side. Blood was flowing from the lapels of his coat. I went around and held him, but he kept stumbling. I tried to guide him to the sofa, but he fell on it- face down.
Poor Romy, poor dead Romy, I thought.
I went back to the chair and began my wait for the phone to ring. If it rang, I would press my hand down strongly and choke off its ringing. You know, I just cant stand the sound of electronic beeping.
I lit another cigarette.