She looked in the mirror and appreciated her figure! The extra flab had been knocked out and the curves had become shapelier! She gave a big smile at her accomplishments! Neha had just celebrated her forty fifth birthday and could pass off easily as one who was yet to reach thirty!! Her daughter, Pallavi was in the first year of college and when the duo of mother and sister walked the streets most mistook them to be sisters! She was a fitness freak and never indulged in excessive eating or drinking!
She walked into the bedroom and turned on the TV.A mundane soap played and with a disinterest she flipped the channels! The music channel played a lilting number with an eye catching dance. She raised the volume and got engrossed in watching the performance. She dropped into the chair and did not hear the closing of the bedroom door! She thought it was the wind from the window in the adjacent room which had softly shut the door. She waved her hand through the hair when she smelt the air and found a pungent odor behind her! She turned around and was aghast to see the burly figure of a man who was in his late thirties going for her throat. Her eyes opened in horror and could not believe, it was happening to her! She could feel the choking of air through the windpipe which was being suffocated. She tried to kick her feet when the other hand of the man landed a blow on her head. Her body went limp, stunned with the impact. A trickle of blood oozed from the side of her mouth.
The burly man picked up the remote and raised the volume of the TV set further and went about searching the room. He looked under the bed and then moved over to the cupboard. He opened it and looked through the contents and found the bundle of papers. He removed them and opened the file. The papers were intact. He had been trailing Neha since she had left the Registrar’s office with a bundle of green file in her hand. These were the succession documents handing over the ownership of the flat which her mother had left for her. A small two room flat where Neha and Pallavi lived after her estranged husband had left her! A mean man who had been running the business which had gone bust due to his excessive indulgence in drinking! He had tried several times to convince Neha to mortgage the flat so that he could raise money for his next business venture, but she had flatly refused. He had started living separately, when the court had intervened after a complaint lodged by Neha with the Women’s Cell and warned him to keep away from her. Neha had just returned home after attending a meeting in the local Registrar’s office.
Pallavi, returned from her college and tried to ring the bell of the house when she noticed that the main door was partly closed. She gave it a nudge and the door opened! Very strange! She thought, as this was unusual. She walked a few paces in the living room and saw a silhouette of a man bent with his head scanning the papers while her mother lay limp on the chair!! She froze for a while and then stepped back and tiptoed back to the main door and firmly shut the latch from outside! She was trembling in fear, and dialed the number of police! She informed the duty officer, who told her to wait till the police came. A few minutes later, a jeep arrived in which there were two constables and a sub inspector. One constable slowly opened the door while the Sub Inspector and the constable stood guard at the door. He tiptoed into the room and was surprised to find that the bedroom door was fully open and there was no trace of the man or Neha, whom Pallavi had seen just a few minutes before!!
‘Sahab, there is no one here’ shouted the constable from inside as they all rushed in!
Pallavi burst into tears, not believing what she saw. The room was clean and there was no sign of her mother or the intruder who she had seen just a while ago! The police made a search but found nothing unusual except that the TV was still on but there was no one in the house.
‘Madam’ you will have to come with us to the police station, the Sub Inspector told Pallavi. ‘We have some questions to ask’ he continued.
After about an hour of quizzing, Pallavi returned home where a constable still stood outside the gate. She entered the bedroom and removed her shoes and removed the clip of her hair to set them free. A faint sound of agony startled her! She moved closer to the cupboard and flung the door open! Her eyes widened in disbelief at the sight of her mother who lay in a bundle with a tape around her mouth. She pulled her out of the cupboard and called the constable, to help her. The constable quickly made a call to the police station and helped in untying the wrists and feet of Neha! As the tape was removed, Neha cried in pain. There was swelling on the face where she was hit. They quickly, washed her face and gave her a glass of water to drink. Neha was visibly shaken and in pain! However, the worst was over for her as she tried to regain her composure. The Sub Inspector inspected the room, took statements and asked Neha if something was stolen from the house. Neha, could not ascertain immediately, but most of the things other than the cupboard were undisturbed.
By next morning, Neha felt much better, though the events of the previous day had left her ruffled. In the evening, she received a phone call from the police station to reach there immediately. She accompanied Pallavi and reached the police station. A small crowd was gathered around a white sheet. The policeman uncovered the face and once more Neha, stood staring in disbelief at the dead face of her husband! She was informed that he had died of excessive drinking and the body was being sent for post mortem! Neha broke down and sobbed as Pallavi tried to calm her down. The events of the last two days had shaken the foundation of her life!
Two days later, a courier, came and delivered a packet to Neha at home. She tore open the folder to see the green file which had gone missing since the assault on her. There was a badly written hand note which said,
‘Madam, I was hired by your husband to get hold of the file from you and was paid Rs 50000/- to do the job. I got the file and left from the rear door, after I heard your daughter entering the house. I returned to meet your husband who was very happy to see the file and asked me to join for a drink. He paid me the money too! I could not believe that a man could do this to his wife! Once he fell down after drinking, I removed the file. I am sending the same to you. ‘A Well Wisher’
PS- Image Kind Courtesy Google