Shubha gasped for breath as she broomed the floor of the Iyer household. Heavy work coupled with inadequate diet had led to her failing health. The Iyers who paid her the highest salary among the five employers were famous for mistreating people of her class.
Shubha looked at Mrs. Iyer offering sweets to the deities. Shubha felt her stomach crying out for some food. Her alcoholic husband had run away with all her savings last night. She had barely managed to feed the kids and had to sleep without a morsel of food.
In another corner of the house, Iyer’s toddler son was emulating his mother’s actions. The deities had been replaced by his favorite toy called poochie – a dog made out of clay. The little one placed poochie on top of his favorite donut urging it to eat.
“Please let me be born as a toy dog in my next birth. In our world, an inanimate object gets better treatment than people like me,” she spoke to her God with tears in her eyes.
The stage had been dismantled. Samar sat on the opposite ground looking at the words “No entry” painted on the artificial steps. Few lights needed to be fixed.
His wife Suhani loved theatre. She had built a troupe. As Samar got busy with his job, she put her heart and soul into her craft.
Samar wasn’t even aware that the group had been performing to empty rows for a while. Unable to bear the burden of public rejection any longer, she slashed her wrists one afternoon. Samar had never known how depression had overshadowed Suhani’s life.
As Samar learned to accept the reality, he took charge of her dream. Pulling in all his savings, he got few creative heads on board while personally handling promotions and finances.
After months of hard work, their show had opened to a full house last night. Tickets had been sold out for the whole week.
Samar lamented, “If only you had given life a second chance Suhani, you could have been here today to witness your dreams coming true.”
The car had been stuck in the middle of the road long enough to create a heavy traffic jam near the dockyard. The local inspector examined the two dead bodies inside the car. It looked like a case of a sudden heart attack though he kept wondering about the possibility of it happening to them simultaneously.
Only after the ship had moved farther away from the shore did she sigh a breath of relief. Breastfeeding her month old baby, she ran her fingers over the bag full of Indian currency that was meant to secure their future. She whispered to the baby,
“Since you were conceived through surrogacy, the people who paid for my womb had come to take you home last night. Legally, I couldn’t refuse, so I added the deadly medicine in their cups of tea. We had barely traveled for half an hour before both of them succumbed to death this morning. I managed to get on board with you unnoticed. Now you, me and the money will always be together.”
Every morning Col.Joshi walked to the nearby park and sat on the bench gazing at the serenity of the lake. A year after retiring from the Indian army, he had discovered this place. Most of the faces here were familiar to him yet he avoided them today as he loathed the sympathy in their eyes. Besides this was his time for planning the day, especially if the date meant a trip to the court.
It had been five years since the night of his daughters’ demise. Death by accident had been the verdict by the investigating officer. But he knew better. Her in-laws had exercised political influence and were granted bail immediately after he lodged a case of murder against them. Despite evidence of years of domestic abuse, the courtroom drama stretched endlessly.
Friends and family had assumed that he would give up after losing his wife last week. But they were unaware that he was actually preparing himself for the court hearing today for he had resolved to bring justice to his dead daughter.
“The red stiletto heels will look gorgeous on your feet Ma’am.” the salesman at the shoe shop was eager to close a sale deal before calling it a day.
Tshering looked at the case that boldly displayed 12000 INR. It had been nothing less than a dream to own the pair. She glanced at the cheap black heels purchased with her first salary at just 1100 INR from the local Shillong market.
Seated on the shop bench, Kodor fondly looked at this girl who had been employed as his house-help two years back. A freak accident in the city lake would have killed his mother hadn’t Tshering dived in to save her. As a swimming coach, he had spotted her talent and immediately taken her under his wings for training. He proudly beamed at the National level swimming champion today as she proceeded to pay the bill for those red heels.
“Coach, shall we leave?” Her voice broke his reverie.
It was already time to head towards the State conducted felicitation ceremony for their contribution to sports.
Riju stood up perturbed by his daughter’s exuberant voice from the next room.
“She is crazy. She declares herself as the winner of tic tac toe despite playing alone.” Lavina sounded annoyed.
“Keep your thoughts in check woman. ” Riju spoke angrily.
“And if I don’t, I am sure you will murder me just like you killed her mother.”
Riju walked away. He had started an extramarital affair with his wife Ravina’s sister Lavina two years ago. Once Ravina had got a whiff of this during the Diwali last year, he had to get her out of his way. A freak car accident was the perfect cover-up for his planned murder.
As he peeped inside his daughter’s room, he saw Tia speaking to the chair in front of her. It almost looked like Ravina sitting there talking to Tia. He felt a shiver run down his spine. If only he could see through Tia’s eyes, he would have known that Tia was indeed speaking to the spirit of her deceased mother.