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Shades of Grey – 2: Tragedy

September 28, 2008

Continuing from Chapter 1

Shruti woke up breathing heavily. There was a thin layer of sweat on her forehead. She was in her bed. Sameer was sleeping soundly besides her. It was the same dream she had been consistently having every now and then. It always feels so very real, she thought. The clock showed thirty minutes past four. Shruti got out of the bed and went to the kitchen to make some tea. It was still dark outside as Shruti sat on a chair in her balcony. Sunrise was still an hour away but birds had begun chirping on the tree that rose majestically to her balcony. She sipped her tea wondering why she always got the same dream when Sameer arrived from his tour.

Sameer and Shruti would complete five years of their marriage this year. Shuti had fallen in love with Sameer in college but it was a few years after college that their relationship blossomed. After two years of courtship and overcoming some resistance from the families, Sameer and Shruti were married in a traditional ceremony.

A year later Shruti gave birth to a little girl. Sameer had been absolutely thrilled as he stayed with Shruti in the delivery room throughout the delivery. The girl was a healthy child when she was born. They named her Samridhi. The first year went like a dream. Sameer and Shruti were caring parents and tried to provide the best of things for Samridhi. Shruti quit her job and to be a full time mother.

Samridhi had a grand first birthday. Sameer and Shruti threw a huge party for more than 200 people. And unlike most children, Samridhi didn’t cry at her first birthday. It seemed as though she was enjoying all the attention. Even as balloons burst around her, Samridhi giggled heartily, enjoying the popping sound. As the party progressed late into the night, Samridhi slept gently on Shruti’s shoulder. Sameer kissed her on the cheek and then gently kissed Shruti on the lips. He took Samridhi from Shruti’s shoulder and put her to sleep in a custom built cot next to their bed. It had been a tiring and long day and Sameer and Shruti were very tired when everyone left. They slept almost immediately as they hit the bed.

Sameer had an important meeting the next day and rushed to office in the morning. Shruti started her ritual of giving Samridhi a bath in the morning. The maid completed the work and left as Shruti prepared the bath tub. She made sure that the water was just right, not too hot and not too cold. As she put a few drops of water on Samridhi’s arms, Samridhi giggled in delight and put her hand in the bath tub. Shruti lifted her and sat her in the bathtub. Samridhi enjoyed the floating feeling as she sat and started playing with the water. Suddenly the door bell rang. Shruti wondered who it could be. She looked at Samridhi who was playing with the water. “I’ll just be back baby” Shruti said as she kissed Samridhi on her forehead.

“Kaun hai?” Shruti asked as she looked through the peephole on the door

“Madam courier” the voice outside said.

Shruti saw a boy of about twenty in some sort of a uniform. She opened the door and he gave her envelop and asked her to sign some papers. As she took the pen from him, he grabbed her hand and pushed her inside the house. Two other men followed him as they pushed their way inside the house and closed the door behind them. One of the men placed a hand on her mouth and pushed a knife on her throat.

“Awaaz nahin” he said in a soft but threatening voice as the other two hurried inside ransacking the house. Shruti was terrified. The hand on her mouth was hard and rough, and she was having difficulty breathing. He pinned her against the wall as she struggled to get a sound out. The knife pressed deeper into her throat and she felt blood dripping down on to her blouse. She pleaded with her eyes unable to say anything, mumbling against the pressed hand. Suddenly the man hit her on the head with the back of his knife. She felt a strange numbness as she felt more blood trickling down her forehead. He hit her again twice before she lost consciousness and dropped on the floor.

When Shruti regained consciousness she saw that the house had been ransacked. She touched her forehead and felt the warm blood. She was too stunned at what had happened. Suddenly she remembered Samridhi. She crawled and hauled herself up against the wall and half ran towards the bathroom, stumbling on her way on the fallen chair. She stormed into the bathroom and dropped on her knees and burst into tears. Samridhi was floating in the bathtub face down. Shruti pulled her out of the water and lay her on the floor. She shook Samridhi violently as she tried to revive her. She breathed into Samridhi’s mouth pumping her small chest, crying all the time. Samridhi lay still, no sound, no movement as Shruti shouted hysterically. Shruti did not know when her neighbours came inside. The lady who she would say hello to everyday was holding her tightly trying to console her. Another man was trying to feel Samridhi’s pulse. He shouted to someone outside to call the police and ambulance. It took some time for Shruti to realize that the lady holding her was asking her husband’s phone number.

Sameer arrived just after the police. There was chaos everywhere in the house and police was asking everyone to go outside. Shruti was still crying and fell on to Sameer as he arrived.

“Where’s Samridhi?” he shouted above Shruti’s crying. She pointed to the bathroom. Sameer rushed inside to see Samridhi’s body covered in a white cloth that police had placed.

“Why aren’t you taking her to the hospital?” he shouted at the constable standing in the bathroom. He got up and grabbed the constable’s collar, “Why aren’t you trying to save her?” he shouted as he tried to wrestle with the constable. Two other policemen grabbed him and dragged him outside the bathroom. The inspector tried to console him and calm him down.

The post mortem report said that Samridhi died of water in her lungs. Shruti had to get stitches on her skull. The police were never able to trace the three men. They declared robbery as the motive and Samridhi’s death an unfortunate incident. The neighbours tried to console Shruti and Sameer, saying it was God’s wish and worst could have happened, cursing the police for their inefficiency. Sameer never said anything to Shruti but she felt a distance between them. She tried to get him to talk, let his anger out but Sameer didn’t say much. He busied himself in work and started staying away from home. He left early and returned late from work. He went on long tours leaving Shruti alone for days and weeks at a stretch. Shruti started working and adjusted to her loneliness in the empty house. And when Sameer would return from his tours, she would get the strange dream about being completely along, marooned on an island, not sure how she had got there. And she always seemed to have this dream only when Sameer was back.

… continued Chapter 3

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2008 10:05 pm

    real gem
    this fiction is a masterpiece sad story

  2. lifeofhues permalink*
    October 24, 2008 8:21 am

    Thanks a ton for your encouragement Ashish. Appreciate it.


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