Anita woke up feeling a bit dizzy.
She opened her eyes, to find herself in bed. She tried to lift herself, but she realized that she was lying still! Her body did not move.
Anita felt a fresh new wave of fear wash her body.
‘Where are my children?’
Her mind went numb in fear as the questions came into her mind one by one.
She tried to strain her ears, expecting the cries of her children, but she couldn’t. She grew hysterical.
The house suddenly bore an eerie pin drop silence.
Anita could not hear anything, except for a few leaves rustling outside her window.
She forced her almost immovable body to sit up.
‘Come on, you have to find your children!’ she spoke into her mind.
Her lanky feet touched the floor unsteadily, to only twinge in pain. The cold floor had an unwelcome feel. She looked around and extended her fingers to get hold of the backrest of a nearby arm chair.
She dragged the chair towards herself, inch by inch, without making a sound.
‘Please don’t… Please don’t, she prayed, while focusing on the chair’s legs.
Finally she held the chair and forced her body up.
She winced in pain as she came to a standing position. The body was once again reignited of its pains and aches!
‘Damn’, she thought in her mind. ‘Not now!’
Ignoring the mounting pain in her legs and the drowsy feel, she forced herself to move. Anita managed to drag herself towards the door, from where she caught a glimpse of him.
Through the door hinges, she saw his back. He was searching for something.
‘But where are my children?’ Anita kept thinking about her twins.
She grew hysterical as she heard him muttering under his breath and swearing words. He was desperately searching for something.
Suddenly her eyes widened in horror as she caught a glint of something shining in his hand.
It was a butcher’s knife!
‘You should not marry a good for nothing!’ said Mr. Roy. ‘He is using you for your wealth. Can’t you see?’
Anita had mindlessly fallen head over heels for this charming man, who she had met just a few months before. All she wanted was to be in his arms and die.
‘Are you listening to me Anita?’ bellowed an infuriated Mr. Roy.
Mr. Roy was a man of stature in his little city of Bhopal. Being a top class doctor was a no mean feat! Skilled with chisel, the man had gained quite a reputation for being one of his kind! He had a huge network of who’s who in the city, to a list of people, who envied him for everything he had, including his charming, effervescent and beautiful daughter Anita!
While marriage proposals flooded his desk, all vying for his beautiful daughter, Mr. Roy was stern enough to say no to all.
Being his only daughter, he knew she was subject to all kinds of exploitation, from every corner, especially by all those, who had an eye on his wealth! Nonetheless, Anita was ignorant of all this!
Lost in her own solitary world, she had made books and her mother, her best friends. The only problem was that her mother had died a few years ago!
Mr. Roy left his table. Looking exasperated, he came and shook Anita with full force, disturbing her from her deep thoughts!
‘And for god sake, stop daydreaming now!’ he spoke angrily as he looked at his daughter.
Anita, annoyed though, fumed embarrassingly.
‘Do you even realize what you are doing to yourself? Or what you will bring onto your….’
‘I love him dad!’ Anita cut him abruptly.
‘Oh shut all this love-dove nonsense. He loves you because of all the money you are holding in your bank account, you foolish girl!’
‘He isn’t interested in your money. He said he can work for himself and me!’ she said looking at the table.
‘Oh really and what extraordinary work is he going to do?’
Anita looked crestfallen. Although unsure, she mustered up some strength and said, ‘He will take up some job daddy! Why are you so hell bent to prove him wrong?’
‘Because I know he is fooling you!’
Anita shook her head and got up from the table, leaving her food unfinished.
‘Don’t you dare leave me mid way! I want this to end now!’
‘I have already ended it daddy! I’m going to marry Vishal.’ And she walked upstairs to her room, without even turning back!
Mr. Roy looked at her plate. She hadn’t touched a single morsel, forget about her medicines!
A few weeks later, Anita married Vishal. Mr. Roy was nowhere to be seen during the entire process of her court marriage. It was just Mr. Bhushan, Mr. Roy’s lawyer and Anita’s favorite uncle, whom she had grown up confiding in her deepest secrets! He was her friend, confidante, and a kind of alter ego.
‘Vishal is a good boy uncle’ she said feeling low, while her name was announced by the registrar.
‘I know dear!’ Bhushan said reassuringly.
He left at that as he knew he had nothing to add more. He knew in his mind that her marriage was soon to be in ruins on the revelation of silent truth.
When Anita entered her new home, she was filled with excitement and a strange feeling of belonging. She looked around at the open space. The house was small, but was quite well ventilated. She could hear the birds chirping in the backyard, while summer sunshine played hide and seek through the thicket of mango leaves! It was sheer pleasure for her.
‘I hope you like it?’ Vishal spoke behind her.
Anita turned around to stare at her husband. Handsome and charming as ever, he looked at her lovingly. She placed her arms around his neck and said a soft ‘yes’.
Things went fine, until a phone call one day!
‘Who was that?’ she asked as she stepped out of the bathroom, wiping her wet hair.
‘Your father. He wanted to know how you were doing’, Vishal said without looking up.
Anita felt a sharp stab of pain. She knew the cold tension, brewing in between her husband and father, but she loved her father as much as she did him. She now longed for her father.
‘Why didn’t you call me then? I could have spoken to him!’ she said innocently.
‘Isn’t he dead for you? At least, that’s what you told me on our first day!’ Vishal spoke accusingly.
Anita came and sat next to him, resting her hands on his hand.
‘I said that because I was angry with him, but I know now I can forgive him. He was just being protective about me! He was….’
‘You can go to him if you want to!’ Vishal spoke cutting her off.
‘Really? I can?’ she asked feeling a little hopeful.
‘Yeah, but then don’t come back!’ and Vishal left the room, without looking back.
‘We should not have this!’, Vishal said without looking up.
‘What?’ Anita said, stroking her belly lovingly. She had just found out that she was pregnant with twins.
‘This…’, he pointed to her belly. ‘We should not have the babies! Didn’t you hear the doctor? This isn’t good for your health!’
Shocked to hear him, Anita flinched.
‘Have you lost your mind? Just because the doctor says, you want to give up on your own children?’
‘Try and understand Anita. It’s….’
‘No!’ she screamed and went away, leaving Vishal confused and angry.
He rushed behind her and swiveled her around.
‘You are listening to me now!’ he said speaking ferociously to her.
Anita felt intimidated. Vishal’s strong fingers were hurting her arms.
‘You are not going to give birth to these children. Do you read me? That’s it!’
And that was that! Anita was shocked and hurt. She spent endless nights and then one day, she decided to call for help. She called her dad.
‘But isn’t it right dear?’ her father spoke lovingly to her, trying to convince her about the abortion. ‘It’s making you weak. It isn’t good for your health dear!’
‘I’m fine dad and will be, if you support me through this!’
Although reluctant, her father gave in and brought Anita home, infuriating Vishal to core.
‘If anything happens to her sir, then I’m sorry, but I will not tolerate it!’ Vishal spoke as he glared menacingly at Anita’s father in his clinic.
‘How dare you? She’s my daughter and I can take good care of her than you do!’ He continued through gritted teeth.
‘I shall have nurses take care of her all day and night long. She will now return only once she has her children.’
Bhushan, Mr. Roy’s lawyer, stood near their car and watched the episode. He watched silently at Vishal’s eyes. They looked helpless and hapless.
‘The boy may be temperamental Mr. Roy, but he definitely loves Anita and his decision, I believe is right!’ Bhushan confessed to Mr. Roy, when they were alone.
Mr. Roy looked at her daughter, who was fast asleep. She looked pale, yet he could sense a strange feeling of happiness. It was radiating through her.
‘This pregnancy will be good for her Bhushan. Can’t you see, she’s been happy after so long? Now she will actually have somebody to keep her happy!’
Bhushan could see the long lost look in Mr.Roy’s eyes. He was far away from practicality. He knew that would never happen.
Anita returned home after the delivery. She was happy and ecstatic. She was not bothered about her weakness or her growing drowsy state, because she had now her children to be happy with.
Vishal had come to take her from the hospital. He didn’t have the heart of leaving Anita back, so he brought her home. Lucky for him, as Mr. Roy did not object and gave in obediently.
Anita was happy to see him at the hospital, but she felt worried with his behavior back home.
The ambiance of her home had changed. Anita felt saddened at the state of affairs. There were no servants now. She understood that Vishal wasn’t doing very well, so the servants had to be dealt with. Even the poor boy had to do his chores altogether, to save money.
‘How will you manage me and the kids without help dear? Even I can’t help you much now!’ she spoke sounding terribly concerned one day.
‘Don’t worry. I will manage all. You should just take rest.’
‘Can I first see the children?’
‘Not now dear! They are sleeping in the other room’, he spoke softly. ‘Why don’t you take some rest and see them in the morning!’
‘But the feeding….’
‘Doctors said you are too weak, so not an option. They can have bottled milk. It’s not a problem.’
‘Just sleep now’ and Vishal helped her climb into bed and gave her the medicines. Although, she wanted to see the children badly, she couldn’t. At least, she was happy that she could hear their cries. They were nearby.
The next morning, when Anita woke up, she again felt a terrible stab of drowsiness. Fighting that gnawing sense, she walked up to the next room. There amidst all pink and blue linens, rested the most beautiful children she had ever seen, lying deep in sleep.
‘Oh my!’ tears ran down her cheeks. ‘You are so lovely!’
She stroked them and they opened their little eyes, to stare at her.
‘How are my babies doing?’
Suddenly they started crying.
With some difficulty, she picked up one, while continuing to stroke the other one.
‘Shh baby! Don’t cry! See, mama is here’!
She didn’t know how long she had been there, holding and putting her children to sleep. She was so engrossed that she didn’t even hear the front door click!
‘What are you doing?’ Vishal literally screamed at her.
Shocked at his transformation, Anita quickly stood up, with a finger on her lips. She pointed at the cradle, ‘Don’t shout! You will wake them up!’
Vishal looked utterly disturbed and flabbergasted. He took her by the arm and drove her fragile body, out of the room.
‘What is wrong with you?’ Anita shrieked. She looked at Vishal, whose face had transformed to that of terror.
‘You have no business in there. I don’t want you to be with them anymore!’ he screamed at her.
‘They are my children Vishal! What’s wrong with you! They are…’
‘No!’ he yelled. ‘They have sucked the life out of you and I will not let them affect you anymore. Did you hear that?” and he stormed out of the room, closing the door behind with a huge bang.
Life had changed after that and Anita had to wait for Vishal to leave home, before tip toeing into the children’s room. Her life was filled with happiness. They were her little angels and she loved spending her time with them. Holding, caressing and playing with them, had become the order of the day.
Even when Vishal had to return, she would slowly keep them back in their cradle and go to her room’s window, which was just next to theirs and sing a lullaby. She was happy that they could hear her and would slowly fall into silent dreamless sleep.
This continued for a few days, when she was caught again by Vishal, who got so infuriated with her that he locked her up full day. Anita was shaken and understood there was something wrong with Vishal.
She could see him pouring into drinks at night and talking to someone on the phone all the time.
‘Do you have someone else in your life?’ she asked him one day.
‘Are you out of your…’
‘Don’t lie!’ she spoke feeling a little agitated. ‘I heard you on phone!’
‘Think whatever you have to! I don’t have time for all this!’ and he continued browsing through his papers, which were spread all over the bed.
‘What’s wrong Vishal?’ Anita asked, getting all choked up. ‘Why wouldn’t you tell me the truth? Why won’t you let me be with my children?’
‘I’m not getting in there again and if you again talk about it, I swear to god, I’ll send them somewhere else!’
Anita cried bitterly that night, feeling pangs of guilt and shame. Still she sang the lullaby at night, putting her children to sleep from a distance!
Anita woke up in the morning feeling a little agitated. There was something amiss! She couldn’t hear her children! Feeling a little panicky and a little tired, she called Vishal.
‘What happened dear? Are you all right?’ he asked looking concerned.
‘Where are the children?’ She asked cutting him in between.
‘They are fine, just asleep.’
‘Please take me to them. I promise. I will not disturb. I will just see them from a distance and…’
‘No dear. Look at you. You are so tired. You need to…’
‘Stop it! I’m fine’, she screamed at Vishal, shivering from head to toe. Her body was going numb and she felt restless and uneasy.
However, she did not realize that her words had already transformed Vishal and he looked angrily at her.
He got up with a jolt, shaking her hands off his. ‘Do hell with them!’
Tears rolled down her eyes.
‘This time I’ll finish this story once and for all. I’ve had enough of this children and their nonsense.’ And he closed the door and Anita could hear him mumbling something about killing them.
She froze. She had to do something, but he had locked her up.
Anita didn’t know when she fainted. She was tired and it seemed a sudden strength had drained the remaining life out of her, but even in her subconscious mind, she dreamt of saving her children.
Now was the time. Vishal was moving dangerously outside, in the lobby, with a knife in hand. Anita froze as she caught a fresh wave of blood. That was it! Without much wait, she forced her trembling body to rush outside the room.
Vishal was too much in shock to see Anita suddenly appear like a zombie and fall flat on him. The fall had done the trick and he hit the floor with a hard thud. Anita winced. She knew he had hurt badly, but he was no more her concern.
‘I am sorry Vishal, but I will end this’, and she forced herself up, to run to the children’s room, while Vishal lay in a pool of blood.
Anita rushed into the room, but she failed to see her children. Her twins were not in the room,and the room looked as if nobody had ever lived there. The cradle with pink and blue linens, the wall papers with stars and moons all looked devoid and meaningless to her without their cries. A wave of fear once again hit her full force, but this time they translated into fury rather than tears.
Anita walked back into the lounge, to see Vishal being helped by someone. The man was helping Vishal to stand up and take the adjacent wall support. Vishal had bled profusely and was murmuring something about medical help.
‘It is on its way! I have called them’.
“Dad!” Anita spoke as she recognized the man’s voice.
Mr. Roy turned around to look at her daughter’s state and felt a stab of pain.
Anita rushed into the flailing arms of her father, who too was in tears.
‘He killed them dad! He has finally killed them!’ and suddenly she was crying hysterically than ever. ‘You were so right about this man. I should have never married him dad.’
‘Calm down Anita!’ her father spoke amidst his own tears.
‘Dad, we need to find them. Ask him where they are? Oh please dad, please!’ she spoke in between her uncontrollable sobs.
‘They are no longer alive beta!’ he spoke carefully, silently, while holding onto her shoulders firmly.
Anita was crestfallen, yet she spoke. ‘It can’t be dad. Please help me find them dad. This man has hidden them or sent them somewhere.’
She turned to viciously face Vishal. ‘If I ever find out that you have harmed my children, I shall kill you!’
She pointed her finger accusingly at Vishal, who too was trembling and crying now. Much before Mr. Roy could muster something to say to her, he spoke it himself.
‘They are already dead Anita! They are dead!’ and he closed his eyes, to allow a fresh trail of tears flow down his cheeks.
‘Shut up!’ she screamed her lungs out. ‘Shut the hell up or I shall rip you apart!’
‘He is right darling’, her father spoke gently, while stroking her back. ‘I’m sorry, but you have already lost them. They never came home!’
Anita was getting impatient every now and then. She did not understand why everybody was suddenly lying to her. Why had her father so suddenly changed positions and now was supporting his good-for-nothing son-in-law.
‘No dad! This man’s lying! My children were in their room, sleeping soundly last night. I myself had put them to sleep. Oh please dad, he has taken them somewhere!’
Mr. Roy looked at her determined face and back at Vishal’s who simply shook his head.
‘Anita!’ Mr. Roy spoke calmly. ‘You need to understand that there were no children ever. What you saw was your own figment of imagination. It was true that you were about to have twins and so Vishal did up the rooms, but please beta, try and understand. They never came home!’
Anita looked at him with saddened eyes and turned to see Vishal, with a look of hatred and accusation.
‘You are not believing your own daughter dad?’ she spoke as fresh tears poured down her eyes. She let go of her father’s hand as she continued. ‘Don’t believe him dad. You know he was in financial crisis, He must have sold them or done something to get money. I know dad, I..’
‘He got rid of the servants because of you dear!’ Mr. Roy added immediately. He sighed before he spoke again.
‘Your weird talks and lullabies were unnecessarily drawing too much of attention and gossip, so he had to do away with them. He could have done away with you, but he preferred to take care of you and do everything by himself! Beta..”
Anita raised her hand and halted him in-between.
‘You mean to say, I day dreamed of having children and then imagined them getting lost?’
Mr. Roy simply blinked teary eyed. He could hardly gather to strength to speak.
‘I will never do anything to my children to get money Anita!’ Vishal spoke defensively now. Though, his strength was getting diminished with the head injury, yet when he spoke, it displayed a strong sense of protection and determination.
‘I was their father. I would have never done anything….’
‘Stop talking and wasting my time!’ Anita screamed again. ‘If that is so, why did I see you with that knife and blood? And why are you saying ‘was’, what have you done to them?’ she asked as her father strengthened her grip on her shoulders.
“Can’t you see silly woman that I’d cut my hand while chopping vegetables!’ he screamed showing her his finger, which displayed a deep gash.
Anita was about to shout back at him, when suddenly, the front door opened and in came two people with a stretcher and some bags of medications.
One of them, on being signaled by Mr. Roy came and grabbed Anita by the arm.
‘What are you doing?’ she said as she tried to let go of the man. She watched the other man attending to Vishal’s head injury.
‘You need to go to the rehabilitation center for a few days beta’, Mr. Roy spoke solemnly. ‘It will be good for you.’
Anita did not understand. She looked at Vishal with a seething hatred.
‘What have you told my father? It’s you who is sick god damn it, not me!’ spoke with gritted teeth. ‘He’s been drinking like a maniac dad and making up stories about me. Tell him the truth you scoundrel!’
Anita’s screams had no effect on anyone.
Vishal kept crying. Anita watched as her father went up to Vishal and rested a comforting hand on his shoulder.
‘How could you dad! How could you support this man, who has killed your daughter’s children?’
‘I’ve not killed anybody’, Vishal screamed back. ‘They died during your labor Anita. Our twins were still born. They never arrived alive. They were dead, always dead. I never had the strength to tell you because of your health, but I’ve cremated them, with my own hands.’ And he broke down once again into Mr. Roy’s arms, who held him tightly.
An overpowering strength flew into Anita’s veins as she pushed the medical attendant, grabbed the knife from the floor and rushed at him.
As she screamed, rushing at Vishal and her father with the butcher’s knife, everybody turned to see her.
They could see the flaming rage, the flaming madness in her eyes. Instantly, they could see the sudden rise of her schizophrenic madness in her body, rushing at Vishal, with the intention to kill!