By Neel Anil Panicker
‘That’s your number. When it’s called, you step forward and board that vehicle over there.’
Ali looked at the direction of the assistant warden’s pointed finger.
Around 20 meters away stood a blue police van, its windows heavily barred, the engine running.
Ali winked at Salim, who smiled back slyly.
Time: Evening, around eight
Liza stared into the roof and for the umpteenth time over the past few days, thought about her life and the various shapes it had taken so far and the various shapes it was bound to take in the days to come.
And with all such thoughts came thoughts about her mother.
Nothing was new after her mother’s death. Yes, her death, she mouthed those words silently, the whispers dying within the four walls of her room.
Her mother was no more. It was the sad reality of her life, something which she had lived with all these years but she also had willed herself to believe that is was a natural death. That’s what everyone around had told her, and she had very naively believed it.
What else could an eight year girl could do but believe what her ears heard, believe the words spoken by her father, her aunt, her relatives, even the servants.
Believed when they said that her dear mother, the most beautiful Saira Bano, had died of natural causes, of a massive heart attack.
Believed all this until she turned 15.
Lying on her bed, her mind flashbacked to the past, to one tortuous moment which changed the entire trajectory of her life.
It was an evening, a regular Sunday evening, an hour after dark, and she was in her room, readying herself to go to bed.
It was then that a flurry of hurried whispers made her sit upright.
The voices, its intensity, rising and falling, were coming from the adjacent room.
Stealthily, she tiptoed to the corner edges and cocked her ears to the wall.
It was her Bua, her father’s elder sister, mother’s. She was saying something, her decibel levels rising and falling amidst deafening silences.
“How many more will you condemn to death, Affu?”
Affu. Little Liza listened, holding her breath, her eyes widening at the mention of the word Affu.
Nobody, both in and outside of the family except her Bua addressed her father Afzal Guru as Affu.
“Thought you would change, become a new person, after Ammijaan’s death.”
Ammijaan was her father’s mother, her grandmother.
What was she talking about? What change was she referring to?
Her curiosity aroused, Liza listened further.
“Fear at least Allah, dear Affu. Though the world will buy your theory that your Saira died of natural causes, you and I know that is was a murder, that you killed her, that you poisoned her to death, that you…”
‘Enough. Keep your mouth shut, or you will meet the same fate.’
Liza couldn’t believe her ears. What was until now just a rumour, something that floated around like a whisper and died within the massive walls of Sumer Manzil had just been proven true.
That the story about her mother was false.
She herself had thought about it at times, wondering to herself as to how a young healthy person with no known medical conditions could suddenly die of a massive heart attack at the age of 30.
Instantly, the whispers had died and the footsteps receded.
Liza slided back to her bed and thought through the night.
So, it was clear: her dear mother was murdered. Killed by her own father, the mafia don of Old Delhi.
A fusillade of questions raced through her mind: when, why, how, and most importantly why would a man murder his own wife, the one who was a mother to his only child, the one who everyone knew as most gently, loving, obedient, and strikingly beautiful?
Her mind in turmoil, she desperately wanted answers to these questions.
After staying awake the entire night, the first thing she did the following morning was race upto her Bua’s room only to find it locked.
She inquired the servants, all four of them, but none had any definite answer where she had gone, or when she would be back. The next couple of days were the most harrowing moments of her life as she waited in vain for her Bua’s return.
At the end of the week a dark forbidding thought crossed her mind: had her father, the formidable man that he was silenced his only sister, the sole person who knew the truth about her mother and who he feared could have spilled the beans on him?
The thought sent a chill down her spine.
In the days to come as she battled a mélange of conflicting emotions, slowly a new realization dawned on Liza; a new emotion birthed in her heart, and took hold of her, gripped her in a iron clasp; the emotion of hate; a deep, pathological hatred for the man who was partly responsible for bringing her into this world, but who, also, quite tragically, was also responsible for robbing her of her most precious possession__ her dear mother, her Ammi Jaan, the love of her life and the light of her heart.
It was then and there, at the very impressionable age of 15 that Liza vowed that she revenge her mother’s death, destroy her father, wipe him off the face of the earth.
As Liza wiped off the tears from her beautiful face, the seeds of revenge that had been sowed eight year back were beginning to sprout.
She got up from bed, pulled on a veil, and walked out of Sumer Manzil, her steps, steady and firm, heading towards the narrow byzantine lanes of Old Delhi.
©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #partseventeenofadangerouslove #965words
(TO BE CONTINUED)
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PART FIVE https://neelwritesblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/neelwritessixsentencestoriesepisodesixofdangerouslovefiction/
PART SEVEN https://neelwritesblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/neelwritesgaffarmian-alifeoutsideprisonwallsthreelinetalesfiction188words/
PART EIGHT https://neelwritesblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/neelwritescatsoutofthebagfffpppart8ofdangerouslovefiction08082017/
PART TEN https://neelwritesblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/neelwritesalonelyvigilparttenofadangerouslovefiction35812082017/