By Neel Anil Panicker

‘Behind every great fortune there is a crime.’ Balzac screamed out from the pages as he shut the book.

Sarthak’s mind was elsewhere.

On murder.

And he knew behind every perfect murder there was planning.

And planning is what he’d done; what he needed to do, more.

His eyes swept the tent room as his hands rummaged through the cabinet. Nothing of consequence. Just a transparent medicine bottle (aspirin strips; the usual pop ups, several packs of syringes…ah- the pitfalls of childhood diabetes!), a few of her dresses. The usual__a coup,e of tops, some long flowing skirts, a pair of trousers, and then one more…an overcoat, unisex…but wait…no…this was ash grey…her most hated of colours.

A tsunami of hatred swept through his ship-wrecked heart. Soon, as his pulses raced and heartbeats went on overdrive, despite the sheer cold that enveloped the hills, Sarthak began to perspire as even hot beads trickled down the nape of his neck.

‘It’s him_ the bastard,’ he hissed, careful not to raise his voice.

And then, his mind still a blur, he looked around and his gaze fell on the sole table that abutted the bed.

He tiptoed in and now stood beside the bed, his agony filled eyes taking in the crumpled snow white bedsheet, the upturned pillows, and  also the two barely visible stain marks on them.

He almost puked at the repellent sight.

Even before he could recover, his nostrils flared with another sensory assault.

This time it was in the air; a redolence that emanated from the small bowl that lay beside the bedstand.

Pungent, sharp and somewhat camphoraceous, the air around smelled of freshly finely powdered minted eucalyptus leaves, quite unlike the ones you get to see in the Himalayas, or for that matter any part of India.

“Mr Sarthak, last month your wife was in Canberra and  Sydney. Here is her travel itinerary, plus hotel stays, phone call details et al.”

Sarthak felt as if he’d been hit by a ten tonne truck, his body smashed to smithereens, its entrails strewn into minutiae all over the street, pools of blood encircling the gory sight.

‘The bitch…she’s been cheating me across continents.’

Overcome with blind rage, he picked up the phone, and dialled a number, one he had on speed dial.

At the nth moment he disconnected the call.

No! no one, none on this planet must know what he was about to do.

Seconds later, he crept under the bed, and waited for his wife of five years to come back from her night of forbidden pleasures.

The hour glass of her life had been upturned; two hours, that’s what she had left of her stay on Planet Earth.

(to be contd.)

#neelanilpanicker #shortstory #fiction


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