This article has been submitted by Megha Mehta for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
That day, Mahendra had unexpectedly remembered his mother.
He’d realized over the years that memories didn’t have a specific reason for resurfacing. It was like throwing an object into an ocean and having it wash ashore at some other time. Just the way nature preferred to work. This kind of arbitrariness no longer disturbed him, because he’d gotten over his mother’s abandonment of him years ago, or so he thought.
Still, it annoyed him that he was thinking about how she’d just gotten up and walked out one day when he was supposed to be taking pictures of his client’s wife with her latest squeeze. He watched with part-fascination, part-disgust as she ran her manicured nails down her boyfriend’s chest, constantly whispering endearments to him. When they had finished their little rendezvous, she slipped out the back door of the seaside cottage, and paused for a moment to admire the sunrise, barely noticing the rag picker on the beach who seemed to be tucking a camera into his overalls.
His job done, he flagged a rickshaw to take him home, a one bedroom apartment in the suburbs. He lived alone. Since his father had informed him of his mother’s affair, he had entertained some measure of revulsion for the opposite sex. They would always be alien creatures to him, with their high pitched voices and silly penchant for fashion and gossip. For him women were essentially creatures of the heart, not bound by either reason or decency. He still harboured resentful memories of all the beautiful girls who had rejected him in college, ostensibly to marry guys with bigger pockets. Would rational creatures do that?
In the afternoon, he set out on his next assignment. The husband was a doctor, while the wife was a ‘homemaker’. The husband was constantly buying expensive gifts to keep his wife happy, but lately she’d been unresponsive, going so far as to sleep in the guest bedroom. Women, he thought disdainfully, the more you give them, the less satisfied they are.
He observed the wife as she talked to her lover, a good looking man, save for his aquiline nose. It just looked out of place on an otherwise soft face. She held his hands and begged him to ‘rescue her’. Is this what his mother had done, gone to some bar and asked some Adonis to take her away from the drudgery of being a wife and mother? Or maybe she had been slightly more subtle. For all he knew, she could have just gone to the supermarket, looked at someone across the aisle, and an affair would have begun.
After he was done e-mailing the pictures, he watched some sleazy movies, more interested in forgetting his mother than gratification of any sort. He watched, fascinated, as the woman on screen readily submitted herself to whatever her partner asked of her. If only women in real life could be so compliant, there would be no problem.
In the morning, he found the police knocking on his door. His client had murdered his wife. Good riddance, he thought. He gave a standard explanation of what his services entailed and his relationship with the perpetrator; proud that he had somewhat facilitated this incident. ‘Did you interrogate her boyfriend too?’ he asked casually.
‘Mr. Kapoor,’ the inspector said gravely, ‘I don’t think you understand.’
‘Mr. Joshi had been abusing his wife.’ He paused. ‘She was too scared to openly walk out on him. She had contacted a NGO for help, and they were making arrangements to transfer her to a safe place. The man you saw was a volunteer from the shelter. They were trying to persuade her to file a complaint against him, but she was adamant on just getting away. Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it?’
‘No, it doesn’t.’
It had been a month since the incident and he had not taken any new clients, having disposed off the old ones in a hurry. He didn’t understand what was happening to him. Why did it matter if the woman was dead? It was her fault for not having had the guts to contact the police. How was it any of his concern?
The memories of his mother only seemed to be growing worse. His father had died years ago, and he had no means of finding out where she lived now, or what she was doing. He would often experience nightmares in which he would see his five year old self bound and gagged while some unknown entity kicked his mother down the stairs or went after her with a knife, letting out a preternatural laugh as she cried for help.
Finally, he decided to hire a private investigator for himself. He was too attached to the past to sell his old house, and yet he was too afraid of the past to visit it either. It reminded him of the time when they’d been one happy family unit, before his mother had shattered the fantasy. He wanted the entire place combed for letters, a gift from her lover perhaps, any clue that would help discern where she’d gone, so he could get his answers.
On the appointed day, he lay on his bed, feeling like there was some kind of creature underneath his skin that had been gnawing on him for decades, and had finally managed to rip him apart. He watched the fan move in circles slowly, yet purposefully, like it knew exactly how trite its job was, but was oddly satisfied with it anyway. He was lulled to sleep by the whirring sound it made, only to be jerked awake by the smell of a woman’s bosom enveloping him. He rubbed his eyes, slightly terrorized. His phone was flashing the detective’s number. He seemed to have gone mad with excitement, babbling about ‘how tests would have to be done’ but ‘a letter from your father seems to confirm that this finding is true.’ However, he only experienced a dull numbness as he heard the statement he’d wanted to hear most as a five year old boy, in its most grotesque form.
His mother had never really left him. Her bones were in the same place where his father had buried her alive.
Megha Mehta is a seventeen-year-old who sometimes writes short stories. She believes in the verses of the Bhagavad Gita which say “do your work and never expect any reward”. Ergo, now that she has given her CLAT, she pretends that she does not care for the result – usually succeeding until it is (unfortunately) time to sleep. Her primary goal in life is to attain the levels of sarcasm possessed by a certain Dr. Gregory House, MD. She thanks everyone who has read to this point, and hopes that you enjoyed her story (or that she at least helped you pass ten minutes of your free time).