Location: A popular gym in Bandra, during Women’s hour.
The walls of the gym resonated with raucous laughter. Women chatted loudly, as they huffed and puffed their weight off. They took selfies, exchanged recipes and gossiped about the trainers. All except one woman, who walked steadily on the treadmill, without making eye contact with anyone. What was the point? They all looked down at her, anyway. They sensed that she was different from them, and she was. She could never fit in with these wives of celebrities and businessmen. They would know the truth the minute she opened her mouth. Ex-bar dancers, even respectably married ones, don’t talk very posh.
Her self-esteem didn’t need any more blows. It was already rock bottom, after meeting her husband’s current keep, a posh starlet, who had actually mistaken her for the maid. How strange that her husband’s gutter style of talking didn’t put Madam off. Of course, the ready cash in his right pocket, and the gun in his left, were probably very convincing.
Even if she did manage to make some friends, she could never invite them over. All her friends had to be vetted by her husband. He was paranoid about moles planted by the police. She could only make friends with the wives of his colleagues. But, their loyalties kept changing with turf wars, so, she really was all alone. She wished she could run away from it all. When they were newly married, they lived in a one room house, and her husband had been a small time thug. He could barely afford to keep her, let alone some expensive mistress. Now, they had a sprawling penthouse in a building owned by his Company, he had his pretty ladies, and she spent most of her days alone.
Still, being lonely was better than being in the hospital every other month, with a broken rib or a sprained wrist. After a point, even the most inexperienced doctor starts asking uncomfortable questions. After all, falling down the stairs doesn’t really give you belt marks on your back.
After her workout, she got into the car and was driven home. As the car was about to enter the gates, she spotted a little puppy curled up near the gate. It looked up forlornly at the car. She got out and walked towards the lift. Some impulse made her turn back and walk towards the puppy. One look from its limpid eyes melted her heart, and one wag of its tail made up her mind. She was taking this little fellow home. Her guards looked worried, but she ignored them. She made a bed for the puppy in her bedroom, and ordered the most expensive brand of puppy food. After so many years, she was happy again.
The euphoria lasted a week. A week after she adopted the puppy, her husband came home. She returned from the gym one afternoon, and noticed that none of the guards were willing to meet her eyes. She waited outside her door, for her puppy’s frenzied bark, that usually greeted her on her return. Nothing. She walked in. Her drunk husband was sprawled on her bed, with a gun in his hand, pointedly not looking at her. Her blood turned to ice.
She didn’t have to see the pool of blood near the bed to know what had happened.
“Why”, she asked.
“He barked at me, in my own house”, was the slurred reply.
She barely made it into the bathroom, before she threw up.
The murder of her pup did what years of violence and infidelity could not. She reached her breaking point. There was no going back from this. She didn’t even feel any grief, only this black hatred for the monster. It was now or never.
She mustered up her all her courage, and went back to her bedroom. There he was, passed out on her bed, in all his glory. With a napkin, she picked up his gun, the suppressor still attached. She pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger. He barely twitched. She threw the gun down next to him.
Next she packed a bag with some clothes, and all the cash in the house, and walked out in front of all his guards. No one stopped her. She had after all, earned her freedom.
By Kimaya Kolhe
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