The Zenana gardens of Rajgarh palace, in the year 1970
It is 3 am, my favourite time of the night. A time, when people are in deep sleep, with their guards down.
I like to look in on them…little sheep, ripe for slaughter.
I love being me. It means that I can go where I like, wander around the whole palace, even the Zenana. I’m safe, as long as I’m quiet.
I like walking in the Zenana gardens at night. I come alive in the dark, and there’s always something to play with.
Ooh, look…I spy a new toy!
What’s-her-name….the new servant. So nosy, that one! She keeps peeking into cupboards, and touching everything.
Where is she going? Is she meeting someone? Some man? Running out of the Zenana at night! Naughty!
I jump out at her, from behind a tree, and she screams. I hope she doesn’t faint. That would spoil the fun. I need her conscious.
“What are you doing here?” I ask sternly.
“Who are you meeting?”
“N..no one”, she stutters.
“I just came out for a bit of air.”
“At 3 am? Are you kidding me? Where is your lover hiding? Did you sneak him in?”
She’s just babbling, words running on together, too scared to make sense.
Time to turn the screw.
“Answer me, or I will call the guards. You will be punished! Do you know what they do to anyone who threatens the safety of the Zenana?”
“Please don’t tell anyone. He’s outside the palace. He would never come in without permission. Have mercy,” she begs, sobbing in fear. She’s aware of the consequences.
After all, the women of Rajgarh might be out of purdah, but, the palace Zenana is still out of bounds to men. There are very strict rules about that, and if you break them, punishment is instant and severe. India might be independent, but, the women of Rajgarh Palace still live under the whip. The senior-most Rani Ma is a sadistic tyrant, who rules the Zenana.
“When they are done with you, they will go after your family,” I threaten. “Every one will know what you’ve been doing.”
There is a well behind her, and she leans against the edge, almost incoherent with fright.
“Please….It was a mistake. I won’t do it again. The disgrace…the dishonour…I won’t be able to face it. I would rather die!”
I sigh. This is too easy.
Still… she did ask for it.
“Alright…if you insist.”
She looks up in confusion.
“You just said that you want to die.”
I step closer, and put my hands on her shoulders. She still doesn’t get it, the poor lamb.
I back her up a little more, till she’s leaning over the edge of the well.
She’s trying to wriggle away, sensing danger.
I look into her eyes, and smile, and then, I shove hard.
Down she goes, with a splash.
I love that moment of sheer disbelief…the shock in her wide, bovine eyes.
They all have the same disbelieving look on their face when they die, reflecting the same thought, every time: This can’t be happening to me!
After all, murder is something that happens to other people.
I lean over the edge of the well, and watch her frantic efforts to stay afloat. She opens her mouth to scream, and just swallows more water. Silly girl.
Why do they always do that? Why don’t they understand that struggling just makes their death more painful? Still, it would be sooo boring if they just rolled over and died…for me, that is.
As I walk back to the palace, I’m whistling a tune, that’s very familiar, by now.
Ding dong bell, pussy’s in the well!
Who put her in?
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