“A gun? No, not a gun. A knife is all I need” he whispered on his phone while holding his palm over his lips; he was hiding something.
“I will end her struggle soon. So, please don’t call me again” he said abruptly ending the conversation, just as I entered the room.
“Good morning, Vivaan. Who was that?”
“That was Mr. Vardhan, Marketing Head of Chimes Publication; publisher of my next novel”, saying so he kissed me; it lacked any passion and had remained merely a formality.
We were married for two months now and since our marriage I found Vivaan’s behavior to be a bit mysterious. Even though we were newlyweds, our nights were mostly uneventful and Vivaan would be glued to his phone for hours together. Perhaps, he was planning the climax for his next novel, I could only guess.
“Do you want to discuss something?” I asked with an intention to open him up.
“No, nothing. Just that you are looking gorgeous this morning” he gave a mischievous smile.
Vivaan Chaudhary was a writer, a criminal mastermind. His novels made a fantastic read and always made it to bestsellers list. We met during the launch of his last novel titled “The blunt knife”. After our first meeting, we kept meeting on one pretext or another, dated for a while, fell in love and finally got married. All this happened so quickly that before I could realize, we were man and wife.
“Have you read my work? May be you should read my novels. That will prepare you” Vivaan remarked pointing to the bookshelf in our living room.
“Prepare me? Prepare me for what?”
“To face life, my love” Vivaan gave a mysterious smile.
I did not quite understand what he meant but as I had nothing much to do, I decided to read his work. That evening, I picked up “The mysterious window”. This was Vivaan’s debut novel and was an instant hit with readers as well as critics alike. On the cover page featured a beautiful girl in her mid- twenties standing next to a window.
“Hey, wait, I think I have seen this window before” I thought but wasn’t clear where I had seen.
Soon, I was completely glued to the plot; was making my guesses about the storyline and was completely oblivion to what’s happening around. I read non-stop and completed the novel in about six hours. Indrani, the lead character in the novel jumps out of the window in mysterious circumstances. Vivaan had introduced many characters in his story, developed them well and kept everybody guessing till the very end. An amazing masterpiece and had to be a best-seller, I thought.
While flipping through the pages, the dedication page caught my eye. Vivaan had dedicated his novel to his then wife, Devyani Dikshit. I did not know much about Devyani but knew that she committed suicide by jumping out of the window. I soon realized that there was some coincidence between the novel and Devyani’s life and her eventual death. I switched on my laptop and googled Devyani Dikshit.
Devyani was an investment banker with a multinational bank. Within two weeks of his novel’s release, she jumped out of the window and killed herself.
“They were a happy couple and why Devyani should take such an extreme step remains a mystery” the daily reported.
“Vivaan Chaudhary was questioned by the police, his phone records were investigated and this suicide was investigated in light of his new novel” another daily reported.
The investigation hit a dead end & Vivaan was finally acquitted. These newly learnt facts were a bit disturbing to say the least. I got up, walked a few steps towards the balcony and looked out of the window. The queen’s necklace looked beautiful at night from our apartment on 25th floor. I looked at the cover page again and I was just standing in front of the window; just like the girl was in the novel. I realized that it was the same window as in the novel. Instantaneously, my feet started trembling, I froze; a weird feeling never experienced before.
Two hands appeared from nowhere and caught me.
“Ghost, Ghost” I screamed loudly. Devyani’s mystery seems to have gripped me psychologically.
“I scared the shit out of Miss Braveheart” Vivaan remarked as he threw his tie on the sofa.
“You know me well enough now?” he asked looking at the novel in my hand.
“I don’t understand what you mean” I said clearing my throat in a low embarrassed tone.
“Read my other novels and you will get to know me better” he remarked, got up and putting some champagne in his glass went to the balcony.
It was past midnight, the breeze was cool but not cool enough to cool my brain. Devyani mystery was not allowing me to sleep.
“She is scared. Let me break her psychologically” the breeze brought in a few words through the window.
The night had gone from being uneventful to being tense.
“Did he kill Devyani or made circumstances which forced Devyani to take this extreme step? Can he strangle me when I am asleep?” I kept asking myself. I was not at peace and I tried not to sleep.
“Good morning sweetheart” Vivaan woke me up.
“Let’s have tea together” he kept the tray on the bed next to me.
“Is the tea poisoned? Should I refuse to drink? Will that make him suspicious?” my mind started questioning.
He handed me my cup. I sipped, smiled at him and kept my emotions in control.
In a few hours, Vivaan left. I had to finish reading his other two novels to understand his modus operandi. I read through his introduction in “The Blue Waters”. He was once a well-known criminal lawyer in Mumbai. His life took a spiritual turn; he renounced this materialistic life & went to the Himalayas. Few years later, he returned to Mumbai as a writer.
“This is so very unusual” my mind was telling me. It was now looking at everything with suspicion.
I finished reading “The Blue Water” and continued reading “The Blunt Knife”. The lead character, Kesar Bhatt in “The Blue Water” drowns while on a cruise. That character resembled to that of Kajal Sharma whom Vivaan was linked romantically prior to her death. Vivaan was not on that cruise on that fateful day. Again, the novel was released two weeks prior to Kajal’s death. Police investigated all angles and Vivaan came out clean. The same trend continued in “The Blunt Knife” and Sarah Paul, the lead character gets killed with a blunt knife. The scenes were brilliantly written and kept the reader hooked to the novel till the very end. I was impressed by his writings. The way he killed Sarah in his novel with a blunt knife was unthinkable and simply a masterpiece. Two weeks later, Amrita Rajan, an old friend of Vivaan was killed in New York in circumstances similar to those mentioned in the novel.
That night, Vivaan came home late.
“You seem to have read all my work”, he said looking at the novels kept on the sofa.
“Yes, I did but I am not sure if I understand the connection between the novel launch and death of your near and dear ones soon thereafter”, I confronted him.
“No one understands that. That’s the key” he laughed it off.
“Key? Does it not bother you that your dear ones are slaughtered?” I questioned
“Slaughtered? I am not so sure if that’s an appropriate word. But whatever you may call, its Eternal God, Creator of all, the mastermind and we are merely tools in his hands” he joked it off.
“And are you that tool who is doing it for him?” I was visibly angry at his indifference.
“This Sunday, I am launching my new novel. It’s dedicated to you and you will unveil” he gave a mischievous smile.
“That’s quite an honor”
Maybe he has made up his mind to send me to his eternal god” I thought.
“Can I take a quick peek at your novel. I can be a good reviewer?” I asked gathering some courage and sounding informal.
“No sweetheart, it’s a surprise. No one gets to read the novel before it is launched”
He got up, poured some whisky in a glass and walked towards the balcony.
Maybe I just have two weeks to live, I thought. Not if I kill him first, my inner voice suggested. I couldn’t sleep the whole night; thinking of a plan to save myself or atleast kill him before he gets me. I couldn’t think of one. I decided to rest my worries at Maharishi’s feet and visit his ashram the following morning.
Maharishi attained enlightenment at a very young age. My father was an ardent devotee of the Maharishi. As a baby, my father had brought me to Maharishi and put me in his lap.
“Please suggest a suitable name for my daughter”, he had requested the Maharishi. Maharishi kept looking at me and I was looking straight at him, my father recalled. An hour passed in silence but it seemed a lot of conversation was going on between me and Maharishi. He was silent and I was vocal though I was just two months old. I peed and our conversation abruptly ended.
Maharishi remained unperturbed.
“I am very sorry for this” my father sounded apologized touching his feet.
“It’s alright. She has lot of questions and she doesn’t seem to agree with my answers” Maharishi said softly. Maharishi seldom discussed such matters directly.
“Maharishi, she is a mangalik and her stars are not well aligned. She will struggle in her life as per the astrologers” my father lamented.
“Name her Sita” Maharishi suggested and my father agreed.
“Maharishi, you should guide her even if she turns out to be stubborn and unrelenting” my father pleaded with the maharishi
Maharishi just blinked his eyes, my father recalled and he took that as an assurance.
Next morning, the bell rang as I was about to leave for Maharishi’s ashram. I answered the door.
“Namaste Chacha. Please come in. I am happy to see you. Please come in” I greeted the old man.
It was Angappan Chacha, personal attender of the Maharishi. He would occasionally come to the city in connection to Ashram’s work.
“Beetiya, God bless you. I just came to deliver this envelope. Maharishi said this would give you courage at heart, a purpose in life and a possibility to explore”
The old man vanished as quickly as he came. I opened the envelope and to my utter surprise, I was holding a knife, a sharp one.
“Why did he send me a knife? May be to defend myself or to play offensive?” I questioned myself about Maharishi’s intentions.
The courage, the purpose, the possibility mentioned by Chacha was not clear. I decided to explore my possibilities with the knife.
The next two days passed on without much notice; I kept to myself spending most of my time in the kitchen. I tried my knife on whatever I could lay my hands on , from vegetables to meat to explore its sharpness.
“It is pretty sharp and can kill a person” I concluded.
That night, I switched on the television only to learn that Vivaan’s novel had not gone well with a few religious factions and there would be a big protest on the day of the launch. Leaked portions of his next novel made it on social media; it was interpreted out of context and a huge controversy had built around his novel. Maybe it’s a marketing gimmick to increase the sales, I thought.
On Sunday, we reached Jahangir Art Gallery, the venue for the launch. As we alighted from the car, we could see thousands of protestors with sticks and were shouting slogans. As we were about to enter the gallery, someone hurled a stone at us, hurting none though. The situation soon spiraled out of control and the mob was upon us.
“This is my golden chance”, I thought. I quickly took my knife and stabbed Vivaan possibly on his chest as the mob caught us unawares. The extent of injury I could not gauge. We got separated and I was cordoned off to a nearby café. I could not see Vivaan; I just hoped that he succumbed. Soon reinforcements arrived and the situation was under control. All this commotion was covered live on TV.
“Maybe they will announce his demise anytime soon. I just had to be ready with tears in my eyes” I reminded myself.
I saw the police commissioner coming towards me. I pretended to be lost in thoughts.
“Madam, we are very sorry but you are under …” he was interrupted
“She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf…….“, Vivaan read the first few lines from his novel ;now telecast live on TV.
“Vivaaaaan is alive? Oh God, How is it possible ?.” I almost cried.
A convoy of women police constables gathered around me.
“Please follow me”, the head constable signaled.
I blindly followed her and entered the gallery auditorium.
Vivaan who was standing on the dias now pointed at me and said “I now give you ‘The murderous Wife’ ” and there was a big round of applause with the audience turning towards me.
“Hey, wait. Something is wrong. Why the murderous wife is getting applause?” I was puzzled.
Mr. Vardhan handed over a copy of the novel which I showed the audience. There was another round of applause. The novel was now flashed on the auditorium screens and everyone was celebrating Vivaan and his work.
I could see “The Murderous Wife” embellished in Golden letters on the novel and a lady with a knife in her hand featured on the cover page.
“Was it a setup? Did I walk into a trap? How did Vivaan know about my plans months ahead of it getting materialized? Why did the Maharishi send me a knife? Did I misinterpret his message in any way” I had many questions but no answers.
I moved towards him, hugged him and whispered, “You trapped me off guard. You have made me look like a criminal. Contrary to your other dedications who didn’t survive a month; I succumbed much before both physically and psychologically. Why did you do this to me?”
“Sweetheart, Take a peek of what’s coming” he whispered back looking at the novel in my hand.
I stood amidst the audience; listening to their applause I opened the dedication page.
“I dedicate this novel to my loving wife Sita, for whom I have waited for many births now. All I am doing is for her good. Stay tuned.”