Siya scurried in the kitchen. The guests would be arriving any minute.
“The table is set. And the rooms are tidy. Is there anything else I can help you with, darling?” Her husband, Raghav pulled her closer, wiping beads of sweat from her forehead.
“That’ll be all,” she smiled, pausing briefly, basking in his loving attention.
“Happy first anniversary, love birds!” Raghav’s friends arrived screaming in unison.
Soon, the house was brimming with chatter and laughter. One pair of eyes, however, was stuck on Siya.
“Who’s he?” Siya whispered to Raghav, eyeing towards the man.
Raghav’s eyes lit up.
“Uncle, what a pleasant surprise!” Raghav strode towards him.
After exchanging pleasantries, Raghav beckoned Siya.
“Uncle, meet my better half, Siya. Siya, this is Chaudhary uncle, my dad’s best friend. After dad’s death, we lost touch,” Raghav said. “Uncle worked in Trilok Juvenile Home. Two years ago, he got posted in the North, and hence couldn’t make it for our wedding.”
Siya froze. Her warm smile dissipated. Her delicate body quivered as if hit by a thunderstorm.
For the rest of the evening, she hardly made herself visible. She remained holed up in the kitchen on the pretext of preparing hot parathas. Chaudhary’s piercing gaze stung her soul. Surreptitiously, she wiped the salty tears that dribbled down her rosy cheeks.
“Uncle, tell us about your stint at the Juvenile home,” a guest asked Chaudhary.
“Oh, don’t ask! Some were petty thieves, while others were hard core criminals!” Chaudhary exclaimed, digging his teeth into the chicken leg piece. “Their face lacked any remorse, those little rascals! I vividly remember a face, about seven or eight years ago. A sixteen-year old girl with an innocent face. Eyes pinned on the ground, she hardly spoke with anyone. A devil in disguise, she had murdered her father and his two brothers in broad daylight. How can I ever forget that malicious face?”
Chaudhary glared at Siya. “She lives disguised amongst us as a simple housewife, masking her identity. She’s a wolf in sheep’s attire!” He said pointing his finger towards Siya.
Everyone gasped in unison.
A dozen accusing glares stabbed Siya. Cupping her face, she slumped on a chair.
“Please stop it, uncle,” Raghav sprang to defend.
“You know nothing…” Chaudhary barked.
“I do. She told me everything. About her abusive father, who’d rape her and her mother, and pass them on to his lecherous brothers like some piece of meat…,” Raghav paused.
“After three years of unfathomable torture, finally I gathered courage and had them arrested,” Siya whimpered. “But soon they were out on parole. Enraged and humiliated, they returned with vengeance. I couldn’t take it any more. Slashing their neck, I ended our misery.”
A deafening silence ensued.
“You tell me, uncle. Who’s the wolf?” Raghav intoned. “Those who denied her justice or those who ridicule her without knowing the facts?”
Amidst hushed discussions and sheepish glances, no one saw Chaudhary silently exiting, red-faced.
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One thought on “Devil, Who?”
Great story! I loved that you showed how the husband supports the ex-criminal wife despite knowing the truth.