Etched in my memory




Pitter patter the raindrops fell on the window panes, adding chaos inside the police station. Oblivious of the cacophony, a reptile on the wall diligently chased a mosquito, and 'click' he snapped his tongue. The insect was lost in an abyss, just like my husband had vanished. His screams reverberated in my ears, 'HHHEEEELLLLPP.' 'Madam, please sign on these papers. You can collect Mr.Shishir's body from the mortuary.'  The Inspector's words came as a respite after two days of ordeal in the torrential rains, running through some sort of a labyrinth.  I was to get custody of my thirty-five-year-old better half's mortal remains.  'Death due to accidental fall!' 'Tch, tch, tragic indeed,' a neighbour moaned. 'How did it happen?' quipped an elder cousin. 'What to say, Bhau*? A selfie craze. Your brother brushed aside all my apprehensions.'  He shook his head in contempt. 'I wonder why you went to the ghat during the rainy season?' queried an aunt. 'It was an office picnic. People generally go to the ghat sections to enjoy the cascading waterfalls during the rainy season.' I explained. 'With whom was he when the tragedy struck?' a septuagenarian put forth the same question that the inspector had asked. I patiently repeated. 'I was with him pleading to give up clicking those selfies. But he was adamant. He argued with me and climbed the cliff.' 'Tch, tch,' they all shook their head. My mother-in-law was too shocked to be consoled. It happens when you lose your child. I have gone through the agony. That rainy day is indelibly etched in my memory. Exactly a year ago.  After an excruciating pain of six hours, Nila came out tearing me apart. The exhaustion wanned the moment the tiny bundle was placed on my lap. I held her close to my heart. Outside, the rains lashed the city creating a huge ruckus as the water fell on the parapet of the hospital. Monsoons were always welcome but strangely the heavy downpour indicated a premonition.  'Where is Shishir?' I looked around. No one was there. Tiredness having enveloped me I soon fell asleep, but was half conscious. I got up startled as if out of a nightmare and saw Shishir and his mother standing with forced glumness near the cradle. The kid was motionless. Asphyxiation! Said the death certificate handed over by an avaricious nurse I had wailed the way Shishir's mother was wailing today. Two pearls on my baby's cradle and my mother-in-law's bare wrist stood testimony to the fabricated asphyxiation. She ruthlessly strangled my baby with a pillow and her son looked on. In the melee, her bangle hit the side of the cradle.  Their words had fallen into my ears in my half-conscious state.  'We wanted Nilan, not Nila.' I hopelessly tried to force some tears at Shishir's funeral. The lashing rains helped me to camouflage my smirk, as I dropped the pearls on the ground from the same palm that had brought his end. *** Bhau—-An expression used to address an elder male.      Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!