‘Why on earth can’t you stay on the suggested route? Now there’s no network here…it seems we are heading deeper into the forest.’
I deviated from the route to avoid traffic. We were married for a year…or maybe more. Akriti and I were different, but we were in love.
Our passion for travel was the only common trait but mighty enough to sustain our wedlock. While Akriti was as calm as the plain blue sky, I was an impulsive, restless monkey.
We were on our way back home to Shekhawati after a week-long road trip to Udaipur and Jaisalmer. Akriti wanted to follow the Google map, but I wanted to save time, get home, and take a hot shower after a day-long drive.
As the van penetrated deeper into the woods, the fog obscured my vision from all sides, and I switched the headlights on. Akriti rolled up the window because she heard only the rustle of leaves crunched by the rolling tyres of the van. The jungle was eerily quiet with its head held as high as the trees on both sides.
I rolled the window down to waft the raw jungle; it was different, something that I’d never smelt before.
‘I guess we are lost and we should turn back?’ Akriti was tensed by now.
‘Why are you so scared? I am here; don’t worry, this will take us somewhere if not home.’ I consoled her, but she was upset,
‘Roll that glass up Manas, it’s not safe here.’
I knew she was safe until she was with me; nothing would happen to her. We drove a few miles; I guess she was right…we were lost and stranded in the middle of a dense, dangerous forest.
It was getting dark, cold, and there was no hope, not at least till the morning. So, we decided to stay in the van,
‘It’s romantic, isn’t it? Just you, me, and the silence,’ I smirked.
‘Manas I really am scared…and tired too.’ She pulled her seat flat and closed her eyes. I had nothing much to do, but I couldn’t realise when I slept.
The shrieks of the birds woke me up to the deadliest morning of my life. Akriti went missing, but I could see her blood-stained shawl and traces of her long silky hair on the van’s seats. I searched for her for the next two days until I passed out.
‘Then how did you return home.’
‘I don’t know. When I woke up, I was in the hospital.’ Manas told the courtroom.
‘In lack of evidence and testimonies to prove Akriti’s death, this court acquits Manas of the murder of his wife Akriti.’ The decree was passed, and Manas moved on with his life and found love again.
‘I am glad you like to travel…I, too, am a travel freak.
Let’s go on a long road trip for honeymoon.’ Manas suggested to his newly wedded wife, Natasha.
‘It will be so much fun…where should we go?’
‘Let’s go to Udaipur and Jaisalmer,’ Manas’ dissociative identity disorder was now uncurable as he pulled out a shawl and wrapped it around Natasha.
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