Retribution

Retribution

The evening traffic congestion on the road was at its peak. He sprinted across, antsy, breathing heavily, without noticing a big red bus nearing him. It screeched to a sudden halt, but not before knocking him on his left side. He flew over a short distance and landed hard on the footpath, his head bumping on the curb stone. Wailing in pain, he staggered to his feet, feeling dizzy. His bruised forehead sprouted blood like an open tap. A hand rested on his shoulder. He blinked and peered hard on the face staring at him nonchalantly.

“You?”

He blacked out.

***

The café buzzed with people giggling and chatting. The aroma of freshly brewed French vanilla and cinnamon tea cakes wafted all around. Vikram and Sneha sat cozily at their favourite spot, outside the café enjoying the gentle breeze, good food and great company. 

“Mmm… I just love this place,” Sneha said closing her eyes and feeling the fresh air kissing her face. “This place will always remain my favourite one because…”

“Because this is where we met for the first time, ten years ago,” Vikram completed her sentence. “I just feel it all happened yesterday! Meeting each other at a common friend’s birthday party, exchanging phone numbers, falling madly in love, and…”

“And getting hitched!” Sneha laughed. 

Vikram seemed lost. Cocking his head to a side, he peered inside the café.

“Vikram? What happened?” Sneha tapped his hand.

“Just a minute, darling,” Vikram excused himself and sauntered inside the café.

“Aditya!” Vikram called out from behind. “My dear friend!”

“Vikram! What a pleasant surprise,” Aditya smiled and hugged his friend.

“What brings you here?” They both echoed in unison and broke into laughter. 

“Ok, let me speak first,” Vikram said. “I’ve been living here for the past many years. But I’ve never seen you after college. Like twenty years ago?”

“Yeah, time flies,” Aditya nodded. “I live in Bangalore. I came here yesterday for an official visit.”

“Vikram, what’s up?” Sneha walked in.

“Hey, Sneha. Meet my best friend from college, Aditya,” Vikram said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him here. So, I just came over to confirm. Sorry to leave you alone, darling.”

“Hi Aditya,” Sneha smiled. “Vikram has many friends. But I’m so glad to meet his college friend.”

“This is my better-cum-bitter half… ouch!” Vikram howled as Sneha punched him playfully. “I’m sure by now you understood who’s she. My Jhansi rani,” he coughed.

Aditya laughed. “Glad to meet someone who can overpower this hulk friend of mine!” 

“Don’t laugh, buddy. This is the story of all married men. I’m sure your plight would be the same too. What’s your queen’s name?” Vikram asked.

Aditya clammed up. His smile vanished and face turned pale. “Destiny hasn’t been kind to me. I wasn’t lucky to have one.”

“Hey!” Vikram tried to lighten up the atmosphere. “You are the luckiest person in my eyes,” he winked. “Where are you put up by the way?”

“I’m staying in a hotel nearby,” Aditya said.

“Not fair! You’re meeting me after decades. We have so much to talk. Check out of your hotel right away and check in to my humble house,” Vikram commanded.

After checking out of his hotel, Aditya made his way to Vikram’s house. Sneha prepared delicious dinner. Aditya noticed how helpful Vikram was at home. He helped her set up the table and clean up after dinner. While she washed the vessels, he did the laundry work. He even helped their eight-year-old son, Sonu, with his homework and put him to sleep.

“You have changed a lot!” Aditya exclaimed. “You’ve become a complete family man. From being a stud back in college, wooing girls and keeping an untidy room, this change is big.”

“Marriage does that to you, buddy,” Vikram smiled. “It makes you more responsible. Come, I’ll show you our college album.”

Looking at their old selves, they laughed.

“I was so skinny then, almost looking like a malnourished child,” Vikram sniggered.

“Goodness gracious! I used to be so hairy. Now I’m half-bald,” Aditya sighed.

“Look at our grumpy professor Mehta,” Vikram chuckled. “Remember how we used to doze during his boring lecture? And he caught us once when you snored loudly.”

“He had made us stand outside the staff room till night. Remember the day before exam, how we would stay awake the whole night mugging up and promising to study hard for the next semester?

“And forgetting our promise only to repeat the same thing during the next semester,” Vikram laughed. “The number of porn videos we watched was countless too. Do you remember watching ‘Spiderman 4’?”

“That video cassette had this fake title. And Our Chemistry professor was so curious to watch it, as Spiderman was his favourite,” Aditya chuckled. “With such great difficulty, I had to convinced him to let us watch it first with a promise to hand him the cassette the next day, which obviously I didn’t. And then, the whole month I didn’t attend his lecture.”

“Hahaha, he gifted you an ‘F’ for the class tests,” Vikram guffawed.

“Talking with you, I didn’t realize it’s 2 AM already,” Aditya yawned. 

Vikram leaned back on his chair, staring at the wall.

 “Do you remember Avni?” Aditya asked, suddenly his tone turned low but serious.

Vikram sat upright. His muscles tightened and breathing got heavy.

“Avni who?”

“You were a couple, right? Though not many knew…”

“I had several casual affairs, Aditya. Do you think I still keep a track of all of them?” Vikram gritted his teeth. The facial veins pumped blood faster, turning him pink.

“Relax, buddy. Let’s call it a night.” Aditya left yawning, while Vikram sat for a while more.

***

“You look tired, baby,” Sneha kissed Vikram’s cheeks. “Didn’t you sleep well?”

“We slept quite late,” Aditya said biting into his toast. “Remembering our good old days shooed away our sleep.”

“I have to leave early today for work. See you both later in the evening.” Vikram left hastily. 

“What happened to him? Why is he acting so weirdly? Sneha asked puzzled.

“Hangover, probably. Of the past,” Aditya brushed off.

***

“Aditya, I have an official work in Delhi this weekend. I want you to accompany me. So that I can spend the rest of the day with you instead of my boring boss,” Vikram said.

“But I have to go back home this weekend.”

“Just a day, buddy. And then you can leave.”

“Why don’t you take Sneha instead?” Aditya asked.

“I have to attend my friend’s engagement ceremony,” Sneha said.

“I promise you’ll enjoy this trip,” Vikram whispered into Aditya’s ears. “I have a surprise for you.”

Aditya opened his mouth to ask, but Vikram signalled him not to probe further.

On Friday evening, the duo left for the airport. Aditya was dumbfounded when Vikram checked into the counter that showed BOM-BKK. 

“Why are we here? Isn’t this line for passengers travelling to Bangkok?” Aditya quizzed.

“That’s surprise number one, buddy,” Vikram winked.

“So, you lied about going to Delhi? Does Sneha know about this?” Aditya had numerous questions popping in his head, but Vikram was mum.

Upon landing in Bangkok, they received visa on arrival. Outside the airport, there was a car and a driver awaiting them.

“Hello, Vikram sir. Glad to see you again,” the driver said.

“Do you come here often?” Aditya asked perplexed.

Vikram just smiled as his reply. 

Aditya was amazed at the city’s natural beauty. On either side, he noticed greenery amidst gigantic skyscrapers. He was stumped over by the architectural design of the temples. A well-planned city, its clean air filled his lungs with positivity and pleasure.

The car halted at JW Marriott. The staff were extremely warm and hospitable. They were shepherded to their respective rooms.

“Why are we staying in two different rooms?” Aditya asked.

Just then, a young girl, probably in her early 20’s ambled towards them. She greeted Aditya with folded hands and hugged Vikram, as he kissed her lips. Aditya was appalled. 

“Hello, Aditya. My name is Shaina,” the girl introduced herself. “Vikram told me about you.”

Aditya threw a puzzled stare at Vikram.

“This is surprise number two, Aditya. Meet my girlfriend,” Vikram grinned.

“Can I please have a word with you, Vikram? In private?” Aditya stressed on the latter sentence.

“Sure. Darling, please give me a minute. Wait in my room. I’ll be back in a jiffy.” 

“Vikram, what the hell is this?” Aditya shook him. “Are you out of your good sense? This isn’t a surprise, but a shock.”

“Hey, buddy. Chill! You know I’ve always been a stud. How can marriage change my nature?” Vikram said.

“So, was that all a charade that I saw in Mumbai? Don’t you love Sneha?”

“Of course, I do. That’s the reason I married her and we have a son, remember? That’s the living proof of my love for her. My gift for her loyalty.”

“What rubbish? You are gifting that poor woman infidelity in return for her loyalty? If you wanted this life of freedom, why the hell did you get married?”

“Marriage is like having a small car that will take you around the same city again and again. But girlfriend is like owning a luxurious private jet that flies you all around the world taking you to higher skies,” Vikram winked.

Aditya stood still, trying to digest this avatar of his friend.

“I suggest you too find a girl for yourself, buddy,” Vikram suggested. “Shaina can help you.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m fine just the way I am.”

“Darling, what’s taking you so long?” Shaina called, stretching her arms.

“So, this is the business meeting you keep having, right? I still can’t believe you,” Aditya shook his head.

Vikram threw his arms up in the air and walked to his room. “Whatever!”

In the evening, Vikram didn’t find Aditya anywhere in the lobby. 

“Poor guy! He just couldn’t believe his eyes and ears,” Vikram chuckled. “I guess he’s plain jealous of me. I’m having the best of both the worlds, while he’s still stuck in the quagmire of a dreary life!”

“Why don’t we have some fun in the pool?” Shaina whispered, biting Vikram’s ears playfully.

“Someone seems to be fully charged up,” Vikram threw her a lecherous look. She blushed.

They cozied up in the temperature-controlled swimming pool. Their PDA was in full swing, ignoring the prying eyes. They spent some time in their suite that had bathroom furbished with Jacuzzi. They were glued to each other, smiling, kissing and hugging even in the elevator. He couldn’t keep his hands off her. Another day passed. 

Vikram didn’t see Aditya. It was time for departure. He grew anxious. Upon enquiring at the reception, he got the shock of his life. Aditya had checked out the same morning. 

He dialled his number. But it was out of reach. 

“Sir, your friend left for the airport. He had asked one of us to call for a taxi,” the receptionist said.

“Damn!” Vikram muttered under his breath. “Why did you leave without informing?”

“Ignore him, darling,” Shaina said in a honey-laced voice. “He couldn’t tolerate to see you enjoy life.”

Vikram kissed her. “See you soon, baby!”

***

The house was unusually quiet. The light was switched off too.

“Sneha?” Vikram called out. “Where are you darling? Why is the light switched off?”

He switched on the lights. He was startled to see Sneha sitting by the dining table.

“You scared me. Why were you sitting in the dark?”

“How was your Delhi trip?” Sneha asked curtly.

“It… was… good. Why do you ask?”

She threw a death stare.

“What happened, sweetie? Is anything bothering you? I can…” Vikram’s voice trailed off as his eyes fell on Sneha’s mobile. He froze.

“Do you have an explanation to this?” she asked showing a picture. Vikram was seen laughing with a woman.

“Well… I do. I mean it’s not what you see there exactly…”

“Oh yeah? Then how about the rest of the pictures?” She hurled her phone towards him. 

He checked her gallery. There were about forty to fifty pictures of him and Shaina. In the pool, in the elevator, in the lobby, restaurant. And even the Jacuzzi! Vikram was speechless for the first time in his life. His heart was thudding in his ears. His eyes spat fire. Dosing expletives, he cursed the sender.

“That rascal, Aditya!” 

“You are still blaming others?” Sneha flung her head back and gave an impertinent laughter. “Instead of having an iota of shame, you have the audacity to stand and rebuke your friend?”

Vikram took refuge in silence.

“I’m leaving, Vikram,” Sneha stood up, wiping her tears. 

“What? No! Please don’t leave me, Sneha. I promise everything will be fine…”

“Everything is ruined, Vikram. YOU have damaged our relationship beyond repair.”

“Just give me another chance, baby! You can’t leave me like this.”

But Sneha didn’t wait to hear him. She took her bags.

“Mamma, where are we going?” Sonu asked. He had just woken up from sleep.

“We are leaving this house, dear. We’ll stay at your grandpa’s place.”

Vikram yanked Sonu towards him.

“You aren’t taking him with you,” he demanded. 

“What the hell, Vikram? Sonu will go with me.”

She pulled his hand. Sonu cried in pain.

“Leave me, papa. I want to go with Mamma.”

Vikram and Sneha got engaged in a scuffle. In anger, he pushed her aside.

“Sonu will stay with me, understand?” He hollered.

Sneha didn’t reply. Sonu wailed loudly.

“I’m telling you to give me another chance. But you are so adamant!”

Sneha still didn’t reply.

Curiously, Vikram turned around and noticed her lying on the floor. He walked towards her anxiously. He stood gobsmacked. Sneha had hit her head on the dining table corner before falling. She bled profusely. She didn’t move.

“Sneha!” Vikram screamed.

She didn’t move.

Sonu cried. “Mamma!”

“What have you done to Mamma? You are a cruel man. I hate you!”

“I… I didn’t mean to…” he staggered behind pulling his hair.

Hearing the loud commotion, a neighbour nipped in.

“What happened to Sneha?” She asked.

Vikram stared at her with a blank expression. He looked like a deranged man. His hair was in a mess, his shirt was partially tucked into his jeans, while the rest was out, creased and crumpled. His bloodshot eyes startled her.

She rushed back home. Vikram could hear her screaming on her phone. “Hello… police???”

He panicked. Before they could reach him, he sprinted down through the stairs. He was clueless and ran helter-skelter on the road like a headless chicken. His mind was clouded with images of his wounded wife. Was she dead? Damn! Why am I thinking so? Is Sonu safe? He couldn’t shake off Sonu’s accusing eyes. The little one had spat hateful words on him. It pricked him like thousand needles.

Vikram was exhausted after the run. He looked around for water to quench his thirst. He couldn’t find any shop. A nearby bar caught his attention. Its name board shimmered in various hues. It seemed to beckon him with open arms. 

All I need now is chilled beer. He licked his parched lips.

The cold liquid slid down his throat, blurring his anxiety momentarily. He felt as light as a feather of a bird that flew high up in the cottony clouds. He imagined to float freely, miles and miles away from vexations. 

“Sir, we are closing down. It’s time.”

Vikram was forcibly yanked from his dream world to reality by the bearer.

“Get lost! I need to drink more.” He licked the last drop from his glass. “Go, get me another drink.”

“Sir, kindly pay the bill. We are closing.”

“You!” Vikram pulled the guy’s shirt. “You are that rascal Aditya, isn’t it?”

Vikram slapped him several times till he fell on the floor, wailing. His companions rushed on the spot and beat Vikram black and blue.

“Pay and leave right now!” The manager thundered.

Vikram fumbled in his pocket for his wallet. He realized it wasn’t there. Two more slaps landed on his swollen cheeks and they snatched his expensive watch before kicking him out of the bar.

In an inebriated state, he hollered and cursed Aditya. With staggering steps, stumbling over the tar road, he tried crossing the busy road.

***

The bus hit him hard. Pressing his bloodied forehead, Vikram stood up, when a hand rested on his shoulder. 

“You? Rascal…” he passed out.

Vikram woke up in a strange looking room. He squinted around. It was a big, vacant room that didn’t have any windows. On one corner, he saw the closed shutter. He smelled petrol. He tried getting up, but then realized that his hands and legs were tied to a chair.

Where the hell am I?

Just then, he heard footsteps. He turned to his left.

“Hope you are feeling well.”

Vikram gritted his teeth. “Aditya! What the hell is going on? You have ruined everything I had in a single day.”

Aditya was silent. His eyes glinted as if he was enjoying hearing Vikram lament.

“Why did you do this? What wrong have I done to you? I considered you a dear friend. But you? Backstabber!” Vikram shifted his body vigorously trying to untie his hands.

“Don’t waste your energy, Vikram. You can’t escape,” Aditya growled. 

Vikram froze.

 Are you… are you going to kill me?” Vikram stuttered. 

Aditya gave a lopsided smile. 

“Are you nuts? Did you forget that we are friends? Did you forget all the good times we had in college and Bangkok? Err… are you upset about my extramarital affair? Look, Aditya. I promise to end it all. You know I’m never serious about my affairs. I swear on my kid.” Vikram cried.

“You love your kid a lot, don’t you?” Aditya cocked his head to a side.

Vikram’s face fell. “Please don’t harm my son, Aditya. He’s fond of you. He calls you chachu*. Remember the beautiful card he made for you the other day? How can you forget all that?”

“I have not forgotten anything, Vikram. It’s your memory that needs polishing.”

Vikram raised an eyebrow curiously. 

“We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were!” Aditya sighed. “We remember things as per our own convenience. What suits us, we cherish. What pricks our conscience, we toss them out like an unwanted trash.”

Vikram gulped hard. A lump had formed in his throat that he couldn’t swallow. Aditya’s piercing stare unnerved him.

“Avni…” Vikram’s lips spilled out her name after ages. “Is this about her?”

Aditya guffawed. “So, you do remember her!”

“Yes, I do. But it was just a casual affair, I swear,” Vikram’s eyes trailed off. 

“Cut the crap, Vikram. Tell me the truth if you want to live,” Aditya snarled. “I have doused this room with petrol. All I have to do is light fire.”

Vikram closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 

I met Avni when I was in my final year. She was a fresher. You know I was quite popular in the college. More than half of the girls had crush on me. Frankly, I enjoyed their attention. One day, Avni came out of the blue and said she loves me. I was shocked.”

“But I don’t even know you.”

“Err… actually even I don’t know you,” she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“What? Then how can you claim to love me?” I was taken aback. 

“Well, can you see those girls standing near the college gate?” she gestured with her eyes, fluttering her thick black eyelashes. 

I noticed those innocent pair of eyes, that was filled with embarrassment and terror. They threatened to pour anytime. 

“Yes, I do.”

“They are my seniors. They gave me this task. I pleaded against it, but they threatened me.” A drop of tear rolled down her rosy cheeks. It melted a part of my heart. I smiled at her. Her innocence dripped from every cell of her pretty face. Bending down, I kissed her cheeks tenderly. She looked at me in disbelief, her mouth wide open just like her dove eyes. One girl near the gate nearly slumped on the ground. I had a hearty laugh.

“Go. Now those girls won’t trouble you,” I winked.

She just stared at me; her gaze stuck on my dimples.

A week passed. But my mind couldn’t shake off her thoughts. Those black eyes had pierced me deep. It wasn’t that she was extraordinarily beautiful. But there was something about her that intrigued me. That desired and yearned for another meet.

I didn’t have to wait for long. A week later, she came to me running. 

“I wanted to thank you for that day,” she said.

“You mean for the kiss?” I teased her.

“Yes… err… I mean no… I mean…” she fumbled for words. “I mean the same girls who had threatened me, in an instant befriended me! They think I’m your girlfriend. And I have become quite popular in their group,” she blushed, tucking away a strand of hair. 

“I’m glad to be of help.” 

“Err… if you don’t mind, can you please do it again today? My friends are watching us discreetly from a distance.”

“You mean the kiss?” I couldn’t believe someone asking for a kiss so casually.

She nodded and lowered her eyes. I don’t know what came over me. I kissed her tender lips.

She threw an offended look. With heavy breaths, eyes brimming with tears, she ran away. I berated my impulsive action. 

I didn’t see her for a week. I asked her friend who said that she was sick. I needed to apologize. So, I asked for her address and went over to meet her. She was shocked to see me there. But when I apologized for my behaviour, she calmed down. That was Avni. Her anger never remained for long. Her gentle heart didn’t know to hate anyone. I was slowly getting attracted towards her. 

We met every day. Her parents were orthodox. They never appreciated her friendship with boys. So, we met at secluded places, away from known eyes. I don’t know when our friendship bloomed into love. I never disclosed this to anyone. Not even to you, Aditya. Because this affair wasn’t like the others I had. Avni was a reserved and shy girl. She didn’t wish to be a part of any unwanted gossip. 

It was the annual college festival. I invited her to my hostel room. All the boys were busy watching the evening programme at the campus. We had dinner together. We watched the movie, Titanic and got carried away. Though it wasn’t new for me, I realized late that it was her first time. She grew anxious. In the heat of the moment, we had crossed the line, she felt. Seeing her vexed, I promised that I shall marry her as soon as she finished her college. She was thrilled. I didn’t mean it from my heart. But seeing her happy calmed my nerves.

Vikram paused.

“And then?” Aditya asked. “Is that all?”

After graduation, I left college as I had bagged a job in Mumbai. And then, she never contacted me. I did try calling her…”

A slap landed hard on Vikram’s face. His tooth fell off.

“Liar!” Aditya bellowed. “I shall continue from here. Shortly afterwards, Avni confessed to you that she was pregnant! And you dumped her and escaped.”

“I was shocked,” Vikram said. “I felt trapped. Avni was inconsolable. She insisted on getting married. My parents would’ve disowned me had they known I was doing all this in college. I requested Avni to abort. That was the only solution that I could think of.”

“Did you realize that she was four months pregnant by then? Did you know it was a complicated surgery done at a low cost, dingy and unhygienic clinic where you admitted her before escaping?” Aditya fumed. “You promised her to be around to support her morally and physically. She trusted you blindly, Vikram. And what did you give her in return? A lifetime of agony and pain!”

Vikram was quiet. He had often thought about the night when he had abandoned Avni in that crummy clinic. He had chickened out. He had cheated on her. It was either to face the truth or run away saving his ego. And he had chosen the latter.

“How… how’s Avni?” Vikram asked.

“As if you care!”

“I want to apologize. I haven’t slept peacefully even for a night all these years. Her face dripping in innocence, her cries, the night of abandonment… they haunt me, ripping away my conscience. Even after marriage, I portrayed myself as a flamboyant playboy. Trying to mask my sin, I committed more. I cheated Sneha too. My son hates me.” Vikram took a deep breath. “I need a closure. I need her to pardon me and free me from my guilt.”

Aditya sniggered. “You think that’s easy?”

He was lost in thoughts for a while. Marching from one end to another, Aditya came to a conclusion. 

“Come with me.” He untied Vikram.

“Where to?” Vikram quizzed.

“You want to apologize, right? I’ll take you to Avni.”

Vikram’s eyes shone. 

They both set off in Aditya’s car. Vikram was surprised that Aditya had a car all this time, though he had never mentioned about it. After a good eight hours journey, they reached their destination. 

“We’ve reached Belgaum.”

“Is this where Avni stays?” Vikram peeked out of his car like an excited child. His heart thudded loudly as they took each step outside. It was a small village. Children giggled and played on the road. They stared at Aditya’s bruised face. Some looked on pitifully while some laughed. Vikram smiled.

His smile vanished as they reached a cemetery. Stunned, he noticed a tombstone with the name ‘Avni’ inscribed.

“She’s here. You may apologize.” Aditya looked deep into Vikram’s eyes, as if searching for any traces of genuine remorse and shame.

Vikram knelt down weeping.

“Avni… Avni…”

“She died because of you, Vikram.”

Vikram looked up astonished. 

“You abandoned her that night in a third-class clinic that didn’t have the necessary equipment nor a proper gynaecologist. During surgery, Avni lost a copious amount of blood. They didn’t have a blood bank. She went into coma.”

“How do you know all this?” Vikram interrupted. 

“Because there’s another angle to the story that you aren’t aware of. I loved Avni.”

Vikram looked baffled.

“But it was one-sided, of course. She had all her attention and love for you. But she was secretive about her affair. I could never gather courage to confess my true feelings to her. We were good friends. I used to help her with her studies. So, her parents liked me too. One night, I got a call from Avni. She was at the clinic. She told me everything, except your name.

“Aditya, I’m feeling scared. You are the only friend I have. So, I’m calling you. Please help me.”

“I rushed to the clinic. But by then the damage was done. They denied to acknowledge their mistake. You had paid them well, and that’s all they cared about. I had no other option, but to inform her parents. They were aghast and ashamed. They too refused to accept her. They asked me to abandon her and get on with my life.” Aditya sat cross-legged on the ground.

“But I loved Avni deeply. It wasn’t an infatuation or lust that I had for her,” Aditya looked at Vikram, whose head hung shamefully. “I promised to take care of her. I brought her here to my village. My parents were poor, but were kind. They helped me take care of Avni. After few months, she woke up from coma. I was elated. But she was physically incapable of doing her chores. She was totally dependent on me. She couldn’t speak. Her tears conveyed her feelings. Each day, she repented for trusting you. Her eyes revealed her anguish, anger and helplessness. But I assured her, talked to her. I tried healing her with my words.”

Vikram’s eyes burnt with guilt.

“Years later, one night, Avni spoke. I can’t express how happy I was!”

I can’t thank you enough for what you did for me, Aditya,” she smiled. “Men like you are few. I can’t believe you still love me.” She held my hand. “But I don’t deserve an angel like you. I got punished for trusting a devil like Vikram. I have no regrets. But I killed my unborn baby. God may forgive me, but I’ll never!”

“She cried the whole night. I sat near her comforting her, trying to cheer her up. She slept peacefully that night. But she never woke up. God had shown mercy and miracle the previous night.”

Aditya wiped his eyes.

“That’s when I decided to avenge her death. I wanted to kill you, Vikram. I was ready to be jailed for that,” he seethed in anger. “But seeing your innocent wife and son, I realized that I’m not a murderer like you! But you definitely didn’t deserve the love and trust that Sneha poured on you. I had to evince your true face.”

Vikram rested his head on the tombstone.

“Get lost, Vikram. You’ll never be forgiven. Live the rest of your life with shame and remorse. That’s your retribution.”

Aditya drove away, vowing never to meet again.

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Glossary:

Chachu: Uncle (like father’s brother)

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