Thunder rumbled at a distance and lightning stuck the sky. Leaning her head against the clammy window, Sudha stared at the garlanded photo frame. A pit formed in her stomach and an empty sensation overpowered her. Her eyes tried to restrain those tiny beads while a wry smile escaped her lips. The brackets around her eyes deepened as something cold stirred within her. The walls still exhaled flavours of warmth and joy. Yet nothing remained the same. Suppressing the gamut of emotions augmenting within her, she walked to the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face. A blend of tears and water trickled down her face. She felt like someone was strangling her neck when her daughter-in-law entered the room and said, “Maa, the guests would be arriving soon.”
Sudha nodded. An eerie sensation gripped her and she let it pass. It was time to attend the family dinner, similar to the one that was held the previous year. Through the door that was left ajar, she noticed a hurricane of activity in the living room. Everything was the same yet different. Everyone who had graced the occasion the previous year was present except for one. A dozen memories flashed before her and her eyes welled up. Regaining her composure, she entered the living room.
With a subtle smile, she greeted the guests and ushered them to the dining room. The dining table was lined with a variety of delicacies that she and her daughter-in-law had painstakingly prepared. Everything came back to her. It all seemed like a deja vu. Her daughter-in-law was filling the porcelain bowls with milk pudding. Her heart beat faster and she could hear her brain click. Her hands trembled as she held the bowl. Pictures of her husband clutching his chest and gasping for breath while the guests stood watching him helplessly formed before her. Like a bird trapped in a net, he had grappled before giving up.
The sight of his soul fluttering in the air helped in dwindling the rage in her heart. The love she once felt for him had burnt to ashes. Everything they built together was a lie. A gory revelation had disrupted their hunky-dory life. A week before the family dinner, Sudha had bumped into her sister’s colleague. An interesting conversation brewed over coffee and he had unintentionally revealed to her that her sister’s death wasn’t an accident. Sudha’s husband had murdered her in cold blood. She knew that her sister was working on a case but not once did she picture her husband as a perpetrator.
Justice was delayed but it had to be served. The pudding that was prepared with dollops of hatred and laced with a poison that emulated cardiac arrest had done the trick. Since he was a chronic cardiac patient, his death didn’t raise any eyebrows.
‘He deserved to rot in hell,’ she thought and a content sigh escaped her lips while she ate the pudding in peace.
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