Rukmani stormed inside her studio and shut the door with a bang. Her ears were still ringing with the heated words which she had exchanged with Kanta, her mother in law.
Trying to calm herself, Rukmani let her eyes wander across the room. Masks of different colours, sizes and shapes hung on the walls. A renowned mask maker by profession, she had an innate ability to weave out magic with her hands. Her biggest and only admirer in the family was her husband, Ajay.
Her temper started rising again as she thought about how her mother in law kept on plotting tirelessly in an effort to keep her son away from his wife. Kanta loathed Rukmani and wished for her son to marry again.
‘Over my dead body,’ thought Rukmani. With her brows furrowed in concentration, she deftly picked up a pair of scissors and went to work.
Half an hour later, Rukmani sat staring at her creation. It was unlike any other mask which she had made before. The hollow eyes looked deadly above a long protruding nose and the big bloodied mouth seemed to be smiling in anticipation of its next prey.
A playful smile started hovering on her lips. She had finally found a way to cut off the thorn from her life !
Later that night:
A light sleeper, Kanta woke up to a gentle touch on her shoulder.
Her pupils popped out of its sockets in shock and the scream died in her throat as a sharp pain shoot across her chest. Slowly, the head rolled to one side.
In the ensuing silence of the night, the mask was removed carefully and disposed off to the uppermost loft in the studio.
“She died of a heart attack,” announced the doctor. Ajay broke down into sobs whereas Rukmani rejoiced from behind her mask of grief.
2-3 days later:
It was well past midnight. Rukmani was busy sharpening the edge of a half finished mask.
Rukmani started. Barely three feet away, lay the mask which had been instrumental in killing Kanta.
Fear clutched her heart as she helplessly watched the mask slowly make its way towards her!
One month later:
Rukmani placed another paratha on his plate.
“Be a good boy now and finish your breakfast.”
Ajay looked up speculatively at his wife.
“You sound like my mother!”
With her eyes downcast and lips curved slightly at the corners, Rukmani stole a glance at the studio.
The murderer was locked away forever, amongst her own kin!
Ajay was working late at night when he heard a moan.
Curious, he treaded towards the source and found himself standing in front of the closed studio.
He reached into his pockets for the spare key.
Inside, the killer mask stopped rolling and watched the door open.
“Ah, my darling! Finally we can live together in peace.”
Ajay stood paralysed with fear as he saw the mask walk slowly towards him!
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