The Third Wheel

The Third Wheel

“Let me die, doctor… pleeassse…,” she bawled, as two attendants held her tightly in place.

The psychiatrist injected a sedative as she slowly drifted to sleep, still murmuring, “kill me!”

Kabir slumped into the chair, sighing in agony. 

“Please don’t give up, Mr. Kabir. She will get the best treatment here,” the doctor comforted him. 

Kabir was submerged in thoughts. The events of the past year gushed in his mind like a tidal wave, that had swept him off guard, transforming his life forever. 
***
A Year Ago: 

“Kabir sir, Varsha Ma’am has asked you to meet her in her cabin,” a peon informed.

“Go, Kabir go!” his colleague sniggered. “Ma’am is waiting for her eye candy!”

“Shut up!” Kabir growled. 

“Come on, Kabir. Don’t pretend as if you haven’t observed her lusty eyes roving over you. She definitely has a serious crush on you, Mr. Hunk,” he chuckled. 

Varsha saw Kabir walking towards her cabin. A six feet tall guy, with a slight stubble, Kabir had an enigmatic persona that could make any female drool. His broad shoulders complemented the well-toned athletic body. The lavender colored full-sleeved shirt hugged his bulging biceps and stretched across his wide chest, shrinking over his muscular torso.

Varsha inhaled sharply. She unhooked the topmost button of her blouse till her cleavage was visible. Kabir noticed this through the glass cabin and ambled apprehensively.

“Ma’am, you called me?” Kabir asked.

“Oh yes, Kabir. I did. Feel free to call me by my name, no formalities, please,” she spoke in a honey-laced voice, as her eyes scanned him from head to toe. “Hope you like this office.”

“Of course, Ma’am, err… Varsha,” Kabir spoke nervously. “It’s been three months here and I love this working environment.”

“Hmm… if you find any problem, please don’t hesitate to approach me,” Varsha bent down low that shifted Kabir’s gaze to exactly where she wanted. She smiled wryly. Embarrassed, he lowered his eyes.

Kabir was getting used to Varsha’s coquettish glances. Her eyes wouldn’t stop chasing him. He worked as a marketing manager at Horizon, a multinational company that was owned by Varsha’s father, Mr. Anant Pai. She was the managing director. The business flourished extremely well, with a turnover of over one hundred million dollars. They had a subsidiary company in Singapore as well.

Varsha had a master’s degree from Harvard Business School, was extremely dynamic, and skyrocketed the business to the next level.

She was a perfect example of beauty with brain, and of course, thriving richness! Her flawless hourglass figure and stunning looks envied other girls. The tall, lean frame with a short, auburn hair complemented an oval face that proudly exhibited her brown almond eyes and a slender nose. No doubt, men swooned over her.

However, Kabir was not one among them. This made her fall head over heel in love with him. Her seductive hints were met with his ice cold attitude. Day by day, she pined for his attention. 

One evening, after work, she surreptitiously followed Kabir’s bike in her car. He stopped his bike near a pharmacy. A pretty young woman crossed the road blushing, and to Varsha’s astonishment, she hugged Kabir, who kissed her cheeks tenderly. She hopped on his bike and they rode off. Varsha was incandescent with rage. She couldn’t sleep that night. Who was that woman?

The next day, she summoned Kabir on the pretext of a business order enquiry. 

“Have lunch with me today,” she said in a commanding tone.

Kabir couldn’t deny. He felt awkward, as he knew his colleagues would mock him behind his back.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” she asked casually while eating.

“No,” he replied.

“Don’t lie. I saw her yesterday on your bike.”

Kabir was astounded. “That’s my wife, Divya. But when did you see us?”

“Wife? Are you married?” Varsha’s eyes widened. She didn’t find it necessary to reply to his question. “Okay, get back to work,” she dismissed him much to his astonishment.

She was restless the whole day. Shouting at the staff and ridiculing Kabir, Varsha found solace temporarily. But her heart bled in despair. I so want him!

The next day, she was extra sweet with Kabir. From sharing lunch and working together, she made sure to spend maximum time with him, all the while trying to seduce him. The following days, she took frequent break from work and drove around the city with Kabir in her fancy sports car. From lavish lunches at Taj to shopping branded accessories for him, Varsha tried every possible bit to impress and lure him with her luxuriance.

“Work hard. Impress the company. And I promise you will reach greater heights soon,” she grinned.

Her trick turned fruitful, as Kabir was slowly getting attracted towards her.

“What am I hearing?” Mr. Pai asked Varsha one day. “You have appointed Kabir to head our new project? Don’t you think he’s inexperienced for this?”

“Papa, he may be inexperienced, but he has the potential, I trust him,” Varsha said.

“I have been hearing a lot of rumours about you both. What are you up to?” Mr. Pai interrogated.

Varsha was quiet.

“I demand an answer. Why don’t you just focus on your work?”

“You can’t judge my capability,” Varsha blasted. “And… and… I love Kabir,” she looked away.

“What? Are you out of your mind?” Mr. Pai thundered. “My daughter is in love with an ordinary middle class ‘nobody’?”

“Papa, I love him. And I wish to marry him. You know me very well. If I want something, I get that, by hook or crook!” Varsha stormed out of the room.

Kabir was elated when he was promoted with a salary hike. Their affair grew stronger day by day.

“My wife has been complaining a lot,” Kabir said one day. “She abhors my closeness with you, Varsha. She has started doubting me. And this leads to unnecessary arguments. I’m so fed up of everything.” He rested his head on her slender shoulders.

“Marry me, Kabir,” Varsha proposed.

Kabir was stunned. “But… but… Divya…,” he stuttered. 

 

“Divorce her,” she demanded. 

“I can’t,” he said. “She is an orphan. My parents love her too much. They will disown me if I leave her.”

“Then kill her!” She hissed. 

Kabir gaped incredulously. Varsha wasn’t joking.

“Come on, Kabir. You love me, don’t you?” She said. “I am going to inherit this business empire very soon. My dad has made a will. I’m his only daughter and naturally all this will come to me. Which means you are going to be the CEO!” 

“But…” Kabir was lost in thoughts. The deal seemed too rosy to refuse.

“Trust me, Kabir,” Varsha whispered into his ears. “This is the only way out for us. Nobody will get to know. I love you too much and I wouldn’t hesitate to kill my own family if situation arises.”

Cold sweat dripped through Kabir’s forehead. He knew Varsha would go to any length to acquire what she had coveted so fiercely.

A foolproof plan was hatched. Divya worked in a pharmacy. One evening, on her way back home, a car hit her two-wheeler from behind. In the dark street, the two-wheeler skidded off to the adjacent dense thicket, that caught fire soon after! No one noticed the car that stealthily sped away. 

Kabir zoomed to Varsha’s duplex apartment, where she awaited him with bated breath.

“Is the job done?” She asked nervously. Kabir nodded.

“Did anyone see you?” 

“No,” he gasped.

Varsha heaved a sigh of relief as she hugged Kabir.

“Now you are all mine.” She kissed his lips.

The next day, Kabir grieved over his wife’s charred body. A hit-and-run case was registered by the police. His fake tears drew sympathy from his family and neighbours. 

Three months later, Kabir moved in with Varsha, much against Mr. Pai’s wish. They soon got married in a register office. Kabir’s parents were still grieving over Divya’s death. They moved back to their ancestral house in their hometown.

“You have brought disgrace to our family, Varsha,” Mr. Pai hollered. “It’s my fault, after all. I have spoilt you badly and fulfilled all your wishes. Being a mother-less child, I have always stood by you for all your nonsense acts. But not anymore,” he paused for a while. “Get out of my house and never come back.”

Varsha was furious. She and Kabir shifted to another apartment that belonged to her. That night, she drank to her heart’s content.

“How dare that old man threaten me? I am fiery Varsha! Not a meek and acquiescent girl, who feeds on leftovers.” She gulped another peg.

“Shall we finish off him too?” She sneered.

“Are you out of your mind? Is this all you can think of?” Kabir put her glass aside and carried her like a child to bed.

“Oh, I love you sooo…” Varsha dozed off.

The next morning, she woke up with a heavy head.

“Do you even remember how many pegs you gulped down yesterday?” Kabir asked.

“I was so upset with dad yesterday that…”

“That you wanted to kill him…” Kabir said, raising his hands up in the air.

Varsha looked bewildered. “Did I actually say that?”

“Don’t you remember?” Kabir shook his head. “Please don’t speak about killing any more. It scares me!”

She cradled his face in her hands. “Promise, I won’t. Can you please excuse me today and attend the meetings for me.”

“No worries, darling. You take rest,” Kabir kissed her forehead. She knew Kabir was hard working and efficient enough to run the business. She remained absent from work as she detested her dad’s contemptuous remarks and mockery. Gradually, she began drowning deep into alcohol addiction.

One night, in a sloshed condition, she ambled to the kitchen to have a glass of water. In the dark, she heard a voice calling her. She swiveled around and froze. Divya stood with blood and burn marks all over her body. Varsha screamed and sprinted out of the kitchen.

“What happened?” Kabir came running. 

“I… I saw her… Divya!” Varsha gasped. 

“What? Where?”

He looked around everywhere. But there was no one.

“You’ve been drinking too much. Now please go to sleep.” Kabir insisted as Varsha looked around petrified. 

“Divya is dead!” he cupped her face. “You are stressed and hence your befuddled mind is cooking up false stories. Please stop scaring me, darling. And take rest.” He kissed her forehead. 

The next day, in office, she heard incoherent mumbling. Startled, she looked around, but couldn’t see anyone. The whispers kept buzzing and she shut her ears. 

“What do you want?” She screamed. “Leave me alone.”

The office staff looked baffled at her. Embarrassed, Varsha left the place.

The murmurings kept ringing in her ears at home too. Varsha cried and howled, but they wouldn’t stop. 

Varsha’s father was fed up of her silly antics. They had huge arguments almost every day.

Very soon, she became a laughing stock in the business world. The impregnable Varsha was reduced to an ineffectual and inane woman.

“Divya wants to kill me, Kabir,” she juddered with fear.

“It’s all your imagination, Varsha,” Kabir tried to reason, but to no avail.

Two days later, Varsha woke up in the morning to see a bruised Kabir.

“What happened to you?” She asked.

Kabir stepped back. “You seriously don’t remember?”

Varsha shook her head.

“You don’t recollect hitting my head with that?” Kabir pointed towards the broken vase.

“I did that?” she cupped her mouth, wide eyed. “How could I?” she berated herself. 

“We had an argument last night. I broke your whiskey bottle. In retaliation, you swung a broken glass on me that hit my forehead.” Kabir touched his wound that was still fresh. “Don’t you remember anything really?”

Varsha stared with a blank expression. 

“I’m going insane, Kabir. Please help me!” She pleaded desperately. 

Gravely concerned, Kabir took her to a psychiatrist. 

“I have done some tests on her,” the doctor said. “It likely seems to be an onset of schizophrenia. I am prescribing some medicines. But keep her completely out of alcohol.”

At night, Varsha poured herself a drink, ignoring Kabir’s pleas.

“It seems there is more trouble in paradise,” she said.

Kabir glanced up sharply, his brows furrowed.

“Dad is mad at me. He is about to change his will, and make his brother’s son the heir to our business and property.” Varsha sipped her drink. “Fortunately for me, his lawyer is an avaricious jerk. He keeps me informed about dad’s plans in return for a few thousand bucks that I toss into his account. This time dad has crossed his limits. And I won’t let that happen,” she seethed, gulping the contents of the glass in one go.

“What are you going to do?” Kabir got up from his seat.

Varsha smirked.

“Don’t do anything stupid, you get that?” Kabir shook her shoulders. 

“Shut up, Kabir. You don’t comprehend a thing, do you?” Varsha hollered, breaking the wine glass into smithereens. “He can’t do that! I have poured in my sweat, and painstakingly brought our company to this level. I am the legal heir. And I shall make sure that it comes to me only.” She staggered from one end of the room to another in deep contemplation. “I have to meet him. Now!”

The next morning, she woke up in her father’s apartment, much to her incredulity. Holding her spinning head, she peered around and stood bewildered. Her dad lay dead in a pool of blood. A knife lay beside and her bloody hands confessed to the crime.

“Dad!” she cried, shaking his lifeless body vigorously.

The housemaid just arrived and screamed in horror. She called Kabir immediately. When Kabir entered, he saw Varsha cowered in terror.

“What have you done?” he cupped his mouth. “Last night, you said you want to settle all issues with your dad. Is this how you have settled?”

“I… I don’t remember a thing, Kabir,” Varsha trembled in fear. “It’s true I hated him. But… but… I can’t believe my insane mind could stoop so low! I’m a bloody murderer!” she bawled.

Kabir stared at her accusingly. Picking up the knife, she slit her veins. As blood gushed all around, indistinct chatter played inside her head. She screamed violently and tore her hair. As the ambulance carried her to the hospital, she kept murmuring, “let me die!”

***

The court convicted Varsha of murdering her father. However, due to her deranged psyche, she was sent for treatment at a mental hospital. 

Kabir could no longer take care of Horizon. He decided to shut down his business in India, as Varsha’s memories made him weak. He decided to relocate to Singapore and take care of the business over there.

***
Present Day: 

“Sir, would you like to have some whiskey?” a flight attendant asked Kabir.

“Sure.”

“And you, Ma’am?”

“Some wine for her,” Kabir smiled and clinked his glass with hers.

Divya smiled. “Poor Varsha. She still thinks I’m dead.”

“She never had an inkling about our ruse,” Kabir chortled. “You know, the first time she made flirtatious advancement towards me, I was taken aback. I tried to dodge her moves. When she tried to woo me with her expensive gifts, I frankly enjoyed the attention.” He shut his eyes as the chilled whiskey ran through his throat. 

“But when she proposed marriage and suggested to kill you, I stood aghast. Again, when she lured me with her father’s will and business empire, I thought why not play the same game with her instead?”

“When you told me about your plan, though I was apprehensive initially, I realized that this was the best way to end our middle-class life,” Divya smiled. “Varsha never realized that the charred body wasn’t mine, but of a stolen cadaver,” she clucked her tongue. “And then the hallucinatory drug that you kept mixing in her drinks did the trick.”

“All thanks to your pharmacist brain.” Kabir hi-fived.

“I loved scaring her in the kitchen,” she guffawed. 

“I too had fun playing records of indistinct chatter remotely in her room and office. And she believed me when I lied to her about assaulting me. The fake blood on my forehead indeed scared her to hell. Poor Varsha! That made it easier to emanate self-doubt when she saw her dad’s dead body. Nobody knows it was I who killed him,” Kabir sniggered. “All I had to do was place an inebriated Varsha next to her father’s dead body, smear some of his blood on her hands, and mark her fingerprints on the knife.”

“Brilliant move!” Divya exclaimed.

“Now that the old man is dead and his daughter is rotting in the mental asylum, I’m the sole beneficiary of their will.” Kabir rested his head on the back of the seat and let out a long sigh.

“Bye, India. Hello, Singapore. Hello, new life!” They cheered in unison as the flight took off.
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One thought on “The Third Wheel

  1. Nice twist in the end, Shilpa. Varsha’s character was so vividly etched. Kudos to your fast paced narrative

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