They had to break the door down. The smoke was clogging the other windows nearby. Living in an upscale high-rise apartment still has its demerits. It was on live television – the fire from the windows of the 28th floor.
Arun was standing with the police outside, shouting his lungs out. Mother still would not open.
When they could finally turn the door down, he rushed to the place where his father had last breathed. He was not there anymore, atleast not how he had left the body. There were three plastic bags kept where he had initially stabbed the father. The last one was packed loosely enough, showing just enough for people to cover their face with their handkerchiefs. He rushed to the balcony from where the smoke escaped, going straight to national television.
Everyone was watching the same thing – ‘FIRE IN ACE BUSINESSMAN’S HOUSE. MURDER SPECULATED ’
A rolling text scrolled at the bottom – ‘Whereabouts of wife unknown, she had called the police last 45 minutes back with a murder confession.’
Arun saw mother in the last room, on the armchair in the corner – with lights out, the expensive blue lamp hanging near the end of the door, barely affected with the smoke from the master bedroom that had filled the room.
She had put the entire bedroom on fire – the site where her chastity was tested so many times, in front of so many strangers, and in so many ways. She remembered her husband had never spared any effort to prove his voyeuristic capabilities to all these people – who took turns bringing their wives at times as well – you know – to just add to variety.
She turned around when her only son called her by the name, and showered him with a smile, a genuine smile, as she turned around to face him.
“I made sure I chopped him in as many pieces as I could”, she said, as if trying to conjure up a smile. There was no horror in that voice. There was no remorse, no pain, no repentance. There was delectation, a delight in the account.
A fit of silence had struck the room. She had committed no crime, atleast not in the eyes of anyone in there. There was no such doubt. Still, an argument was about to break out.
The firefighters were trying to extinguish the fire while the great Indian middle-class held their breath, sucking whatever drama which could come their way.
“You cannot do this. I was the one who struck him first. If anyone is responsible, it is me. I will not let you do this”, Arun shouted at her, sensing she was in no mood to let him take the fruits of the work he had done.
The trap was laid. He was at the door with the police, with the house locked from inside. There was no way he could convince the police that it was him. The neighbours also had deposed of having seen him wandering in the park around the time that the killing took place. There was no way he could win this fight with her mother. She had played the final trick.
He might have struck the body, but the right to take away that life belonged to her. Nothing else was said.
He sat away, as headlines reported the ‘MOST GRUESOME ACT BY A WOMAN IN THE DECADE’ for the night – playing a 8 second clip of his mother being taken in custody. He saw nicely-combed reporters, half-drunk and half-sleepy, brooding over every tiny detail – of what was told to them, or what they could imagine.
The house was sealed by the police, all important evidence with the plastic bagfuls of body collected and sent away to determine if there was anything they could find from it.
He sat there in the park, in his favourite place once again, perplexed at how the night had turned out. Nothing he had imagined had transpired today. Dawn was almost there – just on the horizons. He stretched his neck, trying to think what to do next. He did not feel like smoking.
He searched for his phone in his pockets. He found a disk drive with a label – ‘So this never dies away! Love – Mom.’ She had somehow slipped it in his pockets before he could even know.
He found a place where he could see it, safe and sound. She had recorded something to give away to her son, before the police took her. It was a recording from the room – of everything she had done.
He watched it over and over again, till noon. Then he stood up, and called his lawyer. “Time to take this story out, where it is worth telling”, he had decided.
It indeed was worth telling. Only to someone who cared. And as it turned out – someone did.