Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Dying Twice

“I decided that it wasn’t worth it and killed her.” Suvansh said.

“WHAT!” Julia screamed.

“Don’t scream Julia.” Suvansh said putting a finger in his ear pretending that his ears were hurting.

“How can you kill her?” Julia said, now crying. Suvansh took out a handkerchief from his pocket and gave it to Julia. She took it and dabbed her eyes. The tears didn’t stop however.

“I told you, it wasn’t worth it.” Suvansh took out his phone and didn’t look at Julia. The accusation in her eyes wasn’t something that he was ready to face. He had known that he would be facing this since Neha died. He had practiced this in front of mirror a hundred times to ensure that he could say the right words when the time came. Unfortunately, now that he was in front of Julia, he faltered. He was less scared of the police and courts than he was of Julia. Julia — his daughter, who was almost 12 years old now, had asked her this question multiple times but he had avoided it for long. Today, he finally caved.

“Please leave me alone.” Julia said and ran away from him towards her room. Suvansh called after her but she closed her door and he could hear her crying through the door. He knocked the door a couple of times but gave up after some time. He had always known that it would be a tough day for him when she found out that her mother didn’t die a natural death. Worse, he was responsible for that. He hoped that she would get over it.

Suvansh went back to his room and tried to remember the fateful night. He could feel the stub of the gun in his hand and the smell of smoke from the barrel of the gun. He wished that he could take time back and change everything to the way they were before he found out Neha was cheating on him.

Suvansh had came back home early that day to be with her two year old daughter. Instead of finding Julia with Neha, he found her with a babysitter. He wished he had not doubted his wife then. Instead of taking this casually, he called her to find where she was. Not knowing that Suvansh was home, Neha told him that she was with Julia. He waited the whole day for Neha to come just before Suvansh’s daily returning time. That night, Neha broke down and confessed to a six months long relationship she had with Abhimanyu — a fashion designer who lived in the same building.

Suvansh wished now that he didn’t get a licensed gun.

Before Suvansh knew what he was doing, he took the gun out and went after Abhimanyu. Neha went after Suvansh, no doubt in Suvansh’s mind, to protect Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu opened the door and Suvansh shot at him. Abhimanyu was saved partly by his quick reflexes and partly by Suvansh’s shaking hands. Abhimanyu jumped on Suvansh and grabbed the gun and the two began to scuffle for the gun. Suvansh pushed Abhimanyu towards the sofa but Abhimanyu pulled Suvansh with himself. Suvansh lost his balance and Abhimanyu took advantage and kicked Suvansh in the stomach. Suvansh bent due to the force and dropped the gun. Abhimanyu grabbed the gun and shot at Suvansh.

Neha had entered the house along with Suvansh but she was just a by-stander in the fight that was happening in front of her. She screamed when Abhimanyu kicked Suvansh. When Abhimanyu shot at Suvansh, everything went slow for Neha. She felt herself flinging towards Suvansh and the next thing she knew was a searing pain in her chest. She looked down and saw blood oozing out the punctured wound.

Abhimanyu ran from the house leaving Suvansh holding his wife in his hands as she bled to death. Everything became a blur to Suvansh after that. He called for help, someone came and took them both to the hospital. Suvansh felt that he came back to senses after hours when doctors told him that Neha was in a coma.

“When will she be ok?” Suvansh asked. Doctors looked at him sympathetically and squeezed his shoulder without giving any committal response.

He could never bring himself up to tell all this to her daughter. For the past ten years, she had lived with her comatose mother who was shot by an evil man and her father whom she had only seen depressed, sad and working. Suvansh was left with strands that day and a daughter whom he wanted to love and take care of. Unfortunately, these things were not enough to pay the medical expenses of his comatose wife and his daughter’s school tuition. His wife had died 10 years ago but he had hoped that he could save Julia’s mother.

He had to make a choice — to pull the plug on his wife or hamper her daughter’s education.

He knew he had made the right decision; Neha would have wanted the same. He just wished he could explain all this to her daughter.