This is a story about a woman who lived with her daughter, her in-laws, her husband and his wife. She is found dead. Who killed her?
“Talk to the family members. Or preferably neighbours right now. Search the house for clues, murder weapon. Who would want to kill this poor lady who can’t even move.” said the police offer to his juniors.
It was another day in the house of Batra. Samir Batra, or Dr Batra as he was better known, a man with a neatly trimmed French beard, fit physique and a tall height began his day with an early morning jog and treated himself to a cup of black coffee on his return. His lovely wife Arya would wake up just when he would be leaving for his clinic. Fair skin, slender but a voluptuous built, she was much younger than her husband. The lack of trace of grey hair on her head was one of the hints. She used to work in a real estate agency, showing the clients new properties and closing deals with them where she met Samir while he was looking for a new place for his clinic. Samir had desired her the moment he saw her. Eventually he poured out his heart to her one evening in a hotel room.
“The thing is… I’m married.”
“And it didn’t occur to you to tell me about this in the last two months!?”
“I wanted to, believe me I did. I tried so many times to just say it to you. I don’t love her.”
“But she is still your wife. Do you have kids too?”
“Yes… A daughter. She’s four. My wife is a lunatic. She has lost her imbalance. She tortures herself to hurt me. I was going to divorce her whether or not you came into my life.”
“I came and you still haven’t filed for divorce. Let alone tell me you were married.”
“Here, these are the papers. I was putting it off for our daughter but I think I have realised that it’s time for me to make you a part of my family.”
With this they hugged and resolved their differences for the night. The next morning Samir walked into his house and placed the divorce papers where the morning newspaper occupied the space.
Aditi was a tall woman, years of abuse had stolen the glow from her face. Wrinkles around her eyes had replaced the twinkle in them and they were swollen throughout the day from excessive crying. She was not fat earlier either, she had even managed to shed all the weight after their daughter was born but in the last one year she had lost more weight than was healthy for her. Her hair had started to turn grey and she refused to wear colour at all, be it her face, hair or clothes.
“Where were you last night?”
“None of your business.”
“It is my business. I’m your wife. Your daughter asks about you.”
“Who knows if she is my daughter. And no, it is not going to be your business from now on.”
“What do you mean? What are these?” Aditi asked, pointing at the papers on the table.
“Divorce papers. Sign them. Keep Mia with you. I don’t want her. But I’m not that cruel either. I’ll send some money every month for maintenance. Thank your goddamn stars.”
“What if I don’t sign them?”
“Then what I would do to Mia and you would make you wish you had listened to me sooner.” threatened Samir, pulling her head back with her hair.
She refused any cooperation, naming several women to discover which one had been the cause of this nail in the coffin.
He slapped her, kicking her to the ground. Her forehead was bleeding and suddenly it was night in the middle of the day.
“How are you feeling now?” Samir’s mother asked.
“Don’t worry, we’re taking good care of Mia. You just concentrate on being well.” added Samir’s sister.
Aditi slowly opened her eyes to the smell of a sterile environment and beeping machines. The doctor walked in after the nursing staff had informed him about Aditi’s conscious state. After the routine pleasantries and asking about her, with a stoic face that seemed to lack emotion, he told her something that changed her life.
“You fell from the stairs and hurt your spinal cord. I’m sorry but you have been paralysed from waist-down. I’m prescribing you medicines and physiotherapy that will help with the pain and probably some movement. We also saw other injury marks on your body during examination. How did you fall from the stairs?”
Aditi had two choices. Either, tell the doctor everything, seek support from police, get justice and make her daughter struggle with her. Or, choose silence and let Samir’s family at least take care of Mia. She knew she was now dependent and immobile for her whole life and going against Samir wouldn’t help her daughter.
“The fall from the stairs was an accident. I tripped and fell. When can I go home?”
“Okay. I will still have to inform the police. You can go home in a couple of days.”
She maintained the same story with police and relieved Samir and her in laws.
Samir and Arya knew they would draw police’s attention for attempt to murder if Samir divorced Aditi to marry Arya. Then, Samir presented Aditi with a proposal in a week after she returned.
“You know you can’t move now and I’m really sorry. But you also know that I’m still young, I have needs that you can’t take care of now. You can’t perform your wifely duties. Who will take care of Mia? My mother and sister can’t do it forever. So, I was thinking… That if I have your permission, I could marry this very nice girl. This way we can all stay together happily. She will take care of you and Mia like your sister. It will be fine. So?”
Aditi knew she was being asked for her permission when in reality she really had no other choice but to agree.
She could not fend for herself or her daughter. She had grown up idolising her parents as a couple, looking for a man like her father that loved and treated her mother with respect. In an arranged match looked for by her parents, she met Samir, who, soon after the marriage showed his true side. He began with verbal abuse, physical abuse followed soon after, he had never been faithful to her and after enduring so much, every time she went to her family for support, they sent her back with assurance that this was normal and compromise is the key.
She acquiesced and soon welcomed Arya into her home as her husband’s wife.
Arya was very supportive. She spent a lot of time with Aditi, helped her with everything, took her on her wheelchair for walks. She really behaved like her sister.
Kriti, however, Samir’s sister was cruel to her. She refused or delayed to help Aditi, insulted and shouted at her and left no instance of abusing her.
“Mr Samir, you do know that marrying someone while you are already married is illegal?” asked the police inspector.
“Yes sir, I know, but you see the condition where I married sir. I needed someone to take care of my home and Aditi couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to leave her in this condition either.”
“How did she become paralysed?”
“She fell from the stairs. It was an accident.”
“You can go now. Don’t leave the town. We’ll call you when needed.”
The inspector instructed to find out about the accident from the hospital. After talking to Aditi’s family and the doctor, the police came to know about the unreported history of domestic violence. Pulling out the phone records, they could trace communication between Arya and Samir three months prior to the accident. They even found out about the divorce papers through the lawyer who prepared them.
Samir broke down quickly during the investigation and admitted to his infidelity and beating Aditi but refused to admit responsibility for trying to killing her, on the stairs or now.
“This gives motive to Samir or Arya or both for the murder. Samir wanted to divorce her but she refused so he pushed her from the stairs. She still survived but he managed to marry Arya. Now her presence still bothered them and so they slit her throat.” the inspector discussed the case with his team.
“Someone came through the window at night and nobody heard anything? Aditi’s throat was slit. Nobody heard a scream? How is it possible?”
“Sir we were sleeping. And the AC makes enough noise. You can see.” answer Samir to the inspector.
“Is there any jewellery or cash missing?”
“No Sir. There was nothing kept in Aditi’s room. All the jewellery and cash is in my mother’s room but none of it is missing.”
“This isn’t a case of robbery then. It is cold blooded murder.”
The next day, Arya went to the police station without invitation. She needed to speak to the inspector without the presence of her family. She told the police about Kriti’s attempt to kill Aditi by suffocating her with a pillow. She told them that over the time they became friends and Aditi had confided in her with this horrifying truth. Kriti was questioned where she admitted that in a moment of frustration she did attempt to kill Aditi but refused to accept the responsibility for the murder.
In the meanwhile, police didn’t negate the possibility of a thief and activated its confidential informants to know about any such person that may have entered the house between 1-2 AM.
“There is one person that has left the area since the day of the murder. He is a regular thief. Right now, he is living with his friend on the outskirts of town.” one of the informants told the inspector.
The police followed the trail and began beating the man before asking any questions.
“Why did you kill her?”
“I am a thief. Why would I kill anyone? I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“We have obtained the murder weapon. We have the proof of your fingerprints in the whole room and the body. We know you did it, we want to know why.”
“I knew the people of this society are wealthy. My motive was to steal some jewellery and cash only. The window was open but the lights were out. I climbed up to the first floor and entered through the window to find a crying woman on a wheelchair. I knew I could get out of there easily by putting a cloth in her mouth so she wouldn’t call for help. She couldn’t run after me anyway. I expected to find shock and fear in her eyes when I entered the room. Instead I saw hope.
Before I asked her to keep quiet, she asked me for something I would never forget. “I want you to kill me.” she said.”
“You want me to believe this nonsense?”
“It is not nonsense. I asked her why and she told me her story.
“My husband is a cruel man. So is his new wife. They’re in the other room. He tried to kill me before so he could marry her, I didn’t die but I’m in this state now. His new wife befriended me, I trusted her only to overhear them today that she had been planning to kill me for weeks, ever since she married my husband. She had hired a man to kill me in the garden but I overslept and didn’t go for a walk. I cannot do anything of my own will. I would at least like to die by my choice. You have two options. This is not the first time you have attempted robbery. Police must know of you. I have seen you and I can give your sketch to the police when you leave this house with cash and valuables. That way, you will be caught and sent to jail. Second choice, you can kill me, I will tell you the exact location of the cash and since no one other than me has seen you, you will walk away free. What do you want to do now?”
I didn’t want to be caught. I tried to reason with her about her life, for her daughter, but she had made up her mind. I wanted to get out of there, even without the money. But she wouldn’t let me… I… I didn’t want to kill her…”
The police charged Samir with domestic violence, encouraging suicide and attempt to murder with Arya and Kriti and the thief with murder. Aditi’s family was aggrieved beyond measure for not taking care of their daughter and took the responsibility of Mia. Mia keeps no contact with her father who is in prison and studies in a boarding school.
Aditi’s wishes of a dream husband were shattered. It was a dream that had come untrue.