“Just that he died twice that night,” she always replied.
* * *
“Died twice?” the policeman looked visibly shocked.
“She is in a state of shock. I think you should come back tomorrow for further questioning,” her father calmly led the officer out of the house.
“No mumma, I am in no shock. He died twice. I saw it with my own eyes,” she frantically replied.But her mother too had a look of sympathy on her face as if she silently agreed with her father’s verdict.
Devyani closed her eyes for a few seconds and the scene sprang back to life. It was this she always dreamed of, the part where he wakes up suddenly.
He died twice that night.
* * *
It wasn’t like Rajlakshmi never thought about it. Something as unusual as, “died twice” never escapes your mind. And especially when you have to hear it for years from your only child.
But she could not make anything out of it. Not that she did not try, but everytime she found the reply more impossible than the last one.
“It is only her imagination speaking. Don’t pay attention to it. In fact dismiss it as much as you can,” her husband was always on trying to brush away the subject.
* * *
But it is not just my imagination, Devyani thought. I clearly remember him suddenly getting up and gasping for air. And then minutes later he died, again.
And why is there that photograph in the cupboard? Is mother not wanting to give it all up? And why on earth would I want to be with Azhar? Is there really more about Azhar than meets the eye ?
Devyani felt a strong gust of wind blowing in her face. She could still hear the television in her parents’ room but she also knew that she had no choice but to return.
Of course looking at it from another angle, why did she have no choice?
* * *
Choice. What choice did she have? Married at fifteen and virgin three years down the line, Rajlakshmi’s life was a chequered options of dead ends.
Her husband was gay. She had not known this but had been duly told by the man himself. He was the first one to have given her a choice, “walk away while there is time.”
But some choices come with a heavy price.
She walked up to the cupboard again and extracted the photograph from the file. Was his death a part of the price? She quietly thought, everytime.