Thursday, September 19, 2013

Heads you win, Tails I lose

From the Frankly Spooking outtakes

Raghupathy looked out his window and sighed. He was an Assistant Manager in his company and things looked up; he would even make it Manager in a year's time if he performed at this rate. But now, a dumb mistake in his personal life was about to cost him his job, and family.

It was a one-night stand as far as he was concerned, nothing more. But he hadn't reckoned it to be such a juggernaut, threatening to engulf him and throw him off the cliff. But there it was, and he couldn't ignore it.

As all cliched one-night-stands go, he met Pramodini on a business tour. Her pull was irresistable, and a few drinks later he'd found himself in her bed...not to mention life. Initially the arrangement was convenient and worked well for both. No strings attached, just some good ol' rolling in the hay once a while. But knowing the ways of the world, Raghu hadn't quite prepared himself for the emotional barrage that would eventually emerge. Pramodini wanted more than a fair share of her pie. And Raghupathy didn't have the time, energy or guts to fulfill her wishes. And he couldn't just wish her away. She was after all flesh and blood. And he didn't want to belittle himself and her by offering monetary compensation.

He'd tried it once, subtly though. But she'd seen through it. "Is this about money, huh Raghu? Don't push it, Mister. If it were about money, you'd be a pauper by now. Just be thankful for that."

And they'd left it at that. Would he leave his wife for her? "Pramodini, you know it's impossible," was his argument.

And it went on...and pretty soon, his worst fears started making brief appearances in front of him, like those annoying mosqitoes humming right into your ears. Only these weren't annoying, they were most likely to give him a heart condition. Pramodini threatened to go to his wife, Shilpa.

"This is going to ruin her life too, and you can't sit smug about it. She has a right to know the truth. And if you can't do it, I'll do it."

Shilpa was extremely senstive. And she couldn't bear to take the news. But he knew Pramodini was a determined girl, and one day she'd do it. He pursed his lips and headed back to his desk, thinking. Thinking hard.


It was almost 9 in the night, when he parked his car a couple of streets away and walked briskly to Pramodini's building.

They hugged each other wordlessly as he entered the living room.

He walked to the couch as she followed him. He turned. "Uh, Pam..listen. Can you fix me a drink sweety? I'm all drained out..and, I want to talk."

"Sure," Pramodini said, heading to the fridge. "The usual?" Raghupathy nodded and stretched on the couch, loosening his tie.

"What about you?" He asked seeing a single glass in her hand.

"Me? go on."

In reply he just rose and headed to the fridge himself, fixing her a drink. "You'll need this, baby, trust me," he laughed nervously, handing her the glass and plomping on the couch again. She was still standing.

"Cm'here," He beckoned her by his side, and pulled her to him soon as she sat. She squirmed.

"Pam sweety, I've been thinking know, what you said..and I agree, it's mighty unfair on you.."

She looked on, her face slowly changing expression. But he wasn't noticing. He sipped from his glass and continued.

"I've decided to leave Shilpa."

He was expecting a hug from her. Instead, she looked at him silently and opened her mouth so say something. He waited. Maybe it was too good for her to believe. He'd always maintained that he'd never leave his wife, no matter what. He would take care of Pramodini as well, but would never ever leave his wife. So, maybe this was unexpected.

"I'm serious honey," Raghupathy continued.

Pramodini was still silent, tears slowly peeping from the corners of her eyes.

"Oh, baby," Raghupath tried to pull her to him. She shrank back. .

He hesitated for a minute, then sat back and continued. "Soon as I go home tonight, I'll tell Shilpa everything. And'll be a while before I prepare the divorce papers, know, the works."

He searched her eyes. Something was amiss. She wasn't herself. She didn't seem to be registering what he was saying.

"Baby, are you ok?" He reached out touching her cheek. She hastily wiped her eyes and got up.

"I'm, I'm fine..excuse me...," she muttered and headed to the bathroom.

She was back in a while and sat down. She gulped her drink in one go as he looked on surprised.

"Raghu..I too want to say something. I thought you'd never tell Shilpa about me. And I didn't want this life, not like this anyway. I couldn't take it anymore Raghu, I couldn't wait forever. So I..."

She could never complete the sentence as she gagged on her drink, clutched her throat and keeled over to the carpet. She had a puzzled look on her face as she coughed, trying to throw up the poisonous liquor that seethed down to her system, quickly immobilizing her.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart," Raghupathy said, fighting back tears. "I didn't have a choice. I..."

The small bottle, knocked by his hand, fell to the floor. She looked at it, her sight blurring slowly as she read the words 'Mortein'. She looked up at Raghupathy, trying to mouth the word 'why'. But he just sat there.


Back in the car, he made a quick checklist. He'd taken all the photographs of them together, anything that spoke of his presence in that house, anything that associated her to him and vice versa. He'd made sure no one saw him enter the house. He'd wiped off all the prints. He mentally ticked all these points and leaned back in his car. He felt awful doing this, but he had no choice. Time would heal this. In time he'd get past this and move on. He reminded himself not to repeat this mistake again.

A while later, a strange fear clouded him. Pramodini wanted to say something. Did she have copies of all the evidence? Had she informed someone? She was smart - capable. What if she'd arranged for information to reach the cops somehow. Or even the media. Blackmail. Anything was possible. What if the cops came looking, and found something that gave him away? And then there was the fact that he'd actually killed someone. It wasn't something that you did, as an honest citizen of this country. He couldn't negate the fact that he was now a potential suspect and this could cost him more than just his job and family. But he took a deep breath and crossed his fingers. Let's just get past things one at a time.

The inner ghosts could be handled later.

"But what about the ones outside, Raagu? What about them?" said a voice behind him and he swung back sharply, spraining his neck.

"Shilpa? How the hell...were you inside all the time? When did you..," he tried to speak all at once, words failing him. His mind was reeling. He turned his bewildered eyes on the road for a moment to avoid any accident, and continued to look in the rear view mirror.

Damn, what was wrong with the mirror? He turned it a bit to see clearly. Then his heart almost leapt out of his mouth. He panned the entire back seat with the mirror again. But he couldn't see her.

His hands shook terribly as he turned back to the wheel and realized that she'd reacted to his thought, and not words.

"No point looking in the mirror darling," Shilpa said sadly. Raghupathy stopped the car without looking back.

Then he slowly turned back. There was something wrong with her hairdo. "What happened to your..." he stopped midway. It couldn't be. A portion of her head on the left was...was missing. It was just a big, lumpy, bloody mess.

"It's a bullet wound, sweetheart," Shilpa said smiling sadly. Then she suddenly laughed, before turning sad again.

"It's all over, baby. Pramodini called me this afternoon...and well, I couldn't continue living after hearing it, so..." She pointed sadly at her own wound, her eyes boring his. "I'm sorry..." Her eyes beseeched.

"I'm sorry too," said another voice suddenly. He squinted his eyes. Pramodini suddenly appeared beside Shilpa, a white froth slowly seeping out from a corner of her mouth.

Raghupathy turned back for a second, his head throbbing. He grunted and gasped, trying hard to breathe, but he couldn't. He clutched his chest, and quickly tried to unbutton his shirt. A moment later he slumped on the wheel.



Sudipta Chatterjee said...

As usual - ouch! :)

Aditi Ray said...

heart attack!! :O
moral of the story - be happy with what u hav got. :P

Kanthu said...

That narration. Wow..!!

Wings of Harmony said...

Oh God! *Shivers* I agree with Ray! :D

the little princess said...

serves the two timing creep well!

phatichar said...

Sudipta: Ha ha.. yeah..ouch indeed.

You can say that again! :P

Kanthu: :)

Wings of Harmony: :) Hmm..

Princess: As you sow and all that jazz huh? :)

Keirthana said...

An well deserved end.

Ramya said...

Good one :D kept me very much tied up till the end!

phatichar said...

Keirthana: :)

Ramya: Thank you! :)