May 13, 2012
It was dark. Thick black clouds covered the night sky. Kiran, sitting on an easy chair, glanced at the wall clock - 10 to 10. Only twelve hours to go. Whatever he wanted to do he had to do it within that time. Kiran took a deep breath and leaned back to his chair.
"Tuck…tuck…" the knock on the door disturbed his silence.
"Tuck… tuck…" the knocking continued. Kiran rose up and opened the door. He saw a shabbily dressed woman standing before him. She looked exhausted. His eyes examined her from top to bottom. Uncombed, untied hair, torn clothes … something was wrong with her.
"Does she need help? What help? Money..? Shelter..?" Thoughts started to run in Kiran’s mind.
"Please save me sir, please…" she pleaded with clasped hands."They will kill me." Without another word she ran inside the house. Kiran was perplexed."Am I dreaming?" He couldn’t understand what was happening. He immediately locked the door.
"Something is wrong." He guessed. A woman in the midnight entering his house and hiding to save herself..! Before he could inquire her he heard the knock again.
He opened the door. This time it was a police officer."Did any woman run this way?" he asked. Kiran was stunned for a moment. The helpless, frail face of the woman came to his mind."Who can she be? A thief..? A criminal..? Or..?
"Hello" police snapped his fingers."No…no woman came this way, I have not seen anyone", answered Kiran. The cop left the place.
What was happening? Why did he speak a lie? He couldn’t understand, for all that occupied his mind was the thought of the next day. Then what was this? Whether he was inviting another burden on him?
Slowly he moved towards the room where the woman was hiding. As he entered his eyes fell on the woman lying in the corner. She was deeply asleep. He gazed at her for sometime and moved out of the room and sat on his chair.
The next morning, warm sun rays peeped through the window and woke him up. He looked at the watch, it was 6:18. He had hardly three and half hour in his hand, if he does not do it then..??
He hurriedly sprang up and rushed to the room where the woman was sleeping. He was shocked and couldn’t believe his own eyes; the woman was not there! He searched the whole house, yet didn’t find her. As he was standing there, something struck to his mind. He immediately ran towards the cupboard. Opened it and saw. His briefcase was missing. His equilibrium was being shaken. He was shocked.
"Oh God, no... no...", he knelt and cried loudly in grief."It’s impossible now. I am sorry Velita, I couldn’t save you." Tears welled in his eyes.
Velita and Kiran had married just two years ago. With lot of dreams they were beginning a happy married life, in all its sweetness. All their dreams were shattered, when they came to know that Velita had been diagnosed for terminal Leukemia. She was counting her days. Doctors had almost given up on her.
There was one last hope..! Blood transfusion! But it was risky and highly expensive. Kiran had spent all the money and now he ran short of money. However he managed to get some concession from the hospital. He had collected 75000 and was in need of another 35000 which he was hoping to get from his friend. Now there was no hope. The briefcase containing 75000 was missing. The woman had stolen it.
He got up with a heavy heart and made his way towards hospital. Horrifying news was waiting for him. Velita was no more. She had told good bye to him and to the world. Kiran paused for a while; he was awe struck; tears rolled down from his eyes.
After a while he proceeded to the room where her body was laid. He looked at the frail lifeless body. Her head was covered by the bright red orange veil – a head bald because of the chemotherapy she had received. He ran and kissed the body, hugged it. It was hard for him to bear. He wept aloud beating his breast.
"Whom shall I blame ? God..? My bad luck..? Or that evil woman..? Yes! She snatched away my love from me. How can she do this to me? God will never forgive her..! Never!" There was no end for his grief.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It was almost two years now after the death of Velita. Kiran was trying to forget the bitterness of the past. At the same time he was not sure of his future. It was Monday evening. As the sun went down to sleep, electric light made the city burn brighter. As was his habit Kiran was sipping a glass of beer.
"Tuck… Tuck…" the knock on the door.
"Tuck... tuck…" as he heard it again he was reminded of the similar knock two years ago. That knock had closed all the doors of his life. This time he hesitated to open the door but constant knocking made him to open the door.
As he opened the door for his surprise, the same woman was standing at the doorpost. Her condition was the same as it was two years ago. She pushed him and ran inside the house. No this time he would not leave her, for she had caused a great loss for him. He locked the door and followed her. He pulled her out from the room to the hall and threw her on the floor. Kiran was angry and it was seen on his face.
"How dare you to enter my house and steal money from the cupboard?" he ground his teeth.
"Because of you I lost my wife". He added angrily. The anger, sadness, the pain bottled up for two years was coming out with throbbing intensity."Tell me where my money is?" he gave a loud bang to the table.
"Sir, please don’t be angry with me. It was my mistake. Please listen to me before you decide to do any thing to me", she pleaded.
"We are eight at home; my six children and husband. We live under a tree, for we have no house."
Kiran turned his gaze from her."Is she is trying to play another trick with me?" he was suspicious.
"He is slave to drinks. Every day since our marriage I have become the victim of his drunkenness. He kicks me, slaps me, ridicules me and creates a hell of noise", she showed him the wounds on her body.
"How cruel.." Kiran felt deep within.
"My children who were hungry, they had not eaten for two days. I stole some bread from the shop, they caught me and complained to the police. To save me and my children I entered your house", she explained the incident which occurred two years ago.
"But why did you steal my money? And where has the money gone?" Kiran asked her.
"I had no other choice. I couldn’t see my children suffering; a mother’s heart can’t bear it." She broke off, her eyes moist, and then with even deeper feeling she went on.
"I thought with that money my children and I can live peacefully for sometime. But actually, it was just a fantasy. That day as I reached my tent, my cruel husband pounced on me and snatched the briefcase from me. He spent all that money on drinks and gambling, without giving a single pie to me, to buy food for my children. Two of my children succumbed to hunger and died on my lap." She busted into tears.
"Every year", she continued,"he puts one child in my hands. How can I take care of them? From where shall I provide for them? I have no other option than to steal food for my children’s survival." She sighed.
The anger in Kiran’s eyes turned into tears of compassion. He looked outside the window; his sight fell on the two children, sleeping on the sand kept for construction work.
"Tuck…tuck…"he heard the knock.
"Tuck…tuck…" the knocking continued....