Friday, March 21, 2014

Lady in Black - Finale

Source: www.sareedreams.com
Read Part 1 Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 if you haven't already!

The house was submerged in a stillness it had never known before. Ramesh and Komal kept exchanging nervous glances each time Sonia was around… Sonia, she had changed. She looked empty all the time, empty of feelings and emotions, empty of tears and hunger. All she did was lock herself up in her room all day.

They were worried no doubt. But their seemingly modern mind held them back from calling in a doctor. They felt it was just some strain Sonia had which was causing these reactions. After much consideration, they decided to give it some more time before they looked out for external help. Maybe things would sort out and Sonia would get out of it. All she needed was some time… They tried to convince and console themselves, but somewhere Ramesh knew this wasn't over yet.

It had been a quiet week thus far, Komal had worked from home to keep an eye on Sonia but she had to leave for Mumbai that weekend. Sonia’s break was also coming to an end.

Saturday rose bright and sunny. Not able to stay at home all day anymore, Ramesh and Komal had to step out to get unattended chores done. Skeptical about leaving Sonia alone, Ramesh asked the domestic help to stay over until they returned.

The morning was passing by peacefully, thought Ramesh. He was glad he was being proven wrong; things were indeed inching back to normal. Happy and satisfied he decided to do a takeaway from Dominos, the veggie deluxe pizza – Sonia’s favourite. He placed the order and just as he was paying the bill, his phone rang. Recognizing the home number, his heart skipped a beat as he picked up the call.

Before he could speak, their maid burst into tears on the phone. “Anna, please come home, Kutti Ma will kill me, please Anna, please come home” she screamed between sobs. Dropping everything Ramesh rushed out of the store, ignoring the shouts he heard from behind asking him to pay.

Komal was waiting in the car when she saw Ramesh run towards her. The expression on his face told her that something had happened back home. Without uttering a word Ramesh got into the car and sped towards their house.

Within ten minutes they were home. As they parked the car, they could hear a scream and a loud voice boom through the house. Both rushed towards the main door, quickly unlocked it and dashed inside. The scene that met their eyes in the kitchen was ghastly to say the least. Their domestic help was crouching on the floor with scratches over her face and a deep gash on her hand bleeding profusely. Sonia stood trembling in a corner with a kitchen knife in her hand, staring with a murderous look at the help and yelling “I will not take it anymore Durga; you have to go… you have to go!”

Ramesh quickly ran towards Sonia and gently took the knife out of her hand and held her tight, patting her head and quieting her down. Komal had rushed to the maid and was now attending to her gash. Fortunately the cut wasn't deep enough to require medical attention. It would heal in a matter of days. It was however quite a price to pay for wearing a black sari.

After much consoling, both the maid and Sonia had quietened down. Ramesh dropped the maid home, requesting her to keep mum about the incident while Komal put Sonia to bed.

Ramesh returned to find Komal sitting at the dining table, ready with two mugs of steaming hot coffee. She had cleared the mess in the kitchen while he was gone. Sitting down, he took a few sips as they sat in silence, both lost in their own thoughts.

“Ramesh, I think it’s time we took Sonia to see a doctor” Her voice quivered as she spoke, at the same time she sounded convinced of what she was saying.

He took a long pause while he gave it a thought. Frankly there was not much to think about. Komal was right. The matter had gone out of their hands. It probably had weeks ago.

“I’ll talk to Subbu and get a reference, he would know someone” Saying that he picked up his cell phone and made the call. An hour after his call, the doorbell rang. Dr. Rajashekhar and Mr. Subramanian stood at the door. As promised they were there within the hour.

Hurriedly he exchanged hellos and guided Dr. Rajashekhar to Sonia’s room. He had already spent a good half hour with her, explaining to her the need to see the doctor. She had seemed to understand, her lowered head and stooped shoulders told him that she had resigned to her fate.

Komal and Ramesh had been pacing the corridor outside, waiting. It was over an hour since Dr. Rajashekhar had gone into the room. Mr. Subramanian had already left. They looked at the clock and began debating whether they should knock on the door just when they heard it click open. Without saying a word Dr. Rajashekhar stepped out, motioning them to be quiet and asked them to follow him into the living room. Once seated, he turned to them and said “I have sedated her for now; she will sleep peacefully through the night and hopefully will not remember much of what transpired today but…” He looked at both parents, focusing on one and then the other. He could see the genuine love for Sonia in their eyes.
“But what Doctor? Will she be fine? What is wrong with her?” asked a worried Ramesh.
“There is nothing worrying about her medical condition. I suppose the legend had a deep impact on her and that led her to imagine the Lady in Black everywhere around, made her forget her own parents and make an attempt on the maid’s life. The only problem with her is that she is quite disturbed.”
“Having said that” he continued “I think it would help her a lot if she were to be away from this house for a bit. It will help take her mind off the painting and resume a normal life. How you plan on doing that is entirely up to you.” With that, he explained the medication schedule to them and let himself out of the house.
“What do we do now?” Wondered Komal. “We have just moved here, finding a place now will take time. But what about Sonia? How do we help her?”
“Relax; let me give this a thought. We’ll have it all sorted out by morning. Let’s just be glad that she is fine, there is nothing adversely wrong with our baby” Ramesh gave Komal a hug and retired to the library. The place where he could put his mind to rest and think. 

Ramesh had confined himself to the library for most of the night, calling it a day only at dawn. When he got to their bedroom he noticed Komal was not around. Instinctively he peeped into Sonia’s room and found both mother and daughter sleeping in each other’s arms.

Saturday finally passed by and Sunday rose. It was a late morning for all three. Sonia had decided to stay in bed, while Komal fixed some breakfast for all of them.
“I think I have a solution to this” Ramesh spoke hesitantly, knowing there was no right or wrong time to have this discussion which had been on top of their minds all night. When Komal did not reply he continued.“How about enrolling Sonia in a boarding school? It is just 3 months into the new academic year, I am sure we will find a good school not too far from here. I hear they have a prestigious school in Ooty, I can try and get hold of some contacts there. She could come home during the holidays but it will give her the space she needs. Right now it would take a toll on your health if we make a move again so once our baby arrives; we can look for a new place. What do you think?” He slowly looked up; not knowing what Komal’s reaction would be on this suggestion.

She was twitching her brow, Ramesh knew that meant she was giving his idea a thought. They had their breakfast silently, and only when they cleared the table did she speak. “I really don’t like the idea of keeping Sonia away from us, isn’t that why we hesitated to go to a doctor in the first place?” she asked dolefully. He fully understood her plight but he knew this was the right way ahead.
“Think about the new baby? Would you want to continue like this and have a dysfunctional family? Is that what you want?” he asked her gently.

Komal winced when he mentioned the word dysfunctional. No, that was not what she wanted. Never. She turned to him with tears brimming in her eyes and said “I guess you are right, this is probably the right way ahead…. But let’s speak to Sonia together about it. Okay?”

As he got up to make a few calls and get in touch with Mr. Subramanian, Komal reached out and held his hand. “Thanks for everything Ramesh. You have been a wonderful husband but an even better father. That too to a daughter who is not yours.” She held him tight and sobbed uncontrollably

* * *


Six months had gone by. Sonia was well settled in Ooty and there had been no complaints about her from the school. In fact she had begun to flourish and had made new friends as well. There had been no untoward incidents after that stormy Saturday. They had found a new maid who would also double up as a Nanny once the baby arrived.

Komal had given birth to a bonny baby girl and they were coming home from the hospital. The baby had already swept Ramesh off his feet and had him wrapped around her little finger. Ramesh had given the maid the day off, he wanted to decorate the house on his own, without any help. Decorate the house to welcome his wife and the baby. Their baby.

He wanted to do everything. Put up the balloon and the streamers. Light the “Welcome Home” cake that he had specially ordered for the occasion. But before all of that he had an important task to do.

He picked up his tool kit and walked up to the landing. Very cleverly he unhinged the painting from the wall and took it down. The painting that wouldn't budge was brought down in minutes. “You have been such a darling, had it not been for you, I wouldn't have achieved my dream today. My dream of having my family to myself – without any outsiders”. He lovingly ran his hand over the Lady in Black and carefully placed her in a bag.

Legend indeed, he thought as he fixed himself a cup of coffee and relaxed in his armchair. He had the 'Legend' planned right from the day he had first visited Chennai after his promotion. Just a few days before he had got the news that they were expecting. Finally, he had thought. Finally he would have his own child. Finally he could put an end to the facade he had built all these years calling Komal’s child from her first marriage his own. The only reason he had done so was because they had never managed to conceive. And when they did, he no longer wanted Sonia in his life. In their life. He had to find a way to keep her out, at least at a distance so that she would not be a part of their immediate world. But the problem was Komal, she loved her daughter to pieces and would never agree to part with her. He had to come up with a plan such that Komal would be forced to keep her away without having any reason to have a fallout with him.

He remembered that day when he had decided to go house hunting in Chennai while Komal and Sonia were still in Mumbai winding up the house. He had thought he would do a preliminary check and shortlist a few houses. But when he came across this bungalow where the previous owners had left behind a painting, his mind worked overtime and he conjured this plan. That the house matched Komal’s idea of a dream home was an added bonus.

He hired a group of struggling actors to make the whole drama appear as real as possible. Lalitha, Subbu, the maid from the 'maid agency' and the domestic help… all did a fantastic job, he thought proudly. He had known earlier that the neighbours in that area were not comfortable with non-Tamilians entering their neighbourhood, he had used their hostility to add to the story. Always making it a point to be the one reaching out to the neighbours and local vendors for anything they needed. He knew that convincing Komal that the painting couldn't be moved, would be an easy task. She placed blind faith in him and her trips to Mumbai had her busy all the time. She wouldn't pay much attention to it.

Once Subbu had planted the legend in Sonia’s mind, he got Lalitha to drape herself in a black Sari and sashay around Sonia first near the kitchen back door, then in the garden. Lalitha even went to the extent of climbing the mogra tree next to Sonia’s window. When Sonia only seemed shaken by the sighting, he himself slashed all the photographs on the wall; he knew that would spook her out a bit. He had marveled at the unexpected bonus his plan got when Komal had worn a black suit; she had unknowingly batted for him so well. He always took care to ensure he never went beyond a certain degree; all he wanted to do was scare her till she was visibly disturbed. The final act was the maid draping herself in a black sari that fateful Saturday. Before they returned home, she had done a god job with marking the bruises and cuts but gone overboard with the gash. He knew she would charge him more for that extra drama. She had then got Sonia cornered in the Kitchen.

Oh it had been a fool-proof plan indeed. The finale had Dr. Rajashekar, another actor step in and give his 'medical advice'. That was enough. He had both Mother and Daughter fall for it and he knew he could now send Sonia away. He had already spoken to the boarding school and worked out a seat for her. So getting her to move there had been a piece of cake. After that, Komal had been so busy with her pregnancy that she did not notice that Mr. Subramanian never visited them again.

He would have to deal with Sonia’s visits during the holidays but he could figure something out when he had to cross that bridge, he thought angrily. Ramesh had never taken a liking for Sonia but he had always been good at putting on the act of a loving father. The same good father who wanted the best for his elder daughter! He thought, a wicked laugh escaping him.

If Komal noticed the absence of the painting, he would make up an excuse about how he got some henchmen to take the painting down while she was at the hospital and they would both crib a bit about how Mr. Subramanian’s paranoia had affected Sonia. She probably would suggest bringing Sonia back home, but he could handle that. Getting Sonia out was the only bottleneck he had ever had. He would think of ways to keep her away.

The doorbell rang and he pushed all thoughts out of his mind. His family had finally come home. He rushed out to open the door, tearing up and crumbling each piece of the Lady in Black and dumping her in the dustbin. Her purpose had been served.

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

80 comments:

  1. Well well well...what have we here now. I'm going to personally deliver my feedback Seeta ji :) A job well done. Kudos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have already chatted about this and more :) Thanks for being my inspiration Sid!

      Delete
  2. goodness!! What a story!!
    how mean and calculating he was!! Poor Kid! :(

    Awesome Seeta!! Loved all 5 parts and I'm glad I read it in one go! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) Thanks Pixie, I guess reading them in one go meant no nail biting for you

      Delete
  3. Oh my God! I never expected this :) Well done!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When veteran bloggers say that it feels rather good :)

      Delete
  4. Good job Seeta on the story. Really liked the way you put it all together. Hope to read more stories in your blog soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Anjali.. will hope to give you'll some more :)

      Delete
  5. Such an awesome twist. It was fabulous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was wondering if people would like the twist... :)

      Delete
  6. Brilliant.... How unscrupulous a mind can be.... And full marks to you for portraying this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Glad that it was completely opposite to the usual fare, completely unexpected! Now you've spoiled us and we expect more such stories :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hehehehe, now you have me biting my nails wondering what to write next :P

      Delete
  8. Wow.... Very unexpected twist...... Awesome...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh wow, I didn't see that ending coming at all. Speaks volumes for how well you conceived, nurtured and developed the narrative in your mind before you put fingers to keyboard. You sure do have a good knack for fiction Seeta, and you surely should try writing fiction more often....

    Loved the story, all parts of it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jairam.. means a lot, a lot, a lot to me :) yeah I did conceive the thought when I began writing it, kinda had the ending in mind as well. I'll try to write more I promise.

      Delete
  10. That was awesome. The end was totally unexpected and still it was not a random Jack out of the box. It was completely convincing. Across the story some things did look quite odd and now everything falls in place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :) You know how much it means that coming from you. Yeah I was hoping some of the things wouldn't seem too odd, but I guess I couldn't hide it from an experienced writer :)

      Delete
  11. I missed one part but read that too! Absorbing story narrated beautifully!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alka, meant a lot to me :)

      Delete
  12. I feel sorry for Komal in having such an evil minded wicked man for her husband.
    I shudder at the thought that to such extremes a man would go to throw out a trusting and young girl.
    The story was however riveting but could be abridged a little.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sir. It was a dark character that I sketched out, wanted to make it a bit different from the rest. I had wanted to detail out without making the story sound abrupt, I guess it got a tad bit long in the process.. will keep your feedback in mind for sure :)

      Delete
  13. Loved the climax :) totally unexpected :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lovely piece of work, Seeta. I never ever imagined that the story would move in this direction. You must get this one published, Seeta. Hats off to your imagination and story-telling skills.

    Bravo.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Susan :) I'll have to edit it a bit and see if anyone is ready to give it a look.

      Delete
  16. An unexpected twist...good one Seeta.Totally wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. That was a wonderful twist - totally unexpected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Suresh, glad you liked it.

      Delete
  18. Loved it completely, Seeta! The climax was fabulous. The twist was absolutely unforeseeable. Seriously great job! What I loved it that you brought the tale back to reality. You neatly tied everything in the narrative and gave the tale the best ending. What a fantastic story this was. And yes, do write the fiction pieces more. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That means a ton to me Rachna! :) And you totally got what I wanted.. to bring it back to reality :). Yup will try my hand at Fiction more often now, hopefully should be able to live up to it.

      Delete
  19. As everyone has already said Seeta, the climax was very unexpected. I'm glad I read it all in one go. It would have been frustrating to wait for parts to unfold.

    The narrative was smooth and well paced. Kudos to you!

    Dagny

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dagny :) Yeah, i think those who read it in one go enjoyed it more.

      Delete
  20. Awesome Seeta. Scary and thrilling.. I doubt if I will able to sleep tonight.. Just one thing though I personally felt u could have ended with another twist.. The door bell rings.. Ramesh opens the door and Durga waiting outside.. Neverthless a top notch attempt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehehe.. thanks :) Well I wanted to give it a twist of reality but your suggestion makes me think you should have written this.. what a thought I say! :)

      Delete
  21. An unexpected ending for sure. An amazing short fiction. Enjoyed reading it and hope to read more Seeta :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ash, yup hope to churn out more :)

      Delete
  22. That was an unexpected,precisely why I loved it. Well done, Seeta. You kept us all hooked till the very end

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yippiiee.. so glad I could achieve that :) Thanks Purba!

      Delete
  23. HMM. Never thought it would end this way. Why do all this when all he had to do was enlarge his heart a bit :( Sad and yet, Sonia was also better off staying happy in a new surrounding and the mother & baby, happy in their oblivion. I guess, a solution for all concerned even though it was a mean, scary and a vicious plan by that man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww Poornima...It's meant to be a story, dont fret over it.. I am sure you wont see a Ramesh in reality... :)

      Delete
  24. Now that's a "Master piece"
    great job ma'am :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. That twist in the tale always gets me in your stories. The climax doesn't smash into you as you expect it to, instead sneakily comes up on you and "gently puts the knife away". Brilliant work here. Was waiting to read this at one shot and loved every moment of it. Scares yu in parts, dares you in other parts, the plot is always racing just out of the reach of your thoughts, keeping the suspense going till the brilliant denouement. "Yeh Dil Maaange More"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have been eagerly waiting for you to read this and you know that :) Wanted to dabble with a tried and tested genre to start with, hope to explore newer areas now :)

      Delete
  26. What a twist! Really. And what a great actor this man must have been all these years! A very interesting story, and at the same time makes you think about the extent to which someone with a calculating mind can go to get what they want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, that's precisely the image I wanted to paint of Ramesh :)

      Delete
  27. My God! That was a perfectly narrated story. And about the story itself, I guess that is one big reason many widows or divorcees are reluctant to get into a second relationship. I was so engrossed in the story that I had almost wanted to pick up a knife myself and stab Ramesh non-stop. Brilliant Seeta! Just brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rekha, thanks a ton, that means a lot :) And you are so right, it is probably the prime reason why second marriages are looked at with apprehension. Hehehe, if you felt that about Ramesh, I think I achieved what I had set out to do :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Fantastic. Amazing. Three Cheers for you...
    Jai ho Seetaji.
    ...shabab khan

    ReplyDelete
  30. How I wish the new baby dies in his arms! I know I'm not a generous person and I really wish that to happen to such people in real life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! That would be rather mean to think right? Why victimize the baby for what Ramesh thinks or does? The baby had nothing to do with right?

      Delete
    2. There's something called collateral damage :)

      Delete
    3. Agreed there always is, but it does not mean we wish such damage onto innocents right? :) Then there will be no difference between a Ramesh and us...

      Delete
    4. Seeta, is everything always black and white? Aren't there different shades of grey, the shades that makes each one of us different? :) Also, is always wishing means implementing? :)

      Delete
  31. Conniving father & hubby! How people can carry off being fake & yet earn kudos! Some people sure know how to pull off dramas in style :)
    And ehere, we were so scared about 'Durga' - the ghost :)
    Great work, Seeta!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anita! Glad I could bring that effect in for you :)

      Delete
  32. Just one question, after reading all the parts...whose photograph is that...the lady in black which is featured in all the parts of the story ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found it online (source mentioned in the caption)... it so happened that it matched the description I had in mind for the lady :)

      Delete
    2. Nicely shared and very well weaved in.

      Delete
  33. My my.. Sorry for being late.. but thats what i've been missing.. Read 3 parts but then, got busy with regular chores to complete the last 2.. Always had this in my to do list ! Finally read again all 3 plus 2 ! Now, i am sure, i'll get the signed copy of your first published book soon ! Awesome it is, made my day ! :) Kudos..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha... no idea about that dude.. hopefully some day :)

      Delete
  34. Seeta, came here from Aarthy's blog and have been spending the last half hr here reading all the parts of this story. I've nothing more to add apart from what all the readers here have to say. An extremely well-woven, tight and gripping story. The spook had me wondering if its the same "ghost into human" story but you gave it a fantastic twist in the end. Glad to have found your blog :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Uma, I think I missed this comment! Glad you liked it :)

      Delete
  35. Wonderful job done Seeta...simply love the twist !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mani, glad you enjoyed the read :)

      Delete
  36. I loved the story Seeta and I read all the parts in one go. Extremely well-written and the ending was definitely unexpected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes reading it in one go was a good idea :) Long time gal, where have you been?

      Delete
  37. The last chapter takes all the credit...Kudos Seeta

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...