She sat in the Starbucks café, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood-stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.
Too wrapped up in her own thoughts to really care, it was perhaps the very first time that she had not sent back her coffee disdainfully saying that it was too cold. She sipped her lukewarm coffee, sugar forgotten too, and the flavour did nothing to improve or, for that matter, mar her current pensive state. Waiters appeared every now and then and dutifully asked, ‘Madam would you like something else’, but that was totally lost on her and after a point the waiters stopped approaching her and left her to just stare out of the window. Either they were used to customers like her who used the café as a cell for seclusion or they were slightly intimidated by this blue-clad lady or they didn’t have many customers streaming in at that time of the day to care. Perhaps one more self-absorbed nutcase was not too tough to handle! Whatever be the case, she did as a matter of fact, cut rather a striking figure. Clad from head to toe in a beautiful blue, the shade of the sky on a cloudy afternoon, she sat, immaculate in her attire and personality. Not slim enough to be a real beauty but with just the right persona to be extremely attractive even to those getting in the line of her stare on the other side of the window. She, of course, remained completely oblivious to the effect she was having on passersby.
Life outside the window seemed to move on at its regular pace, nothing changed or even if it did, she remained oblivious to that too. Whatever action was happening was all in her head. Her thoughts were racing and so was her pulse, though she maintained a composed façade on the outside. Years of training you see! Born into a truly royal family where breeding and etiquette was considered to be above all else, emotions, when allowed an outlet, were always carefully wrapped up in a kind of stony blankness. And after years of growing up with this ingrained into her, she was unable to express her emotions even if she genuinely wanted to give vent to them.
Not that she wanted to emote right now. All she felt was an iciness that seemed to pervade her entire senses, dulling her to a point after which she was too lethargic to even try thinking or feeling.
The blue silk scarf slowly slid to the ground, the sudden spurt of fresh air from the open café door edging it to do so. She watched the scarf slowly but gracefully slide down and it was the sheer beauty of that minute action that suddenly woke her out of her thoughts exile. Roused out of her state suddenly, she was unsure of what needed her more urgent attention – the now exposed blood stained knife or the thoughts that had come out of exile.
In a swift but graceful bend of her torso, she picked up the scarf and replaced it in its original “I am guarding the perpetrator” position. But where her thoughts were concerned, the spell had broken.
She bent forward again to pick up the cup, the coffee now stone cold but just as insipid as it had been before. As she took a long sip to bring her back to reality, the cold, insipid flavour hit her senses only too realistically and she grimaced. With one swift nod of her head she signalled for another fresh brew while she began to mentally steady herself.
She had done what she had done and there was no going back now. Try as she might, she could not change or undo any of it. Funnily enough, she was not even sure she wanted to! Jolt or no jolt, crime or no crime, was this not what she had dreamt of for all these years. All the years that she had lived with that sodden empty feeling that left the same iciness inside her heart as it did on her otherwise beautiful face. The once joyful vibrancy that had filled her life was gone. The slate was wiped clean and something far more sordid had replaced it. Had she not lived with that pain too? Well, too late for questions or recriminations or for anything at all!
After all, the deed had been done. He was gone. No wiping of slates on that count at least!
She let her thoughts flutter once again, not into an uncontrollable exile this time, but a more deliberate effort to remember. And remember she did!
- The pain
- The fear
- The emptiness
- The helplessness
- The loneliness
- The horror
- The ………
Oh well, all words now, empty meaningless words. One would think that thinking of the adjective would rouse similar feelings, but oddly enough, they did not. Perhaps it was that time at last to add one more word to that list – the RELIEF!
She shook with silent mirth. Her tiny but attractive bosom heaved with the sudden change in emotions. Odd that she could laugh like this, with a blood stained knife beside her, a constant reminder of her deed, she thought. And the thought just made her laugh out harder this time.
Seeing some life in her corner, a waiter dutifully made an appearance again. “Madam would you like something else?” She looked up at him and laughed even harder. Totally taken aback and quite hurt as he thought that he was the source of her amusement, the waiter backed away mumbling something.
The few others in the café looked up to see what all this was about, found nothing gruesome or exciting enough and promptly went back to their cups and plates and lives. Meanwhile, she went on laughing.
Years of emotions, some suppressed and some forgotten, had found an outlet at last. And she just let herself go. The relief she was feeling inside was tremendous. Cliché or not, it was like a floodgate that had been opened after centuries! Slowly she started connecting with all her memories, one by one, as if turning life page by page with a well-manicured hand.
What was it that had made her notice him in the first place? The face full of life that was such a contrast to her own schooled stoniness? Or the fact that every move of his body was spontaneous, with no thought of before and after? Opposites truly do attract! With that feeling of awe she had placed herself entirely at his mercy and he, in his place, was well aware of who was in control now. Royal blood and all that jazz flew out the window. There was only the controller and the controlled. And so it went on for days, months, years and then just because she could not let go of a habit and maybe because she thought that this was the right thing to do, she married him. Then the whole controller-controlled relationship became worse. The license tag was it? If her family noticed this lopsided relationship they said nothing. They were too well bred to show their emotions. Plus she had married a commoner so she was no longer worth their time. Luckily for her, the flow of funds from her family continued; there was no drama of disinheriting her.
So it continued. Immaculately dressed and in control on the outside as always, with none the wiser about what happened to her behind closed doors. Years rolled by, youth was sacrificed, so were smiles and self-respect. All that remained was that beautiful, well turned-out shell. For the most part of all that time she just went through the motions of life without allowing herself much thought. Either it was too painful for her to think about it and live it at the same time or she had made her peace with her lot. Luckily for them, progeny did not appear on the scene and complicate things any further. So it was just him and her, tied together forever.
It was roughly around the time of her half century that the Menons had appeared on the scene. They moved next door to them and suddenly the whole dynamics of life changed. Seeing their happy family times, the laughter, the spontaneity and the love for each other, something snapped within her. What hit her the hardest though was the marked respect that they always showed for each other. Only then, on her 50th birthday, did she realize what she had always missed. Weird but true, it was this longing that set her mind aflame with all the ways se could reclaim her life, her chance and her self-respect. Desperation often bodes extreme measures. And several extreme ideas started germinating in her mind.
Every single day after he left for work she sat and thought and plotted. She deliberated on several different ways and quickly dismissed them for various reasons. Then it struck her that the best way would be to find the most violent way. After all, would that not be the best possible outlet for her emotions?
‘Kitchen knife or grandfather’s old dagger? No point in sullying a family heirloom. Kitchen knife then!’
She looked up as the waiter brought her a strong cuppa. Without waiting for the waiter to set the cup down on the table, she leaned forward, grabbed it and took a sip. As she nursed the hot cup between her hands, seeking comfort from the warmth, she looked down at the blue scarf. It had fallen to the ground again and yet again the knife lay exposed. A little perplexed, she picked up the scarf. No stains! Confused, she turned her attention to the knife. No stains there either!
The stony expression on her face thawed a little as a few memories became more vivid now. She had given him the best possible punishment. She had freed herself completely and irrevocably. She had severed all ties with him and that sprawling mansion that her own money had bought. She had just left. As a myriad expressions flitted across her face in quick succession, she turned her gaze outside the window again. The only thing different this time was the small smile playing on her lips.