Dedicated to Devil’s advocate.
“we were in love…thankfully not with each other.”
Roma walked out of the jail into the bright sunshine of Mumbai. After 10 years spent in jail, all you want to do is appreciate is that you are still alive and a fragment of a life to look forward to. Roma holded on to her meager belongings.
With her earnings, she saved from learning and selling bamboo handicrafts in Jail, she had booked a one way ticket to Haridwar. Train was at 12 am midnight and she had enough time to kill by.
She tried calling her in laws , but of course she couldn’t reach them. Mainly for two reasons, she was sentenced for committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder a 27 yr old woman & second her husband was killed by his business partner Jatin.
She made mental calculation & figured out with her negligible amount of money, may be she can afford a decent hair cut and to dye her hair black. She went to a nondescript saloon aptly named-“Decent Saloon” to have a hair cut and dye her hair black. She went to Mumbai Central Station & chose to wait in the waiting room .
The humidity and the Bombay summer almost lulled Roma into a dreamless sleep in the waiting room. Ten years in the jail had taken a toll on her. To sleep at a place, where she was not monitored with 100 along others was a dream come true.
Her dreams were a rushes from her past life. Her husband Ravi , his business partner Jatin & that woman she killed were all in her dream.
That fateful night, when she found out that her husband was killed, she had just returned from a kitty party in her colony. She was listening to the endless saga of her mother-in-law’s joint pains, when suddenly their office peon rushed into their home and informed the family that Ravi Saab was killed by Jatin.
She couldn’t picture or even remember Jatin, when the news registered her brain. She slumped into the sofa & drifted in & out of consciousness . The next 15 days were a antonym of a dream. The nightmare abruptly ended with another nightmare.
After one month, Roma went out to a nearby mall for some shopping. Suddenly a frail woman in her early 30s, with her black-brown hair swaying in the wind started stalking Roma. That unknown woman stalked Roma & without even saying anything moved forward to stab her. Roma being the strong woman between the two, pushed that woman forward and that unknown woman fell off from the 4th floor railing of the mall onto the plush marble floor.
She couldn’t comprehend of what actually happened to her. But luckily enough, guardians of law were with her & Roma got tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. For the act of self-defense & lack of motive, Roma was tried & sentenced to 10 year jail.
Suddenly she woke up to the present and looked around her. The waiting room was filled with myriad of people waiting for their train. Life is a waiting room too, Roma thought.
Suddenly her eyes wandered into the far left corner, where she found a middle aged man intently reading a newspaper.
Roma adjusted her hair, gathered her belongings-consisting of a big handbag & a suitcase & walked towards that man. The man seemed to be in his early forties, still digging the newspaper as if it were the last newspaper in the whole world.
Roma sat beside him. She looked at him and whispered to him- Why did you kill my husband, Jatin ? . Jatin looked away from the newspaper and removed his steel framed spectacles. He folded his arms smugly around his chest and studied Roma.
His honey brown eyes intensely looked at Roma. the hair around his temples had turned into white. His physique had not yet changed after all these years. He still looked the same, bit more sturdy and in contrast a bit more worn out.
He seemed not to hear her and went out. Roma wanted to stand up angrily and give Jatin a smack on his face. But she couldn’t, all these years of hatredness for him had turned into a mellow feeling. That hate was still there in the corner of her heart, but it didn’t hurt her anymore.
Jatin came back after sometime with a hint of cigarette smoke on his breath. “I asked you a question.” Roma asked him again. Jatin looked at her and smiled a bit.
He answered- “i killed your husband because he was stealing money from his own company. Embezzlement . He was creating fake company profiles and transferring money to banks. Here our company was going through a financial crunch and he was vacationing at Thailand. ”
“You tell me senorita, “he continued ” What was i supposed to do’ ? . Roma couldn’t help but smile at him. It was more than a decade someone had flirted with her. Jail was filled with filthy low life. Humans with almost no remorse or regret.
Even an amorous word from her husband’s murderer made her smiled. Roma flicked her grey hair and looked at him. Her black eyes looked straight at him and questioned him infinitely.
“Why?” Roma asked again. There was no doubt that Roma had every form of luxury in her loveless life & her husband a decade old than her had showered upon her everything she ever wanted. But Love, that was a precious commodity, rarely found & never bought or sold.
“which jail you were sentenced to ?” Roma asked Jatin. “yerawada jail, pune.” JAtin said.
“That’s a celebratory jail.” Roma said & laughed. Jatin looked at her amusingly . The windows brought evening light in the waiting room. And they halted gently on Jatin’s shoulder.
They both sat in silence. Roma studied her hands and stole glances at Jatin. He seemed immersed in the newspaper . The waiting room was almost empty except for a few passengers.
“Where are you going? ” Jatin asked
“Haridwar” Roma answered
“ok.” They were silent again . Jatin asked Roma out of the blue. -“why did you kill my girlfriend.?” .”what ?” Roma was shocked. “that woman whom you pushed off from the railing of 4th floor was my girl friend..Nina.” “I” Roma Stammered.
“that psychotic bitch was your girlfriend ?” Roma asked Jatin. “thankfully time numbs down everything.” Jatin said. “yes that dear little bitch was my girlfriend. ”
“but why she was following me….” Roma asked. ” I don’t know.” Jatin said ” Psychos have their own GPS.” He laughed.
“Where are you going ?” .Roma asked him. He looked towards her but didn’t say anything. It was 9 pm a warm, July night. The clouds were already gathering their conductors to play for the rain God and the commuters were rushing towards their home.
The waiting room now was empty except for those two. The evening skies thundered and suddenly rain started pouring in & filling in every piece of earth. There was a sudden hush in the atmosphere and then suddenly the rain song was every where.
“Why did you kill my husband, Jatin?” Roma asked him again.
And out of nowhere Jatin gave her a tight slap across her face. Roma stumbled back in shock and recovered quite fast and move forward to slap Jatin. He twisted her hand tightly and Roma punched him in the stomach with her other free hand.
“Lady, i killed your husband, because i love you. And you were caught up in that twisted married life. ” Jatin said.
” I have missed you so much.” Roma said and holding him tightly. “It was the only way out, Roma.”
“My psychotic girl friend wouldn’t leave me, your husband wouldn’t divorce you. It was the only way out, Roma.” Jatin said.
“Ten fucking long years, aye. Are you ok. Did jail treat you well ?” Jatin asked her.
” Yes it was a nightmare. everyday i was thinking about you, you were my strength. “Roma said.
“have you booked your tickets to Haridwar?” Roma asked JAtin.
“No, but don’t worry, we’ll manage it. ” Jatin said.
Now it was a dream come true. Antonym of a nightmare. Rain had melted down the harshness of a night. They both sat on a bench, savoring every moment of togetherness after a decade.
It was 11pm, one hour for their train to depart. One hour for their new life to start.
“listen, i will go out and bring some tea ok.?” Jatin asked Roma.
“Ok..”Roma said. “Jatin”..Roma called out again “Do you still take two teaspoon sugar with tea.”
“Yes i do.” Jatin said & looked at her. He gave her one last look and walked out of the waiting room.
Roma sighed contentedly and settled on the bench. It was worth a wait & worth all the time, humiliation, speculation in the world. She always had Jatin by her side. There was one doubt, on why didn’t Jatin save her from her jail sentence. He could have easily done that.
May be she will ask him, when he comes back. She rummaged around her bag and looked for her train ticket. She pulled out her train ticket and with that a dark rust orange colored envelope fell out of her bag.
A single name, her name-Roma was mentioned on the envelope.
She opened the envelope & removed gingerly two loose sheet out of it. The first sheet read- In case of my death-i.e.Mr.Jatin Sahani. WTF Roma thought and looked frantically around the waiting room. She rushed out of the waiting room and no one was there.
This is clearly a joke,Roma thought. Jatin liked to do that. Jatin was a gifted prankster. She smiled a bit hesitantly and walked again inside the waiting room.
She started reading the second sheet , which was a letter.
I wish this was a joke, but it isn’t. When you will be reading this letter, I will be long gone. My days are numbered. I have been diagnosed with stomach cancer and its already in advanced stage. The doctors over here used lots of complicated jargon, but it all means one thing, that i am going to die.
I am sorry, i am really sorry that we couldn’t keep our agreement. I so much wanted to spend my whole life with you, even after life. But oh well ! This is life. God is the ultimate judge..even though i don’t believe in him.
I love you a lot. And these words are really sparse of what i feel for you. It sounds cheesy i know, but its true. There will be a time and a space for everything …and this is the time to remember the happy us and a time to build your happy life.
What you have done, takes lots of courage. Yes it requires lots of courage on my side too..But you gave up ten years of your life, your family..just about everything.
I actually feel at peace right now. You must be reading this letter at a railway station or the jail premises, wherever time decides to stop my life. Time always leads.
Why didn’t i save you from your jail sentence ? Ok..confession time. Remember that one time you cheated on me while we were in college, you never told that to me. I accidentally found it out. It hurt me a lot, broke me. This was just payback time.
How did my ex psychotic girl friend, know that it was you. I told her about us. Of course her being crazy did help. I stopped her medicine for anti depressants and anger issues. It is a lethal combination. Then being crazy genius she is, it didn’t took her long enough to figure out about your routine.
What later happened, was just a chain reaction.
I am going to miss you. I am going to miss us. I am going to miss you in flesh & blood, holding you, making love to you, doing so many things together with you. It will be just a plan now. Empty words on this letter.
you, my dear Roma ..you have an entire life ahead of you. I know you will be 37, once when you are released from jail. More than middle age, but alive and kicking. I will not be there with you.
But here is what you will have with you..your life, your dreams, your grey hair, your wrinkles and dimples, your beautiful black eyes to look at the world. Live like you always wanted to..
Don’t listen to anyone, create your own life. I will miss you more than anything in this world. It will be tough for you too..but move on..there is nothing for people in this world who don’t move on.
With all my love in the world,
PS- Is it raining tonight. “