For all those of you who may stumble upon this page – I am attempting to write this story for a long time now. Putting it up here will give me added reason to stop procrastinating and adding further chapters.

Everyday I will add at least a 1000 words. editing and re-writing will be an ongoing process. So don’t be surprised if the story has changed when and if you are motivated to re-visit. Comments on the page have been de-activated in an attempt to control mindless spamming. This doesn’t mean i don’t want feedback. Interacting with anyone interested in the telling of this story will be fun. Just connect on the comments section below and you can join my e-mailing groups for further discussion/suggestions.

 

So here goes:

Prologue:

A shrill scream ripped through the mid-morning calm of the Kishore residence. A stray cat lurking in the bushes outside the open window leapt up startled, and sprang away from her vigil of the pigeon’s nest. All seven jungle babblers who were chattering warnings about the cat halted mid-note. And in the ensuing silence one could hear the honking of a car that zoomed past on the busy street outside. And if you had sharp enough ears, you could have heard the faint call of a sabziwala…or was it the Kabari wala?

The scream was of a variety that could have woken the dead if they could hear. But the only witnesses were other members of the house. Arjun, the stay-up-all-night son of the house sleepily opened one eye, looked at his phone screen to check the time, then turned on his side and let out a gentle snore. In her bedroom, wide awake, but lying in bed with her eyes closed was Aanya. The foreign educated daughter of the house. She let out an exasperated uff, covered her head with her pillow and continued to worry about the state of the world, the quality of air and her lack of permanent employment.

In the dining room, Ajay Kishore paused mid-bite. Not because he had heard the scream, but because his eye had caught sight of a news item that mentioned his favourite topic. He snatched up the newspaper as he resumed chomping on his deep-fried aloo parantha. Ahaa he thought, those police walas have finally caught up with another drug-peddling rascal. His thoughts swiftly moved on to the more pleasant topic of tonight’s dinner. Should he ask for butter chicken and kali dal?

The urgency of the scream was completely lost on the residents because they had heard it before. It was Vinita Kishore, getting upset with yet another something that Amrita had done…or not done.

If any of them had bothered to look at the scene of the scream, it would have been a matter of great mirth for the entire family. Various exaggerations and embellishments would have been added to the story as it was told and re-told to family and friends.

Amrita was standing perched in the middle of a double bed in the master bedroom. Broom in hand she was trying to dust off the overhead fan. Her bare feet had left brown stains on the freshly dry cleaned bedcover. Balls of soot black fluff floated downwards to join similar balls of fluff that had already settled on the designer bedspread, purchased at an exclusive exhibition held by a prestigious designer at an exorbitant but undisclosed sum.

Amrita’s waving arms didn’t miss a beat as they continued to dust the fan for several seconds after the scream ended. Her expression did not alter and her blank gaze gave nothing away. It can be safely said that Vinita’s ensuing high-pitched tirade fell on deaf ears.

Amrita had far more urgent matters to deal with. For one, how was she going to get rid of the body lying under the bed in her quarters?

 

Chapter 1

Amrita was an expert at the art of expressionless. Her eyes were hooded and did not let you in on any secret and her lips were always set firmly. Her hands were never fidgety and her feet were never shifty in the face of calamity or disaster. And she had had her fair share of those. Starting in her early childhood when her drunk father would wander through their house screaming obscenities and lashing out at anyone who came in his way. Or the time when she was kidnapped from her 3rd grade classroom by maoists who wanted to train her and the rest of her classmates into the art of clandestine warfare. Or the time she had flown to Saudi on a fake passport to work as a domestic help with an Arab family. No face or body language expert would ever have been able to tell what went on in that head of hers.

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