The rain is relentless. I hear it thrumming on the metal roof and running down the broken pipe into the mud, and I moisten my cracked lips with my tongue. I wonder if they’ll bring me food and water. I wonder if they’re coming at all…
It was not me supposed to be in this dinghy tool shed with darkness and damp for company. It was she. Tammy, the witch who had put a spell over my Bhrigu. What else could explain that sparkle in his eyes, concern in his voice for her? The charmer Bhrigu, for whom girls were extra spice, how had he come to care for a glorified tissue paper?
I was the one he would have come to eventually. Others were just distractions. He wasn’t happy with them. So, I started hunting them.
But the biggest troublemaker had been right beside. She had said there never could be anything between them after that destination wedding where Bhriggu had bedded and dumped her in two days. Then why did she hang around him, fake a relationship when the others became too persistent and lend him a shoulder when the questions of the police became uncomfortable?
I had wasted so much time. When I had got down to the root, she already held him in her power that had made him look for her in the parking lot where I held her petite throat.
And now chained to this cracked wall for two days, I await my tormentors, to come and revel in my misery, taunt me, and take turns in tearing me limb by limb….
Purabi sat up, drenched in sweat. For two days she had been getting this dream. She yawned, stretched, and leaned back, realizing with a groan she had passed out horizontally on the bed.
No wonder Tammy stopped Bhrigu from drinking too much, she yawned again, squeezing toothpaste on the brush. Add Ecstasy and all sense of reality had evaporated.
She whipped up some cereal in a bowl, poured some cold milk and chewed reflectively. Her head pounded, her chest throbbed, and everything still swam in front of her eyes. She remembered only her endearing goodbye to Bhrigu, the parking lot and then the night club. Everything else dissolved into nothingness.
But things had happened. The thuds of the newspapers, the rings of the doorbell, the drops of water pelting down the leaking tap, the strange play of colors and movements on the television screen. Had she eaten? Had she bathed, probably not, her nose revolted in the stench. Had she checked upstairs? What had she replied to Tammy’s mother?
And Bhrigu? Had he called? There’s no way he could have stayed calm with Tammy missing. Had she managed to calm him, lend him the shoulder Tammy always offered? Had there been the same gratitude and care in his voice as for Tammy?
She shivered remembering that horrible dream. It had seemed so real. It was all the whisky’s fault. Or the Ecstasy. Or perhaps the heroin. Not only did she not remember what Bhrigu had said, she even forgot he had never been in the parking lot…….
I proceed upstairs to relish my victory. Those brown eyes now wide awake from the ministrations of the needle, staring at me with hatred and hurt. I look back, my satisfied smile in the pleasure of revenge. The hands whitened as they struggle and pull at the cords binding them to the bed. The wisp of a form finally shudders to a sobbing stop as I take my place beside her and stroke her tied leg.
My touch provokes her to resume her struggles punctuated by her choked groans. I would have loved to hear her scream, but the constraints of civility stopped me at first. Later, the gag felt like a poetic justice to the words that never came out all because of her.
I am not lying when I tell her soothingly this is painful to me as well. She is after all my best friend. Who always consoled me whenever the people at office laughed at me? The only one who understood me. Except for one thing.
Bhrigu is mine. He may not know that yet, but he was coming around, tired of those girls distracting him. She was one of them. He had dumped her. Why? Because they didn’t have the connection like ours.
She really had been a cunning scamster. Keeping Bhrigu by her side, pretending to be ‘just friends’ to con him into believing she was his soulmate.
The writhing form sends my heart into raptures of joy, and I gradually come to the happy realization that everything happens for the good. The others had not troubled me as much. She didn’t deserve her suffering to come to an early end. That annoying sound that had made me knock her out rather squeeze the life out of her was really the voice of God.
I stroke her neck as tears stream down her cheeks, anger giving away to frustration as she looks at me pleadingly. A sensation more electrifying than pleasure, starts to engulf me. My own breaths labored, a quiver runs down my spine as I slap her hard causing her to gnash and start struggling. The motions of the bed send the volley of seismic eruptions within me in a tizzy, and I place my fingers between my thighs, my visions only beholding Bhrigu in my arms.
Purabi was gasping, the things Bhrigu had done to her still fresh in her mind. She licked her lips and let out an exaggerated sigh. She looked at her prisoner who looked as if she had lost her mind. But she didn’t lose sight of the fact that Tammy had managed to work out a hand loose. A needle prick and retying of the ropes later, she headed down to have a shower and get ready for office.
Purabi sat staring at the computer screen, her mind a blank. She had not been able to go beyond one line since half an hour.
Nobody seemed bothered. Didn’t anybody know? Yes, quite a few girls had gone missing. The police were hard-pressed for finding ‘the serial killer’. But didn’t it affect people even a little that this was a person who had laughed and chatted, worked, and lunched with them? Hell, she was missing Tammy. If she had been there, she would have ruffled her hair and encouraged her.
If people could work so nonchalantly, why couldn’t she? She had done that before. She had finished the design in half an hour the day after she had chopped Vanya in pieces and dumped them in the river. What an irritating girl! Giving poor Bhrigu a hard time despite him telling repeatedly it was over. And the evening she had her successful presentation? Few hours before that, she had stabbed and stuffed Shilpa in her car boot who had been touching and nuzzling an upset Bhrigu after another police interrogation.
Tammy was real danger. Not only had she acted on Bhrigu, but she had also played on her.
She looked up to find the darkened face of her boss. She managed an embarrassed half smile as he went on a lecture of slow pokes and slow progress of the country and angrily walked off. Her coworker simply shrugged and continued typing. When has anyone in this office ever bothered? It was only Tammy.
“Tough luck.” Purabi raised her suspicious eyes at the familiar sound and stood up in horror. Before her was the same infectious grin, those same shining brown eyes, that same lissom body.
“Puru?” The form of Twameka, better known as Tammy, waved an affectionate hand. Purabi rallied but continued to stare at her open mouthed. “You look as if you have seen a ghost.”
How could Tammy be here?
“What’s the matter, Puru?” She looked all concerned now.
“You….,” it was a miracle she could find her voice, let alone keep it steady, “Where were you this weekend?”
She gave a short laugh, “Where else but home? Don’t you remember my call?” She grimaced, “Yeah I had planned to go out but couldn’t. Bhrigu looked so upset on the drive back home.…”
So, Tammy had gone with Bhrigu. Then what had really happened?
“Where had you been? You walked off so suddenly …” To drown my sorrows in whiskey and white powder. “Nothing much….” the bitterness of the breaking of a cherished dream was rife in her voice. “Okay,” Tammy shrugged and walked off, “See you at lunch.”
The canteen was agog with noisy chatters. As Purabi walked ahead looking for an empty table, she spied the tall outline of Bhrigu’s back and a faint smile appeared on her lips. She took a step but froze catching sight of the burly figure it was facing.
The police were getting on her nerves now. Yes, he was related to the girls but weren’t his solid alibis a deterrent for this questioning? She particularly hated that inspector. She wished she could make him meet the same fate as the girls but that would have totally sealed the mere suspicion.
What was the matter now? Nothing had happened. As she sat, Purabi finally got a whiff. Titania, that violet eyed Russian who worked in the MNC two floors down had disappeared. She was last seen talking to Bhrigu by a colleague.
So, it was Tanny not Tammy. Tanny, laughing and chatting with Bhrigu when she had approached to invite him to the night club. The deserted forest on the way had been an ideal spot to dump her strangled body.
“We weren’t dating. It was just a fling,” she suddenly found Bhrigu opposite her. He looked as handsome as ever, his black eyes taken the dull hue of frustration, “She was telling she was leaving. I was happy for her…” He buried his face on the tabletop with a sigh.
Purabi could hardly contain herself. Bhrigu was talking to her! She stretched her hand to his shoulder but to her fury found another had beaten to it. The one he had really addressed his words to, Tammy. He looked up and gave a wan smile. “She was a really nice girl, Titan. I hope she’s safe …” He looked ready to cry.
This was another endearing habit of Bhrigu’s. He invented his own names for people. Titan for Tanny, Seal for Shilpa, Dolly for Ruchi. He had one for Tammy. Twinkie. Why wouldn’t he give her one?
He really was crying now. “Why do they suspect me? …” He got up and left wiping his face with his sleeve.
Purabi sat fuming as she beheld her best friend talk down the love of her life with her sweetened soothing words. Enough was enough. Something had to be done.
Her vision already blurred with angry tears; she hardly could make out her colleague, “Hey Puru, you’ve seen Tammy?” She slowly shook her head causing the girl to walk away puzzled, “Strange, no one’s seen her since morning.”
It was closing time when she finally found Bhrigu alone. “Hi there,” she said shyly. He looked at her queerly. “Don’t worry …” was all she could stammer out, “Everything will be alright.” He gave her his sweet smile and was about to say something when he got called by his colleague. As she started to walk away, “Puru,” Bhrigu called out, “Purandhar! Thanks dude.”
Why does he call me that? It’s the name my parents gave me but that’s not who I am. I am not defined by my name, the hairs that burst out on my chest and shoulders or that blob of flesh hanging between my thighs. I am defined by my heart which beats for short skirts, lipstick, eyeliners, and bras. And for Bhrigu.
Tammy was putting together her purse when Purabi came up to her smiling. “Can I drop you home, Tam?”