All Of Me
All Of Me12 mins 251 12 mins 251
“Honey could you please hurry up. I am getting late for work”, Vaishakh said.
“Hmm”, she said. Aaradhya was not much of a talker. It was only Vaishakh who could get a few words out of her. Their relationship was strange to everyone around. Even Aaradhya would wonder at times how she could find a man as charismatic as him. She thought of him as an answer to all her wishes.
“Here we are, ‘she said as she parked her car near the office.
“Thanks”, he said as he kissed her goodbye. “Don’t forget to have your lunch and to take medicines,'' he continued.
“I won't. Be in time for dinner, “she said.
“Only if you promise to make biryani”, he shouted from a distance.
‘Vaishakh and his obsession for food’, she said to herself. If someone asked him if he would choose her over food, she wasn't sure what his answer would be.
She got back home. As she was parking she noticed Mrs. Sharma walking her dog. Mrs. Sharma waved at her and hurried back into the home. If Mrs. Sharma would have caught her, it would have led to a conversation that would last for at least an hour. Aaradhya was not comfortable with conversations. She avoided them as much as she could.
“I am back”, she told her brother.
“Give me something to eat,'' he demanded. Her brother was bedridden due to a prolonged illness. He lost strength in his legs that completely restrained his activities.
“On it”, she replied. There was nothing more she valued more than her brother. ‘My brother is to me as food is to you’, she would tell Vaishakh. He would always crack up whenever she said this.
“Will you ever stop with these games? “she asked.
“Can I play any other games? “he asked back.
“Enough with that. Eat this. Peanut butter sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake. I hope you don't mind me making biryani for dinner today. Vaishakh wants it “she smiled.
“Cool”, he said as he got back on the remote.
“I will go and pick up a few things from the market then”, she kissed him on his forehead.
“Come back soon,'' he said without taking his eyes off the screen.
She looked around and couldn't see Mrs. Sharma. ‘Safe to go out’, she murmured to herself. She got back in her car and started the engine.
The ride to the nearest supermarket was smooth. She found a parking spot and parked her car. “Do you want anything else with biryani?”, she texted Vaishakh. “Surprise me”, he texted back. Smiling, she walked inside.
Aaradhya had a mental note of things she wanted to buy. Taking a trolley out, she started putting them in one by one. The supermarket was moderately crowded. The general crowd was always families. Aaradhya wasn't surprised when a lady with two kids, one in the trolley and one running around dashed into her.
“So sorry. These two always make things difficult for me “she said trying to get hold of her kid who was running around.
“It's alright,” Aaradhya said. “Let me help you with it,” she said picking up things the kid in the trolley was throwing things around.
“Thank you so much”, the lady said.
As they were clearing the mess created by the youngest one, they heard a sound. Thud!! It sounded like the gunshot. Hearing that the youngest kid started crying and the elder one clung to his mother.
“Hey, it's alright,” she said consoling her kids. “I wonder what's wrong”, the lady said to Aaradhya.
Before Aaradhya could answer, they heard another gunshot and everyone in the supermarket started shouting. People started running around, trying to get as far as they can, away from the entrance.
“Run! Run!”, another man screwed at them. “There is a person with a gun. He shot the security guard,” he continued.
Both panicked. The lady started holding on to her kids. They left their trolleys and started running.
“Stop” a gunman screamed. “Nobody moves”, he said firing another shot in the air. Everyone stood at the same spot.
“Everyone gathers in a corner, sit on your knees and put your hands in the air. If anyone shouts or tries to run away, I will put these bullets in your head” the gunman screamed at the top of his voice.
Everybody started walking towards the corner. “Go ahead and lock the door “the gunman ordered to one of the staff members. He walked towards the entrance. With an intention to take the keys from the drawer, he slid his phone in the drawer and started calling for help. Another attacker appeared from behind and swiftly took away the phone from his hand.
” Do you think you can outsmart us?” she said. She threw the phone on the ground and broke it into pieces.
“Partner, he thought he can fool us. Let's teach him a lesson “she said pointing at another gunman.
“When have I ever stopped you my lady”, the gunman said kissing her over the mask.
She positioned her gun and said, “Heart or head partner?”
“Please let me go. I am begging you. I am sorry. Please”, the staff member said begging her.
“After what I do to you darling, you won't be able to do anything ever in your life again, “she said.
Some people who had gathered in the corner started crying. The lady with kids was keeping her kids as close as she could. Aaradhya didn't know what to do. ‘Should she try to contact with Vaishakh? If so, how?’
Her chain of thoughts was broken by a gunshot again. The lady with the gunshot the staff member.
“That was close”, the gunman said. “If you had not missed by few inches, you could have easily hit his balls, “he said as they watched the staff member in agony.
“If anyone else tries to be smart, you know what will happen to you,'' she said.
“If you don't want your friend to be shot in another leg, I want someone to come ahead and give me all the money you have here. People in the audience start emptying your pockets. But before that I want all of you to deposit your phones in this bag”, she said sliding a bag towards them. “Hey, you the lady in blue, collect all their phones and bring it to me,'' she said pointing towards Aaradhya. Aaradhya came forward and took the bag. She started doing as told.
Meanwhile, in all the chaos, the lady tried everything to make her youngest one stop crying. But with the multiple gunshots being fired, the toddler was scared and there was no one to get him to stop.
“Shut this one up,” the gunman told her. If he doesn't stop, she will take things in her hand,” he said pointing at his partner.
“Why do I still hear an irritating voice? Reminds me of our child partner,” she said looking at the gunman and walking towards the child.
“Do you want to know what happened to my child,” she said looking at the lady. The lady started shaking in fear. “I...am trying. Please, please forgive her. She will stop crying. I am trying my best,” she said trying to make the youngest one stop.
“It doesn’t look like you are good at it,” she said snatching the baby away from her mother. The baby started crying louder. “Oh my god,” she said keeping the baby away from her body. “She is a pain in the ass, isn’t she,” she continued.
“Please let her go. Please. I beg of you,” the mother started crying. “If you say one more word, it will not end well for the baby,” she said looking at the mother.
“Look darling I found an insurance. If the police get here, we can use this one to get out,” she said tossing the baby in the air. She almost dropped the baby but held her before she hit the ground.
“Don't worry. I will make sure she stays alive at least till we get out of here,” she said looking at the distressed mother.
Aaradhya had collected all the phones in the bag. “I am done collecting the phones”, she said to the attackers.
“Baby, we almost have all the cash too, “the gunman said.
“We better hurry up. I am not holding this shit in my hands for long,” she said looking at the baby.
“Please give her back to me. Please, I beg you,” the mother begged. “Take me instead but let my baby go. Please, I am begging you.”
“I had asked you not to open your mouth. Do you not understand that” she said kicking the mother? The mother tumbled to the ground and started crying.
“If you shut your mouth, she will not kill the little one. We will just toss her on the corner of the road a few kilometers away from here,” the gunman said. The lady with the gun looked at him and rolled her eyes.
“Put all the cash in the car,” she ordered the gunman.
“Get me all the phones,” she said to Aaradhya.
“Please save my child,” the mother whispered as she held Aaradhya ’s feet when she was walking towards the attacker.
“Hurry up. Give me the phones,” she said.
Thud they heard another sound.
“What’s wrong,” the lady with the gun shouted.
“Everything is fine,” the gunman shouted from outside. “The trunk of the car dropped.”
As soon as the lady turned towards them, Aaradhya slashed the bag of phones on her face. She fell on the ground dropping the kid and the gun. Aaradhya got hold of the child and the child’s mother grabbed the gun.
As soon as the gunman entered through the door, the mother shot him in his stomach. He fell on the floor, blood flowing out of his body continuously.
Everyone started running out of the mall. The sight of the scene weakened Aaradhya. She collapsed on the floor.
She couldn't remember what happened next. She woke up to find herself in a room full of strangers. She could figure few of them being doctors and police officers.
“Are you feeling better?” one of the doctors asked her.
“Hmm,” she said.
“Are you in a condition to give us a statement about what happened in the supermarket?” asked one of the officers.
“Hmm,” she replied. “I want to talk to Vaishakh first,” she demanded.
“Sure. Your phone is in the police station. Everyone who was in the mall is collecting it from there. If you could tell us the number, we will connect you.”
She looked point blank into the eyes of the officer.
“Please tell us the number ma’am,” said another police officer.
“I don't remember,” she said in a low voice rubbing her foreground.
“What we can do is we can ask them to get your phone in the hospital. Meanwhile, can we proceed with the statement? Could you please tell us what happened in the supermarket?”
Aaradhya took a deep breath and told them everything that happened.
“This does not match with what other eyewitnesses say”, one police officer whispered to the chief police officer.
“Do you think she is under post-traumatic stress that has hampered her memory?” the chief police officer took the doctor aside and asked.
“It is quite possible. We could ask her basic questions and judge from her responses” the doctor said.
After that followed a series of basic questions.
‘Can you please tell us your full name?’
‘Can you please tell something about your family?’
‘Why did you visit supermarket that morning?’
‘How did the lady with the kids look like?’
‘What was the age of those kids?’
‘What office does Vaishakh work in?’
The chief police officer was waiting for his associates to confirm the answers. Meanwhile, another police officer walked in with the CCTV footage.
“Chief, you might want to see this, “the officer said.
As the chief witnessed what happened at the supermarket, he was surprised. “Why would she lie about the lady and kids?”
“She was definitely trying to protect herself. She must have been under the impression that she will get punished.” the associate said.
“But she also helped us make a sketch. That sketch seemed genuine. She was describing it with absolute precision. How can someone lie with so much clarity? In the video, she killed the gunman. Did she possibly think we will not look at the footage? Is there something more to it?”
Meanwhile, another associate walks in with a bunch of documents. “The description is not the only lie she told. There is no Vaishakh. There is no younger brother. I visited her house, it was empty. I visited the office, no one named Vaishakh works there. It's all very strange.”
“Did you check her mobile?” the chief asked.
“Yeah. No numbers except for one. The only character who might be true from her story is Mrs. Sharma. I called her, and she will be reaching here in sometime.”
“Is she doing fine?” Mrs. Sharma asked.
“She is better. We are allowing her to rest while we decipher what's going on.” the chief said. He told Mrs. Sharma everything that happened. “All of it is strange because the CCTV footage doesn't show any lady with kids. Everything up to the point of a worker being shot is fine but after that, it's far away from reality.”
“Everything she said is real. With slight modifications. But it's real,” Mrs. Sharma said.
“How is it real? We have the proof of what happened,” the chief said, raising his voice.
“I am not saying it happened now. The time frame is not the same” Mrs. Sharma said.
Analyzing their confused looks she continued, “Aaradhya is my sister’s daughter. She had a younger brother. The incident that she described at the supermarket, something similar happened to her in her past. Her mother had taken her and her brother to the mall which was attacked by criminals who escaped a Police car. They were being taken to court for their final verdict. Like the story, her younger brother who was a toddler kept crying. The criminals took him to safeguard them against the police. Her mother tried to save him but couldn't. He was later found a few kilometers away from the mall. After that incident he was bedridden. His legs lost all the energy. The entire family decided to never let him feel sorry for himself. But they could do nothing. Tired of being dependent on the family, he overdosed and killed himself. His mother could never come out of the trauma. She is hospitalized in a Mental hospital situated on the outskirts of our city. Her father had to take up on the responsibility of the entire house. But all the odds were against this family. He passed away two years later in a car accident. He was trying to get to Aaradhya school as fast as he can. Her teacher had called saying Aaradhya had another outburst. He didn't want anyone in school to uncover the fact that Aaradhya was developing multiple personalities,” she said.
“Personalities as in?” the chief asked.
“Aaradhya has multiple personality disorder. She created personalities of every person in her family to cope up with their loss.”
“The sketch she helped us make. Can you look at it?” the chief asked
“It’s her mother,” Mrs. Sharma said looking at it.
“Who is Vaishakh?” the chief asked.
“Vaishakh is her father. She created that personality to protect her dad from a car accident. She drives him every day to the office.”
“It's all strange,” the chief said. Everyone presents in the room had a puzzled look.
“Why doesn't she live with you then? You could help her with her condition,” the chief said.
“I am a constant reminder of reality for her. In her mind, she has blocked all her memories. We tried everything from medication to staying together. But every attempt would lead to her trying to take her life. Only her multiple personalities can keep her alive” she said.
Chief grasped everything he just heard. Coming back to his cabin, he looked over all the documents. And for the first time in his life, he didn't know what the verdict would be.