Come My Love, Die For Me
Come My Love, Die For Me31 mins 211 31 mins 211
22nd December 1969.
Rabindra Sarovar Area.
The freezing dawn was yet to melt into a warm morning. The chilly winter breeze was waiting to receive the first golden rays of the morning sun. Sleepy-eyed chai-wallahs were slowly opening their stalls. Sweepers were torpidly scrubbing and sweeping the roads before the deluge of morning walkers and health freaks arrived there.
Raju Chacha, an old chaiwallah, opened his tea-stall and displayed the glass jars containing different types of biscuits and cookies. He then lit his noisy kero-gas stove and prepared tea in a huge aluminum kettle. While doing so he warmed his cold, wrinkled hands in the heat of the fire. Today the temperature seemed to be unusually low.
"Ram Ram Chacha," greeted Ramesh, a young Constable posted at Lake Thana. He was a regular customer at Raju Chacha's tea stall, especially in the mornings after his night shifts. He smiled at the old man and sat down on the narrow bench meant for the customers.
Raju Chacha smiled back at him and poured piping hot tea in a small earthen bowl, locally known as 'bhaanr'. Ramesh carefully took the 'bhaanr' from his hand and opened a glass jar to take a cookie from it.
In the absence of other customers, Raju Chacha tried to make small talk with Ramesh, but his attention was fixed elsewhere. His sharp eyes had caught sight of a man hurriedly walking towards the lake. Normally he would have shrugged him off as one of the early morning walkers, but the heavy bags the man carried in his hands aroused his suspicion. Overcome with curiosity he left his unfinished glass of tea, hurriedly paid Raju Chacha and silently followed the man from some distance.
The man walked fast and soon reached Dhakuria lake. He continued walking till he arrived at a desolate part of the lake. Then he slowed down his pace of walking and very casually swept a quick glance around him. He did not notice Ramesh who, hiding behind a bush, was keeping a careful watch on the man. Satisfied that no one was watching him, he raised his hands to throw the bags into the water.
"Hey, you! Stop there!" yelled Ramesh, failing to contain himself any longer. He came out from his hiding place and hastened towards the man.
"What are you doing? Didn't you see the notice? You cannot throw garbage into the water."
The man was shocked to realize that he was not alone. The sight of a uniformed policeman running towards him made him lose his nerve. He dropped the bags on the road and took to his heels.
Ramesh immediately sensed that something was wrong. He blew his whistle to call his companions. Two other Constables appeared almost immediately. The three of them chased the man and soon caught him. They forced him to return to the spot where he had dropped his suspicious bags.
A small crowd of morning walkers had already gathered around the bags, eyeing them with suspicion. Ramesh asked his companions to hold the man while he opened the bags.
From each bag, he extracted two newspaper-wrapped packets. Dried blood marks were clearly visible on them. Ramesh made a small slit in one of the packets and peeped inside. Then he let out a yelp of terror. For, protruding from the slitted end, were two human fingers!
Ramesh tried to control his nerves and opened both the packets with shaking fingers. They contained two severed human arms that were chopped into pieces. All the onlookers, from the crowd to the Constables, were shaken by the gruesome deed.
Ramesh immediately sent one of his companions to the Lake police station. Soon he returned with an Inspector and a Sub Inspector. After primary investigation, they arrested the man on homicide and other allied charges. The police descended divers to search the lake. Before the day was over they fished out the remaining body parts of the murdered woman.
It was past midnight. The arrested man was sitting on a chair in the interrogation room of Lal Bazaar police station. The man was at his wit's end after the marathon interrogation. The questioning had started two days back and still showed no signs of coming to an end. The interrogating officers changed at regular intervals, but the interrogated person remained the same.
The young man, who introduced himself as Roshanlal, had managed to keep his nerve while facing the difficult questioning on the first day. He denied having any knowledge about the contents of the bags he was carrying. He claimed that he had found them lying on the footpath and mistook them for someone's lost property. Hence he picked them up and was on his way to surrender them at Lake Police Station when the Constables suddenly started pursuing him. He definitely had no intention of throwing the bags into the lake. The Constables were lying about that to get additional credit.
Chief Investigating Officer Amit Mukherjee said nothing to counter him. He allowed him to say whatever he wanted to in self-defense. But once his statement was over, Mr. Mukherjee began to point out the innumerable loopholes, lies, and contradictions in his narrative and asked for explanations. Slowly the man's tenacity wore out and the constant questioning turned him into a nervous wreck. In spite of the chill in the air, tiny specs of perspiration appeared on his forehead. Finally, his dogged perseverance gave way and he broke down.
"Yes Sir, I admit that I killed her. Believe me, I did not want to do it. But there was no choice left for me. I did not want the other murder to get exposed to the police. I did not want my life to get ruined. So I had to kill her...I just had to kill her!"
Mr. Mukherjee picked up a glass of water from the table and offered it to the man.
"Here, have some water. Now take your time and tell me from the beginning."
The confession began.
It was a day of celebration in the Wani's small ancestral house in Srinagar. Their eldest son Roshanlal had passed MBBS with flying colors. His proud father Kishenlal happily distributed sweets in the neighborhood.
"Now you should find a good girl and get Roshan married," said their neighbor Ghanshyam Sapru.
Before Kishenlal could reply they saw Roshanlal, engaged in an intimate conversation with a pretty young girl.
"Isn't that your daughter Anju?" asked Kishenlal. "Never noticed she's grown up to be such a lovely girl! If you agree then I would like to have her as my daughter-in-law."
Roshan Lal and Anju got married after two months.
Roshan Lal loved his wife but he was ambitious as well. After completing his internship he applied for jobs and got accepted by a topmost hospital in Kolkata. Anju wanted to accompany him to Kolkata but Roshanlal was not too keen on that. A year of restricted married life had bored him and he craved for some freedom.
Roshan Lal had been the best looking guy in college and the most notorious one as well. The girls fought to get his attention and he made good use of that opportunity.
"God knows how many girls have fallen prey to his charms," whispered his jealous friends behind his back. It was even rumored that he had fathered the son of a married lady lecturer. It was no hidden fact that Roshanlal was a womanizer.
Anju was totally unaware of this side of her husband's nature. She belonged to a simple, middle-class family who did not believe in women's liberation. Right from her childhood, she had been taught to obey her husband and in-laws. When she heard that her husband was going far off to an unknown city, her first thought was, 'Who's going to look after him now? He knows nothing about family matters. If I don't go with him he'll surely fall sick!'
But when she expressed her fears to her husband he lovingly pinched her cheek and said, "Don't worry my dear. I'll stay in the hospital guest house till I find a good-paying guest accommodation."
"Can't we rent a small apartment of our own?" asked Anju expectantly.
"I don't think I can afford that," replied Roshanlal. "You know I have to send money for Manek's higher education." Maneklal was Roshanlal's younger brother. Anju did not argue. She had blind faith in her husband. It never occurred to her that he was evading taking her with him.
Dr. Roshanlal left his hometown in Srinagar and arrived at Howrah station on a bleak winter morning in January 1968 to join a reputed private hospital in Kolkata. Soon his colleague Dr. Avinash arranged for a good pg accommodation for him near Triangular Park.
Soon Roshanlal adjusted himself to the new environment. His handsome looks and oratory skills earned him a lot of popularity, especially among the female doctors and nurses. He found no reason to disclose that he was married and his bachelor image made him all the more irresistible to women.
His landlady Mrs.. Gomes was an old spinster suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Roshan Lal treated her for free and in return, the old lady gave him a duplicate key of the main door and the permission to come and go as he pleased. Roshan Lal made full use of this freedom. He prepared the ground by prescribing a mild sedative to the old lady who suffered from insomnia. It cured her disease and made her hit the bed early.
Every night he would bring a new chick to his room without anyone getting any wiser about it. Of course, there were whispers behind his back but that did not bother him. In fact, they enhanced his popularity as a romantic Adam.
Three years passed. Roshan Lal visited Srinagar twice or thrice a year and fathered two lovely boys. Anju was now a typical overweight housewife whose sole purpose in life was to please her sons, husband, and in-laws. Being patriarchal, Roshanlal found nothing wrong with that.
Life was perfect for him until the day he met Karuna.
Every morning Roshanlal used to go to Vivekananda Park for his morning walk. He knew almost all the regular walkers by their faces.
One day he saw a young girl jogging along the road a few yards ahead of him. The body-hugging sportswear she wore, revealed an hourglass figure. Her long, silky hair was tied up in a high ponytail that swayed from side to side.
Roshan Lal became curious to see if her face complimented her figure. He had seen very few women who had the deadly combination of a perfect figure with a pretty face. Most of the times the pretty faces were overweight and the perfect figures were plain-faced.
He accelerated his walking speed and soon overtook the girl. Then he intentionally dropped his handkerchief on the road, stopped and turn around to pick it up. It was an old trick to eye a girl without being too obvious.
"Excuse me. Here's your hanky."
Roshan Lal took his handkerchief from the well-manicured hand of the girl and looked at her face. It was a bold and arresting face with a high brow, flawless skin, full lips and large, black eyes with long, curly lashes. Her square jaws were an indicator of her stubborn nature.
"Thank you, Miss..." Roshan Lal used another old technique to know the girl's name.
"Sen," replied the girl. "Karuna Sen."
"Pleased to meet you Miss Sen. I'm Dr Roshanlal Wani."
That was how it had all started. Karuna was a Biology teacher in a reputed English medium school. She and her widowed mother lived on the top floor of their ancestral house at Deshapriya Park. Every morning they would meet at Vivekananda Park, jog together, have tea at a street-side stall, and return to their respective homes. Slowly their intimacy grew. One day Karuna invited Roshanlal to her home and introduced him to her mother, Mrs. Bonolota Sen.
The first thing that struck Roshanlal about Mrs. Sen was her youthfulness and beauty. Who would believe that she had a grown up daughter like Karuna, who was almost a carbon copy of her mother!
"Can't believe you're Karuna's mother," he observed with admiration. "You look more like her elder sister."
Mrs. Sen was charmed by his sweet behavior.
Mrs. Sen observed the growing intimacy between her daughter and Roshanlal for a few months and then asked the obvious question.
"When are you two planning to get married?"
"Why don't you ask him Ma?" replied Karuna. "Shouldn't he be the one who should propose to me?"
But when Mrs. Sen asked the same question to Roshanlal, he was caught off guard. His intention was to have a physical affair with Karuna (and if possible her mother too) and then forget her like the other women. There was no question of marriage.
"Auntie, it's too early to think about marriage," he replied. "Karuna and I should know each other better before taking such a major decision."
Mrs. Sen did not pursue the matter any further. Roshanlal was relieved but a new problem arose. Karuna was still a virgin and was determined to remain so till she got married.
"This will be my wedding gift to my husband," she said whenever Roshanlal tried to get physically intimate with her.
It soon became clear that Karuna would never indulge in a physical relationship out of wedlock. Roshanlal felt angry and frustrated. His pride forbade him from forcing himself on her. Hence there were only two options left before him. He could either marry her or break up with her..
Roshanlal considered the idea of marrying Karuna. His family was permanently settled in Srinagar and he regularly visited them. Hence it was unlikely that they would ever come to Kolkata. He was now tired of those short flings and one-night-stands. Marriage would bring stability in his life. Karuna was beautiful and intelligent. She was far better that any of the women he had dated so far. He married Anju just to make his parents happy. He had never been in love with her. But Karuna's case was different. He could not deny that he had feelings for her. After three days of turmoil he came to a decision.
Roshanlal proposed to Karuna on her birthday. In her happiness she allowed him to kiss her on the lips for the first time. Mrs. Sen opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion and got pleasantly drunk. Roshanlal felt that she looked even more appealing in her intoxication. It was a pity that she was going to be his mother-in-law.
Karuna and Roshanlal got married in June, 1968. The latter made sure that the wedding ceremony was restricted to their close friends and relatives only. A couple of days before the wedding Roshanlal came up with a lie to justify his family's absence from the ceremony. He said that his father had a 'mild heart attack' and was 'hospitalized'. Mrs. Sen wanted to postpone the wedding till the old man recovered from his illness. But Roshanlal said that his mother had told him not to stop the wedding as it brings bad luck to the couple. But under the present circumstances they wouldn't be able to attend it. Karuna and Mrs. Sen felt disappointed, but the wedding took place on a fixed date.
Roshanlal left his PG apartment and moved in with his wife and mother in law. After marriage Karuna expressed her wish to visit her in laws in Srinagar, but Roshanlal evaded her by saying that nowadays he remained too busy in the hospital.
Eight months passed by. Roshanlal visited Srinagar once during this period on the pretext of attending an outstation medical conference. Karuna found no reason to disbelieve him.
THE MURDER PLAN
20th February, 1969.
A postman arrived at the hospital and delivered a registered post to Roshanlal. The big envelope contained the wedding card of his cousin Sara. There was also a personal letter from his uncle (Sara's father) asking him to arrive early and help them with the wedding preparations. Roshanlal thoughtfully put the envelope inside a medical journal. Now he would have to invent another lie to attend the wedding in Srinagar.
The same evening Karuna came to the hospital to see her husband. They had plans to go to a movie. A nurse informed her that he was in the OT and was not likely to be free before half an hour. Karuna decided to wait for him in his chamber.
A medical journal lay on the table in front of her. She picked it up and shuffled through its pages. Suddenly something fell from it on her lap. It was a big envelope with a wedding card and a letter inside it. She failed to read the letter as it was written in Urdu. But her expression changed as she went through the invitation card which was printed in English and Urdu. She put the card in her handbag and left the hospital.
Roshanlal returned home later and apologized to Karuna for failing to take her to the movies. Karuna did not complain. Instead she put the wedding card in his hand. It took every ounce of will power for Roshanlal to conceal his shock and appear normal.
"Oh that? It came this morning. Sara is my cousin."
"I see. So when are we going? A family wedding would be a great occasion to introduce me to your parents."
"I'm sorry my dear. But this time I'll have to go alone."
"But why?" she demanded. "The invitation must be for both of us."
"Of course it is. But before the wedding I have a medical conference at Delhi. Moreover it's heavily snowing in Srinagar now. You can't stand such extreme cold. Anyway, don't be unhappy, we'll go there in summer."
"Don't give excuses," replied Karuna. "I can always stay in a hotel in Delhi. And I can also manage the cold. I want to meet my in-laws and hence we're going together. That's final."
"You are asthmatic and prone to cold. As a doctor I can't..."
"What's the truth Roshan? Did you marry me against your parents' wishes?"
"Of course not darling, and you know that."
"Then what are you trying to hide? We're married for almost a year now. Why haven't you introduced me to your family yet?"
"When did I get the opportunity Karuna? Can't you see how busy I remain in the hospital?."
But no amount of argument worked. Karuna could be extremely headstrong and obstinate at times. She was determined to go to Srinagar.
Noticing her eagerness Mrs. Sen too requested Roshanlal to take her with him.
"Karuna has always been very eager to meet her in-laws. I think they too have a right to know their daughter-in-law. Please let her go with you."
Roshanlal found no excuse to refuse Mrs. Sen. But Karuna did not know that her stubbornness was actually preparing her own graveyard. Roshanlal felt cornered, angry and frustrated. Finding no other way he ultimately decided to get rid of her permanently.
27th February, 1969.
Upon reaching Srinagar Roshanlal suggested that they first spent a few days at Pahalgam.
"It will be like having a second honeymoon. What do you say?" Roshanlal deeply looked into Karuna's eyes and drew her closer.
Roshanlal hired a cab from Srinagar and started for Pahalgam. He left the cab near a lonely pine forest. Karuna, who had never been there before, was easily fooled into believing that they had reached Pahalgam.
"I know a resort which is ideal for honeymoon couples," said Roshanlal. "It's just a few minutes walk from here. I hope you're not too tired."
"Not at all," shivered Karuna and rubbed her hands. "I'm just craving for a hot drink."
Roshanlal took her to a small roadside restaurant near the bus stop. He ordered hot milk for her and coffee for himself.
"I too want coffee," protested Karuna.
"You need some Brandy and milk to stop that shivering."
Their hot drinks arrived. Roshanlal took out a pint of Brandy from his backpack and poured a generous amount of it into Karuna's glass of milk. He also secretly added a couple of powdered sleeping tablets and stirred well. Then he lovingly handed over the milk to Karuna.
Karuna did not like the smell of Brandy. Nevertheless she closed her nose and finished the milk. Then they started walking through the desolate snow covered pine forest.
Before long Karuna began to feel drowsy. Her steps faltered and soon she fell asleep in the arms of her husband. Roshanlal carefully lay her on his lap and looked at her lovely face one last time. She was the only woman he had ever loved. He removed the loose tendrils from her face and planted a passionate good bye kiss on her lips. She stirred but did not wake up. His lips tenderly brushed her cheeks and his hands reached for the scarf round her throat.
"Come my love, die for me," he whispered.
He tightened the scarf like a rope and strangled her to death. He was sure that she felt no pain.
Roshanlal tightly held her lifeless body to his chest as tears streamed down his eyes.
"Sleep my darling, sleep," he whispered amidst sobs. "We were so happy together. Only if you hadn't been so stubborn!"
Suddenly he realised that time was running out. It was time to bury the dead and leave the place He picked up Karuna's limp body and walked over to a nearby deserted well. He smashed her face with a stone, took out her identity proofs from her purse and destroyed them. One by one he threw her mangled body, her purse and rucksack into the well. He sighed as he heard the splashes.
"Forgive me, my darling," he whispered. "But it was completely your fault."
Roshanlal returned to Srinagar and participated in Sana's wedding in a completely normal manner. There was no guilt pang or tension as he believed that the murder was justified and full proof.
Roshanlal had no reason to return to Mrs. Sen's house now, but he had to do so to evade suspicion. He knew he would have to give a plausible explanation to Mrs. Sen when she'd ask why Karuna did not return home. If she suspected a foul play she might even to go to the police.
For the first time Roshanlal regretted killing Karuna. He should have disclosed the truth to her. At the most she would have left him. That would have been preferable to the situation he was now.
But secretly he knew that he had no alternative choice. When provoked, the otherwise lovable Karuna turned into a stubborn, jealous and vengeful woman. After learning the truth she would have definitely filed a case of bigamy and fraud against him and easily won it! He would have lost his medical degree and might have even gone to jail! He would be a shame to his family and a laughing stock to the world.
The more he thought about it the more convinced he became that killing Karuna had been the right thing to do. But now he must be cautious and choose his steps correctly.
Roshanlal returned to Kolkata. When he reached Mrs. Sen's house it was already evening. Though he tried to appear normal he felt nervous. His fingers were slightly shaking when he pressed the calling bell. The door opened and he received a massive jolt. For standing in front of him was Karuna! It was unbelievable! Impossible! He rubbed his eyes to see if he was hallucinating. Slowly his eyes adjusted to the dim light and he realised that it was not Karuna, but her mother Bonolata. In the soft twilight she looked exactly like Karuna. It was so scary!
As anticipated, Mrs. Sen asked why Karuna hadn't returned with him. Roshanlal had a well rehearsed answer ready for her.
"There's a good news for you. Karuna is pregnant."
Mrs. Sen expressed her happiness but still failed to understand why Karuna stayed back in Srinagar. The answer to that was also ready.
"The doctor said that her uterus is not very strong and she needs to stay in complete bed rest. Otherwise there's a chance of miscarriage. That's why she couldn't return with me. Don't worry, Ammi has promised to take care of her."
There was no reason to disbelieve him. Mrs. Sen's sister also had a weak uterus which had to be tied up during her pregnancy. Maybe the trend ran in her family.
THE MOTHER SUFFERS
When Karuna was alive Roshanlal used to admire Mrs. Sen's beauty and youthfulness. He often wondered why she hadn't remarried. But now her uncanny similarity to her daughter scared him. He started avoiding her as her presence did not allow him to forget Karuna.
Roshanlal secretly made preparations to leave the country. He applied for jobs in different foreign countries.
Mrs. Sen wrote a number of letters to Karuna in Srinagar. But she received no reply and this worried her. Roshanlal, who had given her a fake address, said that postal services were irregular in Kashmir due to political turmoil. There was no telephone in their Srinagar house either. Hence Mrs. Sen found no way to communicate with her daughter.
After three months she decided to go to Srinagar. Roshanlal had anticipated this and knew it had to be dealt with very carefully.
"I don't think it will be wise for you to go to Srinagar now. I'm sure once Karuna sees you, she'll refuse to stay confined to her bed. She may also become adamant to return to Kolkata. What if she has a miscarriage then? It can prove fatal for her health too."
What he said made sense. Mrs. Sen fell in a dilemma. To put her at ease he said,
"I am going to Delhi next week. From there I will visit Srinagar for a couple of days. I'll tell Karuna how much you miss her. For your comfort, today my brother called me in the hospital and said that Karuna is doing fine."
"It has been four months since I last saw my daughter. I'm terribly missing her. But I see I have to endure this separation for some more time."
Roshanlal was relieved. But his relief was short-lived. Mrs. Sen handed him a letter to deliver to Karuna. She also requested him to bring back a reply from her. Roshanlal wondered how could he bring a reply from a dead woman? He must think of a suitable excuse.
On the following week he went to Delhi and then visited Srinagar. On his way back he bought a beautiful Pashmina shawl from Srinagar Emporium and gifted it to Mrs. Sen.
"Karuna has sent this for you."
"It's beautiful," replied Mrs. Sen and put it away. "Where is her letter?"
"Karuna was extremely happy to receive your letter. She read it over and over again. She also wrote a reply but forgot to put it inside my bag. Very careless of her!"
Mrs. Sen slowly left the room without replying. The pain of separation became unbearable to her with each passing day.
THE BODY IS FOUND
10th June, 1969.
Srinagar Daily News reported that the rotten corpse of an unidentified woman had been retrieved from a deserted well near Pahalgam. Local villagers who went to the pine forest to collect fuel wood were disturbed by a foul smell coming from the well. They informed the police who found a body in the well. Post mortem reports reveal that the victim, who died around four months ago, was heavily sedated and then strangled to death. Her face was crushed beyond recognition.
The police found a gold mangal sutra on the dead woman indicating that she was married. There were other gold ornaments too. But none of these were made by the local goldsmiths. A purse and a rucksack have also been retrieved from the well. All this indicates that the woman was an outsider, probably a tourist. The contents of her luggage revealed nothing about her identity.
The police published the dead woman's photo in all local newspapers seeking information about her. Alongside they filed an FIR of homicide of an unidentified woman.
A month passed but nobody claimed or identified the body. The police got no further clues to bring their investigation to a conclusive end.
Roshanlal followed the news of the murder in an Urdu newspaper that came to his office from Srinagar a day after it got published. The 24-hour wait heightened his anxiety and nervousness.
To his great relief the police soon closed the unsolved murder case.
The next few months were very busy for Roshanlal. His job applications had started yielding results. He gave several interviews and was finally selected by a renowned hospital in Qatar. He applied for a work permit and visa and eagerly awaited the day he could escape from the country and get rid of the fear that nagged him night and day.
A STRING OF LIES
26th October, 1969.
Mrs. Sen was a calm and dignified woman whose emotional outbursts were very rare and subtle. But that morning she behaved a bit differently. She frequently looked at the antique grandfather clock and impatiently moved about from one room to another. Roshanlal noticed her unusual behaviour but had no time to find out the reason behind her restlessness. He was already late for the hospital.
As he was about to leave she stopped him and said,
"Whenever you get the news let me know immediately. I'll be waiting for your call."
Roshanlal did not understand what she said.
"What news?" he asked. There was a shocked expression on her face.
"You said that Karuna will be delivering her baby today. I'm sure you haven't forgotten that?" she asked.
Roshanlal had completely forgotten about that one. But one couldn't blame him for not remembering a lie he told eight months back. Now this woman was intensely staring at him, accusation clearly writ on her pretty face. It made him nervous and he tried to manage the situation.
"O-of course I remember," he stammered. "How can I f-forget that? Don't worry. The moment I get any news I'll let you know."
"I'm sure you will," said Mrs. Sen.
Roshanlal hurriedly ran down the staircase. Nowadays he felt suffocated in that house. He wished he didn't have to stay there and face Mrs. Sen anymore. But he knew that he would have to endure this till he left the country. He planned to call her in the afternoon and give her some 'good news'. But once he reached the hospital everything was forgotten.
Mrs. Sen anxiously waited for his call throughout the day. But when he did not call she rang him up in the evening.
"Did you get any news?"
He immediately remembered and silently cursed his forgetfulness.
"Oh yes, Manek called me just now. Karuna has given birth to a baby boy. Both mother and baby are fine. You're a Granny now."
"Really? Oh, I'm so happy!"
Her voice sounded ecstatic.
"I'm sorry that I suspected you," confessed Mrs. Sen in an apologetic voice. "You know, consternation is one of the hazards of old age."
"I'm a father now! Let's celebrate!" laughed Roshanlal and changed the uncomfortable subject. He didn't have the nerve to ask for what she suspected him.
After the initial days of celebration was over, Mrs. Sen again became impatient to visit Srinagar. When she requested Roshanlal to arrange for her flight tickets he again tried to dissuade her.
"There's no need for you to go there. I'll bring them back very soon."
Mrs. Sen perceived a note of fear in his voice but she chose to ignore it. She felt that age was making her hypersensitive. She stretched her lips into a smile and said,
"That's great. When do you propose to do that?"
"The baby is too small to travel right now. Karuna also needs some time to recover. I think I can bring them back by February."
"February is a long time away! Karuna needs me now. Every girl needs her mother after delivery."
"My Ammi is also like her mother. She's taking care of her and the baby."
"That's very kind of her, but still I want to go."
"They'll return home after a few months. Why bother going now? Instead let's go to the New Market this weekend to do some shopping for Karuna and the baby."
But nothing could change Mrs. Sen's decision. She was determined to see her daughter.
"Don't worry. I will lodge in a hotel and also have my food there. I won't bother your family in any way. But I must see my daughter."
Roshanlal had never imagined that the usually quiet lady would turn out to be such an indomitable rebel. He cleared his voice and said,
"All the flights to Srinagar are full now. You won't get a ticket before 16th or 17th January. Karuna and the baby will return in the first week of February. Is it necessary to go?"
"I know a travel agent who books earlier flight tickets against additional charges. I'll talk to him tomorrow."
It was then that Roshanlal realised that he'd have to murder Mrs. Sen too.
PLANNING ANOTHER MURDER
29th November, 1969.
That evening Roshanlal returned home with a severe headache. He went to Mrs. Sen's room to ask for a Sarridon. She was in the toilet at that time. Suddenly he noticed an envelope on the bedside table. It bore the stamp of Sunshine Travel Agency. He opened it and found inside an air ticket to Srinagar dated December 15, 1969. Along with it was the booking receipt of a hotel in Srinagar.
Roshanlal was shocked. He had never imagined that the lady would take such a bold step without his knowledge.
His first impulse was to tear the envelope and it's contents into tiny pieces. But he knew that was not possible. Then he felt a murderous rage and wished he could kill the woman there and then. But then he realised that this could be a godsend opportunity to get rid of Mrs. Sen without giving rise to any suspicion. 15th December was more than two weeks away. During this time she would definitely tell everyone that she was going to Srinagar to see her daughter. That would pave the path for him to kill her on the night of 14th December. The next day he would tell everyone that she had caught the morning flight to Srinagar. Nobody would disbelieve him. Unknowingly Mrs. Sen had given him the perfect opportunity to murder her and get away with it.
THE SECOND MURDER
14th December 1969.
Mrs.. Sen had been busy for the past few days shopping for the baby and Karuna's in-laws. She had feared disapproval from Roshanlal, but surprisingly he made no objection to her going to Srinagar. That day he even took her to the New Market and helped her to buy the right clothes for his family members. She felt happy that the ice between them was melting.
'It's the baby who changed everything,' thought she and smiled happily.
Roshanlal glanced at Mrs.. Sen's a happy face and again felt amazed at her similarity with her daughter.
'She smiles exactly like Karuna,' thought he. 'It will be fun killing her tonight.'
When they returned home it was past 8 pm.
Mrs.. Sen was feeling dog tired. The past few days had been really hectic. Tomorrow she would be leaving for Srinagar. This evening she would relax and take rest.
The night was chilly and dark. Roshan Lal made two steaming mugs of coffee, mixed powdered sleeping pills to one of them, and offered it to his mother in law.
"Nothing is better than a mug of strong coffee to relieve your pain."
Mrs.. Sen was touched by Roshanlal's concern for her. 'He's becoming the son I have always wanted,' she thought. She sipped her coffee and gratefully smiled at him...
'She looks inviting in that pink sleeping gown,' thought Roshanlal. 'What a pity that I have to kill her.'
Soon the old lady started feeling dizzy and fell asleep on the sofa. Roshan Lal carefully picked her up and took her into her bedroom. He gently lay her down on the bed and looked at her beautiful form for one last time. There was fire in his eyes as he passionately kissed the sleeping woman.
"Come my love, die for me," he whispered.
He took the Pashmina shawl off her body, wound it around her throat like a rope, and strangled her to death. Then he tightly held her to his chest and felt a strange pain in his heart. What an irony of fate! He had been forced to kill both the women he loved just because of their silly stubbornness.
Getting rid of the body was not easy this time. It must never be found. Roshan Lal carried her fragile body into the washroom and kept it inside the large bathtub. Then he got heavily drunk. It needed a lot of intoxication to do the gruesome deed he had planned to do.
Roshanlal chopped the body into pieces and washed off the blood in the bathtub. Then he wrapped each piece in separate newspapers and put them inside polythene bags. He stashed the packets into the big refrigerator and locked it.
Next day he told everyone that Mrs.. Sen had gone to Srinagar. The caretaker confirmed the news and nobody found anything to suspect. Next, he gave three months' advance salary to the domestic maid and sent her on holiday. He told her to rejoin after Mrs.. Sen and Karuna returned. Then came the most difficult part of the disposing of the body.
Roshan Lal changed the time of his morning walk. Earlier he used to go to Vivekananda Park at 6 am. Now he went there at 5 am, before sunrise. Every day, unobserved by anyone, he threw two polythene bags into Dhakuria Lake. Darkness and thick winter fog-shrouded him like a veil.
Luck favored him for seven consecutive days. But it left him on the last day. When Constable Ramesh suddenly yelled at him he lost his nerve. Nothing would have happened if he had kept his calm and thrown the packets into the water. Ramesh would have warned him and let him go. But that did not happen. He started running and got caught red-handed.
THE FRUITS OF KARMA
24th December 1969
"Sir, now I believe in the existence of karma," said Roshan Lal. "Just see, everything was going in my favor. I pulled off two murders without giving rise to any suspicion, my work permit, visa, air ticket, everything was ready. Just see the irony of fate. One small mistake and I lost everything. Had I not made that mistake, I would be in Qatar now, getting ready for the first day at my new job. But that was not to be. I had to pay for my sins."
"Don't you ever regret killing the woman you loved? You yourself said that Karuna was the only woman you have ever cared for. It seems later you fell for her mother too."
"Yes, I regret killing her... killing them. If Karuna was not so stubborn and vengeful I would have confessed everything to her and asked for her forgiveness. But knowing her well, I was sure that she would drag me to the court and ruin me in every possible way."
"When did you decide to kill her?"
"When she threatened that she would get my address from the hospital and write a letter to my parents if I refused to take her to Srinagar."
"Strangulation seems to be your favorite method of killing. Both your victims were strangled to death. Any particular reason?"
"I made sure that they died in their sleep. Both had painless deaths. It was the least I could do for the women I loved."
"Unbelievable! You need a Psychiatrist."
"You mean a hangman."
It was almost 6 am. Mr. Mukherjee made the convict sign under his confession and sent him back to his cell. It had been a long and tedious night for both.
Mr. Mukherjee was tiredly walking towards his car when a group of journalists surrounded him. They had been eagerly waiting for him for a long time to get a story on the case. He stopped in his stride to narrate the case to them in a nutshell and promised to give the details later that day. While entering his car he heard the journalists hunting for a sensational headline for the case.
"Come, My Love, Die For Me", whispered Mr. Mukherjee and sadly shook his head. Before driving away he briefly stopped to admire the beauty of the rising sun.