Revenge35 mins 467 35 mins 467
Hitesh put his glass of whiskey down carefully so as to not topple it. He was sitting on a rooftop with his friend Pravin. To be more accurate, he was sitting atop a broad beam that divided the rooftop into two parts that slanted gradually. They got access to the rooftop through a small window in the attic of the house. The house was quite old and dilapidated and the rooms were full of debris and dirt. It was Pravin's idea to sit and chat in this strange place. Pravin's ancestral house was in a small village, just outside the bustling Mumbai.
Very few people lived in the village. Most of them had migrated to Pune or Mumbai. There were some restaurants on the highway where there was still some hustle and bustle but once you leave the highway behind and walk on the cobbled path towards Pravin's house, the sound gradually kept falling behind. In fact, sitting atop the house, all Hitesh could hear was the sound of rustling leaves and chirping birds. From where he sat, he could see the cobbled path going all the way to the highway. There were other houses around them but only three of them showed signs of life.
Hitesh smiled at his friend who sat a little bit away, fidgeting with his glass. Pravin was short statured with an invisible hump on his back that made him permanently stoop. He kept his hair very short that made his forehead look quite imposing. His eyes were dark and he kept a severe expression on his face all the time. Hitesh was tall and well built and loved to eat and to party. He had the gift of gab so he never had any shortage of friends. Still he and Pravin were childhood friends, walking to school together and then deciding to join the same college to spend more time together. There they had met the soft-spoken Jivan, who was tall and lanky and who had a calm head and who kept them out of trouble countless times.
"So how do you like it here?" Pravin smiled back at Hitesh. His smile made him look downright ugly.
Hitesh looked at the gorgeous view of the sunset amidst the pink and yellow clouds, the green fields that spread below them and he felt the cold breeze on his face.
"Amazing!" He said slowly. "I love the view. This is simply amazing."
Pravin's smile deepened. He knew Hitesh was now high as a kite, given that he was now using the word 'amazing' quite liberally.
He waited for some seconds staring at the yellow orb that was about to go beyond the horizon. It was time to broach the topic. He stole a glance at Hitesh once.
"Do you know what happened to Jivan?"
Hitesh took a large swig and then put his glass down with exaggerated care.
"Only that he got married to that darned witch."
The darned witch in question was Kamini. Only two years back they were all in the college, studying computers and god knows what else. Hitesh, Pravin, and Jivan were best friends. They would attend classes together, hang out together, prepare for exams together. Then in the final year, Kamini, the cutest girl in their class, joined their group. It was clear to everyone that Kamini had joined their group only because she had a crush on Hitesh.
After all, Hitesh was quite a catch. He was tall and handsome and had a good physique. He also did quite well in the exams and everyone expected him to land a great job. Only Pravin knew that Jivan was head over heels in love with Kamini and that Hitesh had no feeling for Kamini. Hitesh was madly in love with his cousin. He had once confided in Pravin about his infatuation with Nisha who was the only daughter of Hitesh's maternal uncle.
"I know that nothing can come out of it but I can't stop thinking about her. She has a hold on me that I can't explain. I swear to you that many times I have tried to end it but then one whisper from her, one touch of hers and I simply lose my head. I can't stop thinking about her."
When Kamini finally asked Hitesh out for a date, Pravin expected Hitesh to decline her offer knowing that Jivan secretly liked her but he was surprised when he found that Hitesh not only accepted her date, he actually asked her to go steady with him. Pravin assumed that Hitesh wanted to break from Nisha.
"No yaar! I will never be able to forget Nisha. She was my first, buddy and you never forget your first but she told me that I am inexperienced so I am thinking of honing my skills with Kamini."
Pravin was left disgusted. For some months he actively avoided Hitesh. He never shared Hitesh's intention with Jivan as he could see that Jivan grieved for Kamini ignoring him in favour of Hitesh. Not that Hitesh minded their absence much. He was very busy dating both Nisha and Kamini. Then one fine day, Hitesh stopped coming to the college. After about two weeks, Hitesh sought out Pravin and begged him for a meeting. He was alarmed when he saw Hitesh though. Gone was the handsome hunk. Standing before him was an emaciated figure who stooped and who sported an unkempt beard. Hitesh's eyes were wild and his thoughts scattered. He looked a broken man.
"I am done, for now, buddy. I am ruined." Hitesh had sighed dramatically. Pravin looked at him, alarmed and shocked at the change in his friend. By and by, the story spilled out of him. Kamini had somehow found out about Hitesh's dalliances with Nisha. She tried to use that information to blackmail Hitesh into breaking off with Nisha and into marrying her. Hitesh and Nisha had thrashed the living daylights off Kamini who had then complained to the police about the assault on her. Kamini then shared the pics and messages between Hitesh and Nisha with their families. The end result was that Hitesh was brutally thrashed by his father and his maternal uncle. Nisha was married off in a jiffy and packed off to her husband's home. Kamini's parents took an exorbitant amount from Hitesh's father to take back the police complaint. They had to sell their office and Hitesh's father decided to move to Ahmedabad, to live with his brother.
Hitesh was admitted to a second grade college in the final year. They were going to catch a train that very day. That was why he had begged Pravin to meet him once. He shed tears many times during that meeting. Pravin could not even bid his goodbye properly. Hitesh went away from their lives. Kamini stopped talking with them. Pravin stayed in touch with Hitesh through letters. When Jivan started to date Kamini, Hitesh sent an evil letter to Jivan where he abused Kamini. Jivan showed that letter to Pravin and informed him that he would no longer correspond with Hitesh. Pravin focussed on his studies and graduated with honours. He landed a great job with a MNC. Hitesh landed a job with a private company that paid lowly wages. However he was happy that his job was in Pune, so he could stay away from his family. His one mistake had been discussed threadbare in the intervening years and he had been sick of being blamed for all the ills and misfortunes befalling their family. When Hitesh asked for a party, Pravin asked him to come and meet him. Then he took him to his ancestral house, climbed up the stairs and used the window to go out on the roof top.
Pravin took a sip off his glass and waited for a couple of moments. Then he licked his lips once. Whenever he would get nervous, he had this silly habit of licking his lips once.
"Jivan is dead, bro!" He finally blurted out. "He killed himself."
For some seconds, Hitesh did not respond. Pravin waited with bated breath for Hitesh to respond.
"That fool." Hitesh finally muttered. "I warned that fool. Kamini was a bad choice for him." His voice broke so he cleared his throat once. "Damn it! Why didn't he listen to me?"
Pravin sniffed. He had loved the soft spoken Jivan as his own brother. His sudden demise had left him confused and in a daze. He had read Jivan's suicide letter. He now shared its contents with Hitesh. Jivan had basically blamed his wife Kamini for torturing him mentally, for always picking a fight with him, for not letting him take respite even for a moment, for conducting illicit affairs with her team leader and her team manager, for threatening to send Jivan and his family to jail on trumped up charges of dowry harassment.
Kamini had ruined Jivan's life, made him suffer every single day of their marriage and finally pushed him off the brink. When Jivan put his head in the noose and kicked off the stool underneath him and swung to a very painful death, Kamini was in the other room with her team leader. Jivan's dead body was spotted by a maid who screamed and gathered people from the society. When the police came, they forced Kamini to open the door of her apartment. Her team leader was caught hiding in a closet.
"As if the suicide letter was not damning enough!" Hitesh lighted a cigarette. "Have they been arrested?"
"Both of them are out on bail." Pravin sighed. "This is the reason why I wanted to meet you here in the wilderness."
"Because you want to avenge Jivan's death?" Hitesh let out a cloud of smoke. "I totally understand."
"She can't be let off the hook so easily," Pravin said. "She should be made to pay for all the atrocities she inflicted on our friend."
Hitesh puffed on his cigarette for some time. Then he crushed the stub slowly.
"Listen, buddy," He seemed to choose his words carefully. "I must tell you that I don't believe in revenge. What is done is done. We should always look forward, not backward, right? I mean, what's the use staying rooted to some traumatic event in your past? Jivan chose Kamini over us and then paid the bloody price for it. Let him rest in peace."
"But he is not in peace," Pravin wailed. "He can't rest in peace until his wife is made to pay."
Hitesh picked his glass, realized that it was empty and asked Pravin to hand him the whiskey bottle. Pravin waited patiently as Hitesh made his drink.
"I don't simply want her apology. I want her to suffer." Pravin's tone was determined.
"And how do you plan to do so?"
"Well, here is where you come in. You contact her again, you take her out on some dates, you make her fall in love with you again and then you make her come to this house all alone. I will kill her here, but not before torturing her to my heart's content. Then I will bury her here itself. No one would be even aware of it. And then I will come to the roof top, sit here like I am sitting right now and drink a toast to Jivan, our friend and brother."
Hitesh finished his drink. He then lit up a cigarette and thought about it. He had unfinished business with Kamini. She was the one who ruined his life, who stole Nisha from him, who forced his father to pay a huge amount to settle the case that caused their financial ruin. He had warned Jivan about Kamini but the fool did not listen. Hitesh had not spoken with Jivan for almost two years and he no longer felt any solidarity with him. Pravin though still felt quite strongly about Jivan. He was even ready to kill Kamini.
"So what do you think?"
Hitesh nodded. Pravin high fived him and then they started to discuss their plan to catch their prey.
Hitesh was successful in not only meeting Kamini but also in getting dates with her. In their second meeting, Kamini confessed that she had always loved Hitesh, that she kept trying to find him in her lovers.
"I can't bring myself to forgive myself," She wept copiously on their second date. "I don't know how to right the wrongs that were committed because of my one mistake. I just wanted you for myself. I just wanted you to see that the incestual affair was wrong but then things kept on escalating and then it went completely out of my hands. I am sorry, truly sorry."
Hitesh hugged her sideways and let her cry it out. When she was able to compose herself, he kissed her and told her that all was forgiven.
"Sometimes things happen and we just don't understand why they are happening. In the end, I have seen, again and again, that whatever happens they happen for the best, you see. It was good that I spent some time away from both you and Nisha. Now I can see it quite clearly that you were the right person for me and that Nisha was simply bad for me. I should have ditched her and stayed with you. But then, it doesn't matter. We are together again. That's what matters."
Hitesh went back to Pune for his job but he kept in touch with Kamini. They would chat or talk till the wee hours of the night. Hitesh used Pravin's money to buy gifts for her. Kamini came to visit him twice in the span of one month. She seemed to be hopelessly in love with him. Hitesh kept Pravin in the loop with all the developments.
"The witch wants me to marry her," Hitesh's latest email read. "She is totally enchanted by me. We did it, buddy. We did it! Now we can roll the final stage of our plan."
"I will get the house ready for her." Pravin wrote in his reply. "Let us fix the date of the 15th of next month."
"Done. I will accompany her. I want to see her suffer."
"That was not the plan. You should stay away. You will be the first suspect for the police."
"I understand but I will still be there. We will think of some story for the police."
Pravin believed that Hitesh's hatred for Kamini made him unreasonable. To underline it, Hitesh reminded Pravin that he had hated Kamini ever since Nisha was wrenched out of his life.
“She took everything from me, buddy. Nisha is gone. My father does not even talk to me properly. I don't know if my relationship with him will ever improve. No, buddy, I hate her and I have to be there to see her suffer. And we will make her suffer, buddy. Let me come. Don't deny me this.”
Hitesh sent the email and waited for Pravin's reply. It was true that when Pravin outlined his plan to kidnap and then kill Kamini, he had been unnerved. It is one thing to think of how to hurt someone and it is quite another beast to actually carry out that plan. The whiskey in his blood had made him agree to Pravin's plan but later, when his head cleared, he thought deeply about the plan. He was scared that Kamini might see right through his lies, that she would notice that he did not really care for her but Pravin had assured him that people look for what they want to see in a relationship.
That was the reason why so many people were stuck in abusive relationships as the victims liked to make themselves believe that their abusers actually loved them even when it was very evident that the abusers are inflicting pain on their victims to exert power on them. There was no question of any love between an abuser and a victim. It was always a power play. Pravin was proven right again and again. Hitesh found that his words sounded hollow when he sent messages and emails to Kamini but she accepted them on their face value and appeared to be totally smitten with him. It made his head swim. Kamini had become putty for him, to be moulded into anything he wanted her to become.
Pravin grimaced after reading Hitesh's email. He didn't want Hitesh to witness his brutality on Kamini. He had obtained a cat o'nine tails that he was going to use to whip her thoroughly. In the end he was going to bury her alive. His house was isolated and he knew that her screams would not attract any attention. He had not shared all the details of Jivan's death with Hitesh. Even though Jivan had broken off contacts with them after his marriage with Kamini, Pravin had always remembered his friend fondly. Jivan was the most soft-spoken among them, the kindest among them. He was tall and lanky and had a pleasant voice. He always tried to help others and he never made fun of people around him. He was totally unlike Hitesh who loved to mock Pravin's looks and clothes.
Everyone would laugh at Hitesh's bad jokes about Pravin and he would always pat Pravin's back and tell him that it was done in jest but his words cut Pravin deeply. Pravin respected Jivan's opinions a lot. Many times he had asked Jivan's thoughts on problems besieging him and Jivan had always taken time out to listen to him intently and then to share his own thoughts and plan of action that were both reasonable and eminently workable. For Pravin, Jivan was a much dearer friend than Hitesh. Some weeks before Jivan finally committed suicide, Pravin had run into him.
Jivan had seemed frustrated with his lot in life. He confided in Pravin that Kamini was having an illicit affair with his brother Keval. It had broken him totally. His brother was a good for nothing creep who lived off his brother's income. All he had ever done was go to a gymnasium and build his body. When Jivan had challenged Kamini about her affair with Keval, she and Keval had slapped Jivan and pushed him around, insulting him for his looks and for his wimpy behaviour.
Pravin listened to Jivan's harrowing story with growing horror and unease. The more he listened, the more he hated Kamini for ruining Jivan's life. He also wondered how any god would have allowed Kamini to destroy the life of such a gentle soul.
"How could this be not unfair, o god?" He had prayed at nights. "Save Jivan. Help him find courage to leave Kamini."
Jivan could never find courage to leave Kamini. He decided to simply leave the unfair world where Kamini was able to make him suffer every single day.
"There is no god, no justice, no fairness in this world." Pravin had seethed. "I will have to do something to settle the score for Jivan. But I don't want to destroy my life in pursuit of my revenge.
I need to plan carefully." Then he thought of Hitesh and how he too harboured anger and resentment at Kamini for destroying his life. Thus Hitesh was recruited in the plan and he proved very useful in snaring the prey. However his insistence on watching Kamini suffer was totally unexpected. He would have to change his plan. In any case, it would soon be over. He sent back the reply email to Hitesh with a terse “OK” and then thought about how to frame Hitesh for Kamini's murder.
Kamini alighted from the taxi right at the gate of the cafe where she was supposed to meet Hitesh. The cafe was right on the highway. She was dressed up in blue denim with a yellow shirt. She wanted to stand out in the crowd. That had always been the case with her. She wanted all men and boys to look at her, to admire her. She took a seat beside the window to await Hitesh's arrival and ordered a cappuccino with lots of creams and only one table spoon full of sugar. Hitesh had come back into her life and that was such a great piece of news that it had made her forget all about that loser Jivan and his suicide. Her marriage was actually a huge mistake. She should never have dated Jivan. They were not meant for each other. She married Jivan only because she knew he would land a good job and that he would let her be herself and not force her to become some sort of dutiful daughter in law.
Within weeks of their marriage, she had got bored of Jivan. He kept on repeating the sob stories of his childhood. How many times was she supposed to listen to his struggling days, of his abusive relationships with his parents, of how badly his own brother treated him? She began to snap at him and instead of standing up for himself, he started to whine and made things worse for them by involving his very abusive parents. It became a shit show every day and she fell totally out of love with her husband. Then she tried finding love in her team leader, who was a creep and who basically forced her to sleep with their manager so that both of them could get good salary hikes. Tongues began to roll in her office. Her reputation was destroyed. She did not care. Jivan suffered a lot but she ignored him. She was just a shell, living from day to day. She hated Jivan so much that to hurt him she even slept with Keval. When Jivan protested, Keval beat him up. That was a very satisfying show for her, two brothers fighting with each other for her when she cared nary about either of them.
When the coffee arrived, she took a sip and wondered what happened to her. Why did she decide to sell herself so short? Perhaps she hated herself for how she destroyed Hitesh's life. She felt tremendously guilty for what happened to Hitesh. She would often think of that fateful day when Pravin approached her. He told her about Hitesh's affair with Nisha. He showed her some really inappropriate pics of Hitesh with Nisha and asked her to confront him. She then hacked into Hitesh's phone and downloaded all the pics and videos and text messages that she could find that would corroborate her story about Hitesh's affair with his cousin. She then confronted Hitesh and Nisha who then lost their minds and roughed her up. Her father saw her swollen face and blood on her lips and he got livid and lodged a police complaint.
From that point onwards, she could only stand in a corner and watch the filthy drama run its course. She lost the love of her life and watched in horror as Hitesh's life and career fall apart. She thought of committing suicide many times in those days but she could not bear to let her sister suffer alone. Her little sister, Kumud, suffered from cancer and she did not want to add to the misery of her sister. By and by, she pulled herself together. She never spoke with Pravin again, unsure of his motives. She had always been a bit scared of Pravin. The fall out of her confronting Hitesh was so frightening that she never could bring herself to question Pravin about why he shared the sordid details of Hitesh's affair with Nisha with her. Did Pravin plot for Hitesh's downfall? She never could get answers to those questions. Pravin actively ignored her and she could never draw up enough courage to challenge him.
She finished the coffee and put the cup down with a sigh. When Hitesh dropped in to meet her, she was pleasantly surprised. They rekindled their romance and she realized how hopelessly she was in love with Hitesh. He went back to Pune for his job but they did not let distance come in between them. One day she decided to pay him a visit. They went to a hotel and made love. Then, as they relaxed, she told Hitesh everything he should know about his so called best friend Pravin. She broke down many times that night as she shared how things kept getting progressively worse for Hitesh and all she could do was watch Hitesh's world burn down. Hitesh stroked her hair slowly, gently and he cursed Pravin for his machinations. She was relieved that Hitesh agreed with her that it was all due to Pravin's mischief that all hell broke loose. Hitesh spoke of his childhood days spent with Pravin.
“He was always jealous of me, that SOB!” He said. “He wanted to be the most popular guy, the coolest guy but he looked like shit, you see. His face is such that only his mother can love him.”
That made her giggle. She had always felt contempt for Pravin who always came across as a fake person, as someone who was trying too hard to fit among cool people. Moreover, Jivan loved Pravin as his own brother and that added to her contempt for she believed that only losers could love other losers.
Then Hitesh shared with her a plan to kill Pravin. She got scared but Hitesh kept elaborating the plan and spoke with so much conviction that she finally yielded. The plan, in its entirety, was to be carried out in two steps. The first step was to get Pravin to come to an isolated spot and the second step was to kill him and stage an accident. He told her about Pravin's plan to kill her.
“It is quite easy to trap him. I will tell him that I am bringing you over to the farmhouse. He will come to kill you but we will outsmart him and kill him. That will be his punishment.”
She checked her watch. It was at 11 AM. She looked outside the window and noticed a taxi stopping. Hitesh stepped out of the cab and strode inside the cafe. He looked really dandy with a blue denim jacket over a red T-shirt and black jeans. He looked around the cafe and spotted her. He gave her a big smile and walked to her table.
"So all set?" She asked him as he settled down.
"Yep." He ordered two smoothies for themselves.
"Not scared, are you?" He asked her in a gentle voice as he patted her hand. She shook her head.
"As long as you are here, with me, I don't really care."
He nodded his head.
"He should be in his ancestral house, waiting for us."
Her throat suddenly dried up. This was it. This was what they had been planning for so long. Pravin was all alone in his ancestral house, the dilapidated house where no one came, waiting for her to come so that he could kill her. They had managed to successfully lure Pravin to an isolated place. Now the second phase of the plan was to be enacted. Instead of her being killed, they were going to kill Pravin and then stage an accident and leave his body to rot. Wheneve someone would come to find him, they would see a hopefully decomposed body and assume Pravin died in an accident.
"We look like tourists so no one would bat an eyelid if we are seen moving about."
The waiter brought them their smoothies. Hitesh finished his quickly. She took some time to finish her drink. Hitesh was getting to be impatient. He just wanted to get the job done now. Pravin would be waiting to kill Kamini. He would let him do so. Then he would kill Pravin and let their bodies rot in that stupid house. He had hated Kamini for so long that he simply could not bring himself to forgive her. She had to die. In his nightmares, it was always Kamini who would scream and rant at him and Nisha, who would abuse Nisha and make her cry. He had to shut Kamini's voice for good. He had to kill her but he also had to kill Pravin, the lying bastard who pretended to be his friend, who instigated Kamini and started the process that ruined Hitesh and his family. Pravin would have to pay for his crimes with his life.
"Let us go." Hitesh spoke hoarsely. Kamini glanced at him once then she got up from her seat.
Pravin stood on the rooftop and looked at the path approaching his house. Hitesh had sent a message 10 minutes back that he and Kamini were stepping out of the cafeteria. It would have taken Pravin about 15 minutes to come to his house but he knew that he actually walked faster than most people so he gave Hitesh and Kamini about 20 minutes to reach his house. He sucked at his cigarette slowly and released the smoke through his nostrils. He had finished his preparations for the ambush. Hitesh had to be knocked out first. For that, he had acquired a dart gun that was generally used to tranquillize animals. The dart gun owner had assured him that if the dart were to be shot in the neck of the victim, the medicine would do its job in seconds.
“I made this medicine, kiddo. I know what went into it. It is a deadly cocktail mixture of poisons but everything is kept under limits because we don't want to kill someone with it. Nope! We just want to incapacitate that person for some time. That way, you get to do whatever you want to and get away before the victim even wakes up.” He winked and smiled and Pravin felt creepy crawlies run over his spine. He was standing next to a criminal, someone who had robbed young men and women. The criminal had modified a dart gun to make it look like a small handgun that shot tranquilizer darts. Now he took it in his hand and demonstrated to Pravin on how to use the gun.
“You shoot him on the nape, if possible or on the neck. If his weight is 80 kgs, you would need to put 0.5 gm of medicine. That would surely knock him out for good 8 hours, if not more. If he weighs more than 80 kgs but less than 100 kgs, go with 0.7 gm. Don't use more medicine than required or else your victim would go into a coma, perhaps even die. Then the police will get involved. And we don't want police to get involved here, do we?”
Pravin nodded dumbly. He paid Rs one lakh and obtained the gun along with one gram of medicine. He prepared the dart gun and the criminal ensured that he put only 0.5 gram of medicine in the vial. When he left, Pravin changed the dosage in the vial to one gram. He wanted Hitesh to die. It was time to kill Hitesh and Kamini and get rid of the toxic bubble that he was carrying for such a long time.
He tossed away the cigarette stub and looked at the path again. He saw Hitesh and Kamini walking slowly towards his house. He gave them another three minutes before they reached the front door. Then he noticed another person behind his quarries. Pravin froze. It was Jivan's younger brother, Keval. For some moments, Pravin stood rooted to his spot, his mind into a frenzy. It was quite clear to Pravin that Keval was following Hitesh and Kamini for he kept a safe distance between them and tried to stay as much of their line of sight if they had turned back. Why was Keval following Hitesh? Or was he following Kamini? For what purposes? He wasted crucial seconds thinking about Keval and now he realized that Hitesh and Kamini were very close to the front door of the house.
He slithered back to the attic window, climbed in and hustled down the stairs. Still, in the end, it was not enough so he had to sprint and hide near the front door. He could take only a moment to regroup himself before the door was pushed open by Hitesh.
“After you, ma'am!” Hitesh said to Kamini who giggled. Pravin braced himself to attack Hitesh. His finger was on the trigger of the dart gun. Inside his palm, the gun sat snugly. He heard footsteps. He expected Kamini to enter first but he was surprised to see it was Hitesh. He cursed himself for losing the first movers advantage. If he jumped at Hitesh's back now, Kamini would notice him and she might sprint away. Hitesh had outwitted him!
Pravin was still seething in frustration when Kamini was pushed inside and then someone came barging inside the room. Kamini stumbled and rammed into Hitesh who staggered. It was Keval who had barged in and who was now trying to quickly close the door. He saw Pravin trying to melt in the wall and he could not help but give a start. Pravin took the opportunity to take some steps back and he quickly moved his dart gun to his pocket.
“Hey!” Keval exclaimed. “What are you doing over there?”
“What the he**?” Hitesh exclaimed when Kamini was pushed into him.
“Owwww” wailed Kamini for her right ankle was twisted roughly and after ramming into Hitesh she crumpled on the dusty floor.
“Oh! Hey, Keval!” Pravin said trying to appear cool when he was so nervous his legs had started to shake.
“What the hell are you doing here, you moron?” Hitesh snarled.
Keval brandished a handgun from his pocket and pointed it at Hitesh first, then he turned the gun towards Pravin and waved at him to join Hitesh. He decided against shooting in the air and wasting a precious bullet.
“Quick now,” He pointed the gun at Pravin, urging him to move. “Kamini, stand up and come here!”
She got up shakily with help from Hitesh then she limped towards Keval.
“You shouldn't have pushed me so hard, you dumbo!” She complained. Keval smiled at her and mouthed 'sorry'. Hitesh and Pravin exchanged a meaningful glance with each other. Keval and Kamini knew about their plan and now they had turned the table.
“Whatcha thinking, boys?” Kamini tittered. “You do think that you are too smart, right? Pravin, you wanted Hitesh to get me over here so that you could kill me. And Hitesh, you wanted to kill Pravin too but maybe you wanted to kill me too. I read your email. I didn't know you hated me so much. The language used sure didn't seem to be all fake. After all, you have still not forgiven me for taking Nisha away from your life, have you? You really thought you were plotting and counter-plotting when I and Keval knew all about your stupid plans and we made our own plan to beat both of you at your own game. How does that feel now?”
“Keval, you fool,” Hitesh's voice was hoarse. “She killed your brother. Come on, man. She has to be killed.”
“My brother killed himself and he was an idiot. He never deserved her.” Keval's face became wistful. “She was too good for him. I and only I deserve her. I am going to make her mine. I will keep her safe.”
“She would get you killed too,” Pravin licked his lips. “Whatever she touches, whatever it is, it is destroyed. She just brings bad luck, man.”
“Shall I shoot them now?” Keval asked Kamini.
“No,” She sat down and rubbed her ankle. “Give me two minutes. I need to figure out why Pravin wanted to kill me.”
“Why do you want to know?” Pravin sounded tired. He took two steps towards them.
“That's enough,” Keval snapped and he unlocked his gun with a click. Pravin stopped immediately. Keval was only three steps from him but his gun was pointed directly at him. There was no way he could take out his dart gun and shoot at Keval without getting fired at. From this distance, Keval was not going to miss.
“Jivan had a good reason to kill me. Hitesh here has a good reason to kill me. But why you? I have never harmed you.”
Kamini stopped rubbing her ankle and then stood up gingerly putting her weight on the sprained ankle and grimacing a bit due to the pain.
“I always dreamt about you,” Pravin's voice was tender. “So many times I wanted to confess my feelings for you. So many times I wanted to come closer to you but you never looked at me. Your eyes were only for Hitesh and then when he went away, you kept enouraging Jivan and you ran rings around him till the fool stopped thinking rationally. Why, Kamini, why? Why wouldn't you give me a chance? I helped you so many times. I was the one who would help you with your homework, remember? I was the one who would book tickets for your favourite movies. But you never considered me good enough for yourself.”
Kamini's expression changed from shocked to disgusted within seconds. Keval could not help but smile at the ugly, thin person standing in front of them, professing his love for Kamini.
Suddenly Pravin started sobbing. He put his hand in his pocket, ostensibly to take out his handkerchief but his fingers brushed against the cold steel of the dart gun. Hitesh, who had stood paralyzed to his spot, decided to take this moment to make a dash towards Pravin. Keval turned his gun towards Hitesh and fired once. Hitesh managed to reach Pravin and pushed him towards Kamini and then he felt the pain on his left pectoral muscle. The bullet from Keval's hand gun had missed his heart but it had hit his left lung. He saw a pool of blood start soaking his shirt from the bullet hole in his shirt. He seemed fascinated with his bullet wound as he kept staring at the pool of blood that kept on pouring out of the wound.
Pravin had lost his balance due to Hitesh's push but he still was able to take out his dart gun. Using his left hand, he pushed Kamini away who screamed when he touched her and then he fired once at Keval. The dart hit Keval on his left arm. Without even thinking about it, Keval turned his gun towards Pravin and shot at him point-blank. Pravin's feet were knocked out underneath him and he crumpled on the floor.
Keval tried to turn his gun towards Hitesh who was now looking up at him with a dazed expression. For Keval it should have been an easy shot but he suddenly realized that his head was getting heavy and his vision was getting blurrier by the moment. Then the blurred room exploded into 2 frames, and then the frames became 4 then 8 then 16 and his vision got distorted and all he could see were various colors mixing with each other and then they all became one gigantic stream that started to move sluggishly. He tried to scream but he could not even open his mouth. His eyes rolled and he welcomed the blackness that rushed towards him. He fell face-first on the floor, the fall breaking his nose and causing blood to spurt out. The blood filled his nose and then mouth and slowly choked him to death.
The sound of his face hitting the ground was so sickening that it churned Kamini's stomach. She retched once then shook her head to clear the dizziness. The gun from Hitesh's hand had bounced off the floor and was sent flying some distance away. She noticed Hitesh staggering towards Keval's gun. She thought about making a run for it, away from the house, away from the losers assembled in there. After all, the door was only two steps behind her but she decided against it. Hitesh could have tried to shoot her in the back. She instead made a dash for the gun forgetting all about her sprained ankle. The sharp jab of pain made her scream and it teared up her eyes. She tried to shift her balance to her left leg mid stride but then she lost her balance, staggered and fell clumsily on the floor. She lifted up her eyes to see Hitesh stooping to pick up the gun.
Hitesh was not even watching the drama unfolding in front of him. The pain from his chest had now seemed to paralyze his left body. He had never felt such excruciating pain ever before. He found himself unable to react at all. He could not even tear his eyes off his wound. Everything happened in slow motion for him. The sound of Kamini screaming made him lookup. He watched dumbly as Keval fired once at Pravin ostensibly killing him but Pravin had fired something at Keval too and whatever it was, it had lodged in his left arm and then Keval had face planted on the floor.
Hitesh watched the gun bounce and roll and come to a stop. He tried forcing his legs to move towards it. From the corner of the eyes, he noticed Kamini attempting to make a run towards the gun and then screaming out in pain and falling on the floor. Hitesh reached the gun first and then tried to pick it up. The sudden movement to stoop made his head swim. He sank to his knees and for a moment he blacked out. When he was able to open his eyes, he noticed Kamini approaching him, limping, her face contorted with rage. He could not take his eyes off her face.
Even in a blind rage, full of hatred, she looked transcendental to him, almost like an ethereal beauty. He fished for the gun without looking down and when he found it he picked it up, pointed at Kamini who had almost reached him and then he shot her twice. The force of the bullets pushed her feet off the ground and she fell on the floor without even groaning once. She must have died mid air.
He tried to get on his feet. The pain in his left chest had dulled but he had lost a lot of blood, given that his shirt was stuck on his body and there was a pool of blood on the floor where he had been kneeling. When he was finally able to stand up, he lurched violently, as if unable to keep himself standing. He tried to reach the door but after taking three steps he stepped on the dart gun, lost his balance and hit the floor head first, cracking his skull. He lost consciousness again and never regained it, bleeding gradually to death.
Pravin groaned and opened his eyes. The bullet fired at him had passed right through his gut. The sharp pain had caused him to conk out. He dragged himself to sit and then looked around at the three dead bodies. He had lost some blood but he was alive. He thought carefully on how to extricate himself from the mess. The hand gun would have fingerprints of Hitesh and Keval and so he let the gun be with Hitesh. He pocketed the dart gun and removed the dart still stuck in Keval's left arm. Hopefully the police would not ask for detailed toxicology report in the autopsy so the deadly cocktail of poison in Keval's body would not be detected. In any case Keval was dead so even if autopsy was to be conducted it would be mostly about how he died and the verdict would be asphyxiation caused by the blockage of his respiratory tract by blood flowing from his nose.
Pravin dragged himself up and immediately winced as the gunshot wound in his stomach ached terribly. His story to the police would remain simple. He had called Hitesh and Kamini to come and meet him in the farmhouse and Keval followed them and then shot at them. Pravin was going to speak the truth. He was shot and he lost consciousness and when he woke up he found three dead bodies. As to how they died and the order in which they died was for the police to figure out. He went past the body of Kamini and hesitated for a moment. She was really beautiful but all she could give to her lovers was misery and pain. He had lied to Kamini about loving her. He had never liked her, perhaps because he could see that she was like him.
“A manipulative psychopath!”
A sneer formed on his lips that deepened when he saw the dead body of Hitesh. Finally, he had got rid of the motormouth who had time and again stolen everything from him and whose words were so traumatic for him that they still kept him awake at nights. Hitesh was universally loved but Pravin who was better than him was universally derided, all because Hitesh looked better than Pravin. Hitesh looked quite ugly as he lay dead. The pain on his face had frozen and it had distorted his perfectly chiseled face.
“Looking uglier than me! Ha!”
Pravin glanced once at Keval's body and then stepped out of the house. He had done it. He had finally taken revenge on the people who had hurt Jivan. He could now close the chapter and move on with his life. He dialed 100 and waited for someone to pick up the call.