The Mysterious Happenstance
The Mysterious Happenstance
“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” the therapist Mrs. Saini said, stolidly.
I cannot even endeavor to explain how much this used to piss me off. How I’d pretend that I’m really gonna be okay -- as if I was just a misbehaving toddler rather than a teen with enhanced & exalted maturity. God, how much I scorned this place! It was as if they wanted me to relive all that agony all over again instead of alleviating it. Everyone thought that I’d gone berserk, and it was all delusional.
“What are you thinking?” she asked, more gently than before.
“Nothing, ma’am,” I lied, almost automatically.
“C’mon Sarthak, you know I can sense it from 10 feet away whenever you hold something back. Think of me as your confidante -- I’m not gonna judge you for what you think, no matter what happens and I’ll be there for you. Always. Now, there, cheer thee and tell me.”
Not gonna lie, that did make me feel a tad better. “It’s just t-that...you know, I’ve told this to so many people several times over. Nobody believes me. They think I’m being paranoid. That I’m imagining things….” I cracked up.
There was deafening silence for a while, disturbed only by the birds chirping outside, savoring the aesthetics and vibes of the day. My perturbed face might have evoked some commiseration on the therapist’s side, as she got up from her seat and crouched down near me, gently clutching my hand into hers. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. It’s you who have had to undergo that ordeal.
You’ve been as valiant as a knight in shining armor for dealing with this. Not everyone feels that they can efficaciously rise up to the challenge. Those who don’t believe you aren’t in your position, so it’s easy for them to hand down demeaning comments naively. So, putting all other thoughts aside, why don’t we start all over again?”
I nodded, ready this time.
“It was the morning of New Year’s eve. We were visiting some relatives in Kasauli. It was the winter season. As if it was a premonition of what was to come later, the weather was unusually bad that day, with the IMD experts advising to stay indoors because of a blizzard storm that was brewing.
Due to freezing temperatures, the fireplace had been lit up and it was quite cozy inside. Unbeknownst to the harsh conditions of weather prevailing outside, we were all having a gala time together -- playing a game of BlackJack, devouring on the appetizing snacks that had been made my bua or father’s sister and occasionally guffawing at the incompetence of my brother who lost six games in a row.
It is important for you to understand that my father had cancer. He’d go on chemotherapy sessions frequently for treatment and was also taking prescribed medicines. Professionally, he was a judge in the High Court bench of the capital city of Shimla. Personally, he was a loving father to two children and also a caring husband.
That day, he was busy gossiping with all the uncles and elders of our house. I was too vested in defeating my brother once again to notice what was transpiring. Some of them say that he got a call pertaining to a civil case that had to be urgently sorted out. Why someone would want to draw someone out of the comfort of their homes in this harsh weather is something beyond my imagination. But it is what it is.
I happened to step outside for a while to deliver the jalebis that my aunt had made to our gracious neighbors. I saw my father coming in my direction, clad with snow, heaving as he walked. I waved out to him. In a split second, he clutched his chest and collapsed right there in front of me. ‘NOOOOOOO!’ I bellowed, dropping the packet of jalebis and rushing forward. The rest of the details are obscure and blurred. I think I might have passed out due to shock for a while. When I came to, I saw tear-streaked
aunts and uncles. ‘What happened? Will my father be alright?’ I enquired, but they were too much in grief to break the news to me. It was a grim realization. Eventually, the maid told me, ‘Your dad’s dead.’ For a while, I was too distraught to talk. The official coroner’s report proclaimed that he’d died due to cardiac myopathy resulting from anthracyclines.
From that day onwards I’ve been having nightmares. I guess it’s because of the trauma. Yet it seems so real. I overhear some convo taking place between my dad and one of the lawyers with his clients. I cannot see their faces. The client starts yelling suddenly, ‘You’re an imbecilic moron! Do you understand what the stakes are? You’re placing yourself in harm by doing this!’
‘How dare you threaten a High Court Judge! If anything, I’ve been too generous. Don’t use that tone against me,’ my father, says.
‘It’s alright, I’m sure our flared up selves won’t be too keen to dissuade each other rather than handling this with equanimity. We can perhaps take this up later.’
The lawyer and his client come out of my father’s chamber. The lawyer murmurs, ‘He’s too obstinate and principled. You can’t get what you want if you go through this long judicial process. He’ll have to be eliminated. Have your men ready. Make it look prima facie a case of a drug overdose.’
I can’t go into depth about the other ones, but this convo keeps recurring almost every night whenever I go to sleep. It makes me feel uneasy to think that there was a plot to have my father murdered.”
I pause for some more time. There’s deafening silence again.
“Your father’s death report shows that he indeed died to an overdose of anthracylines. I think that’s legit, don’t you think?”
“There’s gotta be some explanation, it is too much of a coincidence.”
“Okay, let me see what I divine something from this and then we can continue this talk further. For now, you can go get some home.”
After few days
I went up to the porch of my house and picked up the newspaper. The headline goes - ‘A renowned therapist, Dr. Saini was killed today in cold blood…’
I went numb with shock. Suddenly, two cops showed up at my home. “We need to talk,” one of them said. “We recovered this from a hard drive on her computer.”
The policeman handed me a piece of paper.
One of my patients, Sarthak, claims that there was a conspiracy to murder his father. Even though it seemed far-fetched but while he was talking to me it felt like he was telling a truth that even he himself was unconsciously aware of. So, to get to the truth of the matter, I started my own investigation. I’m writing this because of a stunning revelation. The actual toxicology report showed that his father had died because of excess NSAIDs in his system. The coroner’s version says that it was because of his prescribed meds -- the anthracylines. This inconsistency bothers me as his father is not known to have taken any painkilling meds priorly.
Everything happened in a split second -- the second cop took out a gun and shoots the first one. Then, keeping it pointing at me, he beckoned, “Not a word to anyone, or you’re dead. Before I realized what was happening, a hood was placed over my face and I was taken away gruffly.