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What Is The Truth?

What Is The Truth?

41 mins 366 41 mins 366

ONE:  

Rocky Leaps to his Death

Late in the evening that day, Joy and Rocky had an argument. Joy and Rocky were not their real names, but it was the one they were called by everyone, and therefore they were stuck with the names. This had become a regular feature, these arguments, ever since Rocky was first charged with sexual assault and thereafter arrested by the police on a complaint lodged by Sheena. 


This incident had turned the family upside down, and when Rocky was released on bail after three months of incarceration in police custody, the arguments had begun. Rocky was innocent, or so he believed and wanted his family to stand by him in this darkest hour in his life. Soon, the court hearings will begin; his lawyers were already on the job, preparing his defence. They had heard his side of the story and went through evidence submitted by Sheena and the various reports filed by the police. They were confident that Rocky will be acquitted of what they called “baseless and frivolous charges”. They were digging deep into Sheena’s life, her past, to unearth dirty details. 


“Rocky, I’m not only your wife but your best friend. Why don’t you tell me what happened with Sheena? I know that you are holding something back, as you always do.”


“Please Joy, not again. Let’s have our tea in peace at least?”


“Tea? Peace? Do you still think I can enjoy tea and be peaceful? After what you have done to us? You men don’t care about women. Use and throw, that’s what you did to me and that’s what you did to Sheena, Meena and God only knows how many others.”

“Are you serious? Do you believe I sexually assaulted the girl? You think I am a sadist or what? That I enjoy raping women? Joy, before this Sheena matter, have you heard any such thing from anyone about me? Come on, we’ve been together for what, almost 30 years now; do you think you married a rapist?”


“I don’t think I know anything about you. You are a born liar. How many times have you lied to me; shall I count? You always covered up your misdeeds with artful deception. What choice do I have, what choice did I ever have, other than believing you? But all this shame, the humiliation…I can’t even go out anywhere without being stared at as therapists’ wife. My poor children refuse to go to school and college anymore. Look at them!”


“If you are so ashamed to go out of the house, it’s your fault. You have no confidence in me. You think I am guilty, that I am a womanizer. I don’t care what or how you feel. Have you ever thought about how I feel? Just imagine. I am the celebrity writer, a journalist of international fame; imagine how it feels for me to be talked about around the world as someone who could have assaulted a girl. Can you imagine the shame and humiliation I feel? Do you care? You live in your own make-believe world of kitty parties, facetious friends, gossip groups and parlour buddies. You enjoy the money I bring and the fame I earn. Why, till all this happened, were you not boasting to your buddies that you have the best husband a woman could ever dream of? Now, suddenly I am an albatross for you, I have ruined your cosy life. You know what you are Joy…a nasty bitch.”


Hearing him rant, Joy felt a strong current of hatred rise in her for her husband. How dare he say all this to her face? She had stood by him through thick and thin; when he was almost down and out of business. She had lent him money from her father when his magazine venture sunk; and here he was, talking nonsense. 


Her mind went numb with rage and suddenly the sounds around her stopped. Rocky was talking but she heard nothing. She suddenly felt possessed with an urge to kill him. She looked around the kitchen and picked up a large knife. Without warning, she lunged at him and started stabbing him all over. In the beginning, the knife seemed too blunt to harm him, and so she put all her might into it.

Rocky was staggering around like a drunk, taken aback by her attack. He deserved to die for all he had done and been doing to her. He deserved to die for being such an egoist and dominating husband. He deserved to die for raping Sheena and all other helpless women.


She had stabbed him 52 times and no place in his large body was left to stab. She was tired and collapsed on the ground crying aloud and shouting abuses at him. 


When she opened her eyes, he was sitting there on the sofa, in front of her. She had stabbed him all over but there was no blood on him or anywhere. She looked at her hands and she was clean. There was no knife in her hand. He was still shouting at her as if nothing had happened. Joy was confused. Was he real or was it his ghost? Where was his bloodied and dead body? She was alarmed and started looking all around. Did all this happen in her mind when she had stopped hearing his voice? It was her imagination, and she shuddered with fear. How could she even imagine killing her husband?


“Joy, I thought I had a wife who would trust me. But I guess that was wrong. I ruined your life. That’s what you think, isn’t it? I am sick of tired of everything that is happening, I don’t think its worth fighting for my name when even my dearest and nearest have no faith in me? It's better that I die. At least you will not have to live with a rapist and womanizer husband, your name and the family name shall not be sullied. Once I am gone, you shall be free again.”


“What a grand speech! Save it for the courts Rocky. If you want to kill yourself, go ahead and do it instead of delivering speeches here. Oh God, I feel like laughing at the comedy!”


Normally, the fight would have ended with Rocky walking out of the house threatening never to return, and Joy thanking him for doing so. But not tonight. Joy took long strides towards the balcony of their 15th-floor apartment to demonstrate his will; turned around with hateful eyes at Joy, said “That’s it then”, and disappeared over the balcony. He had actually jumped down to his death.


TWO: 

Joy’s Sorrows


Joy woke up with a start and stared at the ceiling in her bedroom wondering where she was and what she had done. Ever since Rocky died, she would replay the event of that fateful evening. Particularly the one where she was there with the big knife, stabbing him 52 times and Rocky sprawled on the floor of their drawing-room in a big pool of blood. 


Rocky was dead, gone and cremated a week ago. He had jumped out of the balcony of this very apartment, right in front of her eyes, and she had done nothing about it. Was she guilty of his death? Was it the fight she picked up with him that led to his death? He was never the person to kill himself. Was it an accident? Did he really want to die? He was winning the case against Sheena, so said his lawyers. They why?


Joy was born into the army, her father was a very decorated General, and so were her grandfather and uncles. Like all army children, she went to convents, the best colleges and studied liberal arts. She was beautiful, talented and had boys running after her. She did have a few casual relationships, never anything serious. Her marriage to Rocky was arranged by her parents, though the decision to choose him was hers. She had the freedom to say no to the proposals her parents brought to her, and she had seriously examined the details and finally chosen Rocky as the best match. 


Before their marriage began its downhill descent, she had been fine with Rocky. He was caring, though not to her benchmarks; he loved her passionately, though it could have been better. He let her spend money without conditions attached, which she appreciated. But still, she felt a strange distance between her and Rocky; as if he had carefully kept his personal world away from her. Like most husbands, he was too busy with his profession and dreams, which created feelings in her which were mixed. She liked his passion for success and enjoyed his fame. Yet, inside her, she could sense jealousy, or was it something else? 


Joy was herself well educated and talented, but she could never think of a career for herself; she could not feel any drive or urge inside to blossom into a professional. But yet it was there, the feeling that she was ignoring herself and basking in the glory of her husband. Many times, she felt guilty about it. Why was it always that men were meant to further their career and women were not? Nobody ever stopped her from chasing her dreams, but where were those dreams that she had wanted to chase?


When the children came one after the other, she thought she had found her purpose. But soon, the feeling of not getting fulfilled returned to haunt her. She felt dwarfed by her husband, and sure enough, the feeling transformed into jealousy, not in its literal sense but really a feeling of guilt within her; a voice that kept blaming her for not caring for herself but for all others. This voice soon seemed to be more overpowering than the voice of reason, and that affected her mind and brought changes in her attitude.


Joy had never believed that Rocky had a thing for other women. Not until this thing with Sheena happened. It was sudden, unexpected and shattering for her. Rocky had explained his position to her which was that he was being framed by the woman, his colleague, as they had differences in their workplace. He was her boss, and she took advantage of the very women-friendly laws to get back at him. She believed him, but the more she read in papers and saw on the television, Sheena’s version of events rang true and sowed seeds of distrust and doubts in her mind and heart.


Going out of the house brought the spotlight on her, even as the media hounded and stalked all of the family. Even this was manageable; her dear friends were the worst. In their own innocuous way, they probed and drilled her for information. It was sensational news and who could stay away from it? Her friends empathized with her and blamed the girl for slinging mud on such a respectable person as Rocky was. But Joy could feel the hidden feelings and could read their thoughts. After all, Rocky was influential, rich and a male. This world is made for men and successful men make the most of it. It would only be natural for Rocky to succumb to temptations of the flesh, though there was no doubt that he loved Joy and his children. It could be that this woman, Sheena, had provoked his worst male instincts deliberately; or she was so charming that Rocky was aroused as he could never be with Joy.


In short, while all her friends swore to stand by her in her distress, most of them believed that Rocky had done the unthinkable. All of them led drab and routine lives and this story involving their best friend juiced it up. All this added to Joy’s mental burden and complicated the already volatile emotional mix. She would sense people out in streets pointing to her and passing snide remarks. It was as if it was her fault; she had failed to give Rocky what he wanted and forced him to seek beyond the home. 

She had seen Sheena only on the television and was impressed by the way she put forth her story. She looked suitably harried and harassed and exploited. Her demands for justice sounded genuine and justified. Joy could not help believing what Sheena said about Rocky. Deep down, feelings for Rocky were turning from bad to negative to hateful. 


Joy’s parents consoled her and asked her to stand by her husband. They were confident that Rocky was straight and could do no wrong. But Joy knew that this was only a front they had put for her. She could see they were rattled by this sudden turn of events that had dragged them into unwanted limelight. They were privately ashamed of Rocky but would say nothing to her.

She replayed events of that fateful evening again and again in her mind. Rocky just took off before her eyes and the next thing she saw was his crumpled and crushed body beneath their building. A crowd had gathered and soon the police had come. As this was an unnatural death, they had to carry out investigations, and they questioned Joy and the children again and again.


“Were the two of you alone in the apartment when the incident happened?”


“No, my son and daughter were in their rooms. The servant had left for the day.”


“Did you notice anything unusual with Rocky?”


“Of course, everything has been unusual with him ever since the incident involving the woman surfaced. He was disturbed and troubled.”


“But on that particular day, did he seem more disturbed?”


“Not that I noticed anything unusual than before.”


“Do you two fight often?”


“We do have arguments, more after his involvement with the woman.”


“What kind of arguments?”


“Just about the case and how it was going to go.”


“You said arguments. Did you initiate or him? What were your differences about his case?”


“I can’t say he initiated or me. It just happened. We did not have “differences” as you put it. I thought that he was not very transparent to me.”


“You thought he hid something from you? He was not truthful? He could have been guilty of raping the woman?”


“Please don’t put words in my mouth. Its natural between husband and wife in such a situation to have doubts. I needed him to assure me, and I was insistent.”


“Meaning, you would normally start the arguments.”


“Well, my life had become unbearable. It became difficult for me to go out of the house. Everyone near and dear to me was looking at me with different eyes. Some friends were even avoiding my company. My children were disturbed and harassed. It was only natural for me to ask Rocky questions.”


“And his replies did not satisfy you, is that true?”


“You talk as if I had pushed him over the balcony.”


“That’s not what I meant. But you did have doubts about his involvement, you did not believe in what he told you and you felt, if I may say, some negative feelings for him for having put you and your children in such a messy situation.”


“Well, the situation is definitely messy and surely, he was responsible for all of it. But it does not mean I wanted to end his life.”

“Did it ever cross your mind? Ending his life? If he were to be dead, as he is now, it would be a huge relief for the entire family. The case is no more alive, people forget after a while, and you can return to your normal life.”


“Nonsense! How can you say such things?”


“So, you still loved him?”


“Of course, I do! We were married for almost thirty years!”


“Was he suicidal? Did he appear to be so depressed as to end his life?”


“No, he wasn’t and that is what bothers me. He was confident of his acquittal; his lawyers were so sure. He was so full of life always.”

“So, it could have been an accident?”


“Accident? Maybe. He had threatened to kill himself a couple of times earlier also, but I knew he would do nothing of the sort.”


“Why?”


“Why, what?”


“Why did you think he would never commit suicide?”


“Because he was not suicidal.”


“Yet, he jumped off the balcony before you could say “stop”?


“Yes.”


“Did you see him jump?”


“I did.”


“Can you describe what you saw?”


“We were talking heatedly, and I was telling him that he was hiding something from me. We were both in the room, sitting on the sofa. He said I did not care for him or his problems and was worried only about myself. But he was wrong. I was worried about the family and him as well. Then he said that maybe if he died it will put me out of my misery. I shouted at him to stop talking like that, but he kept repeating it and said, “well then, let me put an end to all this here and now”, and then walked across to the balcony.”

“You followed him there, to try and stop him?”


“No, I didn’t. I was sure he was being dramatic and theatrical.”


“So, you watched him rush to the balcony, sitting on the sofa?”


“Yes”.


“And then, what happened? What did you see?”


“He reached the railing of the balcony, turned back at me and shouted “This is it. It’s all over. Now you are free.” And the next moment he was over the balcony and …. he was gone!”


“Madam, you said that after reaching the balcony, he turned around at you and shouted. After he shouted, did he turn away from you? Did you see him jump? Or he just fell on his back?”


Joy was weeping loudly “How can I say? It all happened so fast. I don’t know.”


After death, things had moved fast. The police concluded that it could either have been a suicide or an accident. Either way, he was gone permanently. His lawyers moved the court to dismiss the case and filed fresh charges against Sheena for being instrumental in driving Rocky to suicide. A host of legal formalities were to be done and Joy was plunged headlong into it.


The media debated the sudden turn of events for a few days. Did Sheena cause Rocky’s death? Was Rocky driven to suicide because he was guilty of rape and could not stand the pressure? The debates were sensational but inconclusive.



THREE: 

 Rocky & Sheena


Rocky was born in Darjeeling, where his grandfather owned large tea estates. His grandfather had moved to Darjeeling years ago when the British still ruled India. He was the manager for a large tea estate owned by a Britisher. Before India became independent in 1947 and soon after it became clear to the British that their rule in India will end soon, the British owner of the tea estate legally transferred the estate to Rocky’s grandfather as a gift for his loyalty. The family suddenly came into affluence, and his grandfather made the most of the gift. He could buy more estates and establish a very profitable business.


Rocky’s father, being the only son in the family, inherited the estates from his father. By the time the old man died, Rocky’s father knew every aspect of tea business and was able to take the business to greater heights.


Rocky was therefore rich by birth. All he had to do was learn tea business from his father and join the family business. Rocky’s brother and sister too were involved in the business. However, Rocky had other plans and his destiny would take him away from Darjeeling to Mumbai. He would not study tea business but literature. He had the flair for writing, and he chased his dream to become a journalist and writer. When he told his parents about his dreams, they dissuaded him, then persuaded him to stay back and learn the business. But as he was adamant, they let him go, with a rider that he would chart his course on his own, without any help from them. He would, they told him clearly, get no share of the wealth generated from tea estates and his brother and sister would be the sole beneficiaries after his father passed.


He, however, got a lump sum as survival allowance from his father when he agreed to the conditions, and with this capital, began a new life in Mumbai. He would be in touch with his family but never visit them. They would be cordial to him but never invite him. Rocky was lucky to become what he became before his death. He built name, fame and fortune. All on his own.

He met Joy through mutual friends who had been insisting him to marry and raise a family. He was impressed with Joy and the marriage happened. His brother and sister attended with their own families. His father and mother, both had passed by then. He had been told after their funeral and did not bother to go over for formalities.


Rocky planned to start a magazine, a journal like the Time and Newsweek magazines. He put in all the money he had and even borrowed some from Joy’s parents, but the venture failed. Of course, he was disheartened but then he took all in his stride. Five books published under his name became best sellers and brought him a fortune. He soon became a known name in the global circuits that matter and often travelled to deliver keynote lectures and speeches. For a while, he was even a page three celebrity!

Rocky always kept a low profile, never going overboard with his views on controversial subjects. He kept a safe distance from politics and politicians. He made good friends, influential friends, business friends and yet kept his profile low. He had everything one needed for a grand and luxurious life, wealth, fame, friends and family.


Sheena came into his life at a time when he was right on top of the world. She was good looking, a good journalist and a good friend. She worked for him and soon he liked the way she handled his office affairs. 


When a man meets a woman, tongues start wagging. They were soon linked as a couple, though it was far from true. The buzz reached his ears and he spoke to Sheena about it.


“Do you hear what your people say in office?”


“Of course, I keep my ears to the ground.”


“Do you know what they talk about us?”


“Forget it Rocky! People gossip. They see us together, lunch together, laugh together and make stories. You disturbed?”

“Of course! You know I like to keep a low profile. Never get involved in any controversies.”


“What do you want me to do about it?”


“Just be aware and wary. Let’s keep some distance.”


“Ok boss.”


But at work, the distance was something the two could not maintain for they had to be involved together in many things. The gossip and buzz continued.


“Sheena, what the hell is happening? These guys out there are hell-bent on defaming the two of us. How do we stop this nonsense?”

“By ignoring them. The more attention you pay, the worse it gets, and right now you are a great help to them.”


“Look, I don’t like this one bit. Our new office in Delhi. Would you be interested in going there to head the office?”


“Just because someone is talking about us? No Sir.”


“I need to have my best person out there, and who better than you?”


“One stone, two targets? I am gone and the buzz dies. I never thought you were a coward!”


“What nonsense! Just because these two events have come up at the same time does not mean I want to get rid of you.”

“Look, here’s the deal. Keep me in Mumbai or I walk.”


“You are being unreasonable Sheena!”


“Unreasonable my foot. You think you are the master of all. You care only for yourself, your image. I am a woman and most vulnerable, yet I am not afraid of anyone saying anything about me. Now, the moment you get rid of me, people will say that you have moved me to Delhi for your convenience. Their belief in their love story is strengthened. Boss and Sheena, now conveniently cosying whenever they want in Delhi instead of Mumbai! That’s how they will see it. Understand Boss?”


“I’m sorry you feel this way, but that was never my intention. But I still am uncomfortable having you around in my office here and people talking about us.”


“Then, fire me.”


“What?”


“Go on, you are the boss, fire me.”


“Meaning you won’t even consider resignation?”


“Give me one good reason why I should? I like you; I like the job, I love Mumbai. I am doing well with your business. Why should I resign?”


“I don’t want you to go.”


“Well then, forget the bastards outside and focus on work!”


Rocky could not argue with Sheena, but his discomfort grew. He did the most to avoid being with her for long hours, but it was not working. It seemed to him that Sheena sought his company on flimsy excuses. The more he thought about her, the more troubled his mind grew. He dared not fire her, he hardly had fired any employee. But he also did not know how to get out of this situation. Rocky tried to make it clear to his staff that there was nothing between them. He behaved with her as he would with any other female employee in his office. He even raised his voice with her a few times just to show their relationship was professional.

It was not natural for Rocky to behave like this with anyone, but he painfully admitted to himself that since Sheena refused to listen to her, he had to deal with her thus. He could see that all this act of his did not go well with Sheena, but she said nothing to him and behaved as if nothing had happened.


FOUR:  

The Inquisition of Sheena

Sub-Inspector Kishan Lal was assigned the task of investigating the complaint lodged by Sheena against Rocky. It did not surprise him that the lady in question had come out boldly to file this complaint. These days, many such complaints were being lodged and there was even a movement launched on the internet. Laws have been amended to make it easy for women to come out against atrocities committed against them by men. Kishan Lal was old school and did not understand the movement or the hype around it.


Women were traditionally respected in Indian society, but it is common knowledge that men only paid lip service to women. Within the confines of their homes, they had different views about women; that women are meant to be homemakers and their primary responsibility was to bring up children and manage the household. In public, however, they spoke differently, supporting the upliftment of women and encouraging them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men. Most men, however, felt that there were limits which a woman should not cross. Why men, even women feel that their boundaries, however, liberated, are limited and must be respected. Women must not be objectified, that is a general opinion, and so, they are expected to dress conservatively, behave conservatively and think conservatively. 


Kishan Lal was no doubt a votary of the traditional woman, and in his family, this was clear and accepted by all. But beyond that, he understood that he had no control over what happened and why. He had long since accepted that everyone had the free will to choose his life script. Why women alone, even men need to define their boundaries and respect traditions. He remembered how his father would not look directly at his wife when he had to speak with her. His wife never called him by his name. He could not remember the time when he called her by her name. 


The complaint was graphic. The lady had accompanied the accused Rocky on some official event in Delhi. There they had stayed in a hotel for three days, had parties to launch their new office. The two, Sheena and Rocky had partaken in the parties with gusto. While she had consumed alcohol, though in moderation as the complaint put it, Rocky used to get drunk. The complaint mentioned that Rocky had a bad eye for her right from the time she had joined his office. Then there were subtle advances which she politely resisted. 


It was however when a new office was being launched in Delhi that Rocky had told her that he wanted to promote her as the head of the Delhi office. She had refused, as she did not trust him. She feared that he would take advantage of her posting away from Mumbai. He was however insistent and was angry with her for refusing the offer. His behaviour changed and he was now vindictive with her. He would shout at her in front of other staff members, and insult and humiliate her on frivolous grounds.


At Delhi, he sent feelers to her again and again. His body language became more and more intimate and intimidating. He tried to get her drunk. When nothing worked, one night, he had called her to his room and got physical with her. There had, however, been no intercourse. For this reason alone, perhaps, Kishan Lal felt that the case would not fall under the definition of rape. It was his view that this could be sexual harassment and sexual assault.


The accused, Rocky, was an eminent personality and quite influential. There would be, Kishan Lal admitted, pressures from various quarters to soft-pedal. This always happened. The accused had a huge reputation to save and he would go to great lengths to preserve that. Kishan Lal had a bothersome assignment on hand, and he worried about what will happen.


“Madam, I am the investigating officer in the complaint filed by you, and I need to ask you some important questions.”


“Of course, inspector. You shall get all your answers, I promise.”


“What was the nature of your relationship with Rocky?”


“He was my boss and I was his employee.”


“How did you get recruited by his company?”


“There was an advertisement and I applied. There was an interview and I got selected.”


“Were you working previous to your appointment in Rocky’s company?”


“Yes, I was employed earlier.”


“Where, madam?”


“At Quintus & Company.”


“How long did you work there?”


“Three years.”


“Why did you leave?”


“Better prospects. Better job profile.”


“Did you know about Rocky before you joined his company.”


“Yes, I did. He is a very public figure.”


“What did you know about him?”


“That he was one of the most respected writers and journalists of our time. A good employer under whom I can learn and progress.”


“Anything bad about him? Did you hear anything negative about Rocky?”


“No.”


“How many women employees are there in your company?”


“Fifteen, maybe twenty.”


“All young like you?”


“Yes.”


“You were friends with these female employees?”


“Of course, but not all of them.”


“Did your friends talk to you about Rocky?”


“They did.”


“What did they have to say about Rocky?”


“That he was a thorough gentleman, very understanding.”


“Any complaints before or after you joined the company by any female employee?”


“None that I know of.”


“Any unreported incident involving Rocky and female staff?”


“No. He did not mix much with the staff.”


“But he mixed with you, I understand.”


“Yes, my work demanded frequent meetings, discussions and travelling with my boss. So, I guess he had to mix with me.”

“You have said in your complaint that he had bad eyes for you, he made advances, sexual in nature. When did this begin?”

“Maybe six months after I joined.”


“And you found none of this worth reporting?”


“Inspector, when women have to work with men, there is always some flirting, passes, advances. We tend to ignore and take this in our stride. It’s what they say, “occupational hazard”.”


“Yes, “occupational hazard”. I understand. But you say this happened repeatedly and frequently. Yet, you chose to ignore?”

“Look, officer. I am a career woman. If I keep quitting jobs just because men flirt with me, I would rather be at home than work.”

“Yes, I understand. Difficult to work with men, isn’t it?”


“No, it is not. But some men are sick and difficult to deal with.”


“You say that Rocky attempted to rape you. What exactly happened?”


“You have no doubt read my complaint; it is detailed.”


“Yes, I have, but I want to hear from you.”


“Look, if that gives you any pleasure, so be it. Rocky called me to his room to discuss some important developments. I went and soon realized that he had a different agenda for me. He put his hands on my shoulders and drew me close to him. He touched and felt me. When I resisted, he tried to disrobe me so that he can have his way. He could not. He was drunk and slurring in speech. I told him to let me go so that he can sleep it over and clear his head. He wanted me badly and clung on. I could finally disengage myself from him and walk out of the room. 

He then called me on the hotel phone to apologize. But I was feeling hurt and humiliated.”


“Of course, madam, I’m sorry but I have to put these questions to you. So, you slept that night, spent another day in Delhi doing your duties, flew back to Mumbai and the next day filed your complaint. Right?”


“Right.”


“Why did you not call the hotel staff?”


“I should have, but I did not. I can’t say why.”


“Neither did you go to the local Delhi police the next day.”


“I was not in any frame of mind to think clearly. I wanted to give myself some space and time to think.”


“Of course, you were quite stressed and traumatized. But madam, you did attend to your office duties the next day, all through the day.”


“Yes, I did. I told you I was walking and talking and doing things in a daze.”


“Did Rocky talk to you about the previous night’s event?”


“He did not say anything to me except talk about the office.”


“You spoke to him about the event?”


“I did not, I told you I was not in any frame of mind.”


“Madam, I know that both of you were alone in his room when the assault on you happened. There were no witnesses. After returning to your room, did you speak to anyone at all? Your friends, family, anyone.”


“Inspector, I was dazed and in a shock. I spoke to none.”


“Did you meet anyone on your way to his room or back to yours?”


“No.”


“Unfortunately, the CCTV on the floor was under repairs. Well, it seems that it is your words against his.”


“Seems like it. Have you spoken to him, officer?”


“Not yet, but I will madam. Thank you for sparing time. I may disturb you more.”


“Thank you, officer. I hope you will file the right report.”


“Madam, I will file my report based on what I discover. But who am I to decide right or wrong? The courts will decide Madam.”


“I understand. Right you are.”





FIVE:

 Sheena’s Woes


The events in her life were taking a toll of Sheena. Little did she foresee that her life would turn topsy-turvy so fast and so soon. Rocky’s suicide jolted her and the subsequent media speculation about her being responsible for his death was preposterous. Rocky’s lawyers had filed a petition charging Sheena with having driven Rocky to death even as they suggested that there was no evidence that he was guilty of rape or sexual assault. Rocky was gone and now she had become the accused.


Sheena lived with her parents in Mumbai and she was their only child. Long ago, her father had migrated from Bengal to settle down in Mumbai. She was brought up with great love and affection and her parents doted and pampered her. She had always been feisty and aggressive which traits now defined her. She was born to be a journalist and she became one. She had always idolized Rocky and wanted to be famous and rich like him.


Sheena’s parents did not oppose her when she insisted on filing the complaint, yet she could feel their concern and anxiety for her. When the media splashed her on the screens and in print, they looked more worried. Not once did her father discuss the incident or about Rocky with her. Her mother tried to, but Sheena never shared much with her. She did not want her parents to be dragged into the news, but she had failed. 


Rocky’s untimely death devastated her parents and for the first time, he asked her whether all was fine with her. He was frightened now, and perhaps thought Sheena could be in great trouble. Sheena too had lost most of her cheer and was now more depressed than ever before. There would be no case against Rocky now and soon people will forget about him.


Already, the media was abuzz with the analysis that there was no evidence that the assault took place as Sheena claimed. No witness, no evidence, only her words. What weight did her words carry? Initially, the women welfare people, all kinds of NGO’s proclaiming to uphold women dignity had flooded her with offers to help, but now, there were none to come forward. Her own lawyers were asking her to pay fees. When it began, there were lawyers of all hues queuing up for the case. Her lawyers had asked her not to worry about money and they would take care of it. The court was bound to award hefty compensation, over and above legal costs.


Now she was isolated and alone. No lawyer wanted to take up the case against her. Her friends were advising her to leave Mumbai and settle elsewhere, as this change will restore her peace. Earlier, these same friends were goading her to stand up and fight. She was told that the fight was not against Rocky, it was against the entire ‘mankind’. 


Had she committed a blunder by filing the complaint? Now people were even doubting her motives. She could have done it for vendetta, for money that could come her way if she won. She was taking the benefit of liberal laws for women. How could she fight perceptions?



SIX: 

The truth about truths


The legal process was over now, and Joy had legally inherited Rocky’s assets and money. It was worth a lot, enough for her and her children to live happily ever after. But the dream haunted her. She killed Rocky repeatedly in her dreams, in different ghastly ways. The newspapers, media and lawyers had all begun saying that Rocky was innocent and that there was no sexual assault. She felt guilty that she had suspected Rocky of rape. She was the one who had hounded him day and night, insensitive to his stress and trauma. She had brought out all her deep-rooted feelings of hate for him. She was the one who had driven him to death. Had she been a bit more understanding, she could have saved Rocky and things would have been normal.


She had panicked. She was more worried for herself and her universe, too busy worrying that her world would shatter. All the best memories of Rocky played like a slideshow, and her guilt worsened. She was the one who killed Rocky.


But Sheena? Had she lied? Was the complaint a mere tool of revenge as Rocky had suggested? Why would she lie? What could have motivated her to go to such an extent? What was the truth, after all?


Joy felt the urge to meet Sheena; to seek the real truth about the incident. Sheena would not retract her story, why should she? Why should Joy believe Sheena?


Truth, Lies, deception; it was all very difficult to grasp and understand. Why did Joy want to know the truth now? Why hadn’t she done it earlier? 


Joy finally contacted Sheena and a meeting was set up.


“Sheena, thank you for seeing me. I know it is not appropriate for me to come to you like this. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not here to accuse you of my husband’s death. I just felt a need to talk to you and get a final closure.”

“Final closure, is that what they call? I’m afraid there will never be closure for both of us, but yes, I feel it is good to talk to someone freely, that too with Rocky’s wife.”


“You know, I feel enormous guilt about the way Rocky died. I was there, sitting with him, just like we are here. I was shouting at him like a mad person. I was accusing him of all kinds of misdeeds, deception and deceit. At that time, I had come to believe that he was guilty of the rape. All he said rang untrue to me. You know, he got so wild that he threatened to kill himself so that I could be free from him and the troubles he had caused. And then it happened. He was taking long strides towards the balcony and there I sat hysterically yelling and laughing at him. I was shouting at him to go ahead and kill himself. I believed he was a coward, too afraid to die by his own hand. He would never have the guts to jump off the balcony. Then, he just disappeared from my sight. At first, I thought he had hidden and would appear suddenly. He didn’t. I rushed to the balcony and looked down. I could not see anything from that height. Then the security called and asked me to rush down. It was then I saw Rocky, or what remained of him.”


“I’m truly sorry for what happened to Rocky, I truly am. Look, I never imagined this kind of thing would happen. He was a good boss and I liked him immensely. But when his behaviour changed, I could not understand his motives. At the hotel, what he did to me was the last straw to break. Even after the incident, I thought a hundred times about what I was going to do? You know, it’s a funny feeling. The worst happens to you and you suddenly go numb in your brain. There are no thoughts coming in or going out. You just sit and stare. You feel nothing and do nothing. And hours later your brain starts functioning. First, you feel the emotions, shame and indignation. Why me? What wrong did I do to deserve this kind of treatment? Then comes the anger. How dare he do this to me? What does he think of himself? Is he God? Finally, the reason arrives. What am I going to do now? Should I go to security, the police? Should I call my parents, my friends? How will people react, when they come to know? Who will believe me? What if Rocky can turn opinion against me?

Joy, for more than a day, I just sat over it and did nothing. Just spoke to me and listened to all the voices inside me. Then I assessed my emotions. Anger and retribution were on top of the list, and I decided to file the complaint. Left to me, it would have been brief, but my lawyers added a lot more than I wanted to tell.

When Rocky died, it was as if the skies burst and were falling on me. I felt crushed. Then the papers and television all started telling that I had driven him to death. There is absolutely no evidence apart from my statement to prove that I was assaulted. No signs of physical violence, no scars, scratches, absolutely nothing.”


“Sheena, you know what I felt about all this? Rocky was not the kind of person who could kill himself. Nine times out of ten, he would be truthful to me. We had a healthy and transparent relationship, with no man or woman between us. Never. I wonder whether he jumped on his own or perhaps it was accidental! He never spoke about you except when the case was on. But I listen to you and again that feeling returns. Perhaps he was not as trustworthy as I had believed. I came here to learn the truth.”

“And have you? I mean, the final closure.”


“No. You were right. There will be no closure. I am confused about which truth to believe. I could not imagine there would be so many truths.


There is Rocky’s truth; he kept telling me that he was not guilty and that you have done this to exact your revenge on him for sidelining you. Then there is your truth; you say he did assault you and I am unable to find any reason to disbelieve your version. Why would you lie? Or maybe you are lying, only you know; just like Rocky, only he knew the truth.


Then there is the world truth, what the world at large, the papers and the television think of this episode. First, they were all with your version, now it is Rocky who is getting all their support. Unfortunately, we could not get the Court’s truth. Even if we had got it, would it have mattered to me?


What do these truths mean for me? I have known Rocky for three decades and perhaps know him better than anyone. But do I really know Rocky? Like the general public, I was swinging between what my emotions dictated and what my mind was telling me. First, I believed Rocky could do no harm, then I was convinced that you were telling the truth. What is the final truth that I believe? Am I to choose between the two truths, yours and Rocky’s, and decide the best option for me, the most convenient one that will help me put the sordid chapter to rest and allow me to carry on with my life? Will that be the truth? I guess the truths will haunt me till I die. That perhaps is the final truth.”



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