“She was a good woman” the keeper sniffed.
The keeper was a nice homely woman. Her children had married and flown the nest and she had transferred all her affections to Mira. Now as she stood before Harni; her eyes puffed from the constant downpour of tears, the skin below the eyes rough and red from the constant rubbing it received from the edge of the pallu, she wondered whether the grief was as genuine as was being expressed. The undisclosed will, which had been discreetly disclosed to the police, left the keeper an unashamed sum of seventy five lakh rupees along with the apartment they were currently standing in.
Her masseur on the other hand, would receive nothing for kneading her tired muscles in a state of further pain. As the pseudo Swedish music wafted out of repaired speakers, she wondered what her south Indian masseur was thinking about. Was she secretly laughing at the overweight figure she was pounding at? Did she notice that her leg needed waxing, though thankfully not very badly? Or as she mechanically carried on her torture under the guise of massage, was she thinking about her own problems and possible solutions to those?
That was the biggest problem. Mechanical functioning. Human beings are very mechanical. They train their bodies to perform, without overindulgence from the mind or heart. Which is why a husband could probably work his usual shift, despite the fact that he had to return home to cater to an ailing wife; the financial strain thus endured reflecting only on the sheets which formed his bank balance. An extreme example. But there are thousands of tiny things the human body is trained to do.
Like smile back when someone smiles at you. You don’t mean to do it, but it is the force of habit. Or maybe; sober up when someone mentions a critical illness. Not that the illness makes sense to you, but it is what is expected of you and thus how you expect your body to naturally perform. Maybe even burst into tears at the mention of death. Someone dies, you have to cry, just to let the world know that you grieve. And like the ancient old myth goes, you never speak ill of the dead. Wonder why? If the deceased has been a horrible being…
She was a good woman. Had that too stemmed from the fear of being the victim of an evil curse? Or perhaps the keeper had known about the will arrangement all along, so it was right to express grief in those quantities. If Harni knew someone was about to leave her seventy five lakh and an apartment in region park, she would thump her chest in a very tarzan style and bawl her lungs out and if need be mourn for an entire year, just to express how much the departed meant to her.
Harni could not imagine that the keeper had not once thought that it was Mira she was mincing under her butcher’s knife instead of the stale frozen meat. That when she was wringing the muddy water from the tattered mop cloth, in her minds eye Mira’s neck had replaced the cloth. No matter how genuinely nice a person is, there is always that one moment of unadulterated cruelty that he or she enjoys at the other’s expense.
Mira, who was famous for being finicky on the shooting sets, could she have been an angel at home? Hardly. But she was a nice woman. Of course definitions of nice also differed from person to person. Or maybe she was just nice to the keeper.
“She was like a daughter to me,” the keeper said, threatening to burst into tears again. But were you like a mother to her? “ It was that man, Ravi Sirji! It was he who pushed her in to taking her own life! Before she met him, she wouldn’t touch alchohol!”
Interesting. For the past couple of years, every gossip column had something to report about the alchoholic actress. A couple of years ago gossip columns had started to notice cupid hovering around Mira and
This is where technically Harni should have gone off and signed off the report which stated the death as a suicide. Officially certify it. But she didn’t do that, she just stood there in the spacious kitchen, in front of the keeper and said nothing.
But the keeper had a lot to tell…