She Knew Him - Part 2
Her mind usually never stopped thinking, it kept playing with and entertaining one random thought or the other; but now it did. She was blank. Only tears rolled down her eyes and she could not even tell why they were gushing out that way. Her feelings kept flickering; she was annoyed and irritated one moment, and the next she was sulking in self-pity. It took her a good forty-five minutes to calm herself down, she had been through too much to crumble now. Dilip was still there, seated on the sofa across the hall; he had not said a word.
She slowly stood up, pushing back her hair and tying it up, she wiped the wet tears off her face and said, in a deep voice, ‘Can you please forward that video to me?’ Dilip nodded and she continued, ‘Will you go with me to the police station now?’ Dilip nodded again.
‘Just give me a few minutes, please,’ she said, walking into her bedroom.
As she shut the door behind her and locked it, her phone pinged. She walked up to the bedside table and picked it up and waited for the video from Dilip to download. She played it over and over, pausing it at times and zooming in on it at others. It was agonising. A part of her mind scolded her for wanting to watch Varun, her Varun, behaving that way this many times.
She then quickly splashed some cold water on her face, wiped it off, slipped into some jeans and a kurta, and walked out the room. Dilip stood up when he saw her and they walked in silence to his car. ‘If I’ve not mistaken, the girl is your boss’ daughter?’ Asha questioned Dilip, as he held open his car’s door for her.
‘Yes,’ he replied and walked around to the driver's side.
As he was getting in, she asked, ‘So, this charge was filed by your boss then?’
‘Yes,’ Dilip replied again, starting the engines.
‘Take me to his house then,’ she said, coldly. Dilip looked at her in shock, ‘What? What about Varun?’
‘The police won’t let him go no matter how much we beg them to. I want to speak to your boss,’ she said sternly.
The sun shone and the plants jostled in the light breeze just like any other perfectly normal and happy day. They waited in the broad courtyard of the beautiful mansion for Varun’s boss, Mr. Lalith. There were a few chairs that lined the garden, but Asha was too tensed to sit down; Dilip stood beside her.
They heard footsteps a few minutes later and Mr. Lalith appeared through the doorway of the mansion. He was about sixty, quite chic for his age, but there was anger in his eyes.
‘Yes,’ he said, as soon as he was within hearing distance.
‘Sir,’ Dilip stepped up, ‘this is Varun’s wife,’ he said.
‘Sir, Varun and I respect you very much, and he wouldn’t do anything of this sort. Sir –’ Asha was intruded.
‘I am sorry for the position that you are in,’ said Mr. Lalith, ‘but I cannot and will not let this slide.’
‘Then don’t let it slide!’ Asha nearly shouted, her pupils were wide and her hands were shaking.
Dilip turned to look at her in surprise, as was Mr. Lalith. Asha went on, ‘Sir, although my husband is one of your newest employees, he adores you. He would never betray you this way.’
‘The evidence is against him,’ said Mr. Lalith, his eyes narrowing down on Asha.
‘Which is what puzzles me, sir. You are the CEO of one of the nation’s biggest corporates, who usually analyse every little detail, how did you not do so in this case! How did you let it slide with false evidence?’ Her voice shook as she spoke, but she continued as both pair of eyes were fixed on her. ‘I watched this video about fifty times, and can vouch that the man in the video is not my husband.’
‘This is nonsense,’ said Dilip, with a little smirk. ‘Asha, we know about Varun’s past, who is to say that he wouldn’t do it again? It’s clear in the video.’
Asha shot him a look and said, ‘Around the 26th second of the video, the man holds your daughter against the glass door. His left forehand is on the door to prevent her escape. In pursuit of holding her still, in the 28th second, his cuff’s placket ones up slightly. If you were to look closely you would notice a mole, a little bigger than a normal one.’ She handed Mr. Lalith her phone with the video paused at the 28th second and waited for him to take a look. He zoomed in with narrow eyes and nodded curtly after a few long seconds.
‘My husband has no such mole, sir,’ Asha said, her voice was not trembling anymore.
‘My dear, I’m very sorry. I acted on emotion. I don’t know how to express my apology,’ said Mr. Lalith, as he sat down tired, on one of the polished garden chairs. He then pulled his phone from his pocket, on dialling, he held it to his ears and spoke calmly, ‘Bring Varun to my house immediately.’
He waited to listen and then spoke again, ‘I know I ordered you to beat him up,’ Asha crumpled onto the nearest chair tears rolling down, ‘and not let him meet anyone until the court case, but bring him here now.’
The police brought Varun in after another twenty minutes. His clothes were staggered and torn, his lips were swollen and he had blood oozing out lashes all over his face and every other exposed part of his body. Mr. Lalith asked for Varun to be uncuffed and Asha walked up to him teary-eyed, touched his bleeding face with the palm of her hand, and then helped him sit down on the closest chair.
Mr. Lalith showed the video to the police and explained Asha’s findings. Listening closely, Varun kept his eyes locked on Dilip, who seemed quite uncomfortable with the whole situation. Asha had not noticed Dilip’s twitching and turning until then.
She gently squeezed Varun’s shoulder and he acknowledged with a little nod while speaking out loud and clear, ‘Sir, I’m sorry to intrude, the man in the video is standing right here.’ All heads turned and everyone’s eyes were fixed on Varun, who still had not taken his gaze off Dilip.
‘Why?’ Varun asked his friend, in a harsh but hurt tone, looking from Dilip’s eyes to the obviously visible mole on his left forearm that he was trying to hide.
‘You were growing too quickly, snatching away our promotions that we’d toiled over for years,’ blurted Dilip, defensively.
‘You,’ charged Mr. Lalith, ‘you abused my daughter?’ He was now holding Dilip by the collar of his t-shirt.
‘I didn’t abuse anyone,’ Dilip retorted, trying to get away from his boss. ‘She was in on this with me!’ There was a pause and everyone went still.
‘Tell us everything,’ demanded the head police officer.
Dilip replied in a glowering voice, ‘She was equally envious of the all-perfect Varun here whom her dad wouldn’t stop praising. So, we plotted this together and tipped the security guard to tape it. We then morphed Varun's face into the video.’
‘We trusted you, Dilip,’ Varun said hanging his head down.
Asha walked up to Dilip, who stood there like he had done nothing wrong. ‘You knew we moved here so that we wouldn’t have to face the society in shame,’ she said. ‘And you did just that to us again? I will make sure the internet burns with this!’
The story was rewritten using Silappathikaram, a Tamil epic, as its base. The epic spoke about a wife’s constant love for her husband, despite his initial extramarital affair. She stuck by her husband's side even when he had nothing and burnt down the city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, when he was unjustly killed by the king.
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