The blood washed her face as she plunged her knife once more into his heart. She had no idea why she was doing it. She did not know him. It was just the thought - the thought that the sight of homeless man on the road begging her for money everyday annoyed her beyond her tolerance limit - that made her do it.
She had always dreamt of doing it. The belief among her relatives that she needed a man to protect her whenever she went outside her home amused her. She was strong, and she knew it. But she alone knew it.
I may say that I killed him to prove that I was not weak, she thought. But she knew that she never needed to prove anything. She had been living alone in various cities, most of them dangerous, for the past five years. She had never even bothered to get even a pepper spray.
Of course, she was not attractive. Rather heavily built, she always knew that nobody would be attracted to her. And she always had a facial expression that seemed like a warning against getting friendly. Rarely did she smile. Instead, her face radiated power. She was always aware of it - a power that was inside her. The power was neither good nor bad. It was just what she chose to make of it.
As the man tried to breathe for the last time, she felt strangely at peace. Of course, the beggar was of no use to any one. Nobody would even notice that he had disappeared. She later disposed of the body near a railway track. Nobody noticed her as she dumped the bag near a shrub. She knew it would be days before anyone noticed it. And she had been careful enough to leave no traces. Living in a secluded area gave her enough time and scope to plan and execute her crime to perfection.
The phone rang as soon as she reached her home. "Manu, where were you? I have been trying to get you for an hour now. Your brother has met with an accident. Have you changed your cell number again?"
She listened calmly as her aunt told her the news, sobbing. So her brother had met with an accident. Nobody bothered to take him to the hospital, as he lay bleeding after a truck had run him over.
"I will reach there tomorrow." She kept the receiver back and sat down to watch the tv. While watching another one of those dysfunctional shows that garner TRPs, she booked her tickets back home. She had four hours to start. She quickly typed in a message to her boss informing him of her brother's accident and then booked a cab to take her to the airport.
She wondered if it wasn't too much of a coincidence that her brother met with an accident on the same day that she had killed a man. Some sort of divine justice, maybe. But then, she had never loved her brother much. For all the show of love and affection, she knew that it was all fake. He was the one whom her parents wanted. She was a girl, a burden, to be married off one day, with a hefty dowry. She wouldn't say that her parents did not love her. But they loved him more. Though they all knew that she was better - in all respects. But he was the one who would take care of them.
She often felt that her parents and her brother was aware of the intense feelings of hatred and jealousy she tried to hide. It was a struggle to keep the emotions under check as she saw herself being sidelined, in very subtle ways, by her parents. She knew that they were not always conscious of what they were doing. It was just that they could not think of doing it any other way. She smiled to herself as she knew she was no longer a prisoner of the society and its mores and norms.
While in the cab, she wondered if God would punish her for killing the man. She imagined herself to be Him and evaluated the quantum of punishment for her crimes -would she be punished more for killing a person or for feeling totally apathetic, maybe even happy on the possible death of her brother? The question had always confused her - whether God would judge people by what they felt or what they did? People often committed sins unintentionally. Why should they be punished? On the other hand, thoughts could not be controlled too, and she was well aware of it. She sometimes wished to be a dumb, normal girl who would be blind to the shortcomings of her family. But never, never did the understanding of her situation leave her.
By the time she reached the hospital, she was told that her brother had miraculously come out of danger. Her parents were smiling. She was not sure if her presence there had not contributed to it.
Her brother tried to reach for her arm while smiling through the pain when she met him finally. She faked a smile. She had long learnt to mask her feelings.
She had been afraid of herself long ago. The fear of punishment for feeling all the emotions that would lead her to hell. Now, she didn't care.
Maybe, God realized that He could not punish me this way, she told herself. She wondered if God would ever punish her. For, she loved no one - not even herself.
"Am I one of the weeds?", she asked herself after reading the parable of weeds. "Would it matter to the weed that it was condemned to fire? Am I a human being without a soul?"