Category Archives: My Stories

Short Story : She did it

Her eyes shone feverishly, she kept checking the time on her watch. She was waiting. Waiting for the phone to ring. It was about time. She should have reached by now. Why did the phone not ring? Her anxiety broiled inside her, yet she was a picture of serenity. No one could have guessed, seeing her sitting there, in the hotel’s café sipping her morning tea. Thoughts raced through her mind. She could picture the scene vividly after all, she had created it.

The maid would have reached by now. She would have opened the house. We have given her the extra key. I hope she hasn’t forgotten it at home. Gosh, why is this taking so long. Knowing Sid would be sleeping and wouldn’t wake up she would not bother to ring the bell. Did she have to go back home to get the key. No, no that mustn’t be, it would disrupt her best laid plans. Months of planning would go to moot.

By now she’d have made his tea and should have knocked on their bedroom door, “Chai is ready, Bhaiya,” and entered to find him. Amrita could picture the scene, what she would see, the blood on the sheets, Sid lying on his back, arms splayed out, with his throat slit, just as she had left him last night, dead! So very dead!

Almost a year and half of planning, putting all the pieces together, tying up the loose ends! She’d be free now!

No, not yet! She reminded herself. She had to play the grieving widow for a while.

“Where was Shimoli?” she thought impatiently, she needed someone to be with her when she got the call. To be credible witness to her shock! On the other hand it was good she was a little late. The call hadn’t come in yet. There was definitely something wrong.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” apologized a visibly flustered Shimoli, “woke up late and everything just went downhill from there. Hope you weren’t waiting too long? Have you ordered anything?”

Amrita quickly smiled at her friend and colleague at the Mumbai office, a picture of calm, hiding the turmoil in her heart. She was an actress par excellence, she had Sid to thank for that.

“No worries. I was waiting for you, what will you have?” asked Amrita.

Just then she heard her phone ring, it was their home landline number.

“Just a sec, got to take this one” she said rolling her eyes, “It’s the ritual maid call, wanting to know what to prepare for Sid’s breakfast!”

“Yes, Kashi Bai,” said Amrita.

“Hello Amrita, this is Girish,” she heard the voice of her neighbor on the floor above theirs, “Where are you?”

“I’m in Mumbai, Girish, for work, been here since Monday. Is everything okay? Where’s Kaishi Bai?” asked Amrita looking genuinely perplexed.

“Are you alone? Is someone with you?” he asked again.

“No, I’m with a friend,” she replied, “What’s the matter, Girish?”

“I’m sorry Amrita, there’s some bad news. Sid’s been hurt, you need to come back immediately!” he said.

“Hurt! How? What’s happened?”

“It’s bad Amrita!” he said, “Can I speak to your friend?”

“Yes, sure,” said Amrita and handed the phone to a confused Shimoli.

“Oh my God!” gasped Shimoli after listening to Girish for a few minutes.

She put down the phone and looked at Amrita and tried to hide the horror in her eyes.

“I’ll arrange a cab to take us to Pune immediately!” Shimoli said.

Amrita let Shimoli take over the arrangements. She called their Boss, Apeksha out of earshot from Amrita, all the while sneaking anxious glances at her.

It took all of Amrita’s self-control to appear confused and dazed and let Shimoli treat her like something fragile, something that would easily break.

On reaching her Condo in Pune, Amrita rushed up to find the cops and her neighbors Girish and his wife Kanika, the maid Kashi Bai was slumped in a corner of the living room. And her brother-in-law disoriented sitting on the sofa with his head in his hands and blood on his shoeless feet.

“Where’s Sid?” she asked fearfully.

“Oh! Amrita!” Kanika engulfed her in her ample bosom, “You poor girl, how are you going to take it!” she sobbed.

“Sid’s been murdered in your own home, in your bed!” said Girish softly, as if the softness of tone would mitigate the shock of his words.

“How is that possible,” Amrita shouted, looking at the cops. She tried to rush towards her bedroom but, Kanika held her back.

“Don’t go in there, believe me, you don’t want to go in there!” she cautioned.

The cops questioned her about where she had been and why. In the meanwhile, Sid’s parents had arrived from Jaipur. Amrita let her father-in-law take control; play acting the shocked and bereaved wife to the hilt.

Later Amrita congratulated herself, “I should get an award for my acting abilities,” she thought. But then it came naturally to her, didn’t it, after all she’d been doing it for years. Sid had made her the actress she was today.

Siddharth had seen Amrita at his close friend’s wedding, who was her cousin. He had told his parents who had sent out feelers through common acquaintances. Her parents had been quite excited, they couldn’t believe their luck. A software engineer with TCS and working on a project in New Jersey, he was a huge catch for the daughter of a small garment shop retailer in Saharanpur. A meeting of the families had been arranged.

Amrita was vivacious and fun loving, a brilliant artist though not very good in academics. She had given her mother many sleepless nights worrying over the scraps she would get into, going out with friends to movies and parties that too with boys, a total no-no in a conservative city like theirs.

“No one wants a fast girl as their daughter-in-law,” she had warned Amrita to appear demure like her other cousins in front of Sid’s family.

Amrita at twenty-one couldn’t wait to get out of sleepy, stifling and conservative Saharanpur. USA was like a dream come true. She had to make sure his family liked her. That’s when the acting had begun. She had played her part convincingly. Sid and his family had gone back happy with the deal that had been brokered the perfect Indian bride and enough dowry, after all the parents had put their life savings into their son.

As Sid only had fifteen days left to return, the wedding was put together quickly, with barely any time for the young people to get to know each other. They left for Jaipur to stay with his parents till his return to the US. If Saharanpur had been backward and boring, living with Sid’s parents was archaic; she had to wear a saree all the time with her head covered all day long. Smile for all the relatives that trooped in to ‘see’ the new bride and bear their humiliating inspection. She was pretty, thank God, for that, but was too tall according to one Aunt and too thin for another. How will she bear healthy children said another, her hips are to narrow.

“It’s only till we get to the US,” she thought to herself, “Just a matter of a few days.”

Her Father-in-law though had a different take.

“If you take her with you now she’ll never learn the ways of our family, Sid. Leave her here for a few months,” Amrita overheard him.

Sid had left and she was alone with them. She had to be the perfect daughter-in-law, cooking and serving the family and eating after everyone had finished. She had acted and pretended to be ok with everything, holding her tongue at every comment thrown her way and cried into her pillow at night. The day her mother-in-law had hurled her bowl of daal on her face because she had forgotten to put enough salt in it, was one of the worst, she’d only gotten through it all reminding herself that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Only a little time and then she’d be out of here in another country, away from them. With Sid life would be different, she consoled herself.

After six months of hell she was finally on her way, to the US. Looking forward to a brighter future with Sid, who would be a progressive male, after all he had lived in the US for three years. The first few weeks were heady and romantic and she loved being there.

Till the first fight they had. Over her wanting to buy a dress and go dancing. He’d thrown a fit, shouting and screaming at her and then storming out of the house. After that, had come days of cold and silent treatment. With no one to talk to, a scared Amrita had begged and pleaded till he finally came around. She had assumed that this was a just one off incident…till it recurred again…and again…and again…at the smallest of pretexts, anything that angered Sid.

It wasn’t all bad though, a happy Sid was generous. Buying her expensive gifts designer bags, jewellery, etc. It was easier to act, to keep him calm.

Sixteen years and two children later, moving from one place to another the acting had continued…The mild and docile wife, who did not react to his moods, to his temper tantrums, his throwing things at her. The dutiful daughter-in-law, their treating her like a servant, their nagging and interference, Sid’s sending money to them regularly. To the world including her own family her life was perfect, for Amrita didn’t believe in airing her dirty linen. And even if she did, who could do anything for her. She was after all an Indian woman, her own parents would tell her to adjust.

Two things helped her to survive, her sketching and her voracious appetite for fiction, where she could escape into another life.

They had moved to Mumbai five years ago. Sid had invited his Boss with his wife for dinner. Over conversation Sid had boasted of Amrita’s drawing abilities and her sketch pads were pulled out. Mrs. Boss, Apeksha owned a design firm and was super impressed with Amrita’s work, offering to hire her as a freelancer. Amrita had looked at Sid, who was now stuck between the devil and the deep sea, he couldn’t offend his boss and also needed to appear a progressive male acquiesced then and couldn’t retract later.

Two years ago they had moved to Pune for another of Sid’s projects. He as always under the influence of his father decided to send the kids, Samar and Saksham to hostel at Mayo College, too much of shifting schools is not good for them declared her father-in-law. Her opinion was not even sought. Broken hearted at losing her boys Amrita still did not react. She had become very good at acting.

Amrita travelled once every two months to Mumbai for meetings with Apeksha. She was now earning good money and that was the only reason Sid let her continue, after all she was adding to the family kitty. It was on one of her trips, travelling to Mumbai that the thought of freedom had come to her. Divorce was out of the question, she would lose her boys. Besides, she didn’t want to give up the life style she was accustomed to, the luxuries. Why should she? She’d endured a lot over the years with him.

As the longing for freedom began to take root in her, the idea of doing away with Sid became stronger every day. Till there was nothing else that she could think of.

Then she began to plan.

Reading fictional murder mysteries had given her a lot of ideas to start with. She needed to get away with it. She was smart about it, she secretly bought a laptop and hid it from Sid. She would research at coffee shops and café’s with free Wi-Fi.

It’s interesting what one can find on the internet, if you’re looking.

Step 1. She read, you need a perfect weapon. A knife, she decided easily obtainable. Never interested in Biology in school she now studied the human anatomy for hours, to find its vulnerabilities. Did you know that once the carotid artery is severed a person can bleed to death in twelve seconds? When Sid made love to her she felt the pulse, the throbbing of the blood pulsating inside it and imagined slashing it.

Step 2. Decide the location. At home. While she was supposed to be on a trip to Mumbai. She studied train and bus schedules to and from Mumbai for days. In India no one checks your ID while buying a ticket for a bus journey. But taking a bus dead of the night by a lone woman was fraught with its own risks. She bought clothes from the street sellers outside the railway station, two caps, shirts and pants and two pairs of canvas shoes. Being slim and tall she could easily pass off as an average height man, and makeup did the rest. A successful trail run revealed their condo’s lax security and one flat per floor tied into her plans perfectly.

Step 3. Find an alibi. Amrita for years had not been close to anyone, she didn’t make friends easily since her marriage. Now she needed one. On her next visit to the Mumbai office she struck up a conversation with Shimoli and developed a ritual of her dropping her off to her hotel after work and meeting her for breakfast at the café in the hotel. Always footing the bill.

Step 4. Find another suspect. This proved to be the most difficult. Luck seemed to be with her as that too fell into her lap neatly. Sid had the first falling out with his father over his younger brother, Avinash who had a drinking problem and could not hold down a job. After depleting all their father’s hard earned money on one hair brained business scheme after another, he wanted twenty-five lakhs to invest in a franchise. There were rows upon rows between both the brothers and their father trying to convince Sid, who refused to give money to his wastrel brother.

Step 5. Find a way to link her suspect to the murder. Three months ago on their annual Diwali trip to Jaipur, she collected hair from Avinash’s hairbrush. She also developed a rapport with him and started to talk to him regularly, telling Sid she was trying to make him see the error in his ways.

Step 6. Find a place to trash all the evidence that could point to her. There are literally hundreds of places in India where one can dump things. And if valuable like a laptop, they will conveniently disappear without a trace. She had wiped out its memory and dumped it in a dustbin on the roadside weeks before.

Step 7. Put all the pawns in place. Amrita left for Mumbai and called Avinash from a pay phone. She told him that Sid was beginning to see reason and was ready to talk asking him to reach Pune by Thursday. Sid she knew was a creature of habit, he would arrive late from office having had dinner and by then Avinash, a sponge, would be sozzeled. Disgusted the teetotaler Sid would ask his brother to sleep it off and talk to him in the morning.

Step 8. The final act. All had worked to plan she had entered home in the dead of night and heard Avinash snoring in the guest room. Sid a heavy sleeper, wouldn’t wake up even if the house was burning, was fast asleep. She closed the door and snuck up to him on the bed from her side slashing his neck in one swift swipe with the knife. She watched as the blood drained out of his body and the life out of his eyes. She then dropped Avinash’s hair around the room. She quickly changed into the other set of clothes she had purchased exiting as swiftly as she had entered throwing the blood stained clothes in three different garbage bins at the bus stations on the way and chucking the fresh ones out on a corner of the dirty Mumbai streets took care of the last of the evidence. She was back in her hotel room before dawn broke.

Step 9. The curtain call. All she had to do now was watch the cops put all the pieces of the puzzle together. They wouldn’t find the murder weapon though… she had wiped it and thrown it out of the window on the highway between Pune and Mumbai while the bus had rolled.

“Freedom,” she thought, “Just a matter of a few more days.”


The Mind that Stayed


Not daring to move so as to not give away my hiding place inside the ducting vent of the air-conditioning unit. I watched with every muscle in the left side of my body on fire from lack of movement for the last forty-five odd minutes. He finally got up from his desk and picked up his cell, wearing his coat as he walked to the door. Time was running out, my partner and look-out Amita would be looking out for me about now. Still I dare not move yet, I took a deep breath and Tahir started counting in reverse. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…”

Ambrish stopped at the door and walked back to his mahogany desk, as I groaned in my mind, he opened a drawer and pulled out a thick manila file from it. Then he walked out of the door and pulled it shut, I slid the vent panel, having loosened it earlier and swung down into the room, crossing over lithely to the desk and quickly inserted the flash drive into the computer.

“Hurry up! Hurry up!” Tahir, my twin’s, voice echoed in my ear, “You’ve got to get out before Amita is discovered!”

“Yes, dude, will you stop nagging,” I mentally replied back, ‘you’re like an old grandmother, always worrying!”

“Someone has to, since you always leap before you look!”

“Okay bro, this is it. What do I do now?” Tahir’s instructions came through and I hit a couple of commands watching as the program uploaded into the system. The client would be pleased, he now has backdoor access to Ambrish’s system and all that it contains, I thought exiting the room the same way I entered. I ran out of the building and ran towards the shadows where Amita waited in the idling getaway car.

“Let’s get out of here,” grinning as I threw myself into the seat next to her, “Mischief managed!” I could imagine Tahir rolling his eyes, sure enough, “Grow up!” floated into my mind as the ESP we shared connected us like no technologically advanced communication device could.

“I nearly called you a minute ago, when I saw Ambrish’s car leave. What happened? He wasn’t supposed to be here today!” asked a visibly tense Amita as she carefully navigated the dark roads of the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway.

“I too got the shock of my life when I saw him sitting on the desk. Luckily I saw him before I entered the room else I’d be a string puppet by now,” I quipped.

“Mihir, please be serious,” scolded Amita.

“Chill, Ams! It was a set-back but it’s over with now,” I broke in before her tirade turned into a lecture.

“So where to now?” she questioned pointedly letting me know I wasn’t off the hook just yet.

“Drop me off at Striker’s Babe, meeting the gang there. Why don’t you join in?” I asked knowing that she would refuse. This was a conversation we had regularly. I would ask her to join me in a night of drunken revelry and she would refuse. There was a time the three of us Tahir, Amita and me would drink and dance the night away, not now. Not since Tahir was diagnosed.

“Not tonight Mihir,” she replied.

“He still loves and misses you, you know,” I watched a shadow flit across her face.

She sighed, “I do too.”

“So are we done with this case?”

“Yeah, done and dusted.”

The three of us, my twin Tahir, Amita, who was Tahir’s girl at the time, had started Matrix Services twelve years back, fresh out of college. Growing up on a diet of Christie, Holmes and graduating to the likes of Clancy, Baldacchi we were always sure we wanted to be ‘Private Eyes.’ Tahir the brain of the operations was a computer whizz kid while Amita the voice of reason took care of the admin as well as finance side of the agency. Athletics and sports made up for the mediocre student that I was and martial arts after that made me the brawn for the team. We’d grown from handling small time shadowing of errant spouses to providing hard-core intelligence and espionage services to corporates. With a team of fifty now, we had made a name for ourselves in the industry. Amita always worried about the risks I took, usually partnered with me like today.

“The money came in from the client, this morning. I’m glad this case is over. Ambrish is a powerful man with his wife being the sister of one of the country’s leading politician, we took a big risk with this one,” Amita said in a worried tone.

“They were offering an obscene amount of money just to plant a simple program in a computer, Ams. It was a cakewalk. Stop worrying, you’re as bad as Tahir!”

To which my twin snorted, “ And you are a bull-headed idiot who won’t listen to reason.”

Eager to get them both off my back I asked, “Listen, since there’s nothing more on the calendar for me, would you mind holding the fort while I took off for a few days to skydive with Dave in Italy? He called yesterday and has everything arranged. My Visa is still valid from the case last month, so I just have to buy a ticket and be off.”

“What does Tahir think?” asked Amita.

“That he’s an idiot with a death wish,” pat came Tahir’s reply.

“Tahir objects as always, he’s sulking right now. You know him, he’ll natter and nag and then give me the silent treatment.”

“Okay Mihir, but you take care.”

“Sure Babe. See you then in a week or so, meanwhile I’ll be reachable on my cell.” I said kissing her on the forehead.

The sound of the incessant ringing of my cell cut through the dense fog in my brain as I slept off last night’s drunken excesses. I opened one eye and groaned in pain as a ruthless beam of light entered and went straight into the right side of my head. I burrowed into the pillows hoping to block out the cause of my return to consciousness into what was turning out to be a hellhole of hammering that would surely lead to my brain bleeding out of my ears. The ringing stopped briefly and began again, bringing with it a fresh doze of torment, I picked up the phone from the table beside the hotel bed and answered with my tongue thick as sandpaper, “Ams, this better be good.”

“Mihir, you’ve got to get back fast. All hell’s broken loose! Ambrish’s goons thrashed our office last night, and killed Subhash, the security guard. The cops are all over the place,” her frantic whisper brought me back to the land of living.

“They better not get into the client files!” I instructed, “I’ll be on the next flight out. Ams call Prakash he’ll slow things down till I get there.”

It was a week since the night I had planted the virus in Ambrish’s laptop, having completed the dive in Amalfi two days back, I was in Rome now. I hit the ground running, downing a couple of pain meds to deal with a mother of all hangovers and was out of the hotel on my way to the airport in an hour.

“Amita should not be handling this alone,” Tahir berated.

“Prakash, is the head of our legal team, he will help Amita stall the cops.”

I worried that with Ambrish’s connections it would not be for long. As I dealt with my nausea and vile-headed feeling in the cab I cursed myself for giving into Dave’s suggestion of hitting the watering holes of Rome. I should have returned to Delhi immediately. Some of our client files were sensitive. They must not fall into the hands of the cops. Matrix would be ruined.

“You could activate the self-destruct safeguard, I built into the software,” Tahir reminded, “but only you can do that as it requires your biometric scan.”

I called Amita from the airport, “there’s a non-stop flight out of here at 2 p.m. I’m taking that will land at 2 a.m. India time. Ams just hold it together till then.”

“Prakash is handling the cops. They hardly seem to be interested in Subhash’s murder, it’s our files they’re after. Ambrish is probably worried about what information we’ve taken off his system.”

“Yeah, I guess so. What he doesn’t know is that we have nothing. The virus was designed to give the client access, not us. Ask the team not to go home tonight, with everyone around the cops will be careful. I need to get to the office as soon as possible, the client files have to be safeguarded.”

“Okay. I’ll pick you up at the airport. We can also talk on the way.”

I was one of the first ones out of the flight and as I had no check-in baggage, quickly exited the gates at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and joined Amita in the idling car.

“Most of cops left a couple of hours ago; there are only two constables to ensure we don’t take anything out of the office. It’s been a circus all day, with the police, the media and client calls,” she filled me in with the happenings of the day as she drove.

“Sorry Babe. I didn’t foresee any of this.”

As we entered the office, the team looked up at me exhausted and at the same time hopeful. The two constables looked on with curiosity, as Amita, Prakash and I spoke to the rest of the team in the conference room. I needed them to distract the two cops so that I could run the biometrics. The team understood and we all got to work.

With Tahir’s voice in my head directing me again, within minutes all our sensitive client data was wiped clean from the system. My brother was a bloody genius, nobody could retrieve this data, of that I was sure.

The immediate threat taken care of, barring two of the team members I asked everyone to go home and rest. Tomorrow was bound to be another long day.

Amita dropped me home and I crashed. I woke up suddenly, gasping for air as a large rough hand pressed over my mouth, then I felt the cold steel of a gun’s barrel pressing down on my temple.

“Make one sound and you’re dead, understood?” threatened a whispered command in the darkness.

I nodded. The hand moved away and I pulled myself into a sitting position on the bed. As my eyes adjusting to the darkness darted around the room I could make out the shape of three stocky men standing at various points. Just as unexpectedly, the lights were switched on and I shielded my eyes with my arm from the onslaught of light. My blood ran cold on seeing Ambrish sitting on the lazyboy in front of my bed.

“Well, Mr Mihir we seem to have a bit of a problem,” his voice had a startling softness and sophistication that was unnerving in the circumstances. His eyes locked unblinkingly on mine and held for several intimidating seconds.

“You’re a smart young man I’m told,” he continued, “so lying and wasting my time could turn out to be a very bad idea.”

I felt Tahir’s fear rise like bitter bile in my throat, “Don’t get cocky, Mihir. Just tell him what he wants to know.”

“I know that you planted a program in my computer that opened a back door for someone to access sensitive information that has cost me a fortune.” he paused, “How do I know, you wonder? That was a no brainer once I realised someone had hacked into my system. You see, every programmer leaves his so called cyber fingerprint on his programs and my cyber-sleuths easily figured out yours.”

I had no doubts that Ambrish knew that I was working for someone else and not myself.

“And to anticipate the question that’s probably in your mind, I want the name of the man who hired you. I have my suspicions who it could be but need confirmation! So, Mihir are you going to make this easy for yourself or do you need coaxing from my associates?”

“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!” whispered Tahir.

I knew I would be signing my death warrant if I gave up the information easily, for once Ambrish had the name my life would be expendable. The only thing I could do now was to buy some time.

“I don’t know the name of the client. We never met him, all the conversations were over the phone.”

As soon as the words left my mouth the three men moved in a blur of motion, two held my arms and yanked me off the bed, almost pulling my arms off their sockets they then threw me face down on the floor and the third pulled my head up and stuffed my mouth with a cloth stretching a duct tape across it. Then they proceeded to kick me brutally in the gut, a scream rose in my throat but was stifled by the cloth in my mouth. After what seemed like eons but was probably a few seconds they stepped back as I lay there panting with pain from the blows.

“I told you to not act cocky,” I heard Tahir’s voice through the thick fog of pain that cloaked all else in my brain.

“Shut up, Tahir.”

Raising my head painfully I saw Ambrish flick some imaginary lint off his trousers.

“I don’t appreciate being lied to Mihir,” he spoke in his soft voice that was more menacing in its calmness. “The only reason you’re still alive is because I need that confirmation. I can just as easily get it from your lady partner. I would not try my patience too much. Should I ask my associates to remove the gag? Will you behave now?”

I nodded and they roughly pulled off the duct tape and propped me up against the wall.

“So let’s begin again, shall we Mihir? What is the name of your client?”

“Talwar,” I lied again.

I didn’t know the name of the client. I was telling the truth the first time; all our dealings had been over the phone. Talwar was Ambrish’s arch enemy, a ruthless real estate baron, it was the name that he was probably hoping to hear from me. I knew I would not live through the night, the least I could do was save Amita.

“Thank you for all your help, Mihir. I wish you’d stayed away from my affairs,” he sighed as he stood up and walked towards the door. “Make it quick, boys.”

They gagged me again, and tied my hands behind my back, I was barely able to resist. Then one of them pulled a silenced gun out from its holster and shot me in the chest. I felt myself jerk and slump sideways down on the floor. There was an intense burning sensation in my chest, I saw the blood pooling on the floor in front of me, then the pain hit me and I began to black out.

“Walk towards the light bro,” Tahir’s words floated across as the blackness descended upon me.


I stood there with tears in my eyes looking at Mihir’s broken body lying in a pool of his own blood. It had been a few hours since I had found him like this. There were a number of people milling about in his one room apartment now.

A cop, probably an SP, approached me, “Do you know his next of kin, they would have to be informed?”

“No, there’s no one.” I re[lied quietly.

“His parent’s died in a road accident when he was ten. His twin and he were brought up by their uncle who also died a few years ago.”

“His twin? Where is he? Shouldn’t he be informed?”

I looked at him for a long moment, “Tahir died,” I said, “three years back, he had cancer.”