I stood, dead in my tracks. I could not move. I could not think, I could not breathe. I was screaming but the weight in my stomach muffled the mangled cries I expected. I was sobbing. I was moaning. I put my hands on his neck. No pulse. I could not move. I could not think, I could not breathe. I…I…I could not take it anymore.
I blacked out – for a good few hours, the cops told me. The fault, apparently, was not mine. The sight of one’s dead husband with a bloody kitchen knife in his gut, and raw, punctured wounds all over would be enough to throw anyone off their game. They say he was murdered. At his house. At our house. My loving, courteous, wonderful husband was no more. They offered condolences – a brief side hug, a pat on the back. They asked if I could answer a few questions. I walked away.
I took a train to our weekend getaway. I got into bed. I sat motionless all day. When the ghosts of my husband came to greet and guilt me, it was always nighttime, usually the time he died. I knew I was hallucinating. I had to be. And yet I would scream until no voice remained, and wait for the pain to lull me to sleep. I sat in a pool of my urine. I could not move. I could not think. I could not breathe. I was broken. I continued the cycle until jungle insects began leeching the life out of his blood adorning my attire. Then, I got up and showered. I tried to let the water soak away my pain, but in vain. I got dressed, and fed my ravenous hunger. I stole some money from the neighbour’s bungalow and bought a return train ticket, where I answered all the gruesome questions the police had about his death.
After much ado, I was reluctantly let into my house, or what remained of it. They told me there had been a fire. Right after they rescued my limp, blacked out body on the night of the murder, our house had been engulfed in flames, whose origin was yet unknown. “Well,” I told them, “good.” I didn’t need more than a little cash and a few things from my biochemistry lab, and I would never look back at this place again. I was going to put this past me. I buried myself in my work. I found solace in my books. I would not sleep. I could not sleep. But that, I was okay with. When I’d feel the hole in my heart grow, I would listen to the songs he had composed for me, to fuel my pain, hoping it would compound enough to break me open.
The police came knocking on my weekend home one day. What was it? I knew not. Had they figured something out? I knew not. I greeted them with the faint trace of a forced smile, and offered them coffee as they informed me that they had found the murderer – a serial killer named Kainash who had been on the run for years. I heaved a sigh of relief. I told them I did not know how to feel. The chief said he understood my pain, that his wife had been murdered too. I nodded. As if. I asked them to leave.
I cried myself to sleep that night. It had been a while since I had cried. Or slept, for that matter. I guess the guilt looming over my head had been controlling me more than I had realised. They had caught the killer. He was being jailed. When I got up, I picked up the kitchen knife and flammable chemicals I had brought out from my biochemistry lab months ago and flung them to the depths of the Arabian Ocean from my balcony. Kainash was paying for my husband’s death. My guilt need not fuel a thirst for vengeance on behalf of my husband. His soul would rest in peace, never finding the real killer. Never finding me.