For a few moments Shankar sat on a chair and then suddenly getting up he fell at Madhurani’s feet,… “Madhi…forgive me…Madhi..forgive me…I am paying for my sins…after leaving the village I am roaming like a beggar. Even now it is four days since I have eaten even a morsel…”
Madhurani had no anger and no kind of feeling for what he had done to her. From that day she gave no place for emotions in her life. Or rather, she had learnt not to give in to emotions. Madhurani took hold of his shoulders and made him stand up. She realized that the moment she touched his shoulders the earlier tender feelings had once again taken over her. She pulled him in her embrace. Possibly she was trying to relive the old feelings which she had never again experienced. But then she realised that though the feelings were pleasurable they were making her weak. She had made her way up stage by stage till she had reached here. But here there was no place for such sentiments. Even weakness had no room. Making him stand by her side, she held him by the shoulders and began to lead him to her bedroom. She was determined that she would once for all snub all feelings that were making her weak.
It was not yet morning. In the semi darkness of the near-dawn a police jeep and an ambulance came and halted in Madhurani’s bungalow. A lady Inspector hurriedly got down from the police jeep along with her close associates and straight away walked into Madhurani’s bungalow. Straight away they all went to the second floor. Madhurani was waiting for them in the hall. Madhurani was wearing a rich gown that was like an overcoat. The moment the Inspector and her associates came in Madhurani stood up and took them to her bedroom. The scene in the bedroom stunned even the police officer who was used to seeing such atrocious scenes. On the bedroom, a man, Shankar, was sprawling like a woman who was continuously raped for the entire night. The associates of the Lady Inspector went and felt the man’s pulse. He was alive. When they tried to straighten him he moaned in pain.
“What happened?” the Lady Inspector could not help asking.
“Nothing… he is known to me since a long time… yesterday he was not feeling well so I asked him to sleep here…When I saw him in the morning his condition had become like this…”Madhurani said.
The Lady Inspector understood the matter. With the help of her associates she began to take the man downstairs.
As they took hold of him and were getting down the stairs, Madhurani called out “Inspector…”
The lady Inspector looked at Madhurani and understanding her she stayed back asking her associates, “You go ahead I will come in a minute.”
When all of them got down Madhurani said to the Lady Inspector…”Be seated.”
The Lady Inspector sat on the sofa. Madhurani also sat on a sofa before her.
“How is everything going?” Madhurani enquired looking into her eyes.
“Fine. Thank you, Madam” the Inspector said.
“Aren’t you due for promotion this year?” Madhurani asked her casually..
“No..Madam. it is next year,” lady Inspector said.
“Is it so?” Madhurani said.
“Alright… take him immediately to a government hospital… and see that my name does not figure any where.,” Madhurani gave instructions
“Yes, Madam” the Lady Inspector said. “Nowadays…as you know….how the media functions…more than the news it tries to see how long would the news sustain… It matters little for them even if the news is wholly concocted…” Madhurani said.
“Yes Madam…You are right…”the Lady Inspector agreed.
Till now Madhurani had gathered from the Inspector’s eyes and gestures how far she would be ready to cooperate. And when she felt certain of her cooperation she got up from the sofa.
The Inspector sitting before her also got up and going towards the staircase said, “Alright Madam…. have no worries.” The Lady Inspector’s shoes began to creek as she got down the steps.
Four-five days later, Madhurani was at a party-meeting. Just then one of Madhurani’s workers came and whispered something in her ear.
“Madam, Inspector Shinde-Madam called you from the Government hospital”.
“In what connection?”…Madhurani.
The man who was admitted on that day died just now. She was telling me,” the worker again whispered into her ear.
“Tell her…I am in an important meeting…. and tell her strictly that I don’t want to receive any phone call on this matter,” Madhurani gave stern instructions.
“Yes, Madam,” the worker left her side and went to the telephone.
(to be contd..)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote