She - By Bissme S
"How can you look after your husband's murderer?"
My best friend Janaki has been asking me this question for years. I can understand her curiosity. But sad to say, I have no rational answers for her.
All I know is that I just can’t abandon her. If I did, my husband would be immensely devastated. My husband had loved his murderer with all his heart.
Even on his deathbed, he pleaded with me to look after her. His exact words were: "She won't take my death well. Promise me, Naveena, that you will look after her till her last breath."
How do you refuse a man whom you love with all your heart, begging and pleading in his last breath? You simply couldn't. You could only comply.
My husband was right. She didn't take his death rationally. She went insane. Looking after a mad woman is never an easy task.
She has not spoken a word since my husband's death. She recognizes nobody. Most of the time, she will just stare at a blank space. There are rare moments when she will throw tantrums. She will throw things at me. There are times when I would defend myself and other times I will just stand there like a mannequin and take whatever pain came my way.
When there are no more things to throw, she will let out a long frustrating scream sounding very much like a wounded animal. After her cries are over, she will slip into her silent mood. No words, only blank stares.
My husband had told me that he had loved her and me equally. But I knew my husband had lied. He loved me. That is one fact I can't deny. But he always loved her a little more. Whenever we quarreled, my husband would defend her even when she was in the wrong.
My husband always told me that I should be understanding and patient. I should learn to forgive easily. I should not take her too seriously. But she was a difficult woman to live with.
She never liked me from the beginning. I can still recall her displeasure the first time we met. But my husband assured me otherwise. He said I got the wrong impression. I got the wrong picture. Foolishly, I believed him.
In front of me, she didn't say much. But behind my back, she'd had a lot to say and a lot of venom to spit out.
"Prakash, you deserve better than her," she said.
But my husband was adamant and his desire to make me as his wife was far stronger.
"If I can't marry Naveena, I will marry no one," said my husband.
Even after our marriage her hostility towards me didn't lessen. There was always a cold war between us.
Then I got pregnant. She was thrilled that my husband was becoming a father. She became kinder to me. Instantly, the hostility between us disappeared. She was looking after my welfare, making sure I ate the right things and I had enough rest. Slowly we built a bridge of understanding and compassion. I was extremely glad we no longer hostile enemies.
Then tragedy struck that changed the nature of our relationship forever. Seven months pregnant, I had an accident - a nasty fall from the staircase. But losing the baby wasn't the worst news that I had to face.
"Mrs Naveena, I am so sorry that you can never be a mother again," said the doctor, coldly and without any trace of emotion.
My husband and I cried out hearts out. But she was far too furious to be sad. Her dream to see my husband becoming a father was shattered. She became more hostile to me than before. Our disagreements were far more intense.
Once I overheard her persuading my husband to divorce me and find a new wife, one that could bear his children to carry on the family name.
"If you want me to stay with you, never bring up the subject of my divorcing Naveena again," my husband harshly warned her.
She never brought up the subject again. But she was still determined to see me out of his life and she was willing to go any lengths to see this happen.
With me out of the way, she felt she had a better chance to persuade my husband to marry another woman that will make my husband a father. She planned my murder. She paid some gangsters to kill me for once and ever. Everything was planned in detail. They would snatch my purse and made the whole incident look like a robbery went wrong .Every Friday I would go to the temple for morning prayers. When the day came, everything went wrong. For the first time in his life, my husband decided to follow me to the temple.
Prior to this, he was never a religious man. Perhaps the recent tragedy of my miscarriage had made him think about God and spirituality. Tragedies have been known to bring man closer to God
His body took the knife instead of mine. The police ruled out the whole incident as robbery. When she looked at my husband's cold lifeless body, out of sheer sadness, she blurted out the whole truth to me.
Beating her chest, she cried, "I was evil and God had taught me a lesson." Those were her last words before sanity left her. She never thought the diabolic plan she conceived would kill my husband. Her grief and guilt were so intense that her mind suddenly snapped.
I knew the truth but I never told a single soul except my best friend Janaki. I just felt I had to tell someone about my grief - someone I know who would keep it a secret too and there was no better person than Janaki. It is just too painful to keep a secret all to myself.
Initially I couldn't bring myself to forgive her for what she has done. My hatred was at the highest degree and I regretted the promise I made to look after her.
But over the years, I have learned to forgive and forget. Instead of anger and hatred, I felt compassion towards her.
I came to realize that her situation was far more tragic than mine. I lost a husband, she a son. But she sent her own son to the door of death. Truly no mother should have a fate like my mother-in-law.