The Innocent Witness – Part 1

It was twilight on the first weekend of the New Year and while most teenage boys were either out playing late or at home watching TV, 19 yo innocent boy Akshay was busy climbing out of his house’s balcony onto a small section of space along the wall which lead to the window outside his parent’s bedroom.

He sidestepped on it and with his back against the wall and hands spread, he began moving sideways towards the window.

While he was still halfway across, he felt tiny droplets of rain touch his face but he carried on, carelessly like any boy would. By the time he reached next to the window, the rain was lashing down heavily and the wind was blowing hard. The window was open and the curtain was back and forth as the wind passed.

He could hear muffled sounds from inside. It were slow, consistent grunts and moans of a woman. A voice he was familiar with. With his heart racing, he decided to take a peak. He bent sideways and looked through the window but the curtain was against it so he couldn’t see anything. Scared that he would get caught, Akshay pulled back.

The moans grew louder and he could hear grunts on a man too. Akshay pulled a smartphone out of his pocked and unlocked it. While he has opening the camera app, he nearly stumbled.

“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH”

He heard his mother’s scream and this time, he couldn’t control his curiosity. He took another peak and this time, the curtain flew back revealing the dimly lit room. And what he witnessed from there made his heart skip a beat. Although he couldn’t see anything well due to low amount of light, he could make out few details.

Inside, on the bed, were his mother and neighbour uncle Mukesh naked. Mukesh uncle was on top of her and was thrusting his lower body on her body. Akshay was shocked by the sight. He took his hands off the wall and held the camera on eye level, ready to record.

Then Mukesh uncle rose a little and caught his mother’s neck and slapped her across the face which made Akshay’s mom Lakshmi scream again.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”

“Mumma!!!!!” was the last word Akshay said as he lost balance and slipped.

A few days later.

Ranjan walked in through the gate of his society and was greeted by the security guard Kamal who looked tensed and pitiful.

“Is Lakshmi back yet Kamal?”

“I haven’t seen her come in sir, she asked me to give you these keys.”

Ranjan accepted the house key and went inside. He explored the house for a while and later sat in his son Akshay’s room with tears in his eyes.

It had been a week since the accident and he still couldn’t believe what had happened. Alone in the house, Ranjan had taken shelter in his son’s room, going over past memories as he went through every toy his son owned and every dress he ever wore.

Ranjan arranged the bed after some time and then put his son’s books back in the cupboard. It was during this time when he stumbled across his son’s tiny diary. It was a gift from Ranjan but he wasn’t sure whether Akshay ever wrote anything in it.

Ranjan flipped it open and was surprised to find more than half of the pages filled with his son’s scrawny little handwriting. With a smile on his face, he went through a few entries and eventually started crying. It was a pain to go through that but he did anyway. It made him feel closer to his son.

As he flipped a few pages, his eyes caught something.

December 20th

Dear diary,

Dadda went back to work in gulf country tonight. I cried even though mumma had said I should not since dadda would feel sad.

Mukesh uncle came with us to the airport as well and he made me laugh with his jokes on the way back so I forgot about dadda for some time. But mumma wasn’t talking and looked very sad and ill.

After we reached home, mumma went to the bedroom and Mukesh uncle asked me to watch TV and not disturb them since mumma was very upset. He went with her and he was still inside with her. I was feeling scared alone in the hall but I didn’t want to disturb mumma while she was upset.

The entry had ended there. Ranjan wasn’t crying anymore but he was heaving with heavy breaths. He swallowed what he had just read and couldn’t help himself from flipping for more entries that would shed light on this matter.

December 31st

Dear diary,

Sorry I couldn’t write last night so I am writing on New Year’s morning because mumma hit me and I was too upset. Today I went out with mumma in the morning and we did lots of shopping.

She didn’t let me buy one toy car but Mukesh uncle later brought another one home after I cried all afternoon. He told me to go play on the terrace with it. I played all evening with my new car and showed it to all my friends. My friend’s mother asked me to dress up and come to their home for New Year party.

When I came back home Mukesh uncle and mumma were still in the bedroom. I knocked many times and asked mumma to let me to dress up but she told me not to go. I kept knocking and hitting the door, I cried also but they didn’t open soon.

After dinner, I went to sleep in the bedroom. Mumma came in late with Mukesh uncle and they slept next to me. Mumma told me to sleep fast as we had to go out tomorrow morning.

So I fell asleep. Late at night I woke up suddenly due to a loud sound. People in our society were bursting crackers. I got scared and turned to hug mumma. It was very dark and I couldn’t see anything but I could hear them.

Mumma and Mukesh uncle were doing something under the blanket. The whole bed was shaking because of them. I don’t know what Mukesh uncle was doing but I heard many kissing sounds and mumma was making sounds like she was getting hurt.

It became a little clear for me to see and I saw him lying on top of her. He was kissing mumma and I felt scared because mumma was getting hurt.

They were talking also but I couldn’t understand. I think mumma was requesting him to stop but he was shaking the bed more hardly.

I closed my eyes tried to sleep but I couldn’t. Mumma was shouting louder and I wanted to stop him. Then suddenly she screamed. I don’t know why but I got up and started hitting and shouting at uncle.

But mumma got angry. She shouted at me saying she had told me to go to sleep. Uncle didn’t say anything and mumma told me to sleep. I turned my back to her and lay there crying silently. After some time, I heard them start kissing again.

The entry had ended.

The next day was obviously New Year so the next entry was in another diary. Ranjan closed it with a snap and felt his anger pent up.

He wanted to find both Lakshmi and Mukesh and kill them. He stood up and started hurling things at the wall, breaking them. He didn’t know how long he was in there but sometime later he heard the door open.

Lakshmi moved around in the house, working while Ranjan couldn’t bring the strength to move.

Later Lakshmi walked in to the bedroom.

“Come, dinner is ready.”

Ranjan stared at her, stony-faced, unmoved.

“Ranjan, are you alright?”

She approached him and looked confused at his scowl and the tears running down his cheeks. Her eyes fell on the diary he was holding and she picked it up. Her eyes moved from one end to another as she read the entry and tears filled them as well the moment she realised what her son had written.

“Ranjan please I can explain-”

Ranjan couldn’t bear to listen. He stood up and started walking out but Lakshmi stopped him.

“Ranjan, you’ve to listen to me.”

“Let me go, Lakshmi. After what happened to Akshay, I thought I at least had you as a reason to live. But now..I – I.. just let me go..”

“Ranjan, it’s not what you think! Mukesh-he-that monster made me do it Ranjan. It was blackmail and nothing else. I wish I had told you, I’m so sorry.”

He froze as she dropped on the bed and started crying. He was torn inside between the rage of betrayal and the need to comfort the wife he loved. He chose to stay where he was.

“Tell me.”

“It started a year after we met him. When you left for work he started coming home on the pretext of helping me in your absence. He started getting uncomfortably close and I had to tell him to stop.

He never did until I slapped him in front of our neighbours. He didn’t like that. Then Akshay got dengue and it was the end of the month. Your salary generally doesn’t come until the end of first week and I was running out of options so I had to ask his help.”

“I know it was stupid but my son was so ill and there were so many deaths happening due to dengue I..my mind just didn’t work. Once he was admitted in an expensive hospital, Mukesh took me to a hotel nearby for dinner and when I asked about repaying him, he said he wanted me to be sorry about what I did to him a few months ago.

I said I was sorry but he didn’t want to listen. He directly told me that a room was booked in the hotel and I had to go with him or else he would pull back the funding.”

“I begged but he didn’t listen. It was like looking at a demon’s face. He was enjoying himself. So I let him take me to the room and do whatever he wanted, just for the sake of my son. And he’s a monster Ranjan. The things he makes me do in bed. I can’t tell you anymore.”

And then she started crying even more. Ranjan couldn’t feel angrier and more helpless than he did then. His entire body was shaking and his insides were screaming for revenge.

They were there for another hour. Ranjan sat next to his wife and consoled her. In his mind, he was thinking of ways to get back at Mukesh for destroying their lives.

He comforted her and asked her to go heat the dinner again while he started re-arranging his son’s room. Most of the stuff he had hurled was broken so he threw them away. While he was going through the trash, separating wet and dry waste, he found something that made his hands shake.

It was a diary labelled with 2019. He flipped it open and sure enough, not only was it his son’s, there was also almost a week’s worth of entry entered in it. Ranjan naturally flipped to the last entry and his eyes caught the first line.

Dear Diary,

I’ll record Mukesh uncle and mumma tomorrow with the smartphone Kamal gave me.

“I’ve heated the food, please eat something,” Lakshmi said.

Ranjan pocketed the tiny diary and went to have dinner. He decided to not let her know about it until he had read it.

To be continued.

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