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Glaring Shadow - A stream of consciousness novel
“But as my child grew in Ruma’s womb, the devil gained ground in my head for the second time; earlier to possess her I even thought of killing Rajan,” he continued as I returned. “Maybe I wouldn’t have brought myself to that, but the fact that I went to lengths to perfect the plan means Devi was right about my getting swayed by women. Had not death pulled him out of the scene, my ever-on-the-raise passion for Ruma might have tripped me at the threshold; let me tell you my plan for that perfect murder.”
“I suppose it takes moral courage to own up our degradations.”
“The idea was to sow the seed of doubt in Ruma’s mind about a Rajan-Rathi affair and to let that grow into a tree of misgivings,” he began to unravel the murder plan. “You know in the human mind, doubt has a faster rate of growth than even hope, and we know what that meant for poor Desdemona. Even if Ruma were not to fall into my arms on the rebound, she was bound to offer her shoulder to me to cry over, come to think of it, how cuckolding could facilitate seduction by way of compensation. So, by worming my way into her heart by egging on her fears that Rajan was about to desert her, I would be able to unravel my plan for a perfect murder; at a time when Rathi goes to her parents’ place, we would drive Rajan to a less-frequented lake to drug him before I push him into it; as I jump after him to pin him down, she would yell for help, well at the top of her tone, and by the time someone would have come to bear witness to my fake rescue act, Rajan would have been dead and gone. Rathi could be told that Rajan, suspecting that I was carrying on with Ruma, had died in the process of drowning me; in the traumatic aftermath, we were bound to find solace in each other’s arms, and given her nature, Rathi was sure to sympathize with Ruma to bring about our ménage a trois.”
“Maybe you could’ve made a name for yourself in crime fiction.”
“How I craved to hear that from Ruma but fearing that she might take me as a callous character, I didn’t disclose my diabolical plan to her though she pestered me no end,” he said remorsefully. “Wonder how I could think in terms of snuffing out a life, more so of someone with full of life; by the way, what about soldiering, apart from the sense of valor, don’t the poor youth opt for it for a livelihood. But who cares for their lives bar in the West, more so in the U.S; ironically, in long drawn-out ground wars, it’s this sensitivity to life that’s the Achilles’ heel of the American military might. Why not, as is the case with the possibilities of life, so is with the power of the nations, it’s all about limitations.”
“When it’s about not wanting to die young, how poor Desdemona pleaded with the Moor to let her live for at least that night.”
“More than life’s beauty, it’s the lure of it that’s at work,” he continued. “Under the shadows of the past mishaps, as the fear of the unknown had a domino affect in my mind, I turned gloomy when Ruma’s delivery neared; I don’t know why, I started worrying about our own offspring not measuring up to Rajan’s lost one; if it were to fail me, won’t she cherish her lost kid, relishing Rajan’s memory being my wife. Moreover as ‘Rajan Builders’ was in doldrums by then; won’t a dull child pull my stock further down; worse still, what if she were to suspect that I let it sink out of jealousy because it was Rajan’s venture; but then was it not my obsession with her mind, body and soul that made me forget about my own self; well, of what avail was my love for her if it were to lead her into a rough weather? Even if our child was to be better than her lost one, won’t that still leave it poor and deprived; why blame her if were she to wish that Rajan was alive; but what a calamity it would be for both of us then.”
“Is it not said that love is a hackneyed expression unless it’s backed by money.”
“True but it’s the tragedy of life that it seldom finds the right mix for man in love; if love belittles man for lack of money, it lets gold-diggers fool the wealthy,” he continued. “It was to avert the fate of losing Ruma’s love that I had taken moneymaking; but sadly for me, she mistook my long hours at work as my waning interest in her, and even as she started wooing me back, I stood wedded to my newfound obsession, ironically, not wanting to lose her love. But she mistook that as the shadow of Rathi on the horizon of our love and maybe to dispel that she became more devoted to me than ever, making me work harder than ever to retain her adoration. With the birth of Satish, as her devotion to me deepened, I began to see the futility of a rat race for I realized that hard work alone wouldn’t take one onto the business heights, and that gave us time to gloat over each other and over Satish as well; when she joined me at the workplace leaving Satish to an ayah’s care, well, we had the best of both the worlds.”
He closed his eyes as if to reminisce those times in his mind’s eye.
“Then Anand’s arrival for higher studies enlivened our lives even more,” he continued. “As he reminded me of my own youth, I became attached to him, and perceiving that he would grow up to be my replica, Ruma too had developed affection for him; so as he began to stay more with us than in the hostel, I began to confide my inner-most thoughts to him, and so did she, maintaining that she loved him most, of course, next to me, her man. Won’t that remind you of the woman on rebound whom I might have had in my youth. Well, while the infectiousness of his youthful zest lifted our spirits, his affectionate manner buoyed our self-worth that freed our union from the self-imposed strain of yore. That Satish and he took to each other had only enhanced our fulfillment.”
“Isn’t it interesting that a happy story needn’t be an interesting copy?”
“I appreciate that you care for your prospective readers and they too need not turn the pages,” he said smiling wryly. “After Anand’s graduation, though Ruma wanted him to join our firm, I didn’t want to stifle his career in our small outfit; so he moved out to begin his career in some other place. I knew all good times would come to an end, but how were I to know that they would lead me up to one bad phase after another; why can’t life make it neutral in between its highs and lows?”
“Given its penchant for variety, isn’t it a boring proposition?”
“How nicely you’ve put it; I’m glad you have it in you to make my memoir as memorable as possible,’ he said, and continued with his tale. “Soon, we started missing Anand, and once when I said that if only ‘Rajan Builders’ were to be some ‘Imperial Infrastructures’, it would have been a fitting launch pad for his career, her repartee was that it was ironical that what served the uncle’s mid-career should be unworthy of his nephew’s apprenticeship; maybe what she said in jest was about the changed times, but I felt she was reviewing my progress card, and that brought the limitations of love not backed by money back to the fore. But the next day, when she said in earnest how ‘Rajan Builders’ would stunt Satish’s future, my apprehensions of yore came to the fore making me worry about my smallness in her vision; so when she began a correspondence with Anand, which she came to relish, I started suspecting that she had transferred her affections to his personal account; oh, how miserable was the thought of having lost her love and esteem. Maybe, her affection for him was innocent and my worries about her state of mind were misplaced, but as I came to be obsessed with success all again to regain my supposedly lost position in her heart, the devil took hold of me in its second attempt, so to say, squarely and firmly.”
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