“You are ill informed Arun, please grow up and remove your myopic glass which has not only become short sighted but blurred too”. It’s very pitiable that a person like you who has come a long way since your struggled upbringing, has still some grudges against sending girl to other cities for study and I have to sermonize you for this simple reason. Come on man! Gone are the days, when a girl had to jostle her way to sail through the rough tides and achieve one’s goal. It’s high time not only for changing your perception but for the sake of our daughter’s education you need to take decision with full of wisdom and maturity and for this there is no need to be adamant or either complacent with one’s own view, which is all rubbish!” Malathi lambasted Arun sipping morning tea.

“Malathi, you won’t understand the things running through my spine being father of a girl trying to move off-station for study. Why don’t you understand the difficulties faced by girls away from home? Haven’t you heard of rampant harassment faced by women everywhere now-a-days?” Arun retorted.

“So what! She should not study. What are you telling, Arun? What did you get to know about this practice? Harassment or taken women poorly existed in medieval era, continued unabated when we were in schools and still does exist in one or another form despite all awareness and campaigns. But it doesn’t mean girl should not be promoted to study and do whatever she likes to do. Had it been thinking of my parents as well, I could not have come a long way and become short commissioned officer here. This menace will continue to time immemorial if men continue to consider the women as tool in his hand and on some or other pretext she is restricted to pursue her dream. Men, in fact, need to change the perception about women, too.”

“No no…not at all I meant to say that. You are misconstruing my opinion. If you are unable to take my suggestion whole-heartedly and don’t have even a miniscule regard to my point of opinion, then do whatever you want… send her to America or elsewhere, I would be least perturbed but don’t turn back to me with the hope of any remedies if any untoward happens other day” Arun tried to counter her again by keeping the cup beside the chairs with his sharp tongue smothering verbatim and went straight to study room to avoid further escalation of arguments.

Discussion between the two which was bit louder, had, in fact, awoke Radhika. She stepped out of her room and turned towards the source of the sound i.e balcony where her mother was still sitting idle but her agitated look was not at all suggesting anything positive. Radhika sat besides her and asked, “What happened Mom, why are you looking so agitated? For what reason, you spoiled your morning tea.”

“Nothing Beta, your papa doesn’t seem to be in agreement over your decision to move to Bangalore fearing harassment & all.” She quipped.

“Okay………….that’s the thing, you are in argument. Don’t worry Mom, I will convince papa.” By saying she went to the room where Arun was seen surfing net. She saw he was searching for best girl’s hostel in Bangalore. She asked, “ Papa, what are you searching for?

“Your hostel” was the reply.

“But Mumma told me, you are averse to sending me to Bangalore, aren’t you?”

“No… no, I am neither averse nor I was or would be ideally but have some apprehension. Now it is upto you… how well you devote your time towards study in absence of parents out there in Bangalore.” He replied.

“You need not worry Papa, I am from defence background. I am well equipped with my best of cranial capabilities and defence reflexes. Nobody would dare doing anything misdemeanour to me. I will handle it with great care.” Radhika assured him with voice fully toned with confidence. She was Gold medallist in her inter-school self-defence competition.

Eventually, everything set in place and she proceeded to Bangalore to study higher ups. After her enrolment in B.Sc. (forensic sciences), her father suggested name of one of his friend’s son Mr. Ruthvik Reddy who was just commissioned into the Army under her father’s guidance. Mr. Arun was Brigadier rank holder in Army and currently posted in Delhi Cantonment area. Ruthvik was first choice to be local guardian as he and Radhika were alumni of the same cantonment school and used to go to the school in the same school van. He was 3 years senior to her. So he moved up in his career before Radhika, however both had liking for each other for a few months before he left school for higher education and therefore affairs dwindled away in proliferative stage itself.

Ruthvik was from Andhra and was unmarried as he was just commissioned into Army. He was, however, planning to tie knot by the year end. But fate had something more in store. He failed to get best bride in next 3-4 years. Despite his attractive persona and pretty outlook, he couldn’t find the matching with the help of his single parents settled in remote village of Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. Failing which, he approached matrimonial agencies to find the soul mate but he was unaware that finding partner is comparatively easier than finding wife, forget about soul-mate. Till date there was none from his small gang of childhood friends who could have briefed him about the bitter facts of this institution which is run in the name of ‘marriage’.

Nonetheless, he got married on finding one such proposal. Here one thing is very clear that his services background and strict disciplined life, wasn’t not at all conducive to what happens now-a-days during the marriage or post married life. He was not at all pragmatic. He, was at his level best of innocence. Without second thought, he agreed upon the terms & conditions set in by the bride. Finally, Jayanti Saxena who belonged to Meerut, was left alone at her own peril by her small time contractor father near Ramkrishna Nagaram, Bangalore. Her father and other family members were settled there along with sibling but untimely accident of half- brother and the expenses post accident had left him with meagre money to survive. The situation, in fact, had left Jayanti’s father high & dry coupling with the fact that efforts to revive him went in vain as he died of septicaemia after prolonged hospitalization of more than 3 months at CMC Vellore. There was none from his family who could have rescued Jayanti’s father in his endeavour to stay afloat in society with pride. He had taken loan of Rs. 10 lakhs from local ‘sahookar’ for treatment & to fund Jayanti’s & her cousin Shreya’s educational expenses.

After demise of his half brother, her father left with no option but to compromise on his principal and manage a square meal for two children and self. Jayanti, however, sailed through this financial turpitude and finally graduated from Christ College, Bangalore and planned to marry herself so as to keep her father off from financial burdens. So she approached matrimonial and by this way found Ruthvik Reddy.

Alike Ruthvik, she too, was desperate to tie knot but both were ignorant over each other’s circumstances. At one side Ruthvik had ailing mother by his side to look after but his official engagements were depriving him of this great opportunity to look after his mother, on the other hand Jayanti was desperate to have one earning member in her loop. Hence she found Ruthvik as potential resource and she agreed to his proposal to marry.

Both were now married and started living together near Yehlanka airbase. Her father had to manage the affairs of only himself & niece Shreya now. But finding Jayanti’s new home attractive, Shreya, now, is used to frequent the place quite often on some or other pretext.

Now, Ruthvik’s life changed a lot as he was to look after not only his mother at Kurnool but also Jayanti’s along with some solicitation to Radhika, though she was quite good in administering herself and sufficiently finding time to visit her family in Delhi.

Shreya was tall, handsome and had very attractive outlook which rarely could have escaped the attention of men or anybody. Her enigmatic persona and gorgeous look had, in fact, sedated Ruthvik upto such a level that he was, now, completely in thaw with her. Her presence has become not only enticing but soothing too which was never seen before. Gradually their proximity came to fore which completely bulldozed Jayanti as she hasn’t even dreamt of that Shreya, her cousin, who was in search of a square meal a short while ago, has become first priority to Ruthvik. Their proximity, Jayanti couldn’t assimilate though she tried her best to dowse off. But no one can find fault in a line stating that love bird rarely escapes radar of surrounding person. Jayanti sensed something amiss and this led to some sort of uneasiness between the couple but since it was none other than her cousin, she tried to handle with utmost care but it is said that whoever one can be but finding greatness in one’s husband by other lady is always viewed suspiciously which yield immense pressure on one’s own mind which can even turn into volcanic eruptions if not handled properly. Jayanti tried to remaiin unaffected of her fondness and liking but how far she could have digested their hobnobbing. One night she found both in compromising situation. She maintained silence but started chasing Ruthvik hawkishly for his infidelity. He was caught off guarded by Jayanti.

One day, Jayanti felt water crossing well above the limit and she decided to quiz Shreya. She asked Shreya to join the nearby cafeteria as any discussion with this regard would have heard by Ruthvik mother, which Jayanti wanted to avoid as debarring Shreya in house would have serious repercussion on her father’s livelihood.

After a while, both were at nearby cafeteria.

“…please come here” Jayanti asked one of the waiters who was just arrived seeing two lady on one table surfing through Menu. Jayanti also asked Shreya to go through the list and order accordingly. Waiter on the other hand drew attention of a new snacks launched that day and pleaded Shreya, “Madam, would you like to have a cold coffee with this snacks.” He pointed figure towards such snack. Both agreed to his plea and ordered to bring at earliest.

After a few minutes silence on pretence of glazing through menu, Jayanti asked Shreya, “Shreya, how is papa and other things moving on in the family?”

“Everybody is fine, Di. You please tell…. how is your life moving on with Jiju. Is he happy? Are you enjoying the association? She replied with bemused look as it was weird question considering her presence which is usually twice- thrice weekly. So it can be said on daily basis she used to visit Jayanti’s house for some or other reason.

“Hmm…, here also everything seems to be okay but your Jiju has been under affect of one witch and she has completely encircled him with her sedative charisma, which I would like to know from you as you are somewhat nearer to him.” Jayanti said to her indicating a bit the very purpose of meeting.

On just hearing the query, Shreya first got wary about her own bonding guessing that Jayanti might have seen them in compromising position. But pretending normalcy, she replied with choking voice.

“What are you telling, Di? Who she is, do you have any idea of her association? Is she from his office or somewhere else?

“No I don’t know. Had I been aware I’d not have called you. But it is sure she is very nearer to us.”

“Di, don’t worry I will find it for sure who the witch is. But by that time please take him away for outing as it will help you re-discover the same bonding which you had at the time of marriage. Actually work pressure drain not only energy but enthusiasm too. So both of you require break from daily routine. It will eventually decipher these type of things too, which has actually troubled you.” Shreya replied and tried to divert the topic.

“That’s sound idea, but whether your Jiju will agree to go for outing and whether ‘she, the witch’ allow him to go for tour, I doubt as she has completely hijack him.” Jayanti quip with suspicious tone.

“That’s you need not bother, I will manage him”.

Finally both finished the coffee and moved to the house. Jayanti had enough of what she wanted to have regarding Shreya-Ruthvik relationship as Shreya herself sounded more optimistic of her bonding by saying ‘I will manage him’.

In the meantime, Radhika completed her certification and appeared for Combined Graduate Level Examination where she was declared successful and offered assignment of Sub-Inspector in Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi, CGO Complex Building. She happily joined there and within a few months she cracked Sarita Vihar murder mystery, Burari mass suicide case and many more but cracking criminal cases in quick succession at the cost of her some of the officials who were disgruntled with her candid and robust handling of the cases. But unfazed of all the developments, she continued her endeavour of booking the culprits to jail and bestowing the victim courage to report crime with full of confidence.

On the other hand, Jayanti didn’t want to hasten the things in hurry. She decided to keep the illicit affairs of her husband un-noticed till the things get murkier as she was more concerned with her father’s financial condition. Actually marrying Ruthvik had yielded financial liberty of her father too as Ruthvik used to manage most of the affairs concerning in-laws on his own. That’s the only reason Jayanti didn’t want to alter the adjustment for the sake of her indebted father and that’s too merely on change of relationship equation. Because of this, she decided to bypass the illicit relationship of Shreya with her husband for the time being.

But changed circumstances had different bearing on all the affairs of the family. Once free and un-coated demonstration of bonding on pretext of ‘Jija-Saali’ has now become the coated one as Shreya got enough hint of Jayanti suspecting her of illicit relationship with her husband.

On pretext of convincing Ruthvik to plan for tour, Shreya got ample opportunities to hang around him and do the intricate planning to be on safer side of this tumultuous life ahead considering its exposure. She was, actually, very frightened of this turbulent affair with Rithvik which had gradually sidelined Jayanti to just be hawkish wife. But situation had different things to offer and invite fracas.

She decided to visit Ruthvik office during lunch hour to discuss next course of action as keeping things close to her chest only, could have lethal impact on her new found relationship as main stake-holder of this whole affair, was going through the acid test by none other than his wife.

The same day afternoon, Shreya rushed to his office to intimate him all the things which happened recently and asked Ruthvik to join her near Brindavan Garden during lunch hour. Ruthvik started little earlier and reached the venue. Shreya, too arrived in taxi. Both joined and sat down on the garden bench together.

As usual, he was very pleased as his new found love had found new way of spending more time together. In the house, there is always fear of getting caught red-handed. So on getting time and finding her, he pulled her towards his side and kissed all over as if two missing love birds met by chance near desolated space forgetting the surroundings.

“Jiju, please leave me alone. This is not the time to make love as we suspect deep trouble ahead.” scared Shreya said trying to get herself out from his clutch. But little was he aware that he has to face harrowing tales by her, which will not only jeopardise his blossoming affairs but also ruin their family life ahead.

“What happened darling, why are you so worried and disturbed?” Ruthvik wanted to know.

“Do you have any sort of idea that Di is suspicious of our relationship? Today morning over cup of coffee, she was, actually, talking about your relationship with one lady, who is nearer to us. I doubt, since she called me to discuss, she has sensed something of our relationship. Hence we need to plan accordingly. If it will not happen sooner, everybody will come to know of our child?”

“Child! What…what! repeat again. What are you telling child! ….How & Where? Exasperated Ruthvik shouted at her. For Ruthvik, all hell broke loose as he was not even dreamt of what he has done in short pleasure.

“ You bastard lady …..whose child, you are impregnated with….tell me clearly, else I will kill you.” He lambasted.

“hold on man…hold on….the time when you ruin others dignity, you don’t think about this. I don’t think you are so stupid as you sound here. Go and plan to eradicate Jayanti, else I will intimate your office of your indecency” Shreya threatened him.

“you witch, you have ruined me and your own cousin who gave shelter to you and took care of your father. I will throw you out from my home.”

“Mr Ruthvik, hold your horse down, before you throw me out, you have to defend yourself of pleasure you enjoyed so far. Don’t behave foolishly, not only you but whole of your generation will be wiped out from demography, if you behave like this any longer. Do what I say if you want to spend your life peacefully. But mind it, don’t ever try to be smart.

Sensing his end and without any option, he agreed to her command and left the venue in huff. He was alerted by Shreya not to divulge anything before Jayanti. Shreya went straight to her home.

After office, Rithvik went straight to home, where all was not well as Jayanti too was sulking as she had become number two before Rithvik.

Days, months passed by….now Ruthvik started devoting more time in his office than home. Previously he was used to reach home by 7 PM but disclosure by Shreya had in fact jostled his ways throughout and he had started taking alcohol quite frequently. Gradually Shreya too joined him in his drinking arena. Now it was routine affair visiting drunk-yard. Shreya here shared her plan to eradicate Jayanti by administering slow nerve poison. Initially, Ruthvik was unwilling but as soon as she reminded him of impregnating foetus of him, he agreed. But only on condition that he won’t be part of its execution. He planned to go into hiding and for this he stated Jayanthi that he is transferred to Delhi for deputation to Armed Forces Headquarters office, New Delhi. To execute this plan in better way, he applied for voluntary retirement which was accorded approval in next fortnight. He shifted to Delhi. There, he took one duplex on rent and started a part time job in one company in Noida as Security officer. Shreya too, fled out of Bangalore after completed her job and shifted Delhi to live with Rithvik. She started living with Shreya with heavy heart. But for Rithvik there was no option in sight.

Soon after a few days, she developed acne, irritability and mood swing. Ruthvik took consultation with dermatologist. On seeing her condition, Doctor advised some tests which revealed that she is suffering from disorder caused by carcinogenic agent which has altered her DNA sequence, resulting into change of traits. She was advised rest under certain anti-allergic medications with the yarder that she might develop more symptomatic changes in coming days. As alerted by Doctor, her behaviour was actually somersaulting a lot and differences were cropping up in very fast manner. Such was the impact of chemical reagent that she started developing mental illness like yelling, seizures and the peculiar behaviour towards all. During this phase, she added some stuff in the Ruthvik’s food, which knocks him down too. Hardly had he stayed for a day or two there, he felt discomfort in even walking properly. He decided not to go for duty that day, but persistent yelling by psychopath wife had disturbed him much. He eventually departed for duty there. On reaching office, he settled on one chair rested for a while but seldom had he noticed that he would fall asleep. It continued for 4-5 hours when one of his colleagues found him in deep sleep for such a long time. Sensing some sickness, he tried to wake him up but he couldn’t be awaked on voice. On second attempt he got up and wanted to know from the bystanders where he is and how he arrived here. One of his colleagues tried to remind him of his position in the office but he had very scant memory of what’s happening around. Stuff mixed by Shreya had in fact caused a temporary amnesia. Under this effect, he took his bag and left his office in hurry. He had developed fear psychosis of his family members and due to temporary amnesia he booked flight ticket to Bangalore. On reaching at his own house where his old wife used to put in when he had left the city, he found main door under lock and key and nobody knew whether he was alive also. Immediately he contacted some of his old neighbours where he got further troubling news that his wife is missing and might have died a few months back. But he couldn’t believe what others were telling as he was of opinion that he has been living with her for so long. How can it happen that she has already died of mysteriously a few months back?

In this mental trauma, his neighbour called his long time friends turned detective Radhika Roy who after resigning CBI, had launched her own establishments for intelligence cases which are normally not given to CBI because of its lengthy procedures and all.

Radhika was gulping thickly densed smoke of cigar which was gifted by her old colleague Satish on cracking the murder mystery of Professor. No sooner did she sit on the chair and prepared cold coffee on her own, her phone rang.

“hello, detective Roy there” the person on other hand wanted to confirm.

“Yes, Radhika Roy speaking here. Tell me what’s up.” asked Radhika.

“Madam, this is Shyam Saran from Bangalore. One of your old friends Mr Ruthvik Reddy is under semi-conscious state and his wife also is absent mysteriously for few months back. Will you please accost him your service in finding the culprit? If you give consent we will message your ticket to Bangalore.”

“Hello Mr., get your facts right first. Radhika Roy doesn’t normally demand any fee before finding the culprit. Wait for a moment, our associate will reach in next 10 minutes. But ensure nothing get disturbed during this period” Roy informed the person on other side of the phone.

Roy immediately rang Mr. Satish, ex- CBI personnel settled in Bangalore to visit the site and give the feedback. Satish, as directed, visited the spot where Mr Reddy was lying in semi – conscious state amidst few of his neighbours. He first asked neighbours about whereabouts of Jayanti. But except some clue no body answered in affirmative. Finally Satish recorded Mr Reddy’s statement and gathered all the relevant information which might become handy in cracking the case and booking the guilty behind bar. Eventually, he gave first hand report to Radhika and requested her to join him in Bangalore as this case requires robust technique to nab the culprit. She took next flight to Bangalore and reached there.

On arrival, she first glued to eye of Rithvik who was now awoke but was not able to recall all the incidents properly. Radhika saw his eye unusually reddish. She asked Satish to take help from local chemist to administer eye drop so as to have a sound and tension free Rithvik before her in its investigation. But Satish couldn’t bring eye drops as chemist refused to sell as there was no doctor’s prescription with Satish. Finally one physician was called to check the health condition of Mr Reddy.

Doctor arrived and checked his body thoroughly and he was astounded with the outcome as his sole and palms were deeply reddened with sore at some of the points. Firstly he feared Vasculitis but when he checked other vitals of the body, he was more surprised to understand that he was under drug or some allergens had reduced his mental capabilities. Radhika without waiting for further updates asked Satish to visit some of the local doctors’ alike quack who also used to prescribe medicine without any certified doctor’s prescription.

Satish pretending to be a patient found one clinic Raj Homeo where Doctors didn’t insist for any prescription, instead gave Nux Vomika for his ailments associated with nervous disorder. Satish reported the matter to Radhika. She rushed to chemist shop, where on sustained pressure gave details of all the customers who had bought Nux Vomika in recent months.

On scrutiny of entire list he found one name i.e Shreya with address of Yahlanka where Mr Reddy and Jayanti were living together. It led to query regarding Shreya to Rithvik but he was still not in position to memorize clearly, however he ignorantly took name of Shreya as wicked, who had ruined his family.

Radhika kept her cool and waited another few hours at Reddy’s office before moving to the residence where Rithvik & Jayanti were living happily after their marriage. Since the door was under lock & key, Radhika informed police and took their help in rummaging the premise which was all scattered as nobody was living there for the past few months after his wife demise. But as it said, culprit leaves trail behind and here Radhika found wrapper of Nux Vomika variant 2 which is used to treat paralytic attack. But Radhika exulted in joy on finding wrapper in the premise. She handed over this wrapper to Police and requested to do analyse the fingerprint impression over such wrapper.

In next few days its result came from its Hyderabad laboratory specifying the clear pattern of fingerprints. On Roy’s insistence fingerprint of all the family members were taken out and matched. To their utter surprise, one finger print completely matches the same of Shreya, her half sister who was dependent on Rithvik income. But who would have thought of such malpractices by none other than half sister financially dependent. Rithvik was further asked about Shreya but he couldn’t specify exactly how he is related to her owing to the reason of amnesia. Radhika, by then, had got enough of clue with the help of her old maid, who used to visit her residence to do daily chorus even after Reddy’s movement on deputation to Delhi.

Police team was asked to visit the entire old age home to have a glimpse of her condition but all efforts were going in vain as she was still traceless. Finally, one lady was reported doing ‘Sewa’ at Gurudwara Ramkrishnapuram, Bangalore. Radhika hearing news went straight to Gurudwara. There she noticed Jayanti doing some Sewa & all to the pilgrims and deity. She was rescued from there and asked to report each and every details of administration of poisonous substances. She took name of Shreya as main conspirator and other two associates as accomplice. On her guidelines police personnel arrested Shreya and her accomplice. By that time Ruthvik was brought down to Delhi to see other things. He went straight to his residence with Radhika. She was still fond of him and had a good memory of sharing the school bus together. Rithvik on the other hand had not had such level of consciousness which may require in forming fresh bonding and start life afresh but Radhika seeing one helpless kid in his house took all of them with her and proposed Ruthvik to live all together which he agreed by nodding his head in affirmation.

THE END