By Ganesh Subramanian
It was a bright morning in New York. Ritesh woke up to the sound of chirping birds beside his window. He rubbed his eyes for his vision to clear. He looked at the Christiano Ronaldo poster that adorned one of the walls of the living room. The poster showed Ronaldo ready to take a free kick. Ritesh was reminded of the premier league match that he planned to watch that night that featured Christiano Ronaldo. Almost as if stirred by memory, his eyes moved to the calendar which was hanging from one of the walls. The date 11th of December was circled in bright red colour. Ritesh smiled at the irony that the date was circled in red and not in any other colour. Today was the 11th of December. The circled date reminded him of the most important task that he wanted to accomplish that day, an accomplishment that would banish the demons of humiliation, embarrassment and pain, an accomplishment that would exorcise the ghosts of the past once and forever. This was something important that he has to finish at any cost. The premier league match can wait.
After a quick shower, he reached his office. After checking his mails and mailing his daily updates to his boss, Ritesh was waiting for a call which he was expecting that day of all days. The next minute, his mobile screen flashed the name of Vimmy Veronika. Ritesh answered the call.
“Happy Birthday, my cutie teddy”, said the female voice at the other end.
“Thanks. Surprising to see that you have come to office on time”, mocked Ritesh.
“Only for you, dear”, answered Veronika. “Ok Listen. Come over for dinner tonight at my place”, said Veronika.
This was what Ritesh wanted to hear. But still he played with Veronika. “I have lots of work. Need to prepare that presentation for the board meeting this Friday”, said Ritesh.
“Oh, Come on. If you spend a couple of hours over dinner at my place, your board won’t sack you”, Veronika said.
“Alright. I will be there at 9.” replied Ritesh.
“Now that’s my boy. See ya” said Veronika.
Ritesh winded up the day’s work by 8 pm and when his SUV landed in Veronika’s Eastbrook apartments, it was 8.45 pm.
Ritesh and Veronika were from India, but now working in the US. Veronika was born to a Hindu father and a Christian mother, hence the name has a combination of Hindu and Christian names (Vimmy, short for Vimala, a Hindu name and Veronika for her Christian roots). Having got to know each other through a common friend, Ritesh and Veronika loved each other as if there is no tomorrow. Veronika told Ritesh that she will make her dad announce him as her life partner during her birthday party. Ritesh bought an apartment with his year-long savings to present it to Veronika. On the birthday party, Vimmy’s dad announced her engagement to Deepak John, an Indo-American businessman. Ritesh was heartbroken. The worst part was Veronika seemed to be happy with her dad’s decision. She told Ritesh that Deepak was well-settled and she could not disappoint her father. This sudden change in Veronika baffled him. Through some of his sources, Ritesh came to know that Deepak and Veronika had been pals in college and they had a very intense relationship and before they knew it, Veronika was pregnant. So this marriage is a quick heal solution before things could go out of hand. Ritesh’s blood boiled on hearing this. “How could she do this to me?”, he wondered. Although they both had kept in touch occasionally through the phone after this incident, things were never the same again between them.
Veronika welcomed Ritesh. After a sumptuous dinner, they settled on the couch and were having a few drinks. Veronika got up to bring another bottle. Ritesh got up and followed her. When Veronika pulled out the bottle from the fridge and turned back, Ritesh was standing close to her. He flashed a romantic smile. He moved close to her and put an arm on her waist. He brought his face close to hers. Past memories came flooding back to Veronika. She couldn’t resist. Anticipating a kiss from Ritesh, she closed her eyes. This was the opportune moment he was waiting for. He brought out a kitchen knife, its steel finish glistening in the dimly lit CFL lamp. In a swift motion, he plunged the knife into Veronika’s midsection. Veronika froze in horror and pain. The bottle dropped from her hands. Before she could scream, Ritesh’s left hand closed her mouth. He pulled out the knife and drove it harder into her abdomen again. Ritesh came close and whispered into Veronika’s ear – “You shouldn’t have done this to me, you lecherous bitch!”. Saying so, he pushed Veronika. She dropped dead on the floor.
One more task to be accomplished. Ritesh started his SUV and headed towards Maxington Lane. He reached Silver Oak apartments in Maxington lane and headed to Door # 145 in the 3rd floor. Jeevitha, a Tamilian from the southern part of TamilNadu, the occupant of #145, opened the door.
“Yes. How may I help you?” said Jeevitha.
“I am Ritesh. I am the brother of Mukesh, your reportee. I want to talk to you” replied Ritesh.
“Come in.” said Jeevitha.
“I know why you are here. To say that your brother is innocent. But the records seem to tell a different story. The 10 lakhs that disappeared was his responsibility. There were no expenses of that magnitude that day. Only way the money could have disappeared is when Mukesh himself had taken it. Better he admit his crime, so that atleast his punishment would come down” replied Jeevitha.
“Mukesh is not like that. He is innocent. He is being fabricated in this case for some moron’s crime. Do not go by what you hear. Listen to your heart. Save him from this mess”, pleaded Ritesh.
“I am sorry. I can’t do anything. Your brother has to face the consequences”, Jeevitha said firmly.
“Will you help him or not?”, Ritesh said in a menacing tone.
“No. If you don’t leave now, I’ll call the cops”. Saying so, Jeevitha moved towards the telephone.
Ritesh was fast. He pulled Jeevitha back and twisted her right arm behind her back.
” I am asking you one last time. Your statement against my brother tomorrow will finish his career. After that, Mukesh will not be alive. Think again.” said Ritesh.
Jeevitha didn’t listen to him. She extricated herself from Ritesh’s grasp and ran to the window to shout and alert the apartment’s security. Ritesh was equally quick. In one motion, he twisted Jeevitha’s left arm behind her back and put his right arm around her neck. Then he brought out the kitchen knife and slit her throat in a smooth motion. Jeevitha’s crumpled form fell to the floor.
Satisfied with his accomplishments, Ritesh left house no. 145 with the occupant lying in a pool of blood.