“Sanvi and Yash were engaged this February and all seemed to be going well in their relationship. Six months after their engagement, someone called on our landline to speak to Sanvi. Despite repeated questioning he denied to identify who he was and simply asked me to pass on a message to Sanvi that he would wait for her at a nearby coffee shop.
When I asked Sanvi who he was, she said she was planning a surprise birthday party for Yash and this was the party planner. She wanted the party arrangements to be a secret. Not in the least bit convinced by this bizarre logic, I followed Sanvi to the coffee shop and that’s when I figured out everything.”
I took a deep breath and shuddered. Sensing that I was shaken by recollecting this incident, Arjun handed me some warm water in a paper cup. I sipped it and gathered the courage to tell it all. I was still worried about Sanvi. Was I betraying her? Was I doing the right thing? These questions plagued me but now it was too late to stop.
Inspector Singh prodded me to continue and I decided to stick to the truth. I was tired of having to carry the burden of the secret.
“He was a private detective hired by Sanvi to follow and keep tabs on Yash. Sanvi’s suspicion that Yash was having an affair was spot on. The detective showed several pictures of Yash with Shreya at restaurants, movies and weekend getaways. The dates of all these pictures coincided with his tales of working late in office and going on work trips.
Sanvi was furious and that night I saw a murderous look in her eyes. Livid with rage, she stormed back home and hurled every single piece of furniture. Smithereens of shattered glass littered the floor. I tried to calm her down but nothing seemed to work. She pushed me so hard that I banged my head on the edge of the dining table.”
I fingered the scar close to my hairline. The wound had almost healed but the pain and fear of seeing Sanvi losing her sanity still remained fresh. I lowered my hand and clenched my fist till my nails dug painfully into my palm. I struggled to finish the rest of the story before I would lose my nerve.
“In a fit of rage Sanvi swallowed the entire bottle of sleeping pills but I quickly called the doctor and she was saved. She was in the hospital, in and out of counselling sessions for two weeks. Finally she came back home this week. Yash was there by her side but I could sense that he was uncomfortable around Sanvi. Yesterday Yash came clean about his relationship with Shreya and broke the engagement.
Sanvi did not react at all. Her calmness was just like the stony façade she had when Joy had returned. I was sure that she would not take this rejection lightly. This evening, after dinner, Sanvi said she wanted to go out for some fresh air but when I went into the study, I saw that the antique dagger that our grandfather had just got polished to sell at an auction was missing. I panicked at first but thought that maybe it was just misplaced.
I felt extremely uneasy and giving in to my anxiety I drove to Yash’s place to check if he was fine. That’s when I realised I was too late.”
Inspector Singh was silently taking notes. He looked up when I finished giving my statement and said, “You seem very pale and exhausted. You should rest. I’ll drop you home. My men are looking out for Sanvi. If she tries to contact you, you must inform us immediately.”
I nodded and allowed him to lead me to the police jeep. Outside my home, Inspector Singh opened the door and helped me out. He gave me a digital safety band.
“If you feel unsafe or threatened at any time, just press this button here and we will be there to help you. It’s late now and you should go in.”
I nodded and walked into the lobby. Despite wearing the band I felt edgy. I changed into my night clothes and got into bed but I was too anxious to fall asleep. I looked at the clock, it showed 2.30 am.
I was afraid of the dark so I switched on the night lamp. I had almost dozed off when cold, firm hands gripped my throat. My eyes flew open and I saw Sanvi looking down at me with unadulterated malice in her eyes. Her hair was dishevelled, her mascara had leaked and her eyes were stained with smudged kohl. Her lips were chapped and slightly twisted upwards in a smirk. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even wrench myself out of her grip. Suddenly she released my neck and struck me on the cheek.
“You bitch! How could you betray me? I’ll kill you too.”
“Please stop Sanvi! How could you kill Yash? You always told him ‘I’ll be by your side till death do us part’, then how could you do this to him?”
Sanvi laughed hysterically and then as sudden as her laughter, there were angry tears swimming in her eyes.
“I loved him with all my heart and what did he do? Huh? He jilted me, he loved another woman and looked at her in the way he used to look at me. How could I let that happen? How? And I didn’t break my promise. I was with him till the end. Wasn’t I?”
She continued with a chuckle, “Only death could part us, nothing else right? So how could I let him leave me unless I brought death to him? So I killed him. I loved him as I had promised, till death do us part, till death do us part.’
What Sanvi said made no sense to me. I tried to inch away from her but she suddenly lunged at me. I was choking and gasping but her fingers tightened on my throat. I flailed my arms and when my fingers connected with the bedside lamp I grabbed it with all my might and hit Sanvi on the head.
She screamed in agony and then slumped to the floor. I pressed the alarm button on my safety band and also dialled the police. I ran out of my room and locked the bedroom door from the outside. Within a few minutes I could hear the siren of the police cars. I was quivering from the shock when the door to my apartment was kicked open and inspector Singh came rushing in followed by a bevy of police men. I was so relieved to see him.
“Are you alright? Did Sanvi hurt you?” He looked for wounds and saw the angry red marks around my neck.
Just then one of the officers called out, “She is not in the room. It looks like she ran away. The window is open and because this is the second floor she managed to escape.”
“Go look for her. She mustn’t have gone far.”
Inspector Singh took me to a nearby sofa and then went to the kitchen to get me a glass of water. I looked at him gratefully as he removed his coat and draped it on my shoulder.
“Will you be fine by yourself? I need to go and find Sanvi.”
“Please don’t leave me. I don’t want to be alone.”
He calmly looked at me and said, ‘Two police men have been posted outside and they will guard your house 24×7 so you don’t need to worry and you always have the safety band, I’ll be just a call away.”
I nodded and Inspector Singh left after one last backward glance at me. I looked out of the window and stared at the half moon that glowed in the dark night sky. Will I ever be able to live in peace? I wondered. I couldn’t forget the image of Sanvi’s face, twisted with rage, leaning over me while she tried to choke me. I squeezed my eyes shut but it didn’t help. My head was spinning and I pressed my hands to my ears but I could still hear her shouting, whispering, hissing – Till death do us part. Till death do us part…