The Divine Melody
Updated: Oct 17, 2022
By Priyadarshini T S
January 1st, 2:00 a.m.
“What a great party!” exclaimed Ajay.
“It won’t be if we have to clean up the mess afterward,” replied Anita picking up the empty beer bottles. “Cleaning is the best part of the party,” I commented sarcastically as I held out the black bag for her. “I have no idea how I am going to the office tomorrow,” sighed Ajay.
“You should go ahead and sleep. We can clear it. Actually I can do it by myself. Tomorrow Varsha will clean it up anyway,” replied Anita.
“I will help you Ants. I am working the night shift from tomorrow,” I said.
“Shall I leave you girls to it?” confirmed Ajay looking at both of us.
“Yes honey. Go to bed. I will be up in a few hours,” said Anita nodding at him.
As he made his way upstairs I looked at Ants affectionately. She loved him so much. It had been two years since they were married but she still treated him with so much care and concern. She was always a sweet girl and the best thing that happened to Ajay. I take credit for their meeting since Ajay was my blind date; I couldn’t make it and I had asked Ants to go in my stead. They fell in love as soon as their eight hour date was over.
“Ants remember the day you met Ajay, how you guys spent almost the entire night together,” I asked her.
“Oh god! That was the best date and the longest ever. After dinner we decided to go for a walk on the beach. We kept talking and walking till the sun rose. His friends tease us all the time after hearing that story. I think you told everyone on the day of our wedding reception,” said Ants picking up some pizza boxes.
“Oh that is true. I forgot that I did that. Anyway Ants, are you really happy with him? I know he loves you and all, but I do think there is an imbalance in love here,”
“Oh Lee, you worry too much. He takes care of me well and he will probably behave himself because he knows I have a fierce protector – the warrior LeeLee!” she laughed looking at me.
“Yes. Anyone who hurts you will have to go through hell,” I laughed back.
“Lee, I do have to tell you something though. I haven’t yet discussed with Ajay but I wanted your advice,” she said looking at me seriously.
“I think I know what it is,” I replied.
I met Ants for the first time when we were both just eleven years old. We were both new to the school and became friends immediately. Over 15 years, we shared our laughter and sorrows, even had major fights which would usually be resolved within just a few hours. She had not changed even a bit over the decade I knew her so I could easily guess what was in her mind.
“I don’t think Ajay is going to take it well,” she said reading my mind.
“You can’t possibly know that without talking to him Ants. Just find the right time and ease him into it,” I advised her, shoving the paper cups into the bag.
“You think I should go for it?” she asked looking at me eagerly. I noticed how her beautiful brown eyes lit up whenever she was happy or excited.
I nodded and hugged her with one hand.
“Lately I think it is important that we act on our ideas ASAP. I regret many things babes and I don’t want you to feel the same way,” I whispered to her softly.
She hugged me back tightly and buried her face in my hair. I could feel the moisture from her eyes wetting my shoulder.
January 2nd, 10:11 a.m.
I opened my eyes to the bright sunlight streaming through the windows. I blinked my eyes a few times to properly open them and rubbed my hand across my face. I was sprawled on the bed in an awkward angle and tangled up in the covers. My head was throbbing and I slowly sat up, my legs dangling by the side of the bed. I loosened my robe and wiped the sweat from my neck. I tried to recollect when I came to bed. I
searched for my phone and found it by the bedside table. The red lamp on the table was alight and I switched it off. My phone was dead so I put it for charging and made my way to the bathroom. I threw the water on my face a few times to remember the events of last night. I remember making my way to The Brewroom for dinner and drinks.
I vaguely recalled seeing Ajay there. He was already drunk alone so I joined him at his table. We talked about the fight between Ajay and Ants. I had already heard about it from Ants. I had met her for lunch after she had called me crying, early in the morning. We shared around 7-8 beers along with food.
Did I kiss him? No way. That must have been just my delirious wishes. Did I? It seemed to feel so real.
I went to the kitchen and boiled some water. I took the coffee powder and my cup from the shelf. As I closed it I winced from the sharp sound.
I suddenly remembered hitting something yesterday. What did I hit? I chided myself for drinking so much. I always did this on the weekends. Ants always scolded me for doing stupid stuff after getting drunk. I mixed my coffee without milk and went back to the bedroom. I switched on my phone and waited for it to power on. I noticed the laundry piling up in my laundry basket. I had to wash them today.
I felt like I was forgetting something important from last night. What was it? I racked my brains.
Finally the phone was lighting up with my screensaver. It was a picture of me, Ants and Ajay when we went for a trek last year. I scrolled through my messages sipping my strong coffee. There were so many from Ants.
Lee, can you come over?
Lee, Ajay is not home yet. I am getting scared.
Are you out drinking Lee? I called your phone so many times. Why are you not picking up?
Lee. Please come over or pick up the phone.
Shit! I was getting all the texts from yesterday because my phone was switched off.
The coffee had woken me up a bit more and I decided to go over to Ants. I took a quick shower and changed to a blue skirt with a sleeveless white top adorned with small bubbles of various colors. I combed the bangs from my hair and the laundry basket caught my eye. I had to do it today. I bit my lip and thought about when to do it. I decided to stick in the washing machine before leaving. When I opened the door I noticed there were already some clothes in it. I pulled it out. It was bloody. That’s weird – I wasn’t on my period.
It was the white pants I wore to work yesterday and the violet shirt that I loved so much. Like an avalanche I remembered what happened yesterday night. I sat down on the floor of the bathroom with a thud.
I must be dreaming. I could see Ants’ body – no – that was not real was it? I was so confused. I was going crazy. I had to go immediately. I dropped the clothes and rushed out of my house. I reached their beach house in an hour, speeding through the traffic. I ran to the front door.
Should I ring the bell? I rang it twice with shaky hands. No body answered.
“AHHH! Anita!” Ajay’s scream reached my ears and I rummaged my bag to get the emergency key. I opened the door and rushed over to the guest room from where his sound was emanating.
January 3rd, 2:53 a.m.
I was slowly walking to the end of the pier. The wooden planks of the bridge leading up to the pier felt comforting to my bare feet. I was wearing my favorite outfit – white pants and the violet shirt that Ants picked out for me. I reached the end of the pier, looked at the calm surface of the ocean. The sun was setting and the light blue was replaced with yellow and orange hues. It was such a peaceful scene but I was feeling uneasy. I realized I was waiting for someone and I looked at my watch. When I looked up at the sky again it had turned red. Such a beautiful color but I was feeling more and more uneasy. The red hue deepened and spread all over the sky suddenly. Even the sun became meshed with the color and I couldn’t make anything out. The color started dripping down as if it was a painted canvas that was being dissolved with water. The bloody tears fell on the water till the blue changed to dark red. Strong winds started to blow, the serene surface became plagued with turbulent waves. The water was swirling beneath me and I could feel something heavy in my hands. I looked down and saw that I was holding a golf club. The white club also turned red at the base. The entire world around me was throbbing red and suddenly I felt a pair of hands push me into the water. I fell into the dancing red waters – it felt like fire. It burned me. I was burning, it was searing me everywhere. I started to wave my arms around screaming help. The fire leaped around me and a fiery hand clamped my mouth shut cutting off my scream midway and I flailed my arms around. I could feel the strength leave my body as I slowly drowned in the hell fire.
Gasp! I was out of breath. I woke up panting. I checked my body. I was not burnt. I was just in bed.
“Dream, it was just a dream.” I reassured myself clamping my chest, trying to calm my thumping heart. I automatically reached for the lamp and switched it on. The reddish glow reminded me too much of my dream so I immediately switched it off. I selected the torch button on my phone and clicked it. The feeble white light that emanated calmed me a bit. I removed my robe and went to the shower.
I felt grounded in reality once the icy cold water hit me. A whole bunch of pinpricks on my body brought me back to real life – which was even more horrible than my dream. I closed my eyes instinctively as I raised my head towards the falling water.
The slide-show of horror started to play in my mind. All the scenes from yesterday morning.
Anita was lying there. Bloody. Limp in his arms. Ajay was shaking her body and pleading with her to wake up. The whole room was splattered with her blood. The clean white sheets and the carpet. She was dead. Dead.
Her beautiful face was covered with her dried blood. I couldn’t look at it. My brain had frozen. I slid down to the floor and rested my head on the door jamb.
“Anita, please wake up! Please. I will do anything you want. I am sorry that I fought with you. I am sorry that I went to drink instead of coming home. Please wake up. I am sorry. I am so sorry,” Ajay was crying.
“Ajay,” I called out to him. My voice was feeble and even I couldn’t hear it. I called out to him again increasing my volume with difficulty.
He heard me this time and looked at me with his eyes brimming with tears.
“Lee! Lee, look. Wake her up. What is the matter with her? Please wake her. Maybe she will open her eyes if you call out to her,” he requested to me.
He placed her head gently on the floor and crawled over to me. He took my hands and took it to his head.
“Lee, please wake her up,” he cried. I was too shocked. I removed my hands from his hold and touched her feet. They were so cold.
“She is gone Ajay,” I could hear my own voice as if I was an indifferent doctor who had seen so many deaths and was just stating a fact. It sounded weird to me. It was like it belonged to someone else.
I slowly searched for my phone and dialed the numbers to bring an ambulance and the police.
I stepped out from the shower when I realized I was shivering. I wrapped myself in a towel and sat myself on the bed.
Did I kill her? Did I beat her to death? I couldn’t remember anything from that night. I couldn’t have …
I loved her didn’t I?
It is true that I did regret that day. But did I resent her that much?
Resent her enough to put an end to her? The thoughts reeled in my mind and I was running like a hamster on a wheel. I just noticed that my notification light was blinking. I took the phone and saw a text from Ajay. It was sent at 10:00 p.m.
Lee, the police got the murder weapon. It was a golf club. They said they will get the prints from it tomorrow. Let’s meet tomorrow at the cafe next to your place at 8:00 a.m.
January 3rd, 7:45 a.m.
I pushed open the door to the “Little Burrow”. It was a quaint café that was open all throughout the day. The bell chimed when I entered and the waiter behind the counter woke up with a jerk from his doze. I waved to him as I sat down in one of the corner tables. I frequently visited this place with Ants and Ajay for lunch on Sundays so they knew all of us well.
“Good morning Guru! Just get me a cup of black coffee,” I said to him with a fake smile.
I contemplated on whether to call Ajay but then thought it might be better to wait till eight. Ajay was always punctual. One of the traits which made me love him. My mother must have thought the same when she set me up with him that day. If I had only gone that day instead of sending Ants – such thoughts always sent me into a rabbit hole of different futures I imagined. Today I could only think that maybe I would be dead, not Ants. Of course, Ants was not capable of killing anyone unlike me.
What was I thinking? I am also not capable of murder, was I?
I shook my head as if it would somehow this action would rid me of the lame thoughts in my mind. It was a wasted effort as my hamster mind kept at its wheels relentlessly.
I was brought back from my reverie as the bell chimed again and Ajay came in. He came and sat down on the opposing chair.
“Lee, were you waiting for a long time?” he asked me in a low voice. His eyes were swollen and reddish. It looked like he was crying for most of the night. His face was scrunched up in a serious manner and his lips were pursed. There was a wound on his lower lip that was halfway to healing completely. I retraced my eyes back to his.
“No. I just came five minutes back,” my voice sounded cracked. I drank some water from the jug on the table and gulped it with difficulty.
“What are we going to do Lee?” he asked me looking around even though there was no one to overhear us.
“What are you talking about Ajay?”
“I don’t remember anything about that night. After racking my brains all night I recalled that we were together. Did we see the person who killed Anita?”
“I don’t know Ajay. I also don’t remember what happened well. What happened to your lip?” “Don’t you remember?” he looked at me oddly.
“No I don’t. I only know that we ended up drinking together. I blacked out after that,” I replied cautiously.
“This is awkward,” he paused looking at me sheepishly.
“We went back to home. I kissed you and you slapped me. Your ring hurt my lip. You said we cannot do this and ran away. Did you see anyone on your way?” he asked me urgently.
“Where was Ants at that time?” I shot back. I was cursing myself in my mind.
“Anita was not in the room. She was –” he stopped as soon as Guru placed two cups of coffee on the table and looked at us questioningly.
“Nothing else for now Guru. Thanks,” I replied faking another smile.
He politely nodded and left. I wrapped my hands around the hot cup. I looked back at Ajay.
“She was sleeping in the guest bedroom. We saw her when we came in. I think. I am not sure about everything. It is all very vague,” he explained.
“I don’t even remember … you know. Ajay, do you guys own golf clubs?” I asked hopefully masking my curiosity by hiding behind the coffee cup.
“Yes. Someone gifted them to us. I have never even opened it. Anita wanted to keep it in the hall just for appearances. You know how she is … I mean was,” he replied, his eyes filling up.
I touched his hand briefly and took it back.
“Ajay, who would do that to her?”
He shrugged his shoulders and took a sip of the coffee.
“I was in the police station all night long. I wanted to know any detail as soon as they got it. They informed me only about the golf club. They said that they will know sometime today,” he said sighing.
He looked at me for a moment and said “Sorry Lee. I was not in the right mind that day. I had a fight with Anita. She wanted-”
“Kids,” I finished his sentence.
“Yes. We never fight. You know that more than anyone. I was upset and sad about it. That is why I wanted to have a couple of drinks before facing her. I probably confused you with her. I am sorry for kissing you,”
I felt like I was slapped across the face. Even when Ants is gone he doesn’t want me. I stopped myself from thinking more crap and started drinking the coffee earnestly.
After I urged him to have breakfast with me, we parted ways. He went back to the police station and I went back home. I locked the door and the windows. I still wasn’t sure that I hadn’t killed Ants but I had to do something about the clothes. Just a fingerprint on the golf club would probably be inconclusive evidence. My brain had switched to survival mode and I decided to follow it through. If I didn’t get caught maybe there was a tiny chance I could make it work with Ajay.
I was shocked at my own capability and slapped myself a few times on the forehead. I shoved all the clothes together and switched on the machine.
January 4th, 11:41 a.m.
The sweltering sun was burning my back as I opened the door to my apartment. I had gone to the office to explain the situation and apply leave for another week. I couldn’t even focus on everyday trivial things because of all the tension. My mind was running around in circles, waiting for a call from the police or Ajay saying that they had found my fingerprints on the golf club. The worst thing was I still couldn’t remember anything from that night. Suddenly the phone rang and I checked the screen. It was an unknown number.
“Hello,” I said tentatively.
“Lee is that you? It’s Ajay. I am in the police station. They have arrested me. They are telling me that I killed Anita. I don’t know what is happening Lee. Please come here. Please,”
“Ajay. What are you saying? Where are you? I will be there as soon as possible,” I reached the police station he mentioned and I saw him in the lockup. I ran over to him. “Ajay, how did this happen?” I asked him.
“Lee, they are telling me that I killed Anita. Can you believe this!?” he said holding onto the steel bars. “How is that possible?”
“They found my fingerprints on the golf club,” he cried.
My whole mind was whirling and I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening. I did feel like a load was lifted from my mind as I heard it. I smiled and sighed internally as my nightmare faded into nothingness. Somehow it was easier to accept that he killed her and not me.
How could I think that?
“Do they have any other evidence against you to keep you in jail?” I asked him thanking all the known Gods in my mind.
“I don’t know Lee. They said I could call someone. That is all,” he said.
“Okay Ajay. I will look for a lawyer to get you out,” I said in a calm and clear voice. It seemed like all tentativeness had left once I knew that I couldn’t have killed her.
“Ajay, I will be back with a lawyer. Please be calm,” I said and I left the place. I had to think things through.
This had to be the best thing that could have happened. I was so scared and stuck for the past few days. I couldn’t even sleep after my talk with Ajay. I had to plan my next moves. I had to help Ajay but would it mean that they would further investigate and put me in jail. I had to get some legal advice but I had to ask
someone I could trust. There was another option. I could make a run for it. I was still innocent and not under investigation. I could silently move away somewhere. But if I did that would the police peg me guilty. What if I unnecessarily call attention to myself by going away?
I could get Ajay a lawyer and help him. If I did that would he end up falling for me? Was there any possibility that I could have a future with him?
I looked around me and I noticed that I was in an unknown part of the town. There was a huge church on the left and a bookstore on the right. I never visited the church since the day my mom passed away. I broke the rule and went inside. It was so calm and quiet. It was empty save for two people praying silently. It brought down the chatter in my mind. I sat down in the middle of an aisle. I looked around the patterns and art decorating the chapel. I looked to the front of the church and saw the all-familiar Jesus figurine – placed on a cross looking down at the mortals. I closed my eyes and clasped my hands in the gesture of a prayer. I started crying silently as gratitude filled my heart. I cried because my best friend was gone. I cried because I didn’t know what to do next. I beseeched to God, after a decade to show me the way.
My phone pinged breaking the peaceful silence. I wiped my eyes with my arms and looked at the phone. It was a text from my boss.
Leah, I have shared the contact of a reliable lawyer. If you ever need it please contact him. I know him personally and I think he will be able to help you.
God had answered me. The path in front of me was clear. Whether I end up in jail or Ajay ends up being freed, whether we end up together, I knew what I had to do.
One Year Later.
January 4th, 2:43 p.m.
I entered the cool waiting room. I was asked to wait till the doctor called me. It had been a year since the dreadful incident. I visited the church every week after that. After a very short trial Ajay had been released due to lack of evidence. We had mourned the death of Ants together. Without Ants in the scene, the gap between us became shorter. The closeness I always imagined in my mind became real. The mutual love we had for Anita morphed into love for each other. He asked me to move in with him yesterday. I couldn’t have been happier.
Things were finally going my way but there was some unease in the back of mind. It grew steadily since the day Ajay was released. I still couldn’t remember the night of Anita’s death and it disturbed me highly. It also felt odd to me that Ajay kept living in their old house – where I was supposed to move into next week. I was having horrible nightmares after his proposal to move in together. I decided to do something about this before moving in with him.
“Mam, please come this way,” said the receptionist to me.
It was a clinic where they used hypnosis to retrieve memories.
After an hour I came out of the building. I was given the recording of the session. I pulled out my headphones after I sat in the bus. I clicked on the play button.
“Leah, now you are back in time. One year back. It is the night of January 1st. You are drinking with Ajay,” said the doctor’s voice.
“Yes. We have a lot of beers. We move closer. I am unable to hold myself back. I kiss him and he doesn’t pull back. We decide to go back to his place as it is nearer. I also feel it is a good idea since he seems to be drunk than me. We reach his place in a few minutes. He tries to kiss me again but I pull back hesitantly. He coaxes me but I tell him this is wrong. I tell him Ants would probably be waiting up for him. He tells me that he doesn’t want kids and that he is tired of Anita. We reach home. We enter it with his key. The house is quiet and dark. There are no lights anywhere. He leads me to the guest bedroom. He tries to kiss me again. I move my face away. I mention Anita again. He shushes me and whispers that Anita was probably asleep. He forcefully kisses me again. I get repulsed and push him away. He is unsteady after the drinks and stumbles over the carpet. He tries to steady himself with the lamp and knocks it over. It creates a racket in the quiet atmosphere. He tries to get up and falls down again. I can hear footsteps outside. He gets up and shoves me into the wall and kisses me again. I try unsuccessfully to push him away. I squirm around and suddenly the lights come on. Anita is at the doorway. She looks at both of us in shock. She realizes that he is forcing me and slaps him. He staggers from the force. She hugs me and helps me to stand. Ajay protests saying that I was forcing him. Anita spit on him and says that she saw everything. He goes out of the room cursing. I sat down on the floor crying and Anita comforts me. Ajay comes back with the golf club.
“I am so sick of you!” he says as he strikes her down. She fell down on my lap. Blood gushes out of her head and splatters me. I scream and try to wake her up. She doesn’t move. He hits her again roughly and I try to stop him. He pushes me away to the ground. I fall back as he keeps hitting her. Anita was gone. I knew it. I had to stop him somehow. I pull his hand holding the club and try to stop him. He turns back and I punch him on the face. My ring meets his lip and blood starts flowing freely. He gets angrier. He raises the club over my head. I black out as I fall on the floor of the dining hall.
I slowly open my eyes and find myself on the floor. I see no sign of Ajay. I immediately take my bag and phone from the bedroom and run away. I reach home and remove my clothes. I push them into the washing machine and take a long bath. My head was throbbing and I drag myself into the bed collapsing into it.”
I had reached home by then. I climbed out of the bus mechanically as I pulled the headphones away from my ears. I sat down on the bench in the bus stop. I didn’t know how long I sat there. Finally I decided that I needed to get away. I had to escape. I made up my mind and I briskly walked towards the apartment. Just as I was about to open the door it pulled back and Ajay was standing there. He was smiling and holding it open.
“Hi honey. Where were you? I have been waiting here for over an hour,” he says. I stand horror-struck. Say something Lee. He will realize something is amiss. I forced myself to talk. “Hey! I had a lot of work,” I replied, my voice cracking.
“Really? Work? I see. Why don’t you freshen up? I am getting dinner ready,” he said leaning in to kiss me. I unconsciously move away. “I am feeling dirty. Let me take a bath,” I said tensely. “Okay honey,” he replied with a big smile.
I moved to the bedroom and closed the door. I immediately went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. I rapidly thought about what I needed to do. He might realize something is awry. I told myself that I would act through the night and then move tomorrow. I could always do my work remotely and I
didn’t have many possessions to carry. I had rented this apartment out. I could send over the rent for this month and ask the owner to relieve me. I reassured myself and stepped out. I pulled on my robe and went to the mirror. I tried to smile at myself and close my eyes for a quick prayer. As I open them I could see his reflection in the mirror. He had my headphones plugged into his ear. His lips curve up into a sinister smile.
By Priyadarshini T S