Submitted Date 08/10/2023

When Simon produced her in the court, as Dhruva kept himself away, Radha said that she was willing to confess to her crimes, and the magistrate allowed her to record her statement.

I, Radha, w/o late Madhu, r/o 13, Red Hills, Hyderabad, she began to dictate calmly, confess to having willfully poisoned not only Ranjit but also Shakeel, Pravar and Natya. I am aware that this averment, being made on my own volition, could be used against me in the impending trial, and I have no reservations on that count for it is not my intention to evade the rightful sentence. Moreover, the aim of this painful confession is not to earn sympathy or reprieve for myself as I am looking forward to the gallows to end my burden of living. After all, following my those adventures, an act of murder is no mean an adventure, now I seek death, the most formidable adventure of life for it forays into the unknown.

When Ranjit ditched me, though I was pregnant with his child, I blamed only myself for having blindly yielding to him and then naively eloping with him. But his later day refusal to help the hapless Raghu, the child I bore for him, that too after using me all again, induced in me an enduring hatred for him. So, I came to see him as the cause of my fall and began to abhor him with all my heart and soul; and as Madhu, the man I married, started humiliating my boy, calling him a bastard, my bitterness to the deserter only increased. Then, when my son, unable to bear the slights, committed suicide on the railway track, how I wished that Ranjit met with the same fate; but how I were to know that a worse fate awaited me.

Pravar, who had poisoned his sister Mala and Madhu, who kept her, had succeeded in misleading Shakeel into believing that it was my handiwork, and that set me on a ruinous course. Oh, failing to make me sign on the dotted line for his credit of cracking the case, somehow the cop developed an urge to humiliate me; so on the pretext of collecting vital clues, he was wont to take me out of the jail to rape me at gunpoint. Worse still, he began sharing me with the magistrate to prolong my judicial custody, and how I endured the ordeal before I was let out on bail that was after both of them had had their fill, I only knew.

When I saw that live coverage of the telecast, in which Shakeel claimed that Pravar was the kingpin of the counterfeit racket, though I felt the latter got his just deserts, I was seized with an urge to avenge against the former. Then, guided by the hand of the combined destiny - of the prey and its hounds – so it seems, I chanced to see Detective Dhruva's ad for an assistant lady sleuth. Thus, sensing that a stint with him may lead me to the avenues of avenge, maybe rendering me vulnerable to the detective's charms, a welcome prospect for a single woman anyway, I ventured into his amorous arena to get even with my tormentors.

However, when I saw him, it was love at first sight for me and as he too was enamored of me, I wanted to forget about the past and build my future with him. But how I were to know that afflicted by the Stockholm Syndrome, Kavya would be pushing Ranjit back onto my anvil of avenge that too in tow with Pravar, and if anything, as my proximity to the detective brought the cop too under my radar, I found myself drawing the triangle of revenge. Then, as if their destiny of death had beckoned me, I laid my hands on that potion of slow-acting poison; but how I were to know in that my fate too played foul with my life that I was recasting in the mould of love! Just the same, my criminal need for a guinea pig to test the potency of that poison and to calibrate the right dosage to seal their fate made Dicey the first victim of my vengeance.

When I heard about Kavya's affair with Pravar, I gloated over her fall for it would hurt Ranjit no end before I could bring about his end; so seized with an urge to see the turmoil of a cuckold, I contrived to meet him, and as he came to beg me to forget the past and grant it to him again, I led him up the garden path. Oh, what a vicarious pleasure I used to derive in sexually torturing him before I ended it all for him with that fatal dose! But by then, as my love for Dhruva began to rule my heart and soul, thereby quenching my thirst for revenge, I forgave Shakeel and forgot about Pravar.

But at Dhruva's behest, as Shakeel began probing Ranjit's past, I saw the need to catch him before he caught me, if only not to lose my love and he too fell into my trap when I invited him to share some clues to tie Kavya's hands with Ranjit's murder. So when we met in my Red Hills house, I induced him to have some drinks with me, and he readily agreed, maybe hoping that the rendezvous could end up in my bed, only to be dead in his own bed. What with my old wounds thus opened up, I wanted to plant my kiss of death on the 'malicious magistrate' too, but to my peculiar disappointment, I came to know that by then the blackguard was dead and gone.

While Ranjit's death removed the bitterness of my past, Shakeel's end threatened my future for Dhruva started believing in Kavya's innocence and began leaning towards her. Beset by jealousy, as I was bugged to keep her away from him, it occurred to me that if Pravar were to be poisoned in her house, it would be hard for him not to suspect her hand in it. So, having accessed her door key from her handbag to make the duplicates, I raked my brains for a plan that would have spared Natya and yet snared Pravar into the Spandan. How badly I wanted to tend her as my daughter being Dhruva's woman, but failing to conceive any escape route to her, sadly I had to sacrifice her as I did Dicey before.

So, when Kavya left for Guntur to probe into Ranjit's past, I made Natya believe that while she herself was away for an alibi, Kavya had arranged a supari for them. Then, I convinced her that the safest place for them to hide was the Spandan, and, so, she led Pravar, and sadly, herself as well, to their poisonous end. So, when Natya came to collect the key to their deathtrap, I made her wear a burka and gave her the poisoned food for dinner, promising to fetch them breakfast the next morning.

But in spite everything, as Dhruva put his stakes on Kavya, I was torn between my old sexual jealousy and my new lesbian libido. However, when it became clear that it was a question of her neck or my neck, I sought to implicate her with the 'poison bottle', and to my dismay, he saved the day for her by replacing it with some impotent potion. Maybe, what really spoiled the show for me was Ranjit's old photograph with me, and it's as though he had avenged himself for his death at my hands, never mind, while alive, he murdered me emotionally. Was it a poetic justice in a prosaic way, I would never know!

This is an excerpt from the author's 'Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel'

Novelist, playwright, short story, non-fiction and articles writer, translator in verses, a little thinker and a budding philosopher of Addendum of Evolution - Origins of the World


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