She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. The heat that welled up inside her made the coffee feel lukewarm. Rithu glanced around. After making sure was nobody was prying on her, she fished out her cell phone from her cluttered handbag. With mechanical precision, her fingers opened the tab where she had begun typing out a note.
‘This may seem to you as a confession, or as an admission of guilt. It is neither. This is me recounting some of my actions of the past and the circumstances that led me to the situation I now find myself in. For starters, I murdered a person.’
She sighed after going through it. For one last time, she asked herself if sharing her life with others was a good idea after all. After convincing her confused conscience, she resumed writing the story. Her own story.
‘The way I stated the fore-mentioned action may make me look like a cold blooded murderer, or a nut job who is not aware of the consequences of own actions. I am neither. I am a normal person who wishes to lead a normal life, just like other normal people out there. Before we get down to details, let me introduce myself. Well people call me Rithu Sahil, so that’s my name. Usually when people call out my name, they refer to the five feet seven inches tall, lean structure that accommodates me. Most do not seem to care much about how different the body and the mind actually are. If you look from a distance, it is highly likely that you would miss the picture. It is only when you interact, you would come to know that there were not just one, but two of us in there. Two very different persons who happened to have the same external identity.
From our childhood, I have experienced people preferring my body-mate over me. Though we seemed alike, we were vastly different. If one is to use adjectives, I would be called ‘rude’, ‘ill-mannered’ or ‘rash’ while ‘sweet’, ‘well-mannered’ and ‘nice’ would be attributed to her. I shall tell you what happened during our school days, years ago. Our friend Tina had bought a new watch, and was proudly showing it off in the class. In one look I hated it. It was orange, with a big square dial and a funny strap. I told her what I felt, so that she could get herself a more beautiful watch. But my advice did not go very well with Tina. She felt I was being jealous, and stopped speaking with us for two whole weeks. Since then, my body-mate took over me when it came to giving opinions. Whenever a person showed us something new, she would go all ‘awww’ and would starting praising it, no matter whether she liked it or not. And once the person left, she and her group would laugh and make fun of him/her. To my surprise, people liked her more than me. Soon I had not many friends while her circles grew.
I had learned to live with this as a child, but there were other differences as well. For instance, if I had a problem with any guy or girl, I would prefer to say it to that person’s face, and try to settle differences. But she would not do that. She would act all friendly and nice to that person, and then would start complaining on his back. And that made me ‘stingy’ while she was ‘sweet’, like honey. Gradually I began realizing that as more acceptance she would win in this image craving society, I was to be pushed back to the corner and silenced even further. I knew my identity was at a risk. I knew I had to act.’
“Excuse me ma’am.” The manly voice distracted Rithu. She looked up. A young man stood near her. His green apron over the black tees indicated that he was an employee at the cafe.
“I did not mean to intrude, miss. But I could not help notice that you have not touched your coffee in a while. It might go cold.”
Rithu realized that she was too engrossed in her note and had forgotten everything else. She thanked the young man, who smiled and left. She drained the remainder of the coffee down her throat in a gulp. After wiping off the cream from her lips, she went ahead with the unfinished note.
‘I tried reasoning out with her, but she seemed hell bent on maintaining her image. I was feeling suffocated. No one bothered about my presence. Soon things started getting worse. I was not allowed to behave the way I wanted. Apparently I needed the acceptance of others in deciding what I wore, ate, saw, read or did. She lived in the constant apprehension of what others would think. I told her that it was our life and we should decide what to make of it, but all my words fell on deaf ears. Once reasoning was out of question, I began looking for other options.
First I started pushing my way ahead of her. I would give others my honest opinions; I would wear what seemed suitable to me, and told her that it was okay. She protested strongly, and society smirked at me. All my life I have never heeded too much to others’ opinion, but what actually broke me was our boyfriend Varun’s decision to break things up with us. He told his friends that we were strange. One day we would be all meek and playful, while being brutally frank and rebellious the other day. By then I knew that if I continued to let her live, she would grow stronger and indestructible. Rithu Sahil would continue to be the girl who is the society’s answer to a good person. I would die a silent death. That meant if I had to achieve my goal, I had to eliminate her like forever. I pondered over means of achieving the same. The weapons designed by man were helpless. Knives or pistols only caused physical damage. Here the elimination would be at a higher level.
That’s when our cousin Sreenath came home for a vacation. He was doing some high level course in literature, and hence a load of books had accompanied him. One particular book caught my attention. It dealt with social memes and how various false notions affected our mindset and so on. I began reading it in depth and tried explaining the core ideas discussed in it to her. The book also led me to an online social group where I met like minds. They all joined me in trying to convince my twin soul on how to live the way you are.
It was a considerable effort, and I was skeptical. Gradually there was some light at the end of the tunnel. She seemed to listen to reason. In a first, she had given in, although by a whisker. If there was a do or die moment, that was then. I could either strive to impose myself over her, or could suffer in silence till the end of our lives. I had suffered enough already. I decided to suffocate her. All day, all night I told her facts and tales that favored my view. This was my custom for days. I would not listen to anything from her. After days of hard labor, one day I found her completely broke. Either she had finally realized I was right, or she no longer had the power to resist. Nevertheless, she lay there trying desperately to catch a breath. I decided to quietly sit beside her and watch without blinking an eyelid. I wanted to make sure that she was completely gone. After several painful, long moments, she finally bid adieu. The 5’7” tall and lean structure did no longer house two persons. It was all mine, to be lived in my way until natural death conquered me.
So that is my story. I am Rithu Sahil, who murdered Rithu Sahil, hoping to live a life that maybe labelled rude, but definitely not a fake.’
She proofread the write up for bugs, and then posted it on her blog. She picked her handbag from the table, and stepped out of the cafe. The sun was beginning to set, and cool breeze made the evening pleasant. She had barely crossed two blocks when a commotion arrested her attention. Many had gathered, including the cops. She assumed that it was a scene of crime. Driven by instinct, she went near the crowd to check out. Two men were speaking to each other.
Man 1: What a tragedy!
Man 2: She could have let it pass. Eve teasing is not the first of a kind, is it?
Man 1: Girls usually go away without retorting back. This one was big mouthed. She wanted to “teach the boys a lesson”.
Rithu made her way forward through the crowd, and the sight she met there made her speechless. A five feet seven inches tall, lean body of Rithu Sahil lay on the ground. Her ex-boyfriend Varun sat in the vicinity, sobbing uncontrollably. A blood stained knife lay next to her blue silk scarf.