That Night...!

It was raining very heavily that day. It was cold and damp. The wind was harsh and the trees swaying like swings drenched in the incessant rains. Everything looked gloomy and not a soul could be seen on the road.  She sat in her living room staring at the clock as the downpour made galling noise hitting the tin roof of her cottage. She hadn’t slept the whole night. How could she? The memories of the ill-fated day haunted her throughout. It had been a year since the day when destiny took away everything that she held dear; everything that gave her a reason to live. Anne sat alone in her house recollecting the gruesomeness that had hit her life out of the blue.

Anne and Danny were childhood sweethearts. They had grown up together in the small hill station town of Miang. They were neighbours; friends; lovers and then gone on to become husband and wife. Life was perfect for them; they always achieved what they wished for; a loving family with two beautiful daughters; a wonderful house and satisfying jobs. They were the quintessential happy family living the perfect life in a perfect place. What could go wrong? A lot; as she discovered one day when destiny dealt a heavy blow to her.

A year back Anne was invited to a conference in Delhi. She was a teacher in one of the best schools in Miang and she was chosen to represent them at a conference in the capital. This was the first time Anne would be travelling so far without Danny; it would be the first time she would have to leave the kids alone but Danny convinced her to go. It was just a matter of two days and since it was the weekend too Danny would be at home all through taking care of the kids. Although Anne knew all that; something inside gave her a sick feeling. For some odd reason she just didn’t feel like leaving them back in Miang. She insisted on them accompanying her; it would be an outing she said. But Danny chose not to; he wanted her to concentrate on the job at hand. He promised they would go on a holiday some other time and this trip should all be about her job; about the fulfilling of the responsibility entrusted to her by her school. Was it an intuition or a hunch that something was about to terribly go wrong?

Anne left reluctantly for Delhi. But before doing so she made Danny promise several times to not leave the kids alone and to spend the whole weekend with them. She even called her mom and got her home to be an extra help for Danny. I guess mothers are always like that; always concerned for their family. As soon as Anne landed in Delhi, she made calls back home to ensure they were all fine. Danny laughed at her saying that she should enjoy these two days free from meeting the needs of the kids and of him. He asked her to relax and for a change have fun away from all the responsibilities.

As Anne got busy with the conference; Danny got occupied with the kids and the household chores. The first day was hectic for both; Danny called Anne and told her that being a mom is the most tiring thing ever. He was glad he didn’t have to do it every day! They both had a good laugh. He told her that he would make sure she gets atleast a day off from so much household work now that he realises how tough it is! Anne felt a little better with the first day passing without any troubles back home. She knew taking care of the kids could be one hell of a task especially for Danny who had never done it before.

On Sunday Danny and the kids left for the Church Service and Anne went for the final day of the conference. Danny dressed up the children like Anne would in their best outfits with matching ribbons and cute pony tails. Though he took a lot more time then Anne usually would. He even took photographs of them to show Anne later. The service had already started by the time they reached the church. After that they spent the whole day meeting friends in the church; the kids playing and Anne’s mom sharing a tale or two with her girl friends! When Danny returned from the Church; he made calls to Anne but there was no answer. After a while she messaged that she was in the middle of her presentation and would call back later.

By the time Anne finished it was already way past 10 at night. As soon as she was out of the conference, on her way back to the hotel she called Danny but there was no answer. She called again but still no reply from the other side. Anne thought perhaps Danny had gone to bed early; perhaps he was tired running after the kids. She smiled and wondered how adorable Danny would look trying to feed the kids and running after them to put them to bed on time.

As Anne hit the sack; she was excited with the prospect of going back home and happy that the two days had passed without any troubles. Even if it was just two days; it was the longest she had been away from her entire family. She just waited for the moment when she would be home; when she would see her two daughters and Danny. She couldn’t wait to cook their favourite meal; to put them to sleep and to be there 24 by 7 to take care of them. Infact such was her anticipation of going back home that she could hardly sleep that night.

In Miang it was a stormy night; with thunder and lightning. The trees in their lawn swayed recklessly due to the wind. The rain just didn’t seem to stop. It was like hell was unleashing its fury on Miang that night. The weather seemed like a warning; a prophecy of a dire event waiting to unfold. It was wild; it was ruthless and it was scary.

That day before boarding the flight Anne again called Danny but there was still no response. Now she began to get a little worried but kept telling herself that everything was alright. There was no need to panic! Perhaps he was busy getting the kids ready for school she thought.

As she reached home and knocked on the door, for a long time there was no response from inside. She kept pressing the bells repeatedly but still no answer. It was weird none of the windows were open and there was not a sound from inside. She called on Danny’s and her mom’s mobiles and the landline too. She could hear it ringing but there was no response. Anne was getting restless; she was sweating and her heart started beating faster. She went around the house; ever door was closed. She tried to peep inside but the curtains were drawn. It was scary. What could have possibly happened? She ran to the garage; Danny’s car was still there and the children’s cycles too. Why was there no response then!

She called at Danny’s office but came to know that he hadn’t reached yet. She called the school and was told that the kids hadn’t come that day. She knew it right then that something must have terribly gone wrong. She called on to her neighbours; gradually people started gathering around their house. They looked everywhere but nothing outside seemed out of the ordinary. It was strange just yesterday they had all seen Danny and the kids in the church. Where could they have gone?

Suddenly someone among the neighbours suggested at breaking down the door. Perhaps they were inside and needed help. Anne looked towards the door and nodded.  So some men broke open the door. They entered and called out for Danny and the kids but still there was no response. Anne couldn’t find her voice; she was full of fear. She felt choked with emotions and ran up to her bedroom all the while praying for everything to be alright. She opened the bedroom door slowly with her eyes closed; she wished that as she opened her eyes she would find Danny sleeping. She would wake him up and scold him for not answering the door she thought. Would life be so kind on her and grant this wish of hers?

As she slowly opened her eyes to her horror, there lay Danny on the bed in blood with his head smashed. It was awful. She stood there horror-struck. This could not be happening to her. She fell to the floor on her knees; tears rolling down her eyes. She closed her eyes again so that when she would open it Danny would be fine and the dreadful scene which she just saw would not be true. But no matter how many times she closed and opened her eyes things didn’t change. To her dismay; Danny lay dead infront of her stone cold and dead. She was just gone for two days. This could not be happening! She ran to Danny and started shaking him; urging him to wake up. It was dreadful; there was blood all over. His eyes were open and vacant; lifeless staring at her. Danny was gone! She tried to call out to him but she couldn’t speak.  She just couldn’t speak!

Suddenly she heard the screams of others from the kids’ room; it dawned on her the kids were at home too. She ran out and there they were, on the bed with blood on their heads, on the pillows and on the floor; it was as if they were hit with an axe. Both the kids lay holding each other tight; motionless. How could anyone do something this dreadful to kids? Anne couldn’t believe her eyes in a matter of days her whole life was turned upside down. She felt nauseous and light headed. She held them and cried; silent tears rolled down her eyes. Her babies were dead. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They were innocent kids why would anyone want to hurt them! Just then she remembered that her mom was there too; she hoped atleast she would be alive. She went up to her room but her worst fears came true. Her mother too lay dead in a pool of blood. She wasn’t even supposed to be there. Anne blamed herself for bring her mom over to stay at her place. In one night her whole life was turned upside down.

That night after the police had come and taken over the scene; with the bodies sent over for post mortem; Anne sat on the floor in her bedroom right across the bed where Danny lay covered in blood. She stared blankly at the bed. She didn’t know what to feel. The pain was so huge that she became numb. Her fairytale life had just transformed into a nightmare. She hadn’t spoken a word that day. She just couldn’t; her heart ached for her children. She missed her mother. She longed for Danny’s hug; how safe she would feel in his embrace. Who would help her get through this now? Her whole world had come crashing down. She was left with pieces that she didn’t even know how to join back together!

How she wished she hadn’t missed that call from Danny? If only she could speak to him once, listen to the giggles of her daughters again and speak to her mom. She felt miserable. If only she would also have been at home that night; atleast she wouldn’t be alive with the pain of losing her dear ones. The pain was too much to bear.

Anne slipped into depression and who wouldn’t?  She couldn’t care less if the culprit was caught or what was the reason behind such a heinous crime against her family. She didn’t care if anything was stolen or if her life was in danger too. Her family was gone forever; nothing in the world could bring them back. Her life was now dark and nothing could light up that ever.

A year had passed since the day that left her devastated. Nothing much had changed; she still cried herself to sleep if ever she slept. Not a day passed when she didn’t sit with the pictures of Danny, the kids and her mom and cried silent tears.

If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again.

She still mourned for her family. She still had no interest in life. She went about living just as a routine. She had become a recluse. Her friends and well wishers had asked her repeatedly to move out of that house whose walls witnessed the horrific murders of her family. But Anne didn’t; she wanted to live there for she had memories in that house. She still felt the essence of Danny, her daughters and her mother in that house. How could she leave them there? She had once left them and lost them forever. Now she couldn’t let go of their memories and essence too.

Nobody knows to this day what had happened that night. The only thing certain is that on that night not only were three innocent lives lost but Anne’s life too came to a standstill. She lives to die! For her, pain is the fuel for her journey of life. For her the pain is what will take her through this voyage to finally drown in the arms of death and be one with them all.

With what a deep devotedness of woe
I wept thy absence - o'er and o'er again
Thinking of thee, still thee, till thought grew pain,
And memory, like a drop that, night and day,
Falls cold and ceaseless, wore my heart away!
                                -Thomas Moore

So one year since that day as she sits in the living room she stares at the clock waiting for the hour when she would be free from this life which is more of a punishment than anything else. Sometimes life deals such ruthless hands that one is forced to question the existence of a greater power. Sometimes it is difficult to decipher the intent and the reason of a certain incident that leaves us full of angst and pain. A person can either use the pain to look for that tiny corner in the heart which houses the happy memories and use that as the fuel for looking positively at life or use that as the arson to burn even the tiny possibility of a new beginning in life!