Mona had put the washed and ironed clothes on the chair.
” Please madam check them out.”
“Thank you, Mona. I’ll check them before putting them in the cupboard.”
I finished arranging the bed and collect the stack of clothes cautiously on the bed.
One, two three…but whose dress is this? It is not mine. But I knew this shirt very well…pristine white with a blue tulip at its left corner. I gifted it to Sula on her 25th birthday…and…and…I felt suddenly afraid… something was chilling my blood and my legs were quivering.
I collapsed on the bed holding the shirt in my sweaty hands.
The day Sula was killed she was wearing this dress.
Then how it came here along with my dresses. I sent these dresses five days ago to the laundry. And today Mona our caretaker gave the dresses to my room.
Maybe there was a mistake. She might have planned to send it to another room. Maybe it was meant for someone else. There were so many dresses of the same style and colour. But the red specks like open wounds were gaping at me…I could remember that day when Sula was lying on her bed wearing a white shirt and thick scarlet blood was decked on her shirt.
There we lived in a hostel meant for all sorts of working women even two scholars working on their theses and two college girls always whispering and giggling over phones. There was Amisha and Nisanthi on my left wing and Rebeca, Tiyan and Clarissa on my right. Sula used to stay in an adjoining room just to my left. The room was locked for police verification.
There was a head cook and two helpers, one cleaning girl, and one caretaker Mona. Mona was elegant and worked five days a week from 7 to 5.
That day everyone was on vacation and except for two scholars, none were there in the hostel.
When I reached the main gate no one answered my bell and I had to use the duplicate key to open the main gate. Later I realised the bell switch was off and no sound was peeping in their ears.
Anyway, I stepped into my room. I could stay one more day as mom was entreating me. But there was some serious business.
I knocked in Sula’s room..the room was locked from the inside. I knocked twice and then thought she was sleeping I didn’t call her. But even when she didn’t answer my call after midnight I felt uneasy and knocked on her door. Getting no answer I called those two scholars and started knocking again and again. We got frightened and called the police. The room was broken and Sula was lying there on the bed. She was wearing a white shirt with a blue tulip at the left corner and red blotches like scarlet gladiolus were rising towards the blue tulip. There was blood everywhere on the bed and the floor.
It was her birthday and a birthday gift was lying on the table wrapped in red paper.
Then the police came along with an ambulance and media. We hurried back into our room to avoid too much interaction. There was a police interrogation that I could not avoid being her close friend. But I could not give them any clue about Sula’s death. Why should anyone kill such a beautiful and sweet girl like Sula? Who could be such heartless and cruel?
Sula had no affair but she had a special affection for Adi. You could not term it as love as they were friends from school. And Sula and I had a close bonding as we used to work in the same office. We share everything from food to gossip. She was so close to my heart.
But no one could share her love even with her intimate friend. I could not. Adi was mine. I loved him madly. Why did he send a gift to Sula on her birthday even in my ignorance? She didn’t tell me that. There was no need to inform me as I was not there to interrupt them suddenly knocking on their conjugal door. I came suddenly cutting my seven days vacation short. And there were Adi and Sula. I could hear their voices. I was stunned …stunned in rage. And when Adi left her I was there to charge her betrayal. She was my best friend and she knew how much I was in love with Adi. I used my winter gloves and meat-cutting knife. But there was no trace I left for the police or the other habitats. The task was easy as I celebrated her birthday by offering a special cocktail of my hand. And she slept so soundly.
I cried and cried hugging Adi when he came after I called him back at night. His face was stormy but who cared? He could not prove anything and led me to the gallows. He was with her till midnight. And I was on vacation. The room was locked from the inside.
Adi didn’t know I’m a good trekker. Crossing the balcony from my room to Sula’s room is nothing so serious for me.
And two others were there in my support. We three were there when the police intervened and broke the door.
But then who sent this shirt to me?
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.