I am the devil. They all say that, when they come to meet me in jail. Even my own son!
They all ask me how I could do something like that. How I could kill my own husband for whose love I once fought with the entire world. How I could be so cruel with him in his death; make him suffer like that. It wasn’t an easy death for him. He couldn’t even understand what was happening to him and wasn’t able to defend himself. And towards the end, he lay twitching, suffocated, mutilated and was fortunate to die after that. But he suffered for only a few last moments. He isn’t alive now to think about the suffering. To wake up at nights and relive the excruciating torture. The same kind of torture that I suffered for years. Like I still suffer from the torture I had undergone at his hands. The betrayal I experienced, he didn’t even feel any of it! May be it is right that I am suffering the fate of my actions.
My name is Sharada. I and Iqbal were at school together in a small town far from here. We fell in love, but I am a Hindu and he was Muslim. All my friends used to tell me that it wouldn’t work. But I wanted to prove them wrong. Religion could never become an obstacle for our love.
When we passed out of school, we wanted to get married. But we both knew that it would be impossible to do that with the consent of our families. So we kept our love a secret and my best friend Jyoti used to help us exchange letters and meet occasionally. Those days were so exciting! The secret meetings, the letters and the stolen moments! We fell in love so much, that we couldn’t stay away from each other. So we decided to run away and get married.
We wanted to run away far enough and stay away from our families so that we could live in peace. May be a few years later we could come back to the town and meet our parents. Jyoti tried to talk me out of it, because she said it would never work. We didn’t have any money for ourselves and it wasn’t easy to run away without being found out. And both families could get into a fight that could be deadly. But I did not care about any of that. I was madly in love with my Iqbal and this was the only way I could live with him. So that night, i packed my clothes, took all the money and jewellery I could from home and boarded a train with Iqbal.
We went to a city 400 kms away and got married in a temple there by exchanging garlands. Getting married in a temple was much easier than a muslim nikkah, and Iqbal said it never mattered to him where we got married. He soon got a job as an electrician’s assistant and we rented a small one-room house in a slum. That was eight years ago.
The first days of marriage were so exciting! Iqbal was never soft or tender with me, even when we made love, but I loved that very quality in him. That he was never shy to profess his love for me. He was so brave to defy everything and run away with me. He was so masculine, and so protective! He too could never get enough of me. He would always tell me that I was the most precious thing he owned and he would wring the neck of any man who would dare to look at me or tried to take me away.
My family came for me once, and tried to take me back. But Iqbal was furious when he found my family at home and seeing him in that mood, they left without a word. We had a son in less than one year after that, and I was so happy! Our families disowned us totally and no one bothered us after that. I thought nothing could ever go wrong now. But I was wrong!
Iqbal grew so possessive of me, my life started becoming hell. That is because of a weakness I had. I always loved the attention I got from the men around me, even as a schoolgirl. But I was never disloyal to Iqbal! I never ever wanted to betray him. I loved him a lot. But I never found anything wrong with a little flirting. Blame it on habit, or a desire for company when my husband leaves me for long hours. Iqbal could never understand all this. He used to get angry when he found me talking to other men. We got into regular fights over the issue.
I tried telling him at first. But seeing that he isn’t convinced, I started ignoring his protests. But things went from bad to worse when Iqbal started beating me up once in a while when he was too angry. It hurt me not just physically! Every time Iqbal saw me talking to someone, he would accuse me of sleeping with other men and on several occasions he embarrassed me infront of the entire neighbours!
Iqbal started believing that I was not interested in him anymore. That thought really irked him and he tried to shut me from everyone around me. I fought back and defied him. I was a spirited woman and I could never let anyone restrict me from what I wanted to do. He started coming home drunk and the assaults grew more frequent.
One day Iqbal came home a little early and saw me talking to a man from the street across. He turned into an animal at the sight and beat the man up brutally. I tried to stop him, but infront of all our neighbours, he called me a whore and said he now doesn’t believe that our son was his child. He pushed me and the kid out of the house. I was broken! I could not believe that my Iqbal, for whom I sacrificed my family and my comfortable life to live in a slum, could call me all that! I was devastated. We had to spend the night at a neighbour’s house and in the morning, he came apologizing and blamed it on drink. But things changed for me now. He wronged me, and I can never come to terms with what happened. I still stuck around for the child. And I have no one to go back to, now. I was staring into a dark pit and I only hoped Iqbal would realize what he is doing.
He didn’t. For several years after that, I was beaten every day by a drunk man, I was called horrible names and kicked out of the house several times. My life became a total wreck. Some elders tried to interfere, but Iqbal never listened to anyone. My son used to cry initially seeing my plight, but he got used to it after a while, and sometimes when I felt immense shame at the things Iqbal called me, I used to look at my son to see him impassive and unmoved. It hurt me! The man I trusted my life with has become my biggest enemy now, and my own son is so insensitive to my suffering. I had nothing to live for now!
That’s when I decided. I decided to put an end to my misery by killing him. I decided that this was the only way. I had nowhere to run to, and there is no hope that Iqbal would change. Not even for the love we had in the past. Love? There was no love anymore! I face his malice every night and it maddened me. I wanted to end it all. I wanted him to suffer in the end, like he made me suffer.
I went and met Kiran and Sailoo, who lived in a nearby colony. They were my acquaintances, and I knew that Kiran acted as a recovery agent for a local moneylender. I knew they would do it if I asked them and paid them enough. I told them about my suffering and my plan to kill my husband. I offered them Rs.15000 for the job and paid them Rs.5000 as advance. They just had to be there to help me. I would be the one to kill Iqbal with the weapons I chose.
Kiran and Sailoo came to my house on a Sunday afternoon as planned. Iqbal knew them from the liquor den he frequented, so he welcomed them happily. They carried a bottle of liquor and suggested a drink. They started drinking and as per plan, they kept pouring drinks for Iqbal. After an hour, Iqbal was totally drunk. They forced him to drink more and even I kept urging him. He kept drinking and was on the verge of passing out. He was lying prostrate on the floor, intoxicated beyond hope. The time had come.
I had kept a crow bar ready to pierce his heart. But I wanted to strangle him first to see him suffer! That’s when an idea struck me. I was heating some oil to fry some eats! I let it boil hot. Kiran and Sailoo were shocked to see what I was doing, but I told them to shut up and do as I say. The held Iqbal to the floor. I found a way to make Iqbal suffer! Suffer for the insults he hurled at me. For the abuse, the torture, the malice! I poured the boiling oil into his eyes! He screamed, tried to rub his eyes, but his arms were pinned down. His face was burning and melting in front of me. The skin started peeling off, the oil penetrated deep and scorched his face! The burning stench of live flesh was horrible! Sailoo started screaming, but I wasn’t done yet! Iqbal wasn’t suffering enough. I poured the rest of the boiling oil on his genitals. His masculinity! His boast to superiority over me! I destroyed it! Iqbal let out scream after scream, stifled by a cloth Kiran was holding to his mouth. Sailoo let go of the legs and arms he was holding and started throwing up. Kiran was horrified too, but was too numb to stop me or protest!
All the while, my son was sitting in a corner watching me do all this. He didn’t understand what it was about and why I was doing it. He’s too young! He’ll understand one day. He’d seen me suffer daily, didn’t he? He would know. He would come to me!
Iqbal didn’t die immediately. He kept flaying his limbs for a long time. Kiran and I had a tough time keeping the commotion down. Then Kiran picked up the crow bar and pressed it against Iqbal’s windpipe. It strangled him in a few mintues. Iqbal was dead! I didn’t know how to react after the moment of madness passed. But I didn’t regret what I did. I asked Kiran and Sailoo to leave. And I sat in front of the body, with my son next to me. Burning flesh, the smell of death! And I sat there motionless. I didn’t know when the neighbours came or when the police came. It all happened in a daze, how I came to prison. I don’t remember anything, for I never bothered to find out what was happening to me. I heard later that Sailoo committed suicide within a week.
But all I could think of, were the last moments of Iqbal. The torture he suffered, and I kept wondering if he realized why he had to undergo all that. The first time I came to full consciousness was when they brought my son to me. My parents were with him. He saw me and started crying and running away. I couldn’t understand why! I asked him why he was running away from me. My mother replied, ‘because you are such a bad woman!’ I asked my son if it was so. And he nodded his head! He too thinks I’m the devil now!
But he’ll know someday. He will know that it was love that made Iqbal do what he did. It was love too, that made me do what I did. I still love the old Iqbal I knew, but not the monster I killed. He turned into a monster out of his crazy love and turned me into a monster too. But wherever he is, I think he still loves the old Sharada he knew. Yes, the love was there, but things changed with time. And my son will know that we dealt with it in our own ways. He’ll know that it was just another love story!
(Based on a true incident. Characters real; emotions assumed)