Skeletons in the closet

3 min


October 27th, 2019

Sleep eluded Rehan. He attributed it to the newness of the place. Rather than yielding to frustration at the sudden bout of insomnia, Rehan decided to take a walk in the courtyard. 

The full moon cast a sombre glow on the courtyard. The leaves of the Holy Basil plant, had all wilted, gone, like Rehan’s mother. He  hadn’t visited his father, Dr. Arun Verma, ever since his mother’s death, three years ago. 

Rehan walked past the coops of hens, past the rusted tubewell and reached the grey door at the far end of the courtyard. He unbolted it and strayed to the  forbidden backyard garden, like someone possessed by an invisible power. 

The stillness was heavy, invasive, broken only by occassional hoots of owls. The unpruned grasses tickled Rehan’s knees. The torchlight couldn’t save him from cuts and scrapes by anonymous thorns. Rehan stopped at the spellbinding sight of the pond that appeared silvery under the moonlight. 

‘Rehaaaan’ a funereal voice echoed through the garden. Rehan tried to retrace his steps but he couldn’t move. His heart constricted under the weight of inauspicious thoughts. Goosebumps sprouted all over his body.

Rehan spotted someone wearing a gorgeous red sari sitting by the pond. Her loose hair touched the muddy ground. Golden bangles caged her porcelain hands. 

‘Who are you?’ Rehan managed to utter.

‘I was someone in flesh and blood, just like you. But, now I only roam in the shadows. I have been waiting for you.’

‘Why me? How do you know me?’ Rehan stuttered.

‘You need to know a secret, Rehan. I urge you to open the teak wood cupboard in your father’s bedroom. You will find the keys to the cupboard in a golden watch box on the lowest shelf of the wall cabinet in the same room. Get hold of his 2016 and 2019 journals, kept  on the second shelf. Mark the entries for October 14th,  2016 and August 19th 2019, carefully’ the apparition pronounced, before vanishing into thin air.

Rehan brisk-walked towards the mansion. In his state of anxiety and fright, he had forgotten that October 14th  2016 was his mother’s death anniversary. 

Rehan summoned up the courage and opened the cupboard in his father’s room, as soon as his father left the house for the nursing home. He took a deep breath. 

 He scanned the pages hurriedly and paused on the page marked, October 14th  2016: 

‘I couldn’t let her live after discovering that she knew all the secrets about my organ trade. Foolish people, they believed that it was a suicide. Thank God, Rehan is also away in his medical college…’ the diary entry read.

Rehan couldn’t contain his tears of rage and sorrow. He remembered the merciless beatings he would receive from his father as an adolescent.  He was not exactly Rehan’s favourite person. Even so, Rehan had never imagined that his father was capable of such monstrosities. He broke down into deep, uncontrollable sobs.

Rehan’s eyes were red and puffy. He pulled himself together and opened the 2019 journal. What could be more heinous than murdering one’s own wife, Rehan thought and flipped over the pages. He stopped at the page marked August 19th:

‘I did not want Lavanya to meet this fate. After all, she was Rehan’s childhood friend. I did everything to rescue her from her dire financial straits, offered her a job in my nursing home. Little did I know that she would turn into a rebel, give me sermons about morality, threaten to expose my  organ trading racket. I knew she was getting married next week but I had to let her go. Poor soul, she is rotting in the garden now’, the journal entry read.

Rehan could connect the dots now. The identity of the appparition was clear to him. Here is a man who punished my slightest transgressions, preached me about right and wrong. I will bring him to justice. Rehan raged. 

Like every evening, Dr. Verma was in his study, immersed in medical journals. The pungent smell of his expensive cigarette,  and the embellishment of the room drove Rehan insane. 

‘I know all your secrets, you deviant old man. You are my mother’s murderer, an immoral plutomaniac, and a manipulative hypocrite, Rehan burst out.

‘How dare you use that language with me?  How dare you accuse me of such barbaric crimes?’

Rehan  slapped the diaries on the ornate Mahogany table. 

His father feigned nonchalance. ‘How did you find these?’ 

‘Lavanya helped me’ Rehan replied. 

 ‘You are completely out of your mind. Lavanya is dead,’ Dr. Verma blurted out.

‘She would have been alive had it not been for you,’ Rehan’s voice trembled as he spoke.

Dr. Verma started laughing hysterically.

‘Okay, let’s believe that I have killed them. What then? You would drag me to the court and use these journals as evidence? My dear boy, my connections run deep and far. Nobody touches me here’. 

‘Now, you may leave the room, Rehan’, he commanded.

‘I am leaving now but I will make you pay for killing my mother’ Rehan retorted.

‘If I were you, I would watch out for myself’ Dr. Verma said.

A sense of unease gripped Rehan at midnight. She had said she would be waiting. 

She was sitting by the pond, wearing a black sari, the colour of the night.

‘I am sorry that it was my father, Lavanya. I confronted him. He is not the least bit repentant about the sins he has committed over the years. No sense of guilt.’

‘They say, my accident happened because of my karma. They even gossip about my questionable moral character. Anyway, now that you know, I am free to follow my charted course. Good bye, Rehan’ the apparition said, before dissipating. 

 ‘I am responsible for the deaths of my wife and my staff, Lavanya, among others’ read the last entry in Dr. Arun Verma’s journal. The next day, his icy body was discovered in the garden, by the pond.


Photo Credits: Unsplash

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