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“ Hey children, where are you ? Dinner is ready.”
From the honey- drenched voice of my stepmom ,I could  guess that father had returned.
She was a perfect artist and knew fine nuisances of acting and moulding her tone as well as her body- language.
I was the connoisseur and could guess who she was talking to —-a friend or a foe even without looking.

My mother had died when I was just four and my kid brother was just a few months old  .We were like chalk and cheese but with one common trait —our intense hatred for our stepmom.

She would beat us black and blue over flimsy matters. Even more annoying was satirical smile of her brother who stayed with us. I had heard a word “WITCH’ and that suited her perfectly . I didn’t mind her beating me so much ,but tear stained cheeks of my younger brother  filled me with anger.

“Please don’t cry.” I would tell him wiping my own tears along and promising myself that one day I would  have revenge.

I had a vague memory of my real mother. A few images of her love ingrained in my mind.After her death,I felt insecure and scared most of the times and talked to her even when I was awake.

Most of the days we had to go to school hungry not because we couldn’t afford but because our stepmom didn’t care.I stole money from her purse to buy something to eat.Just a tiny amount which she never noticed.

She was a socialite and a popular one at that .She was all smiles, always ready to help.

Our father was a successful businessman and she had enough for her enjoyment and charity. We were the only ones who had to bear the brunt of being her step children.Even the servants mistreated us to please her .

One fateful day as she was beating Mohan, I couldn’t control myself and hit her back. My father happened to enter the room exactly at that time. I was given a severe beating and both of us were put in the dark room.

We clutched each other out of fear and pain. We cried desperately, but nobody came to our rescue.
Once as I tip- toed to stepmom’s  room to steal as usual, I found bundles of currency notes lying on the table. I picked up the money and put all these in her brother’s bag.

My father demanded that money when he came back. It wasn’t found anywhere. Servants’ room was searched. Even we were under suspicion.

“ I will call the police “ my father thundered  but before that he decided to check stepmom’s brother’s room.

Imagine the solace I had when my father slapped him hard and asked him to get out . ” It’s not the one who fired the shot but who paid  for the bullet.” I thought with vicious pleasure.

My inconsolably crying stepmom was a sight to behold.


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