When Rhea woke up, a slice of sun through the curtain was warming her face. She squinted and then covered her face with her hand. There was a staleness in her mouth as if she hadn’t brushed for days. And a feeling of dryness as if her throat was made of sand. She tried to swallow her saliva, but even her tongue was dry, thick as if made of wood. She let out a deep sigh.
It took a few moments for her to shrug the sleep completely out of her. It was then a realization swept through her. She wasn’t wearing any clothes. Instincts about our body are built in our mind. Like even in the dark we can find where our mouth is. Similar is the feeling of nakedness. We are used to our clothes. It is a part of us. Our outer skin. She shot up on the bed, one hand covering her breast.
The room was a mess. But it wasn’t the room she remembered sitting in the last night. Last night, she was in the living room, where everyone was. Sofa and TV and center table. All of these things that she remembered were not there. Instead, she saw a double bed on which she was sitting, a crumpled bedsheet over it. A duvet which lay neglected on one corner of the bed. A tightly curtained window through which escaped a few shafts of morning light. And … and a naked body, on the bed, beside her. It wasn’t Rahul.
She turned her face in disgust. She pulled the duvet over her and wrapped it around herself. Then slowly she climbed out of the bed and walked into the drawing room. There, Rahul was lying on the sofa, with nothing on his body except a boxer. Not far from him, on the floor was one more guy. He too likes the other two was naked. She didn’t even know who he was.
A wave of shock and disbelief washed over her. Leaning on the wall, she pressed her head trying to think of what happened last night. Her head ached even more as she tried to think. She tried harder, trying hard to shuffle the memories of the last night. To get a clue. But however hard she tried to conjure up any thought, any image, no echo returned from the labyrinth of her memory. Everything was black in her mind.
She turned towards the sofa, where Rahul was sleeping. Then as if possessed, she rushed towards him. He could answer, he has to answer, she thought in her mind. But right at the moment, when she was about to touch him, a loud sound broke the silence of the room. Her body froze in fear.
It was the sound of her phone ringing.
The sound was coming from the bedroom. She rushed inside, stumbling over the table one moment, fumbling over fallen glasses another, her ear focused on the source of the sound. She saw the phone on the floor beside the bed.
She grabbed up the phone and saw the name Shweta flashing on her phone. For some reason, she didn’t pick up the phone. Something was wrong, she could tell. More wrong than what was already here. She silenced the ringtone and let the call fade away. Then she checked the notification drawer of the phone. There was a racket in there. Hundred and fifty whatsapp messages. Thirty-two calls. What the hell is going on, she cried.
It felt like an eternity as she clicked on the notification banner. Saw the message list appearing on her phone. Then she clicked one of them and saw the conversation. Pick up the call … Where are you? … What happened? … Is it really you?
She was numb by the time she saw the video. Divya, one of her colleague shared that. Even in the dim lights, there was no doubt it was her in the video. Naked, drugged, and taken. Not by one, but by three guys. In different ways. They were high too, but not once their face could be seen. It was she, all over the video. They have sent to their group, Divya had written. The boy’s group of the office colleagues. Shivam, her boyfriend had shared with her. She had been trying to call her since.
Then she saw the last message. They screwed up. They sent it to the office group too.
She had grown up hearing the MMS scandal on News Channels. She remembered being horrified listening to such news. How had she felt then? A disgust, but a kind of remote disgust, for it happened to others, those people from cities. Not once she had thought she could be a part of this world. That she would be this girl in such video.
It would be viral soon!
This thought came down upon her like a heavy axe, and suddenly she became numb. Incapable of feeling any other emotion but this. Her entire life, her thoughts, her ambition, the longing for love, the ambition for success, her family, her friends – everything she had felt, or could feel in future, all of the emotions got diffused into this one moment. This key moment that would change her life forever.
“It was you who called?” the turbaned inspector asked a middle aged man at the society gate.
“Yes, sir. ” the old man replied. “I was the one who called. There is some problem on the eleventh floor. I was watering the plant .. See I get up early in the morning. So when I was watering, I heard a few noises. Someone shouted, and then three boys ran from there. I can see that from those ventilation, right there. It was as if they had seen the ghost. There hair unkempt, eye sunk deep, and the color of the skin faded. One of them tumbled over. I saw all of this from here. I can see a lot of things from my balcony.”
“Did you check?” inspector Sartaj asked, his voice cold as ice.
“I didn’t,” the man replied. “How could I! What if it’s a scene of crime. I can’t go there. See I watch crime series. So I know Sir.” The man flashed his teeth in self appreciation.
“Sartaj sir, I told you,” the sub-inspector standing beside him whispered in his ear. “This looks like a nut case. Gossip monger. Should I give him two for disturbing us on a Sunday Morning.”
Sartaj raised his hand, an indication for the sub-inspector to stop. He stepped back a bit.
“Good that you didn’t check,” Sartaj then said, eyeing this odd-looking man from head to toe, “Let’s go to eleventh floor.” Sartaj, the sub-inspector and the two constables followed the man as he started walking, excitement on his face as if he was going to solve some mystery.
After trying the door bell for three times, Sartaj looked at the two constables and signalled with his hand. Break it, it meant. At once, two constables came forward and started pushing the door with the force of their shoulders. In the fourth attempt, the door broke open and the constables stumbled forward from the momentum. “Sirrr…,” a shriek of his voice followed.
Sartaj stepped to have a look. “Fuck” a curse escaped his mouth.
A girl was in front of him, Body languid, face pale, eyes wide open, tongue out. She had hanged herself to death.