After a hour long drive, they arrived at Jaiswal’s residence. Jaiswal got out of his car and was about to take out his bag when he saw a piece of salwar sticking out of the car door. Suddenly alarmed, he yanked the door open to see a frightened Meera lying on the floor.
“What the fu..”, Jaiswal left his sentence hanging as he dragged Meera out of the car, grabbing her rudely by the hair.
Meera screamed in pain and her left foot shot forward to hit Jaiswal in his right shin. Jaiswal grit his teeth to tune out the agony in his bones and slapped Meera across her cheek with tremendous force. Meera drowned in a world of hurt .Two of her teeth started moving with a life of their own, as a metallic, copper like fluid filled her mouth .She spat out the blood. It tasted warm and deep.
She felt too weak to resist as Jaiswal tugged and jerked her along to his house. His fingers dug deep into her soft flesh as he inserted his keys into the door lock and pushed the door open. He yanked her hand so hard ,pulling her into his house, she started fearing that her shoulder had got dislocated.
Jaiswal pushed the door close with his left foot and grabbed Meera’s throat. “You are Sriram’s elder daughter, aren’t you?” He growled as he looked menacingly at her wide, terrified eyes.
“What the fuck were you doing in my car?”
“To t...take back the ring,” she managed to choke out.
Jaiswal let out a low guttural laugh. “So daddy’s adopted daughter wants to play hero, huh? For what? So that daddy starts loving her more than her sister?”
Meera’s face registered shock and surprise at how this man had come to know so much about their family. And then it dawned on her. Suraj must have told him.
“Looks like I’ll have to play the gracious host,” Jaiswal hissed and pushed her towards his bedroom. Meera tried in vain to wrest free from his grasp, only to have his heavy hand smash down on the back of her head.
Darkness descended in front of her eyes, and a dull pain throbbed at the back of her skull. Before she knew what was happening, her assailant had shoved her into a dark closet in the bedroom.
“It’s dark in here,” she heard Jaiswal chuckle. “I brought you some company. Do be gentle with him though. He has a nasty bite.”
She watched in horror, as he threw a dark spider, the size of a human foot, into the closet and locked the door.
Drowned in a pitch-black world.
A deadly spider waiting to bite her!
Meera brought both her hands behind her to clutch a shelf. She bent her knees slightly. For a closet, it had a surprisingly large gap between the shelves and doors. Enough to fit in her frame. But it wasn't big enough. The doors kissed her knees halfway through her bending.
This would have to do.
Counting to three, she jumped with as much force she could muster in the tight enclosure. The shelf creaked as she lunged upwards. As her feet left the floor, she dug them into the doors. The top of her head thudded against the roof. And her teeth accidentally bit down on her tongue. The hairy monster was no longer on her legs, having jumped somewhere in the dark abyss. Taking a deep breath, and ignoring the hurt, she pushed with all her might against the doors which held her. The shelves and the doors groaned under her weight.
Minutes passed. Her armpits and palms became a sweaty, sticky mess. How much longer ? she thought desperately. Just then, she felt the eerie hairy something drop on her stomach. As it started moving, fear clutched her heart again, a terrified shriek escaping her mouth. With a sudden burst of adrenalin, she withdrew her right foot and lashed it out against the door with a strength beyond her imagining. A split-second later, the hinges gave way. The right door flew off the hinges. With no support for her foot, Meera crashed to the floor. The shelves scraped her back as she fell. Her backbone jarred from the impact with the floor.
Almost in a trance now, she pulled the hairy arachnid from her stomach, ready to hurl it outside.
Jaiswal had gone to the toilet to take a leak. The noise of the door breaking drew him out. Meera hesitated for the tiniest fraction of a second, before she threw the spider at her assailant, with whatever strength her shoulder could muster.
Jaiswal’s hair stood on the back of his nape as he saw his deadly pet being flung towards him. Its trajectory made a bee-line for his face. He stood rooted to the ground, dead still, shaving precious seconds off his reaction time. The spider was barely a couple of inches from his face, when his reflexes swung into action. His right arm jerked upwards and sideways in a wide arc before him. His hand intersected with the flight path of the tarantula and sent it hurtling across the room.
He barely had time to recover his wits, before he gasped from a sharp punch delivered to his solar plexus. Another blow quickly followed, knocking his wind out. Before he could realize what was going on, Meera had withdrawn Jaiswal’s dagger from his pocket, and plunged it deep into his guts.
The dagger was so sharp, he hardly felt it enter him. But the pain was there soon after, as an unwanted reminder. Jaiswal grunted, fighting with all his endurance to prevent himself from howling in torment.
Meera withdrew the blade and plunged it again. Blood spilled out like freshly opened champagne.
Despite the agony burning up his stomach, Jaiswal let out a low guttural laugh. “My my! Won't daddy be proud?” he managed to gasp out. “A ruthless killing machine for an adopted daughter. A nasty little thing, aren’t you?”
“Runs in the family, I guess,” she snarled.
“What?” Jaiswal clutched his stomach as his face clouded in surprise.
“Shinde? Remember?” Her lips curled into a sadistic half-smile.”What do you think I came here all the way by myself for? Could've easily called the cops, couldn't I?”
“Wait a min..you mean..you are..” Jaiswal's head was reeling now.
“Guess blood's thicker than water, after all.” As she came closer to him, her eyes gleamed with a cruel intensity. And she pushed the blade one more time, spilling out his red guts on the floor. “That’s for killing my father, ass-hole!”
Sixteen years ago, she had been hiding. Just like tonight. Under a different bed. In a different house. Peeping from under the bed, she had witnessed Jaiswal slitting her father's throat with her very eyes. Jaiswal's haughty, upturned nose and cruel countenance were seared into her memories.
Tonight, sixteen years later, the moment she had first set her eyes on him, Meera had recognized Jaiswal as her father's killer. Hatred quickly purged out fear the more she looked at him from under the bed. The birth of her desire, to avenge the twin-deaths of her father and her childhood ,was instantaneous.
“You'll never get away with...” Jaiswal stopped, unable to speak any longer. It just hurt too much.
“Oh, I think I'll,” Meera replied with a sinister insouciance.
That ominous indifference was all too familiar to Jaiswal. Shinde used to have the same after he summarily dispatched his victims.
Jaiswal couldn't stand on his feet anymore. His knees dropped to the floor. The edges of his eyes were being invaded by a sea of blackness, and Meera continued speaking. “I guess I'll just take the ring. Sell it. And get on with my life. No point returning to my home. Don’t think folks will miss me there, anyway!”
“You think...”, Jaiswal was breathing heavily now, barely forcing his mouth to move as he spoke with pauses, “it 's gonna be ...so easy..do you? ..Selling that shit....you d-don't know anybody.”
“Oh, I'll manage,” Meera said with an assured smile. “Thanks for the concern.”
It was the last thing Jaiswal heard before he passed out. Last thing he would ever hear.
Meera retrieved the stone from Jaiswal's bag and wishfully wondered what Rahim uncle and she could do with fifty lacs to spare. Rahim should be able to get a buyer. He had been her late father's associate in his particular line of work. He still had the contacts.
As she walked out of the house to a breaking dawn, she couldn't help keep her mind off how she would look in a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes.
Or Gucci. With maybe a Prada handbag to go with it.