She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Her eyes narrated the untold story. Behind the disguise there was something that shattered her life. Behind the vengeance there was betrayal and behind the anguish there was a tale of broken heart.
In a few moments the police arrived, she was arrested for murder. Lot of speculations in the media and hot gossips in the social media followed. Interrogation started and she was mum, there was no way to unravel the truth. The police tried their best, every trick to open up her mind but all efforts were in vain.
Finally the Superintendent of Police came to give a last try. She looked into her eyes and spoke softly, Shalini I understand your grief and being a woman can even better understand your feelings, your eyes narrate me everything she said in a subtle way. Shalini was calm and did not respond. The lady police officer looked in despair placing her hand on the face and the diamond in her ring sparkled. Shalini burst into tears while the officer tried to console her. This is the culprit she shouted pointing to the diamond. This is the culprit which made me a killer, root cause of evil, and she opened up. She told everything impulsively.
It was a wonderful evening and I was in Singapore Zoo being a nature lover it was an awesome place for me to enjoy. And there I met David. I was doing a course in nature photography and Dave came from Romania to work in a gemological research firm. It was a casual interaction and then soon we became good friends. I loved nature as it was my obsession and he loved it as it was his profession. Our friendship culminated when he came to know that I was from Bastar India a place rich in natural resources – gems, diamonds, rubies and sapphire. He started calling me Kohinoor after that. I was dating him. We went to Bintan islands to celebrate my birthday and he proposed me on the beach with diamond ring, I love you honey he said kneeling down on the sand and I was enthralled. I ran with my arms open and hugged him. We kissed each other and I said I love you too baby never realizing that I was stepping on the quick sand. We enjoyed the night in the beach resort and he asked me everything about me, especially my home town. I was happy he was interested to understand my culture. I told him about my parents. We were from the Naga lineage, the royal family who ruled Bastar before the Kakatiya kings established their kingdom. You will love the place I told him, age old temples, wild life sanctuaries, Chitrakoot falls, Kanger Ghati National Park, Kutumsar caves, Anthropological museums and above all Heera Panna. It was already late night. I switched off the lamp with a sweet good night and he was even more desperate to know more. Honey what next he said but I already closed my eyes. We were back in Singapore and days passed. Singapore is a beautiful place and it was like a honey moon for us, every weekend a new place to hangout. Sentosa, Merlion, Cable car, Marina sands bay, Gardens by the bay, Chinese Japanese gardens, Tusad’s museum and many more. Finally I was near to finish my course and return back to India. I was happy that I had successfully completed the course and can pursue my professional endeavors in my home town – my kingdom of joy and also can be with my parents and dear ones. Although I was happy about this but deep inside I was worried about my relationship with Dave. I did not want to lose him as our love blossomed into a matured relationship.
As a farewell trip Dave took me to Langkawi a beautiful archipelago in Malaysia. We had a great time and enjoyed the coral island, snorkeling and underwater world. Dave once again asked inquisitively tell me more about your kingdom of joy. I could not read between the lines and happily told him many facts and history. Explaining a foreigner about Indian culture with the intertwined mythology is not easy. You have to be equipoised to explain the scientific rationale behind most of the symbolic stories which may have many subtle messages to convey. I told him everything how it had historical and religious significance being Dandakaranya, the temple Danteshwari was a sacred shrine (Shaktipeeth) one among 52 sites across India. By now Dave started to correlate Indian mythology with modern science. He asked what the history behind this temple is. I explained him that most of the ancient civilizations like Greek, Roman and Indian were born very very long and in those days there was no means of proper communication and formal institutions of learnings. So religion was the only mode of teaching. Everything encompassing science, technology, literature, sociology, polity, diplomacy and even war fare were taught through religion and indeed these ancient temples were symbolic and had subtle messages to deliver generations to come. I told him the mythological story of Daksha yaaga, Shiva’s insult, Sati’s self-immolation, destruction of Daksha yaaga, Shiva’s tandav dance with Sati’s body and cutting of Sati’s body by Vishnu with his Sudharshan chakra to free Lord Shiva from the grief. The parts of Sati’s body were scattered to 52 different places which were consecrated as Shakti pithas and Danteshwari Temple was one among them. “Crater” he said, what I asked with curiosity. He correlated this with the Astronomical phenomenon wherein two celestial bodies impact each other, like a meteorite would have been hit by another celestial body and the pieces would have scattered across 52 places on earth creating craters and each place a temple was built to commemorate this celestial event. Being a gemologist he knew that a hypervelocity meteorite impact can also lead to formation of high pressure materials such as diamonds due to pressure deformation of minerals and fracture patterns in crystals. He was going the right way. He was understanding the Indian mythology and decoding the Vedic science to carry out his treasure hunt. I was so naïve could not even understand that I was just a pawn. How foolish was I, blindly believed him may be people are true when they say love is blind. Finally he gave me a big surprise when we were back to Singapore from Langkawi trip. Honey I want to marry you and live with you in the kingdom of joy. You will be my queen and I your king, Mallika-e-Bastar he said with a royal pose and I fell for his gullible dupe.
Next week we flew back to India. I took him to Bastar. He was happy to visit our ancestral palace and greeted my parents with a grand Namaste dressed in Sherwani, tall handsome even my conservative royal parents could not resist themselves and were impressed by his charming persona and empathetic behavior. Although a bit skeptical my parents soon got convinced that finally I found my prince of the dreams and gave their nod for our marriage. We got engaged in a ceremonial function. My family arranged a great royal feast. Dave was really impressed and my parents gave him a royal diamond engagement ring. It was no less than Kohinoor; it was a diamond called kaustubh which our ancestral kings possessed as a symbol of pride. Dave new gems in and out. He said this is the most amazing gem I ever saw in my whole life. Those days were the pinnacle of joy and merriment, everything was so good and everyone was so happy. Everyday people from Bastar, Dantewada and nearby places used to come and meet my vilaiti prince and I used to take him to all the places I mentioned earlier. He was very meticulous and used to observe everything around with deep interest especially the old monuments and temples. I said you would have been rather an archaeologist or historian and he said with a smile yes honey I love these valuable ancient treasures, they are priceless. Days passed on and Dave was very comfortable by now. He understood a bit of Hindi, he read many books of Indian history and mythology. He would correlate every mythological story with a scientific notion. Once he even told me you know what honey Indians new Theory of Evolution thousands of years back before Darwin discovered by his naturalistic observation. What! I asked with surprise. Yes he picked up an old mythological book which had the story of Dashavtar. And he explained me how each avatar of lord Vishnu was symbolic and represented a stage of evolution. He said life would have evolved in water as Matysa (fish) evolved to Kurma (tortoise) amphibians to Varah (bore) mammals to Narsimha (half lion – half man) intermediate man to Vaman (dwarf) primitive man to Parshurama (warrior) hunter to Rama (civilized man) with moral ethics to Balarama (Farmer) Pastoral to Krishna (street smart) to Buddha (wise man) rationalist and will evolve to Kalki ( modern techno humanoid). I was so surprised how a foreigner can understand the subtle message of ancient scriptures.
I took him to all major temples, places, caves, rivers, mountains, forest and all the prominent sites of Bastar which is a profusion of natural treasures. And finally I took him to the chamber of secret. It was a cave temple beneath the temple of our kuladevi (family deity). It was a great secret and only our family members were passed the secret of this chamber and the hidden temple beneath to preserve it from invaders. I took him to the temple, then behind the garbha gruha (sanctum sanctorum) there was a statue of elephant in a lotus. I rotated the lotus in a specific angle and pulled the tusks in a specific direction and the door was open. We went down the steps into the chamber of secret, the cave temple. After walking 300 meters with many twists and narrow passages in the dark cave we reached the chamber. And finally the goddess of golden statue with Diamond jewelry. Dave was awestruck, he could not believe this. In hundreds of years since the temple was built by our ancestors no one came in except our family members as it was a highly guarded secret. I told him this is our family deity Goddess Shakti and we prayed. Dave could not believe he felt he was in hallucination. I told him not to share the secret with anybody else in his whole life. We came back and were preparing for our marriage ceremony. He said his brother was coming from Romania as his parents passed away few years back. Finally his brother came. The marriage was a grand ceremony and we were going to Europe for honeymoon. We reached Mumbai and were staying in Taj as the flight was next day night. It was midnight and I was in deep sleep as I was tired of long journey and marriage rituals. Suddenly I heard some voice. I got up to see Dave was not in the bed, looked in the room but he was not there. I came out and heard some conversation in the lawn garden. It was Dave’s voice; I can hear he was drunk and talking with his brother on the phone. Finally I got it bro! said Dave. Yes you did it he said. I thought they were talking about me. But the very next sentence made me giddy. The goddess of wealth, we have this golden statue and precious diamonds which will make us a billionaire. Bro this is nothing less than goddess Fortuna and I have this foolish Indian girl to night as a tip. I was shattered; my heart was broken into million pieces like a big bang. I could not believe, the man whom I loved most and entrusted could do this to me. I realized Dave was on treasure hunt in Bastar and I was a scape goat. He continued that he will be on a special cruise to avoid customs and immigration and today night was a night of doomsday for her and tomorrow will be a day of reckoning.
I will leave in a short while by 4: 00 a.m. he said, okay good night bye. I somehow controlled myself and came back to room and was waiting for him. He just came in and was shocked to see me glaring at his face. Honey I thought you have slept, haven’t you, come on let’s have a drink and he went to make the drink. Why did you do this Dave I said? He was puzzled, what are you talking honey, why did you do this I yelled with anger and he understood, I overheard his conversation. He tried to pacify me, look honey, I don’t want such a priceless valuable treasure to be dumped in a cave of dusty chambers, you know what you don’t even understand its value, its price and it’s not just money I want it to be in safe hands. I have a friend who sells most expensive antique artefacts. It will be in some famous international museum and we can have billions to live happy life, come on have a drink baby, he offered. I threw the drink on his face and said it is not money Dave, how about the faith, the belief and love I had for you. You cheat betrayed me, used me and above all this is our kuladevi (family deity) and we Indians don’t sell God. Idols can be bought but not receptive deity, it’s our faith. Come on honey it’s an idol and God ha ha… he laughed sarcastically. You know what you Indians are very sentimental, don’t waste the valuable treasures in the darkness of caves, look that is how we prospered and you derided. You have to understand the power of money. It can buy anything in the world. Sorry it cannot buy my faith, my devotion, my love and my soul I said with anger. And I said I will call the police, he tried to stop me and push me. I tried to scream and he grabbed my throat and tried to kill me. I struggled to breath and finally managed to grab a knife somehow which I pierced in his heart. He fell shattered like a bird, I pulled the knife and was ready to stab him but he was dead. I ran outside with the blood stained knife wrapped in the scarf and the handbag which had the mobile phone so that I can call my mom and dad.
It was early morning and I even did not understand what to do. The receptionist saw me and said ma’am do you want to have coffee, I said yes impulsively. She took me to Starbucks coffee besides and that was the end.