Monday, August 29, 2005

The homicidal bibliophile

My wife ( hereinafter referred to as “She” to protect my identity) is a voracious reader of horror books and an avid watcher of horror movies. “She” hand-picks only those books that contain, not later than on the second page, a vivid description of a disemboweled corpse lying in a pool of blood. Horror movies must pack enough gory scenes, scary shrieks and other spine-chilling special effects.

A fortnight ago, I came across a newsitem which said that a 32-year old woman in Patna had poisoned her husband, inspired by a scene in an Hindi movie. This made me panic. If watching one movie could inspire this illiterate Bihari woman and turn her into a murderess, imagine the effect of all those hundreds of horror books that “She” had been devouring for so many years. It was evident that I was a potential and a definite target. I had to be on my guard all the time. Ceaseless vigilance was called for.

Last Monday, she pulled out two drumsticks, from the fridge. I froze. “She” had once told me a story, written by Roald Dahl, about a housewife who had knocked out her husband, using a frozen piece of lamb leg and then called the cops. Asking them to wait in the drawing room, she deep-fried the leg of the lamb and served it to the cops, thus destroying the only evidence they could have had. Was “She” going to knock me out likewise with the drumsticks and destroy the evidence in Murungaikkai Sambar ? I calmed down only after seeing the drumstick being cut into smaller pieces, which greatly reduced their potential as a murder weapon.

A week back, I had locked myself in the bathroom when I heard the pressure cooker blowing off steam in the kitchen. “Wait a minute” I thought, “ was it really the pressure cooker or was it a hissing snake ?” Did not the character in Conan Doyle’s “ Case of the Speckled Band” introduce a live snake from a tiny opening in the locked room, to poison the victim and leave no clues whatsoever ? Was “She” trying to do the same to me ? Where would “She” get hold of a snake ? I got out of the bathroom after “She” shouted that “She” would break open the door, if I didn’t come out fast enough to drop the daughter in school.

Two nights back “She” snuggled up to me and seductively cooed, “ We need to have a holiday, just you and me, far away , in a quiet place. Let’s take one of those long train journeys. Leave the kids with the grandmother”. “Ha”, my senses alerted me, “She” is trying to lull me into a sense of false security and lead me to a lonely spot. Does “She” think that I had not heard of Ray Bradbury’s story about a man on a train between Moscow and Vladivostok, getting down at a station in the middle of nowhere, so that he could meet some stranger and kill him and leave no trace at all . Nobody would suspect him as they couldn’t attribute any motive . Was “She” trying to take me to some such lonely spot to bump me off?

This morning, as I was leaving for office, “She” patted me fondly and lovingly adjusted my tie-knot. As if I would be deceived. This was straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie, “Frenzy” where the serial murderer strangulated all his victims with his neck tie……

I hear the phone ring now. I am not going to pick it up. Was it not the movie ‘Dial M for murder “, in which the villain had hired a killer to enter his house, hide behind the phone and choke the villain’s wife when she came to answer the call ?

I told you. Ceaseless vigilance is called for.