Fiction inspired by Gillian Flynn. (it is not a love story)
The forensic reports were in. Avantika was hysterical. Her two year old child was poisoned to death. She could not believe anyone could kill a child. Avantika, her husband, Jay, her parents and her sister, Apeksha were in the police station, trying to make sense of what Inspector Dubey was telling them.
The week before the scene at police station, 34 year old Avantika woke up to see her two year old daughter, Zoya, lying dead beside her. The child had died in the sleep, at around 3 am, and Avantika and Jay slept with their dead child between them, till the maid rang the bell in the morning. Previous night they had been to her parents’ place to celebrate her elder sister, Apeksha’s 40th birthday.
Apeksha was a school teacher and taught English to high school students. Well endowed Apeksha was the ‘favourite teacher’ of her students. Apeksha didn’t have to try too hard to get the hormones of puberty hit high school students roaring. Love, however, eluded her. Her younger sister, Avantika, got married four years back to Jay. “Marriage is not the end of life,” her parents told her, and she agreed. She has had her share of fun, while the happily ever after played hide and seek.
The family had decided to make her feel special for her birthday and they had a small family time. Apkesha was elated. Her close-knit family was around. Her niece Zoya, whom she doted on, made sure Apeksha doesn’t get to cut her birthday cake, because “Zoya will cut the cake”. “Of course, you would, Zo,” Apeksha planted a kiss on Zoya’s cheeks and even took a tiny bite of her cheeks while Zoya tried to free herself from her aunt’s clutches.
It was a happy evening. Soon after the dinner, the playful Zoya, tired of all the running around, fell asleep in her aunt’s arms. Avantika and Jay did not want to disturb her and so they didn’t wake her up as they brought her home. Zoya slept between Avantika and Jay, like every night, but unlike every morning, she didn’t wake up.
Avantika was beside herself when she called her parents to tell them about Zoya’s passing. They could not believe the little one, so playful, so loving, is not breathing. Will never will.
No parent could believe they slept while their child died. Avantika and Jay had called their neighbour, Dr. Rao, to have a look at Zoya. Dr. Rao examined Zoya, rather Zoya’s dead body, and insisted on post mortem. Zoya’s lips had turned purple, and the death didn’t seem natural. A police case was filed and it was concluded Zoya was poisoned.
Who would want to murder a two year old child?
At the police station, Inspector Dubey looked around, trying to judge their reactions. This seemed like an inside job, but the implications of the statement were horrifying. It is sacrilege to even indicate that someone from a well educated and well to do family might have killed the baby.
First needle of suspicion pointed at the parents. In a country where honour killing is still prevalent, is it possible that the parents, in their mad desire for a male child killed a female one? There was no polite way to bring it up.
The poison which killed the child could have been easily purchased from a chemical store. They were not restricted substances and it only required basic knowledge of chemistry to turn these seemingly harmful chemicals into a potent poison.
Apeksha’s phone beeped and she excused herself momentarily.
Inspector Dubey’s watchful gaze followed her as she took the call near the window. The aunt. Inspector Dubey looked at the report again. “These ingredients are found in mosquito repellants, which are not as harmful by themselves. But in large quantity in its potent form, it could be fatal.”
No, what he was thinking was preposterous. Apeksha turned around and caught Inspector Dubey studying her. She twitched a little and her blinked a few times in quick succession.
“Cause of death: accidental poisoning.” it said.
“No one poisoned the child, but it seems Zoya might have consumed some mosquito repellant while playing which lead to her death. It was a case of accidental poisoning,” he said. “I am sorry,” he added.
The family was driven by grief and could not control crying over their loss. Apeksha was inconsolable too, replaying all the moments she has spent just the day before her death with her.
That night, as Apeksha lay in her bed, trying to sleep, she smiled.
Ever since she was born, Apeksha hated Avantika. Avantika grew up to be luckier than Apeksha in all ways and that just made Apkesha bitter. She always said she was a proud sister and how happy she always was for Avantika, but deep down, her hatred was growing. When she got married, she could not believe Avantika found her happily ever after and she hadn’t even though she was far prettier than Avantika. Everyone said so! How can Avantika be getting her share of happiness too?
Things worsened when Avantika had a baby. As if Avantika wasn’t enough, even her baby has come along to claim a share in the attention Apeksha believed was rightfully hers. She loathed Zoya, who was just how Avantika was when she was her age. She hated to have another Avantika in her life.
She had to die. Zoya had to die. Something so dear from Avantika needs to be taken away from her so she could never recover from the loss.
And mosquito repellant took care of the little pests forever.