To read Part I of this story, please click here – I’ll Be Watching You (Part I)
(Reading Time: 10 minutes)
“Do you know what a piece of scum that guy was? Do you know how corrupt he was? And he had started to get pretty awful at his job too. There’s not a single good thing that he did after I joined. I’ve always heard stories about how he had been brilliant before that but come on, he was pretty incompetent. You’re the person who really deserved that job all along.”
It wasn’t only the affirmation of the fact that he had done it, which made her blood run cold. It was the manner in which he said it, he had no remorse and he didn’t make the slightest of effort to show any. He said it like he’d do it again. But the fact that he had done it once was enough to terrify her.
She got up and began to leave just before he finished. She didn’t know how to react, but walking away right now seemed to be the most logical thing to do.
“I can’t believe this! What did you do to him Arjun? Tell me?! Say it!”
“I didn’t have to do much really.”
“You KILLED him.” Apeksha screamed out as she continued walking away from him. They were near the parks’ exit now. Arjun looked around, a little worriedly after she screamed out. No one was within earshot despite the fact that Apeksha was making no effort to lower her voice.
“Whatever I did was for you. You don’t understand. Just give me a chance to explain.”
“I want you out of my life.” a tear rolled down Apeksha’s right cheek as she said it. To say that she was in disbelief would be a massive understatement. A lot of emotions swept through her as she walked out of the park, but they were subdued mostly by the uncertainty and fear of what would follow.
Apeksha walked back towards her apartment as Arjun stopped there, her head bowed to conceal the tears constantly flowing down her face. She took the lift up to her apartment.
It didn’t come as so much of a shock when Arjun was standing right in front, as the lift opened on her floor. He seemed to enjoy popping up at places where she is least expecting him, it was weird but she was sort of used to it now. She had accepted it as one of his quirks. Right now though, it was very creepy.
He didn’t seem intimidating or violent, but just seemed worried and concerned. He grabbed her hand immediately.
“You don’t understand Apeksha, I’ve been doing it all for you. Can’t you see that? I’ve been…”
“Let go of my hand! And get out of here! You are freaking me out. Do you hear me? You are FREAKING ME OUT. We’re over, there’s nothing more to discuss.”
She took her hand out of his grip and started walking towards her apartment.
“You’re not listening to me; I’ve been making your life simpler, easier. Can’t you see the effort I’ve put to make you happier? Can’t… Can’t you see it’s been for your good? The world is too cruel Apeksha, I don’t know if you can handle it.”
“I can’t handle it?
“Just who the hell do you think you are, watching out for me? That includes killing people?! What gives you the right? I never fucking asked for this!” Apeksha was raising her voice now.
Arjun’s mind wandered back to his past as Apeksha was screaming at him.
It was the day before his 10th birthday and he was just coming back home from school. His Aunt and Uncle were fighting in the living room as he entered and overheard their conversation.
“We can’t afford to keep him, you know that? We have our own children to care for. We’re just going to drive ourselves into ruin. Why can’t we just send him away somewhere?” his aunt blurted out as Arjun stood watching from behind the window.
“What do you mean send him away? He’s just 10 years old!” his uncle screamed out in protest.
Further back. He was 6, playing around with his toys in his room. There had been a knock on his door. His relatives poured in. Aunts and Uncles and cousins, whom he didn’t really see much, except at family functions. Most of them were crying and the ones that weren’t, looked like they had just stopped. His parents had died in an accident, they had told him. Arjun had hardly understood what had transpired.
Arjun chose to remain silent as Apeksha stared at him.
“You make me sick. I don’t need you to ‘watch’ out for me. Just get lost and stop following me. You’re lucky I’m not going straight to the police.”
She turned around and went inside her flat, slamming the door shut behind her and collapsing on the floor as her mind now tried to come to terms with what had just happened.
For a while, Arjun just stood there, before he got into the lift and rode it up to the top floor. He got out on the roof and walked inside an apparent storage room. It was a rather large room with cartons piled up at the far end. More interestingly though, the walls of the room adjacent to where the cartons were kept, was completely covered with screens. He went over to a desktop computer sitting on a wooden desk and powered it on.
Apeksha was slowly beginning to comprehend what had happened. The person she had trusted the most had been behind everything that was transforming her life. Her emotions were strewn all over the place. She didn’t know what to make of anything anymore. She almost wanted to re-wind her life to the point where she had met him for the first time.
She didn’t know what to make of her promotion, her new found level of popularity in office and where she lived. It had to have been him all along. It all suddenly made sense. The eeriness that she had been feeling, the unease over the last few months, it all made sense now. Had anything good that had happened to her recently been because of her own efforts? She didn’t know what to believe anymore.
She hated Arjun tremendously and in the moment she knew she always would.
As time seemed to crawl by and she contemplated what she should do, she came to a chilling realization. How could he know so much? How could he have fixed everything? How could he have always known what was wrong, precisely and comprehensively? It wasn’t possible unless, unless…
Up in the storeroom, all of the screens came alive a few minutes later. They pretty much covered every corner of Apeksha’s house. There were about ten different screens. Everything was covered, from the living room to the bedrooms and even the bathrooms. Every angle was covered, it was impossible to hide from the cameras that he had fitted all over her house. Arjun rolled his chair somewhere towards the center. He sat down and just watched.
Her blood ran cold as she realized what it meant. Fitting all the pieces together didn’t bring with it the sense of accomplishment and clarity that it should have. It made her feel stark terror in all its secluded lack of glory. It made her feel sick. He was watching her, somehow, somewhere. She didn’t know how much, how comprehensively he was doing it but she imagined the worst.
Apeksha got up and looked all around the room. An uncontrollable fury was slowly building up inside her. She started looking around frantically for any signs of a camera. Bookshelves were brought down; furniture displaced, papers moved, showpieces chucked about. She was almost seething with anger by the time her whole flat was one gigantic mess, characteristic perhaps of what her life was turning into.
“WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”
Apeksha finally lost her patience. Her scream was hoarse, devoid of all authority.
Arjun simply watched, undeterred.
Two weeks had passed since that day. Apeksha had moved in with Smita, who had been her closest friend for the last eight years. She had packed her clothes, taken some essential stuff and left. But not before screaming out loud while still inside the house that if he tried to follow her she would go to the police. He hadn’t showed up, not yet at least.
Apeksha was slowly, but surely beginning to get her life back on track for the time being. Initially she had blamed herself for not recognizing what Arjun was like from the start. Initially she blamed herself for a lot of things. Gradually though things had moved on, Smita had helped. Arjun had resigned from work. The next day after the incident she had gone to work and learnt that he had already sent in his resignation letter. It was short and concise and she had accepted it.
After two uneventful weeks had passed, something strange happened. Apeksha had slipped and fallen in the drawing room. Smita was at work, and had unknowingly spilled water in the drawing room. Apeksha had lain sprawled across the floor for a while when the doorbell rang. Somehow, she picked herself up and went to the door. Dr. Mehra from the nearby hospital had come to take her. He had been her doctor for years now. They were reasonable friends too. He had treated her and insisted on not revealing who had sent him. Not that that made it any less obvious.
This time, nothing stopped her from going to the local police station to register an FIR. They had laughed at her when she said her ex-boyfriend was watching and stalking her. Uncomfortable and personal questions were asked and they had ridiculed her. They lodged her complaint anyway, but told her that she needed to resolve issues herself.
It was only after they didn’t take her seriously that she also told them that he had killed Ravi. They had taken her more sincerely then, but after making a few phone calls they said that there was substantial proof that it was an accident and there was absolutely no evidence to suggest otherwise. They said they would still look into it but Apeksha already knew they wouldn’t find anything.
Apeksha had drawn up plans to leave the city. Everything was arranged. Smita had helped her find a place. The company albeit reluctantly had agreed to give her a job in a new location, though they were thoroughly disappointed. She would have to take a demotion and a pay-cut. She told them that she didn’t mind in the slightest.
An early morning bus would take her across to her new city. Apeksha had been extremely careful to not leave any hint whatsoever that she was going. Her secrecy had seemed weird to others, but not to her and her best friend.
Her alarm rang at 6:00 a.m. As soon as she got up, she was almost paralyzed with terror. Arjun was sitting there, in one of the bamboo chairs looking out of the window.
“You can’t keep running away from the person you love, you know?”
“I don’t love you Arjun, I despise you” she was careful to emphasize her last words.
Arjun just laughed as he concealed a huge knife under his jacket.
The next day Arjun got up early. He walked out of his room and said good morning to Apeksha who was upright on the sofa. The flat was remarkably modern and chic. But the smell was awful. He looked at Apeksha lovingly, looked deep into her soulless, lifeless eyes, which had been forcefully propped open. He looked fondly at the other women in the room. Sanjana was propped up on the dining table. Gunjan was seemingly staring towards the television. The stench was overpowering, it could make you faint, but Arjun didn’t seem to notice.