A large crowd had gathered outside the police station. People were eager to see the murderer of the eminent businessman Mr. Ranjit Dhar, who had surrendered to the police in the wee hours of the morning. A woman drenched in blood, with a blank and austere face, sat silently on a bench inside the police station, guarded by two female constables who kept a safe distance. More out of fear than disgust. They had not heard of a more gruesome and horrible crime before.
The severed head and bloody knife that she had brought with her were sealed off as evidence by the forensic team. The bizarre circumstances had cast a gloom inside the police station and no one talked to each other, communicating only through nods and whispers. Finally, at about noon, a black hood was put on the woman’s head and she was led by the constables through the crowd of reporters and curious onlookers to the police van to be taken away to the central jail.
People were shocked at this heinous crime but those who had heard about Sarada Devi and her legal case were more relenting and pitiful although they condemned the extreme measure she had taken. She was engaged in a long legal battle against the affluent businessman, Ranjit Dhar who had gang-raped her daughter along with some of his friends and afterward, had smothered her to death. Sarada Devi's sixteen year old daughter Mili worked at his house as a maid. The miscreants then set fire to her body to remove any traces of her existence. In the morning, her severely charred body was found by the side of a road. Her face was burned beyond recognition.
The case was dismissed, partly due to a lack of evidence and partly because Mr.Dhar had paid off the many witnesses, policemen, and even the judge involved in the case. Mr. Dhar and all the miscreants walked away scot-free with a relieved smile on their faces.
Outside the court, Mr. Dhar came face to face with Sarada Devi. He eyed her lecherously and said, ‘If you ever need a job. Come to my house. I won’t have to look for a new maid then’ His condescending laugh was poison to Sarada Devi’s ears.
Sarada Devi looked at him with red-streaked eyes filled with hot tears as he walked past her. If anyone had looked at her at that moment, he would have been frightened. Her bloodshot eyes had narrowed down into a menacing stare, and her lips tightened with suppressed rage.
Mr. Dhar lived alone. He had no family. That night Sarada Devi went to his apartment with a butcher’s knife hidden under her shawl. Mr. Dhar, dressed in a silk robe and a whiskey glass on his hands, opened the door. He had a wretched smile on his face as he regarded her with lustful eyes. Sarada Devi winced a little and looked away in disgust. He welcomed her inside and locked the door.
In the morning Sarada Devi came out of the apartment carrying Ranjit Dhar’s severed head wrapped in her shawl on one hand and the bloody butcher’s knife on the other. She was covered from head to foot in squirts of blood. Her face was blank and emotionless but her hollow eyes betrayed a hideous savagery that one could see in the mugshots of cold-blooded serial killers. And yet, somehow it was not evil.
No one apprehended her as she walked slowly on the road. The people simply moved away to let her pass, their heads bowed as if in feared benevolence.
A lunatic sitting on the side of the road watched her as she walked in a slow and dignified manner, and was overcome with a feeling of violent excitement. He leaped in the air with nervous energy, crying deliriously, ‘Devi Maa has arrived! Devi Maa has arrived! The sinners will be punished now! Beware now, world, Devi Maa has arrived!’ and then prostrated himself on the ground muttering to himself deliriously until he passed out from his violent exertions.
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