It was the silence that brought her back. Consciousness brought the smell with it and she retched. She twitched her hands and legs, stiffened by the duct-tape digging in her flesh. No one had bothered to unbind her. The door of her bedroom was still locked from outside. Her hair were all over her face, glued to it with dried tears. The screams were still floating around her, settling in the room like dust. She knew the pain in her heart will never subside. It was unbearable, clenching her heart like a hook.
She tried to move her hands, her legs, tried to cut the tape at the edge of the bed. She had to get out of the room. Maybe there was still time. She tried for almost half an hour before she groaned and gave up. If somehow she could get it off her mouth. She looked at the light coming from below the door. The inverted flames dancing on the pale tiles were not there any more. That was the last thing she could remember before she fainted. And the screams. Oh Yes! The screams.
Then she heard voices.
Someone opened the door and a gush of air brought another sharp smell of burnt flesh in the room. A police inspector stood there holding a handkerchief to his nose. He looked at her. His eyes were blank. He ordered his subordinate to go in and unbind her.
Blood rushed back to her hands and legs. She was able to get up after sometime. There still were needles of pain in her legs and hands but what were they compared to what she had lost? She clenched and unclenched her hands as she stood at the door of the bedroom and looked out. He was lying there. A black, unrecognisable mass of a man who was her husband an hour ago. She did not avert her eyes. How could she? He had kissed her in the morning. She had looked into his eyes and thanked God for sending him.
There were people in the room taking pictures, samples, fingerprints, going about their work as if her shattered life had blended effortlessly in their routine. She sat down at the foot of the door. Someone asked if she would like to drink some water. She mumbled something. She was still staring. The ambulance arrived. The inspector was asking her something. They were taking the body away.
She was surprised by the wail that rose from her throat.
Her father and two brothers were arrested the next day. There was no remorse. They were proud that they saved the dignity of their family.