The room is lit with LED lights making it as ghastly bright as a doctor’s office. In it was two people a man and a woman, the latter had a notebook wherein she was making notes as a silent observer as of now. No one had spoken yet.
This room has witnessed altercations but it was not the same this time. This silence of the room made the psychologist uncomfortable. The police psychologist expected the session to be dramatic and full of prevarication which is the normal order of a person with such a past. This stark contrast unnerved her.
She analysed the man’s visage and noted that it looked nothing like the deathly criminal he was supposed to be. He had the appearance of an ordinary man of around 30 years, his expression was one of stoic indifference.
She decided to give him more time to get comfortable so she started going through his file, she noticed that his relatives had expressed absolute shock when they heard about his crime. Some had talked about how much of a magnanimous soul he was. Some had even gone as far as to call him “quite flamboyant.” She looked up at him in a plain T-shirt and jeans wearing an expression of insouciance and couldn’t believe that they were talking about the same person. She redirected her eyes back to the paper, he was someone who had received a lot adulation from society for his fundraising and volunteering activities for the poverty-stricken families, the people around him were shell-shocked after learning about the abhorrent details of the crime. No one thought he had this uncontainable fury inside him, and no one could understand the monster he had become. And now it was up to me to come to a conclusion about his motive.
The psychologist looked up at him and cleared her throat, adjusted herself, put on a smile and proceeded to ask him “Would you like something to drink? Coffee or water?” then the man answered with a complete lack of expression “no.” The psychologist then inquired the man about his infraction by asking “Could you explain in your own words, what happened?” Then she added, “Feel free to be as descriptive as you want.” The man replied again with his emotionless voice “I saw the knife, I grabbed it and stabbed him. That’s it.” His reply seemed almost nonchalant. The psychologist noted his predilection towards short answers.
She had a history of counselling and was an epitome of understanding. Through the esoteric knowledge she gathered from her experiences, she could easily desensitize his trauma at the flick of one’s eyelashes. She realized it was untimely for her to entertain the patient’s codswallop and banal responses. She continued to debate his motive. Did he grow more and more violent over the years? Or did a capricious temper lead him to do this? Was he in some sort of delirium because of something traumatic that happened to him? But I can’t put aside the idea that he was inveigled by someone to do this.
The psychologist tried to reason with him, “You know you don’t have to bottle everything up, this is a safe space where you can tell me anything, it’ll help you,” she tried to get him to understand the benefits of catharsis. His eyes still held unnerving indifference. She tried to change tactics, she noticed a picture of a beautiful woman who she recognized as his wife, she lifted the picture for him, “do it for her,” she said. The reaction by the man was immediate, his lips curled with absolute disdain, eyes narrowed to slits and his hands curled into fists. Then in a flash, his expression turned blank again, if you blinked you would have missed it. He adjusted his posture and continued to stare blankly at the psychologist offering no response. The psychologist noted this change in demeanour. She quickly realized his wife had something to do with this, but she also knew that pushing him on it would go nowhere so she decided to show him another picture. “Maybe for her?” she asked, holding up a photo where the man was looking lovingly at a small girl. “Evana deserves to know the reason her father is going jail, if not now at least when she grows up,” she said gently. His face softened but he remained quiet. He took the picture from her hand, his gazed fixed on the 4-year-old in the picture. The psychologist knew she hit the mark so she added delicately, “she might grow to resent you if she doesn’t understand why you did it.”
That did it for him, he looked up at her, his eyes welling up with unshed tears, and a plethora of emotions on his face. He softly started recounting what had happened. “I was coming home from work. It was a bit earlier than usual because I got a ride.” He looked down at the photo of his daughter in his hands and continued with his quiet voice, “There was a big envelope on the table with my name on it, so I took the knife from the kitchen and started to cut it open, they were tickets to go see Peppa pig live for Evana.” His voice cracked slightly saying this, probably realizing he’ll never get to go to see the show with his daughter. He pulled himself together and continued, “just then I heard voices from upstairs, there wasn’t supposed to be anyone else in the house. So, I went upstairs quietly with my knife. And that’s when I saw them together.” His face projected pure rage, but his voice was still eerily quiet. The psychologist audibly gasped in shock, to which the man quickly looked up in surprise, wondering what caused her to be thrown off-guard like that. She quickly composed herself and asked him to continue. He shrugged and picked up where he left off, “I didn’t know what came over me, one minute I was staring at the two of them and the next my hand was on his neck, pinning him to the wall and the knife plunged into his body.”
The psychologist understood the fury that he was talking about, the blood pumping, ears ringing and fists tightening. She was able to fully empathize with this man. In fact, she was feeling it right now. The anger that razed through her body was unlike any she had felt before. She felt like she had enough hatred and wrath to cause a conflagration. She couldn’t even hear the man anymore, the only words that were repeating over and over again in her head were, “I saw them together.” She shut her eyes unable to bear this pain and animosity that she was feeling. She tried to hold herself together before she did something she couldn’t rescind. In her hysteria, she unconsciously started fiddling with the wedding ring around her finger. The tightening in her chest kept getting more and more painful. She had to stop feeling this. She was disoriented. She had to gain control of her mind again.
She quickly stood up, grabbed the form she was meant to fill after this meeting. She held on to the pen tightly and tried to form coherent thoughts to determine the future of this man on the couch, Evana’s father, her own husband’s perpetrator.
Azeema Khawlah Haleem
Sanidi Nisanya Edirisinghe