I knew the story of Mrs. Murphy, a young widow at 33. About her love saga with Mr. Murphy that spanned across 3 decades.
They met in kindergarten, at the tiny age of three and they knew then that their hearts belonged to other forever and ever. For 30 years, they never spent a day apart. Mr. Murphy would always carry Mrs. Murphy’s big heart on his strong shoulders and Mrs. Murphy would carry Mr. Murphy’s sturdy, noble heart in her delicate hands.
But one day, three decades after they gave their heart to each other, Mrs. Murphy was running errands around the town. It was a cold winter morning; the roads were filled with at least a feet of snow. The lake was frozen and trees were barren. A chill wind blew across the town of “Big Heart” and Mrs. Murphy, in all the hurry of finishing her errands, forgot to carry a woollen wrap for Mr. Murphy’s heart.
Mrs. Murphy kept admonishing herself, knowing that Mr. Murphy would never ever have forgotten to carry a woollen wrap for her perpetually big heart.
As she walked the bridge across the frozen lake, which was a shortcut from the market place to Mrs. Murphy’s home, she could feel Mr. Murphy’s heart getting colder, as cold as ice.
She kept balancing his heart between her two hands while carrying at least 4 grocery bags. And as she was shifting the heart from one hand to another, Mr. Murphy’s strong and sturdy yet noble heart slipped from her and landed smack in the middle of the frozen lake creating a web of cracks and eventually slipping through those cracks into the freezing water beneath.
Mrs. Murphy screamed and shouted, called the cops and crawled the lake to reach out to her husband’s heart. But it slipped into the oblivion of a bottomless lake. That night Mrs. Murphy received the body of Mr. Murphy who had instantly died of hypothermia.
Mrs. Murphy cried and mourned every single dawn and every single dusk for a year. Until neighbours, including my mom, started counseling her. They kept telling her that, she was still young and she should start dating now. Who knows she might find another Mr. Murphy, with an even nobler heart?
So one spring evening, I think it was a Friday, more than two years after the death of Mr. Murphy, I saw Mrs. Murphy, lug her big, big heart, on to her station wagon. It was clear that she was going out on a date, she was dressed in her best clothes and I had seen her with make up on after a really long time.
With me being home alone for the next few months, and my semester exams right upon my head, I did not have much of a life. So I made it my life to observe Mrs. Murphy. I dearly hoped that if not me, at least Mrs. Murphy, the young widow would see some fun.
For the first few weeks of going out on dates, Mrs. Murphy would always return alone, carrying her shrivelled up heart in her palm. One day I heard our other neighbour Mrs. Patel ask Mrs. Murphy about her dates, all she said in a tiny voice, “They all want the same thing, sex. Their hearts are not like my noble Murphy.” Mrs. Murphy sobbed.
Mrs. Patel carrying her narrow, sharp edged almost black heart in a gold chain across her neck, then advised Mrs. Murphy, “Oh my dear girl, give them what they want. How else will they come back to you?”
The next Friday evening, as I was chatting with Francis, my best friend, I noticed Mrs. Murphy again lug her big heart into her station wagon off on another date. That night she did not come home with a shrivelled heart, neither did she come home alone. She came home with a young, happy looking man, carrying his own muscular heart, the colour of vermillion. I felt happy for Mrs. Murphy, maybe she did find her Mr. Murphy, part two, after all.
The next day, I again saw her carry her big beautiful heart for another date. If anything her heart had become bigger and prettier. I was sure it was because of the same guy with a muscular vermillion heart. She was going to meet him again. My heart blossomed at the thought of being a silent spectator, witnessing this beautiful romance.
But that night she came back with another man, a tall man. Carrying a rather lanky, almost pink heart.
And so on it went on, each weekend for the next month, Mrs. Murphy brought a different man with a different heart. And her heart in turn grew bigger, glossier, prettier and sexier. I never saw the same man twice, and by now I started getting worried about Mrs. Murphy.
The decent, church going Mrs. Murphy had turned into a wanton vixen. During the week I would see her gardening wearing nothing but a tube top and hot pants. From knee length dresses, she now started wearing skirts that looked more like broad belts.
If anything, I got more obsessed with Mrs. Murphy. I told myself, it was important that I keep an eye on her. Who knows the next man she brings into her home, might just turn out to be a serial killer?
I often thought about the first man she brought home. The young man, he looked happy with his vermillion heart. Such a rich colour, it denoted a rich heart. That was what Mrs. Murphy needed. A man with a rich heart.
I stayed awake at nights keeping a keen eye and ear to Mrs. Murphy’s nocturnal nefarious activities. All I could make out were intertwined shadows with lots of shouting and moaning.
One morning I woke up from my usual place, the armchair facing the window, facing Mrs. Murphy’s house. It was the day mum and dad, were coming back from their spiritual cleansing in India. I realised it was noon already, time to bring in milk. Hopefully, it shouldn’t have gone bad.
As I picked up milk from my door, I saw Mrs. Murphy waving out to me, all happily glowing like an angel in her white shift and holding her glossy red, big heart in one hand. I walked up to her, it was time I finally ask her how her dating was going on. Maybe getting her opinion might help get rid of my obsession with her.
“Layla, darling how are you? When are your parents back?”
I stared at the contours of her full breasts, moulding into a tiny waist, and I swallowed.
“All good Mrs. Murphy. They are back this evening.”
“That’s wonderful, darling. Mighty brave of you to manage all alone for a month, at such a young age.” She said, her smile genuine and warm.
“I actually came to ask you something.” I spoke, hesitant to bring up the topic of her love life.
She smiled encouragingly.
“Now that you are dating again, how is it going, Mrs. Murphy? Did you meet anyone?”
“Oh, I met many, my dear girl even though none of them have what it takes to be with me.”
“What do you mean?” I asked perturbed. Although I did feel that the last guy she brought home, looked terribly young. Almost, my age, barely legal.
“But of course darling, they don’t have Mr. Murphy’s sturdy noble heart.”
“Mrs. Murphy, you know no two hearts are alike. Every heart is different. It would be impossible for you to find the exact match of Mr. Murphy’s heart.”
“I know, sweetheart.” She sighed. “But I have to either keep looking, or devouring hearts, you see.” She smiled and gave me a mischievous wink.
I had no idea what she meant by that. Her words “devouring hearts” was almost blasphemous. We had only heart of cannibals eating hearts of other people, based on some or another superstitious notion. I decided to let that statement go.
After chatting for another 15 minutes, I walked back home only to find the newspaper sprawled across the floor. Thanks to Tojo our dog, it was not only sprawled, but also partially eaten.
My eyes fell on the local section, which showed the decomposed body of a man, with his heart missing along with other vital parts of his body.
The paper spoke about decomposed bodies of young men being found in the central lake, without their hearts and various other organs.
And as I saw the picture of a young happy man, holding a strong muscular vermillion heart next to the image of the corpse, my lanky heart skipped a few beats.
Lana Del Rey sang on the radio:
Baby, I’m a sociopath,
Sweet serial killer.
On the warpath,
‘Cause I love you
Just a little too much.