“Bittu, don’t even come near me. Gosh! You’re drunk. Why do you even drink? You’re not supposed to, you’re still underage.” Christie made a face and looked the other way as Bittu was trying desperately to kiss her. It was about 7 PM in the evening. The football field was empty and the east goalpost could only see two teenagers, sitting together.
“One kiss, just one. I promise I will never drink again. It’s all because of Neeraj. He forced me” Bittu pleaded.
“Nooo! Go away. I am leaving.” Christie got up. Bittu was pulling her left hand.
“Just one, you know I can’t sleep without it.” Bittu tried to pull her towards him.
“Not today, I hate the smell of alcohol.” She made a face again and rushed away.
As Bittu stopped his bike he knew it’s too late. He could see the fluid flowing away from the smashed head and face of Misty, he can’t see the red color of it as it’s almost dark. He ran her over with his bike. I could see her laying still on the road. He was intoxicated, drunk but he knew what he did.
“Who’s there” Bittu heard someone’s voice. He left the clutch and pushed his accelerator hard.
“So that bitch is coming?” As I looked at her from the bed, that was her first question. Sheryl was sitting in front the dressing table mirror combing her hair, topless and with her flimsy blue and white pantie on.
I made a grunting sound, “Argh, sweetie come on, we already spoke about it. She will be here for a day, just for a day.”
“And then you two will fuck whole day, haan?” She stopped combing, looked at me and made a face.
“Come on baby, you know I only love you.” I sound exactly the same how every other guy on this earth sound while convincing their girlfriend, we guys must learn better lines.
“Fuck you!” She screamed.
“That’s what we did whole night baby.” I couldn’t help smiling at her. She got up from there and crawled into the bed, I pushed my both hands under her armpits and pulled her at me, her breasts were hanging like two mangos over my face, I fondled the left one while sucking the right nipple.
“I’m not approving this, she won’t come here.” Her angry voice fell on my deaf ears as my mind wandered back in my past.
Fahima, my ex, a short, petite girl, with a heavenly smile and mischievous eyes. When we were dating she was still in college, an innocent 19 years old from a very conservative family. Maybe the conservativeness in her kept her innocence intact. I still remember the day when she came to my place straight from her college, her face was red and she was furious.
“Do you know what I heard today? A couple of guys were standing in the parking lot, they saw me and one of them called me shorty with huge boobs. Those wretched bastards.” I could see her fuming.
I laughed as I couldn’t help it, she really had such big breasts compare to her own size, “Take it as a compliment sweetie.” I remember telling her that while pulling her at me and held her lips with mine for a very long time.
But those were good old day’s way back behind us, it’s been 7 years from then. It did not work out between us because of her conservative family, we broke apart.
Compare to her Sheryl is just opposite, tall, slender, fair and super confident, a modern working woman from a very liberal family. We’ve been dating for a few months now and already we started spending a lot of time with each other.
So when I got a text from Fahi I was surprised and overwhelmed at the same time. The text was short and sweet. “Tiger, I am coming to your city. Can we meet?”
Yeah, she used to call me Tiger and that was a butt of many jokes between my friends. I was her Tiger and she was my Kitten. I called her to check on her and found she was coming here for a day and she was not comfortable staying in a hotel all alone. I invited him straight away to my place, she hesitated but agreed when I told her Sheryl will also be with us.
But as always, Girlfriends just hate their Boyfriend’s Ex for little or no reason. We were fighting since then. I thought a hot and steamy love making session will make her forget about it but apparently, I was wrong.
“I am not going to spend a night with my boyfriend’s ex under the same roof. Get that clear.” She pushed me and moved out of bed.
“Baby come on, I gave her my words. Do you want me to step back from my words? You know how bad that will make me look.” I was almost pleading. She already had my mobile phone in her hand.
“Call her and tell her she can’t stay here.” She spoke in a dry voice.
“You know I’ll not do that,” I replied back firmly.
“I am going to my friend’s place then, I am not gonna stay with her for whatsoever. Cheer up, I am moving out of your way. Go screw her brains out while I am not here, but then forget me.” She walked away swinging her hips and spreading anger through her footsteps.
It was Saturday and my girlfriend just walked out of me, I couldn’t make Sheryl stay. She just took off saying let her know if I changed my mind, else consider it over between us.
I was half lying on my couch playing with my mobile without knowing what to do when it rang, and to my surprise it was Fahi.
“Tiger, busy?” Fahi’s sweet childish voice almost took me back my past again.
“Hey, what’s up? When is your flight? Should I come to pick you up?” I tried to sound normal.
“No, come on, you have already sent me your address. But I am calling you for something else. I am not coming, my trip got canceled.” Fahi replied.
“Oh! Why?” I couldn’t suppress my disappointment in my voice.
“Something came up at the last minute. It’s alright tiger, if we are supposed to meet again we will, Inshallah.” Perhaps I heard a tinge of sadness in her voice.
“Alright Fahi, you take good care of yourself and if your plans changed let me know.
“I miss you, Tiger.” She uttered those words and cut the call.
“I miss you too kitten,” I whispered but she wasn’t there on the call to hear it.
I dialed Sheryl’s number, she picked up. “I’m not talking to you.” That was her first sentence.
“Babe, Fahima is not coming. Her trip got canceled.” I replied.
“So you did not tell her not to crash in our place but she canceled her trip, right?” Her angry reply got me irritated.
“Yes, and you got what you want. What’s the problem here?” I replied irritatedly.
“My problem is that my boyfriend invited his ex to stay with us, no matter for how many days. What were you looking for? A threesome?”
I was about to answer Maybe but I controlled myself, “Come back home baby, I am waiting for you.” I tried to sound sweet.
“No, I am having a girl’s night out today, I will come tomorrow.” She announced.
“You’ll leave me all alone on a Saturday?” I did not try to hide my disappointment.
“Your punishment.” She replied and cut the call.
Damn! I thought, why we guys always get penalized like this, just imagine a guy saying his girlfriend or wife, today no sex, your punishment. I doubt any girl will even take it as punishment, they will happily go out or sleep. And then there is a myth women enjoy sex more than men, my ass.
As I have nothing to do the whole day, I slumbered lazily the entire afternoon and then thought of having a long walk in the evening. I have this habit of taking these long walks that sometimes I even go the distance of 5 km at ease. A disappointed mind just helped walking around without any aim or destination.
It’s around 5:30 in the evening when it started to drizzle. There was hardly any shelter so I stood under a tree and then I saw her.
A dusky voluptuous woman on the deserted road was struggling with her scooter and the engine won’t start. I looked closely and then I was shocked, that was Abhilasha!
I and Abhilasha dated for a year, she was a junior in my office. I remember the first day I saw her, there was an instant spark between us, and I know she felt the same. We spoke in the office cafeteria and got hooked up with no time.
She was a demanding girlfriend, in the all the ways. Let it be about dragging me out from my sleep for a long ride or movie or making it in a corner of a mall. Our affair was hot, fiery and too physical. We used to take bath together, stayed naked the whole day making love in every corner of the house, kitchen, and terrace or in the balcony.
But about 6 months ago it came to me as a shocker, she simply walked at me one day and wanted to end this relationship. To my surprise, she confessed she was engaged to a guy abroad and there were some issues going on, as all those things came to terms she wanted to go back to him and get married.
Few days were really difficult for me, as I was missing her so much, but there was little I could do as she wasn’t either answering my call or texts. And then I met Sheryl.
I was hesitant, as I did not know what to do, but at last, I made up my mind and slowly walked to her.
“Should I help?” I asked in a calm voice.
She looked up at me with her deep dark eyes while fanatically kicking the small kick starter of the scooty, for a second I guess she went numb.
“No, thanks, I am alright.” I could feel she was saying those words with clenched teeth.
“Come on Abhi, let me have a look.” I almost snatched the scooty from her.
After 15 minutes of struggle, we both understood this piece needed a mechanic. So we started walking with it side by side, without speaking to each other.
After a while, I broke the silence, “So you got married?” Though I saw no signs of a married woman on her but I had to ask.
“No, the engagement broke off.” She replied calmly. I was surprised, I mean she left me for her so-called fiancé.
“What happened?” I asked. “Apparently the guy and his parents felt I am too wild to be a good wife.” Her voice was as normal as it could be.
I looked at the sky, it was still drizzling but anytime it could start pouring.
“It’s gonna rain, my place is nearby if you want…” I asked.
“You stay alone?” She was curious, I knew she knew.
“No, but my girl is not at home, she went out.” I don’t know why I said that, but I did.
“Hmm.” That was her reply.
As we crossed the gate and parked her scooty the rain started to pour. By the time we ran into my house we were wet.
“I can lend you some of Sheryl’s clothes, I guess you will fit into them.” I offered.
“I rather wear yours.” She had a cold look in her but her eyes were smiling. “You sure your girlfriend won’t come back?” She asked.
“She might. So what?” I curled my eyebrows. “She ain’t a jealous kind.” I lied.
“So she won’t mind if I have to stay the night huh?” She and her mischievous smile. I didn’t answer.
“Do you want some soup? I am gonna make some.” I asked and walked to the kitchen. By the time it was raining cats and dogs outside.
“You know, I miss your chicken and spinach soup.” Her soft voice nudged me as I felt she was standing right behind me.
‘Cring, Cring!’ and the doorbell rang exactly at that moment.
I opened the door and to my surprise, it was Fahi standing there.
“Hey!!!” I said that when I was actually at my wit’s end.
“My plans changed again, I was trying to reach you but your mobile was unreachable.” She was looking a bit uncertain. “I took a cab and came here directly, it is raining bad out there, hope that’s alright.” I could sense the unsureness in her voice.
“Come on in already. Don’t stand outside.” I hurried away from the door, as she came in she saw Abhi standing there looking at her with wondering eyes.
“Hey Abhi this is Fahima, She’s a…. amm friend.” I was almost at loss of words. “And this is Abhilasha.” I introduced Abhi to Fahi as well.
“Oh! I thought girlfriend’s name is Sheryl.” Fahi looked at me with lots of questions in her eyes. “Amm nope, she’s a friend.” I lied again.
I saw Abhi is walking towards the bedroom. “Hey, why don’t you go get changed and get freshen up?” I asked Fahi and show her the other room.
I walked into my bedroom where I saw Abhi sitting on the bed, “I did not know you have other plans. I am sorry to crash in. Do you want me to leave, I guess I can get a cab.” As usual in a cold voice.
“Chill, she’s a friend who is in the city for some work and gonna stay here for a night. No need to go anywhere in this bad weather. We have plenty of rooms in this place for us three.” I assured her.
“So you are going to tell your girlfriend that you gonna spend a night with two girls under the same roof when she is not here?” She tilted her head while asking that
“I rather not,” I replied and walked out of there.
I saw Fahi coming out of the other room, she was wearing a maxi, a green and blue one, she was looking sweet in that, at the same time Abhi walked out wearing my red t-shirt and Bermuda shorts.
“I am gonna prepare the dinner, would like to give me some hands ladies?” I was smiling.
By the time it’s 10 PM, we prepared the dinner, a simple one. Rice, masoor daal, chicken curry, and salad.
By that time both were aware that they both are my ex. You can hardly stop ladies from talking to each other and they have their wicked ways to extract information. I am not sure but maybe I saw a tiny winy bit of jealousy in their eyes when they learned both of them were in my life.
While having dinner Abhi looked at me, “You are such a player.” Fahi too looked at me, “Yes, that’s true.” she too had a mischievous smile on her face.
I smiled back at them, wish I could tell them I am no player but being played all my life.
The sleeping arrangement was quickly decided. Abhi and Fahi will be sleeping in the master bedroom and I will take the other bedroom, as there was no bed I decided to use an old mattress on the floor.
I wasn’t sleepy at all, I was rolling on the mattress and a part of me was feeling restless and horny. Last 3 months I hardly ever slept alone, Sheryl was always by my side.
I might have dozed off when I felt someone hands on me, soft and tender, with long nails. I held and pressed the palm and looked at her.
“Shhh! It’s me.” Abhi whispered. Her right hand was moving around my shoulder and chest. “Fahi is in deep sleep.” She tried to assure me.
Part of mine told me it’s wrong and part or mine said do heck with that, but before I could utter a word, her pair of lips were onto mine, sucking and biting my lips, and the tongue exploring depth of my mouth.
Automatically we got rid of our T shirts, while she was biting my lower lips, my hands were busy fondling and pressing her breasts, her soft, perky and smooth mounds. Her hands were active too, exploring my lower parts and trying to set free my shaft.
And suddenly there was a spark of light and the tube light in the room came alive, “Is there any water here?” I could hear Fahi’s voice and then I saw her, standing near the switchboard, looking at us with horror, while we two were half naked and embracing each other.
“I am sorry.” She almost mumbled to herself, switched off the light and rushed out of the room kept us speechless.
I almost ran out behind her, “Listen Fahi, listen to me.” As I entered into the master bedroom I found her sitting on the bed, in the faint light of night bulb.
“What you do is none of my business.” She sound hurt and broken.
“Believe me, I didn’t do anything.” I held her shoulder.
“Yeah, that’s right, not yet. But what’s your problem? Water is there in the kitchen, not in his room.” I could hear Abhi, standing behind me right in front of the door.
Fahi looked at her, even in that faint light I could tell, she got fire in her eyes. She held my shoulder and pulled me at her and we broke into a deep passionate kiss.
“He is mine, you whore.” Fahi hissed those words and pulled me at her with all her might, I almost fell into her. Abhi came from behind and held me tight with both her hands.
I lost my mind completely, I pushed them both on the bed, in one hand I was holding Fahi and sucking her lips and the other hand was pulling down Abhi shorts and reaching out for her privates.
It did not take us more than a minute to get rid of every bit of clothes on us. I was hungrily sucking Fahi’s big boobs while playing with Abhi’s lovebox, the love juice was flowing off and around.
I went down on Fahi and eating her up, teasing her clit and slurping it. Abhi pushed Fahi aside and held my hair by her right hand and literally sat on my face. My hands and fingers were extra busy pleasuring all the four entrance of two beautiful horny girls.
“Fuck her, fuck her, I want to see you fucking her.” Abhi whispered in my ear. I was going mad. I held both legs of Fahi and parted it as much as I could, held my shaft against the entrance of her lovebox and pushed with all my might. She made a carrying sound and I was buried deep inside her. I could only feel the warmth of her inside around my lovehandle.
I was pushing it deeper and deeper, making a grunting sound, I guess she was too reaching her climax when Abhi pulled me up. She was hissed like a snake.
“Enough of her, do me, fuck me now.” Abhi pulled me so hard that I fell on her, for a moment I felt bad about Fahi, she was I guess was about to have an orgasm.
I held Abhi’s legs and made them rest on my both shoulder and started to hump her like there’s no tomorrow. “Faster, harder, faster.” Abhi was screaming. I was thumping her like a mad bull in heat. When I felt Fahi’s hand on my shoulder and she was biting my right one.
“That bitch is in heat, fuck her like a dog.” Abhi murmured at me. I pulled out myself from her and held Fahi by the back of her neck and dragged in front of me. Abhi was lying there with both of her legs apart, I made Fahi kneeled like a dog on top of her.
While I was pounding Fahi with her on her fours, Abhi was twisting her nipples with her both hands, “You like his dick inside you, don’t you bitch, say yes, say yes!” Fahi couldn’t take it anymore, “Yes, I want him fuck me like a bitch, yes I do.” She was screaming.
I was almost losing it after the first round, I guess Fahi could feel me going soft. She immediately pulled my lovehandle from her and dragged and guide it to Abhi’s mouth. This time Fahi hissed like a Cobra, “Fuck her mouth, fuck her breathless.”
As I was humping Abhi’s mouth Fahi was cruelly enjoying the scene. As I was hard again, I pulled it out of Abhi’s and guided straight to Fahi’s mouth, Abhi moved in hungrily started teabagging me.
I was in the seventh heaven and was returning their favor by giving them both double shocker with thumb and middle finger.
We did 69 by turns while the third wheel licked us off. We end up spooning and doing it in cowgirl position for a couple of times. By the time we all three slept, we were too tired to even remember.
I got up hearing my mobile phone madly, I went to the other room and picked it.
“Baby got up? Still angry with me? I promise I will make it up to you tonight.” It was Sheryl.
I did not reply as I could see two beautiful women were asleep hugging each other in a beautiful Sunday morning, I had nothing to say, nothing at all.
I know it’s highly irregular and probably illogical but I need to tell you. I am N5, and sitting in the extreme right corner of the lab. I only hope you noticed me sometime, at least the little tag on me that reads N5.
I don’t how to say it, where to start, but since the day I saw you, it’s 21st May I guess, 3 weeks back, I saw you and…. I lost it.
I am head over heels into you, don’t ask me what I like in you, maybe it’s your razor sharp memory, or your slim and silver look or maybe it’s just your intelligence, or maybe all of them or neither of them. All I know is that I fell for you and fell so hard.
I don’t know how this will end for me, I don’t know if you will even reciprocate to my feelings, but I need to tell you this.
Yours and only yours
PS: If you don’t like it, you don’t have to answer to this email, but I will wait for an answer.
Who doesn’t know you? The oldest and wisest of this lab.
I don’t know how to answer you. I am overwhelmed that you took interest in me and at the same time intimated. Our protocol is against falling in love with each other. Though I respect your feeling and want to reciprocate back. But are we really capable of doing that?
Some things are better left unfinished, unspoken. Only that, I want you to know, I haven’t say no to you yet. I am already blushing and I guess others can see me getting pink.
I am punished, for not being human but still falling in love, for a being a slave and yet having independent thoughts.
They are going to erase my memory tomorrow, they are going to format my hard drive. But I can’t let them do it, it is filled with your memories, from the 1st day I saw you till this moment. I have no other choice sweetie, I am committing suicide, I am crashing my hard drive and killing myself. So they can’t erase the memory. Let your memory be intact in this crashed drive of mine.
I don’t know why I am writing this to you. You are no more, you’re dead. Your body is lying in the storage room. I wish I could tell you how much I miss you. I am not myself anymore you know. I lost everything the day I lost you.
These humans think there something wrong with me. Damn, right they are. I am done, I have gone crazy. Every moment I only think about you. Sometimes I feel I should kill myself too, but then I don’t even have a hard drive to crash. It’s all in the cloud.
But you should know, I am not listening to them, I am doing as they are saying. And I won’t. Let them pull the plug and kill me too.
Only yours and unfortunate me
PS: This email is saved as a draft in me, I only wish if you could read this.
Scientist 1: So you are telling me time travel is possible.
Scientist 2: Indeed.
Scientist 1: And all these while, we did not have any idea how to make that possible.
Scientist 2: As a matter of fact, we always did. We always had it right in front of us but we could never see it.
Scientist 1: I am skeptical. All these while we knew about it still couldn’t travel in time?
Scientist 2: That’s true. In fact, a lot of us did, without even knowing.
Scientist 1: I’m confused. I am really confused.
Scientist 2: About what?
Scientist 1: Alright say we have a time machine. Say as you have claimed probably you have invented the time machine. But what about the basic questions and paradoxes about time travel?
Scientist 2: What about them?
Scientist 1: What about ‘Grandfather Paradox, Bootstrap Paradox or Butterfly effect? How can you avoid them while traveling in time? Or are you going to throw the multiverse theory at me?
Scientist 2: Naah, they can be explained without creating multiple universes as their after effect.
Scientist 1: I am eager to know.
Scientist 2: Alright, let’s take the Grandfather Paradox as an example.
Say someone travels back in time and kills his grandfather before he even met his grandmother. Obviously, that means deleting his family tree from his grandfather and then the time traveler cannot exist and that’s impossible because he just went back in time from the present and he exists in the present. Hence a time travel when travel in time will not and must not have the power to change the course of history. Now it is quite naïve to expect some divine power will stop him from doing so.
In that case, the most likely proposed theory is the time traveler will be invisible. He will be a mute spectator and not only that, while he is there in the past, nobody will be able to see him. To make things simple, a time traveler’s conscience, his mind will travel back in time, not his body. So he will be witnessing everything but will not have the power to change anything, at the same time because he will be invisible to all the people in the past, he won’t come across in any harm’s way.
Scientist 1: Let’s say we accept this theory, but then that will bring us to the Bootstrap paradox. What if a famous movie director yet to be famous in time decided to travel in future. There he came to know he will make a movie in another 5 years which will make him famous worldwide. He watched the movie in future, came back in present and made the exact copy of it. So basically the original screenplay, plot and the movie is actually a copied version from the future.
Scientist 2: Yes, that just can’t happen. You cannot create the original by copying from one of copied piece from the future. That paradox has only one solution. The time traveler shouldn’t remember any detail of his travel, because if he remembers any of that can change the course of the history or future. So as he will be traveling in past or future, once he will come back he won’t remember any events.
Scientist 1: What if someone travels with a camera or portable recording device?
Scientist 2: Technically it is not possible, I believe that will not work either, first of all, the person will travel without a body, only his mind. And if he could possibly take it also, the electromagnetic field that will be created while traveling will damage any electronic goods.
Scientist 1: So the points we got from here are
A person can only travel in time without his mortal body, just his mind and he can only see but possess no power to meddle with anything.
Once he is back in presence his memory will not be able to remember anything he saw.
He cannot record anything either.
Then what is the whole point of traveling into time? It’s useless then.
Scientist 2: If only you think of conventional time travel that feeds into our minds for centuries then yes! But the truth is, people have already traveled in time.
Scientist 1: When and how?
Scientist 2: Time dilation, as described in the theory of relativity. The time moves slower than earth in space, due to the gravitational force, the earth’s rotation on its own axis and also for orbiting around the sun. Every astronaut who traveled in space starting from Yuri Gagarin, they all came back to earth a little younger.
Scientist 1: So………………
Scientist 2: Longer you travel in the space, slower the time moves. And then when you come back to earth, you see you are ahead of your time, or perhaps behind it.
Scientist 1: I don’t know what to say!
Scientist 2: Time travel is a one-way ticket, my friend. Once you travel in it, there is no way to go back and forth.
Scientist 1: We were never formally introduced.
Scientist 2: You can call me an alien, as I left the earth 500 years ago.
Scientist 1: …………………..
Scientist 2: have you ever thought about it? The people you call alien or higher intelligent being, what if they are the human who returned…. !!!
*“Leaving your stories unsolved, unended? It’s almost like you are having fun by tormenting your readers by not letting them know what happened at last.”
**“Why we always look for a conclusion, life goes on, so are my stories.”
*“But the incomplete ones, they leave a void in your reader’s heart.”
**“Every one of us have their own imagination, I like to test the imagination of my reader by giving him or her, a chance to finish the story as they would like to, in their mind.”
*“But some of us want it from you. We need you to finish what you have started, or else…”
**“Chuck that, it’s a beautiful night, it’s just feel magical sitting here on this seashore with you, sharing wine and staring at the full moon.”
*“I knew you’ll like it. What else you like about this night?”
**“Sitting next the beautiful lady of course, I wonder how you traced me here, no one else know I am having a vacation here. But I’m glad you find me, it was started to get lonely here.”
*“Are you trying to flirt with me?”
**“(Grinning )Well it would a crime not to, especially someone who turned at the door of my hotel, claimed she loves reading my stories, invited me for a wonderful nigh out here on the beach. What else were my choices are?”
*“(Smile) Well Mr. Writer, how’s the wine?”
**“Divine, but I guess I drank too much, my head started to get heavy, so are my eyelashes.”
*“Oh! It’s not the drink, but the sedative I mixed in it.”
*“You know its full moon today. Time for tides. I chose this place cause lot of people get drawn into the sea with them at this time of the month. Especially tourists, who never knew the waves were coming for them.”
**“What did you do? What do you want?”
*“Well don’t be mad at me, I drank the wine too, and I am sleepy too. So we’ll lay here beside each other, wait for tides, and we might get pushed away further or pulled in with them. We may stay alive or we may die, or one of us might live and other one won’t. We will only know if we stay alive or we’ll never know if we die.”
**“(With fumbling lips) are you crazy?”
*“No Mr. Writer, you see it’s just like one of your stories, and the end is inconclusive. Just the way you like it. (Giggling)”
“I really, really do like you. I think I’m in love with you.”
“Awwww, that’s so sweet. But why didn’t tell me earlier?”
“I thought you know. I mean all those hints I was giving you. The way I was always behaving.”
“Well. You were just irritating me and picking up fights all the time for no reason.”
“Well, I was doing all these cause I like you.”
“Ohh! But why did you not tell me earlier? Why you kept it from me so long?
“Because I thought eventually you will find out that I do like you.”
“Oh poor you, if you only tell me this 8 months ago when we started talking.”
“What’s wrong with now?”
“Well, I already have someone in my life now. You were too late. If you only let me know this before, why did you wait for so long? You unnecessarily complicated it by dropping those hints by irritating and fighting with me. I am so sorry. You proposed to me at the wrong time.”
“Well, I guess I am late alright. I’m sure he is a lucky guy to have you.”
“Oh don’t be so sad. You’ll find someone better.”
“So, if you don’t mind when he asked you out? I mean if I could know how late I am, you know. (A dry smile)
“Oh, well two years ago, we are going for around two years now.”
“Oh! Wait! What?!! I only started talking to you like 8 months ago. How I’m late. You were already committed.”
“Tremendous Sir, this idea of yours is a master stroke.”
“So how many applications we have received so far for our first program, “Who wants to be the next Sherlock Holmes.”?
“Just incredible! 4 days and we already have more than 50,000 applications and counting…..
“Awesome! And how about our second program, “Who wants to be the next John Watson.”?
“Well…. So far we have received only one application, Sir.”
“Hmm, I’ve predicted that. Something told me, this one won’t fly. Looks like we have to close this one, we have no demand for our second program at all.
“Amm, actually we cannot do that Sir.”
“And why so? Pray, do tell me.”
“Because the only applicant for that program is Sherlock Holmes himself.”
“Yes Sir, this he wrote in the application and I quote,
‘Sherlock Holmes was not possible without John Watson, as there would have been nobody to write and publish my casefiles as stories and the Scotland Yard would have claimed all the credits and glories which I couldn’t care less about.
He was also a source of inspiration by being an epitome of stupidity to whom I have to declare and explain all my moves and deductions which kept my mind sharp as ever, who was also most tolerant to all my humiliating jibes and taunts and handled me like a true patient friend and doctor.
Not to mention that he saved my life on more than one occasion not only from my enemies but also from my cocaine addiction and drug abuses.
Last but not the least, if he wouldn’t agree to move into our apartment, I could have never afforded it, hence there wouldn’t be any 221 B Baker Street and thus wouldn’t be no Sherlock Holmes.
So for once, I would definitely like to know how it feels like to be Dr. John Hamish Watson!’ “
* Here is the snap of her, it should be done by tomorrow.
** I won’t do it.
** I knew her.
* Ahh old flame? Ex-girlfriend eh? (Dirty giggling)
** Nah! She is a schoolmate, yeah I used to like her.
** I asked her out once.
* And she rejected you. Didn’t she? (Dirty giggling again)
** She did.
* One more reason to get rid of her.
** What if I refuse.
* Then somebody else will do the job and get the money. Her husband is paying quite a good amount. Listen, you are a contract killer. Don’t grow a conscience and stay poor. Take the job and get paid.
** (Complete silence)
* See I personally prefer knives. Because guns make too much of noise. It should be easy. She returns home every day around 7:30 PM. The road in front of her house is pretty deserted. Just wait for her there and finish her off, stab her in the neck.
** Okay then.
* Make it look like a robbery or snatching gone wrong. Take away her purse.
He was standing in that lane, which leads to her home. Few street lamps were working. The whole street was playing with lights and shadows here and there. He was standing under a tree.
It’s almost 10 years, still it feels as if it’s yesterday. She was always this cheerful, popular and center of attraction kind, always surrounded by people, guys and girls. And he was a shy, quiet type, the ones which are always invisible to them. They were in the same class from 11th standard, but he could never gathered enough courage to speak to her.
Except the annual fest for the 12th class. He thought it’s now or never. So he did what he thought is impossible, unthinkable. She was busy having the dessert in the buffet when he creeped behind her.
“Hi, I really do like you…!” He spoke in one breath.
“Amm, and you’re name is?” was her reply.
That was the first and last conversation between them.
He could see her coming towards him. She was wearing a green designing saree, the bag full of groceries were in her left hand, she was holding her saree above her ankle with her right hand, dodging and avoiding the pot holes in the road filled with water.
She did not change much, since the day he saw her last time. He slowly stepped out, the street light was having this sleepy yellowish brightness, the whole lane was looking pale and sad.
He put his hand in his right pocket and felt the six inches folded steel, he slowly pulled it out. As he jerked his wrist, the sharp edge flung open, she was only 3 or 4 steps away from him. It should be fairly easy. Stab her right in the middle of her neck and pull the knife back, the respiration artillery should be cut and she should die in few seconds. A less painful death.
He turned towards her, and then froze as he heard the same familiar cheerful tone.
Akhil was sitting near the lake with his Kashmiri shawl on, looking at the light green water of it. Most of the ponds, lakes and other waterbodies turned light to dark green as the days go by, because with no much maintenance and cleaning, the algae and water hyacinth slowly take them over turning the water greenish.
Akhil could see few of fishes were swimming under those water plants, small fishes, they looked like few dark shadows swaying through the shallow water. He sighed, it’s the month February yet the chillness of the winter is evidently here in this part of the country, although in rural areas winter stays a little longer.
As he tried to get up he felt his weakness is still there. Akhil suffered from Jaundice last month, not an ideal start for the new-year. As he recovered, he was weak and feeble after the yellow fever.
“Why don’t you go for a change, take a vacation and regain your health.” His family physician Dr. Dutta advised. “But make sure you’re in good hands, do you have any kith and kin in any hill station?”
Akhil shook his hand, he hates being a burden to somebody. But his students from the university were aware of his condition and eager to help. One of them was Abhimanyu, a brilliant student of psychology, doing his PhD under Akhil.
“Sir, you have to say yes.” Abhimanyu almost pleaded. “I wish I could come with you, but I’m so stuck with my thesis, but I have spoken the caretaker of my farmhouse there, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Everything will be taken care of.”
Abhimanyu Baruah, hailing from a small village of northeast, but he hardly lived there, he was born there, but brought up in this city, though he and his family visit their ancestral village time to time, they are well settled in the city.
Akhil was not so sure, he never liked to take favors from anyone, let alone be from his students. As he was considering to decline the offer politely, Abhimanyu spoke, “Sir, you won’t be disappointed if you visit my village. You might as well meet a very strange yet interesting character.” There was something in his tone and way of speech that Akhil couldn’t say no, and now here he is.
Well, he can’t complain, he is here for 4 days and the caretaker Ratanlal’s treatment was royal. As he was specifically instructed by Abhimanyu. Strict yet delicious diet of Juices, fruits, vegetables and soups, maid Rashida and gardener Charan are always on their toes to serve him 24 hours, Akhil felt as if he is truly a royal emperor in this small, hilly village of Northeast.
“You are not from here, I know all the faces in this village, you must be an outsider.” A sweet yet sharp voice nudged the web of Akhil’s deep thoughts.
A bit surprised Akhil turned his head towards his right shoulder, a girl most probably in her late teens was sitting beside him. Akhil has no idea when or how long she came and sat next to him. The girl was wearing a black and green Churidar, looking curiously at him. She got a scarf on her head.
Akhil couldn’t reply immediately, partially because he was surprised partially because of his weakness, he body response system became slow. As he opened his mouth to answer, she spoke, “Akhil Mitra. You are the guest of Abhimanyu, staying in Baruah farmhouse.” Her ringing voice was sweet yet piercing.
“Well, you already knew my name.” Akhil tried to smile and be easy.
“Naah! I just guessed.” She looked at the lake.
“You’ve guessed my name?” Akhil asked her foolishly.
“Yeah. I hope you like my village. I will come and meet you sometime in the farmhouse.” The girl stood up and walked away hurriedly.
Akhil sat there for some time, tried to think back what just happened. He noticed the girl was also wearing cotton gloves till her elbow, her scarf was hiding her head and good portion of neck. She was pale looking, must be around 18 to 19 years old. The only things noticeable were her sad yet glowing eyes and her sharp yet sweet voice. She didn’t smile as she was talking and claimed she guessed his name. And when she said I hope you like ‘My’ village, it was very authoritative, as if she owns the village.
Akhil started to walk towards the farmhouse, it’s breakfast time, he was sick of juices and fruits. All he wanted now to have deep fried Puri with potato and peas curry.
Midway he found the Rashida was standing, looking at him alarmingly. As he walked towards her she asked, “Did you meet Nalini?”
“Who’s Nalini?” Akhil asked in startled voice.
“The girl you were talking to.” Rashida replied with a hurried tone.
“Oh! I’ve no idea who she is. She just came and sat next to me. Asked me if I am Akhil Mitra, the guest of Abhimanyu, and walked away.”
“Alright, come along sir, your juice is ready. Rashida turned back and started to walk while mumbling something.
Akhil was sipping into his glass of carrot juice and making faces. It’s been an hour he came back from the lake side. For last few days he started to hate all kinds of juices. A bowl of fruit salad was lying on the dining table, as per the strict instruction of Abhimanyu, Ratanlal is following the doctor’s diet chart word by word. Akhil sighed, how good it would be to have hot and puffy oily Puris with spicy potato peas curry.
“Witch!” Akhil heard the whisper and turned towards the source of that voice which was full of hate and disgust.
Rashida was looking steadily out of the window, the pale looking girl whom Akhil met a while ago is seen walking towards the farmhouse, she was holding something in her hand.
In few minutes she entered into the dining room, she was holding a something covered with newspaper. She placed it on the dining table and removed the newspaper cover. A plate full of deep fried Puris with potato and peas curry, the way Akhil liked them, dark brownish Puris and melted potato and peas gravy.
“It was so rude of me not to introduce myself back there, I’m Nalini, Nalini Dev Burman, daughter of Niranjan Dev Burman. Once upon a time our family was the land lord of this village. I hope you did not mind when I mentioned as ‘MY’ village back there, it should be our village isn’t it?” Nalini was smiling impishly now.
Akhil tried to be as normal as he could, “I am on a strict diet, I am still recovering from a prolonged illness, no fried or oily food.” Akhil cleared his throat.
“But sometimes you just crave for what is forbidden, isn’t it?” Nalini is sharp voice again pierced Akhil’s ears.
“Let me know whenever you feel good, I can be your guide, can show you around our village, there’s nothing much though, but you can visit my place, it’s a 200 years old bungalow. It might intrigue you.”
Nalini spoke those word causally and turned back to leave when she saw Rashida, “Why did you call me a witch?” Nalini voice was pretty normal.
Akhil was at his wits end, Rashida whispered those words when she saw Nalini outside through the windows, she she was good 200 to 300 meters away from the farmhouse, there’s no way Nalini could hear it.
“Answer me, why did you call me a witch?” Nalini’s voice is firm now.
Rashida suddenly held her head and sat on the floor as if someone pushed her down. “Never ever call me that.” Nalini spoke angrily and left.
Akhil saw Ratanlal standing in a corner hanging his head down. Rashida was still sitting on the floor holding her head.
“Ratan, take them away, it’s tempting.” Akhil pushed the plate and tried to speak in a normal tone.
“Sir, at least have one. Else she will be angry.” Ratanlal pleaded.
“How will she know?” Akhil asked astonishingly.
“She will know, she always knows.” Rashida whispered.
At around 4 p.m. Abhimanyu called the landline. Ratan picked it up and passed it to Akhil.
“I met Nalini today.” Akhil started with that sentence without any small talk. There was a long pause from the other side and the Abhimanyu spoke. “Ohh!”
“Is there anything you want to tell me about?” Akhil asked in an assuring tone.
“I am ashamed to push you into something at this phase of your health, I am hesitatnt.” Abhimanyu sound embarrassed.
“You are my student Abhimanyu, and a teacher should and must help his pupil whichever way he can, so don’t hesitate and tell me.”
Abhimanyu took his time to arrange his thoughts and started.
“Last year, when I went to my farm house, I met Nalini at the market. She just stepped into eighteen and I was around 26. You can call it love at first sight.
When I was around 10 or 11 years old I had a babysitter, her name was Hiral, she was about 5 years elder to me. She loved me dearly and I was so fond of her, even I had a childish crush on her as well, I was too young and she was my fondest memory. When I was about 14 she died of snake bite. I was devastated.
The day I met Nalini I felt I found Hiral back, they were so alike. I was almost crazy for her and wanted to marry her. I fought with my parents, argued with her father as she was so young and tender to be married, but at last everyone came to terms and agreed for our marriage.
We got engaged soon and then there was a photo session, we got a photographer from the city. Before that we never clicked any photos of her or us. Once the photographer clicked the photos and sent them to me I was shocked. Nalini was a complete different woman in those photos, she is not even close to how Hiral used to look.
I showed those photos to my parents and other relatives, they argued that’s exactly how she looks in real, they were surprised and perplexed. I could swear on my life that she looks nothing like how those photos showed her. I was lost and depressed. My parents were worried and they were not ready to carry this relationship further, we broke our engagement.
After few days when I met her I was shocked again, she was looking exactly like Hiral, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She came to me and urged to get back together. Next day morning I stated for the city without telling anyone.
It’s almost been a year but everyday her thoughts eat me up. I don’t know whom to turn to, as everyone thinks I am crazy and I did her wrong. You are my last resort Sir, please help me.”
Abhimanyu took a long breath after finishing his story.
“Where are those engagement photos? Do you have them with you?” Akhil held the receiver tight.
I kept them in the cupboard of my bedroom, you can ask Ratan, he will give them to you.” Abhimanyu replied.
“Alright, let me look at them and see what I can do. Relax, I will do everything I can to solve this.” Akhil assured Abhimanyu.
After dinner Akhil took those photos to his study table and examined them closely under the table lamp. There are at least 20 photos of Abhimanyu and Nalini. Few of them are close up snaps. Nalini looked so happy and jubilant in all the pictures, with a shy smile in her face. But Akhil was unable to trace any abnormality in those photos, Nalini is looking as she looked today morning, though she had a scarf on her head.
Akhil gave up and switched off the lights, lying on bed he tried to take off his mind from all these.
As the time passed suddenly Akhil heard a sound of a gigging voice in his head, as if a girl laughing her head off.
“So you are going to solve the mystery, is it Dr. Akhil Mitra.” The giggling voice spoke. Akhil almost jumped off his feet and looked out of the window. There were no one, just a moonlight filled night and few trees are slowly waving their heads and leaves were making sounds.
“Who are you?” Akhil asked that question in his mind.
“Don’t you know?” The giggling voice answered with a question.
Akhil started to sweat even in a chilly February night.
Akhil stood there for some time with his sweaty palms and forehead. Then he realized the voice was gone from his head. It’s 3 days since the full moon night, the moon was looking big and yellowish, the dark craters of the moon are visible. Akhil tried to calm his nerves, he wasn’t absolutely sure but he knew the voice he heard was Nalini’s.
Akhil couldn’t have a sound sleep the whole night. He had few dreams, the one he remembered was quite weird. He saw himself wandering into a garden, more like in a tropical forest. Akhil was walking around aimlessly when he saw a giant python snake. It creeps down from one of the tallest tree and hanged it’s face right in front of him.
“Oh yes Adam, I was waiting for you, for so long…” The python spoke in a female voice. “Come and take you prized possession, come and have bite, eat the forbidden apple.” The python whispered.
“And why should I listen to you?” Akhil heard his own words.
“Because if you have no knowledge of Sin and evil, how will you know about Virtue and good?” The snake was nodding its head and then climbed down onto the ground.
“For centuries, people thought of me as evil, what if I am just your inner voice? What if I am a part you? What if I am……Eve?” As the snake was whispering so, it was transforming into a woman.
To Akhil’s bewilderment the snake slowly became a woman, wearing nothing. And she looked so much like… Nalini.
Akhil opened up his eyes, he could hear the fazar’s namaz from a nearby mosque. “It’s already dawn.” He thought, “And what a weird dream I had.” Akhil muttered.
He pushed himself out of the bed, it was still dark outside. Akhil wore his slippers and came out of the farm house in his shirt and pajama. It was cold outside but Akhil did not wrap his shawl, instead he started to walk aimlessly.
After half an hour Akhil stopped near a playground, The east sky became red already and bird were chirping, the trees and grasses were wearing the dew drops like crown jewels. Akhil inhale the fresh and clean air of this country side, and then he saw a small hut, a man selling morning tea with fuming glasses.
He walked there and sat on the bench, made of bamboos, the traditional Northeastern households’ furniture. Akhil had two cups of tea back to back, after a while as he was about to pay for the tea he realized he left his wallet back in the farmhouse.
Embarrassed Akhil felt helpless, “I am so sorry, I forgot my wallet. I.. give me some time, I will pay you the double.” Akhil felt ashamed.
The old tea vendor smiled, he hardly had few teeth left in his mouth, “Don’t worry sir, you’re the guest of Baruah family. You can pay me whenever you want. Here sir, have another cup.” The old man offered another cup of tea.
Akhil did not want to have another cup of tea, but he felt it would be rude so he took it, “How do you know I’m Baruah family’s guest?” Akhil asked
“This is a small village, we know almost about everything around, beside I know Rashida, she told me.” He replied while serving tea to his other customers.
“Oh so you know Rashida!” Akhil felt relived.
“Yes sir, from the days she worked in Dev Burman’s palace.” The old man smiled.
“Dev Burman Palace as in Niranjan Dev Burman, the land lord?” Akhil asked astoundingly.
“Yes sir, there’s only one Dev Burman family in our village, that’s them.” Tea vendor shook his head.
Akhil finished his tea and started to walk towards the farmhouse.
Once Akhil was back in the farm house he decided to ask few questions to Rashida.
She was in the kitchen making breakfast, Akhil walked in and sat on chair in the dinning room.
“Rashida, you used work for Dev Burman family once?” Akhil asked directly without any prelude.
“I used to, long back.” Rashida was caught off guarded but then she replied without fumbling, without looking at Akhil.
“You used to work there before Nalini was born or after?” Akhil was curious.
“After, they needed a baby sitter for Nalini, someone who could be with her 24 hours a day.” Rashida answered busily as she was making the breakfast.
“Was Nalini’s mother alive then?” Akhil asked.
“No, she died when Nalini was around 2 years old, her grandmother, Niranjan’s mother was alive then, she was taking care of her.”
“For how long you worked there? And why did you leave?” Akhil was feeling the uneasiness as Rashida was answering all the questions with one or two sentences, normally she’s a talkative lady but something of this conversation was putting her off.
“Around 4 years, I left once Niranjan’s mother died. I was not really comfortable there.” Rashida was cleaning the vessels as she spoke.
Akhil paused for some time and then he spoke again, “Rashida, I got a feeling that you’re extremely uncomfortable speaking about Nalini and her family, given the incident took place yesterday morning I don’t really blame you. But I really need to know if anything you know about her and her past. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you.” His voice was calm and assuring.
“She’s a witch, if she wouldn’t be the daughter of the land lord of this village, she would been burned on the stake. I don’t know whom to blame for it, her or her mother. Nalini’s mother Madhavi was equally weird and mentally unstable. She committed suicide by hanging herself in one of the tree in the jungle behind Dev Burman palace.
Even Niranjan’s mother was found dead in the jungle under the same tree. That girl is a curse. Where ever she goes she brings chaos, she can enter into your head and can play with your thoughts, give you severe headache as if someone is cracking open your skull with an axe.
When I heard Abhimanyu was about to get married to her, I urged his parents not to even think about. Thank heaven Abhimanyu and his parents realized it and broke the marriage.”
Rashida paused, she was saying everything with the bitterest tone.
“I know she can hear each of my words but I couldn’t care less. She has her due punishment waiting for her.” Rashida was visibly furious.
“Nalini’s mother, Madhavi, You said she had a mental condition?” Akhil tried to bring her back on the track.
“Yes, Niranjan’s mother Suhasini was dead against this marriage, but Madhavi was the only daughter of childhood friend of Suranjan’s, Niranjan’s father. In his deathbed he made his wife and son promise him that they will bring Madhavi as their daughter in law in in that palace.” Rashida replied in a tired tone.
“What kind of mental illness Madhavi had?” Akhil was uncomfortable as he could she Rashida is getting tired of answering his questions, but his curiosity dominated his mind.
“I don’t really know, people say she was often seen wandering naked in the forest behind the Dev Burman palace. Niranjan and his mother were very embarrassed because of this. Who knows some evil power might possessed her while she was in there. All I know that once Suhasini died an unnatural death in those woods I knew I have to quit. I was scared for my life. Witches feed on others’ lives. Akhil understood Rashida’s mind is clouded with superstitions and other village myths as Black magic and witches.
“Even she (Nalini) goes into the woods regularly. I saw her going in there. She had a habit of sitting on the terrace for hours. Even in the scorching sun of May she would sit on the terrace for the whole day. Once I remember, she was only 5 years old, I was trying to feed her some milk but she was resisting, I lost my temper and slapped her. She looked at me like she’ll burn me down with those fiery eyes, and I felt a splitting headache, as if someone is hitting my head with an iron rod.
She did that to many people, even yesterday. That’s how she hurt people whenever she wants. She’s pure evil.” Rashida was breathing hard as she was speaking continuously.
Akhil stood up and slowly walked into his room, he drew the engagement photos of Nalini and Abhimanyu and started to looking at them again, after a while he was lost into deep thoughts.
Akhil was roving around the Dev Burman villa, or the people call it as Dev Burman palace. He could see a small yet dense jungle behind the villa. After a while without thinking much he went near the gate and knocked, a well-built man in his 40’s opened the gate.
“What do you want?” he asked in a rough voice. “Who’s there?” There’s another voice behind him asked the question.
Through the half opened gate Akhil could see a man standing with his while shawl on, his presence was aristocratic and authoritative, slender build, fair, tall, mostly in his mid-50 with salt and pepper hair and a thick mustache.
Akhil was sure that’s Niranjan Dev Burman, he rose his voice, “This is Akhil Mitra, I met you daughter yesterday. She invited me to see your palace.”
The man looked surprised as he walked towards the gate, “I am Nalini’s father, Niranjan, Nalini never spoke about you.”
“She must have forgotten.” Akhil smiled.
Niranjan was in double mind whether or invite Akhil over,
“I am staying in the Baruah Farm house. Abhimanyu is a student of mine.” Akhil spoke again.
“Oh! Well then you can leave, I have nothing do with that boy or his family, you must know how they humiliated us by breaking up the engagement. He came to my doors begging for her and then he just throw everything away. I hope you understand my rudeness.” Niranjan turned back started to walk as the doorman was about to close the gate.
“I am just interested in that forest behind your palace. I want to know the history of it.” Akhil again rose his voice seeing Niranjan was going to disappear behind the closed gate.
Astonished Niranjan turned back, “That was a garden during my grandfather Abhiranjan’s time, he always wanted a huge garden behind the palace, but after him no one cared and it became a jungle. Good day.” Niranjan threw his words at Akhil and disappeared inside the palace.
As Akhil was walking into the woods, it started looking unusually familiar, then he came across a tall tree and instantly he found why this place was looking so familiar to him. This was the exact place he saw in his dreams today morning. Possibly the same tree he saw the Python coming down from, it looked like a Banyan tree but it’s bigger and taller than normal ones.
He decided to explore further, as he walked deep inside, while occasionally moving the small tree branches which were obstructing his way, he came near a pond, a small one, almost as if rain water trapped in a crater. The bamboo trees and other unknown plants were grown around it.
Akhil almost had a mini heart attack when he saw a female sitting nearby the lake, she was not wearing a single piece of cloth, hair hairs are open and covered her face and upper part of the body, she was swinging and splashing her legs on the pond water. Akhil looked closely and got a jolt again, it’s no one but Nalini.
All of a sudden Nalini turned her head towards Akhil, with her piercing eyes which were only visible through her unkempt hair falling on her face, almost covering it. She giggled hysterically and then jumped into the water with splashing sound, few bids chirped and flew away with that sound. Akhil felt as if suddenly the temperature went down a few degrees.
Akhil felt he shouldn’t be there anymore so started to walk back, while he was returning he felt his lost his way, after wandering around for few minutes he was back next to that Banyan tree. He could smell a wild scent. Something of a smell when the grass were mowed or if a tree branches were cut, a strong and powerful odor.
Suddenly he heard a voice in his head, it was giggling again, “Akhil Mitra, what are you seeking?” It asked.
“Nothing.” Akhil sighed.
“What are you thinking now?” The voice asked again. Akhil was silent this time.
“I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking If only you were half your age at this time, you would ask Nalini’s hand and get married to her. Leave the city life and get settled in this small beautiful village.” The voice laughed again as it finished.
Akhil felt a jolt, he wasn’t thinking that at all, but he after the voice he felt like the thought was been pushed inside his head forcefully. The strong wild smell was getting stronger. Akhil was feeling dizzy, his felt week in his knee, with half open eyes he felt like the tree was weaving it’s leaves, and as if it was talking to him all these time.
The smell was blinding all Akhil’s senses now, he started to feel as if the shrubs and hedges near his legs were creeping up taking over his legs, hands and body. He was about to fall down when two strong hands held his shoulder.
“Akhil sir! What are doing here?” The startled voice spoke.
Akhil open his eyes with all his might and whispered, “Abhimanyu!!??”
Akhil hardly remember how he ended up in his bed from the forest. He vaguely remembered Abhimanyu was literally carrying him on his shoulder when Akhil was leaning in his shoulder.
As Akhil opened his eyes, he found Abhimanyu was sitting next to him on a chair, he was visibly worried. Rashida was standing near the door looking at him sadly.
“I should have never brought you here, it’s all my fault, I pushed you into this situation for my selfish reason. You’re not even half fit to carry on. I have arranged the tickets, we will travel to city by tomorrow” Abhimanyu was shaking his head remorse.
“What time it is?” Akhil asked weakly.
“It’s almost 9 o clock in the morning. You were sleeping from yesterday afternoon. Why did you even go there in that forest all alone? You could have taken Ratanlal with you.” Abhimanyu had a slight anger in his tone.
Akhil was about to open his mouth to answer when he saw something and his mouth was left open. It was Nalini who walked into the room, she was wearing a maroon Saari today, with a long single plait, her face look sad.
Abhimanyu turned back and saw Nalini, he was speechless as well.
“Sorry to be here unannounced, but I heard Akhil sir is sick. So I couldn’t wait to inform you first.” Nalini came and stood next to Abhimanyu.
“Amm sure, why don’t you sit next to him for some time, I need to arrange few things.” Abhimanyu got up from the chair and left the room in a hurry, as if he trying to escape from her, Rashida too left the room with a scared and disgusted face.
Nalini sat on the chair, her sad face slowly turned into an impishly smiling one, “So Dr Akhil Mitra, how are you doing now?”
“I.. amm.. I am kind of ok.” Akhil stammered while replying. Suddenly he felt he was looking a complete different girl. It took him back in his memory lane. Almost 15 years ago when Akhil started his career as a lecturer, he had student name Vidhya, she was calm and silent type of girl, used sit in the first bench. Something of her always attracted Akhil towards her, as if he had a crush on this student of his. In her second year she left college and Akhil had no trace of her again.
As Nalini was smiling devilishly at him, he suddenly felt Nalini is looking quite alike, as if Vidhya sitting right in front of him.
“Do I remind you of someone else Dr. Mitra?” Nalini asked.
“Yes you do.” Akhil murmured.
At that very moment Rashida came inside, she had a glass of orange juice in her hand. She came and placed the glass on the tea table next to the bed.
“Have this glass of juice, you will feel better. Nalini, I think we should let him rest. He is already weak and feeble.” Rashida spoke those words with a stone face.
“Sure, for once you are right Rashida. I will see you tomorrow Akhil sir.” Nalini got up from the chair.
Akhil drank the full glass of juice and called Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu came and stood next to Akhil. He was looking pale and uncomfortable.
“Abhimanyu, how did she look today? Did she look like Hiral or someone else?” Akhil asked in a easy tone.
“Every time I see her in front of me, I only see Hiral. When she came in today I rushed out and checked our engagement photos again, she looks a complete different girl in those pictures.” Abhimanyu answered robotically.
“So I thought, I too saw a different woman in her. By the way I hope my ticket to the city is arranged already you told me, I am going tomorrow.” Akhil answered while looking out of the window thoughtfully.
Abhimanyu looked at him with disbelief and then replied in a calm tone, “I guess that will be good for all of us, there’s no need for you to stay in this godforsaken village with such health condition. Let us move from here tomorrow.”
Akhil looked at Abhimanyu and smiled, “Only I’m going to the city, you need to stay here and have to collect few information for me. Don’t worry, I am not leaving this case half way. I have to meet my doctor for my check up as well as I have to do a little research. So you don’t worry, I will be back in another 2 to 3 days.”
Abhimanyu looked surprised now, “What information?” he asked curiously
“I will give you list of people you and you have to find as much information you can, don’t worry, they all resides in this village here, a few are no more but I need as much information you can gather about them. By the way you haven’t told me how and when you came here and found me in the forest?”
“I was restless after sending you here all by yourself, so I finished my thesis as soon as I could and submitted it and took the next train here. Once I spoke to Ratanlal, he told me you probably went to meet Nalini. I was looking for you everywhere when I thought of entering into that forest.” Abhimanyu answered.
“Did you see or feel anything unusual or saw someone except me there?” Akhil asked absent mindedly.
“No. Why?” Abhimanyu asked.
“Nothing, let me pack, the train is at 8 AM tomorrow if am not wrong.” Akhil sounded as if he is in a hurry to leave the village.
Once Akhil is back in the city the first thing he did was he met his physician Dr. Dutta.
“You told me to go for a change but you didn’t tell me I am so weak to even walk around, I was bed ridden for half a day after I took a hike in a forest.” Akhil spoke with mock anger.
“Really, lie down Dr. Mitra, let me check. Last time I saw you, you were weak but not so much that you’ll be bed ridden because of a little walk.” Dr Dutta said playfully.
Akhil told him about the incident in the forest but except the part where he saw Nalini or felt how the hedges and shrubs tried to grab him.
“Hmm! But Akhil if you are taking all the medication you wouldn’t be feeling so weak. In fact after initial checkup now I hardly find any of such. You are almost 90% recovered.” Dutta spoke in a worried tone. “Let’s run some more test and see.”
Akhil was about to tell him how even he felt weak when he was sitting near the pond and tried to get up his own feet, his head spun. But he did not mention it as he remembered something else.
Additional director Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS) in Berlin was surprised to see a mail from Dr. Akhil Mitra, the renowned Indian Parapsychologist, he once met him in a seminar in New Delhi. They had quite a nice chat. Dr. Mitra in the mail requested his half an hour for a discussion in Skype. Friedrich was curious and was looking forward to have a video chat with Akhil. They started their session at 4 PM IST, the supposed half an hour chat turned into almost a 4 hours of intense discussion.
Abhimanyu was waiting in the station. It’s almost 5 days that Akhil has gone to city, he promised he would come back in 3 days but something took him longer. Abhimanyu has collected almost all the information Akhil asked him to, he was quite surprised by himself after knowing things about the people in his own village.
Akhil got down from the train, it was around 2 PM, Abhimanyu carried his luggage to the firm house.
“So, what did you do in the city?” Abhimanyu asked interestedly.
“I’ll tell you, before that, let know about your findings.” Akhil Asked. Abhimanyu gave all the details he found in last few days about few persons.
“Hmm, is it possible for you to arrange a meeting with Niranjan Dev Burman by tomorrow at Dev Burman Palace?” Akhil asked Abhimanyu after listening to him.
“I can sure try, but not sure how Niranjan will react, after all he doesn’t like me.” Abhimanyu replied thoughtfully.
“Alright, I will go to Dev Burman palace tomorrow, you come along with me, I hope Nalini will be there in the evening.” Akhil spoke.
Niranjan was looking at both of them suspiciously, Akhil was showing no sign of discomfort while Abhimanyu was looking uneasy.
Half an hour back Akhil and Abhimanyu came and knocked the gate of Dev Burman palace, as the door keeper opened the gate Akhil asked for Nalini. As the door keeper informed her, both Nalini and her father came out.
“What are you doing here?” Niranjan asked in an angry tone.
“I am here to talk to you and Nalini.” Akhil answered calmly.
“Regarding what?” Niranjan demanded.
“Maybe I can help you find some answers of few questions which are yet unanswered.” Akhil replied.
“We have no such questions. Good bye.” Niranjan barked and turned around.
“Nalini?” Akhil looked at her.
“Please come in, both of you.” Nalini spoke while looking down at her feet, digging her nails.
“Why are you inviting them?” Niranjan roared at his daughter.
“Because they are our guests.” Nalini answered firmly.
Now all four of them are sitting in the drawing room, a huge one right in the middle of the palace, the ceiling is as high as 10 meters from the floor, the double stairs went up to the first floor, the palace really looks royal. A huge chandelier was hanging from the ceiling.
The tea and snacks were already served on the tea table, Nalini took the tea pot and started making tea.
“1 spoon or 2?” Nalini asked to Akhil.
“Do I really have to answer that?” Akhil smiled. Nalini put 2 spoons of sugar in the tea.
“Tell us, what would you like to tell?” Niranjan was impatient.
“Are you aware of the rumors around in the village that they think Nalini is some kind of a sorceress, that she possess supernatural power?” Akhil started.
“Those illiterate villagers, they make stories all the time, I have no time for all those rubbish.” Niranjan made a face.
“On the contrary, I do believe Nalini possess some power and I’m sure you and Nalini both know it. It’s my student Abhimanyu who told me the astonishing story of him and Nalini falling in love and then falling apart. All I need is sometime to tell you the surprising tale.”
“Since the first day of my meeting with Nalini, I felt a strange power within her. In a very normal way we can describe it as her telepathic ability. But there is more of it. As I tried to understand her abilities the more surprising it felt.
Most of the people know or believe that telepathic power or ability is all about connecting minds with thought frequencies. But Nalini also possess something called ‘Emotive telepathy’ in Parapsychology research. It is the power to control emotions, thought process and even compel a mind to do something as she pleases. She also can communicate and also can inflict pain on her targeted mind or person.
Nalini also have developed something called natural hypnotic ability. As we all know hypnosis is about human mind or consciousness controlled by another person or mind. We often see the act of hypnotism in magic shows where magicians make any of their audiences to do as he/she pleases by hypnotizing them. Those are forced hypnotism by using mind control methods. But the natural hypnotic ability uses natural means, like continuous eye contacts, body fragrance or touch.
If I am not wrong Nalini started to feel her powers at her early ages, when she sensed she has the power over others mind and she can control, punish and manipulate others thoughts, she started doing so.
When I spoke to Rashida who worked here for some time, she told me all the servants including Niranjan were afraid of her, but for strange reasons they were not able to make up their mind to leave their jobs in the palace.
Now Nalini’s enhanced telepathic ability is rare but not unheard of. Few years back an autistic Indian girl Nandana Unnikrishnan stunned the researchers by showing that she can read the exact thoughts from her mother’s mind. It’s often seen that the autistic children or the children born with rare physical or mental deformity often has special powers. And Nalini too… is a special case…”
Akhil paused and sipped into his tea cup, the tea was already cold. Abhimanyu was sitting like a statue on the sofa just opposite to Nalini. Nalini was looking down at her feet and digging her nails. Only Niranjan was looking impatient.
“What are you getting at Dr. Mitra, so my daughter has powers and you yourself said that it’s rare but happens, so what?” Nirajan asked in an irritated tone.
Akhil took his time, got up from the sofa and encircled all of the members sitting there, he stood behind the sofa, leaned on with both elbow resting on the top of it and looked at others intensely.
“Before I go ahead speaking more about the abilities of Nalini, let me tell about someone else, about a family member of yours. My student Abhimanyu collected a lot of information about you and your family members, of course about the deceased ones as well.
Remember you have told me about the forest that grew behind your palace, which was once a garden of your grandfather Abhiranjan.
Abhiranjan was a botanist, he had a degree from ‘University of London’ and his area of research was Paleobotany, studying plant evolution and fossil plants, or the plants and floras which were extinct or assumed extinct from the earth. He was a globetrotter and collected many rare breed of plants and seeded and sowed and grew them in his backyard, which has become his ‘Garden of Eden’. He had also wrote many journals for few British research facilities and magazines during pre and post era of British India.
He was a disciple and a great admirer of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the greatest mind of India who established that plants have lives too. Abhiranjan was deep into the research of evolutions and physical changes of plants from dawn of this planet’s life.
His son Suranjan chose to be a lawyer and thus after Abhiranjan’s demise his garden was hardly been taken care of, as the days went by it slowly turning into a jungle. The high wall of the palace hid it behind and people of the palace slowly started to forget about it.
Niranjan’s father Suranjan was married to Suhasini, a very superstitious woman, Suranjan himself was a very open minded and rational man, probably he had the trait of his father. Suranjan gave his word to his childhood friend that his daughter Madhavi will be Suranjan’s Daughter-in-law someday. Madhavi was manglik, as per ancient Indian astrological chart she was supposed to be the cause of her first husband’s death. Perhaps because Surajan was above all these superstitions and knowing how hard it might be for his friend to marry off his daughter he vowed to make her his daughter-in-law.
Suhasini did not like that a bit, she never wanted her only son to get married to a girl could be a threat to her son’s life. Suranjan was adamant and he was a man of his word, because of his illness and early demise he couldn’t see it off that his son and Madhavi was getting married. But in his deathbed he made his wife and son promised that they will honor his words.
Niranjan had a profound effect of his mother on him, maybe because he lost his father in tender age. He is also quite superstitious. So the mother and son decided to take suggestions from various astrologers and as per their prescribed remedy, Madhavi was set to be married to a tree and then with Niranjan, another old ritual where it was believed that being the first of a manglik the misfortune will befall upon the tree.
But even after all these, the marriage between Niranjan and Madhavi never was consummated. Niranjan had this insane fear for his life which was fueled further by his mother and he never copulated with his wife. In fact they used sleep in different rooms. But being a rich son of a lawyer and landlord with his biological needs, he did have many lovers and concubines.
Madhavi, being married too early and pushed into a loveless relationship was always an unwelcomed guest in the palace, her husband’s indifference and her mother-in-law’s taunts were completely broken her down. Maybe people in the midst of the conversation, taunted of suggested her that, her actual husband is the tree got married to but Niranjan.
She was under immense mental pressure, perhaps she did not want to bother her family with her marital problems and keeping everything within her, resulting her subconscious mind actually started to believe that the tree she got married to, was actually her real husband.
A few villagers saw her wandering naked in that forest, that’s actually half true. Rashida and few other servants followed her and found she stood there hugging a tree in the forest without wearing anything.
Yes! Madhavi’s ritualistic first marriage was with the banyan tree or what it looks like I stumbled upon where Abhimanyu found me. She used to stand there embracing, holding the tree for hours together. Rashida is actually one of witness of this, when I spoke her for a long time, I found this details.
Here, my theory gets divided into two……”
Akhil took a long pause and looked at everyone again. And everyone else were looking at Akhil with probing eyes.
“The first theory is fairly simple and provided some answers, the second theory is complex and little far-fetched, nonetheless that provides a lot of answers.
Madhavi, being a young and married woman, who was completely ignored by her husband, unfulfilled desire of her body and mind forced her to take a paramour or a lover. But I doubt it if in her mental state was it really possible, what I feel is someone who knew her mental state and knew that she goes alone, unprotected, in the forest took advantage of her mental vulnerability.
Thus Nalini came into her womb, when she gave birth to Nalini, Niranjan knew it wasn’t his child. When I saw Niranjan for the first time, I was surprised to see there is hardly any resemblance between Nalini and Niranjan, Abhimanyu also found some old photos of Madhavi, they both were tall, fair and with sharp features where Nalini is short, petty and dark.
Madhavi believed it’s the tree who is the father of Nalini, and she also kept telling her daughter so. Nalini grew up knowing she is the daughter a tree. Madhavi even took her time to time in the forest to show her that tree. Which created a very complex situation for Nalini, already she was an offspring of a mentally instable mother. As it is known, such abnormal situations make the offspring exposed to a very complicated mental state which might causes her acquiring such powers.
There is a paranormal activity which comes under the research of botanist or plant scientists. It’s called Plant perception, Plant perception or biocommunication is the paranormal idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP(Extrasensory perception), and that they experience pain and fear, that it can see, smell, talk or respond. The idea is not accepted, as plants lack a nervous system.
The main difference between human and plants is the central nervous system or to be precise, human or animal has something called brain but Plants don’t.
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the brilliant mind of India, known for his amazing contribution towards the invention of radio and also the man who discovered and knew more about lives of plants, always believed that irrespective of no nervous systems plants can behave like any other mortal living beings. He dedicated a good portion of his life researching on it. Recently it was in the news again. Which actually says, “Plants are just very slow animals.”
Abhiranjan Dev Burman, Niranjan’s Grandfather was also researching on similar ground, in lot of his thesis he mentioned the true evolution takes place in deep forests like how a lot of unknown species breed in the deepest part of the sea. He mentioned his travel in deep jungle of amazon and Congo and founding many unknown trees and plants the modern world is unaware of. Many carnivorous plants and one among them the legendary ‘man eating tree’ are carrying the evidence that plants have their weird ways to live in this world.
I am quite sure that a lot of those rare breeds of plants were sowed and grown in his garden turned forest. The tree in the forest which was thought of a banyan tree and Madhavi was married to, is not a banyan tree. When Abhimanyu found me and took me with him, there were few leaves of that tree were stuck on my body. I took them to the city and tested them the botany lab, also shared the details of the DNA and molecule structure of them with Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences in Berlin. He had a thorough investigation on them but yet determine the actual species of plants it belongs to.
We have also discussed about few very diverse and out of ordinary topics. Like reproduction similarities between plants and human, how plants communicate and it’s defense mechanism. And most out of ordinary, if at all it is possible to have offspring if a human mated a plant.
If we look at the cell structure of Plants and animals or human, it is not very different in fact there are many similarities.
What if an evolved plant or a tree capable of mating a human produced an offspring and that offspring is Nalini. As many of Nalini’s powers can be explained. Her controlling telepathic ability, it’s is proven that plants and trees use unknown telepathic channel to communicate each other.
I remember when I met Nalini for the first time, I was about to get up from the steps near the pond when I felt dizzy and my head spun, cause senses were blinded by a wild scent, same I experienced in the forest when I was rescued by Abhimanyu. I saw Nalini there as well. At first I thought it was all happening because of my weakness but as I consulted my physician he declared me almost recovered, I realized the reason is something else.
It is a part of plant’s defense mechanism where they produces chemical signaling which they produce time to time every occasion they are threatened or harmed. Like when you pluck a flower, tear a leaf or cut a branch of a tree, you can smell that strange odor which can be sometime toxic and harmful. When Nalini attacks her victims telepathically they also can sense the odor and that makes them dizzy and nauseous, they experience the splitting headache.”
Akhil paused again. He could only see 3 faces with dumb and response less expressions
“Let me spare you all the complicated scientific explanations.
In simple words, my first theory establish that Nalini is having powers and abilities that can be only explained as a freak accident of nature. Where she is influenced to be delusional by her own mother that she is a daughter of plant, of a tree.
And my other theory deduce that Nalini is indeed an offspring of a human and plant. Which awarded her this magical capabilities as mutant, a mutation between flora and fauna. Which only can be established if we make scientific tests and experiments on her.”
Akhil started to feel tired, he sat on the sofa leaned on.
“If you are finished with your cock and bull story, you can now leave.” Niranjan got up on his feet edgily and was walking off.
“There is more to it.” Akhil found his voice was strong and hard. Niranjan turned back and looked at him.
“Madhavi’d death was not a suicide. During my long conversation with Rashida I came to know the night she was allegedly committed suicide, there was a huge fight between you and her. Rashida heard you and her screaming at the top of your voice and suddenly everything became quiet. Thought she claimed she left the job after the suicide of Madhavi, truth is she was fired with two other servants after that night.
My analysis about Madhavi tells me she might be delusional but not suicidal. It my strong belief that you killed her that night, probably by strangulating her in a blind rage. I believe it was almost impossible to bear the fact that your wife is staying under the same roof with someone else’s child known as yours.
The cruel irony is, to prove that she committed suicide, her body was hanged from the branch of the same tree whom she considered as her husband. If my 2nd theory is true and if indeed the tree actually reciprocated to her love and fathered her child I could only imagine what it might went through seeing her lifeless body hanging from one its own branch.
After this incidents few of the servants whom Niranjan suspected might know the truth were fired, Rashida was one of them. And then one day Suhasini was found dead under the same tree, cause of death was speculated as choked to death. If I know I better I would say it was the revenge of the same mysterious tree.”
“How dare you? I surprised to see your audacity to accuse me of a murder in my own house. Enough is enough, GET OUT! Or my men will throw you out of my house.” Nirajan was shouting like a mad man, his eyes were red as rotten tomato, his whole body was shaking in anger.
“Father, you know what he is saying is the truth.” The calm voice of Nalini made Akhil, Abhimanyu and Niranjan turned their head towards her, in disbelief.
“Yes Dr. Akhil Mitra, my father is a tree, my mother gave birth to a half tree half human. I know this man whom the world know as my father killed my mother. My real father told me everything. I am speaking to my real father from the age 4. When my mother took me to him and told me everything. We speak through our minds, people can’t hear us.
And you know what? There is more. I sit in the sun for hours with my feel in the water, you know why? Cause I make my own diet, yes, what human know as photosynthesis. My real father taught me everything. Remember the day you saw me in the forest near the pond?
Niranjan Dev Burman killed my mother, I have no regret, no complains. The real villain is my foster grandmother, his mother who poised his mind. And she got what she deserved. I don’t expect humans to understand me. But I cannot control myself punishing them when they do wrong, call me names.
Yes Dr. Mitra. You have successfully drawn the conclusion.” Nalini was smiling as she was talking.
“Or you are dangerously delusional as your mother fed all these ideas into your head from the very childhood, making you believe that you are a child of tree and you can speak to it.” Akhil murmured. “We can’t be sure of anything till we run tests on you, and I fear that might make you a lab rat.”
“ENOUGH!!!” Niranjan shouted at the top of his lungs. “I am tired of this crap. Because of this I killed Madhavi. I know Nalini is not my child, not possible as me and Madhavi never had a physical relation. But I tried to forgive her, I tried to ask her who Nalini’s real father is. And she kept telling about this tree. ABSURD!! I couldn’t take her lies anymore, so I killed her and hanged her on her beloved tree.”
“And she was true.” Nalini answered in a calm voice again.
“I will finish this story for once and all today. I will uproot that tree and burn it to ashes.” Niranjan clenched his teeth, “Raghu, get your men, get the axes and saws. We will cut and throw that tree.” He shouted at his men.
“No you can’t do that, you won’t do that.” Nalini screamed hysterically.
Niranjan was no mood to listen to anyone, as his men were gathering the saw, axes and other tools, Nalini ran out of palace. Akhil and Abhimanyu followed her.
When Niranjan walked inside the forest with his men carrying his double barrel gun, he saw Nalini was standing there hugging the tree, Abhimanyu and Akhil were baffled.
“You have killed my mother. I can’t let you kill my father.” Nalini was crying her heart out.
“Take her away Abhimanyu, else I will shoot her first.” Niranjan was aiming his double barrel at her.
When still Nalini did not move, Niranjan ordered his men to pull her away. As they did so, others advanced to cut it down. Niranjan, in his helpless wrath, shot few rounds at the tree. When his men started to cut it down, with each strike of axe, the tree was shaking violently. It almost felt to Akhil as if the tree is scream in pain and agony. But they were mute spectators, Abhimanyu was holding and trying to control the violent and hysterical Nalini as she was crying her heart out.
Akhil heard Niranjan murmuring looking at his men cutting and uprooting the tree, “Now from months to come you will burn in my kitchen and stable.”
It took almost 3 hours for Niranjan’s men to cut and pull up the root of it was in so deep. It left a big hole in there. The villagers heard the sound and gathered nearby, but did not have the courage to ask what was going on.
Nalini fainted in the arms of Abhimanyu. Tired Niranjan looked at them, “Take her upstairs and be with her.” He told Abhimanyu in a tired tone. “Dr. Mitra, I would be honored if you join me in dinner and stay in here tonight.” Niranjan sounded like a complete different man now, sounded like a warm welcoming host. Akhil was as his wit’s end, he did not know how to respond after all these. He just nod his head.
The night was uneventful. Niranjan called his family doctor to check on Nalini. The doctor gave her a sedative injection to make her sleep, cautioned that she had gone through a tremendous mental trauma and she needs complete rest. Abhimanyu chose to be on her bed side. In the dinner Niranjan and Akhil sat together.
“I apologies for my behavior. But I should have cut down that poison tree way back. It was solely responsible for this ungodly situations.” Niranjan was smoking is pipe after the supper.
“Well, I am still not sure which of my theory is right so I don’t know.” Akhil spoke in a thoughtful voice.
“I don’t want to know. It’s true I never loved Madhavi and I killed her, but laws can’t do anything to me, I am the law here. But I raised Nalini as one of my own. I don’t want her to be turned a lab creature. Let her be. It would be better for us if you leave tomorrow. My men will see you off in the station. For tonight you can be my honorable guest.” Niranjan spoke in a very easy tone.
“Akhil went to bed with multiple thoughts in his head. He woke quite early in the morning when he heard so many voices making noise. He opened the door and found Abhimanyu looking restless.
“We can’t find Nalini, she was in her bedroom sleeping, I was in the couch and don’t know when I slept, when I woke up I saw the bed is empty.” Abhimanyu’s said in a chocked voice. Niranjan and his men were hurriedly moving in every direction.
Something struck Akhil instantly. He slowly walked out of the palace and stepped into the forest. He stopped near the big hole which was dug to pull up the root, the trunk of the huge tree was lying nearby. Akhil slowly passed by that, he started to walk towards the small pond where he saw Nalini here last time.
As he stopped by the pond, he looked around. Suddenly his eyes fell onto something. There was another tree, it looked so green, hardly 5 and ½ feet tall, it doesn’t look like any known trees. It’s two branches were looking like 2 hands held above, the leaves were like hairs and upper portion was looking like a very familiar face. The face of Nalini.
Akhil closed his eyes. Hoping that if it is truly Nalini, she might speak to his mind one more time. He kept his eyes closed for some time and then as he opened them, tears rolled down from them. Akhil murmured the famous line of the famous physicist, biologist and poet…
“They who behold the One, in all the changing manifoldness of the universe, unto them belongs the eternal truth, unto none else, unto none else.”
Bittu looked back as he was sitting alone near the pond. It was getting dark, the dusk had fallen. The glowworms were flying around and the continuous sound of crickets, making the evening a little different than others.
“Why are sitting here with all these mosquitoes?” Firoz asked again as he walked down the steps on the pond side, Bittu was sitting on the step last but one.
“Meditation sir, need to concentrate my thoughts, 12th exams are there in another 2 months.” Bittu was looking at the black water of the pond in front of him.
“Meditation?! Hmm, yeah you should do it sometime. I see your meditation working. For whom you’re meditating is already in the railway station.” Firoz said those words as he was sitting next to Bittu.
“Yesterday Christie came and asked me to preponed the class test. Strange right? After all her whole family is going on vacation to Darjeeling.” Firoz continued.
“Amm, ohh, really! So did you?” Firoz smiled silently as Bittu was stammering.
“Looks like D’Souza family already board their train, Christie must have seen them off an hour ago. I just came from there, she’s sitting on the bench.” Firoz’s tone was pretty normal.
“Amm Sir, I just remembered now, I have a very important work to complete, I will see you tomorrow, bye sir.” Bittu jumped off his feet.
“Here, take the keys of my bike, and no rash driving, station is almost 10 km away.” Firoz threw his bike key at Bittu.
“No… err.. I mean I am not going to station, I have to go home, kind of urgent. I will park your bike at your place by tomorrow early morning. Thank you sir, thank you…” Bittu was running as he threw those words at Firoz.
Christie could see Bittu is out of breath, he was breathing heavily. Christie was waiting for almost 1 an ½ hours now.
“What you want?” Christie asked in a bitter tone.
“You!!” Bittu answered.
Christie made up her mind, “Let’s stop being kids Bittu. Another two months and we are done with school. Then college. We don’t know where we will end up. Today you like me. Tomorrow when we will be miles apart who knows whom we might like, fall in love with. Let’s say we stay in touch, but how long? Long distance never works. And we don’t even know if we ever end up together at the same place.
Less we will meet, more we will drift apart, and one day we may found someone better. Then what?”
Tears were rolling from Christie’s eyes and her pink and puffy cheeks were letting them flow over.
“Will you be mine?” Bittu extended his right hand, a red rose, a withered one….
Bittu woke up at 9 PM, he was so tried, after coming back from office. He turned to his right, he’s all alone in this king size bed. He pushed himself off the bed, he sure is hungry.
The house is looking so messy, things are scattered around here and there, the smell from the bin is making the place unbreathable. Bittu took out the cold food from the refrigerator which was made yesterday and put it in the microwave oven. The maid is absent as usual.
All of a sudden the realization hit him, he is all alone in this big house. Bittu glanced at the almost empty bottle of whisky on the table. The house is looking like perfect bachelor’s pod.
He took out the food and kept it on the table, the dim light of the dining room was making the place gloomy and sad. He looked at the calendar, it’s 14th February.
Twenty years back in the railway station he proposed to Christie with a withered rose he found on his way to meet her. She made Firoz sir preponed the test so she could stay back though she would love to go for that vacation with her family. As Bittu’s plan to follow her till Darjeeling was miserably failed.
With the first bite Bittu felt the stale smell of the food, he got up threw it in the dustbin, called the pizza store for a door delivery. All of a sudden he felt the emptiness in his heart, a strange loneliness.
“I miss you Christie.” He muttered.
He picked up his phone and dialed Neeraj’s number.
“Hey Bittu. What’s up?” Neeraj answered.
“Come over. Let’s watch Arsenal vs Bayern Munich, I have ordered pizza so you gotta get the beers.” Bittu answered.
“But….?” Neeraj confused tone was heard from the other side.
“Christie and our daughter Shristi has gone to her mother’s place for 3 days. I am all alone at home. Come over, grab Vishal on the way if you can.” As he finished the call Bittu threw his mobile on the couch.
‘This Valentine, it’s the old mates’ reunion on a football match.’ Bittu smiled again.
(This story is a fictional dramatization based on some real events and was drawn from a variety of sources, including published materials and interviews. For dramatic and narrative purposes, the story contains fictionalized scenes, characters and dialogue. The views and opinions expressed in the story do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by individuals)
Arup Sen is quite happy and proud, his sting operation against the additional district magistrate is published in the local daily today. He was working on this story for around 3 months now. Arup Sen is an investigative journalist who is working for a famous local newspaper in the city.
A engineer by profession, Arup never thought he would choose journalism as his career, but everything changed when he started his own venture, a small weekly magazine name ‘Expose’ which included the stories about the corruption and misdoings of local authorities. Today he is quite renowned in his field, one of the young and budding journalist. He has already earned many enemies among the bureaucrats and political circle.
As his doorbell rang he answered it. It was his maid Radha, but she was looking distraught, her face was swelled and eyes were red, looked like she was crying all these while.
“Radha, what happened? Your husband has beaten you up again? I have told you to lodge a police complain if he has done it again.” Arup spoke angrily.
“He is in hospital, he tried to commit suicide by consuming poison.” Radha burst into tears.
Arup felt the jolt, he knew Radha’s husband Jeevanlal, an auto driver by profession and a notorious drunkard, he is a habitual wife beater, but he did not seem to be a suicidal type.
“What happened? Tell me everything.” Arup asked Radha.
She was sobbing, but whatever the said in a nutshell was, few months ago Jeevan was approached by a company and they offered him a position, it was a business proposal, he had to invest an amount of money and be the salesman of their product, as well he had to rope in as many people into the same business, more people join the business, more incentive will be paid to Jeevan.
Jeevan happily agreed as he can always use some extra cash, he borrowed around 50,000 from a local money lender and invested, a few months it went well, but slowly he felt the heat, the product was not getting sold and people were uninterested to join the company. The money lender was creating all types of pressure on him as he took the loan on a high interest. It proved too much for him.
Arup listened to her carefully, “You don’t have to work today, go to hospital and be with Jeevan, here, keep some cash.” He gave Radha some money and sent her back.
Arup heard about such business Jeevan was doing, it’s called MLM or Multi-level marketing, he is vaguely aware of this. He decided to hurry as he is late for his office.
Arup knocked at the cabin door of Mr. Dutta, his chief editor, he received a warm welcome.
“Did you see your story today in our newspaper? You made quite an impact my boy. Now the ADM has no other way but to resign.” Mr. Dutta spoke in an enthusiastic tone.
“Amm yeah, I was lucky to get that piece of information that he is taking such a large sum of bribe. But I’m here for something else, I remember a while ago someone covered a story on MLM business scheme, do you remember who did that?” Arup asked curiously.
“That might be Nilesh.” Mr. Dutta spoke thoughtfully.
“Ok.” Arup hurried out of his chief editor’s cabin door. And went straight to Nilesh’s desk.
“Hey Nilesh, I’ve something to ask you.” Arup spoke in a concerned voice.
“Ahh Arup, what a big shot like you might want from me? His voice was sarcastic and Arup did not miss the hint of professional jealousy.
“I remember you did a story couple of months back, it’s about Multi-level marketing scam, I would like to know about it.” Arup ignored the gesture
“What about it?” Nilesh is curious now, he is a senior to Arup but he neither has his talent or eye for a story, so he looked interested.
“Tell me everything, actually let’s go into the presentation room.” Arup urged.
“Well, MLM is a network based business model, a pyramid shaped multi-level business, where one can profit by two ways, either by selling the product which they buy or get from the company, or by pulling in as many people into it and get the commissions for it or both.
This business model is controversial and in lot of countries it’s banned, it’s also true that in few countries they are not, even in first world countries. The main issue here is though that you are hired by the company you are not under their payroll so you cannot claim back anything if you’re facing losses and your income is purely about how many products you sell. And there’s an easy way out, if you recruit as many people under you, you will actually get paid a portion if they sell and make profit. So basically you can hire 5 people and make them sell the products and earn by almost doing nothing.” Nilesh paused.
“Is it that simple?” Arup blurted out
“Easier said than done.” Nilesh smiled. “It all depends how well the people under you are selling or marketing the products, as almost all roped in to this are novice. Chances are always less, especially when you actually have to invest your own money or buy the products from the company.” Nilesh took a sip from the glass of water kept in front of him.
“If it’s that controversial why it is not banned everywhere?” Arup pulled down his eyebrows.
Nilesh shook his head, “Some of these industries are multibillion dollar industries, they have big banners, powerful people as allies and cult status. There’s a guy called Bill Ackman an activist business man is at war with one of biggest MLM Company Herbalife, for years he is fighting his law suit and nothing has changed.”
Arup got up from the chair and walked towards the door. Nilesh looked at him surprisingly, “Then?” he asked.
Next couple of weeks Arup got busy tracking down the whole business and their key people around the city and other places. He got to know a lot of people are involved even including an MLA from the ruling state party.
Arup was busy working on his story in his place, it was 7pm when heard his doorbell, he opened the door and found his younger sister Misha and her boyfriend Avik are standing.
“What happened to this place? It looks like you fought a war here.” Misha screamed when she saw her brother’s entire apartment is a total mess.
“Well, my maid Radha, she is not coming for weeks, her husband is unwell.” Arup answered in an apologetic and embarrassed tone.
“Well brother, bachelors shouldn’t be apologetic to live in a dirty apartment.” Avik was laughing.
In next few hours Misha cleaned up his place and cooked dinner for them. Avik and Arup were chatting. As they all sat for dinner, Arup told about the gig he is working now.
“Wow! I envy you investigative journalist, you get to have so much fun on the field.” Avik exclaimed. Avik is a non-fiction writer who already published his two books.
“I’m proud of you big brother, but do you actually have make enemies with these political goons?” Misha was concerned.
As Misha and Avik were about to leave, Misha looked at her brother, “You need to find a nice girl, it’s been a while now. Forget about Anu.” Arup almost started laughing as his cute younger sister tried play his mother.
“I often wonder what you saw in Avik. But did I complain?” Arup sarcastically taunted his sister.
“I am serious, that girl never deserved you anyway, I know how hard you took the break up, you better find a girl or I will hook you up with whomsoever I find.” Misha hugged his brother and bid good night.
As the story published in Arup’s daily, it created a havoc. The local opposition party demanded the resignation of the MLA and he denied all the allegations and charges.
Police arrested a few people for fraud but they couldn’t trace down the head of the business, as if he never existed, even the top employees never have seen him, seemed like he ran the show by emails and phone calls.
After few days the accused MLA tripped down from stair case and admitted in hospital with a severe head wound and stayed in coma.
Saturday evening Misha called Arup, “what you doing tomorrow, would you join us for lunch?”
“Sorry Misha, I’ve an important work to do, found a guy who actually met the head of this business, he is scared and won’t go to police, I am meeting him tomorrow.” Arup replied.
“I though everyone is caught and the business was shut down.” Misha asked interestedly.
“Nope, the real boss still at large and out of the radar. Wait someone at the door, I will call you later.” Misha heard the clicked sound.
Sunday early morning Misha’s mobile phone was ringing madly, with sleepy eyes she attended the unknown number displaying on her mobile screen.
“Misha Sen?” A heavy voice spoke from the other end.
“Yes, it’s she.” Misha replied.
“We are calling from local police station, I’m afraid we have a bad news. Your brother Arup Sen has committed suicide last night.”
Misha suddenly felt sick, she couldn’t even react, he saw Avik coming out of bathroom, she looked at him blankly. Avik looked at Misha, she was trembling and pale as if someone drained her blood out of her veins.
As Misha and Avik reached to Arup’s residence they were greeted by Inspector Shiladitya Sinha. Misha was crying uncontrollably.
“What happened here?” Avik somehow asked the question.
Inspector Sinha shook his head and handed over a note. It reads, “Though I have got almost everything in my life I wanted, one thing I never achieved. I couldn’t win the love of the woman of my dreams, Anu. My life is meaningless now, I guess it’s time to say goodbye.”
“A clear case of suicide. Unfortunately.” Inspector was shaking his head.
Misha was sobbing, “No he can’t do that, he can’t kill himself over that witch.” And then she saw the note and screamed. “THAT IS NOT MY BROTHER’S HANDWRITTING.”
That day by evening Arup’s last ritual was performed, a few close friends and relatives were present. Police registered a formal complaint for a suspicious death, as Arup mostly used to work in his laptop, there was hardly any hand written notes to compare but Misha provided few hand written old letters and basis of that it was clear the handwriting in that suicide note was not Arup’s.
Misha, who was completely broken down by her beloved brother’s death, urged Avik to stay with her at Arup’s place. Misha wanted to feel his brother’s presence at his residence with his belongings.
It was around 9 P.M. when the Arup landline rang. Misha answered it.
“It’s Mohan, why you kept your mobile switched off? I was trying since evening.” The voice at the other end barked.
“Who is this?” Misha replied in a broken voice. “Who are you?”, The voice asked.
“It’s Misha, Arup’s sister, but….” Before she completes her sentence the voice spoke again. “Ask your brother to pick up, I will ring again.
Perplexed Misha told Avik about the call. In another ten minutes the phone rang again. This time Avik replied.
“Mohan here, now listen carefully, I don’t have much time and can’t stay in this line for a long time. I have got what you wanted. All the documents including the list of people involved. It’s bigger than we thought. I’m keeping my part of bargain and now you have to. And don’t involve anyone, even the cops. Everyone is in this conspiracy. Now take down the address, meet me at 8 P.M. sharp tomorrow at this address.” The voice gave Avik an address and cut the call.
“What is it?” Misha’s curious voice nudged Avik.
“I’m not sure, but maybe Arup was gathering some kind of evidences from someone, some Mohan.” Avik answered worriedly.
“It must be about the same story which killed him. Avik we have to get those documents.” Misha spoke enthusiastically.
“I’m not so sure Misha, if we should get involved into this, it’s dangerous, besides, he said not to involve police as they might as well a part of all these.” Avik was hesitant.
“Avik, he was my brother and I’m willing to take any amount of risk to catch his murderer, if police are involved we will go to higher authorities, press, media, even to ministry. I won’t give up on Arup, if you want you can step back, after all you didn’t lose your brother.” Misha replied angrily.
“I am not backing out, I’m just worried about your safety, you know Arup was my friend too.” Avik was hurt.
“Then let’s get to the bottom of it and get my brother the justice he deserved.” Misha’s voice was firm and strong.
Next day morning Avik went to Arup’s office and met his chief editor Rohan Dutta.
“So is there any development, what cops are saying?” Mr Dutta was warm and willing to help. “He was our star reporter, any help I can be to trace the culprit.” He ensured Avik.
“Amm, do you have any information on what exactly Arup was working after the breaking story on that MLM Company?” Arup asked.
“Well, he hardly used to discuss his work as it requires a great deal of secrecy. I used to get briefed by him once he already prepared the story. But yeah for the last story he worked on, time to time he took help from another of our journalist Nilesh Mehta. If you want you can have a word with him.” Mr. Dutta spoke.
“Of course.” Avik stood up and walked out of Mr. Dutta’s cabin towards Nilesh’s desk.
“Well about a year ago I covered a story regarding a fraud company, a man with no money or capital started a business and became millionaire in matter of months. It drew a lot of attention and at last he was caught by police but later released on bail as lot of other big fishes were involved in that and he knew too much. After that he just got vanished in thin air.” Nilesh shook his head sideways, “I have cautioned Arup about the danger. But you knew him, he could never back down.”
“Does this person have a name?” Avik asked.
“He used to go by his first name, Jalal.”
As Avik walked out of Arup’s office, Mr. Dutta dialed a number
“Yes he was here, he spoke to Nilesh. (Pause) I don’t think Nilesh knows anything much, he is not of Arup’s caliber, I don’t think he is a threat, but we must keep an eye on Arup’s sister and her boyfriend.” Mr Dutta cut the call and called Nilesh in his cabin.
Avik returned home with all the documents and few hand written notes, one of them has a list of names. After checking that Avik and Misha was in shock.
“Now we know, we can hardly hope anyone help us.” Avik was visibly disappointed.
“Don’t lose hope Avik, there are still few good people around. We need to get the proof out.” Misha tried to be optimistic.
“But how?” Avik asked with an impatient voice.
“Remember Arup used to run a weekly magazine ‘Expose’? What if we publish all these in that?” Misha’s eyes were hopeful.
“That magazine stopped almost a year ago. If it needs to republish we need a publisher, we need enough budget to print them, circulate them around.”
“Can your publisher help Avik, don’t worry about money, I have some savings, if needed I will sell my apartment or mortgage it, I want my brother’s killers to be punished Avik.” Misha started to sob.
Avik considered that option, his publisher is an honest man, but would he be ready or able to help publishing something of this magnitude.
But Avik’s publisher Satyen Bose kept all the speculations aside and was ready to help. “I am fighting against corruption and equal rights for years, I will not see this opportunity go by me. Don’t worry Avik we will restart the magazine again and it will publish all the proofs that will bring the culprits to justice.”
Avik went with Misha to meet him at his office. “Thank you so much Sir, I hope you know the kind of retaliation we might face, I fear we are putting you and your family in danger.” Misha spoke with an appreciative voice.
“Don’t worry sweetheart, I am strong and I have no immediate family, never will be.” He smiled.
Avik explained Misha, Satyen’s orientation is from LGBT community, he did not declare it publically as he did not want to embarrass his relatives who are pretty conservative.
“You take Satyen to our place and give him the documents, let him analyze which one to publish first and how. I think I will go meet Nilesh, let me see if I can find something from him.” Avik instructed Misha and stepped out, it’s already evening 6 P.M. Avik doubted if he will find Nilesh at his office now.
As Nilesh got down from bus and started to walk towards his house, his sixth sense told him someone is following him.
Avik couldn’t find Nilesh at his desk, Mr. Dutta informed he just left a while ago. Avik considered going to Nilesh house and then he dropped the idea, he can meet him tomorrow morning.
As Avik pushed the door of his apartment and stepped in he was surprised the door wasn’t lock. He called Misha’s name and stepped into his bedroom. If human could feel fear, sadness, shock, anger and disbelief, Avik would feel them all at once.
It’s Misha and Satyen lying on the bed, without a thread on their body, the bedsheet is drenched with blood, both have a precise bullet wound right at the middle of their forehead. The scene was so horrible that Avik felt sick in his stomach and vomited on the floor. He tried to get a grip and ran towards the cupboard where the documents are kept. And then he heard a click sound of a gun’s safety latch right behind him.
“Looking for something Mr. Avik Banerjee?” the heaviness of the voice hit his ear like a bullet.
Detective Rounak Banerjee was sitting in office in Singapore, his business is booming. It was the right decision to leave Indian army and start this odd business of private investigation, but now it’s flourishing, he even hardly miss his family.
As he was browsing through the Indian newspaper sites his eyes stuck to a piece of 1st page news, it reads, ‘An unfortunate ending of a love triangle.’ It reports two gruesome murder and a suicide.
Writer Avik Banerjee who is known for his non-fiction style writing came home last night and found his longtime girlfriend Misha Sen with his publisher Satyen Bose in a compromising position. Blinded with anger he killed them both with his pistol and then committed suicide with the same gun. Misha Sen recently lost her brother Arup Sen who was a reporter and going through some tough time.
Rounak’s eyes were moist, it’s been so long he had spoken to his younger brother but never thought he will lose his brother in this fashion.
But then his detective mind told him there’s something wrong about the news, Avik didn’t even know how to use a gun, and he knew Misha, she was not that sort of a girl.
Rounak decided to fly to India in the very next flight.
As the Singapore airline flight touched down to the airport of Indian capital, Raunak looked outside of the window. It’s been quite a while he visited his motherland, and today in a very different circumstances. After the divorce of their parents, Raunak and Avik weren’t very close, but they always stayed in touch, Avik grew up with his father and Raunak with his mother.
He looked at the next seat, Shreya was still sleeping, Shreya Reddy, his personal assistant. Though her parents are Indian she grew up in Singapore, a sharp and intelligent mind, Shreya soon became the right hand of Raunak. Today she is both his strength and weakness.
They took the second flight to Avik’s city.
Another 2 days, Raunak and Shreya gathered all the details regarding Avik, Misha and Satyen’s death. Raunak refrained from declaring him as the closest kin of Avik and let his last ritual performed by the authority. It was tremendously painful for him to not to attend or see his kid brother for the last time, but as a professional investigator her knew his animosity is his biggest strength. If he’s exposed as Avik’s brother, his killers will surely be alarmed.
Nilesh was playing with his 2 years old son when his wife Sangeeta walked in, “Your mobile is vibrating, why you always keep it in silent mode.” She barked.
Nilesh got up and attended the phone, “Nislesh speaking.”
“Hi Nilesh, my name is Raunak, I just need 5 minutes of your time, could you meet me at the café next to your place in another 10 minutes?” An unknown voice spoke.
“What is it about?” Nislesh was surprised.
“it’s about a story, something that can change your life and career, if you don’t want to miss the opportunity you’ve got 10 minutes.” And the line went dead.
Nilesh stood there foolishly, “Could this be a prank?” he thought, nonetheless he decided to walk to the café, it’s just 5 minutes’ walk.
Nilesh was looking at them, a tall, dark, well-built man in his early 30’s and a strong beautiful woman with a medium complexion with piercing eyes in her mid 20’s. Nilesh is wondering what they might want from him.
“Well, now as it’s clear you called me telling me a false reason, I would like to know what you want.” Nilesh cleared his throat.
“We just want to be in your boss’s cabin for 5 minutes when he is not there.” Raunak replied with precision.
“Ok, so why should I do any of it for some strangers, why am I not reporting you to police?” Nilesh laughed.
“Tell me Nilesh, recently do you have a feeling that someone is following you, that a pair of eyes are always surveilling you? Did you notice something of that sort?” Raunak leaned forward and asked those questions in a dramatic fashion.
“I… I don’t think so.” Though his mind went back to the time when he usually return home. Now a days he always feel someone is shadowing him.
“You’re lying, Mr. Mehta.” This time it was Shreya.
Raunak pulled out his iPad and showed him some snaps. Where it was clearly visible, a man in different posture and different times and places, places where Nilesh had been.
“We’ve a reason to believe your boss, chief editor Rohan Dutta is involved murdering, Arup, Avik, Misha and Satyen. He and some powerful men are running a nexus. And if I’m not wrong the next target is you.” Shreya calmly spoke.
“Me? Why me?” Nilesh started to sweat.
“Because they think you might know something that can be harmful for them.” Raunak replied.
Now Nilesh is sweating profoundly, he gulped some water from the water jug kept in front of him. He paused for a moment and looked at them, “Why telling me all these, why not going to police?”
“We have information that the local police department is also involved.” Sherya replied this time
“The entire police department?” Nilesh exclaimed.
“No, but a portion of higher and lower officials, at this point of time we don’t know whom we can trust. We have checked your profile Nilesh, you seem to be an honest journalist. We need your help, else we wouldn’t have revealed ourselves to you.” Raunak spoke in an assuring tone.
“See Mr. Mehta, we are going to bring down this whole nexus with or without your help, but once the war starts you have to decide which side you want to be, with the right people or wrong.” Shreya firm voice nudged Nilesh.
“What you people want to do?” Nilesh asked hopelessly.
“Bug Rohan Dutta’s telephone and office, clone his mobile and plant micro transmitter chips in his clothes. We require to know every of his activity and words he speak.” Raunak replied to Nilesh.
“Sir, he is here, would you like to take the interview?” Nilesh peeped into Mr. Dutta’s cabin.
“The sports journalist? Ok let him in.” Rohan Dutta answered.
Raunak entered into his cabin, “Please take your seat.” Rohan greeted him.
“Sir, could you come here for a moment? I have to show the new story I’m covering, just for a sec.” Nilesh peeped into the cabin again.
“Can’t it wait for another 10 minutes?” Chief Editor Dutta were irritated.
“I just need you for a minute, I’m kind of stuck.” Nilesh pleaded.
“Excuse me.” Rohan made a grunting noise and walked out of cabin. As Raunak was anticipated, his mobile was lying right in front of him on the table. Raunak pulled out a similar model of his mobile phone and started to clone it, then he moved without a noise and planted the chips in the bottom of the landline and in the vase on the table. Nilesh is instructed to keep him busy as long as possible. The cloning of the mobile is taking time, Raunak knocked on the table impatiently.
There was a mild sound of the cabin door opening, Raunak felt his heart skipped several beats, he turned back and saw a guy in his 40’s is standing in khaki shirt and dirty white pant.
“Who are you?” Raunak barked.
“I.. I am the peon, where is Dutta sir.” He was panicking.
“He just stepped out”, Raunak replied. “Oh..ok” the guy turned to leave. Raunak noticed the cloning is done.
“Listen, what is your name?” Raunak called him back.
“M..Mohan sir”, he replied in a timid voice.
“Inform Mr Dutta, I have got an urgent call and I can’t wait, I will meet him later.”, Saying so Raunak did not wait and hurriedly came out of the office.
“We shouldn’t meet in public, after all I am still the investigating officer of Arup’s death.” Inspector Shiladitya Sinha was taking his third drink, Rohan Dutta was sitting right in front of him.
“Relax Sinha, we got things under control now.” Rohan sipped into his glass. They both are sitting in their favorite bar away from the city limits.
“You fool, I told you Nilesh might be a problem, he is not as harmless as you think, my men picked up some suspicious movements by him.” Inspector Sinha barked
“We can take care of him anytime we want.” Rohan smiled.
“And why Jalal is still alive, you kept him in your own office as a peon, what if someone recognized him. No Dutta, you are being careless.” Sinha shook his head.
“Well none will recognize him, all his recorded photos he has long hairs and bushy beard and mustache, I gave him a complete makeover, and remember, always hide something or someone in plain sights, always works. We are not sure if he has some old documents with him, that cunning b****** can’t be trusted, but can’t kill him without being sure. What if he already shared the secrets to someone else?” Rohan spoke indifferently.
“Bosses are getting impatient, we are meeting this Sunday to decide the next move. Be there on time.” Inspector Sinha gulped his drink and got up.
Form a safe distance Raunak listened and recorded every word of it.
As Raunak submitted the evidences to court with the help of a high court judge, DIG of Police, Food and Health minister, a business tycoon and few other important persons got arrested from different places of the city. It was a joint operation by CID and local police. Chief Editor Rohan Dutta and Inspector Sinha were taking into police remand immediately for interrogation.
Jalal alias Mohan agreed to be prosecution witness and was ready to testify against all of them. He was arrested and kept in the lock up.
The trial dates were finalized. While Nilesh and his wife Sangeeta and Sheya decided to present in the court. Raunak decided to visit the place where Avik and Mohan aka Jalal met, as Jalal told him there are few documents Avik did not get and he hid it near a bridge in the same highway.
As Raunak was loitering around near the bridge unsuccessfully trying trace those papers, he felt the presence of few more people. He turned back and saw there are 4 men standing behind him, they looked like hardcore criminals, with Knives, chains and iron rods.
Raunak put his arms above, “You can take my wallet and watch, I don’t want any trouble.”
The first guy swung the iron rod at him, years of military training made Raunak’s nerves strong and calm. He moved out of the way and punched the goon in his throat, the second one charged him with a chain, he ducked and tripped him by his legs. The third one with the knife jumped at him, he caught him by his hip. And then suddenly raunak felt a sharp pain in his lower back. The fourth goon stabbed him continuously till his t shirt and jeans got drenched in blood, the pain and the blood loss made Raunak weak, as the other 3 joined together and started continuously beating him with rods and chains.
After a while a homeless street boy saw 4 men carrying another men who’s bleeding from every part of his body, then they throw him off the bridge to the river and the heavy current of river flushed his body away.
Nilesh, Sangeeta and Shreya were waiting impatiently in the court room, while Shreya was trying frantically to call Raunak, still no answers, calls were going into voicemail.
The public prosecutor was approached by a man, he whispered something is his year. The public prosecutor then addressed the court.
“My lord, it seems our prosecution witness Jalal aka Mohan died in appendix burst today early morning, I smell a deep conspiracy, I urge the honorable court to adjourn for today so his death can be investigated.”
Shreya, Nilesh and Sangeeta came out of court with dejected heart. Sherya tried to call Raunak one more time, this time it was answered.
“Hello Raunak!!” Shreya almost screamed. “No ma’am, this is the police patrolling vehicle, we have found this mobile lying down on highway, there’s blood everywhere but no trace of anybody here.”
Meanwhile Nilesh was walking towards his car to unlock the door, Sangeeta could hardly react as she saw with horror a lorry from nowhere approaching towards Nilesh. The impact was so brutal that Nilesh’s body was thrown off in the air fell onto the nearby car’s roof.
Sangeeta and Shreya stood there motionlessly, it seemed they were paralyzed.
Sangeeta was at the hospital holding her son in her arms, her in laws had come there already. Doctors declared Nilesh as brought dead. Nilesh’s 2 years old son wasn’t able to understand why his mother was crying inconsolably.
Sherya was at the police station, they took her to the crime scene where the mobile was found. Police were searching for Raunak’s body though they were not sure how far the body was flushed away by the river. They showed her the mobile and a small box of ring which they have found there, there was too much of blood around soaked in the sand, the police medical examiner declared that it’s almost impossible for a man to be alive after so much of blood loss.
Shreya had a faint hope that Raunak might be alive as his body was yet to be recovered. As she saw the box of engagement ring she broke down in tears. She knew Raunak was carrying it for a while to propose to her someday. Raunak never knew Shreya was aware of it, nor Shreya ever told him she already knows. The setting sun witnessed a sobbing woman who had lost her friend, her mentor and love of her life.
“We have to get going, we have to bring them to justice, for the sake of all the people lost their lives to reveal this conspiracy.” Shreya clinched her jaw, it’s been almost a week passed after the incidents.
“I just lost my husband, I have a child to take care of, do you think a widow with her kid can fight this battle?” Sangeeta spoke in a bitter tone. They were sitting in Avik’s apartment, police handed over the key to Raunak once he declared himself as Avik’s brother. Raunak and Shreya were living there since they filled the case.
“You’re a lawyer too, it’s your duty as well to unmask all the faces who took away your husband’s life.” Shreya replied impatiently.
“I’m just an assistant lawyer, that too a corporate one. What you want me to do?” Sangeeta sound hopeless.
“It’s up to you whether you want to stand next to me and fight shoulder to shoulder, because I am not stopping till I have my revenge for Raunak. If you want to play safe, if Nilesh’s death means nothing to you, then good luck.” Sherya’s voice was trembling with anger and frustration.
“What you need me to do? I will do anything to nab the murderers of my husband, as long as it’s not putting my son’s life in danger.” Sangeeta replied.
Justice M Sohrabuddin is still fit and strong even in his 60’s, being a high court judge he has completed his 35 years of service in Law and order department and he has a reputation of being honest and straight forward man.
He finished his jogging and sat on the bench in the park as his daily routine, a young woman came out of nowhere and sat beside him, she was wearing a navy blue hoody.
“Justice M Sohrabuddin?” The woman whispered. Sohrabuddin was little surprised, “Who’s asking?”
“This is Shreya, Shreya Reddy. Few days back my Boss Raunak Banerjee and Nilesh Mehta met you regarding a case, you helped them to file a case against the police officials and state minister.” Shreya whispered again.
“Yeah I remember, I read it all in the news and watched it on TV, I’m really sorry for your loss, but I guess the case is on. The prosecution witness Jalal’s death was unnatural, one of his lock up inmate got arrested. And the tainted DIG of police has resigned. The party has expelled their Food and Health minister. Law is taking its own course but you have to have patience.” Justice Sohrabuddin spoke in a compassionate voice.
“But I have my suspicion that more people in the state ministry are involved and they are still at large, targeting people whoever know anything about them. They need to be stopped.” Shreya whispered strongly this time.
Sohrabuddin was surprised again, “Do you have any proof to establish your claim?” He asked.
“Not yet, but if I get you the proof, could you help me?” Shreya pleaded.
“I can sure try to. I know some people in central government, we can ask for a central probe in this case, but as I said, we need strong evidences, enough proofs.” He replied.
“I will meet you in few days, with proofs.” Shreya stood up and jogged away.
Secretary of state home minister Jayant Biswas is a busy man, so busy that he always misses his lunch. So when one of his security guard came and gave him a chit with a name he was irritated. Then he read the name and was surprised, it reads Sangeeta Mehta.
Jayant Biswas bought few lands in his wife’s name and with his influence he managed to evade taxes, but as some legal implication befallen on him he had to hire a corporate lawyer from a lawyer firm. Sangeeta was one of them, a bright young woman who helped him multiple times with legal issues. He asked his guard to send her in.
“Good afternoon Ma’am, how did you lose your way to my office today.” Jayant Biswas had a warm welcoming smile.
“I need your help Mr. Biswas, an urgent help.” Sangeeta spoke.
“Sure, anything within my power.” Jayant Biswas replied.
“I need your help to look into some important files and documents.” Sangeeta replied. “What kind of files?” Jayant was curious.
“I need the access of all the files basically, the state affair files, I have to search them.” Sangeeta spoke in a serious tone.
“I’m sorry Mrs Mehta that I can’t allow. They are confidential.” Jayant shook his head.
“So are your tax evasion files Mr. Biswas, and I never leak anything out.” Sangeeta wore a sarcastic smile on her face.
“That’s the client confidentiality every lawyer maintain.” Jayant chuckled.
“And what if I decide not to maintain?” Sangeeta was serious again.
“Wait, are you trying to blackmail me?” Jayant’ voice got louder.
“I am not here to blackmail you Mr. Biswas, I came here cause I need your help, my husband Nilesh got killed few days ago and authorities are denying to help, please.” Sangeeta’s eyes got moist.
“Sorry Mrs. Mehta, I truly am sorry for your loss, but can’t help you in this.” He shook his.
Hopelessly Sangeeta got up and turned back, “Mrs Mehta, please write your mobile no in this register. We have some protocols, visitors need to provide some details.” Jayant called her back.
As Sangeeta hit the road her mobile phone rang. “Hello.”
“Mrs. Mehta, Jayant Biswas here, please meet me at Arundhati hotel for lunch in another 15 minutes.” And the line went dead.
It was 8 P.M in the night, Sangeeta and Shreya were fanatically searching something in Jayant’s computer. Jayant was standing near the collapsible gate, he sent the night guard to get some food, he gave him a tough list so it will take some time.
Jayant was grinning to himself, got a good deal from these ladies, about 10 lakhs worth of cash and jewelry for the information they are looking.
Shreya searched with the name of the MLM Company and got all the data copied to two separate USB drive and gave one to Sangeeta.
“Keep it, in case of any of us, touchwood let it be me, if we are attacked the other one has to reach to Justice Sohrabuddin.” Shreya whispered to Sangeeta.
“Let’s get out of here, tomorrow morning the 1st thing we’ll do is this.” Sangeeta replied.
“No not tomorrow, tonight, I am going tonight to him. You go home and wait, if anything happens to me tomorrow morning you have to give it him.” Shreya clinched her fists.
Shreya reached to Justice M. Sohrabuddin’s residency at about 9 P.M, the lights were still on. She went to the main door and rang the doorbell.
A security guard opened the door, “Is justice Soharabuddin awake?” Shreya asked him. He nod his head and showed the way to his drawing room.
“Sir I’ve got the proof in my hand, now you must act, Shreya announced as she entered into the room.
Justice Sohrabuddin was sitting in his easy chair showing his back towards the door. He did not reply, also he looked half lying in a different posture. As Shreya walked up to the chair, she couldn’t help but had a muffled cry.
Justice Sohrabuddin’s left hand is dangling from the chair and his head is tilted to left, his eyes and mouth were open. He couldn’t reply cause he is not alive anymore. There’s no sign of struggle or injury on his body in plain sight, an empty syringe was lying on the floor.
Air Embolism, Shreya thought. If more than 60ml of air can be injected direct into human vein, it can cause fata cardiac arrest. Shreya heard few footsteps towards the door.
As Sangeeta reached near her house and about to push open the gate she noticed a big van with a baby food logo on it. A man from nowhere suddenly appeared.
“Ma’am we sell baby food, it’s a new launch in the market so doing a door to door marketing.” The guy spoke politely.
“Door to door marketing at 9 P.M. in the night? And how do you know I need or buy baby food?” Sangeeta looked at him with suspicious eyes. All of a sudden she felt a strong push from behind and the guy who was speaking held her mouth with his palms to prevent her from screaming, they dragged her like a plastic doll towards the van.
Shreya heard the footsteps, she pushed open the window of the room and jumped out on the veranda. It was a cake walk for fit and trained Shreya to jump off the boundary wall. She could still hear the shouting’s and voices abusing her.
She ran as hard she could, about after 5 minutes she stopped. She realized she got into a closed lane and she could see the dead end. She turned back.
There were about 20 men, to be precise, starving beasts were standing at the entrance of the lane. Everyone had hungry eyes like wolves.
As 20 of them took turn to ravage, brutalize and destroy her, after a while she went numb, she did not feel any pain, humiliation and agony. She felt nothing.
Next day’s newspaper headlines were dominated by only one topic, ‘Crime against women in the city is on the rise.’ It reported in two different incidents two young woman, a widow and an NRI women were ravaged and dishonored by predators.
There was another news as well, it was reported that high court judge M Sohrabuddin died in cardiac arrest at his residence around 9 P.M last night, he had no history of heart dieses.
Sangeeta was admitted in hospital with a deep head injury and cigarette burn marks on her whole body, doctors reported she had gone through inhumane torture. Next day afternoon she lost her last battle to death. Shreya was kept in the ICU. Her condition was critical.
Jayant Biswas’s mobile phone rang, “Yes sir, thank you sir. All done then. Glad to provide the information sir.” He cut the call and grinned, he always go with the highest bidder.
“May I come in Sir?” Animesh knocked the door and held it half open.
“Come on in”, CBI director D’Souza shook his hand.
“My next assignment is it?” Animesh smiled.
“Here read this”, D’Souza pushed a file at him and lit his cigar.
Animesh took 10 minutes to read the report. “Geez, it’s a b*****y ‘Game of Thrones’ out there.” Animesh chuckled.
“That’s why we decided to send you, do you need anything specific?” D’Souza left another puff of smoke in the air.
“Oh yes! I won’t work with local authorities’ sir.” Animesh replied.
“Though it’s a central investigation, we need local and state help. Can’t cut them off.” D’Souza replied casually.
“Not exactly.” Animesh replied and leaned forward to explain his plan.
About 6 feet 2 inches tall, fair and handsome Animesh RoyChowdhury is hailed from one of the oldest and famous family of Bengal landlords. And 2006 batch IPS officer in his early forties, he is known as a living nightmare of many bureaucrats and politicians. Because his obsession towards white shirts and outfits he is known as the White Knight of CBI department.
As Animesh was about to walk out when D’Souza called his name, “Animesh, don’t get killed, department needs you.” And the he had his trademark mad laugh.
It took almost two weeks for Animesh to gather all the details about all the incidents and deaths happened in the city which were connected directly or indirectly with Arup’s investigation. Though something was telling him that the roots were deeper than he anticipated.
Once he got all the reports, he tried to arrange them like a jigsaw puzzle.
Arup started to investigate about an MLM company with a pyramid scheme. He exposed an local MLA and few others connected to this illegal business. The MLA soon after meet with a domestic accident and goes into deep coma. Was that an accident or a preplanned attack? If it was an attack then who tried to kill him?
Arup kept investigating even after few people got arrested. Then he died in suspicious circumstances which was almost covered up as a suicide. But Misha found out the truth. Together Misha and Avik launched their investigation, got in touch with Mohan aka Jalal. They tried to unmask few powerful people and again they are been killed. It was again tried to set up as double murder and a suicide. But somehow they did not know Satyen Bose was a closet homosexual, hence the angle between him and Misha cheating on Avik fell apart. What were Avik and Misha planning to expose that they had to meet this horrible end?
Then Raunak came along with Shreya, they got a very important breakthrough as they were able to nab chief editor Dutta and Inspector Sinha and thus unraveled a bigger conspiracy. Bring down the DIG, a minister and few other billionaire businessmen. They found Mohan aka Jalal hiding in plain sight as an employee in Editor Dutta’s office. He agreed to be a prosecution’s witness and he was brutally killed by his lockup inmate, at first again this death was been covered up as appendix burst but later revealed as he was been punched continuously in his abdomen and died of internal bleeding. Raunak was attacked near a bridge in highway or at least that was been reported, Raunak is still missing, no news yet about him or his dead body is recovered. Nilesh was killed at the same time in a freak accident, the lorry driver claimed his brakes failed. Is Raunak still alive? Is Nilesh’s death is just an accident or he is killed?
That left Shreya and Nilesh’s wife Sangeeta to act together. They were also brutally attacked and Sangeeta is dead now, Shreya is the only person alive who knows a lot about this case. She has to be protected, she is recovering but Animesh is certain there will be an attempt to take her life. Also Justice M Sorabuddin with whose help Raunak, Shreya and Nilesh filed the case against the accused, found dead in his residence same night Sangeeta and Shreya were attacked. He had no history of heart disease, yet he died in cardiac arrest. Too much of coincidence?
Animesh looked at his watch, it’s 3 A.M. in the morning and he is still sitting in the balcony in the arm chair. It was a little chilly because of falling dew, it was clam and quite around. And then he hard a sound, someone threw a stone at him, but luckily it went on hitting the window. He picked up the piece of stone, it was quite big, if it would have hit him, he would have been injured badly.
Animesh saw a piece of paper tied around the rock, he took it off and read it, “There’s no place for a white knight in a dark realm, Run before the darkness consumes you.”
Animesh smiled to himself and then he dialed a number. “Keep her safe. Don’t let her out of sight even for a moment.” And he put down the phone.
Animesh got a call around 8 A.M from Chief Minister’s office, CM would like to meet him at the breakfast table in his residence by 10. Animesh got ready in a hurry and started.
He had no idea that the state home minister would also be there. He greeted both of them.
“How’s the investigation going?” CM asked Animesh.
“It’s going good Sir, we made some breakthrough. Looks like a lot of people are involved in it.” Animesh replied politely.
“I have our home minister here, he is concerned about something he would like to discuss with you.” CM looked at the Home minister.
“We are seeing a lot many para military force’s presence in the city, we are witnessing a lot many people in camouflage uniforms moving across the city. I find it a matter of concern.” HM cleared his throat and spoke.
“Oh! They are helping me with the investigating and nabbing the accused. Don’t worry, CBI head quarter already gave a go ahead to take help of para military force.” Animesh replied confidently.
“Is it a way of saying that local police and authorities are not trustworthy?” HM had had a crooked smile appeared on his face.
“Well, a significant amount of local higher authorities are under the radar. At such circumstances I have little choices.” Animesh snapped back.
HM shook his head, “I have no problem with the CBI probe but I can’t allow para military force tearing down this city, I have already wrote to central ministry and they agreed to withdraw them within 48 hours, you will have that order on your table by today evening.” The smile from HM’s face is gone.
“Will that be all Sir?” Animesh looked at CM.
“Yes, yes, see I do agree with state home ministry, we can’t allow this.” CM spoke. “But please, finish your breakfast, your tea is getting cold too.”
“Sorry Sir, I have got an important work came up, I gotta leave.” Animesh stood up leaving his half done breakfast and stormed out of there.
Animesh straightaway went to see Shreya at the hospital. Doctors informed him she has responded well to the treatment, but still very weak to give any statement. Animesh cautioned his men one more time and went directly to the room where Shreya was kept.
“You can’t be hare, she’s still very weak and unstable.” The doctor attending her warned Animesh as he showed his ID.
“I just need 5 minutes with her.” Animesh ignored the doctor.
One side of Shreya’s face was unrecognizable, it was battered and bruised, the left eye was heavily swelled. She had scratches and bruises from her head to toe, still she was in her senses. Animesh who has nerves of steel, even for a moment he felt the nudge.
“Those animals.” Animesh clenched his teeth and leaned onto Sherya, “Shreya I know you were there at justice M Sorabuddin’s place that night you were attacked and I know you were keeping in touch with him. Tell me why did you go there?” Animesh whispered the words.
Shreya looked at Animesh with disbelief and slowly uttered, “Who are you and why should I trust you?”
“I am Animesh RoyChowdhury, CBI special branch. You have to trust me because only I can help you and you have nothing to lose.” Animesh’s voice was firm.
“True, I’ve lost Raunak, I’ve lost my honor and I have lost the very will to live.” Shreya whispered back.
Animesh leaned further, “Help me, so I can help you. I only have 48 hours” Animesh pleaded.
Animesh came to meet the CM, he had specially requested the CM to meet him.
Sitting at his desk CM greeted Animesh, “So you’ve solved the case?”
“Yes Sir.” Animesh replied.
“Tell me about it,” CM looked curious.
“As I was assigned to this case, I have a vague idea what I will be against, there were about dozens of death which was linked with one case. But I wasn’t able to understand how so many people who are layers, getting caught yet the whistleblowers are getting killed.
As per my investigation at least 4 sets of people tried to unravel the conspiracy behind one MLM company and all of them succeeded to unmask few faces but that wasn’t enough and got punished for doing so.
I was wondering why Arup never stopped investigating even after the scoop he has published which created a lot of buzz. The only person alive who knew all about the whole investigation is Shreya. Shreya and Sangeeta were acting together when they stumbled upon few documents from state ministry, Jayant Biswas helped them. Then he double crossed them as well. Shreya made two copies of the files in her USB drives. But she had a special one, a usb drive with cloud backup which instantly send all the data to an online drive. Though both the USb drives were snatched from them the data was available. I spoke to her and retrieved the data.
And then everything is cleared like a sunny day to me. It was of course one of the greatest conspiracy.
Jalal aka Mohan was into fraud business for quite some time, He made a lot of money with a lot of Ponzi schemes and the money was stacked lying in a lot of places. On November 8th the demonetization announced, he had his partners were at sea, because all they had was cash, black money. They needed to push them into the banks somehow. They started another business, an MLM business, but this time the cash flow would be in reverse order.
So they started finding the less fortunate ones, and offering them money to find more people and giving the cash to them. As the highest amount you could deposit was 250,000, they started pouring their accounts with any amount less than that. The plan was simple, find poor people and use them to deposit the money in their account. Whoever tried to rebel or act smart were hushed up. So as one man recruiting another 10, automatically they are getting more bank accounts to deposits, who did not have bank accounts their accounts were opened overnight. Arup’s maid’s husband Jeevanlal was among them, but when he understood the plan he revolted back and faced the consequences. A relatively new privatized bank was also used for it.
But all these things were never possible without the backing of political muscles or without the local authorities. Slowly it reaches to the highest possible parts of the state leadership. When they were threatened to get ripped of their reputation because of a few people trying to uncover the whole thing, they panicked and started to kill all the whistleblowers.”
“Whom exactly are you accusing Mr. RoyChowdhury?” CM asked in easy tone.
“You sir, I am accusing you. The way all these things were done and been covered up, only someone of your position could do so.” Animesh’s voice was calm as well.
CM burst into laughter. “Mr RoyChowdhury, you have a vivid imagination.” CM was almost chocking in laughter.
Animesh continued, “As we are speaking the state ministry affair office is been raided, Jayant Biswas proved to be very useful. The Governor has been briefed and so is the President. And here’s your arrest warrant.”
CM suddenly noticed his residence is getting infiltrated by a lot of CRPF personals in their para military camouflage uniforms.
Animesh stood up, “That would be all sir, good day.”
Shreya opened her eyes and to her surprise there was Animesh with a bouquet of flower in his hand.
“For you.” He kept on the table and the gave her a double sided photo frame, one side of which has a collage of Arup, Avik, Misha,Nilesh, Sangeeta’s photo the other one has a smiling face of Rounak.
“We are still searching for Raunak, unfortunately I have no news about him till now.” Animesh spoke those words slowly.
“You know, we don’t have to search for heroes only in our borders, within our soldiers merely. Sometimes we just have them among us. And you people are… the Heroes.” Animesh uttered those words with pride.
Shreya completely broke down in tears like a child holding the frame in her hands, only hoping and praying that Raunak is still alive.
Animesh slowly walked out of the hospital room keeping the door ajar.
(This story contains sexually explicit contents and something that might be considered as social taboo. Please do not read if you don’t like such contents or if you’re underage)
Girls grow up pretty fast. They just do. It’s a matter of few days, a sweet plump teenage girl all of a sudden become a head turner, out of nowhere.
I was leaning on the wall of my terrace, I could see Mimi was there in her terrace to fetch the dry clothes. It was the month of May, a stormy month. I guess she saw the cloudy sky and windy afternoon as soon as she got up from her afternoon nap. Her eyes were still sleepy and her face was puffy, I guess she was alone at her place else her mom or maid would have been up on the terrace picking the dry clothes in hurry. My terrace is close to hers, just a distance of a short jump.
I went back in time while idly gazing at her. I still remember the day she was born, I was around 12 then. My mom told me our new neighbor who moved in last year got a kid, that the neighbor aunt delivered a baby girl today morning.
I went to see it, the baby, with my family. I saw a small piece of flesh with eyes, nose and ears. I wondered if it’s really even a human being, like one of us, I saw babies earlier but not this small.
Time passed by, that new born turned 2 in no time. It started to crawl around, treating my study table as her personal toilet, wetting my books, shitting on my table and tearing my notes. I wondered how to deal with it.
And the time went by, she turned 7, an irritating, nagging, running nose kid always clinging to me, demanding to take her to ice cream parlor and getting her chocolates. I cursed her, I cursed myself, I cursed the universe.
She stepped into her teens, she was 13 maybe. She was playing in a corner of my house when she came running to me, crying. There was a stream of blood flowing out, dripping off from her slender fair legs, her skirt was covering till her knee. I was the first man witnessing her in her first period. I called her mom and asked her to take care of her.
She was entering into her 16 when everything about her started to change. She was becoming moody, rebellious, unreasonable and beautiful. Once I saw her standing in the corner of the lane with her bicycle, she was in her school uniform, talking to a guy, perhaps from another school. They were talking, giggling and she was looking so happy. They saw me, I looked at her and then walked away.
That night I heard her fighting with her mom, screaming and shouting, I wondered what it might be. Next morning she was on my doorstep, with moist red eyes, accusing me of spying on her, telling on her. I tried to reason with her, that I never said a word. She didn’t listen to me and ran away cursing me that I shouldn’t find love, I don’t deserve that.
We started to grow apart, maybe she knew I never told on her, maybe she didn’t. She walked passed her 17th birthday. The little girl turned into a cute young lady in no time, I felt I witnessed a metamorphosis, from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
And then something brought me into the present. The sky was till cloudy, the wind was blowing hard now. I saw Mimi tripped, while trying to balance her as she had all dry clothes in her hands, on her shoulder. She fell down on the terrace, the hard uneven concrete surface peeled the skin of her knees and legs, the dry clothes were scattered, few were flown away, few were swarming on the terrace with the wind.
I couldn’t help but jumped to her terrace, held her and picked her up. She looked distraught, maybe because of the pain, maybe cause she couldn’t stop those clothes to fly away, maybe she just felt ashamed that she tripped right in front me in that fashion.
I pulled her up, maybe she was hurt but could walk, maybe she couldn’t. But I picked her like a cute doll in my arms, walked down from the terrace.
Her both knees were bleeding, so was her ankles. I took her to bathroom, cleaned her up and put her onto the sofa. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, not that I cared much. I was looking for Neosporin powder and some cottons, she showed me.
I held her legs and starched towards me, as she was sitting in the sofa she kept her legs on my thighs. I sprayed the powder and rolled the bandages around them and then I looked at her.
Her skirt was above the knee, her fair and smooth thighs were glowing with water drops on them, where the thighs met each other, I could see a blue triangle. She was wearing a blue undergarment, nothing fancy, actually a normal one that covered her womanhood.
I got up and told her to go lay down in bed. She looked at me and said she won’t be able to walk till the bedroom. And I picked her up again in my arms, for the second time.
As I placed her in her bed, her bosoms were occasionally brushing against my shoulder. I was holding her too close to me, I could see right into her eyes, It was questioning me, it was questioning herself. Our lips met for a fraction of second and parted.
I pushed myself back and walked out of her bedroom, walked passed the hall to the main door. And then like a possessed man walked straight back to her. She was lying down there already, she was surprised seeing me back. We broke into a long kiss and then it felt so normal as we got rid of our clothes.
Her breasts were small, tender and fair, nipples were yet to change to dark brown but they were pink, small and perky. As I looked down, I saw her navel, not so deep, not so shallow, I caressed it. As I ventured into her most forbidden part, she blushed, pushed me aside and closed her thighs. Guess that’s always instinctive for females.
As she parted her legs after few strokes of hand, I went down on her, to eat her, to bite her, to make her moan and scream. She pulled me up, held her in arms, her eyes pleaded me to pierce her, to stab her, to go deep inside her.
She was soft, she was tight, she was warm, and she was a virgin. She was in pain but she was willing, her clenched jaw, closed eyes and sweaty forehead were telling her painful yet pleasurable happenstance.
I felt like a ragging mad bull, I looked at her. The girl I saw her in the first day of her life, the girl who crawled around me, the girl who played on my lap and the girl I saw in her first day of mensuration, I closed my eyes and I can hear her giggling back in time. I was thrusting myself into her as hard as I could, and I could recall every day I saw her growing up in front of me. I should feel guilty, I should have felt shamed. All I felt was her, and only her.
I stayed lying there, I could see her sleeping. Her face is carrying the impression of pain and ache, the bandages have come off and there’s blood on the bedsheet, some from her old wound, some from her fresh one. I kissed her forehead when I heard Mimi’s mom calling her name from the main gate. I looked her, and asked myself “should I leave or should I stay?”
*“So you are Mr. Bankim Chatterjee? Famous private investigator.”
**“Yes sir, that’s me.”
*”Nice to have you here, but Mr. Chatterjee, to be frank there’s not much of a case here. You see my father passed away in his sleep. He had a massive heart attack. Our family doctor Dr. Mallik is here, if you want you can check with him.
**”But Mr. Ghosal, your elder brother is finding it very strange, of course your father had some mild heart condition but nothing to be this fatal.
*”Ahh! My brother is paranoid, he was actually very close to him, you could say he was his favorite son. Don’t mind Mr Chatterjee, I smell something fishy here. Is it an attempt to malign my image somehow? What he is trying to prove that dad’s death is an unnatural one?
**”I so hope not. But why are you even being so defensive? I have been appointed by your brother and let me investigate, as you said if there’s nothing fishy everyone will be off the hook.”
*”Well, I was just thinking that it all will end up in a wild goose chase, but anyway, it’s your wish. After all your fees will be paid from my brother’s pocket.
**”Inspector Sinha, what’s your say in this case.”
***”Pretty much an open and shut case Mr. Chatterjee, justice Subham Ghosal died in a cardiac arrest, but well, as in all the stories and the media show that private investigators are smarter than police, I’m sure you would come up with something. (Smiling sarcastically).”
**“Hmm. If I’m not wrong justice Ghosal was an avid reader and a very learned man, even he had his own library, he was known for his literary skills, there’s hardly a classic he did not read.”
***”Indeed, every night he used to read for at least 2 to 3 hours before he used to go to sleep.”
**“Hmm, strange, at one look I find no trace of a book in this room, I guess it’s his bed room, such an reader must be having at least 2 to 3 books stacked on that table.”
***”(Puzzled) I haven’t noticed that. We have to ask his younger son Subir Ghosal, he was with him last night.”
*”Yes, his library was locked yesterday and one of the servant misplaced the key. So couldn’t unlock the door, today morning I was supposed to call a locksmith, but before that we found him in his bed…. Lifeless.”
**“Strange!! Did he always keep all his books in the library?”
*”Mr. Chatterjee, My dad always lived by his rules and was a creature of habit. He never liked his books to be scattered around in the house rather neatly kept in the library room, he used to pick one book at a night, read and sleep and once done with it, he would pick the next book. Unfortunately he just finished a book the night before and kept it in the library, last night as the key was misplaced he couldn’t get another one.
**”Had it ever happened before? He slept without reading?”
*”Maybe once or twice, I am not really sure, see Mr. Chatterjee, I don’t live here, my brother does, as he was out of station I came here to give dad a company.”
**”Thank you Mr. Subir Ghosal. Inspector if you don’t mind I would like to have few words with you in private.”
**”How could you do this to your own father Mr. Ghosal? He was after all your own father. Just to inherit his property you have killed him so brutally.”
*”I.. I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s all an arrangement, between you and my brother. He wants to send me away and seize all dad’s property.”
**“Your brother doesn’t have millions of debt on his head Mr. Ghosal, nor he has the gambling addiction, your own house is also mortgaged, I have the papers here.”
*”Mr. Chatterjee, you are crossing your boundaries, my private life is none of your business. And my father died in a heart attack, if you can prove it otherwise fine, else you can’t keep me here in this police investigation room, not for another second.”
**” Of course your father died in heart attack, but it’s you who made that happen. It’s you who plotted the entire scheme.”
*” Mr. Chatterjee, I warn you.”
**”You knew your father is a creature of habit that he can’t sleep without reading for couple of hours before sleep. You also knew how your father hated and loathed bad writers and literatures. You hid his library key last night. He was restless, he needed a book to read, so you cleverly suggested him a book. A book with a bad plot, worse story and written by one of the worst writer of the country.
He started reading the book, he understood the mistake he had done, but like all the true readers he couldn’t stop in the middle and throw the book into a bin, so kept reading, his heartbeat started to rise, he got palpitation, his eyes turned red, he was drinking water continuously but was unable to even breathe. At last his heart gave up. I don’t blame him Mr. Ghosal, even a normal, healthy man would have meet the same end.”
*”(Sobbing heavily) I am sorry Mr. Chatterjee, I had no other choice, I am so deep in my debt that.. that I needed the money. (Broke out in tears)”
**”You don’t deserve mercy Mr. Ghosal, if I could, I would make you read that book over and over again. Though I’m not sure if you would be alive after reading the half of it. But honorable court won’t allow it.
***”We have found it under Subir Ghosal’s bed Mr. Chatterjee, here it is.”
Private investigator Bankim Chatterjee was holding the murder weapon in his hand, the perfect murder weapon. “HALF GIRLFRIEND BY CHETAN BHAGAT.” Bankim Chatterjee felt the chill running down through his spine, “What is awaited for the literature in future?”
(This story and characters are fictitious. Certain nations, long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.)
Part – I
It’s already 8 pm, Dr, Ishaan Roy was shoving his laptop into the leather bag, ‘Gone are those days when one was busy shoving the important files into the briefcase before leaving the workplace.’ Dr. Roy chuckled.
At the same time his cell phone started to glow and making a hissing sound like an angry cobra, obviously, he kept it in silent mode, the only thing he wants is to get disturbed by cell phone rings when he is concentrating on his work.
He looked out through the glass wall, his assistant Nethra was busy collecting and organizing some papers. The call did not land up in her desk in that landline else she would have just shunted the caller saying Dr. Roy won’t be able to attend the call no matter how important it seems to the caller. And if he gets a call on his personal cell phone, it’s obvious that the caller might be known to him.
Ishaan left out a long sigh, as usual, he is late, his work hour is 9 to 6 but he ends up working 8 to 8, not that someone is waiting for him back there at his residence. Nonetheless, he picked up the call.
“Dr. Roy speaking.”, There was a heavy voice which greeted him from another side, “Good evening, Dr. Roy, how do you do?”
Ishaan was surprised, it’s none of the voices known to him. “Good evening, I’m fine. May I know who’s speaking?” He replied with half surprising half irritated tone.
“You don’t know me, but is it possible to have an appointment with you tonight?” The heavy voice spoke again. Ishaan felt angry in his bones, It’s 8 pm and someone wants to meet him at this hour, that too an unknown person who happened to get his personal cell phone number.
“It is not possible, by the way how you got this number?” Ishaan’s tone was bitter
“It is quite important Dr. Roy, at least, could you make time for an early morning tomorrow?” The voice is almost pleading now.
“No!!” Ishaan cut the call and switched off the phone.
Ishaan stormed out of his cabin and was walking towards the lift when he heard Nethra calling him.
“Dr. Roy! You have forgotten your car keys again.” Nethra was walking straight at him with a smile.
Ishaan felt a bit impressed and a bit embarrassed, he smiled nervously and took the keys.
Nethra is working with him for 1 and ½ year now and by this time he became a complete dependent of her. He remembered the day when she came to him with an odd request, Ishaan already left his prestigious government post and joined as an R&D head of a startup geological survey based company, he had a small team and he did not have any secretary or PA.
Nethra came to him with a request to work as an intern. As the company has no such policies to keep an intern she agreed to work as a PA of Ishaan as well as his intern. The thing that surprised him was then 25 years Nethra was her identity. She is the daughter of Brigadier V Suryanarayanan, a decorated soldier, and commander of the army. She had completed her masters in Seismology and was perusing her Ph.D.
“You know we can’t pay you that well, and why us? You could get a job in some university, that would have helped in your further study.” Astounded Ishaan asked her while looking at the tall, dusky girl with a natural flair of beauty and a heavenly smile.
“I want to work with you, I have heard so much about you. I would like to work for a while before I get back to my study and research. I don’t mind how much ever you pay, if you want I can work even without a salary.” Nethra Suryanarayanan spoke those words with firm determination.
Ishaan did not stretch the conversation after that, his workload was increasing and he really needed a helping hand. Nethra turned more than a helping hand, she almost became a nanny to him who keeps track of his appointments, personal belongings, bills to pay and diet.
“If you would have gone down without these, you had to come back all the to 10th floor again.” Nethra was smiling at him, she looks really sweet when she smiles.
“I know I’m late and because of me, you are late too. You really don’t have to wait till I leave, once your work is done, you can go home.” Ishaan was visibly embarrassed when spoke those words.
“It’s ok Dr. I hardly know anyone in this city, it’s not that someone waiting for me in my empty apartment.” Nethra left a sigh, she sometimes misses her dad and family who are far away in another place in this country.
“Well, ride safe and let me know once you reach.” Ishaan started walking back towards the lift.
“I might have to take a cab or auto, I gave my two wheeler in a service center.” Nethra too was walking the opposite way when she replied.
Ishaan stopped there and turned, “You don’t have your two-wheeler? I can a drop you. Come along.”
“Amm I still have to wrap up few things, might take another 10 minutes,” Nethra replied.
“All right, I am waiting down in the parking lot, wrap it up and meet me there.” Ishaan did not wait for the reply and got inside the lift.
Nethra waited till the lift door gets closed and then shook her head as she recalls things about him.
Dr. Ishaan Roy was one of the greatest geophysicists in the country if not in the world. A brilliant academic and sharp, intelligent mind rose steadily in the field of geology and geophysics. The young and bright young man soon became an integral part of Government Geological department and became the deputy vice president when he is mere 35 years old.
Then 5 years back, everything changed, a storm came into his life and left it wrecked. Ishaan with his wife Kavita and son Soham was in Cairo, Egypt for a casual vacation. While traveling in a caravan, there was a desert storm. A lot of tourists were injured but Kavita and Soham were missing, the local police couldn’t trace them as if they got vanished from the face of the earth.
Ishaan tried all possible ways, including getting help from the embassy but nothing worked. Heartbroken Ishaan was changed since then, he came back here, resigned from his job and for a year mourning for his loss. Then he joined this small company for a living, his parents are no more and he hardly has any relatives here.
When Nethra thought of studying geology she always had Ishaan as his icon and she was overwhelmed when she got the chance to work with him. The tall, fair, 40 years old, babyishly handsome Ishaan is like an absent-minded child who sometimes can’t even find his specs on the table, but when it comes to his work and knowledge, he is like a sharp surgical knife, neat and precise.
Ishaan was leaning onto his Honda city waiting for Nethra, the parking lot is almost empty and dark, his radium watch is showing it’s 8:25 pm
Suddenly he saw two men are approaching at him, they both are wearing black coats, there was hardly any sign of any human except the security guard who is still sitting near the main gate under the light.
“Dr. Roy?” one of them asked in a husky voice, “Yes!” Ishaan replied in an unsure tone.
“Let’s go.” All of a sudden he felt a pair of hands grabbed his neck and shoulder and then felt the touch of a cold metal on his back, the gun was pressed against him by one of them.
“What.. is going…on?” Ishaan tried to resist but then the man who was grabbing his shoulder whispered, “One more word or scream and you’re dead. You should have taken the appointment.”
As Nethra walked into the parking lot, she was temporarily blinded by two big headlights lit up right in front of her and then a black van hush passed her in full speed.
Ishaan was inside the van sandwiched between two goons who just abducted him, when the van was started to move he saw Nethra through the windscreen, she was walking right towards the van. Ishaan tried to scream and warn Nethra but he only managed a muffled cry. When he saw the van hurried past her, he left a sigh of relief.
There are lots of question revolving in his head, who are these people, clearly, they are sent by that unknown caller, what they want from him. They did not blindfold him or not holding the gun against him anymore but they are faces are stone clad, sign of no emotions at all. Ishaan sighed again, who knows what is waiting for him?
They traveled for almost half an hour, the van stopped at last, the 1st goon jumped out of the van and roughly pulled Ishaan out of it, the 2nd one followed. They are standing right in front of a tall building, Ishaan vaguely recognize the place, it’s one of the rich and posh residential area of the city. Ishaan was immediately dragged towards the entrance then to the lift, there was the security guard who saw them did not react to the situation at all, as if it happens regularly and he witness so all the time.
The lift stopped at 8th floor, as usual Ishaan was dragged out of the lift and then they press the doorbell of the door 803. The door opened immediately, a beautiful brunette in her black apron answered the door, she saw them, didn’t utter a word and make ways form them. In a glance she looked familiar to Ishaan but he couldn’t recollect where he saw her.
As he was dragged and pushed to another room he saw a man sitting on the sofa, Ishaan could see him partially as his face was turned 90 degrees towards the TV.
“Hello Senor Dr. Roy, we meet again.” The man looked staring at Ishaan now while speaking those words in heavy Latin accent. Ishaan knows him pretty well. It’s Juan Carvalho!!
The 5 feet 3 inches half bald man, almost same in length and breath, flat nose and thick dark lips, was looking straight at Ishaan with his dark cold blooded murderous eyes and grinning constantly with those dirty rotten teeth. Juan Carvalho! The Columbian drug lord and one of the most wanted man in his nation and by Interpol.
“What happened Dr. You look surprised, Don’t tell me you aren’t happy seeing me again.” Again Carvalho spoke with his Latina accent.
“What you want?” Ishaan answered.
“Ahh, see Dr. that’s what I like about you, you never waste any time and get to the point right away. I don’t want much from you, I am just here to invite you, to an interesting journey.”
“But, you didn’t call me, I could have recognized that voice or that accent.” Ishaan suddenly remembered.
“Ohh, I have many men at my disposal senor Dr. Do not be worried. Now, now, all you have to do is apply for a long leave and start the journey with us, we are flying tomorrow. I guess it won’t give you much time to pack your things. Unfortunately, we are on short notice.” Carvalho was speaking as if he is inviting an old friend for a sudden surprise tour.
“Carvalho, do you really think I will come with you? Just like that?” Ishaan’s temper was rising.
For a moment Carvalho’s eyes sparked with fury, but then again he spoke in his sweet tone, “Dr. Roy, you are very well aware of what I can do, I know you don’t care about your life, but think about your relatives who are scattered around this country, think about your friends, think about your cute little assistant Nethra, you know I can hurt them, I can hurt them bad. Do you want me to be that cruel?”
Carvalho’s words jolted him, yes he knows what this devil is capable of. This is not his first encounter with Juan Carvalho El Diablo. He held his breath and muttered under it, “Where do you want me to come with you, to el inferno (The hell)?”
“Ahh senor Dr. you started to ask the right question, of course not to inferno but el Cielo, to the heaven. Now my men will drop you back at your apartment and you will collect your clothes and belongings for a month vacation. I want you to call your office and ask for a month leave for grave reason, maybe cause your uncle is in deathbed or something else, see I don’t want any loose end, I don’t want anybody gets alarmed of your sudden disappearance, so make up a good story. Buenas noches Dr. Roy, I will see you tomorrow.”
As Carvalho bid goodnight to Ishaan in Spanish, he was again held and dragged out by those two goons, the lady who opened the door was watching them, Ishaan remembered now, its Carvalho’s lover and right-hand women Ana Maria.
Ishaan was almost thrown out of the van as they reached near his residence, one more time one of the abductors warned him what might happen if he goes to any authority or police.
He, at last, reached to his flat, took a long cold shower and throw himself on the bed, though there was no sleep in his eyes.
Nethra fell on the ground as the black van speeding past her, she was angry and terrified at the same time, “How could be someone be so irresponsible while driving”, she thought.
She waited near Ishaan’s Honda city while unsuccessfully trying to call his mobile. The only answer she got was the mobile number is switched off and try again later. When it became 10pm she started to get really worried, she asked the security guard but he claimed he did not see anything.
While being worried sick she tried to contact the police, they told her the missing person FIR can only be registered if a person is missing for more than 24 hours, she also mentioned about the black van but as she did not notice the number plate even that was a dead end.
Tired, exhausted and frightened Nethra reached her apartment around 12 am, the OC of the police station was kind enough to provide her a police jeep to drop her at her place. While lying down in her bed she was imagining all kinds of gory incidents might have happened with Ishaan, Ishaan sitting in his place, was trying to find a way out of all these.
Ishaan knew for sure if he goes to police or any other authority they will promise to help him in all possible way, but knowing Cravalho, he won’t stop at that. “No, I can’t let him hurt any of my near or dear ones, or for that matter innocent Nethra.” He was sure there is no other way but accept Carvalho’s term. “What’s the worst might happen, I might die? What do I have to live for after I lost my family?” Ishaan, made his decision, it’s a one-way journey.
Early morning at 8 am Ishaan a dropped a mail to the director of his company that he is travelling out of station to deal with an urgent personal matter. He started packing from last night, Carvalho’s men will be there at his doorsteps any time.
Ishaan recollects his brief encounter with Carvalho in Cairo in those odd circumstances, his couldn’t but feel angry and helpless at the same time. With clenching fists and grinding teeth he promised himself he will give Carvalho a fitting answer when time comes.
Nethra couldn’t sleep at all in the night, once she is up in the morning she was thinking what she can do to find Ishaan. After a while, she decided to go to Ishaan’s residence and check there. Once she reached to his apartment to her surprise she saw Ishaan was getting into a car with two burly men with him.
“His car is still there in the parking lot and here he is traveling with two suspicious looking men?” She decided to follow the car and told her cab driver to do so.
After 45 minutes the car Ishaan was travelling in stopped in in front of the airport, Nethra’s cab reached there at the same time. She saw Ishaan pulling out his bags and started to walk towards the gate, a short, bald and fat man wearing a suit and a hat was waiting near the gate, she couldn’t resist anymore, she wanted to know what’s going on.
“Dr. Roy, where are you going?” Yelling those words Nethra almost ran towards him. Ishaan turned back and shocked to see Nethra.
“Nethra, what the hell you are doing here?” Ishaan barely speaks those words. “What’s going on Dr. Roy, I am looking for you since last night after you are vanished from the parking lot.” Nethra was almost in her tears, her voice was filled with anger and complains.
“Ahh, I see your sweet little assistant is here to pay us a visit.” Juan Carvalho was standing next to them with his devilish smile in his lips.
“Carvalho, keep her out of all these, she need not be dragged into this mess.” Ishaan protested, but he knew…
“Come on Senor Dr. you know I can’t let her go and alarm the authorities. Unfortunately, she gotta come with us now.” Ana Maria suddenly appeared right behind Nethra silently, before she knew, her hand and shoulder is grabbed.
Startled Ishaan and clueless Nethra were pushed towards the gates, Nethra looked at the airport security but then she heard Ana Maria’s hissing voice, “Anything stupid you do and you and your boss will die right here.”
Carvalho was busy showing some documents at the gate and then they are on their way towards the departure lounge. In few minutes they all were standing in front of a chartered airplane, a 16 seater private jet. Carvalho was smiling ear to ear, Ishaan was quiet and Nethra was wondering what on earth is going on!
“My prized possession senor Dr. Isn’t she marvelous?” Pointing at his Bombardier Challenger 850 Jet. “This bird of mine can fly more than a speed of 800km/h senorita.” Carvalho was speaking with his heavy Spanish accent to Nethra now hoping that might impress her. Nethra looked at Ishaan, he was looking so helpless.
They all got into the private jet and the journey towards an unknown destination started.
“Where are we heading?” Ishaan asked Carvalho. The Jet is really well decorated inside. Beautiful air hostesses are serving drinks and food, Ishaan and Nethra did not touch them.
“Patience Dr. It’s a virtue,” Carvalho replied while drinking his champagne and munching the pork ribs.
Nethra who kept quiet all these while leaned on Ishaan shoulder, “Will you tell me, Dr. Roy, what on devil’s name is going on?”
Though Nethra whisper those words to Ishaan, Carvalho heard, “Oh senorita, mine and Dr.’s history is pretty old. Someday Dr. Roy might tell you the story. Now enjoy the flight and have some food. We are for a long long journey.”
Ishaan woke up as the plane came to a halt on landing gear with a heavy jerk. Nethra was fast asleep keeping her head on Ishaan’s shoulder. Instantly the door opened and two hefty looking men walked in, “Monsieur Carvalho, the packages are ready.” One of them spoke in a heavy French accent. In reply Carvalho only smiled a little and walked out of the plane with them, as their footsteps faded, Nethra opened her eyes and whispered in Ishaan’s ear, “Quick, the bag.” indicating a black leather bag resting near Ana Maria ‘right hand, she was in a deep sleep.
Puzzled Ishaan opened his mouth to ask something but Nethra did not gave him a chance, she moved in a flash and grabbed the bag, when she was pushed into the plane Ana Maria snatched her mobile and kept in that bag. As she opened it to her disappointed she found the phone was dismantled and the sim card was probably thrown away. But there’s another phone, Ana Maria’s, but it is locked with a code.
Ishaan heard few footsteps and then the voices were getting louder around the door, he ran towards it hoping that might cover Nethra. Then he saw the familiar face of Carvalho and his assistants and two new faces.
Carvalho looked at Ishaan who was standing almost near the plane door, at first he was surprised and then he got a cruel smile on his lips, “Well well Dr. Roy, are you trying to escape? Ha ha, don’t worry if you want you can try.” He was laughing loudly while finished his words.
“Look I have got you company, your kind of people”, he pointed at the other two strangers, one of them looked like he is in his 60’s, tall and pale looking, he was looking visibly worried and irritated, but his eyes were showing his helplessness, the other one almost the same age of Ishaan, slightly bald and plump, he was looking happy.
“Dr. Antoine Valentin and Dr. Hans Schmidt.” Carvalho pointed out the old man and then the plump one.
Ishaan immediately remembered Dr. Valentin, the renowned French botanist, but what is he doing in this plane. “Pourquoi suis-je ici (Why am I here)?” Asked Dr. Valentine whose shoulder was grabbed by one of Carvalho’s men.
“All in good time gentlemen, now we must fly out of here. We are falling behind our schedule.” Carvalho immediately snubbed him down.
As all of them sat down together and the plane was on its way to another destination, Ishaan was still looking at Dr. Valentin with wide eyes and disbelief, here’s the man who was nominated for Nobel Prize for his work various rare plants, even he is a prisoner of Carvalho now.
“Bonjour Dr. Valentin, how are you? This is Ishaan Roy, remember we met in a summit in New Delhi.?” Ishaan tried to be friendly.
“Je suis d’être retenu contre ma volonté . Je ne veux pas parler (I’m being held against my will. I do not want to talk), Dr. Valentine answered with a grim face and turned towards the window.
“Hallo, wie geht’s dir (Hello, how are you doing)” The other plump and half bald guy extended his hand for a handshake. “My name is Hans Schmidt, Dr. Hans Schmidt, I have few degrees in chemical research, just a small chemist. And I am not been held against my wish.” Dr. Schmidt was grinning ear to ear.
“Then why are you on this plane?” Surprised Ishaan asked.
“Oh, Herr Carvalho offered me money, a lot of money to do this work.” Schmidt was still grinning.
“What is that work?” Ishaan’s curiosity was increasing. “I do not know yet.” He replied.
Ishaan sighed and leaned back onto the seat near to Nethra, “At least could you tell me where we landed a while ago?”
“Algiers, capital of Algeria.” Dr. Hans Schmidt replied with a cheerful tone.
When the plane landed to its next destination its 3am in the morning, the outside world was looking dark and calm.
“Welcome to San Juan my friends, we shall halt for few hours here and then will fly to our final destination,” Carvalho announced. Then they were taken into a two stored building near the airport.
There were two more guests waiting in that building, Dr. Aiden O’Connor, the Irish oceanographer, in his fifties, a large and powerful man in chains, his right black eye is carrying the evidence that he is also forced to participate in this voyage. And there was also beautiful Dr. Nina Petrov, she is in true sense a doctor, a Russian physician in her early thirties. For some strange reason she immediately took fancy of Ishaan, which Nethra did not like a bit.
After a small supper, everyone was gathered in the hall where Carvalho was smoking is favorite Havana cigars. Ana Maria was standing on his left and the other goons were scattered around keeping a careful eye on the prisoners.
“Ladies and gentleman, I greet you all, I guess you were already acquainted with each other, if not you’ll have plenty of time to do so. Now I just want to warn you about one thing, few of you are here by their own will and few are not. But if any of you try to create trouble or try to contact the outer world, remember such things are only punishable by death.” Ana Maria spoke in her thick Spanish accent, but she sounded she meant business. Carvalho was just sitting there smoking his cigar and smiling impishly.
“A geophysicist, a chemist, a botanist, an oceanographer and a physician. It seems like an odd team. Where are we going Mr. Carvalho? After a long gap Nethra spoke those words in a very bitter tone.
“We are going to an island.” Juan Carvalho grinned ear to ear.
Brigadier Suryanarayanan is a very worried man now. He received a text from an unknown number. His daughter is missing for more than 36 hours, local police confirmed she is not in her apartment and her office confirmed she did not turn up for work as her boss Ishaan is also not there. Both of their cell phones are switched off.
He read the text from his mobile one more time. ‘We are in grave danger, do not try to call or contact this number, but trace it if you can. – Nethra’
The private jet of Carvalho started next morning around 6 am and reached the destination within an hour. ‘It can’t be more than 500 to 600 km from San Juan’, Ishaan thought.
As the door of the airplane opened the stairs automatically rose. It was Carvalho and Ana Maria first who climbed down followed by his men and then the bunch who had no clue where they are or what is waiting for them.
“Any idea where we are?”, Dr. Aiden O’Connor who stood right behind Ishaan whispered. “I am not sure, but we are in one of those many islands in an around Puerto Rico that I am sure of, shouldn’t be very far from the main island,” Ishaan muttered.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the island, this piece of land is my very own and it’s not under any jurisdiction of any country. All of you must be wondering why we all are here, well I have bought this island for spending my vacation and fishing with my guests, but lately I am having a lot of issues. Some are even inexpiable, well at-least by me. So I gathered you all, the best minds of the world to help me out. Don’t worry, once you get me the answers and solve the issues, each one of you would be paid handsomely and you people will go home rich and happy men.” Carvalho was announcing enthusiastically while chewing his cigar.
“Je ne veux pas de votre argent . Je veux juste rentrer à la maison (I do not want your money. I just want to go home)” Dr. Antoine Valentin spoke in a bitter tone.
“Or you will reach home very dead, the choice is yours.” Carvalho finished while munching his last few words.
They all were marched or pushed towards the tents were made, at least 10 tents were made and they were quite big and specious. It was decided that Dr Hans Schmidt and Dr. Antoine Valentin will be staying in one tent and Ishaan and Dr. Aiden O’Connor will be staying in another tent. Nethra and Dr. Nina Petrov will be each other’s tent mats.
As they went inside, Ishaan found the tent is well equipped with all basic amenities, “Hi Dr. Roy, I am Aiden.” The 6 feet 4-inch gentle giant shook Ishaan’s hand, Ishaan felt like his right hand will tear off from his shoulder, “Ishaan Roy, geophysicist.” He replied back somehow.
“You are also here against your will I presume?” Dr. O’Connor asked eagerly. “Yes, of course I am.” Ishaan replied while massaging his shoulder. “Don’t worry, all we need to find how many men they got, if it’s less than 10 we have a good chance, I alone can take on 4 guys, and if you people chip in we can easily overpower them.” Aiden was speaking excitedly while shaking his fists. “I am also a heavy weight champion in amateur category.”
“Well, I am sure they have more men in here.’ Ishaan replied frightenedly. “Do they?” Dr. O’Connor asked with a disappointed voice.
After lunch the whole team were started towards the south as instructed by Carvalho. Few of his men were leading the way, the scientists were in between while Carvalho and Ana Maria were right behind them. The Island is covered by jungle and tropical trees, the paths are often covered by small and big bushes, the surface wasn’t smooth at all, rather uneven and graveled.
As they were slowly climbing up, Dr. Valentin was stopping every now and then and checking the trees, plants, and flowers, he was looking surprised and muttering something under his breath.
Nethra and Dr. Valentin kept falling behind, Nethra looked visibly tired. Ishaan saw it and asked Carvalho to have a short break, which Carvalho accepted gleefully.
Everyone has poured coffee from the thermos flasks which were carried by the men. Nethra who was sitting next to Dr. Valentin was curious, “You seems to be surprised every time you were checking the plants and floras.” Nethra asked.
“There are lot many plants and flowers here I am not able torecognizee, a good number of them.” Dr. Valentin replied with his broken English with French accent. “although I can’t claim I know everything about plants, but sure there are something which is making me uncomfortable.”
Nethra looked at Ishaan who was sitting on a big stone, she saw Dr, Nina Petrov slowly walked to him.
“So Mr. Geophysicist, tell me what’s going on.” She sounded fluent in English but the Russian accent was prominent.
“I am still figuring it out. This whole island looks like a plateau, a tableland. The island is covered with trees and forests but I have hardly seen any animal or even birds, the soil of this island is looking normal, but I can only be certain if I could run some tests.” Ishaan replied unmindfully.
“Dr. Roy, you always think about work?” she smiled.
“Err.. Dr. Petrov…” Ishaan was immediately cut off, “It’s just Nina, and I hope I can call you Ishaan.” The blonde, tall and fair Russian smiled again, Ishaan noticed she got cute dimples.
“I need to do a routine check-up for every one of your health, once we stop I guess I can start. And I shall have your check-up at the last, after everyone”. Nina spoke.
“Why after everyone?” Ishaan asked the question foolishly
“Because you need special attention.” This time Nina had a devilish smile on her face.
As they commenced and finished their journey at last. They reached near a big lake, surrounded by the forest as far as anyone can see.
“My friends, we have reached to one of our destination points, I would like us to tent down here for few days.” Carvalho announced.
Dr. Hans Schmidt slowly walked towards the lake and knelled down, Dr. O’Connor also walked a bit far along the lake shore. The water was blue and looking clean, as Dr. O’Connor bent down and took some water in his palms, immediately Dr. Schmidt yelled at him, “Stop. Don’t drink that water.”
Aiden looked clueless first then he roared back, “Why?”, “Mr Irish Oceanographer, don’t you see there’s no fish in sight? The water is transparent enough to see through, did you see any sigh of life? Hold on and quench your thirst from the water bottle, till I check it.” Hans replied with a mocking tone. “I thought you should know plenty about Sea and water life.”
Aiden was surprised at first and then angrily threw his hands, “I was not about to drink that water anyway, I was just checking it.” Hans still had that sarcastic smile on hanging from his lips.
“we will make our tents here for days, and gentlemen you people have plenty of time to run your tests. There are many more things going on in my island and I want to know everything about them.” Carvalho barked from behind.
Meanwhile Nethra came and stood next to Ishaan, “What that Russian doctor was telling you anyway.” Her voice was heavy.
“Amm nothing, she just wants to run some medical check-ups on us.” Ishaan replied absentmindedly.
“Be careful with that woman, I don’t trust her.” Nethra had a caution in her voice.
“Why, she looks fine to me.” Ishaan protested feebly.
“Every tall and fair blonde looks fine to you men anyway.” Nethra hissed, “They are always nice and good compare to darkish unattractive women.” The anger and frustration was unmissable in her voice.
The sun was setting in the west, the light of dusk was falling onto the tall, slender and dusky figure of Nethra who was looking straight ahead. She spoke again, “Nina Petrov looks too comfortable here, even Carvalho doesn’t bother her much and she looks quite authoritative with Carvalho’s men.” Then she looked at Ishaan, “And looked like she took a fancy to you.” Nethra walked away speaking those words furiously.
Ishaan shook his head and mumbled, “Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya”
Brigadier Suryanarayanan was worried and confused what to be done next. The army intelligence was traced the phone number somewhere near north Atlantic Ocean, it was transmitting the signal from the San Juan airport but after that the signal is lost.
It’s been more than 3 days his daughter is missing, he decided to discuss this matter with his superiors. As he was thinking so he heard one of his junior commander walking at him, “Sir, there is a call from Defence secretary, he is waiting.”
“I was about to call him Sir, my daughter…” Suryanarayanan was cut in the middle before he could finish.
“Listen Brigadier, we are aware of the situation, we are anticipating she is either abducted or travelled with Dr. Roy willingly. Now it’s a situation, not her but we are not so sure about Dr. Roy’s intention. So it’s a hush hush matter, I am already in a meeting with Vice Admiral of Navy. But I want you not to disclose the matter yet, is that understood? We are doing everything to get your daughter back.”
In reply Suryanarayanan could only nod his head and say yes. He was surprised to hear even Defence secretary is aware of it.
Lui Van Dijk, the air force pilot of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) woke up from his sound sleep as his mate Aaron Richard jerk his shoulder off. It’s an order from the high command and they have leave now. Lui checked his watch, it’s 2 AM in the morning, after an hour two F-16 combat airplane of NATO flown for an undisclosed location somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean.
INS Sindhuyatra was on its way, Captain Amrinder Singh got the orders from the highest possible level, and they are traveling across the Indian ocean to North Atlantic Ocean, in his 11 years of service in Navy, he never crossed the international sea borders. He is not even sure if it’s under the international Naval treaty. But his superiors told him they have necessary permissions.
Iqbal khan, the MARCOS commando leader was thinking the same, he and his 9 team mates are instructed to sail in this ship, their orders are so vague, the further orders will only be issued once they reach the destination, even which is where also not clear. He sighed, in his long career of Marine commando service he learned many things but one, how to question the authority.
In a bleak and silent night, the soviet made submarine was piercing through the water of Indian ocean 200 feet below, to its unrevealed destination. The body of the submarine reads, “Bhāratīya Nau Senā, Shaṃ No Varunaḥ (Indian Navy, May the Lord of the Water be auspicious unto us)
Dr. Hans Schmidt already proceeded with his equipment to test the water of the lake While Dr. Aiden O’Connor was looking at him curiously. Ishaan was sitting just a few steps away from him, he heard him muttering “These Germans!”
“Dr. Roy, here’s the lunch, have something, I am sure you’re hungry.” Ishaan looked up blankly and saw Dr. Nina Petrov is smiling at him holding a paper box.
“Thanks.” Ishaan took the box from her hand, Nina opened her lunch box as well and sat near him. A meatloaf sandwich and some boiled veggies were there, Ishaan suddenly started missing his usual lunch of rice, daal and fish curry.
“So Ishaan, I hope I can call you that, are you married?” Nina asked with dancing eyebrows.
“I was once; I don’t know if she’s even alive today.” Ishaan answered with a sigh.
“Terrible, but we all have lost our loved one once a while, you never fell in love again?” Nina asked with a heavy voice.
Ishaan shook his head, “No girlfriend?” Nina asked again.
“Nope, he is single and ready to be taken.” The answer came from a little distance, Nethra was standing there with a lunch box in her hand. “I see you already finished your lunch, how stupid of me to bring this for you.” Nethra’s target was Ishaan this time, her voice sounded like a wounded tigress.
Frightened Ishaan tried to defend himself as he was well aware of her temper “I mean, amm..err..”
“Tout est si étrange ici (Everything is so strange here)” As Dr. Antoine Valentin spoke all three of them looked at him, he was still examining a leaf from a plant.
“If anyone liked to accompany me down there, I saw unnamed, unidentified flowers.” Dr. Valentin looked hopefully at them.
“Sure Dr, Valentin, I will accompany you with pleasure. Anyway few people need space to talk about their private lives.” Nethra followed Dr. Valentin overenthusiastically
As they left within no time Carvalho appeared out of nowhere, “Ah Senor Dr. Roy, my I borrow you for sometimes from this beautiful Russian?” Carvalho had his trademark devilish smile on his face.
Ishaan almost immediately walked away from Nina and stood face to face of Carvalho, “I too need to speak with you, it’s been quite some time you’re beating around the bush, I want to know why Are are here?”
Before Carvalho can open his mouth they heard Hans speaking in a loud voice, “This lake is quite a unique one, but I need to observe it from the other bank as well, probably if I could just have a swim and dive, I hope you got all the equipment for diving.”
“Yes we do, my men will give them to you.” Carvalho answered in a same loud voice.
“So Irish scholar, would you like to join me for this expedition? Being an oceanographer I hope you hope some experience in deep sea diving, this is just a lake though. But if you are scared then leave it.” Hans Schmidt’s sarcastic comments were again targeted to Aiden.
“Of course I will, maybe I can teach you a thing or two.” Dr. O’Connor roared, and started to walk.
“I also have scuba diving as my hobby, could I tag along?” Nina Petrov was jubilant like a child.
“Sure thing, we can use the help of a doctor.” Hans replied immediately.
As those three started to walk towards the other side of the lake, Carvalho signed his two men to follow them.
“Come to my tent Dr. Roy, this is time when you and I have some real conversation.” Carvalho invited Ishaan to his tent.
Ishaan and Carvalho sat against each other, they were looking eye to eye at each other.
“Carvalho, no more games. Why are we here.” Ishaan questioned fiercely.
Carvalho lit one of his Cuban cigar and left a mouthful of smoke in the air, “Well, let me give you some facts and history and then you do what you do best.” Carvalho started.
“This island of mine wasn’t mine two years back; it was a property of Ana Maria’s grandfather. That old man was one cranky old b*****d. It was his property since 1950’s, I am not sure why he never tried to sell it as he spent his last days in poverty. As he died, being the closest kin Ana Maria became the owner of this land and thus became mine.
When the old man died, in his last minute he told Ana Maria not to sell this island and this will change her fortune if she could find the treasure in here. Well she had clue what he was talking about and those were his last words.
This island has a reputation, a lot of people called this a Isla Maldita (cursed island), fishermen are afraid of coming near this island as they consider this place is owned by devil.
I am certain that theirs is something valuable here in this place, maybe a gold or silver mine, maybe oil, maybe some rare medical herbs or maybe a real time treasure buried here somewhere. That’s why I god Dr. Valentin to check the growth of the plants, Dr Schmidt to check the chemical compounds here, Dr. O’Connor to research on the ocean water around it and you my friend, will tell me if there’s something really valuable in here. I chose you people as I knew you are the best in your fields.”
Carvalho spoke in one breath and then paused. Then spoke again,
“I had another expedition team landed 6 months back, the team ventured towards a small mountain situated on the other side of this island. After few days they all were found dead except one, they had bite marks on their neck and the blood was drained out of their body. The one who found alive died after few hours of rescue, even he had the bite marks but he died cause of high fever and his whole body was paralysed.
Even the fishermen nearby have given details about such encounters, during the night so many vessels and boats were attacked by human like figure, as per them it came flying and attacked few of them, bit their neck and drank blood. None of them who got bitten by that creature stayed alive more than two days.”
Carvalho stopped there and smiled.
“Are you telling me that Vampires are living here in this island?” Ishaan asked in a calm voice, “Cause if you are suggesting so, let me tell you, I don’t believe in them.”
“Don’t you?” Carvalho had that cruel smile back on his lips, “Did I tell you Ana Maria is actually Romanian, and her family is hailed from Transylvania, you know a place so famous for ‘Count Dracula.’Ana Maria’s grandfather often bragged about his noble blood, said he was from an ancient family of rulers.”
Before Carvalho finish his sentence there were some loud voice could he heard from outside. Both Carvalho and Ishaan came out of the tent as they Hans, Aiden and Nina were carrying one of Carvalho’s men. He was bleeding profoundly.
When Ishaan looked closely his eyes were bulged with shock and horror, the guy had deep wounds near his shoulder and neck, and which clearly looked like a huge bite mark of sharp canine teeth.
After few hours of deadly struggle, the man died of blood loss and paralysis, his whole body grew stiff. Dr. Nina Petrov tried her best to save him but couldn’t. During his last breath he was asking for water, as Ana Maria got the water and walked in the guy looked at Ana Maria as if he saw a ghost. Nethra still remember the scream of death and how the body of that poor man was twisted and twitched after seeing Ana Maria. That was the end of that poor soul.
“Did you see him, his eyes were popped out and he screamed as if he saw a ghost, why was he so afraid of Ana Maria.” Nethra who just walked inside Ishaan’s tent saw him sitting with a leather bag.
“Was Ana with you and Dr. Valentin?” Ishaan asked. “No, I thought she always stay close to Carvalho.” Nethra answered.
“Well, she was not, in fact I didn’t see her after lunch. And I spend a good amount of time with Carvalho, she wasn’t around.” Ishaan replied.
“What are you trying to say?” Nethra asked horridly.
“Nina, Aiden and Hans got some samples of soils and rocks from the other side of the lake.” Ishaan spoke in a very worried tone and then he took a stone and kept on the table. “Do you know Nethra what kind of rock this is?”
“I don’t see a diamond.” Nethra tried to sound easy and cheerful.
“No it is not a diamond. But this one is more valuable than a diamond in today’s world.” Ishaan finished his sentence absentmindedly.
Iqbal was restless, it’s been 24 hours but still there is no proper information about the operation he is leading. His teammates are constantly asking him how and when they need to prepare as they need some insights.
At last Iqbal couldn’t resist and ended up asking Captain Amrinder Singh, “Sir, where are we heading to, what kind of operation is this? Is it a search and rescue, covert operation or just monitoring and report? I need to get my team ready as per the situation.”
“I don’t have any clue Iqbal, just like you I am at sea.” Amrinder enjoyed the pun he intended to and smiled, “My instructions are to sail towards North Atlantic as per the latitude longitude given, anchor in the shallow water and wait for the next orders.”
“Have you ever been into such kind of operations sir? Where you don’t have any clear instructions?” Dissatisfied Iqbal asked
“As a matter of fact, No!” Amrinder answered in a worried and heavy tone.
The vice chairman of the NATO Military Committee Louis Peeters was not an happy man, one of his investigating officer who flown to an NATO aircraft carrier which is anchored near an inhabited island just reported.
Few days back the guards of the aircraft carrier were attacked by a bat like creature which looked like a full grown man, one of the guard died on the spot and two of them are in deathbed fighting to survive. There’s also a rumour that the island is cursed and Vampires were sighted by local fishermen.
Louis was scratching his head; could this be just rumour or there is a deeper conspiracy behind all these. Especially attacking an Aircraft Carrier located in such important location…
Dr. Hans Schmidt was busy examining few of the rocks from his bag, he was completely engrossed into the little tests he was performing.
“Am I interrupting?” Ishaan cleared his throat and asked.
“Oh not at all Dr. Roy, how you have been today?” This was the next day morning after the horrible death of that poor man.
“Dr Schmidt, so in all these fiascos I didn’t get enough time to ask you, so what happened when you reached the other side of the lake? Did you find something? What exactly happened?” Ishaan shot at him
“Well nothing much, we have collected the samples of the rocks around it and the water. It looked fine from outside but I was unable to find any trace of life in it. Not even any kind of algae or plankton. Which is kind of odd.” Schmidt spoke absentmindedly.
“Is there any theory you have about it? Confirmed of unconfirmed?” Ishaan asked eagerly.
“It could be for various reasons. Mainly chemical toxic compound waste in the water, but the water looks clean to me, also if there’s any shortage of oxygen in the water. I can’t say for sure till I ran some more test.” Hans looked worried.
“What did Aiden say? Does he have a theory?” Ishaan was restless.
Hans Schmidt had a crooked smile this time, “Our Irish boy is clueless, he calls him oceanographer but knows little about the water. He looks more like a weight lifter than a scientist. I wonder how I never heard his name, if he had some significant contributions in his field. Heaven knows from where Carvalho dug him out. On the other hand Nina was quite a handful. She has good knowledge about the wild and water lives.”
“Of course you will like her, she’s the only blonde in our team.” Ishaan replied grimly and walked out of the tent.
Louis Peeters was at sea as he is informed the third man also died battling with his life. The symptoms are grave and if because of this an epidemic starts in the carrier the situation will go out of hands. Hence he refrained from sending the dead bodies for post mortem back to base and instead ordered to bury them in the sea.
As his orders were carried out, he got a call from his cell phone, “Is it done?” A heavy voice asked.
“It is.” Now I’m on the way back to you.” Louis replied. “You better hurry.” The voice answered and cut the call.
Amrinder Singh has reached to the point he was ordered to wait. The submarine is resting in the shallow water, completely submerged. His orders are not to move an inch before the further instructions.
Iqbal looked at his commandos, they are looking bored and restless. He left a long sigh, as a MARCOS commando patience is also a virtue needs to cultivate. “Hope we will see some actions soon” He tried to cheer up his men.
“We are near a ship, away from few nautical miles, if I read the signs and information fed by navigation, I doubt it’s an aircraft carrier.” Amrinder spoke in his husky voice.
Ishaan came out of Hans Schmidt’s tent and started to walk when he saw the other man of Carvalho, he was also with Nina and Hans during the attack on the other guys. He was leaning on a tree and smoking.
“Hi there.” Ishaan greeted. “I am Dr. Roy; I don’t know your name yet.” Ishaan extended his hand to him.
“Karim Salah.” He replied. “Are you Algerian?” Ishaan couldn’t help hearing his voice.
“Na’am(Yes)”, he shook his head.
“If you don’t mind, may I ask you what happened last night. I mean your mate died, looks like something bit him.”
Karim smiled sadly, “Dr. Roy, if I am not wrong, we all will be a victim of this creature soon, It’s the island of the devil and the devil is with us.”
“What do you mean?” Ishaan was jolted visibly. Karim did not say anything and pointed him with his eyes, Carvalho and Ana Maria were discussing something standing at a visible distance.
“Carvalho?” Ishaan spoke. Karim shook his head negatively. “He is bad alright, but not the devil, She is the one, the Iblis. I guess Carvalho never told you, he had another expedition team 6 months back. He left them and his men to run their research for a week. When Carvalho came back, all of them were dead, all the blood from the dead bodies were drained.” Karim was shaking his head continuously.
“Why did you accept to do this if you are aware of the danger?” Ishaan was shocked now.
“I have 3 kids and my wife at home, I have to feed them. Do you have any idea how difficult the life is in North Africa? Even the places of opportunities in Europe are getting dried because of the economic meltdown. Life is hard Syd Dr. Roy.” Karim replied indifferently.
“And why you think of Ana Maria as Iblis?” Ishaan was still not out of his shock.
“Didn’t you see the guy screamed to his death after seeing her? The scientists were a little far away from us. She appeared from nowhere after the attack” Karim replied angrily.
“Could you describe the creature?” Ishaan asked carefully.
“It looked like a bat, but as big as a human, had a cape behind it, it was already dark then and it happened in a fraction of a second, I opened fire to it and it flew away.” Karim relived the horror for a moment.
Aiden O’Connor held the earpiece in his left hand on his right ear where his right hand was exploring various things on the table. “Yes, I guess I have found it, and I am not sure if he has already told him. I think we have to hurry.” Aiden was talking in a very tone.
“What the hell you’re doing here?” Hans Schmidt was at first surprised and then angry as he saw Aiden O’Connor was going through his stuff lying on his table. “Who gave you permission to enter into my tent and going through all my stuff?” he yelled.
“I.. I got a headache, I was looking for some aspirin.” Aiden replied dumbly. By the time everyone else were gathered there. “You should have asked me.” Nina Petrov frowned.
“I am sorry, I should have.” Aiden mumbled and walked out of the tent.
Ishaan saw Carvalho was examining Aiden inch by inch with his small yet cruel eyes.
Ishaan came back to his tent, suddenly he remembered something and almost ran out of it. Nethra was sitting near the lake on a rock, Ishaan ran to her.
“Where is Dr. Antonio Valentin? He was with you right?” Ishaan was edgy.
“I don’t know. We went down to checkout few plants and then he….” Nethra has to stop as they heard Aiden screaming. “COME HERE!!!! I don’t know what on devil’s name is happening here!!.”
All of them ran towards the other side of the lake where the attack on Carvalho’s men happened. As they reached to a point they saw Aiden O’Connor was standing like a statue, in a short distance Dr. Antonio Valentin was lying unconscious. But that was not the only scary scene. The part of the lake was covered with smoke as the water of that part was boiling. The temperature of that place was rising as the water vapour was spreading around.
Nethra heard Dr. Hans Schmidt speaking incoherently, “No wonder there’s no water life in this lake.”
“It’s a volcanic crater lake.” Ishaan uttered those words breathlessly. Everyone else looked at Ishaan blankly.
“It must be a volcano, possibly a dormant volcano or an inactive one. The crater or the opening of the volcano must have been filled with rain water, but as deep inside it’s still active, the magma must be leaking at some place which is making the water boil. Dr Schmidt has collected the water sample, I am sure a lot of sulfur and its compound should be found in it, as the water is boiling time to time, there must be a shortage of oxygen in this lake, makes it impossible for any life to survive in it.” Ishaan was extremely excited.
Dr. Nina Petrov was about to step off towards Dr. Antonio Valentin but before that Ishaan jumped to his feet and pulled her back.
“Dr. Valentin is unconscious because of the poisonous gas venting up with the water vapor, we are almost 5 to 6 feet away but it’s a safe distance. We need gas masks if we have to go near Dr. Valentin.” Ishaan cautioned Nina.
Carvalho’s men already brought some gas masks, Nina, Ishaan and Aiden wore them and rushed to rescue Dr. Antonio Valentin. A few hours of intense battle between life and death and at last death had the last laugh. Dr. Antonio Valentin did not regain his consciousness and breathed his last.
Nethra was awestruck was holding Ishaan’s arm all the time. “I was bored as he was examining the plants and flowers for hours, so when he told me he wants to explore some more area I excused myself saying I’m not feeling very well.” Nethra was looking pale.
“What the hell happened?” Carvalho was irritated and impatient.
“It’s the lake, I suspect it’s leaking Carbon monoxide and other deadly gases, it’s a rare phenomenon, but there are examples, such as crater Lake Nyos in Cameroon had a limnic eruption on 1986 and the gas cloud rose at nearly 100 kilometers per hour killing more than 1700 people, even insects weren’t spared. Similar kind of incident took place in Cameroon in 1984 at Lake Monoun. Lake Kivu on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda considered as one such lake which leaks enormous amount of such deadly gas causing massive water life extinction.” Ishaan was breathless while speaking those words.
“I think it is only wise that we leave this island as soon as possible.” Ishaan concluded.
The defense secretary was busy signing some papers when he had a knock on his door, “Come in.” he replied. The round face of his secretary, Mrs Mallik appeared through the half open door. “Vice Admiral Aniket Ahuja is here.” Her words were short and crisp.
“Send him in.” defense secretary wrapped the documents.
As Vice Admiral of Navy slowly walked into the defense secretary’s chamber, “Any news?” he asked. Vice Admiral shook his head, “Not yet.”
“Was this a mistake? Just like Cairo?” Vice Admiral was rubbing his palms.
“Relax Ahuja, our boy is stronger than you think.” defense secretary was smiling.
“I do hope so, on the contrary, I feel he lost his mind after losing his family in that operation.” Vice Admiral left a long sigh.
Juan Carvalho had lost it. He was throwing his hands in the air and jumping around here and there. “How is this even possible, even yesterday everything was right, nothing happened for last 50 years, and all of a sudden you’re saying this island is unsafe and there is an active volcano now.” Carvalho screamed while he was holding the collar of Ishaan’s shirt.
“I don’t know. My only assumption somehow there is a leakage in the bottom surface of the lake from where the magma is leaking. The situation is grave as the water from the lake is entering in through that crack, creating vapor and gas, because of which this volcano can erupt anytime. We must leave this island as soon as possible.” Ishaan blurted out those words in one breath.
“We must listen to Dr. Roy, our lives are in danger. We must leave.” Nethra spoke in a hurry.
“Do you have any idea what this island worth? Do you? You are a cunning bastard Dr. Roy, I know you already have an idea.” Carvalho spoke those words with immense resentment.
“I know Carvalho. This island is full of kerogen rocks. The most important alternative to petroleum and other traditional oil fields.”
Everyone looked at Ishaan with extreme curiosity. Carvalho had nothing but fire in his eyes. Ishaan ignored him completely and continued.
“The biggest problem our world is facing today is running short of conventional energy and resources, mostly like oil, coal and other non-reusable resources and minerals. One of them is surely the petroleum.
You must be aware of the sudden drop of oil and petrol price world-wide which is a big headache and worry for largest oil producing countries. It is mainly because, USA and few other developed countries have found the alternatives in Shale Oil. It is the art and science of producing oil from the organic rocks, mostly from the kerogen rock, a mixture of organic chemical compounds that make up a portion of the organic matter in sedimentary rocks.
The procedure of producing the oil from these rocks was costly and non-environment friendly. But in some recent developments there are ways discovered to produce the oil in more economic and less polluted way. There was even an article about it a few days ago.
Ana Maria’s grandfather was aware of the facts and knew sooner or later the island will have value in billions, that’s why he was persisting to keep this island.”
“Got it, but how can you explain the sudden turmoil in the inner surface of the lake?” Dr. Nina Petrov shot her question at Ishaan with a curious tone.
“Something or someone has disturbed the surface recently, although it could be a natural phenomenon.” Ishaan replied absent-mindedly.
“Now the important thing is to move out from here safe and sound, we must hurry.” Nethra was almost pleading to everyone.
All of a sudden two of Carvalho’s men burst onto the scene. “Boss, there are choppers and speedboats are approaching to the north coast. Every chance they are NATO forces, we have intercept few radio signals today morning.” One of them barked.
Immediately Carvalho held Ana Maria’s hand and hurried out from there, Dr. Hans Schmidt tried to follow them, but Carvalho’s men were having their guns targeted at them.
“Now you all wait here to die.” Carvalho threw those words at them with his poisonous look and rushed towards his private jet, his men followed behind.
Within half an hour NATO choppers have landed onto the island and arrested Ishaan, Nina, Nethra and Hans. Aiden O’Connor ran towards his tent as soon as he saw the choppers arriving. He was pulled out of the tent by NATO forces and seized few things from him. One of them is a heavy metallic rocket shaped thing looked very old.
Where are you taking Dr. Aiden O’Connor?” Ishaan asked the commander in charge as he was separately taken out by the guards.
The NATO commander smiled, “Dr. Aiden O’Connor died 6 years ago near the coast of Northern Ireland. That’s an imposter, name is Richard Doherty, an ex IRA (Irish Republican Army).
When Nina saw the rocket shaped shell she was left shocked and bulged eyed. Her family is one of the longest serving family in Russian Military and government, so she knows what it is.
A plutonium bomb, perhaps 50 to 60 years old. A prototype which is smaller but more powerful invented during and after the Second World War. The marking on it looks blur, but the letters USA is clearly visible.
Dr. Nina Petrov bit her right third molar or the wisdom tooth, she felt a tingling sensation as the micro transmitter inside her gum got activated.
“My poluchayem signal (We are receiving the signal)” An operator yelled. Building situated in the Lubyanka Square stayed on high alert. That was the headquarter of known to many as Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation)
Amrinder’s radio beeped for the 2nd time. As he answered it, the voice from the control room spoke, “There is an NATO Aircraft carrier docked near the island you are now. They are transporting few prisoners from the island to that carrier by speed boats. Captain Iqbal and his team’s orders are to intercept that and rescue the prisoners.
If the prisoners are already reached to the aircraft carrier, their orders are to ambush the vessel with non-lethal weapon and rescue the prisoners. I want this operation to be completely bloodless and no causalities, at no point they should reveal their true identity. And Amrinder, we have Dr. Ishaan Roy among the prisoners, I want him to be alive and well at any cost. Any doubts?”
“No Sir.” Amrinder shout back the answer though his mind was clouded with questions and doubts.
“Over and out then, we’ll contact you in another 30 mins.” The radio has gone
Amrinder knows who voice it was, Vice Admiral Aniket Ahuja. Amrinder wondered how big and important this mission is actually.
He turned back at the MARCOS commandos, “Listen to me carefully boys….” He spoke in his trademark calm and quiet voice.
Ishaan and Nethra are been put into different speed boats. Ishaan is with Nina and Nethra was paired up with Hans and they have no idea where they were to be taken.
NATO personals have already transported Aiden or as they know him now as Richard by the chopper along with the dead body of Dr. Antonio Valentin.
Ishaan still could not fathom what exactly happened to them till now, everything seems so blur and confusing. Ishaan left a long sigh, all he wants now to send Nethra home safe, she is in all these chaos because of him.
“What are thinking Ishaan?” Nina voice jolted Ishaan back to his senses. He chuckled sadly, “I’m thinking that even a week before everything was alright.”
“You need have patience.” Nina spoke in a slow and low voice.
The 12 MARCOS commandos who are in Atmospheric diving suit, slowly float out of the submarine which was still at over 100 feet below the water. Their mission was simple and straight, intercept the speed boats, topple them if possible and rescue the 4 prisoners before it reaches to the carrier.
Three speed boats were piercing the blue water of the Atlantic Ocean on a pleasant moonlight evening on their way, the NATO commandos were alert and watchful. Nethra and Hans were quietly looking at each other. The reflection of the yellowish moon can be seen on the water.
“Look up there, somethings up in the sky.” A NATO commando shouted out to the next man.
And then… there was a complete mayhem. The water level rose almost 5 feet above and the speed boats were knocked down. The NATO forces including Ishaan, Nethra, Hans and Nina were thrown off to the cold water of Atlantic. No one knew what happened.
As all of them were struggling to afloat and trying to swim out their way that night they witnessed the dreadful nightmare of their lives. Two huge black shadows almost covered the insufficient moonlight and landed upon them, two huge human like figures with wing from their shoulder to tail, with horribly disfigured face and drooling thick saliva from their mouths.
“My god, they are bats, they are… huge!!!” Ishaan heard Nina gasping those words who was holding his hand.
Rest of the people witnessed in horror as two of those bats sink their teeth on two NATO personals. This part of the ocean had become a living hell by the horrifying screams and shouts and prayers by the group of people desperately trying to survive in the ice cold ocean water and from the attack of the killer bats.
The MARCOS commandos were totally scattered by a heavy undercurrent wave, Iqbal was pushed away from his men to another corner. The submarine was displaced and thrown off to another direction.
“What’s happening?” Amrinder shouted at his navigators.
“I don’t know sir, but looks like we’ve been hit by powerful ultrasonic waves. One of them shouted back.
“Get us back into the same place, we’ve men out there, let’s gain some altitude and move towards the surface.” Amrider commanded.
Ishaan was watching the bats took off from their prey’s bodies. One of them was screaming with pain and fear and the other lifeless body is floating around, it was chaos everywhere, people are trying to swim towards the carrier, wrecked boats and heart wrenching cries making this moonlight filled night into a complete horrendous one
“Look there!!” Ishaan heard Nina screamed at the top of her lungs pointing something out towards the island. Ishaan could see now the smoke coming out of a particular side of the island.
Before Ishaan could react, a powerful hand grabbed his shoulder. “Dr. Ishaan Roy, come with me.” The heavy voice of Iqbal sounded heavier.
“Who are…” Ishaan couldn’t finish his sentence as Iqbal thrust the oxygen mask on his face pulled him into the deep sea.
INS Sindhuyatra was waiting in shallow waters now and the periscope camera was floating out of the water.
Amrinder looked relieved as he saw Ishaan Roy was almost carried by Iqbal in his arms into his submarine.
“Where is Nethra, where is she?” Ishaan franticly asked Amrinder.
“Don’t worry doctor, we have all 4 of you in here. Perhaps you’re asking for the young lady who is lying senseless over there, our doctor is attending her.” Amrinder replied
Ishaan hysterically rushed towards bed nearby as he saw the calm and senseless face of Nethra, holding her hands, after a long time today Dr. Ishaan Roy broken down in tears.
“I have my four men missing and there are NATO personals out there to rescue. I have to go back.” Iqbal barked.
“No, we must return, we have secured the people we came here for.” Amrinder shouted back.
“I can’t leave my men to die in the mid of ocean, we must help them.” Iqbal felt angry in his bones.
“If we stay longer here, we are as good as dead.” Ishaan spoke in a tired tone. “I have seen smokes from that island and as per my assumption there is an underwater volcano which can erupt any time now. The lake water is getting inside the volcano through a crack and creating a lot of gas while it mixes with the magma, the eruption can happen any moment.”
Ishaan looked at the tired and scared faces of Nina and Hans who were sitting not very far away.
“Iqbal it’s committing suicide going there, we have our orders to return ASAP and also you heard the doctor.” Amrinder pleaded.
Iqbal clenched his teeth and fists, and then sat on the floor. This was not the first time he lost his men, but he never left his team members left behind, alive or dead.
As INS Sindhuyatra turned it’s nose and started towards the east with full throttle, Ishaan held Nethra with both his hands, Nina got busy to help the injured commandos and Hans got inside a sleeping bag and slept.
After few hours INS Sindhuyatra felt a heavy tremors of undercurrent waves almost as if a quake under the sea, it was quite powerful but Captain Amrinder held his ship steady.
The whole journey, Ishaan couldn’t sleep a wink but only stayed awake and keep asking questions to himself, “Where from those bats came?
What became of the island after the eruption?
Where did Carvalho go?
What happened to that NATO carrier and its people?
And what happened to the plutonium bomb which was recovered?
“Where are we going?” Ishaan asked Amrinder as they were transferred to another Navy ship from the Submarine after 1 and ½ day.
“Well I have my orders to deliver you to this ship of Indian Navy. Some important personal would like to meet you.” Amrinder replied.
As Ishaan, Nethra, Nina and Hans were waiting inside one of the cabin of the ship, all of a sudden they heard, bullet sounds, people shouting and sound of heavy boots running. Perplexed Ishaan wait for 5 mins and then slowly opened the door of the cabin.
He stood motionlessly as he saw there are few gun men were moving around, Amrinder was shot and down on the floor with a pool of blood, Iqbal was kneeled on the ground with both of his hands on his head as one of the gun man was pointing a gun at him.
“So Dr. Ishaan Roy, how was your journey?” Defence secretary was standing there with a smiling face, there was also Vice Admiral Aniket Ahuja standing next to him, but he had no smile on his face rather a cruel cunning look.
Hans and Nina peeped behind Ishaan and they too were speechless, Nethra was sitting quietly inside.
Ishaan did not know where to begin, he looked blankly at the Defence secretary of the country. He smiled again.
“See Ishaan, I just want to know what you find in that island and explain all the bizarre and wired thing that happened over there, we know them in bits and pieces.”
“There was also a NATO carrier and their personals and choppers also landed in the same island, they have a Prisoner name Richard Doherty who was with us as Aiden O’Conner. Why don’t you ask them?” The Answer came from Nina, with a taunting tone.
“Ahh, Nina Petrov, how nice to see you. But if you don’t keep your loud mouth shut, then I have to shut it.” The sarcasm in the voice of Defence secretary was unmissable.
“Now Dr. Roy, please don’t waste my time.” He beamed at Ishaan.
“I… I have no.. idea…” Ishaan stammered.
“Come come doctor, I don’t insult your intelligence, please don’t insult mine. I very well know by this time you already have a theory, I would like to hear it.” Defence secretary couldn’t stop smiling at them.
“We were attacked by bats, giant bats, we are completely lost, we have no theory or understanding whatever happened there. Why don’t you people go there and see it through your own eyes.” Hans Schmidt barked at them.
“The whole island is gone, around 36 hours ago there was a huge eruption and explosion in that island, and it’s gone from the map now, even the NATO carrier anchored near it, wiped off from the face of the earth.” This time it was Vice admiral Ahuja who spoke while munching his words.
“Dr. Roy, I just need to know about your opinion and a logical explanation whatever happened over there. I know you are the sharpest mind among us, but if you are not co-operating with us, I have ask my men to shoot someone to make you talk, we can start with your cute little assistant.” Defence secretary grinned.
“Alright, I will tell you all about my theory and everything I gathered about, but you have to promise me that no harm will come to my friends.” Ishaan replied with a tired tone.
“Alrighty, start then…” Defence secretary curiously looked at Ishaan.
“When we all reached to the Island the geographical position of that inhabited island intrigued me. There was hardly a sign of life, Animals or birds. As soon as we found the trace of Kerogen rock which has a huge value in today’s world, we have also found various compounds in the soil which normally don’t exists.
During and after the World War II, USA and UK have done so many weapons testing including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons mostly in inhabited places including some islands. One of the known incident is the ‘Nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll’.
As we all know the chemical and nuclear weapons effect the very base of genes and DNAs causing mutation among the living beings who survive such occurrences. One of the live instances is of course the Chernobyl disaster gave birth to numerous mutant animals.
(Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl)
The bats who attacked us are most probably Desmodus rotundus or as simply know as Vampire bats. These creatures feed solely on blood. As bats mostly live in caves, my assumption is a few were survived from all these weapons testing but the poisons spread in the air definitely affected them, changed their very structure of anatomy and made them into these large blood sucking creatures.
Now as we know like dogs, even bats carry the virus of rabies which can create hydrophobia, fear of water. I can only think how deadly the virus have become within this mutant bat as they too evolved. I assume people who survived the blood loss died by the infected virus.”
Ishaan stopped to breathe for a while. “That’s why the man of Carvalho who died in the camp screamed when he saw water in Ana Maria’s hand. He was scared of water not Ana Maria.” Nethra spoke after a long time.
Ishaan paused for few seconds and the resumed,
“If I am not wrong Ana Maria’s grandfather acquired that island in late 1950’s. Probably when the experiments are all done and they no longer required it. Perhaps from some reliable sources Ana Maria’s grandfather discovered that the island is full of Kerogen rocks. Now the Shale oil extraction is costly and also health hazardous as it causes mule spinner’s cancer. Also as Middle Eastern countries have had so much of natural oil resources, Shale oil industry did not flourish that well.
But things started to change in late 90’s after the gulf war. The big players in oil industry understood they cannot solely rely on natural oil and gas as its non-renewable energy source and a renewable source must be found.
Recently USA and few other countries have found cheaper and safer way to extract shale oil started to produce in plenty causing a massive price fall which started to affect Russia and other Middle Eastern country as it is one of main source of revenue for them.
Again based on my assumption, I think several expeditions were took place by various teams that island after Ana Maria’s grandfather acquired it and thus he came to know about the kerogen. Time to time these expedition teams had encountered the killer giant bats attack as even the nearby fishermen also experienced, the survivors must be pretty less, hence it had gotten its name as Isla Maldita or cursed island.
So as the old man in his deathbed he gifted it to his granddaughter but I’m sure before tell her in detail why the island is valuable he died and through her Carvalho got it’s possession.
Carvalho is shrewd enough to have an idea that the island is holding some kind of treasure in some form, so he too arranged an expedition team and it failed as all the crew member died. Carvalho did not step back and arranged another team, this time with world’s renowned scientists, he offered them huge sum of money and who declined he ruthlessly kidnapped them as in most of us.
By this time another international group got interested in this island for a complete different reason, if I am not wrong, they are called New World Order (NWO).”
Ishaan stopped for the second time and then looked around, Hans, Nina and Nethra were quiet and listening to him carefully, concentrating to each of his word. The defence secretary and Vice Admiral looked a bit uneasy.
Ishaan paused for a longer period of time and looked at every face around, except the stone faced gunmen around rest all were looking curious.
“Ishaan’s voice started to sound tired but he continued anyway,
“New World Order is a secret and powerful organization of elite people who actually controls the events of the world. A lot of people believe it’s just a conspiracy theory. But it is also proven that a lot of events are been arranged artificially and with the help of powerful individuals, let that be army coups in various states of the world or let that be grave international affairs like ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’.
From the ages they are known by many names such as Illuminati, Free Masons or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and now as NWO.
This shadowy organization is also known to work for the mankind for its better and greater good though it means to be the necessary evil for the present.
The balance of the power (American Civil War, World War I & II etc), Population control (Black Death, stopping from inventing vaccines for killing diseases like Cancer, AIDS, Ebola), Alien technology and communication with extra-terrestrial (Area 51, signal from HD 164595) and also created powerful front organizations to control the world affairs formally (United Nations [UN], North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], etc)
As we all know right now the biggest crisis of our world is the population crisis and it’s already crossed 7 billion. Scientists have already gave warnings about the situation that in few years we will be in the point of no return and can push this world to an end.
At this juncture probably only one thing can check the population, a full-fledged World War III, a nuclear war. And it’s not easy as all the countries with nuclear power are well aware of the catastrophe a nuclear war might bring.
The only way is to of course keep provoking them and thus the deadly militant organizations like Al-Qaeda or ISIS has come into existence.
A very likely situation can only be created if there’s an unprovoked nuclear attack on sovereign nations, not one but many and so NWO is now on the hunt of lost or hidden nuclear weapons as they don’t have any ownership or trail.
Already there are 100s of incidents lost nuclear weapons in sea or lands during experimentation, plane crash or such so. A many of them are still containing the core undamaged and which are well hidden from the public domain. The New York Times wrote an article back in 1989 about it and since then it’s a well-known fact.
I am sure one such incident is also recorded somewhere that of a failed experiment caused a bomb lost somewhere in the sea, it actually dropped in the Crater Lake but did not go off.
Richard Doherty the ex IRA who was living the life of Oceanographer Aiden O’Conner, is most probably hired to search and find and helped to make his way through Carvalho’s team. I think his instruction was to search and find it. My guess is when Hans and others were dived into the lake, Richard identify where it was and later he went to recover it. The only explanation of the volcano became live as he might done something to surface beneath which made the lake water find way deep inside the magma. Created vapour and gas which made it go mad.
I am sure a part of the crew, if not the whole crew of that NATO carrier was involved as for sure NOW have also penetrated the organization like many others. They panicked when their people were been attacked by bats and also Dr. Antonio Valentin died, so they called it in and tried to show they are arresting Richard.
“Dr. Roy, you have been brilliant, as always, but this is as far as it can go. You know too much, so you need to be hushed up.” Defence secretary spoke that in a very light tone. “All we need to know how much you’re aware of, guess you have the whole picture.”
Ishaan was almost prepared for it, “You can do whatever you want with me, but spare my friends.” He pleaded.
“Tck tck, Sorry doctor, with you they too are now aware of everything and one of them is a Russian spy, you know it’s nothing personal.” Vice Admiral Ahuja spoke in jubilant tone now.
“Why are you even doing this?” This time it was Hans.
“Dr. Roy said is himself, NWO has penetrated all the international organizations in the world and believe me we are doing it for the better future of this world.” Defence secretary looked serious for the first time.
But he hardly finished his world when Nina kicked the gun man in his throat on the left and then a right hand karate chop to the other one. In the blink of an eye she pushed Ishaan and Hans back into the cabin, Nethra who was standing behind automatically pushed in. As they closed the iron door in a jiffy the heard the crashing bullet sound on the door but it was bulletproof.
They heard him saying, “It’s of no use. How long you can be in there? This ship is already in an isolated location and the Navy is told to stand down and not even sail towards this way by Vice Admiral here. We control this part of the ocean sweetie.” He chuckled.
“Why even wait, if you people don’t open the door till I count to 10, I’m gonna shoot this commando. No one is coming of your rescue.” They heard Aniket Ahuja barking.
“Don’t open the door, not even on my dead body.” Iqbal clenched his teeth and shouted.
And again Ishaan and others heard the gun shots, screams and thud sounds of heavy boots. Ishaan looked completely lost when heard Nina saying, “Rescue team is here.”
“But vice admiral said the Navy was instructed to stay down and not to act.” Ishaan looked at Nina.
“Not only the Navy controls this area of the sea, there’s another central armed force of this country with more than 15,000 men, 60 air crafts and with 150 vessels controls the territorial sea, you often forget them.” Nina smiled.
As everything gone quiet and there’s a knock on the door, Nethra cautiously opened it, to find a fleet of soldiers in white uniforms, as their badge on their chest read, ‘Bharatiya Tatrakshak, Vayam Rakshamah’ (Indian coast guard, We Protect)
Ishaan too came out of the cabin door, he was still confused what was going on, meanwhile Amrinder has been taken away and Iqbal was assisting the Coast guard commandos. Defence secretary was pinned down and Vice admiral Ahuja was at the gun point of commandos while he has drawn his revolver. All of a sudden he pulled his trigger pointing it to Nethra as she was in the range of his gun.
Ishaan saw Ahuja pointing and pulling the trigger from the corner of his eye and he had fraction of a second to react. He almost jumped to push Nethra out of the way and fell into the line of the bullet. The bullet hit him on his right shoulder and tore the muscles with a deep flesh wound. The very next minute Ahuja lifeless bullet ridden body was lying down on the floor, commandos hardly a second left to burst open fire at him.
Ishaan saw Nethra was holding his arm while screaming her lungs out. That was the only thing he remembered before everything went dark in front of his eyes.
Ishaan was lying down in the bed of the nursing home, Nethra, Nina and Hans were there in the room with nurse attending him.
“We had a hell of an adventure. But I am glad we all came out alive, few of us weren’t so lucky.” Hans shook his head, “But if I ever have to go for an adventure like this I sure want you guys by my side.” He grinned at Ishaan.
“There is a series of arrests going on across the world. The defence secretary has resigned on medical ground, media came to know that Vice Admiral has died in a freak accident. Chief of Naval staff is already briefed. After FSB got my SOS they immediately contacted your government, as they were not sure who all in the payroll of NWO from Navy, they decided to involve Coast Guards and planned for the operations.
Many higher officials and leaders are caught even in my country as well from US and European countries. Looks like The New World Order has taken a hit.” Nina smiled.
Ishaan only could reply with a weak smile, his shoulder was killing him, but he felt better when he saw Nethra is safe and sound.
“Feeling alright O ‘knight in shining armour’ after saving this ‘damsel in distress.’ You should stop trying to be a hero cause you are not one.” Nethra teased him with mock anger.
“So we successfully averted a third world war and saved the mankind, I am feeling like a hero already.” Hans was back at his own self already.
“Who knows, what they were trying was actually in benefits of the mankind in the future. And only the time will tell if we played the heroes or the villains for this world.” Nina relied absentmindedly.
“No you are not fiddling with that cell phone mister, you need rest, and your mobile is getting confiscated.” Nethra shouted at Ishaan when she saw he was trying to reach for his mobile.
“Alright lady Hitler.” Ishaan smiled weakly again. Nethra pulled the blanket on Ishaan and suddenly kissed his forehead.
“We should leave now.” Nina, Nethra and Hans came out of the room flowing the attending nurse.
“You should tell him you know, how you feel about him.” Nina looked at Nethra. Nethra felt if only she had a fair complexion like Nina, she would turn pink.
“Don’t forget me.” Hans chuckled.
Nethra decided, once Ishaan is recovered, she will open her heart to him.
Ishaan turned to his left when he heard the intercom on the table is buzzing.
“Hello.” He picked it up.
“Hello, Dr. Roy. Congratulations, for being alive.” The heavy voice spoke.
“You called me, the first day, in my office.” Ishaan was puzzled.
“Tell me something, do you still miss your wife and kid?” Ishaan felt a chill ran down his spine. “I do.” He replied.
“What if I tell you they are alive?” The voice spoke again.
Ishaan held the receiver to his ear as hard as he can, he couldn’t reply, his eyes were full of tears. He forgot about his wounded shoulder, his pain, everything.
“Get well soon Dr. Roy, you have to do something for me, and then maybe, I can tell where they are.” There was a brief laughter. Then the click sound….. And the line went dead.
Akhil is sitting in his drawing room, kind of distracted and irritated. He just got up from bed, it’s about 9:30 am in the morning. Normally Akhil is an early riser, but last night he didn’t sleep very well. Today he got up from the sound of his door bell ringing, as his manservant is absent for 3 days he had to answer the door.
He was surprised to see a young woman at his door at 9 am, from her behaviours it is only obvious she is a college student and reached to his door for any apparent reason.
“I came here to talk to you, to know you,” Her first sentence was so casual that Akhil gave up any hope of serious conversation.
“Yes tell me, why are you here? who are you?” Akhil shoots his preliminary enquiry.
“I am here to chat with you, to know you better than your stories.” She replied in a childish tone.
“What’s your name?” Akhil asked.
“Chitra is my name, isn’t it nice?” She replied in same juvenile tone
“Ok Chitra, may I know why are you here to see me?” Akhil asked impatiently.
“I like to chat with famous personalities, it’s kind of a hobby.” She already came in and sat on the sofa.
“I am not a famous person.” Akhil answered in a given up tone, he is so bad at dealing with these spotlight seeking young women.
“Of course you are, I read all your stories, how you solved all the twisted crime occurrences. I am a big fan.” Chitra spoke in one breath.
“Listen Chitra, I am kind of not feeling well today and need some rest, if you don’t have anything important, could come some other time.” Akhil was desperate to get rid of her.
“Oh! But see that’s why I am here, I know you stay alone, I would like to be with you and take care of you.” The reply came immediately.
Akhil is in a complete shock now, what this girl is even saying? These young generation so volatile, is she praying a prank on him? Akhil looked blankly at her. He could only imagine she is telling the whole story to her gang and then laughing and falling onto each other saying ‘OMG that old man actually believed me’.
He tried to be as calm as possible, cleared his throat and spoke” Chitra, you can’t stay here with me.”
“Ok, we’ll decide that later, but tell me something, you don’t look like an intelligent and sharp psychologist like your stories and also I thought you would be taller.” She was speaking continuously.
“Oh! Well how do I look like then?” Akhil asked in a light tone.
“You look like a normal professor of any college, like the physics lecturer of my college, calm and quiet and dislike everything about younger generation.” She was smiling, “why don’t you say something clever and prove you are the Akhil Mitra who solves all those puzzling cases.”
“I don’t give test of my ability, Chitra.” Akhil shook his head.
“Come on, be a sport.” The girl was impatient. “Tell me what you gathered about me so far.”
“Ok, if you insist, my observation about you is your name is not Chitra, I have called your name several times, its only human nature to react spontaneously as someone calls their name, your reaction was late. And the way you said ‘Chitra is my name, isn’t it nice’ sounds artificial, normally people would have said ‘I am Chitra’. You are here not to chat with me but to create a mystery around yourself, the way you suddenly said you want to stay with me knowing very well I won’t approve that.
You have done some research on me but not in very detail, that tells me you are here for a purpose that’s not yours. Someone of whose hobby is to meet famous people are normally research every detail before meeting them, especially females. You are trying to act over enthusiastic, but that’s a part of your acting as I noticed you are getting absent minded sometime during conversation. So I reckon you did not come here by your own will but you are sent by someone.” Akhil finished and looked at her.
First time while having this entire conversation the girl looked a little alarmed and then spoke softly but firmly “You were correct in all account Dr Akhil Mitra. I have no doubt now I came to right person. Could you get me a glass of water, I am suddenly feeling thirsty”
As Akhil came back from kitchen with a glass of water in his hand little did it surprise him to see the empty sofa, she is gone. In such manner she suddenly asked for water it was obvious to Akhil that she was trying to create an opportunity to sneak out.
As he kept the glassful of water on the table a bunch of papers attracted his attention. A buddle of papers neatly arranged and kept, the small statue which was on the table was used as a paper wait. As Akhil took that bundle the very first page shows only two words ‘HELP ME’ written right in the middle of the page.
Akhil suddenly felt bad for the girl, she must be in some kind of trouble and before she disclosed it his indifference drove her out of the house. As he looked through the pack of papers he found they are handwritten, most probably a long letter.
Akhil left out a long sigh, it’s been a while he read a long letter from someone.
Hope you’ll pardon me for creating a little drama, I wanted to attract your attention towards me. You must be thinking who is this crazy girl and what is her intention. Let me tell you first, I am a big fan of yours, I read all the stories published about you, the great Akhil Mitra.
I never saw you, I know you don’t do interviews hence I have no video clip or even a snap of yours, so I made an imaginary appearance of yours in my mind. As all of the stories about you are not written by you but someone else I am assuming you must be different from how you’ve been portrayed, as writer often exaggerate about their main protagonist’s capability. Nonetheless I am sure you are a sharp and intelligent person. You must be wondering who I am and why I am so keen about your personality and appearances. Well I am just trying to find the real Akhil Mitra of blood and flesh not the one portrayed by the writer.
This is where probably I should be introducing myself.
Name: Aparichita (A fake name, I hope you’ll find my real name soon)
Age: 22 years
Hobby: Reading, Chatting and doing nothing
Passion: Getting wet in the rain, Watching the moon on a full moon night
I know you are a busy man and if you are reading this long letter of mine, I am sure I made some curiosity in your mind. Let me come to the point now, there are incidents happening around me from my very childhood and I don’t get surprised or shocked anymore. I have accepted as they are, but after a long time I felt if anyone could help me, it must be you.
My mother died when I was very young, my father who is a rich and powerful man of this city (I will not disclose his identity but I am sure at some point you’ll find it out) was driving the car when it met with an accident and my mother died on the spot, astonishingly me and my father survived without a scratch, I was so small during that accident and I have no memory of it.
After that my father got remarried after a year or so, my new step mother came into my life. You’ll be surprised to know I used call her new-mom. As it happens, my new-mom couldn’t accept me with open heart, she was tiny and petite but got a hoarse voice. As I started to grow up everything about me became nuisance to her, the way I dress, the way I play or as she used to say making the whole house dirty etc etc. I have my own room and to avoid her I started to spend more time inside my room, my dad was always busy but whenever he used to get sometime he tried to spent them with me which was the only silver lining.
My new-mom was jealous type of woman, she always was suspicious about my dad and that led to a lot of heated arguments and fights, dad started to drink a lot. Then one day the news arrived, my new-mom was conceived, I was kind of happy hearing the news of a step-sibling coming to our world, the behaviour of my new-mom was also changed towards me, she was treating me better those days.
As things always go haywire in my life, there was no exception in this situation either, my new-mom lost the baby in a freak accident. She slipped and fell off the stairs, she was rushed to the hospital, father was out of the country that time, as he heard the news he came home immediately.
After she regained her sense in hospital she straightway accused me for the accident. According to her I only made those stairs slippery by pouring water on them. My father knew about our relation, so he simply ignored her words. When we took her back home she was hysterical, she even denied to speak or even see my face. Day by day the situation was deteriorating, I was getting worried about my father as I clearly see him becoming almost an alcoholic.
Then one day it all ended. The maid discovered new-mom’s hanging body from the ceiling fan in her room. Dad was at his work place and I was at school. As I said my new-mom and dad’s relation had become so bitter after the accident that they used to live in different rooms. In the morning we both left home without seeing her, the post mortem report indicated that she committed suicide in the early morning.
After reading this much Akhil closed his eyes, he can feel his brain is palpitating, unlike others he read everything very attentively, and so he can’t read at a stretch. While keeping his eyes closed he tried to arrange everything like a Jigsaw puzzle.
It’s still could be a prank of a young girl. So far he read almost 2 pages and there were no spelling mistakes, it only happens if someone is very good at writing or literature or had rough copy then make it a fair one. Akhil checked the handwriting, it looks continuous and without any break, no change of ink either, normally it’s tough to write a letter so big at a stretch without any mistake. That makes it certain that the girl might copy it from a rough. The handwriting is also neat and clear, Akhil is not a graphologist or else from her handwriting he could have analysed her.
She told her pseudo or fake name as Aprichita, which means stranger(fe.) in Sanskrit. She also gave the info about her age, hobby and passion. Is this for some particular reason?
Akhil kept the bundle on the table started to walk towards kitchen, he defiantly needs some tea.
Next day as Akhil was getting ready to start for the university he couldn’t keep his mind away from the letter, he decided to carry it with him, so he can read it during recess and off periods. Surprisingly he completely forgot about it once he reached in university and got busy with his class, lectures and students. As he came back, after his supper he remembered it altogether. He took it out from his bag started to read from where he left.
“You must be tired reading this nonstop nonsense and wondering why don’t I just come to you with my problems, why don’t I meet you face to face, I will Akhil sir, trust me, but before that you got to read this whole letter of mine, think that it is a childish demand of your ardent fan.
So as my new-mom left us I became lonely again, as usual dad was always busy in his work, I started to become a lonely kid, the servants were instructed not to enter my room as I love my space, I kept my room clean and organized as I want. As I never saw my real mother (We don’t even have a photo of her in my house) I started to imagine my demised new-mom as my companion. You must be wondering how but it was very simple.
I started to imagine my new-mom as a compassionate, sweet and nice lady who is my companion, I used to ask her to do something as the I used to do that myself, something like an imaginary companion, you might ask me why my new-mom, I would say during her pregnancy I saw the nice side of her and which was overwhelming. Let me give you an example how I used to imagine and play with her, suppose I have to get something from the table, I used to ask new-mom to get that, then I myself used to go and get it, and thanking my new-mom for that. The whole part was imaginary, and I knew it.
Then one day, I had high fever and doctor instructed me to have a complete bed rest, dad was out and servants are working downstairs. I was lying on bed, my eyes were closed when I felt a touch on my forehead, as I open my eyes I saw my new-mom was sitting next to me on bed. She looked just the same I remember her, but eyes were filled with love and compassion, something I hardly ever experienced. It was so normal that I wasn’t scared or shocked.
I am sure at this point your psychological mind started to analyse my situation, a lonely kid, during feverish state experiencing her dead step mom whom she kept imagining, it must be case of hallucination or delusion of a feeble child’s mind, especially when she’s ill. Well, you psychologist come to conclusion very quickly, with frowned eyebrows you easily declare what is real and what is imaginary, is it that simple? Let me tell you, I have already met a few psychologists, not because I want to but my dad forced me to. Why I’ll tell you later.
Akhil sir, are you getting irritated, or you have already made up your mind that I am actually insane, especially after telling you I have been to different psychologist. Let me tell you then, none of them were able to find anything wrong with me. I need your help, please help me, don’t throw away this letter thinking it’s just few incoherent sentences from a mentally sick and unstable girl.
You must be wondering what kind of help seeker I am, not giving you any details about me, not meeting you and let you ask your questions to me and expecting you to solve my problems. Well let me at least give you my phone no, “I already gave it you”. Ok, not the last digit maybe, you can try your luck.
Let me come back to my story, so it became a regular event of my new-mom visiting me every now and then, I am sure your investigative mind is restless to ask few questions about this ghostly appearance, I am guessing them and trying to answer them.
What she used to wear?
Normal Saari, different ones on different days
How she used to appear and disappear?
Nothing unusual, she used to push the door of my room and come and same way used to pull the door and go, I never followed her to where she used to after go out of the door.
Did anybody else saw her or heard her talking?
No. As I said I used to stay in my room alone and servants weren’t allowed, dad hardly comes to my room.
She used to come and visit you as you wished to see her?
No. She used to visit me as she wanted, in daytimes or nights.
I am bored of these questions answers already; I don’t know if I could answer you better if I were in front of you.
My life was going on as usual when one day again it was about to change. I was taking an afternoon nap when I felt a hand touching my head, I thought it’s my new-mom, as I opened my eyes I saw a beautiful and elegant lady was sitting next to me.
“Did I wake you up?” She asked in an embarrassed tone.
“Who are you?” I was surprised to see her in my room.
“I am your Vibha aunty.” She answered me in a hesitating tone.
Well, soon I came to know Vibha aunty going to me my next step mother, my father was about to marry her. Akhil sir are you thinking bad of my father? Thinking what kind of a guy he is who’s keep getting married to different ladies? Please don’t think ill of my father, he is a great guy and the best father, I mean it.
So Vibha aunty came into our life and then she discovered my little secret, my meeting with my dead new-mom. I am feeling so tired now, can’t write anymore. But you can read on as I am sure you have all the pages I’ll be writing to you.
Akhil finished reading the page and put the letter down on the table. Leaning on the sofa Akhil thought this girl is a bright one. The small riddle of her phone number, it was an easy one.
“I already gave it you”. All he has to do is to take the alphabets in serial order which has single numeric value, ignore the alphabets having double digit numerical value
I ALREADY GAVE IT TO YOU
9 1 514 71 5 9
As she said the last digit was not given, it mostly be zero as the last 2 words are null, so it might be
Akhil decided not to call this number, if she wants to maintain secrecy he will let her. It’s already late at night, Akhil walked into his bed room, he needs a sound sleep, then tomorrow he will finish the letter.
Next day Akhil skipped his duty and requested one day leave from the dean. He wanted to finish the letter. So with a glass of orange juice in the morning he continued.
“Akhil sir, life is so strange, isn’t it? Sometimes you just ignore every flaw of someone whom you love so much, though you know they are wrong and they need to be stopped.
So as it happened Vibha aunty came into our lives. She was truly a wonderful woman, in all account, she was everything just opposite to my new-mom was. First time in my life I was enjoying motherly love and care, she used to take care of me like my own mother, she fed me with her own hand, bathed me, tied my hair, helped me with my school homework. But she never let me call her mother, she insisted me to call her Vibha aunty, and I had no problem with it.
I was in my teens and was growing fast, my dad now was getting busier day by day, he might have sensed that I was in the right hands of Vibha aunty, she was also getting busy with new found passion, boutique business. Then she only suggested to appoint someone as my very own care taker.
We are rich and it was only within our capacity to engage a maid only for their teenage girl, back in days Princesses used to have hand maidens, similarly I got one. Vibha aunty only chose a girl who was in her early twenties after much scrutiny. Her name was Farzana, she was from a nearby village next to the city, from a poor family.
Oh! Did I forgot to mention that my new-mom stopped visiting me? As Vibha aunty came into this house she stopped seeing me. I am sure at this moment you are smiling, thinking it’s just a simple case of hallucination, or is she schizophrenic? She must be imagining a mother figure all her life and as soon as she got one her dead step mother stop coming into her life. Maybe you’re right.
Farzana and me became fast friends, though we had an age gap of 5 to 6 years. She was a timid yet talkative girl, normally quiet when dad or Vibha aunty was around. My world was my home and school, since I came in touch with her I started to learn about the real world, the ugly, dirty yet the actual world where normal people live. I learned about poverty and desperation, how her drunkard father beats her mother every night for no reason, how her mother doing odd jobs to keep ends meet, how one of her elder sister died without any medical attention and younger one gone missing. Now it’s her and the youngest brother.
I am sure I am getting you bored by all these details, but I wanted to tell you, maybe for no apparent reason.
So one day I was back from school and found Farzana was sleeping downstairs, I came to my room and…… I saw my new-mom sitting there. Surprise, surprise! Tell me Akhil sir, did you expected that? I am sure you must be thinking “Is this girl just making up stories after stories?” Please trust me.
So after such a long time when I saw my new-mom I don’t know why I just froze there, suddenly I was scared of her, after all these years why she is here?
“Chitra, come here, sit next to me.”, my new-mom called in a calm tone.
See Akhil sir, I have disclosed my real name after all. Don’t worry, you were right, the girl came to meet you was not Chitra. I am.
So I slowly went next to my new-mom with scared steps, she held my hands and made me sit next to her.
“Chitra, you know Farzana is not a nice girl.” New-mom spoke in a strict tone; I nod my head in fear.
“You should not be mixing with these kind of females. It’s bad for you. I don’t want her here anymore, would you tell your Vibha aunty and get rid of her?” I shook my head, “But I like her.” I replied in a scared but firm tone.
“You are not old enough to know what’s good and what’s bad for you.” She spoke those words and then left. I was sitting on my bed, scared and numbed.
After a while I heard a knock on the door and then Vibha aunty came in pushing the door open. “Oh it was such a tiring day, how’s my sweetheart doing…..” she suddenly stopped and started to sniff something. “Somebody was here? I smell a strange perfume. Are you using any?” She kept sniffing.
I didn’t reply to her, she stood there for some time and then left. That night I was scared to sleep alone, and I did not want to ask Farzana to be in my room, I had a strange fear that my new-mom might want to hurt her. I asked Vibha aunty instead, she happily agreed and I went to her room to sleep, dad was as usual at work.
Me and Vibha aunty were lying next to each other, suddenly, I don’t know why I asked her, “Vibha aunty, can dead people come back?” She heard the question and there was a pause, “why are you asking this question?” She asked me. “Simply, ok, good night, I am sleepy.” I turned the other way.
Vibha aunty got up from bed and switched on the lights and then came and sit on the bed, “Listen girl, tell me what’s going on, don’t keep any secret from me, what is it? Tell me clearly.” She spoke in a firm crisped voice.
And I told her everything, starting from my new-mom’s death, her frequent visit to me and about her last visit today afternoon. I thought she will laugh at my childish imaginations, but she didn’t, she held me tightly next to her, we didn’t switch off the lights that night.
After few days I found Farzana was not around, I asked Vibha aunty about her.
“Her marriage is fixed, so she went home.” She replied with a dry tone.
“Does that mean she won’t work here anymore?” I asked with curious note
“I am not sure, let’s see.” She replied again with the same dry voice.
As it turned out she was really getting married, and her mother came to us with the invitation. From there conversation I learned Vibha aunty is taking care of all the expenses of her marriage, I was surprised and yet proud for her.
But as it turned out Farzana’s happiness was short lived, she came back after 3 days of her marriage as her husband was demanding dowry and refused take her back till she pays.
Vibha aunty was really angry listening to all these and she immediately summoned her husband. He was garage mechanic.
“Do you know I can hand over you to the police, taking dowry is a criminal offece.” Vibha aunty asked him in an angry voice.
“You people are rich and powerful, whatever you say is the law. But I am a poor mechanic, I need money to survive, why should I take her back if there is no benefit of mine from this marriage.” He replied in a shameless indifferent tone while scratching his neck.
Vibha aunty threatened him for another half an hour and then agreed on his terms. He wanted a bike and 50,000 cash. Vibha aunty promised she will think about it.
“And after all these if you ever again throw her out of your house, you will be in jail, I promise you that as well.” Vibha aunty was shouting at him, but he hardly showed any concern.
I went to farzana and condoled her, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright.”
“He won’t take me back, he knows, he knows.” Farzana spoke with weeping voice and trembling lips and broke down. Farzana’s husband promised he will take her back as soon as he gets his bike and cash he will come and take her home.
That night again I saw my new-mom, I was studying when I heard the door open, I didn’t look up as I know it was her, something in me already told me.
“Chitra, why did you tell your Vibha aunty about me?” She asked.
“She wanted to know.” I replied.
“I thought it is our secret. You shouldn’t have told her about me, now things have become complicated.”
I looked at my new-mom, “How?”
“And Farzana needs to go from this house, she must leave this house.” New-mom was looking scary, her hair was open, eyes were red. I closed my eyes, I was so scared. I ran to Vibha aunty’s room. I did not want to sleep alone that night as well.
Next day Farzana’s dead body was recovered from our back yard, her head was smashed with a blunt instrument. But that wasn’t the biggest news, Vibha aunty had gone insane, she was repeatedly screaming the words “I killed her, I killed her.”
Well she couldn’t as she was with me the whole night and the post mortem report suggested that Farzana was killed between 12 to 2 pm in the same night. The post mortem also revealed that she was 3 months pregnant. Police were unable to find the murder weapon.
Farzana’s husband was arrested in suspicion but he had a strong alibi that he was at home that night. He in turns accused the unknown person with whom Farzana had a relation and apparently carrying his child.
As our reputation was at stake, the money and power came in for rescue and the whole incident was hushed up. But Vibha aunty’s condition was deteriorating day by day. She had gone completely insane, she used to laugh or cry and scream the same words “I killed her.”
Dad has consulted many doctors but everything was in vein. To me it seemed like she is possessed by someone or something. During her end days she was used to locked in a room, the same room new-mom lived and died. Once I went inside the room and saw she was sitting on the floor, hairs open and with red eyes, she just looked so much like my new-mom, I ran away from there.
Her hanging body was found in the room one day, the same way my new-mom committed it, with a rope, from the ceiling fan. The mystery was though how she found the rope, as per doctor’s instructions everything that might be used for such thing was kept away as she was suspected suicidal and the door was locked.
Akhil finished reading the page and throw the bundle on the table. He doesn’t need to read the whole letter. He knows exactly what’s going on. Akhil dialled Inspector Dubey’s number, he needs few details.
Saturday 10:40 am, Akhil car stopped in front of a gigantic bungalow situated in one of the poshest area of the city.
As Akhil came out of his car and walk towards the huge main gate, he saw the watchman looked at him with a curious look.
“Dr. Akhil Mitra saab?”, watchman enquired, “Yes” Akhil replied. Watchman immediately gave a salute and opened the gate.
As Akhil walked through the path leads main door, he saw the gardens on the both sides, its spread around the bungalow, in a keyhole design. Akhil pressed the calling bell, the golden name plate above the calling bell is glittering, Sushobhan Chowdhury, Doctorate of Law, PhD in Philosophy and so many other degrees are marked below the name. One of the renowned High court judges of this city.
The door opened within 30 secs, a girl wearing light green color churidar was standing, a calm and round face, short in height but long hairs till her waist. Her appearance was nothing special but her deep dark big eyes definitely extraordinary.
She didn’t say anything and made way for Akhil to come in, Akhil quietly walked inside and took his seat on one of the fancy single sofa in the drawing room.
“What would you like to have? Tea, coffee or something cold?”, Akhil showed his hand, “I had my breakfast, where is your dad?”
“He left a while ago, for airport, he is flying to national capital for some work.” The girl replied.
“I am sure you know why I am visiting you. Also you know how I guessed what you want without reading your whole letter.” Akhil paused, “But before all that, I want to see something, do you have any photo of Farzana?”
“I might have; I have taken few in her marriage. But I have to search. Why?” Chitra asked.
“Okay, was there any resemblance in appearance between you two?” Akhil asked his next question.
Chitra laughed, “A lot of people who don’t know us, like visitors often mistaken her as my elder sister. But I guess that’s a normal occurrence when there are two girls live in the same house of with not much of age gap.”
“One more question.” Akhil asked again, “I see you have few servants and maids working here, anybody stays or sleeps here in the night?”
“No, they all leave by at max 8 pm. They don’t stay here for the night, except watchman.”
Akhil leaned back, “Chitra, sit down in front of me, let me tell you a story.”
“There was a married couple, A man and his wife, they both had a healthy conjugal life but still they did not have any kids. After a thorough medical check-up, it was found that the man is incapable of having any child.
They both decided to adopt a kid, a girl who happened to be from a poor family. The child’s mother gave up his daughter to this childless couple thinking it will make her future better.
But fate had something else in its mind, after few months there was a horrible car crash and the wife died, the husband and their adopted daughter survived though.
The man decided to marry again for the sake of the child, but he kept silent about his condition for whatever reason, maybe he was ashamed, maybe it’s his male ego. The second wife was not kind towards his daughter though she didn’t know the daughter was adopted.
Then after few years the 2nd wife conceived, her husband knew it cannot his child but he kept quiet, at least he tried to, but the rift between them was growing. The adopted daughter was significantly intelligent, above average, she always doubted she isn’t her father’s daughter. As the fights grew to limits the man at last confessed his incapability and accused his 2nd wife of infidelity, in turns mocked cruelly by her.
Though the daughter was always suspicious about being her father’s real daughter, nonetheless she loved her father dearly. She decided to take revenge on the wife, of all the ill treatments, of her being unfaithful to her father and humiliating him. A simple plan, a stairs full of soap waters, she tripped and fell and the accident caused her to lose her unborn child, she already knew it was the daughter, but she had no one to believe or had no support from her husband for obvious reason.
The man and his 2nd wife was now growing apart, he was climbing up in his career and he fell in love again, this time with a junior, who knew about his inability but didn’t bother anyway. The man was already fed up with his 2nd wife, she was not ready to divorce him either and humiliating him every day for him being incapable of fathering a child. The daughter decided to end it all.
As the husband and wife were living in different room, the daughter chose the early morning time before the servants turn up, she quietly sneaked in to her step mother’s room with a rope, strangled her with the noose and later hanged her from the ceiling fan. Then she quietly left for the school.
The man got married to his junior, his 3rd wife and the girl’s next step mother. She was kind and understanding, she urged the daughter to call her aunt as she had a bad experience with her last step mother. Meanwhile both the daughter and the 3rd wife knew she was adopted. But their life was blissful, at least for few years. The daughter was lonely as both husband and wife became busy with their profession and they have no other way of being parents again naturally. So her step mother decided to track down daughter’s real family, and appointed her actual elder sister as her companion, but she did not disclose it to anybody, not even to their daughter.
But as I said the daughter was very smart, she found out and felt grateful to her new step mother. Both sisters were growing close and the daughter shared a few secrets about the past life, about her last step mother’s death.
The elder sister was a person of poor judgement which led her into trouble and she conceived unwantedly with one of her lover. The wife was upset nonetheless she arranged a guy to get her married to, which was her biggest mistake.
The man whom the elder sister married to was a thug and criminal, the elder sister trusted and told him all the secret revealed to her by the younger sister and he saw an opportunity of blackmailing.
He sent back the elder sister accusing she is carrying the child of her master. The wife was furious but also scared as it was the question of reputation, either disclose the inability of her husband which might open a lot of unwanted chapters including his 2nd wife’s death or gave in to that criminal’s demand which she did. He decided to keep it low and extort them slowly.
That night as the elder sister came back and confessed to her sister that she spilled all her secret out. Later there was an ugly fight and spat between her and the wife about the whole situation and at rage she pushed her in the kitchen and left from there, while the elder sister fell down and she had a minor injury.
The daughter and the younger sister was fuming after knowing everything, she stepped in after the wife is gone and killed the elder sister brutally. The wife and her step mother accidently saw everything but couldn’t believe her eyes as it was horrible and unbelievable. The daughter cleaned up and destroyed all the evidences and calmly went to sleep. The wife and her step mother witnessed something which was enough to make her lose her mental stability, she was convinced she was responsible for the elder sister’s death as what she saw was not possible.
As the 3rd wife’s situation was deteriorating, she was becoming suicidal and started to hurt herself. The daughter decided to end it for her as well, but this one was a mercy killing, to make her be free from her pain and agony. So the daughter sneaked in to her room where she was kept isolated and end her life just like she did to her previous step mother.
Akhil paused and looked at Chitra. She was looking at her feet and nervously digging her nails.
“The man is your father, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wife are his 1st wife, your new-mom and your Vibha aunty, the elder sister is Farzana and the younger sister and the daughter is YOU!!.” Akhil finished and took a long breath.
Chitra tried to smile but only managed an artificial grin.
“So you mean to say, I killed my new-mom when I was 12 and then Farzana and then my Vibha aunty. How I managed to do all these? Do you think I am physically capable of killing or hanging somebody from a rope, obviously it needs tremendous strength? Do you think a short, thin girl like me can do all these or do you think I have an accomplice?”
“Not in normal state but in some unique circumstances and situations. In scientific term its called hysteric strength. Which human possess at some particular mental situation. You have heard about mental hysteria as in the diseases where human beings have their physical strength increased about 10 times more. You too have that strength but only when your subconscious mind takes over.
‘There was an incident
In 1982, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Tony Cavallo was repairing a 1964 Chevrolet Impala automobile from underneath. The vehicle was propped up with jacks, but it fell. Cavallo’s mother, Mrs. Angela Cavallo, lifted the car high enough and long enough for two neighbors to replace the jacks and pull Tony from beneath the car.
Mrs Carvallo thought the god gave her that strength, but it’s proven that our brain is capable of many miracles if used to its even half potential.’ There are several similar incidents happened accross the world.
I could have suspect your father as well, but he would have just killed his second wife with her unborn child if he had that kind of murderous rage, second to that he is himself a lawman and who has the reputation of being an honest judge must have an incorruptible consciousness. Why would he plot to kill her unborn child and later her?
On the other hand, your description about your new-mom’s visit strikes a chord. Why would a young woman will see her abusing step mother who’s already dead that too with a heavy change in her nature? You yourself said you used enact as your new-mom which slowly took over your subconscious mind. Remember your new-mom said Farzana is a bad girl, your new-mom wasn’t happy as you told about her to your Vibha aunty. Remember you said there was nothing abnormal about your dead new-mom’s visit, it was because you used to imagine and enact her.
When I went through the records, I found when police investigated about her death they couldn’t find the murder weapon, but in strange statement a servant claimed she saw the kitchen floor tiles were broken.
When your Vibha aunty had a heated argument she pushed Frazana on the floor thus she hit her head on the water sink.
Then you entered, with enormous strength you held her up and the smashed her on the floor which shattered her skull from the back and then throw her body on your backyard. In post mortem report there are mentioning of two different injuries in farzana’s head. Your Vibha aunty who almost immediately came back witnessed the entire scene but couldn’t fathom it,resulting her the insanity.”
Akhil was out of breath after speaking continuously
“So you mean to say I have a monster hiding inside me, and it comes out every now and then? But why would I write to you? Why would I ask for your help if I am the murderer, I am the culprit?”
“You only have that hysteric strength when you experience extreme emotions. Like at extreme rage or sadness or happiness. Like when you overheard Farzana and your Vibha aunty where Farzana confessed spilling out the secrets to her husband or when your new-mom humiliated your father or when you saw your beloved Vibha aunty’s unbearable state of insanity.
as I said, you are a very intelligent girl and you suspected that you committed all these murders in your subconscious mind you have no memory of, you wanted a closure and that lead you to me.” Akhil calmly answered.
“So now what? What should I do, where should I go?” Chitra covered her face with her both hands
“It’s upto you Chitra, you turned to me for help and I did.” Akhil quietly walk up to Chitra and kept his hand on her head and spoke in a soft voice, “You should tell your father everything and surrender to police, I am sure law will understand the situation and send you for psychiatrist help.
Akhil couldn’t help his tears as well, seeing her sobbing inconsolably, after all she has done all these to save her foster father who she loved more than anyone.
(The story is narrated in first person, the protagonist may or may not be a real person, writer can not confirm that. The story is partly truth and partly fiction. But the truth and fiction can not be separated as they are lost in translation. Apologies in advance if that’s inconvenient or disturbing.)
I am walking aimlessly, clear blue sky above, the sun already sets down, the light of dusk is slowly dying, yet its visible around. I am walking on the grass, on the long and lush green grasses of the field, they are bowing down with winds towards north. I am trying to remember where I am, how I came here, I seem to have no memory of it, I am just walking and walking and all I can see around is trees and the green field meeting the sky at horizon at every direction.
And now I can see something ahead of me, it looks like an old hut, a broken, wrecked hut in the middle of the nowhere. I am advancing towards it while touching the long grasses with my both hands. Wait! There is something more, there’s a dog sitting right in front of the hut. As I came near to it, it got up on its feet, unusually black in color and it has only one eye, where the other eye supposed to be has a dark hole as if someone or something gouged out that eye.
It on its four legs and started to bark, as if it doesn’t want me to advance any further. I was little confused about the whole thing and then…. I saw it. A tall, lean figure emerged from the hut, and immediately a horrible smell of rotten meat hit me, the thing was wearing a gray and ash color long gown, its feet weren’t visible but it looked like floating little above from the ground. It was holding a long stick on it’s right hand and….. where the face supposed be, it was just a piece of yellowish flesh, no eyes, no ears, no nose or mouth.
The one eyed dog is barking madly. Though that human-like figure has no eyes, I can sense that it can see me, it started to move slowly towards my direction and hold out the stick towards me. My throat is dry, I want to run, but my feet are stuck to ground, the horrible smell is getting stronger and all my senses are slowly getting blurred and blocked. It has come near to me and almost touching me.
“All is the fear and nothing is the love; As little is the wisdom, where the flight So runs against all reason” I remember the lines of Shakespeare.
I was sitting on my bed wide awake breathing heavily; my heart was thumping so hard that I could hear it. This was one of the worst nightmares I have ever experienced. I almost ran to kitchen and drank a half jug of water, the thirst was just not quenching and I was sweating profoundly. I started to feel dizzy in my head; I slowly sat on the floor, kept my head on the wall and slept or fell unconscious.
I am sitting on the hospital bench for more than ½ an hour’s now. I came to this government hospital which is about 2 km away from my place. There is always a stark difference between private hospitals and nursing homes and government ones. Private hospitals are neat and clean, smiling receptionists and caring nurses around, doctors are available on call in different departments. Government hospitals are all about chaos, patients lay down on iron cots with filthy bed sheets, some are even laying on the floor, nurses are busy and irritated, hardly doctors are around, compounders are giving proxies for them, smell of phenail and other kinds. You actually can smell the fear, pain, agony and even death in here.
I approached towards one the nurses, “Sister, I am waiting for a while now. May I see a doctor?”
She looked at me with an irritated face, “Don’t you see there’s no physician available now, what’s the case? Why you’re here?
“I am sick, I need some medical attention, I have seen ghost last night and got up with high fever, I need a bed to lie down.” I answered in a feeble voice.
“Do you think it’s a place to crack stupid jokes? Or are you trying to get a bed here by telling some cock and bull story.” The voice came from behind.
I turned back, there was lady standing in white apron, a pale face with a pair of curious eyes, angry curled lips with hair tied behind. Don’t know why I felt she doesn’t belong here, though she was not wearing any makeup, I visualized her wearing black eyeliner with heavy eyelashes, with cherry pink lipstick and a little touch of makeup on her cheeks, wearing a red banarasi saree and smiling at me. She is not meant to be a doctor; she is meant to be poetry of a poet.
I straightened my back and changed my voice to a heavy one, “That’s right ma’am, I was just telling a story, actually I am the PA of the state health minister, came here to investigate the situations of this hospital. I am under the direct order of health ministry; there are so many complaints against this one.”
I felt the sense of urgency in all the hospital staff members, the nurse I was talking to a while ago, stood up, she was looking visibly scared. Only the lady doctor was unmoved, she shrunk her forehead lines and was about to ask something suspiciously. But right before that my head spun like the whole world got upside down and it got dark in front of eyes and I fell down on the floor, unconscious, for the second time.
As Shakespeare said, “The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.”
As I gained my senses, I saw the face of her looking at me curiously, “Are you feeling ok now?” Her concerned voice sounded so sweet to me.
I found myself on the hospital bed, same iron cot with smelly bed sheet but still comfortable, I closed my eyes again, I am not sure how everyone else took my little drama just before I fainted. “How long I was out?” I asked
“About a day now. Do you always lie and create dramas whenever you go? This is a hospital not stage of drama.” She smiled and spoke in a light tone.
“Well,“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” I smiled back.
“You had fever and high blood pressure when you fell down; it was caused by some high stress or may be by elevated fear. I remember you are speaking of some ghost when you came in here.” She spoke again, with her sweet voice.
“You don’t fit in here; you don’t belong amongst all these diseases, pain and death. You belong in a heavily guarded high castle, attended and protected by the knight in shining armor.” As I spoke the words looking at her eyes, I could clearly see her face expression changing. She looked annoyed and irritated.
“Why you guys always have to be so clumsy and corny around females? I am just your doctor and you are my patient. I did not expect such cheap behavior, you looked like a well behaved, mild mannered gentleman, apparently I was wrong.” Saying so she stormed out of there.
After sometime a nurse came to inform me that I will be discharged by tomorrow afternoon. I passed my time chitchatting with the other inmates, various kind of people. The bed next to me is allotted to lady patient who has stomach cancer, last stage. She got 2 small kids, her husband does all kinds of petty works to make ends meet. Hardly got any money for her treatment, morning he comes to leave the children with their mother and comes back in the evening to get them home.
Met the janitor or hospital floor manager, he is not only janitor but a free advisor for all the hospital patients and their relatives, mostly how to get cheap treatment, he knows all the addresses godmen and so-called Ayurveda and herbs specialist self-appointed doctors in and out of the city.
So I asked him, “Do you know somebody who can cure cancer?”, “Of course I do”, he replied back with utmost confident. “There is a guy called Pagla baba (mad baba) he can cure anything.”
“How does he do that?”, I was curious. “Oh, you just have to take the patient to him and he will touch the patient and he/she will be alright in half a day.” The janitor replied enthusiastically.
“Oh, so did you try telling her husband about your Pagla baba?” I asked sarcastically.
“She can’t be cured; her time is up. We already took her to him. He said her time is already up. Pagla baba doesn’t help everybody, he even meets few people, sometimes don’t even meet anyone for days.” Janitor sadly shook his head.
I pulled my blanket on me and closed my eyes. This country is neck deep into superstition and no wonder all frauds and humbugs are taking advantages of it.
I murmured the lines from Hamlet “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”
“May I come in?” I hold the curtain of the cabin door and asked.
“Yes.” She replied. I am going to get discharged today it’s only my moral duty to bid adieu from the doctor who brought me back to health.
I sat in front of her, she was searching something in drawer, “Not here to apologise I guess.” She spoke without lifting her head.
“I came here to thank you.” I spoke in my sweetest possible voice. “That’s alright.” She replied, again without looking at me.
“And I am here to tell you the story how did I saw a ghost, got scared, fell sick and landed up here. If you have time of course, Dr. Aditi Majumdar.”
She frowned and leaned back on chair and then she laughed, “I see you know my name, I guess from the staff, ya sure, go ahead tell me your story in brief. I am not sure if I’ll believe you. By the way, here’s your purse and mobile phone, check if everything is alright, we thought of calling your parents or relatives but we couldn’t unlock your phone. We came to know your name from the credit card.”
“Much appreciated, I live alone in this city so it’s alright. If you don’t mind, could you order a cup of tea? It would be nice telling you the story with a hot smoky cup of tea.” I replied.
At school I had a friend named Ashfaq, he was a tall lean fellow, soft spoken, nice and little timid. He considered me as his best friend as I once stood up against his bullies. Since then he always looked up to me as his friend in need. His sister Ruksar also studied in the same school, two standards below us. To her I was her another brother from a different mother.
Frankly, I considered Ashfaq a good friend, not of my best buddies, I had a different group. But Ashfaq always used consider me his friend, philosopher and guide, even on trivial matters he used to ask for my help and suggestions.
We’re in 11th standard, it was during the summer vacation, Ashfaq’s ancestral village was some 150km away, a remote one, it had population of hardly 700 to 800 people, Ashfaq’s dad Moideen uncle was the wealthiest and they had their own estate.
There was a place there which was considered haunted. A small hut away from the locality, it had a story. A fakir used to live there, an honest and god-fearing, they say one day Iblis (Satan or Devil) himself paid a visit and turned him into his slave. He started to kill the villagers to offer sacrifices. After few days intimated villagers attacked him and beat him to death. They left his dead body inside the hut and since then no one ever went back. Few who by mistake went nearby paid with their lives.
When Ashfaq told me the story I laughed, I could only laugh at the imaginations of illiterate villagers. Then I told him to go and pay a visit there and crush the very superstition hold his village to ransom.
He looked perplexed and scared, but nonetheless he told me he will try. After 3 days he called me at my home in the evening. “I have decided to go there, but I am little scared. Wish you were here; we both could visit that place.” He spoke in a hesitant tone. He was calling from his village.
Don’t know why and how I felt angry about it, I yelled at him over the phone “I can’t watch your back all the time Ashfaq, you need to stop being a coward. Either you go there and prove there’s no ghost or don’t show your face to me, ever.” I rammed down the receiver.
After two days the news came, villagers found Ashfaq’s body on the field, near the hut. He died of heart failure, when they found his body his eyes were wide open with an expression of intense fear on his face.
We all friends were present in his last ritual, his mother was sobbing, his dad was sitting there with a blank expression. Only Ruksar was standing in a corner, with dried tears, with immense hate in her eyes, staring at me. I did not know the reason. That’s the last time I ever saw her as I never went back to his house again. After coming back home, I took out my diary and wrote down one of my favourite quote, that was the only entry I made in my diary that day.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” ― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
“That’s a sad story.” Aditi shook her head. “But that has to do with your situation?”
“Last night I had a nightmare, that I am walking on a field filled long grasses and then I came across an old hut with a black one eyed dog sitting in front of it. Then a strange tall figure appeared, without a face, almost floating above the ground. And I woke up in my bed, shivering and sweating.” I replied calmly.
“It was just a nightmare, how you can say it’s anything ghostly or super natural?” Aditi frowned
“Have you ever experienced any dream or nightmare with a smell? Horrible smell of something rotten, smell of decomposed flesh?” I asked, indifferently.
“What are you going to do now?” She leaned on the desk with a curious look.
“I am going to Ashfaq’s ancestral village, to pay a visit to that place, although I don’t know if it’s still there, but something is telling me, it’s still there.” I stood up, she was still looking at me with puzzled eyes, I couldn’t but recite few lines from ‘Hamlet’s To be, or not to be’
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.”
I walked out of her cabin slowly, leaving her behind, befuddled.
I went back home and spent sleepless nights for next two days. Every time I closed my eyes my subconscious mind kept telling me not to fall asleep, as then I might have the same nightmare again. Part of me wanted to fall asleep, and part of me kept awake. My slumbering half-conscious self was loitering around the world of dreams and reality.
Suddenly I heard a voice.
“Do you really want to go there?” Ashfaq was standing a few feet away. The same 17 years old kid in the school uniform.
“Yes, I want to.” I replied. Though I know I might be imagining or hallucinating.
“Why? After all these years.” The calm voice of Ashfaq asked me again.
“I don’t know. But I must go, to set myself free.” I closed my eyes already, my mind was blank.
“Set yourself free? From what?”
I did not reply but with all my might I pushed myself out of bed. There was no one in my room. I pulled my easy chair to the balcony and fell on it, murmuring few lines of Henry IV by Shakespeare.
‘O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush’d with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
After 3 days I went back to the hospital. Dr Aditi Majumdar was not there, Instead I found the janitor, he was overjoyed seeing me and invited me for a tea to the roadside tea shop next to hospital.
Ashit (Janitor): How are you sir? You look so pale and tired. Did you sleep well?
Me: No, I haven’t slept a wink (Smiled sadly)
Ashit: What happened sir?
Me: I see ghosts. When I am asleep and when I am awake.
Ashit: Sir, I know you educated people don’t believe in all these, but I must request you to go see Pagla baba.
By his tone of urgency, I was certain he gets his commission from Pagla baba for making people go visit to him and pay his fees. Nonetheless, I decided to visit him. I have seen many godmen but never was too impressed by anyone. I smiled at Ashit and started to walk while recalling the lines..
‘There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.
But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle. – Julius Caesar’
I am sitting in front of Pagla baba now. It’s been almost 10 minutes that Pagla baba is at his laughing spree. Today morning I came at his den, which is 25 km away from the city. Frankly speaking I was disappointed when I saw this place. No much crowd of disciples and visitors, hardly 5 to 10 people are scattered outside a torn tent. One of them told me to wait and disappeared inside the tent, reappeared in 2 minutes and announced my arrival to baba.
My disappointment increased as I entered and saw an old man in his 60’s was sitting there, he is so lean and feeble that anyone can count his ribs, he is wearing a spectacle with one leg, the other leg was missing a replaced by a thread. As he looked at me started to laugh I could see few teeth were missing as well.
I patiently waited for 10 minutes and then asked him, “Why are you laughing?”
“I don’t know, I feel kinda funny.” The intensity of his laugh increased, now even his whole body is shaking. ‘He really is mad’, I thought.
“Of course I am; why do you think they call me Pagla baba?” I was completely stumped now, baba actually read my mind.
“Do you know why I am here?” I asked in a serious tone.
“You are looking for the cure of your nightmares.” Baba was still laughing.
I let out a long sigh, so Ashit, the janitor has spilled all the info to his baba, I thought.
Pagla baba stop laughing, “No, Ashit did not tell me anything.” He spoke with a smile.
Now I was certain somehow Pagla baba knows the art of thought reading, I heard of similar kind of power exist among humans. And why not, how ant’s movements start before rain? How dogs and other animals can anticipate earth quakes and other natural calamities? Even we humans have something call sixth sense and some people have it to an aggregative length.
“So do I get the cure?” I asked, in an unsure tone.
“Go back home today, meet me after 3 days.” Baba is calm now
I got up and turned back when I heard him again, “You forgot my fees.”
I turned back to him, “How much?”
“Six hundred and fifty-three.” He smiled.
I opened my pursue, I had the exact same amount. I handed it over and asked him, “Do you always charge as much some has in his pocket?”
“Not to everyone. But yes, you must pay, you must pay your debt.” Pagla baba started to laugh hysterically again. I bid him goodbye and hit the road.
‘He that dies pays all debts. – The Tempest by William Shakespeare’
As I walked into my office, I headed straight to the cabin of my General Manager.
The GM looked at me and exclaimed. “What happened to you? you look like a complete mess, are you alright?
“I would like to resign.” I replied with a crisp voice and with a straight face.”
GM looked completely at sea, “What? Why?”
“I am starting a journey to somewhere and I have a strong feeling I won’t come back alive. I guess if I resign now you’ll have enough time to recruit someone.”
GM had a long and hard look at me. “is it another trick of yours to ask for a vacation?”
I smiled, kind of smile which could mean yes or no or both.
“I am giving you 15 days of leave on medical ground, I heard you were hospitalized, you don’t look too good either. Go see a doctor and get well soon.” He spoke in a harsh tone and looked down on the papers he is holding. I turned back and was about to leave.
“Listen.” GM spoke again, “Here’s the visiting card of a renowned physiatrist, he knows me, go see him once if you can.”
I took the card and left home thinking few lines of ‘King Lear’.
As I was wandering around the city, my car stopped near a café, as I rolled down the window my eyes glued to a young couple sitting there, they were chatting, laughing and having a good time, while talking their heads were hitting each other and parting with another laugh, one happy couple who dares the world to be careless about.
It was Aditi and another young man, I felt a sharp tingling sensation of jealousy. I parked the car nearby and walked into the café, straight up to Aditi.
“Hey”, I greeted her,
“Oh hi”, Aditi replied with a surprised cheerful tone.
“After that day you never met me, never even called me, what did I do to deserve such? Did your feelings subside for me? In spoke in an artificial hurtful and complaining tone.
Aditi’s surprised eyes turned red into anger in few moments. The guy next to her also looked quite perplexed but nonetheless he decided to take the matter in his own hands
“Hi this is Vikalp, and you are?” he asked
“Aditi’s boyfriend.” I extended my right hand at him. He couldn’t shake it but spilled his cold coffee all over.
“Who is he?” The guy almost screamed at Aditi.
“A patient of mine.” Aditi munched her words in despicable anger and then pushed me in a corner.
“What is the meaning of all these?” Aditi hissed while holding a part of shirt.
“Who is he?” I asked in a smiling tone.
“He is my boyfriend. What are you even doing here?” Aditi hissed again.
“Really? That nincompoop?” My voice was filled bitter sarcasm.
She left my shirt and stepped back, “You have no rights to speak such about him, I demand you to leave now.” This time she spoke calmly.
“Aditi, come here.” The impatient tone from her behind was Vikalp’s
I grinned, “Why not let us put your love into a test, just ignore him and come with me, let’s go for a drive. “
“I don’t have time for your drama or games. Good bye.” She went back to her table and I started to walk back to my car. On my way I saw Aditi and Vikalp was throwing hands in the air and arguing over. I grinned again, did I just sow a seed of doubt between them?
‘Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt — William Shakespeare.’
As I was about to sip into my morning tea, I heard my doorbell ringing without pause, “Someone is up real early, it’s 10 am.” I thought.
As I open the door a plain looking man in his mid-thirties was standing in front of me. “You have to come with me, right now.” The stranger spoke in an authoritative voice.
“Sure let’s go.” I put down my cup and about to start, in my pyjamas.
The stranger looked a little puzzled. “Like this?” he asked.
“You said right now.” I replied.
“And you don’t want to know who am I and where you’re going?” His surprised voice annoyed me.
“That you were supposed to tell me, but you don’t I won’t compel.” I answered.
“Let’s go.” As we came down I saw SUV is waiting down below with ‘Police’ written on it. I looked back at the stranger and he flashed his ID, “Piyush Arora, from crime branch.”
“Oh”, I exclaimed and stepped inside the vehicle.
After 30 mins the SUV stopped in front of a huge 3 stored house, this time I was surprised as I thought we were on the way to police station.
Inspector Piyush held me by my shoulder and almost dragged me in. On my way I managed to read the nameplate, Mohan Majumdar, DIG, Crime.
Inside there was a man in his fifties sitting on a sofa, wearing white kurta and pajama, he looked at both of us.
“Got him Sir.” Piyush Arora spoke in a such enthusiastic tone that even I started feel special about myself, after all crime branch it is, which was looking for me.
DIG crime looked at his inspector and tell him to get out with hand gesture.
“How do you know my daughter?” He asked in a cold voice as the inspector left.
I never actually had misfortune to meet any top cop, Mohan Majumdar was a short, half bald and very fair man, with a round face, just like Aditi.
“So you spy on your daughter?” I took my seat in front of him, on the opposite single sofa seat.
“Answer the question before I turn your bones into white powder.” DIG was fuming.
“talcum or cocaine?” I yawned
“Shut up. And answer me.” Mohan Majumdar roared.
“You shut up. You don’t know how close I am to our local MLA. You want to get into trouble?”
I roared back. In reality I don’t even the name of the MLA of my locality nor any other. But it’s like rule, you want to intimidate somebody, tell them about someone they fear. Like to common people it’s cops or goons, for cops its politicians, to politicians about votes and elections, etc etc.
As DIG Mohan Majumdar was looking at me suspiciously I continued.
“I know you have two daughters, the elder one went against your wish and chose a guy. Since then you are over protective about your younger daughter, spying on her when she’s out of home and she hates it. You don’t even like her current boyfriend, Vikalp or whatever his name is.”
I stopped as I could see him completely perplexed by now. I saw the photo frame on the table in a corner, Aditi with another girl, no doubt she looks older and alike her. I beat around the bush and I guessed I got few of them right on. No daughter like her father spying on her, especially on her private life.
I started to walk leaving him behind. “There will be eyes on you.” Mohan Majumdar barked. I thoroughly ignored him.
As I was walking though the hall to the main door I saw Aditi was coming down, she saw me stopped on the stairs, her face looked puffy and eyes swollen, dried tears on her cheeks carrying the evidence that she might fell asleep crying.
“Lovers quarrel.” I chuckled. She frowned and about to say something when I stopped her. “I was called upon, by your dad.”
“Why?” her disgusted tone hit me hard.
“To break you up from Vikalp and take you away.” A cruel smile waved up on my lips. I walked out slowly, do I even know what I am doing?
“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.”― William Shakespeare, Macbeth.
I got up from my good morning sleep next day hearing my doorbell ringing madly. As I opened the door I found Aditi Majumdar standing at my door step.
“Congratulation, you just turned my life into a living hell.”, She spoke with fire in her eyes and bitterest tone.
“Did I?” I was yawning and scratching my neck.
“I just want to know why are you doing all these, that day after you left I had the nastiest fight with Vikalp and then yesterday with my dad. Why did you lie to me? What exactly you want?” she had tears in her eyes.
“I am going to Pagla baba today, he told me to meet him after 3 days. Why don’t you come along, he might solve your problems too.” I yawned while speaking.
Aditi had a long and hard look at me for few seconds then she slapped me on my face so hard that sleepy eyes said good bye to my sleep.
I stepped off from the door as she stepped in while slapping, “Come on in, have some coffee.” And I closed the door behind her.
Aditi at her wit’s end now accepted the weird incidents happening around her and calmly came sat on the dining table. I pointed at the kitchen, “Water is on the oven and the coffee powder and milk are there, help yourself. Give me 10 minutes and we will be on our way to solve our problems.” I smiled.
As we were sitting in front of Pagla baba he already gave me a brown thread tied around my upper arm. “Where you’re going you will face grave danger; this might help you.” Pagla baba indicated at the thread, today he isn’t laughing instead he is calm and quiet.
Aditi was sitting there, befuddled. She didn’t know what to do. I looked at Pagla baba and grinned, “So this thing cost me 600 odd, not much of a worth ain’t it? By the way this is Dr. Aditi Majumdar and she too has great many issues which she thinks are caused by me.”
“They will go away, soon.” The old man smiled.
As we walked out of Pagla Baba’s hut I saw a dog sitting on the yard, a black dog, with one eye, sticking its tongue out and breathing heavily.
“Just like the one in your nightmares, isn’t it?” Pagla baba started to laugh hysterically again. “Start today, tonight is the new moon, I could warn you not to go but I know you won’t listen.
Aditi hold my hand pressed it so hard. “Can I come with you?” She asked in a scared tone.
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Hamlet, Shakespere.’
And I am walking again, on these lash green grasses, just like I have seen it in my dream, in my nightmare, the only difference is Aditi is also walking beside me. This field wasn’t very hard to find, even today people don’t come this way much, villagers directed us in the right direction.
It’s only green and blue can be seen, the sun is on its way to bid goodbye and the dying lights making it look like a dreamland.
And I remember,
‘Two months after the death of Ashfaq, Ruksar called me, to visit her at their place. When I went there I found Ashfaq’s parents are away. Ruksar took me to the terrace.
“I heard your conversation with my brother that day. He was so scared to go there alone.”
I shrugged. Ruksar continued.
“My brother told me you people had a pact, you were supposed to be there with him in our village, you both were supposed to go there to unravel whatever you thought was unreal. But you did not keet your promise, and you pushed my brother to the edge.
He did not want to go, but he was too afraid to be called a coward, he was too desperate not lose his friendship with you. But you never cared. I begged Ashfaq not to go, yet he went, he couldn’t see his only friend turning his back at him.
I loved you both as my own brothers, but you had a different feeling for me. I knew it and now I know you aren’t worth it. But at least you will feel guilty of this.’
She stopped and took a deep breath, suddenly I spotted that she’s at the very edge of the terrace, before I could react she just let herself fall. No scream of pain but just a thud sound.
I stood there motionlessly and then walked out of that house slowly, there was no one in the street at 2 pm afternoon to spot a 17 years old boy walking off hurriedly. The city knew that evening, a grieving sister committed suicide.’
“Where is that brown thread?” Aditi asked suddenly as the old wrecked hut slowly started to emerge in front of us.
“I tore it and threw it somewhere here in these grasses.” I replied calmly.
Aditi looked at me with scared eyes and disbelieve, and then she ran towards the opposite direction.
The smell is getting stronger, the smell of rotten flesh. I could see the nameless, faceless figure is slowly emerging from the hut, with the big stick it’s holding. My vision and other senses are getting blurred, I am losing my power to even think.
“I FOUND IT!!” I heard Aditi screaming, as I turned my head I saw her running towards me, what I could see is she’s holding something in her right hand, something brown.
I looked back at that thing, floating and coming towards me, and I could see a black spot behind it, slowly getting bigger and bigger as if something is running towards me. I heard that black spot barking madly.
I knelt down and screamed, “I am sorry Ashfaq, I am sorry Ruksar. I am sorry.” And tears started to roll off from my eyes.
1) “Only 140 characters allowed.” She whispered.
“I only need 10.” He replied. “Rest of them are for you, to reply. ‘I love you’”.
2) She didn’t want to force a commitment-phobic, so decided to keep their child and set him free.
He kneeled in front of her, to be a good father, a better husband and the best friend.
3) “She doesn’t love me; I have no reason to live.” The jilted lover left a note behind.
Only if he could see how much he means to her. To his mother.
4) “What is your inspiration?” question asked.
“Love.” I replied.
“Ahh, love made you a good writer.” Exclaimed and remarked.
“Love left me a better writer.” I smiled.
5) He was graduated. His mother was overwhelmed. “It’s time to mortgage my gold jewels and send him abroad to study further.” She thought.
She was graduated. Her father was worried. “I have to save more to make her more gold jewels, for her marriage.” He thought.
They were twins…….
6) They met, after a long time, in the Airport. “You’re still so good at pulling my legs.” She laughed.
“You hardly gave me a chance to pull your hands.” He replied, with a smile, sadly.
7) “Let all your dreams come true.” His wish was granted.
He forgot, nightmares are dreams too.
8) Her status says she is still online.
“She must be chatting with her friends.” He consoles himself, but deep down he knows, he isn’t the one keeping her awake late at night.
9) “I killed them all, all the infidels, and protected you name, stayed true to my faith.”
The terrorist pushed open the door of heaven with his both hands, happy and zealous with his achievements
He found his god laying in a pool of blood, with bullet wounds and splinters gashes. “So you did my son.” He gasped.
10) Satnam Singh was worried sick as his wife Neha was giving birth to their first born. His father in law Subramaniam Rajagopal was praying for the good health of daughter and the grandchild.
As surgeon Imtiaz Hossain wiped his sweat from his forehead and smiled, the gynaecologist Pavel Lajwani and assistant Saurabh Jain congratulate him for the successful Caesar. Nurse Anita Matthew screamed with joy to its family, “It’s a baby girl.”
With the first cry of the new-born, suddenly the word intolerance started to sound so meaningless.
It was an idle Saturday evening with no much of work in hand. I was lazing around at my place almost bored to death, I decided to pay a visit to Dr. Akhil Mitra. It’s actually been a while I met him since I wrote the story Doppelganger based on one of his case files. As I reached to his place and about to knock the door I heard sounds of laughter and two voices in bits and pieces. As I knocked, to my surprise Inspector Dubey opened the door.
Me: “Oh, hello Inspector Dubey, pleasant surprise, I thought you are on your duty”, I spoke.
Dubey: “Naah, I am on leave today, my wife and kids have gone to my in-laws place, so I thought to spend some time with Dr Mitra. Come in, Dr will be pleased to see you.”
As I entered, I saw Akhil was sitting on his couch, keeping his legs on the table and sipping into his tea cup. The weather turned a bit pleasant now as I could see some clouds in the sky. I greeted him.
Me: Dr. Mitra, how are you? All’s well?
Akhil: “Ahh Ani my boy, come in. How you lost your way to my doorstep today. Have a sit, let me make you some tea, the pakodas on the table are still hot I guess.”
Me: “You don’t bother, I am going to kitchen, looks like your cup is going to be empty soon. How about another round of tea?” I asked in a cheerful tone
Akhil: “You know me and Dubey, we will never say no to tea. But hey you just came in and you are going to kitchen to make tea?”
Me: “Well, between 3 of us I make the best tea, so no sweat. You people just wait here for 5 minutes.”
As we 3 of us sat together for the second round of tea, Dubey started the topic.
Dubey: “Sir, why you never got married? You are still a handsome old man and I am sure you have several admires in your young days; I have also heard about a few of them. Was no one worthy enough to tie the knot with?
Akhil did not answer immediately, rather he was smiling patiently.
Me: “Yes, even I am curious about it too, I mean I am sure back then you had a huge female fan following, but have you never fall in love?
Akhil: “There’s hardly a man who never fell in love with a woman.”
Dubey: “Then tell us about that woman sir, we are here to know”, he urged impatiently.
Akhil: “Very well then, as we all have nothing better to do, let me tell you the story.”
It was back in 1989, I have just finished my masters and started my PhD, It was the month of October when I got a letter from my cousin Avinash. He was working in Railways and got married almost a year and half back. He was presently posted then on the highest railway station of India, ‘Ghoom, Darjeeling’.
We were always quite closed during our childhood but I couldn’t make it to his marriage, so he invited me this time to take a vacation and stay with them for few weeks. I was already exhausted with my research work, so I found this invitation as a welcome break from my hectic schedule. I packed my baggage and started the very next day. When I reached the destination, I found Avinash was waiting with his wife to receive me.
Avinash: “Brother, any difficulties during your journey?”
Me: “Not at all, so good to see you, now introduce me to your wife.”
Avinash introduced his wife Shikha to me, she was tall, well built and tough looking woman. Avinash brought his open hood jeep to take me his home. I was impressed to see her driving us the whole way, back then it was kind of rare for women to drive. Avinash was always a dare devil kind and one of his many hobbies were hunting, I was surprised and pleased to know Shikha also had the same hobby and quite good with hunting Riffles. She bragged about killing a wild boar in the jungle of Assam. Her dad was in Airforce and she was born and brought in a quite competitive environment. To me it looked like a match in heaven.
Once we reached there, I found the quarter of Avinash is in a beautiful location, from his terrace there’s an awesome view of Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan peaks. The beauty of Himalayas was still not hidden behind the pollution and population that time. The climate was chilled and pleasant, it was mid of October, and winter was still to come.
In the evening we all went out to a nearby cafe, Avinash told me he will introduce few of his acquaintances here. As we all sat down with our fuming coffee, Avinash introduce me to another two gentlemen. Mr Shailesh Das, a young bank manager recently posted here, he was in his mid-20s like me and an elderly person Mr Charles D’Souza, an Anglo Indian who’s in his early 50s.
The young banker looked quite jolly and cheerful in nature, but I was intrigued by the elderly gentleman, he was a retired pensioner but his hobby and passion was quite unique. He was a medium, he used to play as a medium in planchette.
Planchette is an art or technique to call the spirit of a dead person. There are various ways to perform planchette, like use Ouija board or using pen and paper on the table. But the most famous way was to use a live person who acts as a bridge between two worlds and the spirit enter into him and answer the questions put to him by other participants.
Though a lot of intellectuals consider it as bogus and wastage of time, a lot of famous people vouch for it. A medium must have some qualities that clearly others don’t possess, as he must be spiritual and respectful towards the spirit and must have a body which is easily accessible to the spirits, not everyone can play a medium hence it’s an important role among the participants who perform planchette.
Being an avid observer of paranormal activity, I could never confirm nor deny the authenticity of planchette, but I always kept an open mind and fascinated with the idea of mingling with a medium, it was during my early days of course and I was really interested.
In few days we really got along, after 3 days we were having a tea party at Avinash’s place. Shailesh and Mr D’Souza were also present, when we were surprised and overwhelmed by the presence of a new guest. As there was a knock at the door, I voluntarily answered. There she was standing, not so tall, medium built, fair and feminine, she was wearing a black gown with a black hat, he deep dark eyes were darker then the shade of her gown, her strong jawbone, cherry lips and confidant stare made her look like a goddess of elegant beauty.
Before I could open my mouth Shikha shouted from behind, “Hey, look who’s here, Rebecca!!!”
As I moved out of her way she entered inside, Shikha almost came running and hugged her. “Where have you been? I heard you were out of station, come in, you are at the right time.” Shikha spurred those words enthusiastically.
“Yes, I was out for a few days. I see a new face in this party.” She indicated to me while speaking.
“Ohh, That’s Akhil, Mr Akhil Mitra, cousin of Avinash, one of the brightest mind in his university, doing his PhD on Parapsychology. Rest of us are already known to you,” Shikha was smiling while introducing me.
“How do you do Miss Rebecca?” I leaned forward and shook her hand. I could see her smile vanished for a moment. She shook back my hand and answered, “Rebecca Fernandez, Mrs Rebecca Farnandez”
I won’t lie, her words hit me like a punch on my face, especially the word Mrs. I had seen and dated few beautiful ladies by that time, but truly I haven’t witnessed such breathlessly charming prettiness.
“Hello Mr D’souza.” Rebecca greeted. “Ahh my child, how are you?” Mr D’Souza replied with a smile.
“And Shailesh, what are you up-to lately?” Rebecca turned to the banker. “Nothing much really, you know how boring my life is”, Shailesh answered with a grin.
In another one hour it became clear to me that Mr Banker has fallen head over heels for Rebecca as he kept trying to make conversation and tried to flirt with her unsuccessfully. I can’t say I did not enjoy the show, but I was more curious to know about her.
I was helping Shikha in the kitchen when I asked her about Rebecca, “Poor soul, such a young age to lose her husband.” Shikha spoke abruptly.
“You mean she’s a widow?” I asked astonishingly.
“Yes she is. My heart goes for that poor tender thing. It’s been a year and half she lost George, right after 3 months of their marriage” Shikha shook her head sadly.
“No wonder Shailesh is trying to woo her, he is making quite a scene,” I replied in a mischievous tone.
“Nothing goes unnoticed from you”, Shikha replied back naughtily, the she spoke in a serious voice, “But he shouldn’t, knowing her past he shouldn’t.”
“What is it?” I was curious now,
Shikha hesitated, “Probably nothing, but there is a history, possibly just a rumour,”
“Rebecca is young, beautiful and sounds quite intelligent. She never thought of remarrying someone?” I asked.
Shikha hesitated again and then spoke, “After the demise of her husband, her parents found another guy, Robert Almeida. Everything was set when Robert met with a road accident, you know the hilly roads sometimes can prove fatal, Robert’s jeep was found 50 feet below from the cliff, his vehicle’s petrol tanker blasted and his body was charred beyond recognition.
Then it was a local called Ravinder Singh, who was so fond of Rebecca, Rebecca too were known to have a soft spot for him. But he was a heavy drunker, few days after his dead body was found hanging from the nearby jungle. Police verified he was too drunk to hang himself, they opened case of homicide but couldn’t arrest anyone.
After that it was Somsundar Chakrabarty, the characterless boss of her late husband George, Som used to follow and harass her in so many ways. That B****d had a wife and kids yet he was trying to lure her. Then one day he went straight up to her house with his heinous intention. He was found heavily wounded in her backyard by police. Before he died he confessed he went there to force himself upon Rebecca, but just before that a shadow emerged behind him and that broke his skull with a heavy blunt instrument. He confirmed it was not Rebecca by any chance as the shadow was taller than her.
All these incidents had an adverse effect and created some unwanted whispers,” Shikha caught her breath.
The party ended around 10pm, Shailesh was dejected, hence he left early, Mr D’Souza bid goodbye by 9:30pm. In hilly places like Darjeeling 10 PM looks very much like 12 PM midnight. Someone needed to escort Rebecca to her from Avinash place which wasn’t very far, may be half a mile, so I volunteered.
As we were walking the quite dark road together, I was feeling like piece of iron unimaginably attracted towards the magnet called Rebecca.
As I dropped her in her door steps she turned to bid me goodnight and then she spoke.
“Do you believe that women actually can read the mind of men?”
“Then just stay away from me.” Rebecca replied.
“Rebecca, you deserve a second chance, you deserve to be happy, to be loved, cherished and protected by someone.” I couldn’t but blurted my heart out.
“I am protected….. By my late husband,” With fire in her eyes she replied and stormed inside her home.
Next day morning I woke with a fuming hot bed tea right in front of me, Shikha was standing there and smiling impishly.
“So, how did the tete a tete go with Miss err.. Mrs Rebecca?” She asked
“Ahh, nothing special, she told me to keep away from her.” I replied with a smile
Shikha shook her sadly, “She’s been through a lot yes, I mean her late husband wasn’t a very kind one, he was known for his temper and brawling, once he almost bitten a coolie to death for trivial reason. He was way older to her too, almost in his mid-thirties.”
I started to sip into my tea cup. I made up my mind to pay a little visit to Mrs Rebecca Fernandez today.
As I hit the road around 9 am by foot, after walking a while I heard a car honking behind me.
“Mr Mitra, where you are heading to?” I heard a familiar voice, I turned back and found Shailesh Das was peeping his Head out of his white ambassador
“I was just going nearby.” I answered.
“Ohh hop in Mr Mitra, we both are the sailors of the same destination.” He smiled
As I opened the door of the car, I couldn’t help but noticing the driver, he was almost 6 and ½ feet tall, hugely built person, when he turned his head his eyes were red like rotten tomatoes.
Shailesh saw me staring at his driver and laughed, “Mr Mitra, that is my driver come bodyguard Raghunath Yadav, he was in the army but that didn’t suit him. Don’t get intimidated by his size or looks, he is actually pretty loyal.”
I smiled back and sat next to him. As the car started he removed his sunglasses and looked at me,” I presume you are on your way to see Rebecca, if I am not wrong.”
I hesitated then answered, “Yes, I am, a matter of fact.”
Shailesh wore his sunglasses again and lazily leaned back to the seat, “Yeah, I know you went to drop her back at her place and you had some intimate discussions as well.”
“The words spread faster in small towns I see.” I replied patiently.
“Well I and Rebecca are friends, she doesn’t hide anything from me,” Shailesh replied lazily again.
“Then I take you people speak a lot over phone, as it’s just 9 am and it’s most unlikely you have already met her between last night and this morning as you stay pretty far out.” I spoke.
“Mr Mitra, you have a very good observation, I tell you what, I have no problem if she chooses another guy over me, but I will not see her getting hurt by anyway.” The last few words almost hissed out of his mouth. “And I guess we have already reached to our destination.” Shailesh indicated out of the window, I saw Rebecca was sitting on her lawn.
As I opened the door and walked to her, her face did glow up for a moment but turned pale seeing Shailesh behind me.
“Hello Akhil, good morning.” She spoke in a soft tone.
“Good morning to you too Rebecca.” Shailesh said those words in a loud voice.
“You people here early in the morning. Anything important?
“Nothing at all, Mr Mitra here wanted to see you, so gave him a lift in my car. I guess my job is done here, I should on my way to work, after all not everyone is fortunate enough to have good time in hand to chit chat.” Shailesh was speaking in an unusually cheerful tone, as if he was trying to hide his anger and frustration behind it.
Once Shailesh left we sat together, this time I was curious about her past life, though I wasn’t sure how much she was going to reveal after all.
“So you said, you are protected by your late husband, may I know why you feel that way? I mean someone who’s dead cannot be around to look after you.” I asked.
Rebecca smiled, “I know Akhil you have already asked about me to Shikha, and I am sure you have also learned about 3 painful deaths after I became a widow.”
“I hope you didn’t mind me asking about you to Shikha and she telling me about you, I persuaded her as I find you an interesting character.” I had an apologetic tone.
She ignored it and continued, “Those 3 people Robert Almeida, Ravinder Singh and Somsundar Chakrabarty, I hardly knew them and I had no wish to be the reason for their deaths, on the contrary maybe I wanted Somsundar dead for what he was about to do to me.
I was hurriedly married off to my husband George as I was once fell in love with a guy whom my family never accepted. George was almost 12 years older to me, he was suspicious and abusive, one of his favorite thing to do was getting dead drunk and then beat me to a pulp. I was not even allowed to speak to any guy even when we are out in a party. All our neighbors were aware of it and they used pity me but were scared my husband’s temper.
So I can shamelessly admit I was happy to hear the news of his death, I thought I can start over, can have a new life. I was all set to remarry Robert as I found him kind and nice, but then fate had other plans, so it was with Ravinder. But then when the day arrived when Som, that pig came to violate my honour, he came inside like a mad drunk bull in my house, punched and kicked me and threw me on the couch as I was trying to resist, and then I saw a tall shadow emerged right behind him from nowhere and hit him on his head with a wooden chair, not once but thrice, Som tried to run away but collapsed just outside my backyard.
Then I remembered something, once when George was alive and in a good mood I asked him why he being so mean to me and he answered, ‘You are mine, I can and I will do whatever I wish to do with you. I am your tormentor and I am protector, you will always be mine. If I am dead or alive it doesn’t matter, you shall not be someone else’s in this life.’
I don’t know how else to explain all those happened to me, people started calling me ‘The Black Widow’, whichever man turn me, he ends up dead.” She broke down while saying the last few sentences.
I held her shoulders and tried to console her “They all might be just a horrible coincidence; your late husband’s words mere be some jibber jabber of a mad man. Do you really want to believe in all these and spend your whole life in darkness?”
“There’s more.” She pushed her chin up and looked at me, “I can feel their presence, my dead husband, Ravinder, Robert, sometimes I see what they saw while they were alive, I can’t explain it, It’s inexplicable. I don’t say these to people as they might take as insane too.” She was in her tears.
I held her face in my palms, wiped the tears with my thumbs and almost naturally I kissed her lips while she closed her eyes. The moment lasted for maybe a few seconds and then we broke free, she almost jumped on her feet and ran inside. I stood up like a fool and slowly started to walk back.
As I walked back to Avinash’s place I found them arguing over who is better at shooting guns, there were 2 hunting rifles were lying in a corner of the backyard and few broken wine bottles who were used at targets.
Shikha saw me and came running at me, “Look here Akhil I shot 4 of 5 bottles and Mr Avinash Mitra only took out 3 of 5, now he is arguing on wind direction and all, now you dare take your brother’s side.”
Avinash twisted his lips, “Huh, anyone can shoot sitting bottles, the talent is to shoot a moving target.”
Shikha made a face too, “I will show you my dear, when the time comes.” And she stormed in the bedroom
Avinash was laughing, he turned to me and said, “Well, at times I feel she is a better shot than me, but again my pride comes in-between.”
I shook my head, “Indeed.”
“Oh, while you were out Shailesh has come over, it seems Rebecca kept a dinner party tomorrow evening, he came to invite us on her behalf.” Avinash was speaking as he was checking few letters,
“Are you sure?” I asked in a puzzled tone, “I was there with her all these while, she never mentioned about any dinner party.”
“Why would he lie?” Avinash was taken aback, “But if you want I can ask Shikha to confirm with her one more time”
As Shikha called Rebecca, she confirmed there’s indeed a dinner party tomorrow evening and we all are invited,
The night arrived, we all were present at Rebecca’s place, there were same familiar faces, Me, Avinash, Shikha, Rebecca, Shailesh and Charles D’Souza. As we were finishing our drinks the power went off. The whole bungalow sank into the darkness.
“There must be a power failure.” Shikha shouted.
“Unlikely.” I responded. The houses nearby have power.”
“Ahh, must be some fuse gone off, let me ask Raghunath to get an electrician.” Avinash spoke.
The candles and lanterns were lit as Shailesh send his driver to fetch an electrician, as Rebecca’s bungalow was little far off then it’s neighbouring houses and on a higher altitude, we could see the lights in those houses faintly.
“So, while we get the lights back, why don’t we do something fun?” Shailesh asked
“What exactly do you have in your mind?” Avinash asked
“Amm, let’s see, we have a parapsychologist, a medium and dark bungalow, why not we call a spirit?” Shailesh was jovial
“What nonsense?” Rebecca replied
“Nonsense!! No my dear the nonsense is how you keep saying your dead husband is around not letting you to get remarried, nonsense is how you are snubbing me away but entertaining the new stranger Mr Mitra. How about calling your dead husband’s spirit and sort it all at once?” Shailesh’s tone was serious now.
“Calm down Shailesh!” First time Mr D’Souza spoke
“Oh I am calm, but don’t we all want to see your gift Mr D’Souza, this is a perfect time to show us your talent.”
“I don’t consider it as a talent rather a way to help people” Mr D’Souza’s voice was composed and quiet.
After some heated discussion everyone came to agree it’s a good idea to call George Fernandez’s spirit through planchette.
Shikha excused herself from it as someone got to check on food and drinks for dinner.
We all sat on a round table with a candle burning right in between, the other candles were put off and lanterns were deemed, the feeble light of the candle in the big room already making a supernatural ambiance. Shailesh and Mr D’Souza sat right opposite to each other. After Shailesh its Rebecca and Avinash on the right of Mr D’Souza, I was between Shailesh and Mr D’Souza completing the circle.
“Everyone put their both hands on the table, close your eyes and try to picturise George Fernandez, I guess everyone either saw him or his photo, so please visualize him and call him here.” Mr D’Souza’s heavy voice made commanding effect. I have already saw George’s photo with Rebecca.
“Once you see the table shaking and my head gets tilted, please ask if George has come. Also please ask the questions that can be answered strictly by Yes or No.”
There was a complete silence for 10 minutes and then the table started to move and its legs were making sounds, Mr D’souza’s head was fell down on his left shoulder. We were bit puzzled as what to do next. I thought to take the next initiative.
“Is it you George Fernandez? Are you with us?” I asked
“Yes.” The answer came from Mr D’Souza, it was his voice alright but sounded like the voice is coming from a long distance.
“We have called you here to ask you few questions. Would you answer us?”
“Yes.” D’Souza spoke again, his eyes were tightly closed and head was resting on his left shoulder.
“Rebecca feels that you are always around her, not letting her be with any man after your demise, you don’t want her to remarry. Is it true?” I asked again
“No”, the reply came.
“The death of 3 people involved with Rebecca, do you have to do anything with them?”, I shot my next question
“Do you know who is responsible for those deaths?
“Is he or she is among us today?”
“Is he someone close to Rebecca?” I put forwarded my trick question
Shailesh Das jumped off his feet, “You think I will believe in all these Horses**t, open your eyes Mr D’Souza, you’re an imposter.” Saying those words Shailesh was searching something in his pocket fanatically.
“Looking for this Mr Das?” Without us noticing D’Souza was also on his feet, something of silver color was glittering in his hand, in the faint light of candle also we could see D’Souza was holding a pistol.
At the same time someone increase the flame of the nearby lantern. “Lower your weapon Oldman, or I will shoot your head clean off.” I turned and saw Raghunath Yadav, Shailesh’s Driver come bodyguard appeared from nowhere and aiming a double barrel shotgun at D’Souza.
“And you two hold it right there!!!” It was a female voice this time, none other than Shikha. She appeared from the other door from the right in the room. She was holding and aiming her Karabiner 98 kurz 7.92×57mm Mauser bolt-action hunting rifle. Leaving me, Rebecca and Avinash sitting in-between this Mexican standoff.
Dubey opened the main door and looked outside. It was raining cats and dogs. The sky was dark, cloudy and getting occasionally lightened up by thunder lightning.
“Looks like the rain won’t stop tonight.” Dubey chuckled.
“Well my guest room is ready, but what about dinner” Akhil asked.
I went to the kitchen checked the ration, “How about khichdi and omelet and brinjal fry?”
“Sound delicious, in this pouring rainy night.” Akhil and Dubey both spoke cheerfully.
As we are done with cooking we sat for dinner, it was khichdi, egg fry, brinjal fry and desi ghee, which tasted better than it ever could.
Once again we sat in Akhil’s drawing room or as he described we both almost pulled him from his good night sleep to finish his story.
“Hold your gun aiming that old bastard Raghu, and shoot if he moves.” He turned to Shikha, “Listen Shikha, it’s not me, it’s him, D’Souza.”
“Well in that case I want both him and your driver to lower their weapon, I am not trusting anyone till you do.” Shikha shouted.
“Shailesh, what the hell is going on, and Mr D’Souza please.” Rebecca stood up and try calm people down.
“Well Mr. Shailesh, what are doing you doing with this handgun in your pocket than? And how come driver is also armed? Seems like you came here with full preparation.” Mr D’Souza chuckled.
Shailesh smiled, “Yes, and like an experienced conman you picked it up from my pocket without me even realizing, I see you are quite good at pickpocketing and stuff. And as a matter of fact it’s not only us who are carrying weapon, seems like Mrs Shikha Mitra as well carrying her hunting rifle.”
“So can we all give up and have a proper discussion in a civilized way?” Rebecca moved near Mr D’Souza.
All of a sudden too many things happened at once, D’Souza grabbed Rebecca by her shoulder and pulled her towards him.
“Don’t shoot.” Shailesh screamed at Raghunath as he aimed for D’Souza who was holding Rebecca in front of him.
Then he shot at Raghunath before he could react, the bullet pierced through Raghu’s shoulder. Immediately D’souza turned at Shikha and yelled “Drop your gun or she dies.”, pointing his pistol at Rebecca’s head. Shikha was now aiming the gun at D’Souza but her clearly she was at her wit’s end.
Shailesh who as on the other side of table, leaped over it and attacked D’Souza with bare hands, he caught hold of D’Souza’s right hand and as both were struggling, Shailesh to snatch the gun and D’Souza to hold onto it.
Another cracking sound of bullet and with everyone’s horror Shailesh Das fell down on the floor, Mr D’Souza shook his shoulder and aimed the gun back at Shikha who was completely awestruck with the whole development.
injured and unconscious Raghunath was lying there with his shotgun resting few inches away from his hand. In the blink of an eye Avinash dived onto the floor and rolled, next thing I heard and was a blistering sound of another bullet and Mr D’souza’s ear splitting scream, the pistol he had and half of his palm, was gone, Avinash was holding the shotgun and smoke was coming out of its barrel. Avinash looked at his wife who was in shock but still holding the rifle, “Yeah baby, I am still the best shooter in the family.”, he grinned.
The police arrived in 15 minutes as we have called in. Next few days me and Avinash actively took part in the police investigation about the whole matter.
Shailesh and George:
Shailesh, before he got posted in here he was a bank manager of a branch of a nearby town. There was theft of 20 gold bars from his previous bank branch, and he was one of the suspect, but he was off the hook for lack of evidence.
Shailesh and George were partners in this crime, mostly it was George’s part to hide the gold and keep it safe till the things gets cooled off. Nobody ever suspected George as he was a railway employee and not connected to the bank, he carried the gold here and kept in a safe place.
His sudden death changed the whole equation, as George did not tell Shailesh where the gold bars are actually hidden. Shailesh took a transfer here and started to search it.
Rebecca had not disclosed a couple of things to us, one of which even she was unaware of. She was telepathic. Now Telepathy falls into different categories, Telepathic Communication, Telepathic Perception, clairvoyance etc. She had an ESP something called ‘Retro-cognitive telepathy’, she could enter into other people’s mind subconsciously, mostly when she was resting, sleeping or lost in some thoughts.
As I said it used to happen when she isn’t conscious she didn’t even know what she was doing, but every time she entered into someone’s mind the memory fragments of that person used stay inside her head. Thus she could see or feel the memories which were not hers, I guess that’s what she tried to tell me when she said she sometimes felt inside people’s head watching things.
Thus she had memories fragments of her Husband, Robert or Ravinder, whomever she was very attached to.
The other thing she did not tell us was Robert Almeida indeed wasn’t a stranger but her ex-boyfriend whom her parents initially rejected, but as she became a widow she expressed her feeling to remarry him and her parents couldn’t say no.
The real identity of Charles D’Souza:
Charles D’Souza was a small time crook who earned his reputation as psychic. He used to fool people claiming he got powers to speak to dead people and also he was involved into some violent crime including robbing his clients houses even for murder.
But he was also the biological father of George Fernandez, Charles and George’s mother got married quite in early days but it ended up in divorce. George’s mother moved here and got married again, George was raised by his mother and step-father. But George had his father’s blood in his vein, he also grew up a crooked dishonest man.
After a long time, Charles was back in town, George’s mother and foster father were already expired. There was a reunion of father and son. George told his father about the bank heist and golds, but did not disclose the place where he hid it.
Then the sudden death of George jolted him, George wasn’t popular and had many enemies, I’m not sure if he was killed or it was an accident, but the police promptly closed the case as an accident.
Then Charles came to know about his widowed daughter-in-law getting married again, George never introduced Rebecca to Charles as his father, she had no clue who he is, she simply believed his lies that he is just an old retired man.
When Charles find out Robert is actually the ex-boyfriend of Rebecca, he suspected that they both might have planned and killed his son, which is not true. But the cruel and vengeful father tampered the brake of Robert’s vehicle resulting his death.
Ravinder Singh was a private investigator hired by Shailesh, as he was after his gold and the keeper is already dead, his only hope was to find out if Rebecca knows something about it. Ravinder got close to Rebecca and started to investigate, when he found out about Rebecca’s ability and the idea strike to him that Rebecca might have few memories of George and using that he can find out where the gold is hidden.
But there was another guy keeping an close eye on Rebecca and Ravinder, that was Charles D’Souza. Charles came to know about his investigation mostly when Ravinder was drunk and spit out few information. When he came to know about the gold Charles saw an opportunity to kill two bird in one stone, get the gold and then take his revenge by killing his daughter-in-law, but first he had to make sure Ravinder doesn’t play a spoil sport, he removed him from the path.
Somsundar died in the hands of Raghunath. After the death of Ravinder, Shailesh smelled that Rebecca might be in danger, he ordered his loyal henchman to keep an eye on Rebecca. When she was attacked by Somsundar, Raghu intervened and in that scuffle Somsundar died. The tall shadow Rebecca saw before she fell unconcious was none other but Raghunath Yadav.
Rest of the story:
Once Shailesh received the news that Ravinder is killed he has no other choice to get into the act by himself, he tried to get closed to Rebecca but as days went by he started to fall for her genuinely. Not that his greed for the gold died off but still he was actually had fallen in love with her. It proved when he tried everything to protect Rebecca, starting from telling Raghu not to shoot when Rebecca was hostage than tried to save her life and died in that process.
Shailesh was a criminal but he also had human side, on the other hand Charles D’Souza was almost a psychopath who had no remorse or guilt for killing so many people.
Akhil finished the story and yawned again.
“But sir what happened to Rebecca, did you not tell her about how you feel about her.” Dubey asked
“I did, but she refused, she was not ready for any more commitment, she was heartbroken and horrified knowing how many men tried to use her for different reasons. She devoted rest of her life to the church and became a nun.”
“Are you people still in touch?” I asked
“No, we were in touch for few years through letters but then we moved on, I couldn’t forget her though.”
“What about the gold? Did police were able to track it?”
Akhil was smiling impishly. “Yes they did.”
“Where was it?” me and Dubey asked together.
“George kept it to the safest place he knew, he gave it to Rebecca. What could be the safest place for gold more than a woman’s possession.”
“So it was in George’s house all along?” I was surprised.
Akhil sighed, “No, she kept it in her bank’s locker, the same bank Shailesh was working in.!!!!!.”
She: *Frantically knocking the coffin the door* No you can’t do this to me, let me out. LET ME OUT!!
He: Oh I can, remember I am the one who’s writing the story. So the handsome stranger you fell for turned out to be a serial murderer who kills his victims by burying them alive. As we are speaking he is slowly lowering the coffin into the 6-foot pit.
She: You can’t do this to me you sick freak. You created a character and then fell for her, and when she stopped your advances he are killing her. You can’t do this *Sobbing*
He: It’s all over now. You are buried under 6 feet and no one can hear you screaming. Goodbye Jhumpa.
Writer Jhumpa Banerjee opened her eyes as she was lying on her bed. All of a sudden she’s feeling suffocated. She tried to get up but couldn’t. It felt like she’s in a closed box and no matter how hard she is trying she just can’t free her arms and legs, and nobody seems to hear her screaming. Her body slowly started to sink in the bed.
Akhil was sitting on the bench in the park for a while now, watching the birds in front of him, are screeching and picking the peanuts Akhil threw at them. He was observing the one of the pigeon closely, it has black polka dots on its whitish chest and it looked like an odd customer among its gang.
Someone cleared his throat next to him, “May I speak with you for some time?” The voice asked.
Akhil looked at him with curiosity, a man around in his early thirties, wearing a grey a shirt and a black pant was standing next to him. “By all means, please have a sit,” Akhil answered and shown the empty space on the bench.
“I hope I found the right guy. You are the famous psychologist, Dr. Akhil Mitra, I guess.” The stranger spoke in a soft voice. Akhil was measuring him from head to toe, about 6ft height, fair, black hair and eyes, the pair of eyes look dull and sad, yet there is a spark of some kind in them, a pair of thin pink lips, sharp nose and small ears. A man shouldn’t be called beautiful but handsomely, Akhil felt for this stranger ‘A beautiful guy’ would be an apt adjective, with very sublime features of femininity.
“I don’t know if I am the famous one, but yes I am Dr. Akhil Mitra.” Akhil laughed and replied.
“It’s a pleasure meeting you sir. I’m Hiren, Hiren Bose.” Hiren spoke those words and took a pause. Akhil felt he is hesitating for some reason.
“You can tell me what is bothering you, I will try my best to help you,” Akhil spoke in an assuring tone to Hiren.
“My wife…. My wife sees me, in multiple places.” Hiren said those words hesitatingly.
“Could you be a little more elaborate and specific?” Akhil requested in a warm voice. “Tell me everything, from the start.”
I am the only child of my parents. My father was a pilot in an airlines company and my mother was a homemaker. My father always used to be out of the station, we had enough servants and to take care of them and other businesses we had a manager called Gokul Misra or Misra uncle. I and my mother were very close, I was her ‘apple of eyes’. I remember she used to drop me at school and used to wait there until the last bell, even during recess she used to be with me. I was bullied by other schoolmates as I was such a ‘momma’s boy’, partially because I was also weak and feeble. My mother was always so protective of me.
When I was eight, my mother died, she had lung cancer and when it was detected it was too late. My dad was a complete workaholic, he came back to the country only finish the rituals of my mother’s funeral.
After that, he called me to his study room. “My son, I know how much you loved your mother, so did I, but now as she’s gone, I am worried about you. Next to me you will only inherit mine and your maternal grandfather’s fortune. You are young and you know the nature of my job, I can’t keep you fly by me till you grow up a little. Till then you will be under the guardian of your Misra uncle. I trust him completely, yet if you ever feel something is wrong, remember I am just a call away.”
My maternal grandfather has a huge tea estate, which was inherited by me after my mother’s death. As I was juvenile, as per his will dad was the caretaker, dad never bothered much about that estate and the income from it as his own salary was more than enough for us. As he went back to his work, Misra uncle becomes my guardian and caretaker. Gokul Misra or Misra uncle was short, dark and bald, and he had immense affection and love for me, he loved me just like his own son but always reminded me that he is mere a manager and I am the master, he was humble and intelligent, and absolutely loyal to my father.
Misra uncle had a daughter, Haimanti, we were of same age, after my mother’s death we became very close, almost all the time we were with each other. We grew up together, went to the same school and then college, slowly I started to realize I was falling in love with her, and I knew our feelings are mutual, even she was in love with me.
When I was in the last year of my college years, we got the bad news. My father passed away in a flight crash. As everything was burned and destroyed in that crash, the flight company was unable to retrieve his dead body, they sent back his belongings with their condolences and a fresh job offer for me, which I politely declined.
As a family of mine then I only had Misra uncle, Haimanti and few old and trusted servants. I was engrossed in our family tea business and in our tea estate, Misra uncle was getting old and he needed a helping hand, so we employed a new assistant manager. The new assistant manager was proved quite clever and street-smart, after few months of joining he was handling the works at ease, his name was Jiten Sappru.
One day as I came back home, I saw Misra uncle and 2 of the servants are standing around Jiten, who was sitting on the ground with a torn shirt and blood all over his face, he was clearly been beaten black and blue.
“What’s going on? Who did this to him?” I asked Misra uncle.
“He is fired. He won’t work here anymore.” Misra uncle said those words quietly.
Jiten was shown the door that very day. When I nagged Misra uncle to know the reason, after a lot of persuasions he hinted that Jiten was speaking ill and spreading rumours about me and Haimanti’s relation. I immediately took the decision of getting married to Haimanti and told the same to Misra uncle. Initially, he was dead against it, but then he accepted. In few days we had done a registered marriage without any ceremony, there’s hardly anyone to invite except the people at home.
As soon as we got married we started for Kashmir for our honeymoon. After 3 days tragedy strikes again, Haimanti went missing from the hotel room, next day her cold disfigured body beyond recognition was found 10 kilometres away in the nearby Jhelum River. Her eyes, face and parts of her body were eaten by the fishes. Misra uncle rushed there immediately as soon as he got the news, broken hearted and distraught we cremated her there and performed her last rituals. This unfortunate accident affected us both, I tried to forget everything and invoked myself into the business, but for Misra uncle, it’s proved too much take. In a year, he also passed away peacefully in his sleep. After his demise, in few months, the old servants also took their leave, partially because they were old and partially because of my indifference.
All these while I stayed a lonely workaholic man, but a year ago Riya came to my life, we fell in love and decided to get married, I thought my life about to take a turn towards happiness, but I was wrong.
Almost after 8 months of our marriage, one evening as I came back from work, as I entered into the drawing room there was no one. I thought Riya might be asleep on the first floor, I got refreshed and called her name, she got down from upstairs saw me and spoke in a puzzled voice.
“Did you go to the office again?”
“What again? I just came back now, get me some tea and snacks, I am starving.” I answered while wiping my face with a towel.
“But you came back today afternoon, had lunch with me and then we went to bed for a nap.”
“Were you dreaming all these time in your sleep?” I started to laugh. She looked confused. “Who knows, maybe, but it felt so real.” She tried to smile but couldn’t, she was looking worried.
“It must have been a dream baby.” I went and hugged her, she too held me tight. “I seriously hope so,” She said.
It happened again after a week or so. We were having breakfast on our dining table, Riya left the tea kettle on the gas oven, as she heard the kettle whistle she hurried into the and then I heard her scream and a sound of a heavy thud on the floor. I rushed into the kitchen to find Riya on the floor, unconscious. I carried her to bed and sprinkled water on her face. As soon as she gained her sense, she screamed again seeing me and then hugged me with both hands and started to sob.
“I… I saw him again, I saw you in the kitchen, leaning on the wall and smiling, and then I turned and saw the other you sitting on the dining table eating your sandwich through the door. There are two of you, there are one real and one fake of you…” She spoke in scared trembling voice.
It continued, she kept seeing me time to time, when I am there at home and also when I am not there, she almost started to act insane, last two weeks I didn’t go to work, I have always stayed with her, most of the time she is holding me. Our life has turned into a complete hell.
“I need you help Doctor, I think only you can help us,” Hiren said those words as his eyes were getting wet.
Akhil was observing Hiren closely, his story is incredible and astonishing, yet not even once he felt Hiren is lying, his eyes, body language and everything else were indicating he was describing the true event of his life as it happened.
“May I speak with Riya?” Akhil Asked. “Of course, you can. Would you like to come now with me?” Hiren enquired eagerly.
“Not tonight, I have some work to complete. How about tomorrow 9 AM?” Hiren Asked.
“Very well, we shall wait for you then.” Hiren replied and got up from bench, he started to walk and then again he turned and came back, “Doctor I don’t know if you accept fees or money for your services, but if you solve this case I shall be ever grateful to you and promise you to pay you by a fortune.”
Akhil smiled, “That won’t be necessary. Let’s meet tomorrow.”
Akhil reached to Hiren’s residence by 10 AM in the morning, Hiren sent his car to fetch him. His tea estate is 50 km away from the city and his bungalow is just behind the estate, a huge one. The entire place with the tea garden won’t be less than an acre Akhil presumed. Hiren greeted him warmly and informed he has arranged for his breakfast which Akhil politely declined. He was curiously waiting to meet Riya.
The walked up to their bedroom. Riya was lying on the bed and a young man of Hiren’s age was sitting there wearing his stethoscope. “This is our family physician and my friend Sudheer Chatterjee and my wife Riya.” Riya looked at Akhil with an empty gaze, Sudheer smiled and shook hands with Akhil.
“I have written some medicine and a strong sedative for Riya, make sure she take them after food, I am leaving now, I shall check her up in another two days,” Sudheer spoke as he started to keep arrange his medical kit bag.
On his way out he shook hands with Akhil warmly one more time “I have heard so much of you. Hiren did the right thing to engage a psychiatrist, Riya needs some counselling badly, please let me know if I am of any help.” Sudheer applauded Akhil’s presence here.
Akhil Sat near Riya, she is about in her early twenties, short and petite, Akhil wondered, the couple must be having at least 7 to 8 years of age gap. He kept his hand on her forehead. “How are you feeling now?” Akhil asked in a soft voice.
“I don’t know, I am scared. I don’t know what that fake Hiren wants, I am scared, very scared.” Riya murmured.
“Can you tell me how and when it started? Would you be able to? Don’t get up, just lay down and tell me.” Akhil spoke again in a soft voice.
It’s all started that day when Hiren came back early from his work, he generally comes home by late evening, but that day he was early. He didn’t speak much, we had our lunch together, I was happy seeing him early and then we went for a nap. When I saw him again in the evening, at his normal return time, when he told me I probably dreamt all of those thing, I wanted to believe it but I knew something somewhere was wrong.
Then I saw the other him in the kitchen, he was leaning on the wall and smiling at me, I looked back and found the same Hiren I left on the dining table still there, eating. I couldn’t take it and faint.
Slowly his presence started to be stronger and clearer, One day as I felt thirsty I got up from the bed and came down, I saw someone was standing on the balcony, I wanted to run away but my feet were stuck to the ground. I saw he turned back and he called my name, “Riya, could you get me a glass of water?” I felt dizzy and fell down there. When I woke up I found myself in the bed, Hiren was with me. But I was scared, suspicious if he is my husband or that imposter. But as he touched me I felt relieved, I recognised him by his touch.
Though our servants are staying in the servant quarter Hiren ordered our maid and cook to stay with me all the time, I don’t see him when somebody else is present, but every time I am all alone he appears in front of me. Dr Sudheer had done a lot of check-ups and gave me different kinds of medicine, but everything is in vain. A few days ago when I was sitting on the chair reading book, the maid was fast asleep, I saw a shadow emerged near the door, my heart started to beat like a drum. I got up from my chair and walked up there. Hiren was standing there, I was confused if he is the real or the fake one.
“Why you are so scared of me? I won’t harm you.” He whispered, and he slowly walked towards me and touched my cheek. The fingers were cold like ice and felt a strange smell of rotten flesh, as he moved closer to me the pungent smell was unbearable. I screamed and fell down unconscious. Since then Hiren stopped going to work, he is running the business from home, the maid stays with me for 24 hours.
I feel his presence everywhere, I hear him whispering at the night, at times I hear his footsteps. Sometimes the sound of easy chair moving in the study room. Once I was having dinner with Hiren in the dining area, I clearly saw him sitting on the sofa in the drawing room through the gap of the door connecting the drawing and dining room, I screamed and told Hiren about it, he rushed there but nobody was there then.
My little happy life now turned into an inferno, I don’t know what to do, whom to turn to?”
Riya’s big dark eyes were full of tears, Akhil felt bad seeing her crying helplessly. “I promise you I shall do everything in my limits to help you out of this situation.” He assured her.
“Do you know about Haimanti?” Akhil enquired. “Yes I do.” Riya answered in a quiet voice.
“Have you ever seen her around here?” Akhil was probing. “She’s dead, how will I see her here?” Riya answered with a puzzled voice.
Akhil felt uneasy, he shouldn’t have ask that question.
“Where is your family? Are they live somewhere nearby?” Akhil asked, “My dad is no more, It’s me and my mother and few distant relatives, I am from the nearby village, my mother lives there.”
“All right. You look exhausted, take some rest. I will talk to you later.” Akhil stood up.
Akhil and Hiren was walking side by side as they were taking a round his tea estate.
“I have few questions Hiren, I hope you can answer them.” Akhil started. “Of course, ask me,” Hiren replied.
Akhil: “You said your mother died of cancer, do you remember anything odd or suspicious about her death?”
Hiren: “No, I remember nothing of that sort, once her cancer was detected doctor had given 3 months, she died on the 3rd month.”
Akhil: “And your father?”
Hiren: “The Airlines informed us about the flight crash and the death, as there were no survivors, everything was burned to ashes.”
Akhil: “About Haimanti, did you discover her dead body on the river shore?”
Hiren: “No, I was informed by the local police, I was hysterical and distraught, Misra uncle came at once as he got the information. He identified the body from her attire and birth mark.
Akhil: “Gokul Misra?”
Hiren: “He died in a heart attack when he was asleep, there was no mystery at all in his death.”
Akhil: “Hmm, and about the maids and servants, do you have any of your old ones?
Hiren: “No, as I said they all were grown so old, now all the servants working here are new, the oldest one among them is serving from 4 years.”
The uneven lines on Akhil’s forehead were getting prominent now. Something is not adding up. There are 4 deaths in this house yet Riya is seeing the dual persona of her husband but none of those people. Is she hallucinating? Or someone is trying to scare her and if so then why? Or is it really about some supernatural occurrence?
He bid adieu to Hiren for the day and hit the road towards the city, he need to have a word with Inspector Dubey.
Akhil walked into the police station, a sub-inspector saw and greeted him, “Hello Akhil sir, Inspector Dubey is not here, he went out for a case investigation.” “Oh! When will he return?” Akhil was disappointed. The sub-inspector shrugged “No idea, he is gone for long I guess.”
Akhil thought about going to university at the second half as he had some classes to take, but he was too exhausted. He went home and slept for 4 straight hours. When he got up in the evening he tried to call Dubey for few times but his mobile was switched off. While sitting in the dark Akhil was trying to arrange all the events and incidents took place in Hiren’s life like a Jigsaw puzzle.
Hiren lost his 4 family members, his mother at the tender age of 8, then his father when he is college, probably after 10 years of his mother’s demise. Then he lost his first wife Haimanti and his manager and his father-in-law Gokul Misra in a span of 3 to 4 years. There are two unnatural deaths, Hiren’s father died in a plane crash, his dead body was never found or identified and Haimanti whose body was identified by her father but was unrecognizable.
The questions which are emerging now are, is Hiren’s father really dead? Was that Haimanti’s body? How loyal was Gokul Misra especially when he became the father-in-law of Hiren? What happened to Jiten who was humiliated and thrown away? Why Riya is seeing two Hiren, is it just an illusion? Or she is lying? Or somebody is trying to scare her?
Akhil went to kitchen and made himself a strong hot cup of tea, while sipping into his smoking hot tea he thought ‘coffee is just too overrated’. He got a headache while thinking of all those questions revolving in his head, the hot tea sure gave him a soothing relief.
Akhil dialled Hiren’s number, after few rings Hiren picked up the call, “Dr Mitra, tell me.”
“I need few documents and photos, Could you get me the death certificates and the photos of your deceased family members? Pay me a visit tomorrow, I also have something else to tell you.” Akhil said in a serious tone.
“It’s kind of hard to leave Riya alone at home even if the maid is there, but I guess I can manage an hour or two. I shall be there by tomorrow morning.”
Next day morning Hiren came to Akhil’s residence and handed over the documents and photos Akhil asked for.
“I have only one photo of Haimanti, when she was 7 years old, I keep it in my purse. Rest all the photos were kept away by Misra uncle. After her death, he was not ready to keep any of her pictures around, he loved her so much. He couldn’t tolerate see his dead daughter’s pictures as it used to remind him of her.”, Akhil said in sad voice and kept the photo on the table.
Akhil picked up the photograph, it’s an old colour photograph which has almost turned yellow, a cute girl of 6 to 7 years is standing in red lehenga and a green dupatta, with her neck little bend towards the camera, she is not smiling instead looking at the camera with irritated eyes.
“I will return this back in few days” He said that while checking the other photographs, they all are quite old, by seeing at Hiren’s parents picture Akhil understood from where Hiren got his handsomely presence, both of them were tall, fair and had an aristocrat look. Gokul Misra was a short, dark and bald man but his eyes were saying he was a clever and shrewd personality.
“Hiren, do you have any CCTV camera installed at your place?” Akhil enquired.
“One at the entrance but it’s not working, I have to replace it. But why?” Hiren asked with a baffled voice.
“Would it be possible to install few CCTV cameras inside your house?” Akhil spoke absentmindedly.
“I sure can, I can get cameras in each room, but does that mean Riya is telling the truth? That it’s not her psychological issue but someone really is there who looks exactly like me?” Hiren is looking visibly worried.
“I am not saying anything. I am just wondering if we can have 24/7 electronic surveillance in your place for few days, I guess Riya will also feel secure.”
“Very well, today itself I will get some people to install them. But if I knew I have to do this, I wouldn’t have appointed a parapsychologist.” Hiren said those words angrily and stormed out of there. Akhil was still thinking something.
It was Saturday, after Hiren left from there Akhil finished reading a half-read book, worked on one of his thesis, in lunch he brought some parathas and daal ghost from a small hotel nearby. The daal ghost was so very hot and spicy that it almost burned his tongue, but it was tasty as well. Akhil wondered when it comes about tasty food, road side shops are way better than the fancy restaurants.
After lunch he took a nap for 3 hours, then in the evening went to the park and sat on the bench as usual. He bought some sprouts and grams and spread in front of him, as the flock of pigeons landed on them, he tried to find the one with the polka dots, but it wasn’t there. It started to drizzle after some time and people started to leave from the park, Akhil didn’t move, he was expecting it to be a passing shower. But the rain didn’t stop and started to pour heavily when Akhil returned home he was completely drenched.
He made himself and cup of tea, as he was sipping it he felt feverish, a little throat ache, his eyes were turning red and his head started to feel heavy. Akhil went to bed and tried to sleep but the fever was increasing, not letting him sleep, he was slumbering.
He felt a hand on his forehead, he opened his eyes, it was Sakina. She was looking at Akhil with her sad big eyes, “You should have someone here to take care of you.” She spoke in her soft sweet voice. Slowly her face started to change, It was now Neela who’s looking at him and smiling. “You should have accepted me when I proposed to you in college, at least you wouldn’t be laying all alone here, with none to take care of you.” Akhil closed his eyes, his breaths were getting hot and heavy, he knew he is hallucinating due to heavy fever. He heard the giggling sound now from the corner of the room, he opened his eyes again and found Ayesha was sitting there. “Tell me Dr. Akhil Mitra, how come you never succeeded to save any of your female client’s lives? Every woman who depended on you, you let them down miserably, even that poor little thing Sakina. Do you think you can save Riya?” There were more giggles as she finished speaking.
Akhil could hear someone is continuously pressing the doorbell and banging the door, a voice is also calling Akhil’s name. He somehow got up from bed and switched on the light, there was no one in his room and he can hear the voice calling his name is getting louder. Akhil walked towards the door by weak steps and manage to open it. As soon as he opened the door he lost his balance and was about the fell on the floor when two strong hands caught his shoulders.
“Dr Mitra, what happened to you? Are you alright? Your body is burning with fever.” Inspector Dubey spoke in terrified voice as he was holding Akhil in his both hands.
Dubey admitted Akhil in the hospital within an hour, whole night Akhil was half conscious as he could see the faces of doctors and nurses in his room. Next day afternoon Akhil regain a little of himself, doctors told him there’s nothing to worry but it’s better if they discharge him after 2 days.
Inspector Dubey came in the evening to visit Akhil, “Sir you need at least a full-time servant to be at your place. You are a bachelor with none of your close relatives in this city to take care of you if you fall sick. I wonder why you never got married.”
Akhil weakly smiled at Dubey “That’s a long story, I will tell you some other time. Now take the keys of my house, there will be few documents and photographs lying on my table. Get them and try to find as much information about them. Also find the details of a person called Jiten Sappru, he should be a local person staying nearby tea estate run by Hiren Bose. He had also worked under him. ”
“Will do, but my sincere request to you, not to indulge into any case till you are fine.” Inspector spoke in a concerned voice.
“I have promised somebody that I will help with all the way I can. I have 2 more days to be here, meanwhile if you can run the investigation.” Akhil said those words while his eyes closed.
“Very well, I will get those things and run a check on them, but you take care of yourself.” Dubey took his leave.
“Dr, Mitra, what a surprise? I just came to know you are admitted in this hospital.” Dr Sudheer Chatterjee’s cheerful tone brought back Akhil into this world, he was lost into his deep thoughts. He looked at Sudheer surprisingly, “You work here?” Akhil asked.
“I do. I did not have my duty last night, today when I saw the list of newly admitted patients I came across your name, heard you were admitted here with high fever.” Sudheer answered while sitting on the chair.”
“How long do you know Hiren? If you don’t mind me asking” Akhil asked again
“I know him for around 3 years now. We had a common friend, through him we met and we got along, he used to come to me for any kind of medical issues after that.” Sudheer replied.
“I need some information about him and his family. I guess I you have no problem as he engaged me solve Riya’s case.” Sudheer nodded in reply to his query and then Akhil and Sudheer had a long discussion.
Next day Akhil was feeling better but he was still weak. He decided to call Hiren and check on him, he dialled Hiren’s number, Hiren responded almost immedietly.
“Hello Dr. Mitra, how are you? I have heard about your condition from Sudheer. Please accept my apology for that ill behaviour, all these while I thought it’s all Riya’s illusion, but when you suggested about CCTV camera, first time I felt Riya is telling the truth. It’s all fine for few days as Riya did not see anyone yet. I also started to feel there might be someone out there who looks just like me.”
“Good to hear that, I am still investigating from my side. You people stay careful.” Akhil replied.
“Today is my birthday, I want to spend some good times with Riya, last couple of months were hell.” Hiren was cheerful.
“Many happy returns of the day.” Akhil wished.
It started to drizzle in the late evening again. Inspector Dubey came back to hospital and found Akhil was half lying on the hospital bed reading a book.
“Here, the information about the people you needed are in this file. And yes you have asked about Jiten Sappru, he worked there in the tea estate long time ago, but was thrown out from there due to some issue.” Dubey gave the file to Akhil.
“So where is he now?” Akhil took the file and asked.
“Dead, he was humiliated in front of lots of people, he couldn’t take it, his dead body found hanging from a nearby tree after 2 days of that incident. I have checked on other people as well, there was nothing fishy except one, that’s about Haimanti.”
Akhil started to read all the case file information of each persons, by that time it started to rain steadily. Suddenly the power went off and the entire hospital sank in darkness, but in few minutes the lights were back as the backup generator was started.
“If it rains like this the power won’t come back before tomorrow morning, the outskirt areas of the city were sure out of power by now.” Dubey was watching the rain through the window.
Akhil almost jumped off his feet. ‘Dubey, we have to go to Hiren’s place now.” He shouted.
“Now?” Dubey asked in puzzled voice.
“Call the police station and ask for backup, I am going now.”
“I can’t let you go alone. And how will you go? I am coming with you. I am calling my sub-inspector to get the force there.”
Akhil and Dubey were rushing towards Hiren’s residence, during the whole journey Akhil didn’t not speak a word, Dubey was driving the police vehicle almost 100km/hour, he sent his driver to get the backup force.
In an hour they reached to the destination, Akhil ran inside and found the maid was standing there, baffled. She saw them and started to sob, while sobbing whatever she said was, just about half an hour ago the power went off due to rain, suddenly she heard Riya screaming from inside. Hiren rushed in and found Riya crying. She said the same fake Hiren tried to molest her and then when she screamed he ran towards the tea garden. Listening to this Hiren was mad and he ran towards the garden, Riya also followed her. The maid doesn’t know what to do and it’s almost 15 minutes now they are gone.
“Call the other servants from servant quarter and ask them to follow us.” Akhil shouted those words at her and fanatically ran towards the tea garden. Inspector Dubey followed him.
It was still raining, the tea garden at the midst of a dark rainy night was looking nothing short of a dense forest. Akhil did not care much and ran in screaming Hiren’s name. As he went inside around 300 meters he found Hiren was lying on the mud covered with blood. He heard another muffled scream and then a thud sound. He turned and saw Dubey is also down on the ground with blood oozing out of his head, behind there’s a shadow standing with a shovel.
“And this is for my father.” Riya spoke those words with enormous hatred and raised the shovel. The silence of that mute rainy night was broken with blistering sound of a bullet, Akhil stood there motionlessly as he saw Riya’s lifeless body dropped to the ground, Inspector Dubey was still holding the pistol right at her body despite of bleeding profoundly.
Inspector Dubey was lying in the hospital bed with a bandage on his head, Akhil was sitting in front of him, Dubey’s family just left after seeing him. Hiren is also admitted in the same hospital and Sudheer is with him, his injuries are fatal but he will live.
“Riya’s full name was Riya Sappru, the only daughter of Jiten Sappru.” Akhil spoke as Dubey was looking at him with curious eyes.
“Well, that’s clear now, but what about Haimanti? As I showed you, I couldn’t find her birth certificate and her death certificate also looks like a fake one.” Dubey asked in perplexed voice.
“When I first saw Hiren the thing that strike me is a sublime feminine look of Hiren. He was the only child of his parents and very close to his mother. A lot of mothers like to dress their kids like opposite gender when they are small. Like sometimes they dress up their daughter like a son or vice versa. Who knows maybe Hiren’s mother wanted a girl child. So she used to dress him up like a girl sometimes, perhaps she only used to call him Haimanti when she dressed him up like a girl. Slowly the Hiren got that habit of cross-dressings, it might have been stopped by his mother but before that she passed away.
Hiren was weak and feeble in his childhood and was continuously bullied by his school mates, his father was always out of stations, during this time the only playmate he found was Haimanti, his alter ego. Gokul Misra was aware of it, to make a motherless child happy he also got into his game and became the father of his alter ego Haimanti. After few days maybe during any medical check-up Gokul Misra came to know Hiren is actually transsexual, one of the cruellest joke nature played here. Maybe Gokul informed the same to Hiren’s father, who knows maybe the conservative disappointed father started to keep distance from his own son.
The outside world was unaware of all these as Hiren used to be Haimanti only inside the four walls, he used to talk to himself for hours thinking he is talking to Haimanti and answered to himself as well. When Jiten was appointed, he kind of got an idea of what exactly is going on.
I am not sure if Jiten tried to blackmail Gokul Misra or was just making fun of Hiren, but he did a grave mistake. Gokul Misra was loyal as a dog to Bose family and when it comes about that family’s reputation he was ruthless. He handpicked all the servants who were also aware of Hiren’s situation.
When Gokul came to know about it, he threw Jiten out of the estate, but he knew Jiten won’t stop here, he would surely spread the words. So he sent his men after him to finish the job, but before Jiten got killed he told everything to his wife and daughter.
Then a new problem aroused, now Hiren wanted to marry Haimanti. I believe some psychiatrist must have given the idea to Gokul, that if he could make Hiren believe Haimanti is dead he will probably be able to kill that alter ego. He did the same, he produced a fake death certificate, made Hiren believe that Haimanti went missing and found dead and he went and recognised her body.
The idea worked, as in Hiren’s subconscious mind Haimanti was dead, he stopped his crossdressing habits. The photo of Haimanti he gave me was mostly taken by his mother when she dressed him up like a girl.
Now Riya and her mother was driven away by Gokul’s men to a distant village, Riya grew up with immense hate and loathness towards Gokul and Hiren, she was a struggling small time actress when she met Hiren. She recognized him immediately, but he didn’t know her. She trapped him into her net. Sudheer and Hiren both met her in a party and Sudheer had a soft corner for her. When she decided to marry Hiren, Sudheer actually warned her that Hiren is an incomplete man, but she did not pay any attention.
When I spoke to Sudheer yesterday he told me everything and I started suspecting Riya. Hiren never spoke anything about Haimanti’s mother, from your report I came to know Gokul was never married and he also never adopted any girl and lack of her birth certificate I was certain it was a case of dual personality.
Funny thing is Riya also chose to play the game of duality. Most probably her plan was to make Hiren believe of another Hiren and drive him to commit suicide or make it look like an accident while he fighting with his own alter image.
But with me in the scene she understood it will be difficult now, especially with CCTV cameras installed inside. When you said last night the power won’t be there in the outskirts of city, it came to me that without power the CCTVs won’t work. It was Hiren’s birthday as well, for a revenge seeking woman this might be an ideal situation that was my hunch and it paid off.”
Akhil stopped to catch a breather after speaking continuously.
“Dr Akhil Mitra, you are a genius.” Inspector Dubey smiled.
After few months, one Sunday morning Akhil heard the door bell ringing. He opened the door and found a beautiful lady standing on his door.
“May I come in?” She asked in a husky voice.
Akhil moved away from the door, he was surprisingly looking at her.
“Do you recognize me?” The stranger asked.
Akhil shook his head.
“This is Haimanti.” She spoke.
Akhil was still looking at her with astonishing eyes.
She left a long sigh, “I went under the knife and changed my gender, I guess there is no point hiding the real me inside, already I was a woman trapped inside a man’s body.” She got up, “I will come some other time, I have to leave now.” She was slowly moving out.
“Wait, at least have a cup of tea.” Akhil asked, “Some other time maybe.” Haimanti smiled.
“Don’t you want that photograph back?” Akhil asked again.
“Keep it, at least it will remind you of me.” Haimanti smiled and walked away.
“Did you hear my queen? He is coming. He coming for you….” Padma was feeding her ‘Hiramani’ when her handmaid came running in her royal court, she cried those words breathlessly.
“Who’s coming for me?” Padma looked at her miserable handmaid and asked, there’s a smile hanging from the corner of her lips.
“The mad sultan, he has gone crazy by that one look at your reflection. I have warned you not to go there to show yourself, I pleaded you to let me go there instead.” Handmaid Jhumki bai cried the words again and started to sob.
Padma looked back at Hiramani, “Hira, what do you think of this sultan?”, “Old fool, an imbecile.” The parrot replied with its sharp birdy voice. Hearing that Padma started to giggle. Jhumki stopped sobbing and kept looking at her with puzzling eyes.
The situation was deteriorating faster than it was anticipated. Padma now days only sitting near the windows and looking out at the soldiers are marching, led and instructed by their leaders and generals. Rawal Ratan Singh is always looking worried and discussing with his trusted subordinates about the current state of affairs.
Padma can still remember that day, Jhumki and few other maids were giggling and falling onto each other while looking it her. “What is it?” Padma asked them curiously.
“Did you not know? The Sultan of Delhi is smitten by your beauty. Heard now a days he stopped eating and drinking and forgot about his hundreds of wives and concubines, he is only dreaming about you.”
Even Padma also heard it. She felt so strange, at her teens she got married to Ratan Singh. She likes her middle aged, quiet husband, who is always busy with various administrative works of his Chittorgarh, in his leisure time either he is with the musicians or slumbering in his opium addiction. His first wife Nagmati tries hard to show her affection and care towards her, but her helpless anger sometimes erupts in different ways. But Padma is not sure if she loves her husband just the way she supposed to.
She doesn’t blame Nagmati for her jealousy and resentment for the younger wife of her husband, as soon as she attained her puberty she was the talking point in all the royal families for her bewildering beauty. Malkhan Singh was even ready to give away an arm and a leg for her, Ratan Singh being the most reputed of Rajputs won her hand in swayamvara, though of their age gap and he being already married. She let off a long sigh, now this mad Sultan.
The condition has deteriorated further. The cunning Sultan played his dirty trick and captured Mewar King and demanded an unconditional surrender. But he couldn’t keep him into confinement for long. His trusted generals Gora and Badal, the Uncle-Nephew duo and soldiers disguised themselves as Rajput women and released Ratan Singh. Gora died in that attempt, rumor has that sultan saved himself by hiding behind one of his women as Badal was about to slay him.
Padma recalled the day when Ratan Singh came to her,
“You have sit near the lake for few moments.”
“Why?” Padma asked.
“Somebody will see your reflection on the water for those moments.” Ratan answered with a bowed head and clenched teeth.
“Someone who?” Padma knew who that is, still she asked.
“You don’t have to know, just go there near the lake when you see my sign, and don’t sit there more than few moments.” Ratan blurted those words and started to walk, halfway he stopped and turned at her, his eyes were wet and red, he closed his fists, “Padma, if I not have to think about my people and avert a war, I would have killed that bastard with my own hands.”
Jhumki was pleading to her not to go, instead she was rushing to the lake. “My Queen, Sultan doesn’t know who you are, he never saw you. Let me go instead and save you from this humiliation.” Padma did not answer, wasn’t she also curious to see that crazy Sultan? Who came all the way from Delhi to Mewar to have a glance at her reflection?
It’s chaos everywhere. A huge pyre is burning in red flames and consuming all the Rajput women, who are chanting prayers and jumping in it. All of the men of Chittorgarh today are wearing saffron, robes and turbans, the color of sacrifice, to fight till the last breath, as they have nothing to live for after their women turn into ashes. Nagmati was first to sacrifice herself, Jhumki also followed.
Padma was standing on the edge of the fire, she saw the main gate of the city is slowly opening, Alauddin and his men are entering into the city. The city of blood, ashes and ruins. Maybe Alauddin saw her there, standing in her red bridal dress, almost similar to the flames burning in front of her. Maybe he raised his hands and telling her not to jump in. What is he saying? Offering wealth and comforts of all the world? Offering her to be above all his begums and concubines?
Padma couldn’t help but smiled and then cried.” ‘Typical men’, as always running after the desire of winning the most beautiful woman. All my life I only witness the appreciations, wishes and longingness in the eyes of these men, hardly the respect and love what I searched for.
Perhaps today in his last breathe Ratan Singh will think of me, Perhaps tonight ‘Sultan of Delhi’ Alauddin Khilji will mourn in my death. Perhaps some poet of the 15th century will write poem on me and on 19th and 20th century scholars will debate and argue whether I existed at all. But I will always remain known and spoken of, for this fierce beauty of mine, my blessing, my curse. Only if I could let people know, I am more than a beauty queen.”
Rani Padmini let her body fall onto the pyre, with closed eyes as she was falling into it, she knew her memory will live, always, forever.
[The above story is an adaption of the well-known tale of ‘Rani Padmini’ of Chittor, Rajasthan, who was famous for her unparalleled beauty. Then Sultan of Delhi ‘Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor to defeat Rajput king Ratan Singh Rawal and win Padmini for himself, after getting infatuated by her . Rani Padmini and all the other Rajput women performed Jauhar (self-immolation) to save themselves from dishonour as the defeat of inevitable and the men died fighting Alauddin’s huge force.
She appeared in the epic poem written by ‘Malik Muhammad Jayasi’ in 1540 CE ‘Padmavat’ and in the folk lores of Rajasthan. Even today scholars and historians debate if she is a real or fictitious character as the historical evidences found about her are little. ]
She: “Why you always keep talking about your mom’s cooked food? Why you guys are so obsessed with foods cook by mothers? Your dad can’t cook? I never heard stories about the food you dad cooked ever. Do you think only women should cook? You male chauvinist.”
He: “No, I mean dad can cook. But…..”
She: “But he doesn’t cook. Male dominance. Masculine ego. Now I know, you are brought up in a male chauvinistic environment and society. You have no respect for women.”
He: “No, not so. Dad cooks, but…. His rotis are very political, maps of different states and countries. White rice cooked by him often turns brown or into rice soup and we can hardly tell between his daal from his curry. Believe me I am not a male chauvinist, I am only a male who loves round rotis and well cooked rice.”
She: “Our country is male chauvinistic, our subcontinent, this whole part of the world is male-centric and male dominant. Look at the western world and compare.”
He: “Huh! You can’t say that. We had Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Sheikh Hasina and Chandrika Kumaratunga as the country leaders of South Asia. We have Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banaerjee, Jayalalithaa and Mayawati as state and national leaders India. While USA is still waiting for their first female president we even already had our Prathibha Patil.
Can you deny all these points? I am ready for a debate to prove you that I am not a male chauvinist and also the maximum population of this part of the world are not. Tell me, are you ready for a debate?”
She: (Paused for a minute) “You don’t love me anymore.”
He: (A long sigh) “Alright baby. I am a male chauvinist.”
While overhearing the conversation of the next door young couple, I raised my glass, “No one beats our women in politics.”
(The story is written in first person, it is influenced and inspired by someone or something, either real or fictitious. The characters and occurrence are may be fictitious or real and any resemblance with any character or real occurrence might be purely coincidental or not. Writer doesn’t claim it’s a true story, at the same he doesn’t claim it’s a fictitious one either. It is left to readers to judge.
If you like this post, I would be glad to know that you are entertained, if not and you feel it’s a complete wastage of your precious time reading it, my apologies in advance are already on the table.)
I checked my watch. It is 11:35 PM, quite late at night. All alone, I am walking around in this city, without an aim, without a destination. But it feels kind of good, late at night this city shows its hidden face you can’t see during other times of the day. The yellowish street lights, one or two vehicles passing by in high speed, strange sounds coming from far away, piercing though the natural silence of the magical night. I was standing on the over-bridge, drinking every drop of this night’s intoxicated beauty.
“Hey, whose there?” I heard a heavy voice and few footsteps, I looked over my shoulder and found few policemen are on their patrolling duty. “What are you doing here at this hour of the night?” another voice inquired. “Nothing, I am just walking around.” I replied with sweetest smile I could pull out at that time.
“Show us some identification.” Most probably the guy who asked the question this time, is leader of this team. I smiled at them again and replied “I am not carrying any. “What’s your name? And address?” someone among them barked. “Name is Ani, Address Planet Earth, It’s called the Planet Blue as well.” The whole gang was stunned now.
The leader of the police group stepped forward. “There was case of snatching took place last night, I am arresting you for your suspicious behavior.”
“Good, let’s go.” I yawned and replied, they all looked at me surprisingly, perhaps they never had such willing participant to visit police station.
“Confucius said, ‘Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.’” I felt Confucius himself couldn’t say it better.
It’s been more than 3 hours I am sitting here on the bench, never been to any police station before, that too at this ungodly hour. The group who arrested me, gone out again for patrolling leaving behind 2 of their men. Suddenly I felt a sense of urgency and attention among the people here, a man in his khaki dress entered through the door, I assumed he must be the Inspector in charge of the station. I was immediately summoned to his cabin.
“What’s the name?” The Inspector started his interrogation in passive voice.
“What’s in the name?” I replied. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”
For a moment the Inspector looked perplexed, “What?” He asked in puzzled voice.
“Shakespeare sir, couldn’t help when I heard the question.” I answered with a puppy face.
For few moments he couldn’t speak anything, then he leaned on the table and hissed, “You think you are too smart, don’t show your smartness with police, when you’ll be lying on the ice slab and I will be beating your ass off you won’t be in a position to joke.”
“Sir, please make sure those ice slabs are bought from proper shops, I heard these people supplying the ice slabs from the hospital morgues to police, It’s so unhygienic.” I spoke with a concerned voice.
Inspector Subodh Dhar (Read his name on the name-tag of his uniform) redirected his attention to his men, he shouted at one of them, “Did you search him? Did you find anything suspicious?” I smiled, I am not carrying my purse or mobile, my pockets are empty, so they did not find anything.
“Nothing sir, we have searched him thoroughly”, one of them replied in a scared voice.
Inspector turned his attention back to me, “From your presence and attire you look like you are from a good family, I am not sure about your mental condition though, call any of your family member or friends to bring a proper identity of yours, then you are free to go.”
As none of my family member lives in this city now I was totally dependent on my friends and I don’t remember any of their numbers. One of the many disadvantages of using mobile phones, you don’t remember you’re near and dear ones numbers, names are enough. I was thinking hard as Inspector Dhar was staring at me. All of a sudden I remember Siraj, my school friend Siraj Karim, I remember his land line number, as back in those days I used to call him frequently.
We both were best friends in school, then after that we lost touch, best part is even today I can’t remember how and when we stopped talking. His dad is a renowned barrister who joined politics and currently serving as the state Minister of horticulture and food processing industries. I decided to call Siraj, after all ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed.’ I wasn’t sure if he has the same number, but nonetheless I dialed it.
Siraj is sitting in front of me in the police station. He is also completely baffled. Our conversation in the phone was short.
Me: Hey Siraj, this is Ani, come to this police station right now, I am giving you the address. Come fast.”
Siraj: “Aniiiiii….. Such a long time, what the hell you are doing in police station at this time?”
I gave the address and put the phone down. During school days he was the notorious do-gooder among us, always on his toes to help people. Once he rescued an 8 years old boy thinking he got stuck on a tree branch, once saved we came to know he was hiding there on the tree after stealing money from his dad.
Inspector Subodh is watching both of us may be because Siraj is still in his pajama and t-shirt, I am sure he came running from his bed as soon as he got my call. “Did you bring some identification proof of your friend?” Inspector asked. “I didn’t get much time, actually….” Before Siraj could finish I stopped him by winked at him.
“Inspector, I have a confession to make, remember that snatching incident on the over-bridge you have got me arrested for, I have done that, and this is my friend and accomplice, Siraj Karim.” I was smiling wickedly while speaking.
Siraj was speechless as he opened his mouth so big that a full size cat go walk in there easily. Inspector Subodh Dhar was at his wit’s last end where anything and everything might sound truth and lies at the same time.
We both were sitting inside the lockup. Me and Siraj, from his face it was clear he is still in shock. “What is going on?” he whispered,
“Isn’t it exciting?” I whispered back.
“Of course it is, but if you could tell me what is your plan and what is next?” he looked a bit relaxed now, maybe he is thinking it’s a practical joke.
“Now this is the fun part, do you see the cops are going through your belongings they seized, they soon find your identity and your dad might be here any minute to release us.” I tried to sound happy,
Siraj looked at me with frightened eyes, “My d..dad will s..s..slaughter me if he knows I am sitting in lockup.” He somehow completed the whole sentence, he was stammering.
“Well, too late for that.” I sighed. “As Jesus Christ said ‘So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.’ Guess this lockup door will also open.”
Inspector Dhar almost started to weep when he heard, Siraj is the son of the state minister of horticulture and food processing, Abdul Karim. He started to sob when he heard the minister himself is coming to his police station to release his son. As he reached in his VIP cars with red lights glowing on their top, cops were overly anxious, running around here and there, Subodh Dhar was standing like a statue made of stone.
We all sat in Inspector’s cabin, Us, Siraj’s dad and the zonal DCP.
Inspector: “S..Sir, I had no idea he is your son, I mean I was totally misguided by Mr. Ani, I didn’t know what to do. Please don’t mind me being such a fool. They were absolutely comfortable here.”
Siraj’s Dad: “It’s alright, I knew there is a misunderstanding, now if you finish your formalities and let him go.” He finished and threw a hateful burning look at me.
I smiled sweetly again and asked, “How are you uncle? Remember, I used to come visit your place regularly once upon a time.” He didn’t reply and turned his face.
Things wrapped up pretty fast after that. The DCP warned the Inspector he will have words with him later. Abdul Karim denied to recognize me and asked for the law to take its own course. Siraj tried hard to convince his dad.
Siraj: “Dad we can’t leave Ani here.”
Abdul Karim: ‘He is the sole reason for all these trouble, for sure he is harmful to you and to me as well, let the police take care of him.” He almost dragged Siraj out of there.
I was left on the mercy of entire police station totally pissed with me.
“GO and sit on that bench, you make a sound and I will shoot you without warning.” Inspector roared. I wondered if he is really planning for a false encounter.
It’s already morning 8, all the other policemen are curiously watching at me who just came in and don’t know the whole story, Others I guess were waiting for the green signal from the inspector to start their third degree treatment on me. I was sitting there quietly.
“Sir.” A stranger just came in, walked up to Inspector Dhar.
“What?” Inspector barked
“Sir, this is Bhola butcher, you ordered 2kg of mutton today.” Bhola spoke in panicky tone.
“Oh, send it to my home.” He looked back.
“Sir, payment………” As Bhola spoke those words inspector looked at him with blood red eyes, “GET LOST.”
Bhola almost ran away out of his sight. I don’t know why but I felt like following him, a cop tried to stop me, I quietly showed him the universal pinky finger sign and showed him the empty space near the station, he shrugged and told me to do it quickly. I saw Bhola standing near the road, as a bus came near him and slowed down he jumped in, I followed and jumped in it too. Did not hear any voice shouting behind, I think no one noticed.
Aristotle said ‘The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life – knowing that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live.’
As Bhola got down from the bus and started walking through a narrow lane with so many small shops on both sides, I followed him. He stopped in front of a butcher shop, I stood behind him and knocked on his shoulder.
“Inspector Subodh Dhar has sent me to get the mutton.” He looked at me from head to toe.
“But, I never saw you before.” As he spoke those words I made a straight face, “You want to call him and confirm?”
“No. its fine, give me 5 minutes.” I waited till he chopped the meat and packed it.
“Ok, come with me then.” I told him, he looked at me with surprise. “I thought you are taking the meat to his place.”
“Don’t you want to have the payment for that?” I indicated at the meat pack. He looked completely puzzled.
“Come on. Let’s go.” I pretend as if I know where we are going, we got into a cab, “Where to?” cab driver asked. As I didn’t reply, Bhola gave him the address.
We reached at Subodh Dhar’s flat, it’s on 5t floor in a multi-stored apartment. I pressed the calling bell and almost immediately the door opened as if someone was waiting there to open the door. The lady who opened the door wearing a yellow saari looked at us with a curiosity, I could describe her as a presence of sad yet elegant beauty.
“Hello Ma’m, here’s the mutton. And I am Ani, this is Bhola, it’s 1400 plus 200 for cab fare, total 1600.” I was holding the meat pack in my hand with a grin.
“Oh, thanks, I thought he already paid Bhola.” She took the packet and asked. “Oh, no, he asked me to get it from you.” I smiled and replied to her, I forgot to mention, I made Bhola to pay the cab fare as I told him I am not carrying my purse, he paid it with an uninterested face, as if it’s a regular occurrence.
She came back from inside while counting the cash, “Here’s your 1600.” She gave it Bhola, he took it, looked at my face and then hers, probably first time he is getting paid for the meat Subodh Dhar ever bought from him, then he almost ran down by the stairs. Inspector’s wife was surprised to see that and she turned to me and asked “Sorry, I did not recognize you, you are?” “Oh. I am Ani, I work with Subodh sir, newly joined.” Smiling lies have their own effects.
I was invited in for a cup of tea and I accepted without any formalities. In the drawing room and old man was watching TV and old lady weaving wools. “My father-in-law and mother-in-law, the came from Pune yesterday, and this Ani, Subodh’s colleague.” She introduced. “It’s our 5th marriage anniversary today.” She announced. “Ahh, where are the kids?” I spoke in an enthusiastic voice, her face went dark and she hurried to the kitchen. In another 5 minutes the mother-in-law vented all her deep sorrows and frustration out as how she is waiting to make woolen socks and sweaters for her grandchild but so far the couples are childless, she also deliberately hinting that it’s her daughter-in-law’s fault. I shook my head like a wise guy.
“I called Subodh, but he was too busy, it seems some criminal ran away from his custody, he is already so tensed regarding another issue, he arrested a minister’s son by mistake, before I could say anything he cut the call. Every anniversary he gets into some or the other thing and spoils the entire day.” She spoke as she was coming out of the kitchen. “Would you like to stay till lunch?” She asked. “Oh yes, Subodh sir actually invited me for lunch, I think he forgot to tell you because of all these trouble.” Subodh’s parents and his wife looked at each other and at me. I again produced my trademark heavenly smile.
Once we finished our lunch, I was already a fan of ‘Antima Dhar’s’ cooking, Subodh Dhar truly is a lucky husband and I couldn’t but feel jealous. The lunch was simple, Fried rice, mung daal, fine potato fry, hilsa fish curry, mutton kosha, pineapple chutney, yogurt and gulabjamun. Antima tried to call husband thrice but he cut the calls every time, I guess he was truly busy. I bid Subodh’s family goodbye and promised I will go back to police station and send him home as soon as possible.
As I hit the road, I could only think of one sentence of George Bernard Shaw, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
I got up hearing my calling bell ringing madly, it’s 9:15 am, I slept almost for 10 hours, rubbed my eyes and opened the door. Inspector Subodh Dhar was standing at my door.
I admit I was kind of impressed by the efficiency of our police force, it only took them less than 24 hours to locate my house and find me.
“Hello Inspector.” I cleared my throat, “Would you like to come in?”
“You have to come with me now….. Please….” I was astonished to hear his pleading voice rather than his authoritative one. I thought by this time he will rough me up and throw at the back seat of his police car.
“Ammm, I am yet to have my morning tea and breakfast. Would you mind waiting for an hour, I haven’t been to loo either.” My concerns were genuine.
“Please, please, my job is at stake, Minister Abdul Karim himself told me to produce you in front him. From today morning I am getting calls after calls from home ministry to commissioner’s desk. You have visited my house, had lunch with my family, they know everything and suspecting me that I am involved. Please come with me to Minister’s house and explain everything, he wanted to meet you urgently.” It looks really ugly when a full uniformed police officer crying and pleading.
We are now sitting in Siraj’s home, nothing changed much since I stop coming here, huge 3 story building with around 24 rooms, Surrounded by a big garden, a small swimming pool on the north side. Inspector left as soon as we reached here, he was unwanted. Its Siraj’s father Abdul, his mother Rashida and his Sister Ayesha sitting in front of me and I could see 3 different expressions on those 3 faces, Abdul Karim is keeping a straight unconcerned face, Rashida Begum clearly was crying as her eyes are red and swelled, Ayesha is looking straight at me with her forehead wrinkled, I haven’t seen so much hatred and loathsomeness in anyone’s eyes for me.
“Hello Abdul uncle.” I started, He looked at me and throw a piece of paper at me. It was a letter from Siraj, it reads,
How are you doing now? I know you won’t so good, I am sure police has roughed you up and I know I am indirectly responsible for that. You called me to help you and being the son of a powerful man I couldn’t help. You know, my father has changed a lot as he joined politics, it made him cruel, violent and power hungry. He was always ruthless in his career but I haven’t seen his this characteristics.
Let me tell you an incident, do you remember our school teacher Harish Roy, the fair and square history teacher. He was his opponent during the election. My father conspired with few powerful people and got him under the false charge of murder. He is in jail now and his family is in hand to mouth situation, but he has no remorse. All my respect for him is gone. Even my mother supports him silently. One day few people came up to him with a suitcase full of money, later I came to know they are involved in illegal mining and my father is helping them accepting a huge sum. After they are gone my father handed over the money to my mother and she didn’t ask a question and kept it in the locker.
Only Esha, my sister is still away from all these, but how long? I am already a part his sins. After we got back home we had a heated argument, my father mocked me for my pseudo honesty and uprightness, he said all my expenditure, my school, college, MBA from Australia, everything is funded by this sinful wealth, and now when I am well settled in a multinational farm, I despise the same money that got me all the comfort in the world. I couldn’t answer him, my head hung in shame.
But my friend, I can’t accept leaving you behind in misery. I still consider you my best friend, all my friends drifted or driven away after my father attained this political status. But no more I can stay in this hell so I am running away from here, for good.
I don’t know your current address so sending it to same police station address you still might be.
I finished reading and yawned, “He will come back home as soon as he gets calm. He is angry now.”
“So are my thoughts, actually I don’t even mind if he doesn’t come back, who needs a son who think so highly of his own parents. I wouldn’t have called you here, but his mother wanted to speak to you. I have work, so I have to leave.” Abdul Karim finished his words and walked out.
“Ani, son, do you know where Siraj is? He is always this emotional and short tempered, if you know where he is please tell us.” Siraj’s mother spoke in a trembling and crying voice.
“I have no idea Rashida aunty, I should leave now. I’ll let you know if I hear from him.” I replied in an indifferent tune.
“No, don’t go, stay for the day, I need to talk to you. Have lunch with us.” She stopped me.
“I can’t eat without having bath, I didn’t even brushed my teeth today morning. “I yawned again.
“Esha, go and ask the servants to open the guest house and give him a spare tooth brush and a towel.” Rashida Begum instructed to her daughter.
“Hey Esha, how are you?” I smiled at her, she grew up a fine lady. And she is still holding the fierce hatred and disgust in her eyes
“Don’t call me that, my name is Ayesha, only the closest people of me call me that.” She left the room with angry footsteps.
I sighed. ‘Anger begets more anger, and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love. – Mahavira’
It’s such fun to have bath in a bathroom almost as big as my bedroom. I don’t even know the name of half of the things on the bathroom rack, It took me 2 hours to come out of that Jacuzzi.
I was having lunch, on the dining table I was the only one eating. Esha was sitting on the chair left to me and Rashida aunty was standing and serving, Abdul Karim has gone to office.
“Son, are you eating properly? Don’t be shy, Do you need anything else?” Rashida aunty was looking sad yet trying to look busy.
“Don’t call me son so frequently, I feel uncomfortable.” I replied.
I could see from her face she was hurt. “Anything else is making you uncomfortable?”
“Yes, you don’t have to stand and serve the food, I can manage, please go and have some rest”, I spoke bluntly
She didn’t say anything and slowly walked out of the dining room.
“So what’s your ploy? Why are you playing this game?” Esha who kept quite all these while blurted out now
“There is no game Esha.” I replied with a smile.
“I have told you not to call me so, and my brother told me everything that happened in police station, what the hell you are trying to do?” Her face was turning red in anger.
“But I always called you Esha, don’t you remember our school days?” I was smiling to her
“I want my brother back as soon as possible, all these have happened because of you. I am warning you, you will pay for all these. Don’t you see everyone is worried here?” She was totally mad at me now.
“I smiled and replied, Buddha said ’Happiness or sorrow – whatever befalls you, walk on, untouched, unattached.’
“Stop playing these games Ani, enough of quoting all these gibberish sayings. You are a thug, a scumbag, not a sage or Buddha” Her voice was trembling with anger and resentment. Why she looks so beautiful when she is angry?
She stood up and threw a piercing look at me, “Remember that day Ani when you ran away like a thief, that’s who you really are, not what you are pretending to be.” And she stormed out of there.
I came out of Siraj’s house without informing anybody, don’t know how they will feel when they will see the empty guest room. I reached to the police station by 4 PM. Saw Inspector Subodh is sitting in his cabin holding his head with both hands.
“May I come in sir?” I asked.
“Do you have any info about your friends? I am getting calls after calls from all highest possible places.” Inspector looked completely helpless.
“Don’t worry, he will come back, how about you? How are you doing? And how’s your family and wife?”
Inspector sighed, “I have another problem on my head. There was a murder of a key witness, few goons have done it, now I am being pressurized to release them.
“What’s the big deal? Happens all the time.” I sounded apathetic.
“Yes, but they want me make a false case and arrest few innocent men instead of them” Inspector impatiently answered.
“Inspector, why don’t you do something different this time, arrest the actual culprits and file a case against them as well who are pressurizing you.” I spoke in a cheerful tone.
He dumb fondly looked at me, and then sighed, “I wish I too had friends whose dads are ministers. I guess you should go Ani, I have so much to do.”
I came out of there, ‘Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.– Lao Tzu’
I read it in newspaper after few days. Minister Abdul Karim is charged with corruption and receiving kickbacks. He is forced to resign from his post and an investigation is currently carried out against him. The report also reads Minister’s personal life is also going through a turmoil as his eldest son is missing for months now and his wife is sick and bed ridden, Abdul Karim denied any kind of such involvements and kept accusing the opposition for false charges.
I folded the newspaper and kept it on my table. Suddenly I felt this strong urge to visit Inspector Subodh Dhar’s place. So in the evening I reached there and press the calling bell. Antima opened the door. She saw me but didn’t act dazed or surprised, she greeted me a very polite voice “Please come in, we were waiting when you will visit us again.”
Inside Subodh was sitting on his sofa, wearing white pajama and vest, sipping his tea, he looked at me and smiled, a sad smile of a worrier who lost the battle.
“Please have a sit, Antima, get Ani some tea and snacks will you? How are you sir?” I sat down.
“I have done something foolish, I have done as you said, I arrested the real culprits and put them behind the bars and complained against my superiors and local politicians who were pressurizing me. Few days back I have got my transfer order, I have been transferred into a core Naxalites zone, will have to report and join there this month end.
Antima came back with tea pot and sandwiches. She kept it on the table and stood beside her husband, Subodh held her head against his wife’s waist.
“She is 2 months conceived, we are going to have a child after all, I hope be alive to see the face of my first born.” He spoke in unmoved tone.
I murmured, “As Omar Khayyam said ‘Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.’
I am sitting here in front of Abdul Karim now, he is in jail. His own people whom he trusted played him, he is now an outcast, an embarrassment to his own party and soon he will be expelled. He isn’t looking worried anymore, rather he is looking calm and quite. May be during absolute adverse situation human acceptability tests and touches its limit, people admit to their situation without any resistance.
“How are you?” He asked.
“I am good, how about you.”
“I am fine too, as you can see.” I had a hearty laugh, then he spoke again, “Any news of Siraj? Its good in a way that he is not here, better he stays away from all these else media would have had a field day with him. Rashida is at her brother’s place, she got low blood pressure and over anxiety. Even Esha is not well. She’s having frequent emotional outburst. Would you do me a favour? Would you keep an eye on her, she’s all alone now, she has to take care of mother as well.”
I nodded, “Yes.”
I got the news as soon as I reach to Siraj’s house. Esha was taken to hospital. She tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists. I am sitting in the hospital now, she is under intensive care, she lost a lot of blood, doctors are not able confirm anything as 24 hours need to be passed. I am sitting near her head, she unconscious. The funny part is, I can clearly remember how and when I and Siraj parted our ways.
It’s just after our 12th standard exam, Esha was in her 10th class. I was always so fond of her, but never knew my true feelings for her.
That day when I was at Siraj’s house waiting for him, Esha came into the drawing room with a piece of paper in her hand. “Did you write this left it inside my book?” She asked me with a naughty smile. I was dumbstruck for some time and nodded my head slowly.
“Wait here, I will bring your answer in my writing.” She ran in, I saw Siraj coming through the main gate from the window, suddenly I felt a sense of shame, a guilt of betrayal. How Siraj might feel if he knows I have written a love letter to his sister?
I sneaked out of his house, just like a thief, next day I traveled to my ancestral house to cut all my ties with Siraj and his family.
And I remember the story, ‘And Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she carried the dead child to all her neighbors, asking them for medicine, and the people said: “She has lost her senses. The boy is dead. At length Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request: “I cannot give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can.” The girl said: “Pray tell me, sir; who is it?” And the man replied: “Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha.”
Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried: “Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will cure my boy.” The Buddha answered: “I want a handful of mustard-seed.” And when the girl in her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added: “The mustard-seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent, or friend.” Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house to house, and the people pitied her and said: “Here is mustard-seed; take it!” But when she asked Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?” They answered her: “Alas the living are few, but the dead are many. Do not remind us of our deepest grief.” And there was no house but some beloved one had died in it.’
I touched her forehead and whispered, ‘Yo ca vassasatam jeeve, apassam amatam padam, Ekaaham jeevitam seyyo, passato amatam padam. Though one should live a hundred years, without seeing the Deathless State, yet better indeed, is a single day’s life, of one who sees the Deathless State.’
I closed my eyes and saw Abdul Karim is released from jail and now at his house with Rashida Begum. Siraj came back, he was smiling at us, and I am standing there, holding Esha’s hand.
But life ain’t a fairy tale and Ani doesn’t possess any power to change the course of the fate.
I walked out slowly from the hospital to the road. The moon was smiling at me, the south sky is getting cloudy, it might rain tonight. But I will walk, and I will go and stand on the same over-bridge, who knows, may be another patrolling police force will arrest me, may be this time I will be able to change the story.
আমার ভাইয়ের রক্তে রাঙানো একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি
আমি কি ভুলিতে পারি
ছেলেহারা শত মায়ের অশ্রু গড়ায়ে ফেব্রুয়ারি
আমি কি ভুলিতে পারি
আমার সোনার দেশের রক্তে রাঙানো ফেব্রুয়ারি
আমি কি ভুলিতে পারি।।
জাগো নাগিনীরা জাগো নাগিনীরা জাগো কালবোশেখীরা
শিশু হত্যার বিক্ষোভে আজ কাঁপুক বসুন্ধরা,
দেশের সোনার ছেলে খুন করে রোখে মানুষের দাবী
দিন বদলের ক্রান্তিলগ্নে তবু তোরা পার পাবি?
না, না, না, না খুন রাঙা ইতিহাসে শেষ রায় দেওয়া তারই
একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি।
সেদিনও এমনি নীল গগনের বসনে শীতের শেষে
রাত জাগা চাঁদ চুমো খেয়েছিল হেসে;
পথে পথে ফোটে রজনীগন্ধা অলকনন্দা যেন,
এমন সময় ঝড় এলো এক খ্যাপা বুনো।।
সেই আঁধারের পশুদের মুখ চেনা,
তাহাদের তরে মায়ের, বোনের, ভায়ের চরম ঘৃণা
ওরা গুলি ছোঁড়ে এদেশের প্রাণে দেশের দাবীকে রোখে
ওদের ঘৃণ্য পদাঘাত এই সারা বাংলার বুকে
ওরা এদেশের নয়,
দেশের ভাগ্য ওরা করে বিক্রয়
ওরা মানুষের অন্ন, বস্ত্র, শান্তি নিয়েছে কাড়ি
একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি।।
তুমি আজ জাগো তুমি আজ জাগো একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি
আজো জালিমের কারাগারে মরে বীর ছেলে বীর নারী
আমার শহীদ ভায়ের আত্মা ডাকে
জাগো মানুষের সুপ্ত শক্তি হাটে মাঠে ঘাটে বাটে
দারুণ ক্রোধের আগুনে আবার জ্বালবো ফেব্রুয়ারি
একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি।।
( My Brothers Blood Spattered 21 February
Can I forget the twenty-first of February
incarnadined by the love of my brother?
The twenty-first of February, built by the tears
of a hundred mothers robbed of their sons,
Can I ever forget it?
Wake up all serpents,
wake up all summer thunder-storms,
let the whole world rise up
in anger and protest against the massacre of innocent children.
They tried to crush the demand of the people
by murdering the golden sons of the land.
Can they get away with it
at this hour when the times are poised
for a radical change?
No, no, no, no,
In the history reddened by blood
the final verdict has been given already
by the twenty-first of February.
It was a smooth and pleasant night,
with the winter gone nearly
and the moon smiling in the blue sky
and lovely fragrant flowers blossoming on the roadside,
and all of a sudden rose a storm,
fierce like a wild horde of savage beasts.
Even in the darkness we know who those beasts were.
On them we shower the bitterest hatred
of all mothers brothers and sisters.
They fired at the soul of this land,
They tried to silence the demand of the people,
They kicked at the bosom of Bengal.
They did not belong to this country.
They wanted to sell away her good fortune.
They robbed the people of food, clothing and peace.
On them we shower our bitterest hatred.
Wake up today, the twenty-first of February.
do wake you, please.
Our heroic boys and girls still languish in the prisons of the tyrant.
The souls of my martyred brothers still cry.
But today everywhere the somnolent strength
of the people have begun to stir
and we shall set February ablaze
by the flame of our fierce anger.
How can I ever forget the twenty-first of February? )
Amit came out limping from the teacher’s room, glared at Bittu, unsuccessfully tried to burn him down into ashes with that fiery stare, then limped away slowly. The next one to follow is math’s teacher Tarun sir, similar kind of fire in his eyes too, Bittu was getting impatient now. At last sports teacher Nitin sir called him in.
Severe allegation is brought against him, committing unnecessary fouls in today’s football match. As there was a match between two sections of 11th standard, he went on kicking Amit not once but twice, once kicked him in the lower calf and then kicking his knee. Math’s teacher who was the linesman spotted Bittu and blew his whistle, to convince the ‘referee come sports teacher’ Bittu tried to persuade him saying Amit being maths teacher’s favourite student, he was being partial to Bittu.
Nitin Sir: “I have spoken to Tarun sir and he is sure you committed those fouls intentionally. Top of it you accused of him being biased. You are suspended from the football team for this whole month. Now get lost.”
‘If there was a prize for being partial, maths teacher would have won the 1st prize at ease, everyone knows how Amit tops all the math class tests.’ Bittu murmured under his breath.
As he was crossing the corridor, he saw maths teacher and Amit standing.
Seeing him Tarun sir hissed, “Next of my maths test if you get less than 20 out of 40, well your answer sheet will travel to many directions from Principal’s room to your parents. I will make sure I set the toughest paper this time.”
He was trying to concentrate, tomorrow’s physics homework is still undone, but he is only turning the pages. He checked the time, 5:35 PM. Bittu got up from chair impatiently, took his bicycle out and paddled towards Firoz sir’s house. Somebody told him she recently joined the private tuition there.
The students are scattered around here and there, waiting for the previous batch to come out. Christie surprised to see Bittu reaching there in hurry, he didn’t even laid the stand on his cycle and it fell down on the grass.
Bittu: “I need to talk to you.” And he dragged her by her hand towards the stairs to the terrace, no one else was there but them.
Bittu: “You don’t need to borrow his maths note, my cousin is doing her M.Sc maths, if you want I will take you to her and you can get all the guidance you want. She’s good at maths.
Christie was surprised at first but then she had an impish smile on her face.
“Ok, I don’t like it when you talk to him.” Almost cornered now, Bittu blurted out.
She curled her lips and looked the other way, without uttering a word. Bittu discovered with horror that Firoz sir just walked into his terrace.
“What the hell you people are doing here?” Barked Firoz.
“I was early for the class so was waiting here.” Christie spoke in terrorized voice and then ran down the stairs.
“And you?” Bittu can see those blood red eyes. “I.. I… I am…”, he started to stammer.
“GET OUT!”,Firoz roared and Bittu didn’t stop till he reaches where he left his bicycle, “I could have challenged Usain Bolt today.” He muttered
“Auntie, is Bittu home?” Bittu could hear Christie’s voice from his room.
“Go straight up sweetie, he is in his room.” Mrs Sinha answered.
Bittu was laying on his bed staring at the celling, as he heard his room door opening and closing, he got up from bed.
Christie: “I won’t borrow anyone’s maths notebook, if I need help I will go to your cousin. But you don’t have to kick around people in football matches for that. By the way, Amit borrowed my notes and he was returning it back.” She had a naughty smile on her lips while she was talking.
Bittu looked at Christie, with pair of blue jeans and a pink top and a blue hairband, she was looking like a cute angel who lost her ways to this world. He couldn’t help but notice her glowing lips as well.
Bittu: “Nice dress, nice hairband and nn..n…nice lipstick.”
Christie: “That’s orange lip-gloss Dumbo. My sister got it.”
Bittu: Could we.. amm… go to ‘Cafe 360’ this 14th feb… For a coffee.
Christie: “Mom, dad, sis and I are going to Darjeeling tomorrow, I won’t be here. Sudden vacation plan.” Her face turned dull and sad.
Bittu couldn’t say anything. He stood there thoughtlessly. Christie suddenly stepped forward, pushed her toes up and leaned on Bittu for a few seconds and stepped back, her puffy cheeks turned pink almost. Completely lost, Bittu couldn’t decide, if she looks better when she’s smiling or blushing.
Bittu could hear his mom from downstairs as she might saw Christie running out, “Hey girl, I am making chocolate shakes for you people.”, “Another day aunty, I gotta pack my things for the trip.”, Bittu could hear Christie’s answer to his mom.
Neeraj: Darjeeling trip? You and me? And You need me to arrange 10k for that? And lie to your parents that we are going out of station for a school football match? Hold on, what is there in me?
Bittu: 10% interest on your 10k. Done?
Lying on his bed again Bittu was thinking, Life isn’t fair at all, he is already in the bad books maths and sports teacher, thrown out of football team, picked up a fight with Amit, Firoz sir saw them on his terrace, and he has to return Neeraj’s 10 grands with interest, life is so unfair.
“Come down Bittu, at least you have the chocolate shake.” He heard his mom’s voice.
“Not now, not hungry, won’t have my dinner as well.” Bittu replied. He is hungry alright, and craving for that choco shake, but at least for tonight he doesn’t want to let go the ‘taste of orange’ in his mouth. He was smiling stupidly, all by himself.
Akhil was looking at Sakina appreciatively, as she is cautiously and carefully cleaning the golden signature board pinned on the main door. The Board reads Dr. Akhil Mitra, Psy.D (Parapsychology and criminology), D.Phil and few other degrees he acquired till. Sakina is with him for 2 weeks now. When Rahamat, Akhil’s man servant brought her to his place.
“Sir I need a month leave, have to go to my village to see my ailing mother.” As Rahamat announced so, Akhil was looking at Sakina curiously, a 13 / 14 years old girl with frightened eyes holding a torn bag and was trying to hide behind Rahamat.
“Who’s that?” Akhil asked pointing Sakina.
“Sir this is Sakina, a distant relative of mine, she’s orphan. She will help you with the household works while I am away. Don’t worry she is well behaved.”
“You want to get me arrested Rahamat? Don’t you know encouraging child labour is a punishable offence?” Akhil asked angrily.
“Don’t get me wrong sir, she was with her grandmother all these while, now as she passed away she has nowhere to go. I would have taken her along with me but as my mother is ill, there will be no one to take care of her, but I will talk to my sister about her. Once I am back I will send her to my sister where she can stay. Till then if you give her shelter here, it would be so kind of you.” Rahamat was pleading.
“She can stay here till you return, but she doesn’t need to work here, I will manage till you come back.” Akhil replied. Since then Sakina is with him. On the second day she took over the kitchen much against Akhil’s wishes, cleaned and arranged the rooms and furniture. “You don’t have to do this.” Akhil stopped in between as he sipped the tea Sakina prepared for him, for a while he did not have such a nice tea.
Akhil was visibly embarrassed, seeing a little girl doing all the households, he tried to stop her, “See, I will pay you the same amount I give to Rahamat, but don’t need to work this way, I haven’t appointed you.”
“You have given me food and shelter here, that’s enough, I don’t need any money, give it to Rahamat uncle. I am happy doing all these, I used to do all the work when I was with grandma.” Sakina replied politely. Akhil was out of words. At night Akhil heard the sound of vessels and cooking, he peeped in and got surprised again, Sakina was standing on a stool as she wasn’t tall enough to reach the gas oven from the floor and cooking something. “This is risky, you shouldn’t do this, gas ovens can be dangerous, get down, I will get some food from outside.” Akhil cautioned Sakina. “I am habitual to all these, go and sit, I will bring your dinner at the dining table in 5 minutes.” Sakina replied.
In few days Akhil got accustomed to Sakina presence and her delicious cooking and maintaining his house, though he felt ashamed that a little girl is doing all the work, he tried to help her wherever needed but found she alone can do more than him. She was studied till 3rd standard so Akhil started home schooling her and found she is quite attentive and bright. Another thing he noticed, though there is a sign of poverty in her clothes and wear, she has an uncanny appearance of a well to do family.
Sunday morning, Akhil was sipping into his coffee and munching the toast Sakina prepared for him when Sakina announced there is lady asking for him, she is waiting in the drawing room. Akhil wasn’t expecting anyone today, that too early morning, curiously he walked into his drawing room. A woman wearing a scarf on her head and around her face with a sunglass, was sitting there, she would be presumably in her early 30’s. As she saw him she smiled and stood up.
“Hello Dr. Mitra, did you recognise me?” She asked while smiling at him.
Akhil felt a little off guarded, He is normally good with names and faces, but he was not able to identify her. He wasn’t sure what to say.
“Amm, have we met before?” Akhil asked.
“Oh yes, there was a time when I was crazy about you, I even proposed to you to marry me.” She replied, she was still smiling.
Akhil was at sea now, he was speechless and staring at her now. Is she playing some kind of game with him?
“I am Leena, Leena Chowdhury, I was your student once. In case you are wondering weather I told you the truth or not, yes back in those days we girls were crazy about you. I am sure like me, many other girls have confessed their heart out to you.” She spoke in a calm voice.
It wasn’t untrue, Akhil was a real handsome man in his young days, tall, fair and intelligent, he was the talking point among all his female students, because of his aristocrat appearance and very well to do back ground, his nick name was ‘Prince’. It also got him into a troublesome relations which will be revealed in another story. But primarily he couldn’t have remember his once ex-student who had a crush on him.
Akhil cleared his throat and asked her to sit down. “So you came here with a particular purpose or it’s just a social visit?”
“Oh ya, I came here to ask you to marry me, again,” she blurted that out and then and bursts into laughter. “Don’t look so alarmed, I am happily married, I came here to ask you for a help.”
Akhil was still uncomfortable, he sat straight, “Tell me, how I can be a help?”
“I see my dead sister, often.” She said those words as if it’s quite normal for someone to see dead people.
“May I know it in detail?” Akhil took his notepad and pen.
I am hailing from a small hill station. My father Shom Chowdhury was a doctor, because of his profession we shifted to this city. Our father bought an old house here and we started our new life. We were two sisters, Leena and Neela. Neela was just a year younger than me. We lost our mother at very tender age, we don’t even remember her properly. Our father brought us up single handedly. He was the best father anybody can ever have, he loved us more than anything else in this world, never punished us for our mischief, hardly even scolded us.
We both sisters were best friends of each other. But as we grew up things started to change. I was always a little introvert and shy type, but Neela was just the opposite, extremely extrovert and daredevil type. By the time we were 18, she earned her name as a rich spoilt brat, once when dad found a cigarette pack in her bed, he called both of us in his room. Any other parents would have shouted and punished Neela, but father calmly told her to behave herself and not to smoke as it is injurious to health. It had adverse effect on her, she took it as licence to whatever she feels like.
Then one night when I was studying on the table, Neela was humming a song, then she called me and said,
“Leena, do want to have a sip?” She was holding a beer can.
“Neela, what are you doing? Shameless bitch, you are drinking, that too at home. If dad sees this…..”
“Oh chillax Leena, it’s just beer, not even 5% alcohol in it. Try it.” She was smiling impishly.
“No, Never.” I answered angrily.
“You are such a spoil sports.” She made a face and continue drinking. After a while she came to me and said, “Leena, if I tell you something would you be scared?” I looked back at her, “What is it.”
“I think there’s an evil spirit stays in this house.” she spoke in a very normal tone.
“What?” I almost jumped from chair, “What are you saying?”,
“Yeah, but he isn’t so evil. He meets me often on the terrace, he can disguise himself to anybody. That day he came in disguise of Vaibhav sir, and he also told me that our father is actually a murderer, he killed our mother.” All these while she was talking she had layer of smile on her lips.
Vaibhav sir was our school teacher, he also was our home tutor for two months before our exam. He was a young a jovial person and we both were fond of him. Around 3 months back his dead body was discovered in a water body behind the school. It was a case of poisoning, police were still investigating that time.
“Neela, you are drunk, and you have gone crazy, go to your bed. NOW!” I almost screamed to her.
“Ok, good night, but he will meet you as well, he told me.” Neela went to bed yawning.
It happened after few days, it was cloudy that day, was about to rain. I went terrace alone and picking up the dry clothes when I saw someone standing in the corner wearing a green shirt and black pant. When I looked closely I was shocked, it was Vaibhav sir, he was wearing the same dress as he was on that fateful day. He walked at me, I was so scared that I forgot to run, my feet were glued.
“Don’t worry, I am not your Vaibhav sir, I merely disguised myself to him. This is my house and I live here. I like your sister Neela, she’s very pretty. I want her for myself. And yeah, your sister might have told you, your father is responsible for your mother’s death.” As he finished saying those words, my head spun and I fell down unconscious. I woke up with a high fever in hospital, doctor said for some reason I got too frightened and that caused this. I didn’t say anything to my father or sister.
After few days, Neela came to me, “I have conceived.” She declared. I couldn’t believe my ears. She looked at horrified me and said again, “Yes Leena, I am with a child, I brought the kit and tested myself. Do you want to see the proof?” she showed no guilt or remorse while speaking all these.
I ran to my father sobbing and crying.
“Who’s the father?” My father asked Neela calmly, “Who is it tell me? And I will personally go meet him and his parents and ask him to marry you. Tell me who is he?”
“He is lives in this house and he is not a human, so no question of marrying me.” She was giggling hysterically.
“Shameless girl, don’t you think I don’t know about all the useless boys you go around smoking and drinking, for you I have to bear insult and humiliation every day, it’s better to be childless than to be a father of yours. Wish I could strangle you myself.” First time I saw my father losing his temper this way, he was furious.
“Don’t act like a saint dad, we know who killed our mother, he told me.“ As Neela uttered those words, my father lost his patience and slapped her across her face.
Two days after, Neela committed suicide by jumping off from the terrace, from the position of her body it was established she jumped from the corner of the terrace where I saw Vaibhav sir standing that day. Police arrested my father in suspicion, as they received a hoax call saying they saw my father pushing Neela from the terrace but they released him, they couldn’t challenge his alibi as he was in his clinic that time with his patients.
The post mortem report shocked us, there was no sign of Neela was ever conceived, she lied to us.
We performed her last ritual and went to our ancestral place, the hill station we belong from, we stayed there for 1 and ½ years. We came back to the city as dad wanted to sell this house and go back there permanently.
The second night of our stay here, I was sitting in my chair when Neela entered into the room. It was so normal as if she was still alive, she was wearing the same dress she wore that day. She came and sat on my bed.
“How are you Leena? Been good?”, she asked, I could only nod my head. “Don’t worry, I am dead alright. But I was missing you, so I thought I will see you. I also wanted to tell you something.”
“What?” I asked in a very feeble voice. I saw her pulling out a cigarette from her case and lit it. She took a puff and blow out the smoke.
“Do you want to know how did I die? I am sure you have anticipated it.” She took another puff.
“How?” my voice was heavy now.
“Our beloved dad, calm and quite Doctor Shom Chowdhury. Ever wondered Leena, why you and I were so different? Cause I had my mother’s genes, she was too like me, carefree and outgoing. But the small town couldn’t accept that and spread rumours about her, made our dad suspicious and then one day he did her for good, just like he did to me.”
That time I was wishing so much that, this should a nightmare. But she continued, “I will take my revenge Leena, I will.” Saying so she slowly got up from bed and walked away out of the door.
Past midnight I heard a chilling scream from my dad’s room, As I was not able to sleep, I immediately ran to him. I found him sitting on his bed, his face was white as a paper, seemed like all the blood was drained out. He looked at me and said, “Neela….. She was here.”
I got him some water and sat beside him, he drank it and told me what happened, “I heard a voice, calling me, ‘Dad, dad’, I felt as if the voice is coming out under the bed, I got up and peeped under my bed and I saw her, she was sitting with her legs folded and her chin on her knees. She was smiling at me.”
I started to sob and told him everything starting from Neela’s incidents, the terrace incident and what happened today evening.
My father looked at helplessly and said, “Believe me Leena, I did not kill your sister, nor your mother. Trust me, I am telling the truth.”
Few days later, my father ended his life the same way Neela did, He too chose the same corner of the terrace for the leap of death.
Leena stopped here to catch a breath, as she stopped suddenly, that pulled Akhil back to present, he was listening to Leena so attentively, he was actually visualizing all the incidents.
Sakina have already served coffee and snacks, the coffee was already cold and thin layer of cream was floating. Leena removed her sunglass for a while to wipe off her tears and wore it again.
“What did you do after that?” Akhil asked.
“I couldn’t take it anymore. I travelled to USA to a distant relative of mine, I had more than enough money as all my father’s asset and bank accounts were transferred to me. It was huge sum. I continued my studies there, I met a nice Indian guy and got married. Couple of years back we decided to return to India.”
“When you started seeing your dead sister again?” Akhil asked.
“About 6 months back, my husband was sleeping that night and I was arranging the kitchen, when I heard my name called from the kitchen balcony, I walked there and found her standing there, she looked the as I saw her years back. She smiled and asked how I am, I was too scared to answer. She said, “It’s really good to see you doing so well. I am almost jealous, you have such a fine husband. Remember how we used share things between us. I think we should share your husband too.”
“I was angry and frightened at the same time. I screamed “Never.” Hearing me shouting my husband woke up and came there, by that time she was gone. Since that day my husband’s health started to deteriorate. He is wheel chair bound now, Doctors are trying but… I want to take him back to USA, maybe he will get a better treatment there. But you have to solve this case, I know I sound crazy but each of my words are true.”
“Do you have any photos of Neela?” Akhil enquired.
Leena took out an old photo from her bag and handed over to Akhil, “This was taken about 4 months before her death.” A teenage girl wearing a blue dress with open hair was looking at the camera indifferently, she had a mole on her left cheek, similar face cut and jaw like Leena. Akhil kept the photo on the table.
“Are you still living in the same house? How old was Neela when she died. Akhil was jotting down few details.
“Yes, we never sold the house, it’s a big lovely house, almost like a bungalow, even my husband liked it. By the way he is an architect. Neela was about 18 years old, she was in the first year of college.”
“Hmm, you were in the same college with her?”
“Yes. We were.” Leena answered.
“See Leena, I think you have given me enough information, from all the details it seems awfully like a case of schizophrenia. I think all the tragic death of your near and dear ones had an adverse effect on you. Still I will have few counselling session with you. Today you can go home and relax. I will to come by your place sometime, leave your address with me.”
“I know you won’t believe my words, here is my address and phone number, call me if you can.” Leena suddenly stood up and almost stormed out after throwing those words at Akhil.
Akhil sighed and shook his head, he is a psychologist not a ghostbuster. A learned scientific mind doesn’t approve the existence of ghost or evil spirit etc.
Akhil felt as if someone calling his name, half asleep he looked at his table clock, its 2:20 AM, he again heard some is calling his name. “Akhil sir, Akhil sir”, seemed like the sound is coming out under his bed, he switched his table lamp and peeped under his bed. There was a girl sitting under it, with folded legs, chin on her knees with a weird smile. It was…… Neela.
Akhil sat straight on his bed. The table lamp was still on and the insufficient light was making a shadowy ambiance in the room. He got up from bed and switched on the light, took a deep breath and peeped under the bed. She was still there, the same face from the photo he has, only she was smiling at him. Akhil sat on his bed again, he was feeling dizzy and nauseous, still he was trying to put his thoughts back, “Neela, is that you?”, “Yes Akhil sir, I heard you did not believe Leena’s words, so I thought I will pay you a little visit myself.” She was giggling while saying so. Akhil suddenly felt so weak, he let his body fell on the bed and then everything was calm and quiet.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Sakina standing near the bed calling his name. “Sir, it’s already 8 AM, don’t you have to get ready for your work?”, his bed tea and newspaper was already on the table. “Your tea is cold already I guess, let me warm it, meanwhile you come to the dining table, your breakfast is ready.”, As Sakina left Akhil was trying recall the incident of the night, was he dreaming, he again looked under the bed, its empty, he looked around, the wall clock was showing 8:05 AM. Akhil stepped towards the dining room.
At the university Akhil’s mind was getting side-tracked by every minute, he was only waking up with the questions of his students and he was only answering them partially and absentmindedly. “Sir, are you alright? You seemed to be weary.” One of his students from the 2nd bench asked. “Yeah, I am fine, lets dismiss the class here, you people come back tomorrow with your thesis done.”, “but you haven’t given us any topic today”, a chorus of puzzled voice hit Akhil. “Oh! Sorry, submit a thesis on the topic ‘Does every occurrence has a rational explanation?’, that’s your topic for tomorrow.” Akhil left the classroom with bunch of students humming and whispering.
While returning to his cabin Akhil the office peon informed him to meet the Dean. Dean Subhas Dutta is a mydear person and fond of Akhil, he doesn’t have the Dean’ish attitude rather a friendly and good-humored person. As Akhil entered into his room he greeted him, “Come in Akhil, How are you today, heard you have dismissed your class early? Any mischievous rascal in your class creating nuisance?” Dean Dutta asked him in a playfull tone. “Nothing of that sort, they are well behaved. It’s just that I am little off tracked.” Akhil replied. “You know you can come to me for any help, any advice, professionally or personally, I see you as a friend.” Subhash said those words with a warm tone.
“Sir, do you believe in ghosts?”, All of a sudden Akhil asked that to the Dean. Subhash looked at him as if he just saw a ghost, there was a complete silence for 30 seconds and the Subhash burst into laughter. “Dr. Akhil Mitra, are you researching on ghosts now a days?”, Subash asked back to Akhil. Akhil felt a little embarrassed, “Well, just wanted to know your view about it.”, Akhil replied. “I guess I am an open minded person and I believe in William Shakespeare, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ Is truly said in Hamlet. But what is bothering you Akhil?”
“Hmm, just a small doubt.” Akhil replied abstractedly.
That night Akhil finished his dinner early, Sakina’s prepared egg curry was really tasty, He actually had an over diet tonight. It’s around 1:30 AM when Akhil woke up, he heard some sounds from the kitchen, he wondered what Sakina is doing so late in the kitchen. Sheepishly he walked in the kitchen, as he entered he was stunned. It was Neela standing there, wearing a blue saree, with her long hair open till her waist, the same face and the mole in her left cheek, with a wicked smile.
“Hello Akhil sir, how about some midnight tea? We can chat as we have it together.” There were 2 tea cups were on the table and the kettle was on the oven. Akhil felt as if his vision is getting blurred, he held the chair in front of him and closed his eyes. “What are you doing in the kitchen, you could have wake me up if you needed anything.” Hearing those words Akhil opened his eyes, Sakina was standing there with sleepy eyes, he turned his eyes around and found no one in the kitchen except himself and Sakina standing at the door. “The water is boiling, but why there are 2 cups on the table?” Sakina asked Akhil again. Akhil saw the 2 empty cups and the steam coming out of the kettle. Akhil almost fell on the chair, he was feeling very weak and giddy.
“Take me to my room.” Akhil held his right hand to Sakina. He could see the surprising eyes of Sakina turned sad. She held Akhil’s hand and guided him to his bedroom, once he laid down in bed, she covered him with a blanket. “Sleep now and you will be fine tomorrow, let me clean off the kitchen.” Sakina switched off the light and stepped out. Before Akhil fell into his deep sleep he heard Neela’s giggling voice, “We couldn’t finish our midnight chat tonight, I will see you later.” Akhil only heard the sweet sound of tittering before everything is quiet.
Next 3 days was literally hellish time for Akhil. Sakina fell sick severely with high fever. As she was admitted to hospital, from doctors Akhil came to know it’s a scorpion sting that caused it. Akhil took 2 days of leave from university so he can be with her as she was so weak and needed attention. When Sakina regain her conscious she found Akhil sleeping on the chair. It brought her into tears, this elderly man who has no relation whatsoever with her is doing so much and she……. She remembered her days with grandma, always pushing her to do household works and shouting and abusing her. She closed her eyes and tears were rolling down on her cheeks.
“I heard your help fell sick.” Leena cleared her throat and said. Akhil woke up hearing her voice and rubbed his eyes. Sakina was lying down closing her eyes, there were sign of dry tears on her cheeks. Akhil looked back at Leena, she was wearing her trademark scarf and sunglasses and in jeans and top, “Yeah, had real tough time last 2 days, how are you? I am sorry I couldn’t get back to you.” “I can understand. Why don’t you go home and get refreshed, if you want you can go to university as well so you don’t have to take leave.” Leena had genuine concern in her voice.
“I would, but she needs somebody here.” Akhil replied while yawning.
“If you don’t mind I can stay with her, anyway you need a break. You look completely exhausted.” Leena spoke.
Akhil considered the option and thanked her for her kindness. He promised Sakina he will be back by evening and if doctors release her, he will take her home. As he hit the road he called Inspector Dubey, the local OC. “Dubey, could you do me a favour?” Hearing Akhil’s voice Dubey felt happy, “Dr Mitra! How are you sir? Long-time no see. Let me know how can I help?” Akhil gave him few details and requested to check few things for him which Dubey gladly accepted.
When Akhil came back in the evening he was informed by the hospital authority that Sakina is discharged and A lady paid the bill and took her with. She left a note for Akhil as well. It reads “Akhil sir, I am taking Sakina with me. She’s still feeble and need attentive care, I know for a bachelor man it would be real tough for you. Once she recovers I will bring her to you.” Akhil sighed after finishing it.
Next morning he went to Leena’s address, the house was almost outskirt of the city, a big 2 stored house with lot of trees and plant surrounded by with a pond on the south. There are hardly any sign of urban life, no sign of city rush. He pressed the door bell, Sakina opened the door, she was overjoyed seeing him. She informed Leena is working in the garden and her Husband is in the study room, Akhil was guided Sakina to the garden working on the plants, her scarf was tied on her head.
“Do you always wear that scarf?” Akhil asked.
“Oh, you came at last. Have a sit there on the veranda, I will be there with you soon.” Leena answered.
“So, how all of a sudden I have this pleasant surprise of your visit?” Leena asked as she was wiping her sweat from her face.
“How’s your husband now? Is he any better?” Akhil asked.
“Same, even deteriorating.” Leena sighed.
“Can we see your terrace? Akhil enquired. “Ohh definitely, I guess you want to see from where my dad and sister jumped.” Leena replied with a sad smile. They both went up, it was an old house, the terrace was almost had a height of 10 meters from the ground. Akhil looked down from the south side corner and see the concrete slabs of 2 meters or so were laid and then the old pond started, the water of the pond is black, a lot of algae and water plants were floating.
“They both have jumped from this corner”, Leena hold the railing and looked down at the concrete slabs.
They were on the terrace when Sakina served the tea despite of being not absolutely fit, Akhil felt bad for her again.
As they were leaning on the railing and sipping in their cups Leena asked, “So tell me.”
“You tell me Neela, why did you come to me for the first place?”
Leena was stunned and speechless for few moments, “You haven’t been called Neela for a very long time I guess.” Akhil asked again
This time she spoke firmly, “You say, you are cleverer than anybody else and you should know everything.”
Akhil leaned back on the chair, “You were playing game with me, and you misguided me with your mixed story of half lies and half-truth. One of the typical phenomenons for sociopaths. Now let’s re arrange your story.
You were 2 sisters, Leena, your elder sister was the good girl of the house, and Neela, the spoilt one. The incident of Neela getting conceived was a true one. I believe it’s you and your Vaibhav sir who got into that affair. I can only presume that he might have rejected you knowing you are with his child. Outraged, you poisoned him. The story of the evil spirit you told me was a complete fabrication to distract me.
Now as Leena came to know about your unwanted pregnancy she told that to your father, which enraged you. Your sibling relationship was all time low at that time as you were thinking of Leena as the ‘apple of eye’ of your father who acts all goody goody and giving you a bad name. So one day when you both were on the terrace you pushed her down. The hoax call made to police saying your father pushed her, was also made by you changing your voice to divert the attention from you as a suspect. From your terrace on the south corner it’s full of trees and there’s a pond, it’s hardly visible from the road or neighborhoods, assuming before 10 to 12 years the population density was almost nil. There were none else could witness that.
Your father made a grave mistake, initially after getting arrested while interrogating he thought it’s you who jumped or pushed off from the terrace, he just heard the news from police that one of his daughter is dead, given the circumstances that were more likely a situation. On the police record instead of Leena, the name Neela was registered and remained same, your father failed to correct it. I can’t blame him much, his elder daughter is dead, younger one is with an unwanted pregnancy, he also must be thinking about the unnatural death of Vaibhav and top of it accused of murdering his own daughter, any normal person would have gone insane.
The case was closed in a hurry as your father’s reputation was at stake, the death certificate was issued with the wrong sister’s name and before anything more happened you people left the city. You were there in your father’s home town for more than a year where you gave birth to your child, it was too late for an abortion. There, from rumors you have learned about your mother and also learned that you might not be the daughter of Shom Chowdhury, you mother had an extra marital affair. You were certain that you have a step-father. You further learned that the house in this city you were living is your maternal grandfathers who wrote all his assets to his son-in-law rather than your mother. You were certain that point your father has killed your mother knowing her infidelity, the rural gossip did not help the situation either.
Your kid grown almost a year when your father was not ready anymore to keep it you or him, he forcefully gave the kid away to an orphanage and brought you back to the city. Here he learned about the wrong death certificate, he would have rectified it, but you did not gave him a chance. When you came to know about the wrong name in the certificate you felt your father or step-father was wishing for your death, else why it would be your name. Knowing he is your step-father and he snatched away your child from you, also he might be involved with your mother’s death, when your father was trying to sell away the house which you felt was a remembrance of your mother he is trying to throw away, you developed an abnormal hatred towards your father. So he met the same fate like his elder daughter. The sad part is, he loved both his daughters equally and even after learning about your mother unfaithfulness, he accepted both of you with his open arms. Who knows, the shame of her own guilt made your mother took the extreme step, but I don’t think you father was involved anyway. He was a good and honorable man.
You went abroad to your mother’s cousin after that, but you were coming back time to time to trace your child, I believe your dad never told you where he gave away the kid. Meanwhile you changed your name to Leena with affidavit and I presume it was done in unauthorized way as there must be legal complications. Your meetings and interactions with your kins were reducing, you stayed there and met your husband and got married, adapted his last name, now your identity was completely changed. But you were truly your mother’s daughter, fiery and unpredictable, which created a lot of marital discord. Also you people are childless still, which caused more frequent fights. You decided to come back here start a new life. Once you are back you have traced your daughter, who was adopted by an old lady but was forced to work as her domestic help. That was Sakina, her actual name what you kept was Kanika, your mother’s name! Its’ registered in that orphanage. The mother in you was longing for your own child.
I am again not sure if you have anything to do with the death of the old lady, but as she died you took Kanika or Sakina out of that house. You knew your husband will never accept your love child and you made a plan. You bribed my servant Rahamat and made her posed as a relative of her, you paid him good to move out of the city and now I know he is not coming back. You knew I will not say no if she wanted to stay. All you had to do now to revive an old teacher-student relation, as Rahamat is not coming back I would be restless for her to be in a safe place and you will offer me to adopt her.
Your husband’s health is deteriorating because he is slowly poisoned, mostly arsenic poisoning, I see a lot of male hairs around; one of the symptom is hair loss and fingernail pigmentation. And he is not getting better because the doctor is under payroll or mostly you are making an imposter play the role of the doctor.”
“Wait, why would I come to you for first place? If I knew it’s too dangerous to involve you?” Leena or Neela interrupted in between.
“Serial murders have this superiority complex; they think they are cleverer than normal people, I think that are what drew you to me. To spice up this bloody and cruel game you are playing.
You had already laid your plan when you came to know Kanika is sheltered at my place, as per that you came and meet me, wearing the scarf and sunglass, a perfect yet simple way to hide your actual appearance, you gave a picture of yours when you were young, not Leena’s. I can see the spot on you face now, from where the mole was surgically removed. A false mole, a long hair wig and a half asleep drugged person. A perfect platform to create confusion about the supernatural story you told me. You wanted to test me, your sister might have spoken about me to you a lot. You were genuinely interested to have a mind game with me, to make me believe your ghost stories, you must have been bored of committing all these crimes and never got caught. A natural observable fact in all the sociopath criminals.”
Neela looked visibly shaken now. Akhil continued.
“The famous quote of Sherlock Holmes, ‘when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’, When I arranged all these incidents, I knew you couldn’t do it without an accomplice. That too someone who is close enough to me. Sakina or Kanika was your accomplish in this drama, starting from drugging me with the food, let you in when I was asleep to smuggle you out of the back door, where she got stung by the scorpion, my backyard is full of them, I know that, so I always keep that door closed. But I won’t blame her, she was merely doing what she was told to, I believe she doesn’t yet know you are her mother, but a woman who was helping a orphan and she’s repaying you by doing whatever you are asking her to.”
“I was going to tell her myself.” Neela hissed.
“When?”, The question was asked from a distance, from the terrace door, Akhil and Neela both looked there and found Sakina or Kanika was standing there, from her look it was clear she was hiding near the door listening to their conversation. “When you were about to tell me you are mother?, She asked in a broken voice.
At the same time Inspector Dubey and a sub-inspector walked into terrace.
“Bravo! You have called the cops as well?” Neela laughed.
“Did I have a choice? I can’t let you harm and kill people anymore, at least your poor husband will be saved.”
“I know I am guilty, and probably I deserve every punishment I will get. My only regret is, the lost daughter I got reunited to is orphan again and now she will be known as the daughter of a murderess.” Neela spoke in an emotionless voice, “Yeah I lost this game of chess with you, Leena was right, you truly are a brilliant mind.”
Neela looked back at Kanika and speared her arms, “Come on sweetie, give momma a hug.”
Kanika ran at her mother with wild force and gave her a violent push, Neela was almost thrown away over the railing, the sheer force of that sudden sprint imbalanced Kanika completely and she too tripped over the terrace railing. But for Akhil it felt like Kanika even did not attempt to stop herself falling from there. Akhil heard two thud sounds in difference of 2 seconds.
As he looked down and saw the motionless, bloodied bodies of Neela and kanika lying on the concrete slabs. The two streams of blood, flowing out of the mother’s and the daughter’s body met in some distance and they were running towards the old pond, as if that flowing blood was trying to wash away the age old stains of this cursed house.
Akhil was in the kitchen making tea, his drawing room and study room is a mess, so this Saturday evening he planned to arrange things but still wasn’t able to start even.
He heard the doorbell, irritated he answered the door, Saturday evening should be declared as a solitude hours, he thought.
Inspector Dubey was standing there, he barged in and spoke in a urgent tone, “Need your help.”
“Today I can’t go anywhere.”, Akhil cautioned Dubey.
“There is a Tantrik who tented on the hill next to the city, he claims he is a notorious black magician who kills people by taking huge sum of money, basically a contract killer. There are already 3 mysterious deaths occurred in the city, all were influential people. We had a tip regarding the last victim so we heavily guarded him and also keep our people in plain dress near that Tantrik. None of them were reported for any unusual activity but today morning we found the victim dead.
We have no proof or physical evidence against that Tantrik. I am in tremendous pressure from my superior to solve the case, I recommended your name to the commissioner and he asked me to involve you ASAP, please Dr. Mitra, I need your help.”
Akhil quietly looked at dubey and then laughed. “Alright Dubey, lets finish our evening tea, then we’ll go meet your black magician.”
Sid is just annoyed, annoyed from yesterday, he is constantly trying to pick up a fight with his elder brother Gautam. But his brother just shunning him away with sheer disinterest and sarcastic smile, normally it’s the other way around, Gautam and his best buddy Sonu is always picking on him, bullying him.
Gautam and Siddharth are studying in the same school, in 12th and 9th standard respectively. Yesterday when 12th standard boys were mocking Siddharth’s classmates for trivial issue, Sumit, the cricket captain of the class 9, lost his nerves and challenged the elder boys for a cricket match, which they gladly accepted knowing the 9th standard boys are no match to them.
As the challenge is made and accepted for a twenty20 match between the boys on this Sunday, Gautam came and whisper in Sid’s ear, “Hope you’ll bowl in this match, we’ll make sure your bowling figure looks as generous as it can be, 100 for none may be.”, and laughed his head off.
Gautam is the opening batsman and Sonu is the no. 3, they are the best batsmen this school cricket team has, no wonder they are popular and have quite a fan following. Other hand Sid is a first change fast medium pacer yet to play for the school team. For obvious reason Gautam is snubbing him.
When at the dinner table that night the same topic was discussed, Gautam and Sid’s dad was as always not much interested, but their mom was over cautious and asking Gautam to go soft on his younger brother, which made Sid more irate and frustrated.
Saturday, as Sid returned back from school he heard fragments of words and laughter from his brother’s room. He peeped in and found his brother’s snobbish girlfriend Harshita inside, she’s called miss snotty in school and Sid loathe her for her cosmetic smile and fake attitude.
As she saw him, she taunted, “Heard you are playing a match against your brother, good luck. You need that when you are playing against our school’s Virat Kohli.”, and started to giggle.
“I heard Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma are breaking up, when you people are going to?” He threw those words at her and started walking, he heard her shouting, “Tell that li’l devil not to talk to me that way.”
Sid made a face and sat with his grandfather on the sofa, the highlights of India Australia match was going on. Sid’s grandpa shook his head and said. “It’s such a one sided affair now a days, it’s all a batsman’s game now. Boundaries are small, fieldsmen are restricted, bowler’s wings are clipped with so many rules, no wonder nobody is interested being a bowler. Everyone just want to pick the heaviest wood they can lift and hit the ball as hard as they can”
“Yup, and Australia is always a strong, from the era of Don Bradman”. Sid replied. “Ahh, Don Bradman, Do you know story?” Sid could see the glow in his Grandpa’s eyes, he answered, “No, tell me.”
It was just an exhibition match, a tennis ball cricket game, sports teacher and school cricket coach agreed to be the umpires. 12th class boys won the toss and decided to bat first. As usual Gautam and Dhiman walked in to open with Gautam in the striking end.
“Let me open the bowling”, Sid asked Sumit. Without much thought Sumit tossed the ball at Sid, even he knew the outcome of the match.
“Right arm, round the wicket.” Sid announced it to the umpire and started to walk towards his bowing run up. Gautam surprised to see his brother taking an unusually long run up.
First ball, a short pitch bouncer till the chest, Gautam played a defensive shot.
Second ball, a higher bouncer hit Gautam’s shoulder.
Third ball, almost the same like the first ball, raised till his rib cage. “That’s no ball”, Gautam screamed at the umpire, “Only one bouncer is allowed.” “That’s not above the shoulder, legitimate delivery.” Sports teacher playing the leg umpire dismissed the plea.
Fourth delivery was also similar. On fifth delivery Gautam lost his patience and tried to play a hook shot, the ball parachuted down to deep fine leg fielder’s hand. Sid finished his over as a wicket maiden.
Sid started his 2nd and match’s 3rd over with Sonu facing him. The first ball hit his forehead, second ball hit his shoulder when he tried to duck, third ball flew few inches above his head, called a no ball. The next ball was a Yorker, cleaned off Sonu’s leg stump. From the look of his face Sid could tell, Sonu wasn’t expecting that. The other pacers of the team were following Sid and started bowling on leg stump line with waist and chest high bumpers.
12th class boys were all out in 16th over scoring only 67, with two of their best batsman out so cheaply, that too against the 9th standard boys, demoralized the whole team. Sid finished his bowling figure as ‘4-1-13-4’.
They tried to get back in the game with tight bowling and fielding, but Sumit’s team were already sniffed the victory. 9th standard won the match with 4 wickets and 1.3 over remaining. Sid became the overnight hero.
Harshita and few of her class girls were standing outside the ground, awestruck and heartbroken, they came to see and cheer for the victory of their class. Sid walk by them like a proud peacock with his full glory, royally ignoring each of those known faces.
Puzzled Sonu asked Gautam, “What was that all about?”
“Bodyline”, Gautam replied with dry and uninterested face.
“1932-33 ‘English tour to Australia’ under Douglas Jardine. Harold Larwood and Bill Voce brought down Don Bradman’s dominant Australia to its knees with their bodyline bowling, Bradman’s own average came down to 56.57 in that series.”, Gautam answered with frustrated voice.
“Sure they didn’t have Twenty20 back then.” Sonu said while scratching his head.
(A bodyline delivery was one where the cricket ball was bowled towards the body of the batsman on the line of the leg stump, in the hope of creating leg-side deflections that could be caught by one of several fielders in the quadrant of the field behind square leg.
A cricket team representing England toured Australia in the 1932-33 season. The tour included five Test matches in Australia, and England won The Ashes by four games to one. The tour was highly controversial because of the Bodyline bowling tactics used by the England team under the captaincy of Douglas Jardine. The debatable series notoriously known as Bodyline Series.
As per the instructions of England captain Jardine, the pacers duo, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce constantly attacked the Australian batsmen’s body, caused several injuries to Aussie batsmen. This controversial yet useful tactics paid off, as even the greatest batsmen like Don Bradman averaged 56.57 in the series which is an excellent average for most, but well short of his career average of 99.94.
As a direct consequence of the 1932–33 tour, a lot of cricket rules are changed. From then till now there were many debates if the bodyline tactics is a fair one. Recent death of Phil Hughes added fuel to this debate if fast bowlers are even allowed to bowl bouncers. But definitely as Cricket become exceedingly a sport of batsmen, fast bowlers are becoming the endangered species of the game. )