“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.
(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.
(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.
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.!!!!!.”
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.
(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.
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.”