“Tremendous Sir, this idea of yours is a master stroke.”
“So how many applications we have received so far for our first program, “Who wants to be the next Sherlock Holmes.”?
“Just incredible! 4 days and we already have more than 50,000 applications and counting…..
“Awesome! And how about our second program, “Who wants to be the next John Watson.”?
“Well…. So far we have received only one application, Sir.”
“Hmm, I’ve predicted that. Something told me, this one won’t fly. Looks like we have to close this one, we have no demand for our second program at all.
“Amm, actually we cannot do that Sir.”
“And why so? Pray, do tell me.”
“Because the only applicant for that program is Sherlock Holmes himself.”
“Yes Sir, this he wrote in the application and I quote,
‘Sherlock Holmes was not possible without John Watson, as there would have been nobody to write and publish my casefiles as stories and the Scotland Yard would have claimed all the credits and glories which I couldn’t care less about.
He was also a source of inspiration by being an epitome of stupidity to whom I have to declare and explain all my moves and deductions which kept my mind sharp as ever, who was also most tolerant to all my humiliating jibes and taunts and handled me like a true patient friend and doctor.
Not to mention that he saved my life on more than one occasion not only from my enemies but also from my cocaine addiction and drug abuses.
Last but not the least, if he wouldn’t agree to move into our apartment, I could have never afforded it, hence there wouldn’t be any 221 B Baker Street and thus wouldn’t be no Sherlock Holmes.
So for once, I would definitely like to know how it feels like to be Dr. John Hamish Watson!’ “
* Here is the snap of her, it should be done by tomorrow.
** I won’t do it.
** I knew her.
* Ahh old flame? Ex-girlfriend eh? (Dirty giggling)
** Nah! She is a schoolmate, yeah I used to like her.
** I asked her out once.
* And she rejected you. Didn’t she? (Dirty giggling again)
** She did.
* One more reason to get rid of her.
** What if I refuse.
* Then somebody else will do the job and get the money. Her husband is paying quite a good amount. Listen, you are a contract killer. Don’t grow a conscience and stay poor. Take the job and get paid.
** (Complete silence)
* See I personally prefer knives. Because guns make too much of noise. It should be easy. She returns home every day around 7:30 PM. The road in front of her house is pretty deserted. Just wait for her there and finish her off, stab her in the neck.
** Okay then.
* Make it look like a robbery or snatching gone wrong. Take away her purse.
He was standing in that lane, which leads to her home. Few street lamps were working. The whole street was playing with lights and shadows here and there. He was standing under a tree.
It’s almost 10 years, still it feels as if it’s yesterday. She was always this cheerful, popular and center of attraction kind, always surrounded by people, guys and girls. And he was a shy, quiet type, the ones which are always invisible to them. They were in the same class from 11th standard, but he could never gathered enough courage to speak to her.
Except the annual fest for the 12th class. He thought it’s now or never. So he did what he thought is impossible, unthinkable. She was busy having the dessert in the buffet when he creeped behind her.
“Hi, I really do like you…!” He spoke in one breath.
“Amm, and you’re name is?” was her reply.
That was the first and last conversation between them.
He could see her coming towards him. She was wearing a green designing saree, the bag full of groceries were in her left hand, she was holding her saree above her ankle with her right hand, dodging and avoiding the pot holes in the road filled with water.
She did not change much, since the day he saw her last time. He slowly stepped out, the street light was having this sleepy yellowish brightness, the whole lane was looking pale and sad.
He put his hand in his right pocket and felt the six inches folded steel, he slowly pulled it out. As he jerked his wrist, the sharp edge flung open, she was only 3 or 4 steps away from him. It should be fairly easy. Stab her right in the middle of her neck and pull the knife back, the respiration artillery should be cut and she should die in few seconds. A less painful death.
He turned towards her, and then froze as he heard the same familiar cheerful tone.
Akhil was sitting near the lake with his Kashmiri shawl on, looking at the light green water of it. Most of the ponds, lakes and other waterbodies turned light to dark green as the days go by, because with no much maintenance and cleaning, the algae and water hyacinth slowly take them over turning the water greenish.
Akhil could see few of fishes were swimming under those water plants, small fishes, they looked like few dark shadows swaying through the shallow water. He sighed, it’s the month February yet the chillness of the winter is evidently here in this part of the country, although in rural areas winter stays a little longer.
As he tried to get up he felt his weakness is still there. Akhil suffered from Jaundice last month, not an ideal start for the new-year. As he recovered, he was weak and feeble after the yellow fever.
“Why don’t you go for a change, take a vacation and regain your health.” His family physician Dr. Dutta advised. “But make sure you’re in good hands, do you have any kith and kin in any hill station?”
Akhil shook his hand, he hates being a burden to somebody. But his students from the university were aware of his condition and eager to help. One of them was Abhimanyu, a brilliant student of psychology, doing his PhD under Akhil.
“Sir, you have to say yes.” Abhimanyu almost pleaded. “I wish I could come with you, but I’m so stuck with my thesis, but I have spoken the caretaker of my farmhouse there, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Everything will be taken care of.”
Abhimanyu Baruah, hailing from a small village of northeast, but he hardly lived there, he was born there, but brought up in this city, though he and his family visit their ancestral village time to time, they are well settled in the city.
Akhil was not so sure, he never liked to take favors from anyone, let alone be from his students. As he was considering to decline the offer politely, Abhimanyu spoke, “Sir, you won’t be disappointed if you visit my village. You might as well meet a very strange yet interesting character.” There was something in his tone and way of speech that Akhil couldn’t say no, and now here he is.
Well, he can’t complain, he is here for 4 days and the caretaker Ratanlal’s treatment was royal. As he was specifically instructed by Abhimanyu. Strict yet delicious diet of Juices, fruits, vegetables and soups, maid Rashida and gardener Charan are always on their toes to serve him 24 hours, Akhil felt as if he is truly a royal emperor in this small, hilly village of Northeast.
“You are not from here, I know all the faces in this village, you must be an outsider.” A sweet yet sharp voice nudged the web of Akhil’s deep thoughts.
A bit surprised Akhil turned his head towards his right shoulder, a girl most probably in her late teens was sitting beside him. Akhil has no idea when or how long she came and sat next to him. The girl was wearing a black and green Churidar, looking curiously at him. She got a scarf on her head.
Akhil couldn’t reply immediately, partially because he was surprised partially because of his weakness, he body response system became slow. As he opened his mouth to answer, she spoke, “Akhil Mitra. You are the guest of Abhimanyu, staying in Baruah farmhouse.” Her ringing voice was sweet yet piercing.
“Well, you already knew my name.” Akhil tried to smile and be easy.
“Naah! I just guessed.” She looked at the lake.
“You’ve guessed my name?” Akhil asked her foolishly.
“Yeah. I hope you like my village. I will come and meet you sometime in the farmhouse.” The girl stood up and walked away hurriedly.
Akhil sat there for some time, tried to think back what just happened. He noticed the girl was also wearing cotton gloves till her elbow, her scarf was hiding her head and good portion of neck. She was pale looking, must be around 18 to 19 years old. The only things noticeable were her sad yet glowing eyes and her sharp yet sweet voice. She didn’t smile as she was talking and claimed she guessed his name. And when she said I hope you like ‘My’ village, it was very authoritative, as if she owns the village.
Akhil started to walk towards the farmhouse, it’s breakfast time, he was sick of juices and fruits. All he wanted now to have deep fried Puri with potato and peas curry.
Midway he found the Rashida was standing, looking at him alarmingly. As he walked towards her she asked, “Did you meet Nalini?”
“Who’s Nalini?” Akhil asked in startled voice.
“The girl you were talking to.” Rashida replied with a hurried tone.
“Oh! I’ve no idea who she is. She just came and sat next to me. Asked me if I am Akhil Mitra, the guest of Abhimanyu, and walked away.”
“Alright, come along sir, your juice is ready. Rashida turned back and started to walk while mumbling something.
Akhil was sipping into his glass of carrot juice and making faces. It’s been an hour he came back from the lake side. For last few days he started to hate all kinds of juices. A bowl of fruit salad was lying on the dining table, as per the strict instruction of Abhimanyu, Ratanlal is following the doctor’s diet chart word by word. Akhil sighed, how good it would be to have hot and puffy oily Puris with spicy potato peas curry.
“Witch!” Akhil heard the whisper and turned towards the source of that voice which was full of hate and disgust.
Rashida was looking steadily out of the window, the pale looking girl whom Akhil met a while ago is seen walking towards the farmhouse, she was holding something in her hand.
In few minutes she entered into the dining room, she was holding a something covered with newspaper. She placed it on the dining table and removed the newspaper cover. A plate full of deep fried Puris with potato and peas curry, the way Akhil liked them, dark brownish Puris and melted potato and peas gravy.
“It was so rude of me not to introduce myself back there, I’m Nalini, Nalini Dev Burman, daughter of Niranjan Dev Burman. Once upon a time our family was the land lord of this village. I hope you did not mind when I mentioned as ‘MY’ village back there, it should be our village isn’t it?” Nalini was smiling impishly now.
Akhil tried to be as normal as he could, “I am on a strict diet, I am still recovering from a prolonged illness, no fried or oily food.” Akhil cleared his throat.
“But sometimes you just crave for what is forbidden, isn’t it?” Nalini is sharp voice again pierced Akhil’s ears.
“Let me know whenever you feel good, I can be your guide, can show you around our village, there’s nothing much though, but you can visit my place, it’s a 200 years old bungalow. It might intrigue you.”
Nalini spoke those word causally and turned back to leave when she saw Rashida, “Why did you call me a witch?” Nalini voice was pretty normal.
Akhil was at his wits end, Rashida whispered those words when she saw Nalini outside through the windows, she she was good 200 to 300 meters away from the farmhouse, there’s no way Nalini could hear it.
“Answer me, why did you call me a witch?” Nalini’s voice is firm now.
Rashida suddenly held her head and sat on the floor as if someone pushed her down. “Never ever call me that.” Nalini spoke angrily and left.
Akhil saw Ratanlal standing in a corner hanging his head down. Rashida was still sitting on the floor holding her head.
“Ratan, take them away, it’s tempting.” Akhil pushed the plate and tried to speak in a normal tone.
“Sir, at least have one. Else she will be angry.” Ratanlal pleaded.
“How will she know?” Akhil asked astonishingly.
“She will know, she always knows.” Rashida whispered.
At around 4 p.m. Abhimanyu called the landline. Ratan picked it up and passed it to Akhil.
“I met Nalini today.” Akhil started with that sentence without any small talk. There was a long pause from the other side and the Abhimanyu spoke. “Ohh!”
“Is there anything you want to tell me about?” Akhil asked in an assuring tone.
“I am ashamed to push you into something at this phase of your health, I am hesitatnt.” Abhimanyu sound embarrassed.
“You are my student Abhimanyu, and a teacher should and must help his pupil whichever way he can, so don’t hesitate and tell me.”
Abhimanyu took his time to arrange his thoughts and started.
“Last year, when I went to my farm house, I met Nalini at the market. She just stepped into eighteen and I was around 26. You can call it love at first sight.
When I was around 10 or 11 years old I had a babysitter, her name was Hiral, she was about 5 years elder to me. She loved me dearly and I was so fond of her, even I had a childish crush on her as well, I was too young and she was my fondest memory. When I was about 14 she died of snake bite. I was devastated.
The day I met Nalini I felt I found Hiral back, they were so alike. I was almost crazy for her and wanted to marry her. I fought with my parents, argued with her father as she was so young and tender to be married, but at last everyone came to terms and agreed for our marriage.
We got engaged soon and then there was a photo session, we got a photographer from the city. Before that we never clicked any photos of her or us. Once the photographer clicked the photos and sent them to me I was shocked. Nalini was a complete different woman in those photos, she is not even close to how Hiral used to look.
I showed those photos to my parents and other relatives, they argued that’s exactly how she looks in real, they were surprised and perplexed. I could swear on my life that she looks nothing like how those photos showed her. I was lost and depressed. My parents were worried and they were not ready to carry this relationship further, we broke our engagement.
After few days when I met her I was shocked again, she was looking exactly like Hiral, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She came to me and urged to get back together. Next day morning I stated for the city without telling anyone.
It’s almost been a year but everyday her thoughts eat me up. I don’t know whom to turn to, as everyone thinks I am crazy and I did her wrong. You are my last resort Sir, please help me.”
Abhimanyu took a long breath after finishing his story.
“Where are those engagement photos? Do you have them with you?” Akhil held the receiver tight.
I kept them in the cupboard of my bedroom, you can ask Ratan, he will give them to you.” Abhimanyu replied.
“Alright, let me look at them and see what I can do. Relax, I will do everything I can to solve this.” Akhil assured Abhimanyu.
After dinner Akhil took those photos to his study table and examined them closely under the table lamp. There are at least 20 photos of Abhimanyu and Nalini. Few of them are close up snaps. Nalini looked so happy and jubilant in all the pictures, with a shy smile in her face. But Akhil was unable to trace any abnormality in those photos, Nalini is looking as she looked today morning, though she had a scarf on her head.
Akhil gave up and switched off the lights, lying on bed he tried to take off his mind from all these.
As the time passed suddenly Akhil heard a sound of a gigging voice in his head, as if a girl laughing her head off.
“So you are going to solve the mystery, is it Dr. Akhil Mitra.” The giggling voice spoke. Akhil almost jumped off his feet and looked out of the window. There were no one, just a moonlight filled night and few trees are slowly waving their heads and leaves were making sounds.
“Who are you?” Akhil asked that question in his mind.
“Don’t you know?” The giggling voice answered with a question.
Akhil started to sweat even in a chilly February night.
Akhil stood there for some time with his sweaty palms and forehead. Then he realized the voice was gone from his head. It’s 3 days since the full moon night, the moon was looking big and yellowish, the dark craters of the moon are visible. Akhil tried to calm his nerves, he wasn’t absolutely sure but he knew the voice he heard was Nalini’s.
Akhil couldn’t have a sound sleep the whole night. He had few dreams, the one he remembered was quite weird. He saw himself wandering into a garden, more like in a tropical forest. Akhil was walking around aimlessly when he saw a giant python snake. It creeps down from one of the tallest tree and hanged it’s face right in front of him.
“Oh yes Adam, I was waiting for you, for so long…” The python spoke in a female voice. “Come and take you prized possession, come and have bite, eat the forbidden apple.” The python whispered.
“And why should I listen to you?” Akhil heard his own words.
“Because if you have no knowledge of Sin and evil, how will you know about Virtue and good?” The snake was nodding its head and then climbed down onto the ground.
“For centuries, people thought of me as evil, what if I am just your inner voice? What if I am a part you? What if I am……Eve?” As the snake was whispering so, it was transforming into a woman.
To Akhil’s bewilderment the snake slowly became a woman, wearing nothing. And she looked so much like… Nalini.
Akhil opened up his eyes, he could hear the fazar’s namaz from a nearby mosque. “It’s already dawn.” He thought, “And what a weird dream I had.” Akhil muttered.
He pushed himself out of the bed, it was still dark outside. Akhil wore his slippers and came out of the farm house in his shirt and pajama. It was cold outside but Akhil did not wrap his shawl, instead he started to walk aimlessly.
After half an hour Akhil stopped near a playground, The east sky became red already and bird were chirping, the trees and grasses were wearing the dew drops like crown jewels. Akhil inhale the fresh and clean air of this country side, and then he saw a small hut, a man selling morning tea with fuming glasses.
He walked there and sat on the bench, made of bamboos, the traditional Northeastern households’ furniture. Akhil had two cups of tea back to back, after a while as he was about to pay for the tea he realized he left his wallet back in the farmhouse.
Embarrassed Akhil felt helpless, “I am so sorry, I forgot my wallet. I.. give me some time, I will pay you the double.” Akhil felt ashamed.
The old tea vendor smiled, he hardly had few teeth left in his mouth, “Don’t worry sir, you’re the guest of Baruah family. You can pay me whenever you want. Here sir, have another cup.” The old man offered another cup of tea.
Akhil did not want to have another cup of tea, but he felt it would be rude so he took it, “How do you know I’m Baruah family’s guest?” Akhil asked
“This is a small village, we know almost about everything around, beside I know Rashida, she told me.” He replied while serving tea to his other customers.
“Oh so you know Rashida!” Akhil felt relived.
“Yes sir, from the days she worked in Dev Burman’s palace.” The old man smiled.
“Dev Burman Palace as in Niranjan Dev Burman, the land lord?” Akhil asked astoundingly.
“Yes sir, there’s only one Dev Burman family in our village, that’s them.” Tea vendor shook his head.
Akhil finished his tea and started to walk towards the farmhouse.
Once Akhil was back in the farm house he decided to ask few questions to Rashida.
She was in the kitchen making breakfast, Akhil walked in and sat on chair in the dinning room.
“Rashida, you used work for Dev Burman family once?” Akhil asked directly without any prelude.
“I used to, long back.” Rashida was caught off guarded but then she replied without fumbling, without looking at Akhil.
“You used to work there before Nalini was born or after?” Akhil was curious.
“After, they needed a baby sitter for Nalini, someone who could be with her 24 hours a day.” Rashida answered busily as she was making the breakfast.
“Was Nalini’s mother alive then?” Akhil asked.
“No, she died when Nalini was around 2 years old, her grandmother, Niranjan’s mother was alive then, she was taking care of her.”
“For how long you worked there? And why did you leave?” Akhil was feeling the uneasiness as Rashida was answering all the questions with one or two sentences, normally she’s a talkative lady but something of this conversation was putting her off.
“Around 4 years, I left once Niranjan’s mother died. I was not really comfortable there.” Rashida was cleaning the vessels as she spoke.
Akhil paused for some time and then he spoke again, “Rashida, I got a feeling that you’re extremely uncomfortable speaking about Nalini and her family, given the incident took place yesterday morning I don’t really blame you. But I really need to know if anything you know about her and her past. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you.” His voice was calm and assuring.
“She’s a witch, if she wouldn’t be the daughter of the land lord of this village, she would been burned on the stake. I don’t know whom to blame for it, her or her mother. Nalini’s mother Madhavi was equally weird and mentally unstable. She committed suicide by hanging herself in one of the tree in the jungle behind Dev Burman palace.
Even Niranjan’s mother was found dead in the jungle under the same tree. That girl is a curse. Where ever she goes she brings chaos, she can enter into your head and can play with your thoughts, give you severe headache as if someone is cracking open your skull with an axe.
When I heard Abhimanyu was about to get married to her, I urged his parents not to even think about. Thank heaven Abhimanyu and his parents realized it and broke the marriage.”
Rashida paused, she was saying everything with the bitterest tone.
“I know she can hear each of my words but I couldn’t care less. She has her due punishment waiting for her.” Rashida was visibly furious.
“Nalini’s mother, Madhavi, You said she had a mental condition?” Akhil tried to bring her back on the track.
“Yes, Niranjan’s mother Suhasini was dead against this marriage, but Madhavi was the only daughter of childhood friend of Suranjan’s, Niranjan’s father. In his deathbed he made his wife and son promise him that they will bring Madhavi as their daughter in law in in that palace.” Rashida replied in a tired tone.
“What kind of mental illness Madhavi had?” Akhil was uncomfortable as he could she Rashida is getting tired of answering his questions, but his curiosity dominated his mind.
“I don’t really know, people say she was often seen wandering naked in the forest behind the Dev Burman palace. Niranjan and his mother were very embarrassed because of this. Who knows some evil power might possessed her while she was in there. All I know that once Suhasini died an unnatural death in those woods I knew I have to quit. I was scared for my life. Witches feed on others’ lives. Akhil understood Rashida’s mind is clouded with superstitions and other village myths as Black magic and witches.
“Even she (Nalini) goes into the woods regularly. I saw her going in there. She had a habit of sitting on the terrace for hours. Even in the scorching sun of May she would sit on the terrace for the whole day. Once I remember, she was only 5 years old, I was trying to feed her some milk but she was resisting, I lost my temper and slapped her. She looked at me like she’ll burn me down with those fiery eyes, and I felt a splitting headache, as if someone is hitting my head with an iron rod.
She did that to many people, even yesterday. That’s how she hurt people whenever she wants. She’s pure evil.” Rashida was breathing hard as she was speaking continuously.
Akhil stood up and slowly walked into his room, he drew the engagement photos of Nalini and Abhimanyu and started to looking at them again, after a while he was lost into deep thoughts.
Akhil was roving around the Dev Burman villa, or the people call it as Dev Burman palace. He could see a small yet dense jungle behind the villa. After a while without thinking much he went near the gate and knocked, a well-built man in his 40’s opened the gate.
“What do you want?” he asked in a rough voice. “Who’s there?” There’s another voice behind him asked the question.
Through the half opened gate Akhil could see a man standing with his while shawl on, his presence was aristocratic and authoritative, slender build, fair, tall, mostly in his mid-50 with salt and pepper hair and a thick mustache.
Akhil was sure that’s Niranjan Dev Burman, he rose his voice, “This is Akhil Mitra, I met you daughter yesterday. She invited me to see your palace.”
The man looked surprised as he walked towards the gate, “I am Nalini’s father, Niranjan, Nalini never spoke about you.”
“She must have forgotten.” Akhil smiled.
Niranjan was in double mind whether or invite Akhil over,
“I am staying in the Baruah Farm house. Abhimanyu is a student of mine.” Akhil spoke again.
“Oh! Well then you can leave, I have nothing do with that boy or his family, you must know how they humiliated us by breaking up the engagement. He came to my doors begging for her and then he just throw everything away. I hope you understand my rudeness.” Niranjan turned back started to walk as the doorman was about to close the gate.
“I am just interested in that forest behind your palace. I want to know the history of it.” Akhil again rose his voice seeing Niranjan was going to disappear behind the closed gate.
Astonished Niranjan turned back, “That was a garden during my grandfather Abhiranjan’s time, he always wanted a huge garden behind the palace, but after him no one cared and it became a jungle. Good day.” Niranjan threw his words at Akhil and disappeared inside the palace.
As Akhil was walking into the woods, it started looking unusually familiar, then he came across a tall tree and instantly he found why this place was looking so familiar to him. This was the exact place he saw in his dreams today morning. Possibly the same tree he saw the Python coming down from, it looked like a Banyan tree but it’s bigger and taller than normal ones.
He decided to explore further, as he walked deep inside, while occasionally moving the small tree branches which were obstructing his way, he came near a pond, a small one, almost as if rain water trapped in a crater. The bamboo trees and other unknown plants were grown around it.
Akhil almost had a mini heart attack when he saw a female sitting nearby the lake, she was not wearing a single piece of cloth, hair hairs are open and covered her face and upper part of the body, she was swinging and splashing her legs on the pond water. Akhil looked closely and got a jolt again, it’s no one but Nalini.
All of a sudden Nalini turned her head towards Akhil, with her piercing eyes which were only visible through her unkempt hair falling on her face, almost covering it. She giggled hysterically and then jumped into the water with splashing sound, few bids chirped and flew away with that sound. Akhil felt as if suddenly the temperature went down a few degrees.
Akhil felt he shouldn’t be there anymore so started to walk back, while he was returning he felt his lost his way, after wandering around for few minutes he was back next to that Banyan tree. He could smell a wild scent. Something of a smell when the grass were mowed or if a tree branches were cut, a strong and powerful odor.
Suddenly he heard a voice in his head, it was giggling again, “Akhil Mitra, what are you seeking?” It asked.
“Nothing.” Akhil sighed.
“What are you thinking now?” The voice asked again. Akhil was silent this time.
“I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking If only you were half your age at this time, you would ask Nalini’s hand and get married to her. Leave the city life and get settled in this small beautiful village.” The voice laughed again as it finished.
Akhil felt a jolt, he wasn’t thinking that at all, but he after the voice he felt like the thought was been pushed inside his head forcefully. The strong wild smell was getting stronger. Akhil was feeling dizzy, his felt week in his knee, with half open eyes he felt like the tree was weaving it’s leaves, and as if it was talking to him all these time.
The smell was blinding all Akhil’s senses now, he started to feel as if the shrubs and hedges near his legs were creeping up taking over his legs, hands and body. He was about to fall down when two strong hands held his shoulder.
“Akhil sir! What are doing here?” The startled voice spoke.
Akhil open his eyes with all his might and whispered, “Abhimanyu!!??”
Akhil hardly remember how he ended up in his bed from the forest. He vaguely remembered Abhimanyu was literally carrying him on his shoulder when Akhil was leaning in his shoulder.
As Akhil opened his eyes, he found Abhimanyu was sitting next to him on a chair, he was visibly worried. Rashida was standing near the door looking at him sadly.
“I should have never brought you here, it’s all my fault, I pushed you into this situation for my selfish reason. You’re not even half fit to carry on. I have arranged the tickets, we will travel to city by tomorrow” Abhimanyu was shaking his head remorse.
“What time it is?” Akhil asked weakly.
“It’s almost 9 o clock in the morning. You were sleeping from yesterday afternoon. Why did you even go there in that forest all alone? You could have taken Ratanlal with you.” Abhimanyu had a slight anger in his tone.
Akhil was about to open his mouth to answer when he saw something and his mouth was left open. It was Nalini who walked into the room, she was wearing a maroon Saari today, with a long single plait, her face look sad.
Abhimanyu turned back and saw Nalini, he was speechless as well.
“Sorry to be here unannounced, but I heard Akhil sir is sick. So I couldn’t wait to inform you first.” Nalini came and stood next to Abhimanyu.
“Amm sure, why don’t you sit next to him for some time, I need to arrange few things.” Abhimanyu got up from the chair and left the room in a hurry, as if he trying to escape from her, Rashida too left the room with a scared and disgusted face.
Nalini sat on the chair, her sad face slowly turned into an impishly smiling one, “So Dr Akhil Mitra, how are you doing now?”
“I.. amm.. I am kind of ok.” Akhil stammered while replying. Suddenly he felt he was looking a complete different girl. It took him back in his memory lane. Almost 15 years ago when Akhil started his career as a lecturer, he had student name Vidhya, she was calm and silent type of girl, used sit in the first bench. Something of her always attracted Akhil towards her, as if he had a crush on this student of his. In her second year she left college and Akhil had no trace of her again.
As Nalini was smiling devilishly at him, he suddenly felt Nalini is looking quite alike, as if Vidhya sitting right in front of him.
“Do I remind you of someone else Dr. Mitra?” Nalini asked.
“Yes you do.” Akhil murmured.
At that very moment Rashida came inside, she had a glass of orange juice in her hand. She came and placed the glass on the tea table next to the bed.
“Have this glass of juice, you will feel better. Nalini, I think we should let him rest. He is already weak and feeble.” Rashida spoke those words with a stone face.
“Sure, for once you are right Rashida. I will see you tomorrow Akhil sir.” Nalini got up from the chair.
Akhil drank the full glass of juice and called Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu came and stood next to Akhil. He was looking pale and uncomfortable.
“Abhimanyu, how did she look today? Did she look like Hiral or someone else?” Akhil asked in a easy tone.
“Every time I see her in front of me, I only see Hiral. When she came in today I rushed out and checked our engagement photos again, she looks a complete different girl in those pictures.” Abhimanyu answered robotically.
“So I thought, I too saw a different woman in her. By the way I hope my ticket to the city is arranged already you told me, I am going tomorrow.” Akhil answered while looking out of the window thoughtfully.
Abhimanyu looked at him with disbelief and then replied in a calm tone, “I guess that will be good for all of us, there’s no need for you to stay in this godforsaken village with such health condition. Let us move from here tomorrow.”
Akhil looked at Abhimanyu and smiled, “Only I’m going to the city, you need to stay here and have to collect few information for me. Don’t worry, I am not leaving this case half way. I have to meet my doctor for my check up as well as I have to do a little research. So you don’t worry, I will be back in another 2 to 3 days.”
Abhimanyu looked surprised now, “What information?” he asked curiously
“I will give you list of people you and you have to find as much information you can, don’t worry, they all resides in this village here, a few are no more but I need as much information you can gather about them. By the way you haven’t told me how and when you came here and found me in the forest?”
“I was restless after sending you here all by yourself, so I finished my thesis as soon as I could and submitted it and took the next train here. Once I spoke to Ratanlal, he told me you probably went to meet Nalini. I was looking for you everywhere when I thought of entering into that forest.” Abhimanyu answered.
“Did you see or feel anything unusual or saw someone except me there?” Akhil asked absent mindedly.
“No. Why?” Abhimanyu asked.
“Nothing, let me pack, the train is at 8 AM tomorrow if am not wrong.” Akhil sounded as if he is in a hurry to leave the village.
Once Akhil is back in the city the first thing he did was he met his physician Dr. Dutta.
“You told me to go for a change but you didn’t tell me I am so weak to even walk around, I was bed ridden for half a day after I took a hike in a forest.” Akhil spoke with mock anger.
“Really, lie down Dr. Mitra, let me check. Last time I saw you, you were weak but not so much that you’ll be bed ridden because of a little walk.” Dr Dutta said playfully.
Akhil told him about the incident in the forest but except the part where he saw Nalini or felt how the hedges and shrubs tried to grab him.
“Hmm! But Akhil if you are taking all the medication you wouldn’t be feeling so weak. In fact after initial checkup now I hardly find any of such. You are almost 90% recovered.” Dutta spoke in a worried tone. “Let’s run some more test and see.”
Akhil was about to tell him how even he felt weak when he was sitting near the pond and tried to get up his own feet, his head spun. But he did not mention it as he remembered something else.
Additional director Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS) in Berlin was surprised to see a mail from Dr. Akhil Mitra, the renowned Indian Parapsychologist, he once met him in a seminar in New Delhi. They had quite a nice chat. Dr. Mitra in the mail requested his half an hour for a discussion in Skype. Friedrich was curious and was looking forward to have a video chat with Akhil. They started their session at 4 PM IST, the supposed half an hour chat turned into almost a 4 hours of intense discussion.
Abhimanyu was waiting in the station. It’s almost 5 days that Akhil has gone to city, he promised he would come back in 3 days but something took him longer. Abhimanyu has collected almost all the information Akhil asked him to, he was quite surprised by himself after knowing things about the people in his own village.
Akhil got down from the train, it was around 2 PM, Abhimanyu carried his luggage to the firm house.
“So, what did you do in the city?” Abhimanyu asked interestedly.
“I’ll tell you, before that, let know about your findings.” Akhil Asked. Abhimanyu gave all the details he found in last few days about few persons.
“Hmm, is it possible for you to arrange a meeting with Niranjan Dev Burman by tomorrow at Dev Burman Palace?” Akhil asked Abhimanyu after listening to him.
“I can sure try, but not sure how Niranjan will react, after all he doesn’t like me.” Abhimanyu replied thoughtfully.
“Alright, I will go to Dev Burman palace tomorrow, you come along with me, I hope Nalini will be there in the evening.” Akhil spoke.
Niranjan was looking at both of them suspiciously, Akhil was showing no sign of discomfort while Abhimanyu was looking uneasy.
Half an hour back Akhil and Abhimanyu came and knocked the gate of Dev Burman palace, as the door keeper opened the gate Akhil asked for Nalini. As the door keeper informed her, both Nalini and her father came out.
“What are you doing here?” Niranjan asked in an angry tone.
“I am here to talk to you and Nalini.” Akhil answered calmly.
“Regarding what?” Niranjan demanded.
“Maybe I can help you find some answers of few questions which are yet unanswered.” Akhil replied.
“We have no such questions. Good bye.” Niranjan barked and turned around.
“Nalini?” Akhil looked at her.
“Please come in, both of you.” Nalini spoke while looking down at her feet, digging her nails.
“Why are you inviting them?” Niranjan roared at his daughter.
“Because they are our guests.” Nalini answered firmly.
Now all four of them are sitting in the drawing room, a huge one right in the middle of the palace, the ceiling is as high as 10 meters from the floor, the double stairs went up to the first floor, the palace really looks royal. A huge chandelier was hanging from the ceiling.
The tea and snacks were already served on the tea table, Nalini took the tea pot and started making tea.
“1 spoon or 2?” Nalini asked to Akhil.
“Do I really have to answer that?” Akhil smiled. Nalini put 2 spoons of sugar in the tea.
“Tell us, what would you like to tell?” Niranjan was impatient.
“Are you aware of the rumors around in the village that they think Nalini is some kind of a sorceress, that she possess supernatural power?” Akhil started.
“Those illiterate villagers, they make stories all the time, I have no time for all those rubbish.” Niranjan made a face.
“On the contrary, I do believe Nalini possess some power and I’m sure you and Nalini both know it. It’s my student Abhimanyu who told me the astonishing story of him and Nalini falling in love and then falling apart. All I need is sometime to tell you the surprising tale.”
“Since the first day of my meeting with Nalini, I felt a strange power within her. In a very normal way we can describe it as her telepathic ability. But there is more of it. As I tried to understand her abilities the more surprising it felt.
Most of the people know or believe that telepathic power or ability is all about connecting minds with thought frequencies. But Nalini also possess something called ‘Emotive telepathy’ in Parapsychology research. It is the power to control emotions, thought process and even compel a mind to do something as she pleases. She also can communicate and also can inflict pain on her targeted mind or person.
Nalini also have developed something called natural hypnotic ability. As we all know hypnosis is about human mind or consciousness controlled by another person or mind. We often see the act of hypnotism in magic shows where magicians make any of their audiences to do as he/she pleases by hypnotizing them. Those are forced hypnotism by using mind control methods. But the natural hypnotic ability uses natural means, like continuous eye contacts, body fragrance or touch.
If I am not wrong Nalini started to feel her powers at her early ages, when she sensed she has the power over others mind and she can control, punish and manipulate others thoughts, she started doing so.
When I spoke to Rashida who worked here for some time, she told me all the servants including Niranjan were afraid of her, but for strange reasons they were not able to make up their mind to leave their jobs in the palace.
Now Nalini’s enhanced telepathic ability is rare but not unheard of. Few years back an autistic Indian girl Nandana Unnikrishnan stunned the researchers by showing that she can read the exact thoughts from her mother’s mind. It’s often seen that the autistic children or the children born with rare physical or mental deformity often has special powers. And Nalini too… is a special case…”
Akhil paused and sipped into his tea cup, the tea was already cold. Abhimanyu was sitting like a statue on the sofa just opposite to Nalini. Nalini was looking down at her feet and digging her nails. Only Niranjan was looking impatient.
“What are you getting at Dr. Mitra, so my daughter has powers and you yourself said that it’s rare but happens, so what?” Nirajan asked in an irritated tone.
Akhil took his time, got up from the sofa and encircled all of the members sitting there, he stood behind the sofa, leaned on with both elbow resting on the top of it and looked at others intensely.
“Before I go ahead speaking more about the abilities of Nalini, let me tell about someone else, about a family member of yours. My student Abhimanyu collected a lot of information about you and your family members, of course about the deceased ones as well.
Remember you have told me about the forest that grew behind your palace, which was once a garden of your grandfather Abhiranjan.
Abhiranjan was a botanist, he had a degree from ‘University of London’ and his area of research was Paleobotany, studying plant evolution and fossil plants, or the plants and floras which were extinct or assumed extinct from the earth. He was a globetrotter and collected many rare breed of plants and seeded and sowed and grew them in his backyard, which has become his ‘Garden of Eden’. He had also wrote many journals for few British research facilities and magazines during pre and post era of British India.
He was a disciple and a great admirer of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the greatest mind of India who established that plants have lives too. Abhiranjan was deep into the research of evolutions and physical changes of plants from dawn of this planet’s life.
His son Suranjan chose to be a lawyer and thus after Abhiranjan’s demise his garden was hardly been taken care of, as the days went by it slowly turning into a jungle. The high wall of the palace hid it behind and people of the palace slowly started to forget about it.
Niranjan’s father Suranjan was married to Suhasini, a very superstitious woman, Suranjan himself was a very open minded and rational man, probably he had the trait of his father. Suranjan gave his word to his childhood friend that his daughter Madhavi will be Suranjan’s Daughter-in-law someday. Madhavi was manglik, as per ancient Indian astrological chart she was supposed to be the cause of her first husband’s death. Perhaps because Surajan was above all these superstitions and knowing how hard it might be for his friend to marry off his daughter he vowed to make her his daughter-in-law.
Suhasini did not like that a bit, she never wanted her only son to get married to a girl could be a threat to her son’s life. Suranjan was adamant and he was a man of his word, because of his illness and early demise he couldn’t see it off that his son and Madhavi was getting married. But in his deathbed he made his wife and son promised that they will honor his words.
Niranjan had a profound effect of his mother on him, maybe because he lost his father in tender age. He is also quite superstitious. So the mother and son decided to take suggestions from various astrologers and as per their prescribed remedy, Madhavi was set to be married to a tree and then with Niranjan, another old ritual where it was believed that being the first of a manglik the misfortune will befall upon the tree.
But even after all these, the marriage between Niranjan and Madhavi never was consummated. Niranjan had this insane fear for his life which was fueled further by his mother and he never copulated with his wife. In fact they used sleep in different rooms. But being a rich son of a lawyer and landlord with his biological needs, he did have many lovers and concubines.
Madhavi, being married too early and pushed into a loveless relationship was always an unwelcomed guest in the palace, her husband’s indifference and her mother-in-law’s taunts were completely broken her down. Maybe people in the midst of the conversation, taunted of suggested her that, her actual husband is the tree got married to but Niranjan.
She was under immense mental pressure, perhaps she did not want to bother her family with her marital problems and keeping everything within her, resulting her subconscious mind actually started to believe that the tree she got married to, was actually her real husband.
A few villagers saw her wandering naked in that forest, that’s actually half true. Rashida and few other servants followed her and found she stood there hugging a tree in the forest without wearing anything.
Yes! Madhavi’s ritualistic first marriage was with the banyan tree or what it looks like I stumbled upon where Abhimanyu found me. She used to stand there embracing, holding the tree for hours together. Rashida is actually one of witness of this, when I spoke her for a long time, I found this details.
Here, my theory gets divided into two……”
Akhil took a long pause and looked at everyone again. And everyone else were looking at Akhil with probing eyes.
“The first theory is fairly simple and provided some answers, the second theory is complex and little far-fetched, nonetheless that provides a lot of answers.
Madhavi, being a young and married woman, who was completely ignored by her husband, unfulfilled desire of her body and mind forced her to take a paramour or a lover. But I doubt it if in her mental state was it really possible, what I feel is someone who knew her mental state and knew that she goes alone, unprotected, in the forest took advantage of her mental vulnerability.
Thus Nalini came into her womb, when she gave birth to Nalini, Niranjan knew it wasn’t his child. When I saw Niranjan for the first time, I was surprised to see there is hardly any resemblance between Nalini and Niranjan, Abhimanyu also found some old photos of Madhavi, they both were tall, fair and with sharp features where Nalini is short, petty and dark.
Madhavi believed it’s the tree who is the father of Nalini, and she also kept telling her daughter so. Nalini grew up knowing she is the daughter a tree. Madhavi even took her time to time in the forest to show her that tree. Which created a very complex situation for Nalini, already she was an offspring of a mentally instable mother. As it is known, such abnormal situations make the offspring exposed to a very complicated mental state which might causes her acquiring such powers.
There is a paranormal activity which comes under the research of botanist or plant scientists. It’s called Plant perception, Plant perception or biocommunication is the paranormal idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP(Extrasensory perception), and that they experience pain and fear, that it can see, smell, talk or respond. The idea is not accepted, as plants lack a nervous system.
The main difference between human and plants is the central nervous system or to be precise, human or animal has something called brain but Plants don’t.
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the brilliant mind of India, known for his amazing contribution towards the invention of radio and also the man who discovered and knew more about lives of plants, always believed that irrespective of no nervous systems plants can behave like any other mortal living beings. He dedicated a good portion of his life researching on it. Recently it was in the news again. Which actually says, “Plants are just very slow animals.”
Abhiranjan Dev Burman, Niranjan’s Grandfather was also researching on similar ground, in lot of his thesis he mentioned the true evolution takes place in deep forests like how a lot of unknown species breed in the deepest part of the sea. He mentioned his travel in deep jungle of amazon and Congo and founding many unknown trees and plants the modern world is unaware of. Many carnivorous plants and one among them the legendary ‘man eating tree’ are carrying the evidence that plants have their weird ways to live in this world.
I am quite sure that a lot of those rare breeds of plants were sowed and grown in his garden turned forest. The tree in the forest which was thought of a banyan tree and Madhavi was married to, is not a banyan tree. When Abhimanyu found me and took me with him, there were few leaves of that tree were stuck on my body. I took them to the city and tested them the botany lab, also shared the details of the DNA and molecule structure of them with Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences in Berlin. He had a thorough investigation on them but yet determine the actual species of plants it belongs to.
We have also discussed about few very diverse and out of ordinary topics. Like reproduction similarities between plants and human, how plants communicate and it’s defense mechanism. And most out of ordinary, if at all it is possible to have offspring if a human mated a plant.
If we look at the cell structure of Plants and animals or human, it is not very different in fact there are many similarities.
What if an evolved plant or a tree capable of mating a human produced an offspring and that offspring is Nalini. As many of Nalini’s powers can be explained. Her controlling telepathic ability, it’s is proven that plants and trees use unknown telepathic channel to communicate each other.
I remember when I met Nalini for the first time, I was about to get up from the steps near the pond when I felt dizzy and my head spun, cause senses were blinded by a wild scent, same I experienced in the forest when I was rescued by Abhimanyu. I saw Nalini there as well. At first I thought it was all happening because of my weakness but as I consulted my physician he declared me almost recovered, I realized the reason is something else.
It is a part of plant’s defense mechanism where they produces chemical signaling which they produce time to time every occasion they are threatened or harmed. Like when you pluck a flower, tear a leaf or cut a branch of a tree, you can smell that strange odor which can be sometime toxic and harmful. When Nalini attacks her victims telepathically they also can sense the odor and that makes them dizzy and nauseous, they experience the splitting headache.”
Akhil paused again. He could only see 3 faces with dumb and response less expressions
“Let me spare you all the complicated scientific explanations.
In simple words, my first theory establish that Nalini is having powers and abilities that can be only explained as a freak accident of nature. Where she is influenced to be delusional by her own mother that she is a daughter of plant, of a tree.
And my other theory deduce that Nalini is indeed an offspring of a human and plant. Which awarded her this magical capabilities as mutant, a mutation between flora and fauna. Which only can be established if we make scientific tests and experiments on her.”
Akhil started to feel tired, he sat on the sofa leaned on.
“If you are finished with your cock and bull story, you can now leave.” Niranjan got up on his feet edgily and was walking off.
“There is more to it.” Akhil found his voice was strong and hard. Niranjan turned back and looked at him.
“Madhavi’d death was not a suicide. During my long conversation with Rashida I came to know the night she was allegedly committed suicide, there was a huge fight between you and her. Rashida heard you and her screaming at the top of your voice and suddenly everything became quiet. Thought she claimed she left the job after the suicide of Madhavi, truth is she was fired with two other servants after that night.
My analysis about Madhavi tells me she might be delusional but not suicidal. It my strong belief that you killed her that night, probably by strangulating her in a blind rage. I believe it was almost impossible to bear the fact that your wife is staying under the same roof with someone else’s child known as yours.
The cruel irony is, to prove that she committed suicide, her body was hanged from the branch of the same tree whom she considered as her husband. If my 2nd theory is true and if indeed the tree actually reciprocated to her love and fathered her child I could only imagine what it might went through seeing her lifeless body hanging from one its own branch.
After this incidents few of the servants whom Niranjan suspected might know the truth were fired, Rashida was one of them. And then one day Suhasini was found dead under the same tree, cause of death was speculated as choked to death. If I know I better I would say it was the revenge of the same mysterious tree.”
“How dare you? I surprised to see your audacity to accuse me of a murder in my own house. Enough is enough, GET OUT! Or my men will throw you out of my house.” Nirajan was shouting like a mad man, his eyes were red as rotten tomato, his whole body was shaking in anger.
“Father, you know what he is saying is the truth.” The calm voice of Nalini made Akhil, Abhimanyu and Niranjan turned their head towards her, in disbelief.
“Yes Dr. Akhil Mitra, my father is a tree, my mother gave birth to a half tree half human. I know this man whom the world know as my father killed my mother. My real father told me everything. I am speaking to my real father from the age 4. When my mother took me to him and told me everything. We speak through our minds, people can’t hear us.
And you know what? There is more. I sit in the sun for hours with my feel in the water, you know why? Cause I make my own diet, yes, what human know as photosynthesis. My real father taught me everything. Remember the day you saw me in the forest near the pond?
Niranjan Dev Burman killed my mother, I have no regret, no complains. The real villain is my foster grandmother, his mother who poised his mind. And she got what she deserved. I don’t expect humans to understand me. But I cannot control myself punishing them when they do wrong, call me names.
Yes Dr. Mitra. You have successfully drawn the conclusion.” Nalini was smiling as she was talking.
“Or you are dangerously delusional as your mother fed all these ideas into your head from the very childhood, making you believe that you are a child of tree and you can speak to it.” Akhil murmured. “We can’t be sure of anything till we run tests on you, and I fear that might make you a lab rat.”
“ENOUGH!!!” Niranjan shouted at the top of his lungs. “I am tired of this crap. Because of this I killed Madhavi. I know Nalini is not my child, not possible as me and Madhavi never had a physical relation. But I tried to forgive her, I tried to ask her who Nalini’s real father is. And she kept telling about this tree. ABSURD!! I couldn’t take her lies anymore, so I killed her and hanged her on her beloved tree.”
“And she was true.” Nalini answered in a calm voice again.
“I will finish this story for once and all today. I will uproot that tree and burn it to ashes.” Niranjan clenched his teeth, “Raghu, get your men, get the axes and saws. We will cut and throw that tree.” He shouted at his men.
“No you can’t do that, you won’t do that.” Nalini screamed hysterically.
Niranjan was no mood to listen to anyone, as his men were gathering the saw, axes and other tools, Nalini ran out of palace. Akhil and Abhimanyu followed her.
When Niranjan walked inside the forest with his men carrying his double barrel gun, he saw Nalini was standing there hugging the tree, Abhimanyu and Akhil were baffled.
“You have killed my mother. I can’t let you kill my father.” Nalini was crying her heart out.
“Take her away Abhimanyu, else I will shoot her first.” Niranjan was aiming his double barrel at her.
When still Nalini did not move, Niranjan ordered his men to pull her away. As they did so, others advanced to cut it down. Niranjan, in his helpless wrath, shot few rounds at the tree. When his men started to cut it down, with each strike of axe, the tree was shaking violently. It almost felt to Akhil as if the tree is scream in pain and agony. But they were mute spectators, Abhimanyu was holding and trying to control the violent and hysterical Nalini as she was crying her heart out.
Akhil heard Niranjan murmuring looking at his men cutting and uprooting the tree, “Now from months to come you will burn in my kitchen and stable.”
It took almost 3 hours for Niranjan’s men to cut and pull up the root of it was in so deep. It left a big hole in there. The villagers heard the sound and gathered nearby, but did not have the courage to ask what was going on.
Nalini fainted in the arms of Abhimanyu. Tired Niranjan looked at them, “Take her upstairs and be with her.” He told Abhimanyu in a tired tone. “Dr. Mitra, I would be honored if you join me in dinner and stay in here tonight.” Niranjan sounded like a complete different man now, sounded like a warm welcoming host. Akhil was as his wit’s end, he did not know how to respond after all these. He just nod his head.
The night was uneventful. Niranjan called his family doctor to check on Nalini. The doctor gave her a sedative injection to make her sleep, cautioned that she had gone through a tremendous mental trauma and she needs complete rest. Abhimanyu chose to be on her bed side. In the dinner Niranjan and Akhil sat together.
“I apologies for my behavior. But I should have cut down that poison tree way back. It was solely responsible for this ungodly situations.” Niranjan was smoking is pipe after the supper.
“Well, I am still not sure which of my theory is right so I don’t know.” Akhil spoke in a thoughtful voice.
“I don’t want to know. It’s true I never loved Madhavi and I killed her, but laws can’t do anything to me, I am the law here. But I raised Nalini as one of my own. I don’t want her to be turned a lab creature. Let her be. It would be better for us if you leave tomorrow. My men will see you off in the station. For tonight you can be my honorable guest.” Niranjan spoke in a very easy tone.
“Akhil went to bed with multiple thoughts in his head. He woke quite early in the morning when he heard so many voices making noise. He opened the door and found Abhimanyu looking restless.
“We can’t find Nalini, she was in her bedroom sleeping, I was in the couch and don’t know when I slept, when I woke up I saw the bed is empty.” Abhimanyu’s said in a chocked voice. Niranjan and his men were hurriedly moving in every direction.
Something struck Akhil instantly. He slowly walked out of the palace and stepped into the forest. He stopped near the big hole which was dug to pull up the root, the trunk of the huge tree was lying nearby. Akhil slowly passed by that, he started to walk towards the small pond where he saw Nalini here last time.
As he stopped by the pond, he looked around. Suddenly his eyes fell onto something. There was another tree, it looked so green, hardly 5 and ½ feet tall, it doesn’t look like any known trees. It’s two branches were looking like 2 hands held above, the leaves were like hairs and upper portion was looking like a very familiar face. The face of Nalini.
Akhil closed his eyes. Hoping that if it is truly Nalini, she might speak to his mind one more time. He kept his eyes closed for some time and then as he opened them, tears rolled down from them. Akhil murmured the famous line of the famous physicist, biologist and poet…
“They who behold the One, in all the changing manifoldness of the universe, unto them belongs the eternal truth, unto none else, unto none else.”
Bittu looked back as he was sitting alone near the pond. It was getting dark, the dusk had fallen. The glowworms were flying around and the continuous sound of crickets, making the evening a little different than others.
“Why are sitting here with all these mosquitoes?” Firoz asked again as he walked down the steps on the pond side, Bittu was sitting on the step last but one.
“Meditation sir, need to concentrate my thoughts, 12th exams are there in another 2 months.” Bittu was looking at the black water of the pond in front of him.
“Meditation?! Hmm, yeah you should do it sometime. I see your meditation working. For whom you’re meditating is already in the railway station.” Firoz said those words as he was sitting next to Bittu.
“Yesterday Christie came and asked me to preponed the class test. Strange right? After all her whole family is going on vacation to Darjeeling.” Firoz continued.
“Amm, ohh, really! So did you?” Firoz smiled silently as Bittu was stammering.
“Looks like D’Souza family already board their train, Christie must have seen them off an hour ago. I just came from there, she’s sitting on the bench.” Firoz’s tone was pretty normal.
“Amm Sir, I just remembered now, I have a very important work to complete, I will see you tomorrow, bye sir.” Bittu jumped off his feet.
“Here, take the keys of my bike, and no rash driving, station is almost 10 km away.” Firoz threw his bike key at Bittu.
“No… err.. I mean I am not going to station, I have to go home, kind of urgent. I will park your bike at your place by tomorrow early morning. Thank you sir, thank you…” Bittu was running as he threw those words at Firoz.
Christie could see Bittu is out of breath, he was breathing heavily. Christie was waiting for almost 1 an ½ hours now.
“What you want?” Christie asked in a bitter tone.
“You!!” Bittu answered.
Christie made up her mind, “Let’s stop being kids Bittu. Another two months and we are done with school. Then college. We don’t know where we will end up. Today you like me. Tomorrow when we will be miles apart who knows whom we might like, fall in love with. Let’s say we stay in touch, but how long? Long distance never works. And we don’t even know if we ever end up together at the same place.
Less we will meet, more we will drift apart, and one day we may found someone better. Then what?”
Tears were rolling from Christie’s eyes and her pink and puffy cheeks were letting them flow over.
“Will you be mine?” Bittu extended his right hand, a red rose, a withered one….
Bittu woke up at 9 PM, he was so tried, after coming back from office. He turned to his right, he’s all alone in this king size bed. He pushed himself off the bed, he sure is hungry.
The house is looking so messy, things are scattered around here and there, the smell from the bin is making the place unbreathable. Bittu took out the cold food from the refrigerator which was made yesterday and put it in the microwave oven. The maid is absent as usual.
All of a sudden the realization hit him, he is all alone in this big house. Bittu glanced at the almost empty bottle of whisky on the table. The house is looking like perfect bachelor’s pod.
He took out the food and kept it on the table, the dim light of the dining room was making the place gloomy and sad. He looked at the calendar, it’s 14th February.
Twenty years back in the railway station he proposed to Christie with a withered rose he found on his way to meet her. She made Firoz sir preponed the test so she could stay back though she would love to go for that vacation with her family. As Bittu’s plan to follow her till Darjeeling was miserably failed.
With the first bite Bittu felt the stale smell of the food, he got up threw it in the dustbin, called the pizza store for a door delivery. All of a sudden he felt the emptiness in his heart, a strange loneliness.
“I miss you Christie.” He muttered.
He picked up his phone and dialed Neeraj’s number.
“Hey Bittu. What’s up?” Neeraj answered.
“Come over. Let’s watch Arsenal vs Bayern Munich, I have ordered pizza so you gotta get the beers.” Bittu answered.
“But….?” Neeraj confused tone was heard from the other side.
“Christie and our daughter Shristi has gone to her mother’s place for 3 days. I am all alone at home. Come over, grab Vishal on the way if you can.” As he finished the call Bittu threw his mobile on the couch.
‘This Valentine, it’s the old mates’ reunion on a football match.’ Bittu smiled again.
(This story is a fictional dramatization based on some real events and was drawn from a variety of sources, including published materials and interviews. For dramatic and narrative purposes, the story contains fictionalized scenes, characters and dialogue. The views and opinions expressed in the story do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by individuals)
Arup Sen is quite happy and proud, his sting operation against the additional district magistrate is published in the local daily today. He was working on this story for around 3 months now. Arup Sen is an investigative journalist who is working for a famous local newspaper in the city.
A engineer by profession, Arup never thought he would choose journalism as his career, but everything changed when he started his own venture, a small weekly magazine name ‘Expose’ which included the stories about the corruption and misdoings of local authorities. Today he is quite renowned in his field, one of the young and budding journalist. He has already earned many enemies among the bureaucrats and political circle.
As his doorbell rang he answered it. It was his maid Radha, but she was looking distraught, her face was swelled and eyes were red, looked like she was crying all these while.
“Radha, what happened? Your husband has beaten you up again? I have told you to lodge a police complain if he has done it again.” Arup spoke angrily.
“He is in hospital, he tried to commit suicide by consuming poison.” Radha burst into tears.
Arup felt the jolt, he knew Radha’s husband Jeevanlal, an auto driver by profession and a notorious drunkard, he is a habitual wife beater, but he did not seem to be a suicidal type.
“What happened? Tell me everything.” Arup asked Radha.
She was sobbing, but whatever the said in a nutshell was, few months ago Jeevan was approached by a company and they offered him a position, it was a business proposal, he had to invest an amount of money and be the salesman of their product, as well he had to rope in as many people into the same business, more people join the business, more incentive will be paid to Jeevan.
Jeevan happily agreed as he can always use some extra cash, he borrowed around 50,000 from a local money lender and invested, a few months it went well, but slowly he felt the heat, the product was not getting sold and people were uninterested to join the company. The money lender was creating all types of pressure on him as he took the loan on a high interest. It proved too much for him.
Arup listened to her carefully, “You don’t have to work today, go to hospital and be with Jeevan, here, keep some cash.” He gave Radha some money and sent her back.
Arup heard about such business Jeevan was doing, it’s called MLM or Multi-level marketing, he is vaguely aware of this. He decided to hurry as he is late for his office.
Arup knocked at the cabin door of Mr. Dutta, his chief editor, he received a warm welcome.
“Did you see your story today in our newspaper? You made quite an impact my boy. Now the ADM has no other way but to resign.” Mr. Dutta spoke in an enthusiastic tone.
“Amm yeah, I was lucky to get that piece of information that he is taking such a large sum of bribe. But I’m here for something else, I remember a while ago someone covered a story on MLM business scheme, do you remember who did that?” Arup asked curiously.
“That might be Nilesh.” Mr. Dutta spoke thoughtfully.
“Ok.” Arup hurried out of his chief editor’s cabin door. And went straight to Nilesh’s desk.
“Hey Nilesh, I’ve something to ask you.” Arup spoke in a concerned voice.
“Ahh Arup, what a big shot like you might want from me? His voice was sarcastic and Arup did not miss the hint of professional jealousy.
“I remember you did a story couple of months back, it’s about Multi-level marketing scam, I would like to know about it.” Arup ignored the gesture
“What about it?” Nilesh is curious now, he is a senior to Arup but he neither has his talent or eye for a story, so he looked interested.
“Tell me everything, actually let’s go into the presentation room.” Arup urged.
“Well, MLM is a network based business model, a pyramid shaped multi-level business, where one can profit by two ways, either by selling the product which they buy or get from the company, or by pulling in as many people into it and get the commissions for it or both.
This business model is controversial and in lot of countries it’s banned, it’s also true that in few countries they are not, even in first world countries. The main issue here is though that you are hired by the company you are not under their payroll so you cannot claim back anything if you’re facing losses and your income is purely about how many products you sell. And there’s an easy way out, if you recruit as many people under you, you will actually get paid a portion if they sell and make profit. So basically you can hire 5 people and make them sell the products and earn by almost doing nothing.” Nilesh paused.
“Is it that simple?” Arup blurted out
“Easier said than done.” Nilesh smiled. “It all depends how well the people under you are selling or marketing the products, as almost all roped in to this are novice. Chances are always less, especially when you actually have to invest your own money or buy the products from the company.” Nilesh took a sip from the glass of water kept in front of him.
“If it’s that controversial why it is not banned everywhere?” Arup pulled down his eyebrows.
Nilesh shook his head, “Some of these industries are multibillion dollar industries, they have big banners, powerful people as allies and cult status. There’s a guy called Bill Ackman an activist business man is at war with one of biggest MLM Company Herbalife, for years he is fighting his law suit and nothing has changed.”
Arup got up from the chair and walked towards the door. Nilesh looked at him surprisingly, “Then?” he asked.
Next couple of weeks Arup got busy tracking down the whole business and their key people around the city and other places. He got to know a lot of people are involved even including an MLA from the ruling state party.
Arup was busy working on his story in his place, it was 7pm when heard his doorbell, he opened the door and found his younger sister Misha and her boyfriend Avik are standing.
“What happened to this place? It looks like you fought a war here.” Misha screamed when she saw her brother’s entire apartment is a total mess.
“Well, my maid Radha, she is not coming for weeks, her husband is unwell.” Arup answered in an apologetic and embarrassed tone.
“Well brother, bachelors shouldn’t be apologetic to live in a dirty apartment.” Avik was laughing.
In next few hours Misha cleaned up his place and cooked dinner for them. Avik and Arup were chatting. As they all sat for dinner, Arup told about the gig he is working now.
“Wow! I envy you investigative journalist, you get to have so much fun on the field.” Avik exclaimed. Avik is a non-fiction writer who already published his two books.
“I’m proud of you big brother, but do you actually have make enemies with these political goons?” Misha was concerned.
As Misha and Avik were about to leave, Misha looked at her brother, “You need to find a nice girl, it’s been a while now. Forget about Anu.” Arup almost started laughing as his cute younger sister tried play his mother.
“I often wonder what you saw in Avik. But did I complain?” Arup sarcastically taunted his sister.
“I am serious, that girl never deserved you anyway, I know how hard you took the break up, you better find a girl or I will hook you up with whomsoever I find.” Misha hugged his brother and bid good night.
As the story published in Arup’s daily, it created a havoc. The local opposition party demanded the resignation of the MLA and he denied all the allegations and charges.
Police arrested a few people for fraud but they couldn’t trace down the head of the business, as if he never existed, even the top employees never have seen him, seemed like he ran the show by emails and phone calls.
After few days the accused MLA tripped down from stair case and admitted in hospital with a severe head wound and stayed in coma.
Saturday evening Misha called Arup, “what you doing tomorrow, would you join us for lunch?”
“Sorry Misha, I’ve an important work to do, found a guy who actually met the head of this business, he is scared and won’t go to police, I am meeting him tomorrow.” Arup replied.
“I though everyone is caught and the business was shut down.” Misha asked interestedly.
“Nope, the real boss still at large and out of the radar. Wait someone at the door, I will call you later.” Misha heard the clicked sound.
Sunday early morning Misha’s mobile phone was ringing madly, with sleepy eyes she attended the unknown number displaying on her mobile screen.
“Misha Sen?” A heavy voice spoke from the other end.
“Yes, it’s she.” Misha replied.
“We are calling from local police station, I’m afraid we have a bad news. Your brother Arup Sen has committed suicide last night.”
Misha suddenly felt sick, she couldn’t even react, he saw Avik coming out of bathroom, she looked at him blankly. Avik looked at Misha, she was trembling and pale as if someone drained her blood out of her veins.
As Misha and Avik reached to Arup’s residence they were greeted by Inspector Shiladitya Sinha. Misha was crying uncontrollably.
“What happened here?” Avik somehow asked the question.
Inspector Sinha shook his head and handed over a note. It reads, “Though I have got almost everything in my life I wanted, one thing I never achieved. I couldn’t win the love of the woman of my dreams, Anu. My life is meaningless now, I guess it’s time to say goodbye.”
“A clear case of suicide. Unfortunately.” Inspector was shaking his head.
Misha was sobbing, “No he can’t do that, he can’t kill himself over that witch.” And then she saw the note and screamed. “THAT IS NOT MY BROTHER’S HANDWRITTING.”
That day by evening Arup’s last ritual was performed, a few close friends and relatives were present. Police registered a formal complaint for a suspicious death, as Arup mostly used to work in his laptop, there was hardly any hand written notes to compare but Misha provided few hand written old letters and basis of that it was clear the handwriting in that suicide note was not Arup’s.
Misha, who was completely broken down by her beloved brother’s death, urged Avik to stay with her at Arup’s place. Misha wanted to feel his brother’s presence at his residence with his belongings.
It was around 9 P.M. when the Arup landline rang. Misha answered it.
“It’s Mohan, why you kept your mobile switched off? I was trying since evening.” The voice at the other end barked.
“Who is this?” Misha replied in a broken voice. “Who are you?”, The voice asked.
“It’s Misha, Arup’s sister, but….” Before she completes her sentence the voice spoke again. “Ask your brother to pick up, I will ring again.
Perplexed Misha told Avik about the call. In another ten minutes the phone rang again. This time Avik replied.
“Mohan here, now listen carefully, I don’t have much time and can’t stay in this line for a long time. I have got what you wanted. All the documents including the list of people involved. It’s bigger than we thought. I’m keeping my part of bargain and now you have to. And don’t involve anyone, even the cops. Everyone is in this conspiracy. Now take down the address, meet me at 8 P.M. sharp tomorrow at this address.” The voice gave Avik an address and cut the call.
“What is it?” Misha’s curious voice nudged Avik.
“I’m not sure, but maybe Arup was gathering some kind of evidences from someone, some Mohan.” Avik answered worriedly.
“It must be about the same story which killed him. Avik we have to get those documents.” Misha spoke enthusiastically.
“I’m not so sure Misha, if we should get involved into this, it’s dangerous, besides, he said not to involve police as they might as well a part of all these.” Avik was hesitant.
“Avik, he was my brother and I’m willing to take any amount of risk to catch his murderer, if police are involved we will go to higher authorities, press, media, even to ministry. I won’t give up on Arup, if you want you can step back, after all you didn’t lose your brother.” Misha replied angrily.
“I am not backing out, I’m just worried about your safety, you know Arup was my friend too.” Avik was hurt.
“Then let’s get to the bottom of it and get my brother the justice he deserved.” Misha’s voice was firm and strong.
Next day morning Avik went to Arup’s office and met his chief editor Rohan Dutta.
“So is there any development, what cops are saying?” Mr Dutta was warm and willing to help. “He was our star reporter, any help I can be to trace the culprit.” He ensured Avik.
“Amm, do you have any information on what exactly Arup was working after the breaking story on that MLM Company?” Arup asked.
“Well, he hardly used to discuss his work as it requires a great deal of secrecy. I used to get briefed by him once he already prepared the story. But yeah for the last story he worked on, time to time he took help from another of our journalist Nilesh Mehta. If you want you can have a word with him.” Mr. Dutta spoke.
“Of course.” Avik stood up and walked out of Mr. Dutta’s cabin towards Nilesh’s desk.
“Well about a year ago I covered a story regarding a fraud company, a man with no money or capital started a business and became millionaire in matter of months. It drew a lot of attention and at last he was caught by police but later released on bail as lot of other big fishes were involved in that and he knew too much. After that he just got vanished in thin air.” Nilesh shook his head sideways, “I have cautioned Arup about the danger. But you knew him, he could never back down.”
“Does this person have a name?” Avik asked.
“He used to go by his first name, Jalal.”
As Avik walked out of Arup’s office, Mr. Dutta dialed a number
“Yes he was here, he spoke to Nilesh. (Pause) I don’t think Nilesh knows anything much, he is not of Arup’s caliber, I don’t think he is a threat, but we must keep an eye on Arup’s sister and her boyfriend.” Mr Dutta cut the call and called Nilesh in his cabin.
Avik returned home with all the documents and few hand written notes, one of them has a list of names. After checking that Avik and Misha was in shock.
“Now we know, we can hardly hope anyone help us.” Avik was visibly disappointed.
“Don’t lose hope Avik, there are still few good people around. We need to get the proof out.” Misha tried to be optimistic.
“But how?” Avik asked with an impatient voice.
“Remember Arup used to run a weekly magazine ‘Expose’? What if we publish all these in that?” Misha’s eyes were hopeful.
“That magazine stopped almost a year ago. If it needs to republish we need a publisher, we need enough budget to print them, circulate them around.”
“Can your publisher help Avik, don’t worry about money, I have some savings, if needed I will sell my apartment or mortgage it, I want my brother’s killers to be punished Avik.” Misha started to sob.
Avik considered that option, his publisher is an honest man, but would he be ready or able to help publishing something of this magnitude.
But Avik’s publisher Satyen Bose kept all the speculations aside and was ready to help. “I am fighting against corruption and equal rights for years, I will not see this opportunity go by me. Don’t worry Avik we will restart the magazine again and it will publish all the proofs that will bring the culprits to justice.”
Avik went with Misha to meet him at his office. “Thank you so much Sir, I hope you know the kind of retaliation we might face, I fear we are putting you and your family in danger.” Misha spoke with an appreciative voice.
“Don’t worry sweetheart, I am strong and I have no immediate family, never will be.” He smiled.
Avik explained Misha, Satyen’s orientation is from LGBT community, he did not declare it publically as he did not want to embarrass his relatives who are pretty conservative.
“You take Satyen to our place and give him the documents, let him analyze which one to publish first and how. I think I will go meet Nilesh, let me see if I can find something from him.” Avik instructed Misha and stepped out, it’s already evening 6 P.M. Avik doubted if he will find Nilesh at his office now.
As Nilesh got down from bus and started to walk towards his house, his sixth sense told him someone is following him.
Avik couldn’t find Nilesh at his desk, Mr. Dutta informed he just left a while ago. Avik considered going to Nilesh house and then he dropped the idea, he can meet him tomorrow morning.
As Avik pushed the door of his apartment and stepped in he was surprised the door wasn’t lock. He called Misha’s name and stepped into his bedroom. If human could feel fear, sadness, shock, anger and disbelief, Avik would feel them all at once.
It’s Misha and Satyen lying on the bed, without a thread on their body, the bedsheet is drenched with blood, both have a precise bullet wound right at the middle of their forehead. The scene was so horrible that Avik felt sick in his stomach and vomited on the floor. He tried to get a grip and ran towards the cupboard where the documents are kept. And then he heard a click sound of a gun’s safety latch right behind him.
“Looking for something Mr. Avik Banerjee?” the heaviness of the voice hit his ear like a bullet.
Detective Rounak Banerjee was sitting in office in Singapore, his business is booming. It was the right decision to leave Indian army and start this odd business of private investigation, but now it’s flourishing, he even hardly miss his family.
As he was browsing through the Indian newspaper sites his eyes stuck to a piece of 1st page news, it reads, ‘An unfortunate ending of a love triangle.’ It reports two gruesome murder and a suicide.
Writer Avik Banerjee who is known for his non-fiction style writing came home last night and found his longtime girlfriend Misha Sen with his publisher Satyen Bose in a compromising position. Blinded with anger he killed them both with his pistol and then committed suicide with the same gun. Misha Sen recently lost her brother Arup Sen who was a reporter and going through some tough time.
Rounak’s eyes were moist, it’s been so long he had spoken to his younger brother but never thought he will lose his brother in this fashion.
But then his detective mind told him there’s something wrong about the news, Avik didn’t even know how to use a gun, and he knew Misha, she was not that sort of a girl.
Rounak decided to fly to India in the very next flight.
As the Singapore airline flight touched down to the airport of Indian capital, Raunak looked outside of the window. It’s been quite a while he visited his motherland, and today in a very different circumstances. After the divorce of their parents, Raunak and Avik weren’t very close, but they always stayed in touch, Avik grew up with his father and Raunak with his mother.
He looked at the next seat, Shreya was still sleeping, Shreya Reddy, his personal assistant. Though her parents are Indian she grew up in Singapore, a sharp and intelligent mind, Shreya soon became the right hand of Raunak. Today she is both his strength and weakness.
They took the second flight to Avik’s city.
Another 2 days, Raunak and Shreya gathered all the details regarding Avik, Misha and Satyen’s death. Raunak refrained from declaring him as the closest kin of Avik and let his last ritual performed by the authority. It was tremendously painful for him to not to attend or see his kid brother for the last time, but as a professional investigator her knew his animosity is his biggest strength. If he’s exposed as Avik’s brother, his killers will surely be alarmed.
Nilesh was playing with his 2 years old son when his wife Sangeeta walked in, “Your mobile is vibrating, why you always keep it in silent mode.” She barked.
Nilesh got up and attended the phone, “Nislesh speaking.”
“Hi Nilesh, my name is Raunak, I just need 5 minutes of your time, could you meet me at the café next to your place in another 10 minutes?” An unknown voice spoke.
“What is it about?” Nislesh was surprised.
“it’s about a story, something that can change your life and career, if you don’t want to miss the opportunity you’ve got 10 minutes.” And the line went dead.
Nilesh stood there foolishly, “Could this be a prank?” he thought, nonetheless he decided to walk to the café, it’s just 5 minutes’ walk.
Nilesh was looking at them, a tall, dark, well-built man in his early 30’s and a strong beautiful woman with a medium complexion with piercing eyes in her mid 20’s. Nilesh is wondering what they might want from him.
“Well, now as it’s clear you called me telling me a false reason, I would like to know what you want.” Nilesh cleared his throat.
“We just want to be in your boss’s cabin for 5 minutes when he is not there.” Raunak replied with precision.
“Ok, so why should I do any of it for some strangers, why am I not reporting you to police?” Nilesh laughed.
“Tell me Nilesh, recently do you have a feeling that someone is following you, that a pair of eyes are always surveilling you? Did you notice something of that sort?” Raunak leaned forward and asked those questions in a dramatic fashion.
“I… I don’t think so.” Though his mind went back to the time when he usually return home. Now a days he always feel someone is shadowing him.
“You’re lying, Mr. Mehta.” This time it was Shreya.
Raunak pulled out his iPad and showed him some snaps. Where it was clearly visible, a man in different posture and different times and places, places where Nilesh had been.
“We’ve a reason to believe your boss, chief editor Rohan Dutta is involved murdering, Arup, Avik, Misha and Satyen. He and some powerful men are running a nexus. And if I’m not wrong the next target is you.” Shreya calmly spoke.
“Me? Why me?” Nilesh started to sweat.
“Because they think you might know something that can be harmful for them.” Raunak replied.
Now Nilesh is sweating profoundly, he gulped some water from the water jug kept in front of him. He paused for a moment and looked at them, “Why telling me all these, why not going to police?”
“We have information that the local police department is also involved.” Sherya replied this time
“The entire police department?” Nilesh exclaimed.
“No, but a portion of higher and lower officials, at this point of time we don’t know whom we can trust. We have checked your profile Nilesh, you seem to be an honest journalist. We need your help, else we wouldn’t have revealed ourselves to you.” Raunak spoke in an assuring tone.
“See Mr. Mehta, we are going to bring down this whole nexus with or without your help, but once the war starts you have to decide which side you want to be, with the right people or wrong.” Shreya firm voice nudged Nilesh.
“What you people want to do?” Nilesh asked hopelessly.
“Bug Rohan Dutta’s telephone and office, clone his mobile and plant micro transmitter chips in his clothes. We require to know every of his activity and words he speak.” Raunak replied to Nilesh.
“Sir, he is here, would you like to take the interview?” Nilesh peeped into Mr. Dutta’s cabin.
“The sports journalist? Ok let him in.” Rohan Dutta answered.
Raunak entered into his cabin, “Please take your seat.” Rohan greeted him.
“Sir, could you come here for a moment? I have to show the new story I’m covering, just for a sec.” Nilesh peeped into the cabin again.
“Can’t it wait for another 10 minutes?” Chief Editor Dutta were irritated.
“I just need you for a minute, I’m kind of stuck.” Nilesh pleaded.
“Excuse me.” Rohan made a grunting noise and walked out of cabin. As Raunak was anticipated, his mobile was lying right in front of him on the table. Raunak pulled out a similar model of his mobile phone and started to clone it, then he moved without a noise and planted the chips in the bottom of the landline and in the vase on the table. Nilesh is instructed to keep him busy as long as possible. The cloning of the mobile is taking time, Raunak knocked on the table impatiently.
There was a mild sound of the cabin door opening, Raunak felt his heart skipped several beats, he turned back and saw a guy in his 40’s is standing in khaki shirt and dirty white pant.
“Who are you?” Raunak barked.
“I.. I am the peon, where is Dutta sir.” He was panicking.
“He just stepped out”, Raunak replied. “Oh..ok” the guy turned to leave. Raunak noticed the cloning is done.
“Listen, what is your name?” Raunak called him back.
“M..Mohan sir”, he replied in a timid voice.
“Inform Mr Dutta, I have got an urgent call and I can’t wait, I will meet him later.”, Saying so Raunak did not wait and hurriedly came out of the office.
“We shouldn’t meet in public, after all I am still the investigating officer of Arup’s death.” Inspector Shiladitya Sinha was taking his third drink, Rohan Dutta was sitting right in front of him.
“Relax Sinha, we got things under control now.” Rohan sipped into his glass. They both are sitting in their favorite bar away from the city limits.
“You fool, I told you Nilesh might be a problem, he is not as harmless as you think, my men picked up some suspicious movements by him.” Inspector Sinha barked
“We can take care of him anytime we want.” Rohan smiled.
“And why Jalal is still alive, you kept him in your own office as a peon, what if someone recognized him. No Dutta, you are being careless.” Sinha shook his head.
“Well none will recognize him, all his recorded photos he has long hairs and bushy beard and mustache, I gave him a complete makeover, and remember, always hide something or someone in plain sights, always works. We are not sure if he has some old documents with him, that cunning b****** can’t be trusted, but can’t kill him without being sure. What if he already shared the secrets to someone else?” Rohan spoke indifferently.
“Bosses are getting impatient, we are meeting this Sunday to decide the next move. Be there on time.” Inspector Sinha gulped his drink and got up.
Form a safe distance Raunak listened and recorded every word of it.
As Raunak submitted the evidences to court with the help of a high court judge, DIG of Police, Food and Health minister, a business tycoon and few other important persons got arrested from different places of the city. It was a joint operation by CID and local police. Chief Editor Rohan Dutta and Inspector Sinha were taking into police remand immediately for interrogation.
Jalal alias Mohan agreed to be prosecution witness and was ready to testify against all of them. He was arrested and kept in the lock up.
The trial dates were finalized. While Nilesh and his wife Sangeeta and Sheya decided to present in the court. Raunak decided to visit the place where Avik and Mohan aka Jalal met, as Jalal told him there are few documents Avik did not get and he hid it near a bridge in the same highway.
As Raunak was loitering around near the bridge unsuccessfully trying trace those papers, he felt the presence of few more people. He turned back and saw there are 4 men standing behind him, they looked like hardcore criminals, with Knives, chains and iron rods.
Raunak put his arms above, “You can take my wallet and watch, I don’t want any trouble.”
The first guy swung the iron rod at him, years of military training made Raunak’s nerves strong and calm. He moved out of the way and punched the goon in his throat, the second one charged him with a chain, he ducked and tripped him by his legs. The third one with the knife jumped at him, he caught him by his hip. And then suddenly raunak felt a sharp pain in his lower back. The fourth goon stabbed him continuously till his t shirt and jeans got drenched in blood, the pain and the blood loss made Raunak weak, as the other 3 joined together and started continuously beating him with rods and chains.
After a while a homeless street boy saw 4 men carrying another men who’s bleeding from every part of his body, then they throw him off the bridge to the river and the heavy current of river flushed his body away.
Nilesh, Sangeeta and Shreya were waiting impatiently in the court room, while Shreya was trying frantically to call Raunak, still no answers, calls were going into voicemail.
The public prosecutor was approached by a man, he whispered something is his year. The public prosecutor then addressed the court.
“My lord, it seems our prosecution witness Jalal aka Mohan died in appendix burst today early morning, I smell a deep conspiracy, I urge the honorable court to adjourn for today so his death can be investigated.”
Shreya, Nilesh and Sangeeta came out of court with dejected heart. Sherya tried to call Raunak one more time, this time it was answered.
“Hello Raunak!!” Shreya almost screamed. “No ma’am, this is the police patrolling vehicle, we have found this mobile lying down on highway, there’s blood everywhere but no trace of anybody here.”
Meanwhile Nilesh was walking towards his car to unlock the door, Sangeeta could hardly react as she saw with horror a lorry from nowhere approaching towards Nilesh. The impact was so brutal that Nilesh’s body was thrown off in the air fell onto the nearby car’s roof.
Sangeeta and Shreya stood there motionlessly, it seemed they were paralyzed.
Sangeeta was at the hospital holding her son in her arms, her in laws had come there already. Doctors declared Nilesh as brought dead. Nilesh’s 2 years old son wasn’t able to understand why his mother was crying inconsolably.
Sherya was at the police station, they took her to the crime scene where the mobile was found. Police were searching for Raunak’s body though they were not sure how far the body was flushed away by the river. They showed her the mobile and a small box of ring which they have found there, there was too much of blood around soaked in the sand, the police medical examiner declared that it’s almost impossible for a man to be alive after so much of blood loss.
Shreya had a faint hope that Raunak might be alive as his body was yet to be recovered. As she saw the box of engagement ring she broke down in tears. She knew Raunak was carrying it for a while to propose to her someday. Raunak never knew Shreya was aware of it, nor Shreya ever told him she already knows. The setting sun witnessed a sobbing woman who had lost her friend, her mentor and love of her life.
“We have to get going, we have to bring them to justice, for the sake of all the people lost their lives to reveal this conspiracy.” Shreya clinched her jaw, it’s been almost a week passed after the incidents.
“I just lost my husband, I have a child to take care of, do you think a widow with her kid can fight this battle?” Sangeeta spoke in a bitter tone. They were sitting in Avik’s apartment, police handed over the key to Raunak once he declared himself as Avik’s brother. Raunak and Shreya were living there since they filled the case.
“You’re a lawyer too, it’s your duty as well to unmask all the faces who took away your husband’s life.” Shreya replied impatiently.
“I’m just an assistant lawyer, that too a corporate one. What you want me to do?” Sangeeta sound hopeless.
“It’s up to you whether you want to stand next to me and fight shoulder to shoulder, because I am not stopping till I have my revenge for Raunak. If you want to play safe, if Nilesh’s death means nothing to you, then good luck.” Sherya’s voice was trembling with anger and frustration.
“What you need me to do? I will do anything to nab the murderers of my husband, as long as it’s not putting my son’s life in danger.” Sangeeta replied.
Justice M Sohrabuddin is still fit and strong even in his 60’s, being a high court judge he has completed his 35 years of service in Law and order department and he has a reputation of being honest and straight forward man.
He finished his jogging and sat on the bench in the park as his daily routine, a young woman came out of nowhere and sat beside him, she was wearing a navy blue hoody.
“Justice M Sohrabuddin?” The woman whispered. Sohrabuddin was little surprised, “Who’s asking?”
“This is Shreya, Shreya Reddy. Few days back my Boss Raunak Banerjee and Nilesh Mehta met you regarding a case, you helped them to file a case against the police officials and state minister.” Shreya whispered again.
“Yeah I remember, I read it all in the news and watched it on TV, I’m really sorry for your loss, but I guess the case is on. The prosecution witness Jalal’s death was unnatural, one of his lock up inmate got arrested. And the tainted DIG of police has resigned. The party has expelled their Food and Health minister. Law is taking its own course but you have to have patience.” Justice Sohrabuddin spoke in a compassionate voice.
“But I have my suspicion that more people in the state ministry are involved and they are still at large, targeting people whoever know anything about them. They need to be stopped.” Shreya whispered strongly this time.
Sohrabuddin was surprised again, “Do you have any proof to establish your claim?” He asked.
“Not yet, but if I get you the proof, could you help me?” Shreya pleaded.
“I can sure try to. I know some people in central government, we can ask for a central probe in this case, but as I said, we need strong evidences, enough proofs.” He replied.
“I will meet you in few days, with proofs.” Shreya stood up and jogged away.
Secretary of state home minister Jayant Biswas is a busy man, so busy that he always misses his lunch. So when one of his security guard came and gave him a chit with a name he was irritated. Then he read the name and was surprised, it reads Sangeeta Mehta.
Jayant Biswas bought few lands in his wife’s name and with his influence he managed to evade taxes, but as some legal implication befallen on him he had to hire a corporate lawyer from a lawyer firm. Sangeeta was one of them, a bright young woman who helped him multiple times with legal issues. He asked his guard to send her in.
“Good afternoon Ma’am, how did you lose your way to my office today.” Jayant Biswas had a warm welcoming smile.
“I need your help Mr. Biswas, an urgent help.” Sangeeta spoke.
“Sure, anything within my power.” Jayant Biswas replied.
“I need your help to look into some important files and documents.” Sangeeta replied. “What kind of files?” Jayant was curious.
“I need the access of all the files basically, the state affair files, I have to search them.” Sangeeta spoke in a serious tone.
“I’m sorry Mrs Mehta that I can’t allow. They are confidential.” Jayant shook his head.
“So are your tax evasion files Mr. Biswas, and I never leak anything out.” Sangeeta wore a sarcastic smile on her face.
“That’s the client confidentiality every lawyer maintain.” Jayant chuckled.
“And what if I decide not to maintain?” Sangeeta was serious again.
“Wait, are you trying to blackmail me?” Jayant’ voice got louder.
“I am not here to blackmail you Mr. Biswas, I came here cause I need your help, my husband Nilesh got killed few days ago and authorities are denying to help, please.” Sangeeta’s eyes got moist.
“Sorry Mrs. Mehta, I truly am sorry for your loss, but can’t help you in this.” He shook his.
Hopelessly Sangeeta got up and turned back, “Mrs Mehta, please write your mobile no in this register. We have some protocols, visitors need to provide some details.” Jayant called her back.
As Sangeeta hit the road her mobile phone rang. “Hello.”
“Mrs. Mehta, Jayant Biswas here, please meet me at Arundhati hotel for lunch in another 15 minutes.” And the line went dead.
It was 8 P.M in the night, Sangeeta and Shreya were fanatically searching something in Jayant’s computer. Jayant was standing near the collapsible gate, he sent the night guard to get some food, he gave him a tough list so it will take some time.
Jayant was grinning to himself, got a good deal from these ladies, about 10 lakhs worth of cash and jewelry for the information they are looking.
Shreya searched with the name of the MLM Company and got all the data copied to two separate USB drive and gave one to Sangeeta.
“Keep it, in case of any of us, touchwood let it be me, if we are attacked the other one has to reach to Justice Sohrabuddin.” Shreya whispered to Sangeeta.
“Let’s get out of here, tomorrow morning the 1st thing we’ll do is this.” Sangeeta replied.
“No not tomorrow, tonight, I am going tonight to him. You go home and wait, if anything happens to me tomorrow morning you have to give it him.” Shreya clinched her fists.
Shreya reached to Justice M. Sohrabuddin’s residency at about 9 P.M, the lights were still on. She went to the main door and rang the doorbell.
A security guard opened the door, “Is justice Soharabuddin awake?” Shreya asked him. He nod his head and showed the way to his drawing room.
“Sir I’ve got the proof in my hand, now you must act, Shreya announced as she entered into the room.
Justice Sohrabuddin was sitting in his easy chair showing his back towards the door. He did not reply, also he looked half lying in a different posture. As Shreya walked up to the chair, she couldn’t help but had a muffled cry.
Justice Sohrabuddin’s left hand is dangling from the chair and his head is tilted to left, his eyes and mouth were open. He couldn’t reply cause he is not alive anymore. There’s no sign of struggle or injury on his body in plain sight, an empty syringe was lying on the floor.
Air Embolism, Shreya thought. If more than 60ml of air can be injected direct into human vein, it can cause fata cardiac arrest. Shreya heard few footsteps towards the door.
As Sangeeta reached near her house and about to push open the gate she noticed a big van with a baby food logo on it. A man from nowhere suddenly appeared.
“Ma’am we sell baby food, it’s a new launch in the market so doing a door to door marketing.” The guy spoke politely.
“Door to door marketing at 9 P.M. in the night? And how do you know I need or buy baby food?” Sangeeta looked at him with suspicious eyes. All of a sudden she felt a strong push from behind and the guy who was speaking held her mouth with his palms to prevent her from screaming, they dragged her like a plastic doll towards the van.
Shreya heard the footsteps, she pushed open the window of the room and jumped out on the veranda. It was a cake walk for fit and trained Shreya to jump off the boundary wall. She could still hear the shouting’s and voices abusing her.
She ran as hard she could, about after 5 minutes she stopped. She realized she got into a closed lane and she could see the dead end. She turned back.
There were about 20 men, to be precise, starving beasts were standing at the entrance of the lane. Everyone had hungry eyes like wolves.
As 20 of them took turn to ravage, brutalize and destroy her, after a while she went numb, she did not feel any pain, humiliation and agony. She felt nothing.
Next day’s newspaper headlines were dominated by only one topic, ‘Crime against women in the city is on the rise.’ It reported in two different incidents two young woman, a widow and an NRI women were ravaged and dishonored by predators.
There was another news as well, it was reported that high court judge M Sohrabuddin died in cardiac arrest at his residence around 9 P.M last night, he had no history of heart dieses.
Sangeeta was admitted in hospital with a deep head injury and cigarette burn marks on her whole body, doctors reported she had gone through inhumane torture. Next day afternoon she lost her last battle to death. Shreya was kept in the ICU. Her condition was critical.
Jayant Biswas’s mobile phone rang, “Yes sir, thank you sir. All done then. Glad to provide the information sir.” He cut the call and grinned, he always go with the highest bidder.
“May I come in Sir?” Animesh knocked the door and held it half open.
“Come on in”, CBI director D’Souza shook his hand.
“My next assignment is it?” Animesh smiled.
“Here read this”, D’Souza pushed a file at him and lit his cigar.
Animesh took 10 minutes to read the report. “Geez, it’s a b*****y ‘Game of Thrones’ out there.” Animesh chuckled.
“That’s why we decided to send you, do you need anything specific?” D’Souza left another puff of smoke in the air.
“Oh yes! I won’t work with local authorities’ sir.” Animesh replied.
“Though it’s a central investigation, we need local and state help. Can’t cut them off.” D’Souza replied casually.
“Not exactly.” Animesh replied and leaned forward to explain his plan.
About 6 feet 2 inches tall, fair and handsome Animesh RoyChowdhury is hailed from one of the oldest and famous family of Bengal landlords. And 2006 batch IPS officer in his early forties, he is known as a living nightmare of many bureaucrats and politicians. Because his obsession towards white shirts and outfits he is known as the White Knight of CBI department.
As Animesh was about to walk out when D’Souza called his name, “Animesh, don’t get killed, department needs you.” And the he had his trademark mad laugh.
It took almost two weeks for Animesh to gather all the details about all the incidents and deaths happened in the city which were connected directly or indirectly with Arup’s investigation. Though something was telling him that the roots were deeper than he anticipated.
Once he got all the reports, he tried to arrange them like a jigsaw puzzle.
Arup started to investigate about an MLM company with a pyramid scheme. He exposed an local MLA and few others connected to this illegal business. The MLA soon after meet with a domestic accident and goes into deep coma. Was that an accident or a preplanned attack? If it was an attack then who tried to kill him?
Arup kept investigating even after few people got arrested. Then he died in suspicious circumstances which was almost covered up as a suicide. But Misha found out the truth. Together Misha and Avik launched their investigation, got in touch with Mohan aka Jalal. They tried to unmask few powerful people and again they are been killed. It was again tried to set up as double murder and a suicide. But somehow they did not know Satyen Bose was a closet homosexual, hence the angle between him and Misha cheating on Avik fell apart. What were Avik and Misha planning to expose that they had to meet this horrible end?
Then Raunak came along with Shreya, they got a very important breakthrough as they were able to nab chief editor Dutta and Inspector Sinha and thus unraveled a bigger conspiracy. Bring down the DIG, a minister and few other billionaire businessmen. They found Mohan aka Jalal hiding in plain sight as an employee in Editor Dutta’s office. He agreed to be a prosecution’s witness and he was brutally killed by his lockup inmate, at first again this death was been covered up as appendix burst but later revealed as he was been punched continuously in his abdomen and died of internal bleeding. Raunak was attacked near a bridge in highway or at least that was been reported, Raunak is still missing, no news yet about him or his dead body is recovered. Nilesh was killed at the same time in a freak accident, the lorry driver claimed his brakes failed. Is Raunak still alive? Is Nilesh’s death is just an accident or he is killed?
That left Shreya and Nilesh’s wife Sangeeta to act together. They were also brutally attacked and Sangeeta is dead now, Shreya is the only person alive who knows a lot about this case. She has to be protected, she is recovering but Animesh is certain there will be an attempt to take her life. Also Justice M Sorabuddin with whose help Raunak, Shreya and Nilesh filed the case against the accused, found dead in his residence same night Sangeeta and Shreya were attacked. He had no history of heart disease, yet he died in cardiac arrest. Too much of coincidence?
Animesh looked at his watch, it’s 3 A.M. in the morning and he is still sitting in the balcony in the arm chair. It was a little chilly because of falling dew, it was clam and quite around. And then he hard a sound, someone threw a stone at him, but luckily it went on hitting the window. He picked up the piece of stone, it was quite big, if it would have hit him, he would have been injured badly.
Animesh saw a piece of paper tied around the rock, he took it off and read it, “There’s no place for a white knight in a dark realm, Run before the darkness consumes you.”
Animesh smiled to himself and then he dialed a number. “Keep her safe. Don’t let her out of sight even for a moment.” And he put down the phone.
Animesh got a call around 8 A.M from Chief Minister’s office, CM would like to meet him at the breakfast table in his residence by 10. Animesh got ready in a hurry and started.
He had no idea that the state home minister would also be there. He greeted both of them.
“How’s the investigation going?” CM asked Animesh.
“It’s going good Sir, we made some breakthrough. Looks like a lot of people are involved in it.” Animesh replied politely.
“I have our home minister here, he is concerned about something he would like to discuss with you.” CM looked at the Home minister.
“We are seeing a lot many para military force’s presence in the city, we are witnessing a lot many people in camouflage uniforms moving across the city. I find it a matter of concern.” HM cleared his throat and spoke.
“Oh! They are helping me with the investigating and nabbing the accused. Don’t worry, CBI head quarter already gave a go ahead to take help of para military force.” Animesh replied confidently.
“Is it a way of saying that local police and authorities are not trustworthy?” HM had had a crooked smile appeared on his face.
“Well, a significant amount of local higher authorities are under the radar. At such circumstances I have little choices.” Animesh snapped back.
HM shook his head, “I have no problem with the CBI probe but I can’t allow para military force tearing down this city, I have already wrote to central ministry and they agreed to withdraw them within 48 hours, you will have that order on your table by today evening.” The smile from HM’s face is gone.
“Will that be all Sir?” Animesh looked at CM.
“Yes, yes, see I do agree with state home ministry, we can’t allow this.” CM spoke. “But please, finish your breakfast, your tea is getting cold too.”
“Sorry Sir, I have got an important work came up, I gotta leave.” Animesh stood up leaving his half done breakfast and stormed out of there.
Animesh straightaway went to see Shreya at the hospital. Doctors informed him she has responded well to the treatment, but still very weak to give any statement. Animesh cautioned his men one more time and went directly to the room where Shreya was kept.
“You can’t be hare, she’s still very weak and unstable.” The doctor attending her warned Animesh as he showed his ID.
“I just need 5 minutes with her.” Animesh ignored the doctor.
One side of Shreya’s face was unrecognizable, it was battered and bruised, the left eye was heavily swelled. She had scratches and bruises from her head to toe, still she was in her senses. Animesh who has nerves of steel, even for a moment he felt the nudge.
“Those animals.” Animesh clenched his teeth and leaned onto Sherya, “Shreya I know you were there at justice M Sorabuddin’s place that night you were attacked and I know you were keeping in touch with him. Tell me why did you go there?” Animesh whispered the words.
Shreya looked at Animesh with disbelief and slowly uttered, “Who are you and why should I trust you?”
“I am Animesh RoyChowdhury, CBI special branch. You have to trust me because only I can help you and you have nothing to lose.” Animesh’s voice was firm.
“True, I’ve lost Raunak, I’ve lost my honor and I have lost the very will to live.” Shreya whispered back.
Animesh leaned further, “Help me, so I can help you. I only have 48 hours” Animesh pleaded.
Animesh came to meet the CM, he had specially requested the CM to meet him.
Sitting at his desk CM greeted Animesh, “So you’ve solved the case?”
“Yes Sir.” Animesh replied.
“Tell me about it,” CM looked curious.
“As I was assigned to this case, I have a vague idea what I will be against, there were about dozens of death which was linked with one case. But I wasn’t able to understand how so many people who are layers, getting caught yet the whistleblowers are getting killed.
As per my investigation at least 4 sets of people tried to unravel the conspiracy behind one MLM company and all of them succeeded to unmask few faces but that wasn’t enough and got punished for doing so.
I was wondering why Arup never stopped investigating even after the scoop he has published which created a lot of buzz. The only person alive who knew all about the whole investigation is Shreya. Shreya and Sangeeta were acting together when they stumbled upon few documents from state ministry, Jayant Biswas helped them. Then he double crossed them as well. Shreya made two copies of the files in her USB drives. But she had a special one, a usb drive with cloud backup which instantly send all the data to an online drive. Though both the USb drives were snatched from them the data was available. I spoke to her and retrieved the data.
And then everything is cleared like a sunny day to me. It was of course one of the greatest conspiracy.
Jalal aka Mohan was into fraud business for quite some time, He made a lot of money with a lot of Ponzi schemes and the money was stacked lying in a lot of places. On November 8th the demonetization announced, he had his partners were at sea, because all they had was cash, black money. They needed to push them into the banks somehow. They started another business, an MLM business, but this time the cash flow would be in reverse order.
So they started finding the less fortunate ones, and offering them money to find more people and giving the cash to them. As the highest amount you could deposit was 250,000, they started pouring their accounts with any amount less than that. The plan was simple, find poor people and use them to deposit the money in their account. Whoever tried to rebel or act smart were hushed up. So as one man recruiting another 10, automatically they are getting more bank accounts to deposits, who did not have bank accounts their accounts were opened overnight. Arup’s maid’s husband Jeevanlal was among them, but when he understood the plan he revolted back and faced the consequences. A relatively new privatized bank was also used for it.
But all these things were never possible without the backing of political muscles or without the local authorities. Slowly it reaches to the highest possible parts of the state leadership. When they were threatened to get ripped of their reputation because of a few people trying to uncover the whole thing, they panicked and started to kill all the whistleblowers.”
“Whom exactly are you accusing Mr. RoyChowdhury?” CM asked in easy tone.
“You sir, I am accusing you. The way all these things were done and been covered up, only someone of your position could do so.” Animesh’s voice was calm as well.
CM burst into laughter. “Mr RoyChowdhury, you have a vivid imagination.” CM was almost chocking in laughter.
Animesh continued, “As we are speaking the state ministry affair office is been raided, Jayant Biswas proved to be very useful. The Governor has been briefed and so is the President. And here’s your arrest warrant.”
CM suddenly noticed his residence is getting infiltrated by a lot of CRPF personals in their para military camouflage uniforms.
Animesh stood up, “That would be all sir, good day.”
Shreya opened her eyes and to her surprise there was Animesh with a bouquet of flower in his hand.
“For you.” He kept on the table and the gave her a double sided photo frame, one side of which has a collage of Arup, Avik, Misha,Nilesh, Sangeeta’s photo the other one has a smiling face of Rounak.
“We are still searching for Raunak, unfortunately I have no news about him till now.” Animesh spoke those words slowly.
“You know, we don’t have to search for heroes only in our borders, within our soldiers merely. Sometimes we just have them among us. And you people are… the Heroes.” Animesh uttered those words with pride.
Shreya completely broke down in tears like a child holding the frame in her hands, only hoping and praying that Raunak is still alive.
Animesh slowly walked out of the hospital room keeping the door ajar.
(This story contains sexually explicit contents and something that might be considered as social taboo. Please do not read if you don’t like such contents or if you’re underage)
Girls grow up pretty fast. They just do. It’s a matter of few days, a sweet plump teenage girl all of a sudden become a head turner, out of nowhere.
I was leaning on the wall of my terrace, I could see Mimi was there in her terrace to fetch the dry clothes. It was the month of May, a stormy month. I guess she saw the cloudy sky and windy afternoon as soon as she got up from her afternoon nap. Her eyes were still sleepy and her face was puffy, I guess she was alone at her place else her mom or maid would have been up on the terrace picking the dry clothes in hurry. My terrace is close to hers, just a distance of a short jump.
I went back in time while idly gazing at her. I still remember the day she was born, I was around 12 then. My mom told me our new neighbor who moved in last year got a kid, that the neighbor aunt delivered a baby girl today morning.
I went to see it, the baby, with my family. I saw a small piece of flesh with eyes, nose and ears. I wondered if it’s really even a human being, like one of us, I saw babies earlier but not this small.
Time passed by, that new born turned 2 in no time. It started to crawl around, treating my study table as her personal toilet, wetting my books, shitting on my table and tearing my notes. I wondered how to deal with it.
And the time went by, she turned 7, an irritating, nagging, running nose kid always clinging to me, demanding to take her to ice cream parlor and getting her chocolates. I cursed her, I cursed myself, I cursed the universe.
She stepped into her teens, she was 13 maybe. She was playing in a corner of my house when she came running to me, crying. There was a stream of blood flowing out, dripping off from her slender fair legs, her skirt was covering till her knee. I was the first man witnessing her in her first period. I called her mom and asked her to take care of her.
She was entering into her 16 when everything about her started to change. She was becoming moody, rebellious, unreasonable and beautiful. Once I saw her standing in the corner of the lane with her bicycle, she was in her school uniform, talking to a guy, perhaps from another school. They were talking, giggling and she was looking so happy. They saw me, I looked at her and then walked away.
That night I heard her fighting with her mom, screaming and shouting, I wondered what it might be. Next morning she was on my doorstep, with moist red eyes, accusing me of spying on her, telling on her. I tried to reason with her, that I never said a word. She didn’t listen to me and ran away cursing me that I shouldn’t find love, I don’t deserve that.
We started to grow apart, maybe she knew I never told on her, maybe she didn’t. She walked passed her 17th birthday. The little girl turned into a cute young lady in no time, I felt I witnessed a metamorphosis, from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
And then something brought me into the present. The sky was till cloudy, the wind was blowing hard now. I saw Mimi tripped, while trying to balance her as she had all dry clothes in her hands, on her shoulder. She fell down on the terrace, the hard uneven concrete surface peeled the skin of her knees and legs, the dry clothes were scattered, few were flown away, few were swarming on the terrace with the wind.
I couldn’t help but jumped to her terrace, held her and picked her up. She looked distraught, maybe because of the pain, maybe cause she couldn’t stop those clothes to fly away, maybe she just felt ashamed that she tripped right in front me in that fashion.
I pulled her up, maybe she was hurt but could walk, maybe she couldn’t. But I picked her like a cute doll in my arms, walked down from the terrace.
Her both knees were bleeding, so was her ankles. I took her to bathroom, cleaned her up and put her onto the sofa. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, not that I cared much. I was looking for Neosporin powder and some cottons, she showed me.
I held her legs and starched towards me, as she was sitting in the sofa she kept her legs on my thighs. I sprayed the powder and rolled the bandages around them and then I looked at her.
Her skirt was above the knee, her fair and smooth thighs were glowing with water drops on them, where the thighs met each other, I could see a blue triangle. She was wearing a blue undergarment, nothing fancy, actually a normal one that covered her womanhood.
I got up and told her to go lay down in bed. She looked at me and said she won’t be able to walk till the bedroom. And I picked her up again in my arms, for the second time.
As I placed her in her bed, her bosoms were occasionally brushing against my shoulder. I was holding her too close to me, I could see right into her eyes, It was questioning me, it was questioning herself. Our lips met for a fraction of second and parted.
I pushed myself back and walked out of her bedroom, walked passed the hall to the main door. And then like a possessed man walked straight back to her. She was lying down there already, she was surprised seeing me back. We broke into a long kiss and then it felt so normal as we got rid of our clothes.
Her breasts were small, tender and fair, nipples were yet to change to dark brown but they were pink, small and perky. As I looked down, I saw her navel, not so deep, not so shallow, I caressed it. As I ventured into her most forbidden part, she blushed, pushed me aside and closed her thighs. Guess that’s always instinctive for females.
As she parted her legs after few strokes of hand, I went down on her, to eat her, to bite her, to make her moan and scream. She pulled me up, held her in arms, her eyes pleaded me to pierce her, to stab her, to go deep inside her.
She was soft, she was tight, she was warm, and she was a virgin. She was in pain but she was willing, her clenched jaw, closed eyes and sweaty forehead were telling her painful yet pleasurable happenstance.
I felt like a ragging mad bull, I looked at her. The girl I saw her in the first day of her life, the girl who crawled around me, the girl who played on my lap and the girl I saw in her first day of mensuration, I closed my eyes and I can hear her giggling back in time. I was thrusting myself into her as hard as I could, and I could recall every day I saw her growing up in front of me. I should feel guilty, I should have felt shamed. All I felt was her, and only her.
I stayed lying there, I could see her sleeping. Her face is carrying the impression of pain and ache, the bandages have come off and there’s blood on the bedsheet, some from her old wound, some from her fresh one. I kissed her forehead when I heard Mimi’s mom calling her name from the main gate. I looked her, and asked myself “should I leave or should I stay?”
*“So you are Mr. Bankim Chatterjee? Famous private investigator.”
**“Yes sir, that’s me.”
*”Nice to have you here, but Mr. Chatterjee, to be frank there’s not much of a case here. You see my father passed away in his sleep. He had a massive heart attack. Our family doctor Dr. Mallik is here, if you want you can check with him.
**”But Mr. Ghosal, your elder brother is finding it very strange, of course your father had some mild heart condition but nothing to be this fatal.
*”Ahh! My brother is paranoid, he was actually very close to him, you could say he was his favorite son. Don’t mind Mr Chatterjee, I smell something fishy here. Is it an attempt to malign my image somehow? What he is trying to prove that dad’s death is an unnatural one?
**”I so hope not. But why are you even being so defensive? I have been appointed by your brother and let me investigate, as you said if there’s nothing fishy everyone will be off the hook.”
*”Well, I was just thinking that it all will end up in a wild goose chase, but anyway, it’s your wish. After all your fees will be paid from my brother’s pocket.
**”Inspector Sinha, what’s your say in this case.”
***”Pretty much an open and shut case Mr. Chatterjee, justice Subham Ghosal died in a cardiac arrest, but well, as in all the stories and the media show that private investigators are smarter than police, I’m sure you would come up with something. (Smiling sarcastically).”
**“Hmm. If I’m not wrong justice Ghosal was an avid reader and a very learned man, even he had his own library, he was known for his literary skills, there’s hardly a classic he did not read.”
***”Indeed, every night he used to read for at least 2 to 3 hours before he used to go to sleep.”
**“Hmm, strange, at one look I find no trace of a book in this room, I guess it’s his bed room, such an reader must be having at least 2 to 3 books stacked on that table.”
***”(Puzzled) I haven’t noticed that. We have to ask his younger son Subir Ghosal, he was with him last night.”
*”Yes, his library was locked yesterday and one of the servant misplaced the key. So couldn’t unlock the door, today morning I was supposed to call a locksmith, but before that we found him in his bed…. Lifeless.”
**“Strange!! Did he always keep all his books in the library?”
*”Mr. Chatterjee, My dad always lived by his rules and was a creature of habit. He never liked his books to be scattered around in the house rather neatly kept in the library room, he used to pick one book at a night, read and sleep and once done with it, he would pick the next book. Unfortunately he just finished a book the night before and kept it in the library, last night as the key was misplaced he couldn’t get another one.
**”Had it ever happened before? He slept without reading?”
*”Maybe once or twice, I am not really sure, see Mr. Chatterjee, I don’t live here, my brother does, as he was out of station I came here to give dad a company.”
**”Thank you Mr. Subir Ghosal. Inspector if you don’t mind I would like to have few words with you in private.”
**”How could you do this to your own father Mr. Ghosal? He was after all your own father. Just to inherit his property you have killed him so brutally.”
*”I.. I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s all an arrangement, between you and my brother. He wants to send me away and seize all dad’s property.”
**“Your brother doesn’t have millions of debt on his head Mr. Ghosal, nor he has the gambling addiction, your own house is also mortgaged, I have the papers here.”
*”Mr. Chatterjee, you are crossing your boundaries, my private life is none of your business. And my father died in a heart attack, if you can prove it otherwise fine, else you can’t keep me here in this police investigation room, not for another second.”
**” Of course your father died in heart attack, but it’s you who made that happen. It’s you who plotted the entire scheme.”
*” Mr. Chatterjee, I warn you.”
**”You knew your father is a creature of habit that he can’t sleep without reading for couple of hours before sleep. You also knew how your father hated and loathed bad writers and literatures. You hid his library key last night. He was restless, he needed a book to read, so you cleverly suggested him a book. A book with a bad plot, worse story and written by one of the worst writer of the country.
He started reading the book, he understood the mistake he had done, but like all the true readers he couldn’t stop in the middle and throw the book into a bin, so kept reading, his heartbeat started to rise, he got palpitation, his eyes turned red, he was drinking water continuously but was unable to even breathe. At last his heart gave up. I don’t blame him Mr. Ghosal, even a normal, healthy man would have meet the same end.”
*”(Sobbing heavily) I am sorry Mr. Chatterjee, I had no other choice, I am so deep in my debt that.. that I needed the money. (Broke out in tears)”
**”You don’t deserve mercy Mr. Ghosal, if I could, I would make you read that book over and over again. Though I’m not sure if you would be alive after reading the half of it. But honorable court won’t allow it.
***”We have found it under Subir Ghosal’s bed Mr. Chatterjee, here it is.”
Private investigator Bankim Chatterjee was holding the murder weapon in his hand, the perfect murder weapon. “HALF GIRLFRIEND BY CHETAN BHAGAT.” Bankim Chatterjee felt the chill running down through his spine, “What is awaited for the literature in future?”