Déjà Vu4 mins 185 4 mins 185
There was something familiar about Mr. Gonsalves. Maria was positive. She didn't know if it was the way he talked or the way he walked. Whatever it was, Maria couldn't shake the feeling that her new boss wasn't new to her. To make matters worse, she felt an impending sense of doom the moment she shook hands with him. Now, Maria was a thirty-three-year-old reporter. Feeling intimidated was unlike her. But there was something about this man, something she couldn't put her finger on...
After very brief personal interactions with every reporter, trainee, and intern, Mr. Gonsalves proceeded to the seminar room. He took the podium while the reporters settled themselves in the front rows. The trainees took the seats on the back, and the interns found places to stand at the end of the room, leaning back on the walls. Mr. Gonsalves lit the room up with a wide grin and started to address his audience.
"Good morning to all of you! It is an honor to have been appointed as the Chief Reporter of this newspaper. Don't worry, I will keep this as short as possible. I know you are dying to get back to your stations!" He paused for effect and the crowd responded with light laughs. Satisfied with their reaction, he grinned and continued.
"Now let's get serious for a moment!" There was instantaneous silence. Maria was impressed by the control and authority he commanded. "He will make a good boss", she thought.
"As some of you might know, I have been working in this industry for over two decades. If there is one thing I value the most, it is ethical and honest journalism. Look at our country, her political scenario! It is so easy to become polarized, is it not? Now, I'm not saying that we should not have opinions. Of course, we do! But, we must strike a balance in our choice of words. We will not be the peddlers of misinformation and divisiveness! We will not pen words calling for violence! There will be a better tomorrow as it starts with us! Now! And that, my dear friends, is the vision with which I have stepped into this building today. Are you with me?"
Needless to say, the short and powerful speech had hyped up the room. "Yes!," the crowd yelled in unison.
Mr. Gonsalves smirked, appearing gratified. He started speaking again but Maria did not hear a word. Her heart was pounding and she felt like she was about to faint. That smirk, she had seen it! How could she forget such a fateful evening?
It was the winter of 2004. Maria was five. Her nanny had put her to bed and gone home for the night. But she had been awakened by loud voices. Frightened, she had clutched her soft bunny toy to her chest and crept out of the bedroom, into the hallway, and climbed downstairs. The voices had grown louder as she approached her father's study. It was locked. Maria had peered in through the keyhole and seen her father. He was angry. There was another young man. She didn't recognize him. Her father was scolding this other man who kept arguing back. After some time, Maria's father stopped yelling and put his head down, shaking as he did. He then turned around.
Maria thought the fight was over and her father would come out of his study along with the other man. She had scampered and hid under the stairs for she didn't want to get caught out of bed that late.
A loud thump had gotten Maria out of her hiding spot. Curious, she had crept back to the study door and peered in through the keyhole once again. That's when she saw the other man. He was smirking and wiping the neck of a blood-stained bronze flower vase with a white handkerchief. Maria couldn't see her father but she knew she had to hide before the man saw her. She had crept back upstairs, locked the door, and hid under the blanket. Her mother had been out of town for her friend's wedding. Maria didn't know what to do. But she had stayed under the blanket all night, without making a noise.
After what seemed like an eternity, she had heard her nanny screaming. And then her mother had burst into the room and hugged Maria, sobbing. There were policemen in the house. "It was the bad man," Maria had whispered to her mother. Realizing that she had witnessed the murder, Maria's mother and two policemen sat down with her but she couldn't give a description they could use. There was no other witness or any usable evidence. After a few months, the case had gone cold. Maria's mother took her daughter and shifted from Coimbatore to Bangalore. She wanted a fresh start and Maria required therapy. As far as Maria knew, the police never caught her father's killer...
Maria still wasn't listening to a word of Mr. Gonsalves. She gritted her teeth but remained as calm and composed as she could possibly be. There was no point in tipping off the man. It was time to reopen an old case. It was time to put her father's killer behind bars.
Read next part "A Worthy Opponent".