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A F Kirmani



A F Kirmani


He put his hand around her shoulder

He put his hand around her shoulder

3 mins 200 3 mins 200

Karuna opened the door. A lone policeman stood there. Short and potbellied. He smelled of tobacco. Karuna joined her palms together and said “namaskar sahib”. Her voice was shaky and feeble. The inspector looked at her intently. So this was the woman who had smitten the dead man. Her face was undecorated except for kohl that lined her large anxious eyes making them appear larger. His gaze travelled further down and Karuna quickly adjusted her pallu. Indeed she was a beauty of her own kind.

The inspector might have belonged in the curious crowd.

“Are you Karuna?” the inspector asked walking inside her shack


“Did you know builder M. Lal” the inspector seated himself on the lone charpoy and it creaked under his weight.

“I worked at one of his sites”

“He has been murdered by his wife this morning.” he said looking at the light bulb hanging in one corner of the shack.

“I have heard”

“Do you have a connection for light?”

“Sahib no one in this basti has a connection”

“So this is theft…hmm?”

“Just like everyone else I also…….”

“In her statement of motive Muder Lal’s widow has mentioned your name. I have come to take you to the police station” the inspector cut her short “and theft of electricity by the way is an offence punishable by fine or jail or both”

“Sahib I have got nothing to do with the killing……… I will take out the bulb right away and never use it” Karuna headed towards the bulb.

“Oh! No! No! Don’t you panic so much. Come sit here and tell me of your association with the builder,” the inspector patted on the charpoy.

Karuna cast an unsure glance at her children all five of who were huddled in a corner.  The inspector patted on the charpoy again indicating her to sit. Karuna sat at the foot of the charpoy.

“Why are you so scared of me? Just relax and tell me”

Tobacco mixed with sweat filled up her nose.

“Two years back my second child had fallen ill with pneumonia. My husband had died recently. I had no work and no money. My friend Vijaya worked at sahib’s house. She said her master and mistress were kind hearted people and never refused assistance to needy people. At the time madam was out of town. So we had to go directly to sahib to seek help. Sahib gave me money and job at one of his building sites. He put an arm

around my shoulder and said that as long as he was there I need not worry about anything.”

“I see…..” the inspector grinned exposing his tobacco stained teeth “so you are an innocent woman”

“Sahib, that depends on how one perceives innocence. For Madam I am the most malicious woman on earth.”

“To me you look quite innocent my dear”


“Now do not waste time. Talk on way to the police station”

“Sahib…have mercy! Do not take me to the police station. What will become of my orphaned children if I get involved in the case?”

The inspector put a hand around her shoulder “Do not worry. As long as I am there you need not worry about anything.”

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