Judgment Day13 mins 289 13 mins 289
This story has 3 chapters and this is the first chapter. To completely understand the story and enjoy it, it is advisable to read the story in chronological order.
Chapter 1 – Incomplete picture
Iqbal was irritated.
Who will not be? He along with one more postman were managing the entire post office for the last three days as the remaining four others were absent.
He sighed and dumped the letters from a large bag on the big table and started sorting them.
Iqbal will have to sort the letters and deliver them himself as the only other postman present had gone to distribute yesterday’s pending letters. While sorting, Iqbal noticed an unusual cover and standing, held it in his hand and turned it over.
The postal cover did not have any stamps on it.
The address was not in English or Kannada but in Marathi!
There was no from address.
It was an unusual letter to come to Bangalore Post office all right. What’s more intriguing was the stamp of the post office from where the letter was posted.
It bore Ernakulam, Kerala.
Iqbal was shocked when he read the address, written in Marathi completely.
Iqbal stood shell shocked for a minute contemplating what to do and then decided to take it to the boss who was sitting in the cabin.
Postmaster was talking to someone on the phone and Iqbal stood for few minutes and when he kept the phone down, Iqbal moved inside the room and kept the envelope on the postmaster’s table and stood without speaking.
Postmaster, Lakshmikant who had only three years left for retirement, had just finished an argumentative phone call with his wife and was annoyed, to say the least
He looked at the envelope and then looked at Iqbal and spoke transferring his irritation from wife to Iqbal.
“What is this? Why are you keeping the envelop on my table, that too without saying anything?”
Iqbal looked at the old man.
Though the postmaster was a good man, had several health problems; Iqbal felt pity fort the old man who struggled to manage the post office without adequate staff.
Iqbal cleared his throat and spoke.
“Sir, please look at the address written on the envelop and see the stamp from where it has come.”
Postmaster looked questioningly at Iqbal but without speaking, just held the envelop and looked at.
He couldn’t make head and tail of what was written.
He just raised his eyebrows and looked at Iqbal.
“Sir, the language of the address is Marathi. The letter is addressed to the High court judge, Seetaramayya and the letter has the postal stamp of Ernakulam.” Spoke Iqbal haltingly.
Postmaster stood up and almost shouted at Iqbal.
“What? Marathi? From Ernakulam? Addressed, you say, to the High Court Judge? Is this some kind of a joke, Iqbal?
And by the way, how do you know it is Marathi?”
Iqbal cleared his throat once again and spoke.
“Sir, I spent almost 4 years in Belgaum and was forced to learn Marathi. Yes sir, It is indeed has come from Ernakulam and addressed to Seetaramayya, the high court judge.
And sir,” Iqbal spoke haltingly, please see the image at the backside.
Post master held the envelope to light and observed exclaimed loudly.
There was a picture of a judge drawn on the backside of the envelope.
Postmaster held the envelope to light and observed that there was a single sheet of paper in it.
He contemplated what to do and realising that he has only few years of service left and don’t want take chance and get transferred at this age, he softened his voice and spoke to Iqbal.
“Ok. Let’s not take any chances. We don’t know what’s inside the envelope. Do one thing, you take the letter and deliver it to the judge, personally. Don’t put in the box they have kept outside. Ok.”
Iqbal nodded his head.
He went back to his seat, quickly sorted the letters and taking the letter addressed to the judge along with several other letters, left on his bike for distribution.
Judge Seetaramayya was not only famous in Karnataka but entire country; not even once, in his career of 20 years as judge, did his judgements ever went to supreme court for appeal.
The 55 year old Seetaramayya stood 6 feet tall in his socks and lawyers feared him. Very few ever spoke directly looking at him. Currently the judge was presiding over a case which was termed as Mysore Murder and the case was nearing judgement.
The Mysore Murder case was grabbing the headlines almost every day as it had Naveen Krishna, a young firebrand lawyer who had already torn the defense lawyer to pieces.
The case termed as open and shut case had the main accused, a gardener Mahadevappa who purportedly murdered a distant relative for money. Mahadevappa had not spoken a single word in his defense and the lawyer appointed by the government – Mahadevappa was poor to afford a lawyer of his own – tried every trick in the trade to make him provide something to defend but to no avail.
Naveen Krishna had proved in the court that the murder was hatched by Mahadevappa to avoid paying huge sum of money he had borrowed from the deceased. There were several witnesses that Naveen Krishna produced to support his theory.
Judge Seetaramayya finished his morning rituals and moved towards the dining table and took the newspaper to read while the cook got ready to serve the breakfast.
The security walked, stood near the entrance and spoke to the judge.
“Sir, Iqbal, the postman has come to deliver a letter addressed to you.”
Seetaramayya put the paper down, looked at security and spoke, irritation evident in his voice.
“What? Delivering a letter? You can collect and bring it to me. Why should he come and meet me?”
“Sir, Iqbal, I know him for several years, normally, gives me all the letters. But today, he is insisting that he wants to meet and deliver it to you personally. He says, it may be important.”
Judge Seetaramayya was more curious and less irritated after listening to the security.
He nodded his head and Iqbal was ushered in by the security.
Iqbal came inside and kept the envelope on the table and moved back, stood with his head down without saying anything.
Judge looked at the envelope and then looked at Iqbal and hesitatingly, took the envelope, turned it several times and looked questioningly at Iqbal.
Iqbal spoke in a low voice; hesitation evident.
“Sir, sorry to be bothering you so early in the morning. That letter addressed to you is written in Marathi. I was not sure whether you could read the language. So I came inside sir.”
“Marathi?” Judge spoke in astonishment and nodded his head, before speaking. “You are right. I can’t read Marathi. But, why would any one want to address a letter to me in Marathi?”
“Sir, the letter, as we can make it, has come from Ernakulam, Kerala and there is no from address.”
Iqbal said hesitatingly.
Judge looked at Iqbal with his eye brows raised and spoke.
“What? No from address? Ernakulam? What, is this some kind of joke or something.”
Iqbal cleared his throat and spoke.
“Sir, just below the post office stamp on the back side, there is picture.”
Judge snapped at Iqbal before turning the envelope in his hand.
Indeed, there was a picture which resembled a judge sitting in a court; the picture was very detailed.
Astonished, judge opened the envelope and removed a single sheet of paper.
The single sheet of paper had another sketch drawn in pencil and judge held it high and looked at it.
The picture was incomplete.
It had a large nose and few curly hairs on the head but no eyes or ears of a person; one could not make out whether it was man or woman.
Even as the annoyed judge was about to say something, Iqbal saw something written in small letters at the bottom of the page and spoke, haltingly.
“Sir, there is something written at the bottom. I can’t read it from here. If you don’t mind, can I have a look at it? The letters looks like Marathi to me.
Judge, looked a the bottom the paper and indeed, something was scribbled at the edge of the sheet of paper.
Without saying anything, Judge handed over the letters to Iqbal.
Iqbal saw the scribbling and spoke with astonishment on his face.
“Sir, it is written here in Marathi, “thamba” which means, wait.”
“What? Wait? Who the hell is the sender? This looks like some kind of joke. Some one seems to be playing pranks. Ok, Iqbal, you can leave now.” Said judge Seetaramayya.
Iqbal bowed and left without saying anything.
Judge, took the letter walked to the wall cupboard, opened the drawer and with a second thought put the letter in the drawer.
Judge finished his breakfast quickly and left for the court.
Iqbal got up and looked at the clock and realised that he would late for the work.
He drove his bike as fast as he could and was surprised to the see the post master standing near the door.
“Thank god, Iqbal. I thought that you too will not come today. Even that Sharath is absent today. Come quickly, today, I will help you in sorting the post. Auditors are coming next week and we don’t want a pile of pending letters”
Iqbal and the post master, started sorting the huge bundle of letters and after a while, Iqbal let out a loud sound from his mouth.
He was holding not one but letter, written in Marathi and addressed to the judge.
Post master heard the sound and lifted his head to look at Iqbal holding the letters, with astonishment and perhaps, fear on his face.
There was a deafening silence for quite some time.
It was post master who broke the silence.
“Same type of letter?”
Iqbal spoke in a voice barely audible.
“Sir, not one, but two. Yesterday, when judge opened the envelope, there was just one sheet of paper. Today also, as I can see, both the envelopes have one single sheet inside.
Post master just looked at Iqbal and two envelopes held in his hand and in a voice barely audible spoke to Iqbal.
“Do one thing. Today, don’t hand over the letters personally. Drop it in the box and come. We don’t know where will this lead. But we don’t want to be responsible in any way.”
Iqbal just nodded his head, tucked both the envelopes in his bag and quickly sorted the pending mails along with post master and left with the bang on his bike.
As he went near the judge’s residence, Iqbal feared the security person may see him. Luckily, for him, there was no security guard near the gate and Iqbal quickly dropped both the envelopes in the box and left quickly.
The security saw letters in the box when he came back after attending nature’s call and promptly brought it inside and kept it on the table along with newspaper.
Judge finished his daily ritual and prayer and sat down for breakfast and opened the news paper. After a while when he was looking for supplement, he observed the envelopes and turned them over.
It was a replica of the earlier envelope
Address written, he guessed, in Marathi and judge’s picture drawn behind and bore, Ernakulam post office stamp.
No from address.
Judge held both the envelopes in is hand contemplating what to do; he decided to put them in the drawer without opening.
He ate breakfast, got dressed, and left for the court.
The first case name was loudly called by the clerk. “Mysore Murder Case”
Smiling broadly, Naveen Krishna stood up and casually glanced at the jam packed court finally resting his eyes on the accused.
He turned towards judge and dramatically bowed and spoke.
“Sir, I have already produced all the witnesses who have been cross examined by my friend as well as produced all the evidences gathered in the Mysore Murder Case. It has been proved conclusively, that the accused Mahadevappa indeed murdered as he had no money to pay back the loan taken from the victim. As such, without wasting the valuable time of the court, may I request your good selves to please proclaim the accused as the murderer? Since the murder was done in cold blood without giving a chance to the victim to offer any resistance, I plead that maximum punishment under IPC Section 354 (%) of hanging may be awarded.
I conclude my arguments.
Thank you sir.”
Lawyer Rangayya, who represented the accused stood up and looking at Naveen Krishna once, turned towards judge, bowed and spoke.
“Sir, my friend has indeed produced several witnesses; however, not one of them happened to be an eye witness. The evidence produced are purely circumstantial. In fact, the purported murder weapon also has not been produced. Also, on the date and time on which the purported murder took place, as per the postmortem report, we have produced evidence to the effect that my client was in some other place and witnesses have concurred to this.
I therefore request your good selves to consider my client as innocent and acquit him.”
Judge looked at Mahadevappa and spoke slowly.
“Both sides have completed their arguments. Despite several chance given to the accused, he has remained silent. The court reserve next week, 15 of May for proclaiming the judgement.
The court is adjourned.”
As soon as Judge stood, everyone stood up and even judge started walking towards his cabin, lawyer Subbayya moved quickly and caught his eyes and spoke. “Sir, can I come and meet you in the cabin for 5 minutes, please?”
Judge, sitting in his cabin and sipping tea, look at Subbayya and spoke. “We have been acquainted for more thank 15 years and have interacted inside the court for hours. But, not even once, you have ever requested for a personal meeting. So? What’s happening?”
Subbayya cleared his throat and spoke.
“Sir, we all remain students in front of you. Your experience and wisdom shows through in every case you handle. Sir, there were few things I could not bring it to your notice inside the court with reference to the Mysore Murder case.
The accused, I have found out through my sources, though I don’t have any evidence to prove, seems to have worked in the farmhouse owned by prosecution lawyer, Naveen Krishna.
In itself, this is not a big thing. But, every effort made by my team to unearth information about the accused, they were thwarted some how, by people employed by Naveen Krishna giving room for suspicion. Why should he try to suppress information about the accused? What’s his interest in that? I am at once, surprised as well as worried.”
Judge looked at Subbayya and scratched his head, looked outside the window and spoke.
“So? What do you want from me?”
Subbayya hesitated and spoke. “sir, I just need another 15 days time to get more information on some of my suspicions. Hence, I request you to postpone judgement date by 15 days.
That will be a big help.”
“You could have asked this in the court itself? Right?” Asked judge, annoyance, evidence in is voice. “Also, this is a simple open and shut case. Why postpone? I think it is not necessary.”
Lawyer Ramayya understood that the meeting is over; he bowed and left.
Judge went home late as he spent better of the next 3 hours in the library.
He finished his dinner laid out by the cook.
It was customary for Judge Seetaramayya to send his wife away for few days just before the judgment of any case. She had gone to her parents place and their only son was studying post graduation in distant Mumbai.
Seetaramayya was alone, except for the cook and couple of servants including the security.
He was sitting on the chair next to a small table in his bed room when, suddenly he remembered the two envelopes he had kept it in the drawer in the morning.
He pushed the bell and when Narayan, the cook came, he asked him to bring the envelopes from the drawer.
Narayan brought the envelopes, kept it on the table and went.
Seetaramayya took out the knife and slit both the envelopes open and removed, two single sheet of papers from them.
He stood out when he saw the pictures drawn, again from pencil on the pages.
The first one was an improvement on the one he revived yesterday.
The human figure had eyes and nose. The profile picture also clearly indicated that it was a man.
He hurriedly took the second one and when he saw it, he exclaimed more loudly!
The second picture, again continuation of the earlier two, had far more clarity.
The picture, now in completed stage was that of man wearing, what appeared to be a black coat.
What made Seetaramayya exclaim so loudly was the face!
It bore un canny resemblance to some one whom the judge knew so well.
The smile and the perfect aristocratic nose, the thin moustache and last but not least, the dimpled chin!
When the judge’s eyes went to the bottom, he could clearly see the same inscription in the now familiar language, Marathi. Judge knew the words too well, it said, “thamba”
Judge shifted his eyes to the ears and exclaimed loudly once again!
The diamond stud in the ears appear to shine brightly, as if they were real!
The picture of a man wearing the black suit definitely resembled the prosecution lawyer, Naveen Krishna!
To be continued………..