I was always fascinated by detectives; one day I got a chance to become one. My friend thought her boyfriend, Riaz, held some secrets from her and she wanted me to find out. I took it as a mission.
I dropped at Riaz’s place under the pretext of planning a vacation. She had told me that he would have a hard time saying no and that was his weakness. She was right.
While we talked, I observed his room – it smelled sweaty, the pens were not on the pen stand, half-eaten food lying on the table, and couch cover shriveled. He was always known to be organized; something was wrong. My doubt was further confirmed when I saw some cigarette butts on the ashtray and tip of a beer bottle under the table.
We selected a place and began searching for details on our phone. At that point, I coughed and asked for some warm water. He went to the kitchen; that was my time. I took his phone, still loading hotel information, and searched for his call logs.
What I saw next startled me. He had talked to his family members excessively this week and mostly his mother: around eighty-five calls this week. “Well, which bachelor calls there family so much,” I thought. There was another number saved as Jatin Rai, whom he had called a good number of times. His messaging apps were locked. I kept the phone back in position.
I tiptoed towards the kitchen. He was in an awkward position: he held his head and rested his elbows on the slab; the water boiled vigorously at the side. I let him be and walked back. The books I noticed lay in the corner untouched for days. The windows mostly shut; curtains closed and the light switched on while it was broad daylight outside.
Riaz came with two cups of tea, some biscuits and a glass of water. I thanked him. I could now notice the dark circles under his eyes. He looked thinner than usual. “Would he be sick?” I thought.
I gulped down the water. Then sipped the tea: sugar was missing in it. I didn’t say anything.
“Can I use your computer, my phone is dead? We are close, it is better if I continue my search,” I insisted. He said, “Sure and unlocked the system.” The screen faced opposite to him. I checked the playlist: mostly sad songs. Searched for the browser history – it was cleared but a browser tab was open. It was an article on depression. I looked at him. He was diligently typing on the phone while the tea lost its steam.
There was a file on the desktop. I was a medical report: it confirmed cancer. I scroll down – it had his mother’s name and doctor’s signature - Jatin Rai. I shut down the system.
I felt heartbroken for him but couldn’t confront him as well. I spent some time with him and shared some laughter. As I left he said, “Thank you for coming. It felt great.”
I smiled back and said, “Take care!”