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Arivazhagan Subbarayan

Drama Crime


4.1  

Arivazhagan Subbarayan

Drama Crime


The Fragrance Of Revenge

The Fragrance Of Revenge

33 mins 164 33 mins 164

It was raining. A small girl stood perfectly still in the garden, in the tightening embrace of the night, and allowed the rain beat into her skin. Being a pluviophile, she wanted to dance in the rain forever. But, she just stood still, allowing the droplets spread her all over, to just let her tears mingle with the heavy downpour. Suddenly, there was a loud scream with all the anguish in the world, came from the house. The little girl ran inside.

How can one escape from the cruelty of the dreams? Or nightmares? Or the dreams inside the dreams? It'll be always there to haunt, to torture and to rip Raghavi off her heart whenever she closes her eyes to take a nap. The dreams that took her to the horrendous past, that unleashed the memories that were buried in the depth was always following her like her own shadow. How can one avoid one's own shadow? A devilish face laughed at her, pulled a bulk of her mother's hair hitting hard on the wall nearby. It slapped her again and again and kicked her. Raghavi clung to her mom's waist. Her mother was frantically trying to save Raghavi from the beatings of the beast. Suddenly her mother stopped crying, her eyes were staring at the roof. The Satan spit, "shit!", kicked her again and left like a savage. 

Raghavi blinked open her eyes when the morning sun peeked through the window. She thought about the dream, thought about her life. She received the first punch from her father, the devil named Rudra Prakash when she was in her mother's womb. However her mother's strong uterus saved her from that demonic violence, but she ended in the hospital for a ruptured cyst in the ovary. There Raghavi was prematurely delivered and was kept in the incubator for fifteen days. Her devilish father with his diabolical mind was not only a villain to the family but also to the society at large. He was the head of a secret criminal organization that spread its tentacles over the whole district. She escaped from his father's violence at the age of ten after her mother succumbed to the brutal assault by that evil man. She ran, ran, ran and stopped in front of an orphanage. By hearing her story with empathy, the orphanage took care of her. She worked very hard, studied fervently and got her masters in journalism. 

Her thoughts were distracted by her ringing mobile. It was Sumanth. 

"Hi baby, good morning", she could sense his enthusiastic smiling face even from his voice!

"It's unfair to call at this hour on a Sunday", she wailed.

"Listen honey, I'm at Annapoorna. How about joining me for the breakfast?"

"l would love to, but, still I'm on my bed"

"Then, get ready. I will come over to your place and pick you up"

"That sounds great. Will be waiting for you my boy", she switched off her mobile and went to the bathroom.


           ***********


"What's your plan today?", asked Sumanth over their breakfast by looking at her with awe. 'how the hell she is loving me?' he was wondering with amazement! 

Her beautiful alluring eyes making Sumanth's heart skip a beat, turned slightly upwards and cast a smile over Sumanth. How the hell the eyes are smiling?

"And what's yours?", she pulled back a wisp of silky black hair behind her left ear. An aroma from her shampooed hair filled his nostrils.

He took a deep breath and was mesmerized in her fragrance lingering in the atmosphere. 

"Nothing specific, if you have any, I will go with it", announced Sumanth again looking at her smiling eyes and fluttering eye lashes. Though smiling, Sumanth could sense a sadness in the depth. The cruelties that were hurled towards her in the past, that wounded her, that were buried deeply in the crevices of the neuronal matrix could be seen reflecting in her eyes by those who new her well. 

"Again that dream?", Sumanth asked her with a worried concern. 

She calmly nodded her head.

"Did you find your father's hiding place?"

"Not yet. Today I am going to meet his closest aide in the town. He had returned from US yesterday only. He might be knowing his place"

"Is it necessary to meet your father? Why I am asking this is, because, you hate your father very much"

"Of course I hate him. I hate him because he killed my mother. He killed a lot of people who were his rivals. Even he killed a lot of innocent people!"

"Then why this meeting?"

"Because, I need to ask him, confront him, why he did such cruel things to my mother and other people", but, she didn't reveal the fact that she actually would be going to kill that devil.

"Is it really necessary?"

"At least, because of the meeting, I may get rid of my torturing nightmares"

"Do you want me to come with you to meet your father's aide?"

"No, I have to go alone. Then only he will disclose the hiding place of his boss. If he sees you, he may withhold the information"

"Take care then. These people are gangsters"

"He will not do any harm to me, once I show the scar over my right calf", her thoughts brought back the memories of how she got the scar there. When she was seven, her father's belt stung at her right calf as she was unknowingly in the place where he was talking business. He thought she was eavesdropping! At that age! 

"Once you return, tell me where your father is hiding", Sumanth paid the bill and gave a nice tip to the server.

   

          *************


Kalidas was reading the day's newspaper when the calling bell rang. He wondered who was calling him at this late morning hour, since he was not that much a likable person and he knew very few people in the town. He opened the door and saw a very beautiful girl. Her face seemed somewhat familiar to him. He couldn't ruffle his memory for the identification. He might or might not be knowing her. That girl entered into the hall even without his permission.

"Hello Miss..."

"Raghavi, I'm Raghavi"

"Whatever! Why are you here and why you entered into my house without my permission"

"Do you remember the incident which caused this scar?", she showed the scar on her right calf.

He was bewildered for a moment. Then he heard the little girl's scream with anguish in the distant past. 

"Oh my God! Is that you?", He was totally astonished.

"You didn't expect me here, did you?"

"Of course, what do you like to have? Coffee or tea?"

"I won't touch anything that has the shade of immorality"

"Wouldn't you even sit?"

"Standing is comfortable for me"

"Ok, what do you want from me?"

"I want to know where my coward father is hiding nowadays"

"Your father is not a coward!"

"Ok, he is the brave soldier who served for the nation. I accept. Where is he?"

Kalidas strolled towards the window in the hall and plucked a neem leaf from the tree which spread its branches there.

"I don't know"

"Look at my eyes and speak"

He hesitantly turned towards her and murmured, "Really, I don't know", with a pathetic look. 

"Okay, I believe you", she picked a pack of Cuban cigars on a table nearby and brandished it in front of his face. The cigars were for her father. He liked Cuban cigars very much. This guy bought them for him only.

"What are they? And from when did you started smoking?", She asked him with a stern stare.

"That's for me. I started smoking six months ago", he mumbled and again turned his gaze through the window.

"Bull shit! Cut your lies and tell me where he is"

"I don't know anything about your father. Please leave me alone", he was exasperated and sat on the couch.

"Ok, I will leave you now. But, I will come again", she yelled at him and walked out of the house slamming the door.

Kalidas thought for a moment. Her father, his boss was always nice to him. 

He thought of the old man’s joy, his happiness at the girl’s return. How his last days might be brightened. Kalidas could not deny him this!

He opened the door and called out, "Raghavi, please come inside"


        ***************

Raghavi called Sumanth, "At last, I found my father's hiding place"

"Where is it?", Sumanth enquired.

"It is deep inside the forest"

"What are you going to do?"

"I am heading there now"

"What, you are going alone into the forest?", Sumanth questioned with concern, "you don't want me to come along?"

"Don't worry, I will take care of myself"

"You should have told me before. At least, you send me the location, once you reached there"

"Ok, I will send it. Don't worry"

"Is this visit necessary? What are you going to do?"

"Just going there to ask a few questions. That will give me a peaceful sleep, that's all. Will send you the location once I reach there", she switched off her mobile. Deep down she knew well that what she would be going to do. She felt the knife in her handbag. She was keeping that with her to teach a lesson to the monster who tortured and brutally killed her mother. The beast should have his punishment and she would be going to show him the way to the hell, for the death only would make perfect and full atonement for his sins.

She turned left from the highway and drove through a muddy road for five kilometers. Then the road abruptly ended. She stopped her car and got down. She checked the google map. She had to go another five kilometers. She saw a narrow, rugged and a scarcely visible footpath on her right side leading nowhere. She trod purposely along it unaware of the vegetations on either sides, scratching and making red coloured streaks over her skin. She didn't care about the burning pain over the fresh red streaks, she didn't care about the aching legs! She walked and walked and walked until she came in front of a small house in the density of the woods.

She took her mobile and shared her location with Sumanth. She felt the knife once again, that was kept inside her handbag. She saw the watchman and called him. 


         ***************


Rudra Prakash is in his late sixties. It was two in the afternoon. He had his afternoon meals half an hour before. The cook Jayaram made a delicious meal today. It was a perfect hiding place for him. In his last endeavor, the police had a strong proof against him and started searching for him. It was seven years back. When they were all searching for him in so many countries, he had been hiding in this beautiful place. This place was known only to Kalidas. He won't utter a single word to anyone about this place even if his life would be challenged! He is such a loyal person to him. The cook Jayaram, the maid Rani and the watchman Venu are all well paid. They won't open their mouth to anyone.

He sat on a chair in his bed room and peered through the window. He sighed contentedly.

A sudden rain started, foggy and warm and behind it, a gentle gust blew through the open spaces of the verandah. Across a distant lake, through the haze, the trees shimmered like the ghosts.

He saw a beautiful girl, was enquiring something with the watchman. How the hell she is in this place? There was something familiar about her face. Suddenly, he remembered it! The girl had the appearance of the small woman he had tortured and killed years back. My God, she must be his daughter Raghavi! He yelled at the watchman through the window to let the girl in. His heart was beating fast. He felt a tremor in both his hands, not because of the fear, but, the overwhelming affection towards her. 'Why the hell I was so stupid and arrogant at those years?', he thought painfully. 

After a couple of minutes, she entered into his room.

"Oh my dear little girl...", He started towards her, but, stopped with bewilderment as Raghavi was brandishing a knife towards him.

"Stay there, don't come near to me"

"What? You are my daughter! Are you insane to kill your dad?"

"I'm sane enough to kill a man who killed my mom"

"That was an accident. I didn't deliberately do it", he took a step towards her.

"No!", she screamed, "Stay where you are, if you take another step forward, I will surely kill you! And what about the other killings you had done in the past?"

"You are like your mother. You won't kill anyone", he took another step towards her. 

She swung the knife towards him. It made a small cut on the skin over his forearm. In spite of the burning pain it caused, he grabbed her hand holding the knife, removed it gently from her hand and threw it away at the corner of the room.

"If you want to kill me, you are welcome to go ahead. But, first let me put a dressing over the wound", he took a first-aid kit from a drawer beside the bed and put a dressing over the wound by himself. Raghavi was silently watching this but did nothing.

"Ok, I'm ready now. You can go ahead with your killing"

She started weeping, "Why the hell you killed my mom", she managed to utter these words between the sobs, "you didn't even consider me as a small kid. See, what your belt did over my calf!", She showed the scar on her right calf. 

"I apologise for everything I did in the past. Sorry"

"Is merely saying 'sorry' enough for your sinful activities?"

"Then, what else you want me to do?"

"You go to the police and surrender. That's what I wanted"

"You want me to go prison at this age?"

"Yes, of course, you had done so many evil things"

"If I don't accept this, what will you do?"

"I will just tell them your hiding place, that's all, if you let me go alive from here"

"What the hell you are talking? You are my daughter!"

"Aha, what a statement from an wonderful man, who killed his wife"

"Ok, ok! Please don't excruciate me with your stabbing words. I will surrender on tomorrow. Will you call me 'dad' then?"

"You surrender first. Then I will think over it"

"At least stay with this poor dad tonight and have dinner with me, please", he begged.

Though she was not in the mood of staying there, she accepted it considering his age and tomorrow he will be going into the claws of the law, respecting her words. 

 "How did you know this place?"

"Your aide Kalidas told me. He brought some packets of Cuban cigars for you"

"I have to thank him", said Rudra Prakash and called Kalidas by his cellphone.

"Hi Das, thanks for everything. When did you return from US?"

"Two days back, boss"

"Stay away from the police"

"Okay boss"

"Das, I am with my daughter now"

"Be happy, boss"

"I am going to give all my wealth to her. Stay safe. Okay, bye!", he switched off the phone. Raghavi was not able to hear the other side of the conversation.

   

        ***************

The day dawned crisp and clear. The sun poured through the window. The first rays of the sun lit up the room and touched Raghavi's soft skin. She woke up and squeezed her bleary eyes. Last night she was not able to sleep well. With the different kinds of sounds in the surrounding forest it was not possible for her to close her eyes. Only after midnight, she was able to slowly drift into a light slumber. She got up from the bed, went into the bathroom, brushed, washed her face and came out. She thought about going to her father's room and take a look whether he was sleeping there or just escaped. With that thought in her mind, she trudged to his room and tried to open the door. It was unlocked. It just opened. Once she saw over the bed, her stomach started churning. Pressing one hand over her stomach and the other over her mouth, she ran to the bathroom. There she puked the whole content of the undigested yesterday night's meal. She felt a little dizzy. By sitting over the edge of the bed, she calmed her nerves slowly and gained her composure. Then she again walked towards her father's room.

Rudra Prakash was lying on his bed with a knife penetrated over the right side of his neck. His lifeless eyes stared up from his position over the bed. Well, staring was beyond him now. A small pool of dark red blood had been collected around his neck and over the bed. There was no need to check for a pulse. There could be none. The knife seemed severed both the jugular and the carotid. 

She noticed the knife. It is the same knife she brought with her in her handbag! My God, how is that even possible? Her hands were trembling. Her body was shaking. Her heart seemed racing inside her chest with imminent rupture. She again felt dizzy. She went to the dining hall and gulped down a glass of water. She calmed herself again and tried to think what to do next. The watchman, the cook and the maid were not even in her sight. Before calling the police, she wanted Sumanth to know this. Probably, he may give her an ideal solution.

"Oh, Sumanth! I'm in a deep mess......", she told the whole story with a quiver.

"Be there. Don't go anywhere and don't touch anything. I will be coming there. Now, you call the police first"


        **************


Inspector Gangadharan and his team reached the spot sharply at nine thirty in the morning. He was fifty eight years old and only there are three days to go for his retirement. He was well built, strong and muscular even at this age.

He saw the man who was lying lifeless on the bed. The knife seemed severed both the carotid and the jugular. 

"Shiv, what do you think about it?",he asked the Sub inspector Shiv Kumar.

"The murderer might have stabbed him at the neck, severing both carotid and jugular which might have instantly caused death", Shiv replied.

"Do you think so? Note the amount of blood over the bed. It is not that much of volume, when the carotid and the jugular, both are cut"

"What do you mean by that sir?", Shiv asked curiously.

"The man must have died even before the knife struck his neck. The knife might have been struck only after the heart stopped. That's the only reason for this small pool of blood", Gangadharan continued, "see the bent nose! That happened only when someone smothered him by a pillow. See that pillow thrown over there. Bring it. You can see a small patch of blood on the pillow"

Shiv took that pillow and noted a small red patch in the center, "yes sir, you are right",he said incredulously. 

The room was a large one. There were two windows. One facing the entrance of the house and the other on the right side. Both the windows were closed but not padlocked. He opened the window facing the entrance. He was able to see the watchman's cubicle from there. Then he opened the window on the right side of the house. There were lots of vegetations forming a dense bush. A strong branch of a neem tree touched the window.

He examined the door. There was a key hung on a nail near the inside lock.

"And one more thing! To smother a heavyset man like Rudra Prakash, one should have a well built and an athlete physique", they both came out of the room.

"Did the constable inform the forensic people?"

"Yes sir, they are on the way"

Gangadharan stared at the small gathering around him and asked Raghavi," I think you are the one who called the station?"

"Tell me what happened?"

  She told about everything, except about the knife that was struck at Rudra Prakash's neck which was brought there by her.

   "When did you know this place?"

   "On yesterday only"

   "How did you know?"

  Raghavi was about to tell him about Kalidas. He had just come to India. He became a good person now. So, she thought against it and told, "I called his aide, Kalidas in the US. He told me this place", hiding the truth that he is in India now. she thought they won't bother about a person in the US. 

   "Exactly at what time you saw him dead?"

   "At about seven thirty"

   "You called us at nine o'clock only. Why you took about an hour and a half to call us"

   "First, I was not able to compose myself. I felt dizzy for fifteen minutes. Then I have to go to my room to have some water. I sat on my bed for another fifteen minutes. Then, I don't know what to do. I called my fiance for his opinion. Then, I called all the servants to be here when you people arrive"

  Sumanth arrived at that time. Raghavi introduced him to the inspector.

   "Was the door locked inside?"

   "No, it wasn't. It just opened when I touched!"

   "So, the person must be well known to Rudra Prakash", Sub inspector Shiv weighed in.

   "Or, it might be a distraction created by the murderer by keeping the door opened", Gangadharan opined.

   He turned towards the watchman, "what's your name", this man is having the necessary stamina for the killing, he thought.

   "Venu sir"

   "Where do you live?", There was something shady about this guy.

    "We all three", pointing Rani and Jayaram along with him, "live in separate houses which is about hundred meters down through the woods. Our boss constructed those houses for us"

   "Come, let's talk something personally", Gangadharan dragged the watchman along with him to the verandah, "Did you hear any sound during the night?"

   "No, sir"

   "Where were you throughout the night?"

   "I was in my cubicle sir, I was watching a movie in my cell phone sir"

   "At what time you went to sleep?"

   "I shouldn't sleep during the night sir. That's the order of the boss"

   "Did you see anyone in your boss's room yesterday night?"

  "No sir"

  "When did you last see your boss?"

  "I saw him through the window, when that girl was shouting and swinging knife towards the boss"

   "A knife?"

   "Yes sir, that girl shouted'go to the police and surrender or I will kill you' at the boss, sir"

   "At what time?"

   "Approximately four in the evening sir"

   "Then what happened?"

   "I thought the girl might have inflicted a wound on the boss. He screamed a little. Then, the boss somehow managed to remove the knife from the girl and both talked for a while. So, I didn't move from the cubicle"

   "By the way, Venu, do you have a spare key to your boss's room?"

   "No sir. Why should I?"

   "Okay, you can go now. And tell the maid Rani to come and see me"

  "Sir, the forensic people finished their work and waiting for your instructions", the constable announced. 

  "Tell them to go ahead. I'm busy with the enquiry here", he continued, "and tell the people to shift the body to the mortuary for autopsy", Gangadharan instructed.

  The maid Rani arrived.

   "What are your duties in this house?"

   "Cleaning, washing and small routine chores of buying groceries and vegetables from the town"

   "Right, when did you last see your boss?"

   "When I was serving dinner to him and the girl at eight in the evening, sir"

    "Did you notice the conversation between them?"

   "The boss told the girl that he would be going to shift all the properties in her name. For that, the girl replied that she didn't want any property in her name. She wanted all the properties in the name of an orphanage in which she was brought up"

  "Where did you stay during the night?"

   "In a small room under the staircase sir"

   "Did you hear any unusual sounds"

   "No sir"

   "Venu told me that he was having a spare key to Rudra Prakash's bedroom. Do you also have one?"

   "No sir, only Venu is having the spare key. He told me that the boss had given him the extra key in case of emergencies"

  'why the hell Venu lied about the spare key?' Gangadharan wondered.

   "Okay, you can go now. And tell the cook Jayaram to come and see me"

  Rani retreated with relief. 

  It was already one in the afternoon. After finishing the enquiry, he is having a lot of work to do. Since, his retirement is just three days away, he wanted to finish this case before that.

   Jayaram arrived.

  "When did you last see your boss?"

   "I saw him and the girl at eight in the evening, when Rani was serving dinner to them"

  All the other things he said was exactly as told by the maid Rani.

   "Ok, you can go now. By the way, do you have a spare key to your boss's bedroom?"

   "No sir"

   "Do the other people have the spare key?"

   "I don't know sir", 'he became cautious', Gangadharan thought.

   "Where did you stay during the night?"

   "In the store room beside the kitchen sir"

   "Did you hear any unusual sounds"

   "No sir"

   "You can go now"

   Gangadharan turned towards the SI," Shiv, bring the girl and the watchman with you. We have to do some more enquiry"

   "Do you have any doubt on them?"

   "First, we can rule out the girl because the death was due to asphyxia due to smothering. Anyhow, we have to confirm by autopsy. The girl couldn't have done it alone"

   "What if she had help from outside?"

   "You mean her fiance?", Gangadharan said,"The boy doesn't look like a killer. Moreover, the girl forced her dad just to surrender to the law. She doesn't even want his money. That's what all the three said"

   Sub inspector Shiv brought the girl first.

   "Why did you lie?", Gangadharan asked with a stern look on his face.

   "I didn't lie anything, sir"

   "You didn't tell about the knife you brought with you?"

   "I just thought it was unnecessary, sir"

   "Yesterday, you harmed your dad with that knife!"

   "I just brandished with it to keep him away from me. But, he grabbed my hand. He himself injured his skin"

   "Is it the same knife that penetrated his neck?"

  "I don't know that. How could I?"

  "If the knife has your finger prints on it, you may have some problem. You can go now. But, you should be in the town till the case is closed. You should come to the station whenever we call you"

   She left with a simple, "thank you sir."

   Gangadharan told the constable to bring him a glass of water and drank it. The day was hot and humid. His stomach was craving for food.

   "Shiv, are there any CCTV cameras around the house"

  "There were two. One in the front and the other in the back. The sides are covered with dense vegetations. I thought that's why they didn't cover the areas. I saw the footages. They showed nothing"

   "The watchman is having a spare key to his boss's room. No employer will give his room's key to the servants. What do you say, Shiv?"

   "You are probably right, sir"

   Gangadharan turned towards Venu,"ah, there you are!", He continued with his rigid voice,"do you have a spare key to his room?"

   "Ye.....s, si....r!", He slurred.

  The maid Rani might have alerted him!

   "Then, why did you lie?"

   "So...rr....y sir"

   "The court will not pardon you, just for your 'sorry' only"

  He remained silent.

   "How did you get the key? Don't tell that your boss gave you the key"

   "Sir, I...I....I... made it"

  "You made a duplicate key to his room? For what? To kill your boss?"

   "I won't harm even a fly. I...I...I... need to steal some money from his locker for the treatment of my daughter"

   "By simply making a duplicate key to his room, how will you open his locker?"

   "S...ir, I kept a small camera in the wall clock facing the locker, to know the method of opening it"

  "How brilliant! You should have joined the police force. What do you say, Shiv", he chuckled, then remembering something, he asked with an expectation,"is the camera still inside the wall clock? Then it might have recorded the murderer"

  "Sorry sir, I removed the camera the day before yesterday. When I heard the rumors about the boss giving all the money to his daughter, I stole a chunk yesterday night itself"

  Gangadharan was disappointed a little.

  "When did you steal the money?"

  "At about one o'clock in the morning"

  "Did you notice your boss?"

  "Yes sir. He was in a deep sleep"

  "Are you sure?"

  "Yes sir, he was snoring at that time"

  "And you didn't kill Kim?"

  "Yes sir, God promise"

  "How did the maid know that you were having the spare key?"

  "I told her in advance that the boss gave a spare key to me for emergency purposes"

  "Where did you keep the money?"

  "I went to my house by walk and kept the money there"

  "When did you return?"

  "At about four in the morning"

So, the watchman was not in his post for three solid hours!

  "Why did you take so much time to return?"

Venu started scratching his head and said foolishly,"sir, I am a family man"

  "okay, okay, If I find any single lie in your statement, I will drag you to the station. Keep it in your mind. Now shoot"

   "Shiv, post three constables here to secure the this premise"

    

       ****************


   Gangadharan finished his lunch in the station and called the SI.

  "Shiv, are the forensic and autopsy reports ready?"

  "Yes sir, I will bring it to you"

  The forensic report was not that much helpful. It showed all the four people's finger prints and Rudra Prakash. As expected, Venu's finger prints were present over the locker handle and the girl's finger prints were present in the knife. 

  Autopsy report showed the cause of death was asphyxia due to smothering and the time of death was around one to two in the morning. That excludes the girl Raghavi from the scene.

  Suddenly, Gangadharan asked,"Shiv, we are thinking only about the people in the house. Not thinking the possibility of an outsider involvement!"

   "Yes sir"

  "How will an outsider enter into the house avoiding the cameras?"

   "Through the right side or via the left side of the house!"

   "Yes, absolutely. So, come, let's take a look at the sides of the house"

   They again drove to the area. They parked the jeep at the end of the dirt road. Before walking down the footpath, Gangadharan said, "Shiv, wait! Let's search for some more tyre marks here"

  First, he saw the tyre mark of a small sedan. That must be the girl Raghavi's car. Then, there were the tyre marks of a bike. The girl's fiance had come by a bike. Then, the tyre marks of their jeep. They searched for more tyre marks. About hundred meters from where they parked their jeep, he saw an another pair of tyre marks going about ten meters into the woods. He kneeled down, took an inch tape from his pocket, and measured it's width. It was about 240 mm. 

    He straightened up and said to the SI,"Shiv, our man might have come by a SUV or by a MPV, not by a sedan", he continued,"the tread width of the SUVs and MPVs range between 205 and 235mm. Give and take 5mm for the mud slide in the edges. The vehicle must be a Scorpio or an Innova!"

   He saw an another different tyre marks on the opposite side, again into the woods. He measured that also. The width of that tread mark was 210mm. That was not much of a

difference.'Those marks might have been created when the man was returning back. That's why they were present in the opposite side', Gangadharan thought.

   "Ok, let's go to the house and take a look"

   They treaded along the narrow footpath to the house. When they reached the house the time was four thirty in the evening. Since, it was summer, the sunlight was still bright. The constables posted there saluted them. They nodded their heads and went to the right side of the house first. That's the side where Rudra prakash's bedroom is situated in the first floor. Gangadharan was able to see some faint shoe marks amongst the vegetations. 

   "I'm going to climb the neem tree to reach his bedroom", Gangadharan announced.

   "Sir, you wait here. I will go up", Shiv volunteered. 

   "Ok, then put on your gloves, take two or three containers. You may find some hair fibres or blood stains of the person who climbed the tree"

   Shiv climbed over the tree. The rough barks of the tree scratched his skin and gave some bruises. 

   "Sir, i can see two hair fibres"

  "Okay, take them and put into the container"

  "I'm not able to see any blood stain, sir"

   "Okay, no problem. Come down", Gangadharan ordered.


        ****************


   Once they were inside their jeep, Gangadharan asked, "Shiv, what are the evidences we have with us?"

   "Only two hair fibres, sir", Shiv said innocently, for which Gangadharan had a good laugh.

   "We know the time of death was between two and three in the morning. And the vehicle may be a SUV or a MPV. There's a signal on this highway about twenty kilometers from here, near the town. There were no side roads in the stretch between the signal and this dirt road. If we know the SUVs and MPVs that crossed between one and three in the morning, we can easily find out that particular car"

   "You are right sir"

  They both went to the traffic control section and asked for the necessary footage.

   There were about twelve cars in the designs they searched. Three Innovas, two Scorpios, three Cretas, two Fortuners and two Boleros.

   "Shiv, what will a man do after committing a crime?"

   "If he is an amateur, he will straightly go to the safety of his house, sir", Shiv replied,"If he is an old hand, he may go to a bar to have a drink or he will indulge in some other pleasures"

   "Yes, you are right. First, let's consider our man is an amateur, so, after finishing his job in the woods, he might have returned within two hours. So, let's give a two hours time frame. Considering the time of death, let's search the cars returning in the time frame between two-thirty to four-thirty. If we find any, he is our man"

   They both nervously saw the footage. They are now nearing the culprit. The end of the case. After that, he may retire peacefully. 

   Suddenly, Shiv shouted, "sir, see that Scorpio! The same car that went two hours back. He noted the number plate. We caught that guy sir", Shiv jumped with joy. 

   "At what time the car reached the signal?"

   "Four-fifteen, sir"

   "Okay, find out the name and address of the owner"

   After twenty minutes when Gangadharan saw the name of the person who owned the car, he was overwhelmed with surprise. It was really a bolt out of the blue!


        ***************


Gangadharan and Shiv, both stood in front of the house of the person who owned the car. The car was parked in the portico. They noticed the thick layer of mud covered over the outer surface of the wheels. Gangadharan pressed the calling bell. The door was opened. Sumanth appeared at the door, surprised by seeing the inspector.

"Oh, please come in sir", he opened the door widely to let them in,"please be seated"

"It's a nice house, Mr. Sumanth", Gangadharan commented.

"What do you both like to have? Coffee or tea?"

"Just a glass of water please"

"Ma, please bring two glasses of water"

A lady in her late fifties brought two glasses of water on a tray.

"She is my mom sir. Ma, he is inspector Gangadharan and he is SI Shiv Kumar", he introduced them to his mom. 

Her mom welcomed them with a smile and namaskar. They both reciprocated with the same.

"Where is your father Sumanth?", Gangadharan asked.

"He is no more sir"

"I'm Sorry"

"It's okay sir"

"You two only are living in this house?"

His mother started in a trembling voice, "seven years back...."

"Ma, okay. Please don't start. They are our guests"

His mother wiped her eyes, said 'sorry' to them and disappeared into the house.

"Sumanth, what did your mom try convey?"

"It's nothing sir"

"You better tell me now"

"Did you see this photo?", he pointed one on the nearby table,"that was my sister", he said in a quivering voice, "a fiend shattered her"

"What happened?"

"She was raped and murdered at the age of sixteen!"

"Did the police catch the culprit?"

"They were damn sure about the person who did that evil thing. But, they didn't have any proof to incriminate him"

"Who was he?"

"You won't believe! That devil was Rudra Prakash!"

Gangadharan and Shiv exchanged glances.

"So, you went to his place yesterday night, climbed over the tree, entered into his room and killed him as revenge?"

"For the first three parts of your question, my answer is yes. And for the last part, my answer is no. I didn't kill him"

"But, you went there to kill him?"

"Yes, I would have killed him, if somebody else didn't!"

"Are you telling us the truth?"

"Yes, of course, If you want to incriminate me in this crime, I won't resist. I will happily go to the prison for the guy who killed that bastard"

"Did your fiancee know this?"

"No, she didn't know this. We are in love for the past three years. Six months back only, she told me the truth that the devil was his biological father. Before that, I thought she was an orphan and was raised in an orphanage. That's what she told me. But, one thing is sure. She detested that barbarian as much as I despised him"

"When did you know his hiding place?"

"Yesterday afternoon, when Raghavi shared the location"

"What did you see in his bedroom?"

"As you told, I climbed over the tree, went inside, saw the devil lifeless on the bed with a knife penetrated in his neck. So, I just came out without touching anything"

"Ok, we believe you at least for now. But, we will come if necessary. Don't go anywhere", Gangadharan ordered.

"Whatever you say, sir"


      ******************


Gangadharan and Shiv, both climbed into the jeep. 

"What's next, sir?", Shiv asked, "We came to the starting point again"

"We missed something, Shiv!",Gangadharan said with a deep thought, "let's again go to the traffic control section"

When they entered that section, an old friend hailed him, "Hi Gangadharan, how do you do? Retiring in three days ah?"

"Yeah, by the way, how is your father?"

"Oh, he is fighting with Alzheimer's. He is with me here only. But, still he thought he was in my brother's house at US"

  Suddenly, something snapped in Gangadharan's mind.

'Oh my God, how I missed this', "Shiv, come fast", they both rushed into the traffic section. 

"Ok, let's see the footages.

Suppose, if an experienced criminal committed a crime, what will he do after finishing his work?"

"He may go to bar and have drink or indulge in some other pleasurable activities"

"If such a person involved in this crime, when will he return?"

"It depends on the availability of pleasures nearby"

"Ok, there is a bar and a resort about fifteen kilometers beyond the muddy road to Rudra Prakash's house"

"So, he might have gone to the bar in the resort after finishing his job"

"So, we have to look for all the SUVs and MPVs that goes through the signal in the time frame between one and three in the morning. Do you remember we noticed another tyre mark on the left side of the dirt road that measured about 210mm? That must be another SUV or a MPV. So, we have to look for those cars only"

"You mean all the SUVs and MPVs that crossed the signal and speeding ahead in the highway?"

   "Yes"

   "We counted already. The same twelve cars"

"Now, let's go to the resort and verify the CCTV footages there"

They entered the resort and asked for the footages.

"Shiv, it took us half an hour to reach the resort from the signal. So, we have to look for vehicle that took more than one hour to reach the resort"

"There were only five out of the twelve vehicles that reached the resort within thirty minutes, sir"

"Others might be going straight. Let's us see if anyone came after one hour"

They waited.

Suddenly, a Creta appeared on the screen exactly ninety minutes after crossing the signal.

"Look at the number plate and get his name and address. He is our guy"

After ten minutes, Shiv handed him a paper in which the person's name and the address were written.

 Gangadharan saw the paper. A cryptic smile crept over his lips. The person was exactly whom he thought.

"Did the name ring any bells? Shiv?"

"I don't understand, sir"

Shiv, how many people knew Rudra Prakash's hiding place?"

"The watchman Venu, cook Jayaram, the maid Rani, his daughter Raghavi and Sumanth"

"You forgot one more person", Gangadharan smiled,

"And this is it!"

"I don't know, sir. Who is he?"

"Shiv, did you forget the name of Rudra prakash's aide, his daughter told?"

"Yes sir, but, she told that he was at US!"

"Come on, let's see whether he is at US or in India"


        ***************


It was eight in the evening. They both stood in front of Kalidas's house. They brought two more constables with then to secure the backdoor. He couldn't be taken lightly. He is a trained hardcore criminal.

Gangadharan pressed the calling bell. The door opened. Kalidas appeared at the door. Immediately, he was caught and handcuffed. He was brought to the station and locked up.

"Why did you kill Rudra Prakash?"

"I didn't"

"We have so many cases on you with lots of evidences. You can't escape prison. I'm asking out of curiosity. That's all. If you don't want to tell, no problem", Gangadharan started to leave. 

"I will tell you", began Kalidas, "I was very much loyal to Rudra Prakash. He often used to tell that he would give all the money to me after few more years. But, when his daughter arrived, he changed his mind. It was my mistake to send her there. She was not interested in the money. That's why I sent her to her father. But, Rudra Prakash betrayed me"

"How do you know that he betrayed you?"

"He told me after thanking me for guiding her daughter to him. He was very much Happy about giving his whole wealth to her. He just forgot me. He just forgot everything he said to me. That's when I decided to finish him", he finished with a question, "how will you incriminate me in this case?"

"We found two hair fibres on a branch of the tree near your boss's room. If the DNA matches yours and that surely will, you are finished"

"Thanks a lot for sharing the information"

"First, you smothered him. Then why you stabbed him again in the neck?"

"To ensure his death!"

"What a nice job!", Gangadharan replied with a yawn, "Shiv, take care of this fellow", he instructed and left to his house.


         **************


Sumanth asked Raghavi over the breakfast, "When will you marry me?", She was wearing a violet coloured saree with a perfectly matching blouse, high heels, with her black hair pulled back and secured in a pony tail. Her magnetic attractive eyes looked huge and full.

Raghavi blushed a little. Her soft cheeks turned rose and added more beauty to the already beautiful face. Her smile was captivating. Her movements were graceful. Sumanth was totally mesmerized by her beauty. 

"What about next month?", Raghavi cooed. 

"This must be the happiest moment in my life", Sumanth jumped with joy.

   


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