The Missing Jewellery
The Missing Jewellery
Disclaimer: The author has grown up reading detective novels and thrillers. The following story is the result of his inspiration although it is a fictional work. Any similarity whatsoever with the content and characters with any other work is purely coincidental and unintentional.
There was a knock on the door. The doorbell was answered by the domestic help and the visitor was ushered in the study. The visitor introduced himself as Ashutosh. He had come for help to the private investigator Indranil. There was another occupant in the study who was Police officer Rohit.
Indranil was the younger son of Dr. Banerji, a renowned heart surgeon. Indranil himself also was a doctor by qualification. His passion was forensic sciences. Police officer Rohit was the brother in law of Indranil's elder brother. Rohit, same age as Indranil, stayed in the same house with Indranil and as a result were fast friends. Recently they had become professional colleagues. Rohit had witnessed the analytical skills of Indranil and therefore motivated him to solve some of his sticky cases. After achieving success in few of the cases Indranil's credentials were established in the Police circles as well as to the outside world due to the media coverage. Rohit was there to motivate him always and with his efforts Indranil was now a professional private investigator.
Ashutosh wanted Indranil to solve a case concerning his family. His father had died recently at a ripe old age leaving behind a family legacy in gold jewellery having a weight nearly one kilogram. Ashutosh and his two brothers were at their wits end where their father had left behind the gold. So he wanted that Indranil should help trace the gold jewellery for them.
Indranil did some mental calculations and finally said that soon he would call on Ashutosh to get the details of the case. Soon Indranil went to visit Ashutosh at his house. He lived in a modest middle class quarters. Ashutosh narrated his story. He was the second among three brothers. His elder brother Bhabatosh who used to stay away for so long due to his job had recently retired and returned to live in the parental home. Bhabatosh had started a hardware business which he and his son managed. The younger brother Paritosh lived with the parents. He was a medical representative.
Ashutosh continued with the story. He was his parents favourite but as he had married without his parents' consent, he had to move out of the family home and live separately with his wife and kids.
His father had not left behind any will. There was no succession plan in his personal documents and neither did he tell his wife before dying. But Ashutosh's father had given his mother Girija the power of attorney to run his estate. Before passing away Ashutosh was called by his father when he was handed over an old holy book the epic Ramayana. This book was constantly read by his father and was his prized possession. This was the only inheritance he received. He further continued saying that he felt his brothers feeling deprived of the inheritance were suspicious that the secret to the gold jewellery lay in this holy book Ramayana. They had even demanded to get hold of the book but Ashutosh had resisted handing it over. Due to this his brothers became his enemies and constantly kept Ashutosh family under observation. Indranil seeked permission to use the book for a few days and took leave. Before leaving Indranil had a hunch that he was being observed by unknown people.
However, Indranil bade good bye and moved out carrying with him the old volume of Ramayana. As soon as he had left the house and turned the corner of the street from where the house was not visible then Indranil felt something amiss. A bike carrying two helmeted men came dangerously close and the pillion rider lunged forward to snatch the book from Indranil's hand. Thanks for being alert, Indranil made the attackers attempt unsuccessful. On the contrary, Indranil swung his hand with the heavy volume and hit the snatcher's head squarely. Momentarily the bike got dis balanced and then quickly regaining composure zoomed away and vanished. Indranil called Ashutosh and updated the incident.
On reaching his house, Indranil met Rohit who was going out in his police vehicle to his outpost. Rohit came to know of the attack and assured he would look into the matter. Indranil examined the Ramayana thoroughly while sitting in his study. He found no clue of any jewellery kept hidden anywhere.
The next day Rohit accompanied Indranil to the parental house of Ashutosh. The vehicle at the disposal of Rohit generally comes handy for Indranil for such purposes. It was a big two storied house with many rooms. There was a porch and higher floor had big surrounding balcony. At the entrance of the house they were accosted by a young man who seemed a trifle rough and impolite even though Rohit was in full police uniform. Because people tend to be respectful of uniformed personnel. He introduced himself as Bhabatosh 's son and countered to Indranil that they must have come upon his uncle's Ashutosh behest. He flatly countered that they had been cheated by his uncle and all the jewellery was usurped by Ashutosh. An elderly man hearing a commotion came forward and introduced himself as Bhabatosh and ordered his son to keep quiet. Bhabatosh wanted to know why Indranil had come here accompanied by Police.
Indranil told Bhabatosh that his brother Ashutosh had hired him to help solve the mystery of the missing jewellery. As a result, he had come to find out the facts and was being accompanied by Officer Rohit, a friend.
' So you are the agents of Ashutosh and are working for him. Why should we cooperate with you' retorted Bhabatosh. Indranil was mentally prepared for this hostile response. Rohit retorted that as dutiful citizens they must help the law to come to the conclusion of the mystery of the missing jewellery and to ensure that there was no foul play. Then immediately a younger voice intervened saying that it was a family matter and outsiders should not meddle in it. This voice was of the younger brother Paritosh.
Hearing the commotion an elderly lady called out loudly from an easy chair and wanted to know what was going on. Indranil and Rohit introduced themselves and told her the reason for them being there. The lady responded by saying that she was the mother of the three warring brothers and widow of their father Santosh. Paritosh was visibly angry and called out to his mother and told her not to tell anything to the outsiders. He said that Ashutosh had betrayed the family trust and appointed outside agents to solve a family dispute. ' He has no right to the family legacy as he had broken the family trust by marrying against the family practices and therefore had no right to any inheritance', Paritosh said.
' Whatever fortune is lying here is completely ours and would be shared between us two brothers', said Paritosh. His mother Girija then intervened telling him to keep quiet for now and listen to what this gentleman wanted to say. She then beckoned Indranil to come near and say whatever he had to say.
Indranil then told Girija that her second son Ashutosh had appointed him to trace out the family gold jewellery which their father had possessed and find out to whom actually he had bequeathed and why. Bhabatosh and Paritosh then quipped in sadly that their father had left them with only two wooden jewellery boxes each as inheritance whose contents were few little rounded stones. They were visibly angry and disheartened saying even after taking good care of their father in his advanced age he had shown so much ungratefulness towards them.
' However, the gold jewellery is our property and will be shared between us only', chorused Bhabatosh and Paritosh. Indranil seeing that he was not being able to make any headway in the investigation asked Rohit to help maintain peace and silence. Rohit using his policing authority ordered everyone to shut up and cooperate in the investigation. He ordered that everyone would be questioned separately and they should leave the room immediately except for the elderly lady. Indranil also said that to trace the gold jewellery successfully every one should give a helping hand.
Then Indranil started his question answer sessions with the matriarch Girija. Girija then began with the story. Her husband Santosh was a very innovative and interesting person. He used to be always learning some new thing and apply them in daily life. He used to always talk in riddles and give out tasks to all of the family in the form of puzzles. Everyone would be tensed and apprehensive about what the new trick would be.
Very recently Santosh was not happy with his eldest and youngest sons. Because they had been eyeing this house of his and were influencing him to hand over the property to the real estate promoters and developers. Because in this way they would get a huge some of money which they could share amongst themselves. Only as Ashutosh was living separately he was out of this extortion. So initially Ashutosh had earned the wrath of Santosh by marrying according to his own will was later exonerated to some extent. But Santosh wanting to pardon Ashutosh could not fully redeem it. However in his innovative style of functioning had gifted his favourite book, the Ramayana to him. Through this gifting he probably had indicated the secret to the family treasure of the gold jewellery. But only an ingenious mind like Santosh could decipher the secret. After completing her statement Girija said that her husband feared that after his death his two sons would throw his wife Girija out. To avoid this he had secretly taken help from an advocate friend and gifted this house to her making her the soul owner till as long as she lived. Only recently his sons had come to know the true owner of this house. Due to this and being deprived of the family heirloom they had become violent and angry and wanted to extract their pound of flesh.
Indranil then moved on to hear Bhabatosh and Paritosh 's version of the story. Both seemed very agitated and angry at being deprived of the family goodies that could have a significant effect on their lifestyles. They were very angry with the way their father had seemingly deprived them. They showed the jewellery boxes which had the rounded pebbles in them received as family heirlooms. They both had deep grudges against their brother Ashutosh saying that he was a disgrace to the family due to his marriage still he was considered eligible to receive family inheritance whereas he should have been totally ignored. Both brothers were of the view that the clue to the whereabouts of the jewellery lay in the Ramayana. They said that they had reasoned with Ashutosh to share the Ramayana with them and receive his share of the treasure but he had refused to part with it. The reason they were very annoyed with Ashutosh. They further informed that their late father had taken to art and drawing at an advanced age.
Paint brush, easel and other accessories were bought for this and for few days he kept on painting feverishly. Some of his works are decorating the walls they said. Indranil glanced at the paintings and found them intriguing. They said that their father had even started learning to use a desktop computer. He had created his personal mail Id and from his email he had sent a mail to all us brothers. Although the mail was blank and meaningless. Bhabatosh and Paritosh unitedly and strongly condemned they being ignored from the family belongings and threatened to challenge Ashutosh in the court to enjoy the full family belongings all alone. They even vented their grouse on their father saying that both the brothers had been deprived even from the house they were staying saying that it had been willed to their mother. The mother was known for her weakness to her second son and they would not be surprised if she gave it to him. They could have gone on and on had not Indranil interfered.
Indranil and Rohit now took their leave from the house and returned home. After having his meal Rohit again left for the police station. Indranil sat at his study gazing blankly at the ceiling in deep thought. Then he again started studying the Ramayana deeply from the first page to the last. There were some white blank pages in the front and the back of the book.
That night Indranil went to bed early. Rohit was burdened with heavy work and was away from home late into the night. The Banerji household was fast asleep when suddenly three masked imposters entered the house. To ensure that every one was fast asleep they sprayed chloroform all around. Then they began searching frantically strewing everything here and there. They ransacked cupboard after cupboard but to no avail. Rohit returned little later and was surprised to see the front door ajar. After entering he could smell chloroform. Before he could decide anything he found three masked men coming down from upstairs. As he was about to accost them they ran away. Remembering the Ramayana he quickly entered Indranil's room. Indranil was awake but little groggy from the chloroform. He found the Ramayana safe and intact beneath his pile of books. Both gave a sigh of relief.
The next morning Indranil telephoned Ashutosh narrating last night's incident. Ashutosh expressed his deep regrets for the incident and requested Indranil to stop the investigation unconditionally. But Indranil was now neck deep in the plot and there was no question of quitting. Indranil told of his father Santosh's mail. Ashutosh had not mentioned it as he thought it was insignificant. Indranil gave his mail Id and asked him to forward it to him. Indranil checked the mail and found there was no body but it had an attachment that was password protected. Now from where to get the password, Indranil thought.
All of a sudden Indranil got up and asked Rohit to accompany him. They went straight to Girija's house. Two police constables had been posted for her security but both were sprawled lying down on the floor out cold. A house maid lying on the floor probably after being hit but still was conscious enough to alert to warn Indranil and Rohit of the danger within. She said that they had gagged the mother Girija and trying to force to sign some documents.
Quickly they entered to find Bhabatosh and Paritosh forcing their mother to sign some stamped documents. Girija was fighting vehemently to not sign any papers and shouting at the top of her gagged voice. She was being held by Bhabatosh's son the ruffian.
Seeing the chaos Rohit called up his station for reinforcements. On seeing the ring on Paritosh finger, Rohit recognised from last night. One of the imposters was revealed. The reinforcements arrived soon and warned Bhabatosh and Paritosh who were forcing their mother to sign their property papers in their favour. Rohit ordered his men to take away the two avaricious brothers and put them behind bars. Their wives protested. Rohit warned them to shut up or they would also be accompanying their husbands.
Indranil had in the meanwhile called Ashutosh to be present there. After his arrival Indranil asked him to identify a Mango tree in the garden. There was only one mango tree so it was easy target. Indranil asked Ashutosh to dig one feet ahead of the tree.
After digging for some moments they hit a metallic box. It was brought out and properly wiped of mud and dirt. After opening it they found a small red cloth wrapping around something maybe precious. The red cloth was brought inside the house and opened under a table lamp. There lay in front of them on the table many precious stones shining brightly even brighter than the light falling on them. They were real diamonds. Indranil held out his hand to the matriarch Girija asking her to take the possession of her valuables. Meanwhile, Girija held out an envelope to Indranil saying that her husband had said that this letter should be read by the one who found the treasure. Indranil declined saying that it was a family matter and should be read by one of her family members. She read out the letter written by her late husband. Her husband was finding it difficult to divide the family treasure the one kilogram worth gold jewellery amongst his three sons. So he thought upon an idea. As he had worked so hard over the years to acquire this wealth likewise his sons must also work hard and tax their brains to get hold of their family heirloom. Also, it had been difficult to hide such huge quantity of gold jewelry so he devised an idea. He sold all the gold and bought an equivalent quantity diamond. Because it was easy to hide them.
Ashutosh was absolutely spellbound seeing all the momentous happenings around him. He thanked Indranil profusely and asked him to explain how all this materialized. What secret lay in the Ramayana. He also was seeing his mother Girija after so many years. So he became very emotional and his mother also was welling up tears of joy.
After the emotional drama ended Indranil continued. He said that Santosh was a very intelligent and interesting person. He had pasted a jewellers invoice with the written part facing inside in the last white page in the end of the Ramayana book. Indranil had got to know of it after very thorough scrutiny under bright light. Slowly he had extracted the bill and finding the jewellers name he had got in touch with them. From the jewellers Indranil came to know that Santosh had disposed off the gold and bought diamonds instead. Now Indranil had to find the location of the diamonds. The answer to this Indranil got from the mail which Santosh had sent to his sons. The mail sent to his sons were blank except for the one sent to Ashutosh which had an attachment. Because silently he wished that Ashutosh should find the treasure. This attachment was password protected. The password had to be guessed. Indranil tried the password 'Girija' and found to be correct as the attachment opened. Indranil felt that Santosh trusted only his wife most so he must have protected it with her name.
The rest was in the attachment. The Mango tree and the diamonds hidden beneath the ground one feet away from the tree was all given.
Ashutosh heard spell bound to what Indranil was saying. After Indranil finished Ashutosh spoke. He said only Indranil's brain can match upto his father's. This treasure would have remained buried for years had it not been found by Indranil. He was all praise for Indranil and his analytical skills. As a result Ashutosh wrote a cheque for an undisclosed amount in favour of Indranil. Rohit who was silent so long finally spoke. He said that he had identified this gem in Indranil long before and had he not coaxed him to take up the investigation as a profession the law and justice department would have been deprived of rare talent.