Kaustubh Srivastava

Tragedy Crime Thriller


Kaustubh Srivastava

Tragedy Crime Thriller



10 mins

Akshita (37) lived along with her son Sam, stepdaughter Vaishnavi, and nonworking husband Prashant, in Old Panvel, Navi Mumbai. The couple often got into heated arguments. Akshita claimed that Prashant should stand on his own legs for the financial stability of the house. “Your concerns are one-sided as you never refrain from attending your usual parties”, the frustrated Prashant said. This continued for 6 years after Prashant's company collapsed when one day Prashant died in a mysterious car accident.

Vaishnavi was gifted with inborn talents and intellect that gradually surfaced her life. She grabbed third prize in the National Science Olympiad at age 11 and won the state level extempore competition at 13. Apparently, it looked to Akshita as if she was casting a shadow on her own dumb*ss son's performance who kept mugging and topping the school level exams. Within two years since Prashant's death, the deeply shaken family regained its lost stability as Akshita managed to become the Project Manager of the Wockhardt Pharmaceutical company, from a simple lab analyst. However, Akshita could not suppress the 'hate factor' she had in her for Vaishnavi, and finally one day she decided to take it to its destination.

Rukmani was a former employee of ChemiLabs Ltd., now working as a pharmaceutical researcher in Wockhardt. She was also Arnab's ex, an employee under Akshita's assistance. The relationship ended with some criminal charges imposed over Rukmani, which were never proved. Akshita used some of her resources and reopened those case files. She appointed one of her known ones as Rukmani's lawyer. The case turned in Rukmani's favour again, owing to the absence of evidence, leaving her indebted to Akshita.

Akshita recruited Arnab and Rukmani in her team and commanded them to prepare Delta 2 (∆2): a medicinal dose comprising of mercurous oxide and benzodiazepine that can render a person dead in three hours. She called them at her cabin time and often to know about the current status of the ongoing project. In 2,3 meetings, the threads of understanding between the two souls, which were broken years ago were re-entwined. When the time came, she asked Rukmani to pay her debts, luring her into the plot of Vaishnavi's murder.

She made Arnab her next pawn, considering his drastic financial conditions. She asked him to kill Rukmani as a subpart of a yet bigger plot, guaranteeing him a sum of 60 lakh rupees. The hesitant Arnab was told to put the blame on her, in case any evidence was left behind.

On 2nd June 2013, a few hours before Arnab's birthdate, Rukmani parked her ‘Chevrolet Bolt' adjacent to that well-known building. The green-lit board repictured in small on her goggles, and read in reverse: The Harbour Bar. At 11.30 PM Arnab entered the bar, knowing it was the habitual mental massage parlour of his female colleague. Rukmani was surprised to see the Arnab of principles stepping inside the bar for the first time in his life. He handed her her favourite “Whisky Black Label”, took a beverage for himself, and started discussing his ongoing financial crisis. At 12.00 AM, they both left the bar. Rukmani wished him a formal ‘Happy Birthday', and they both went their ways. As she drove to Airoli Sector 2, her current residence, sweat trickled down her temple, and her eyes got tensed.

“Yes, honey! Your cake is waiting for you in the fridge. By the way, tell your dearest of dear Bhaiya that I could not come owing to hectic office schedules and ongoing research works in Wockhardt.. Have a good time! Ya. Bye.” With an inexplicable smile on her face, she tossed the empty bottle out of her purse and left for her home. As she got smaller and distant with time, the bottle rolled and rolled until it got close to a board that read: Altamount Road. In the flickering sodium lamp, that name also flickered. The name on that bottle! Delta 2.

As Arnab parked his motorbike on Carmichael Road and stepped inside his house, his door banged. His heart thumped before or the door banged first, was harder to tell. After all, he was shamed with a pang of guilt he never expected to commit, at least in this life. He was surprised to find Vaishnavi there, along with a chocolate cake with a vanilla seasoning of "Happy Birthday AB!". She hugged her usual Arnab Bhaiya who was no more usual. Normally, Akshita and her children visited Arnab's at his birthday that too personally, with some hand made cards and cakes, as he was an old friend of Akshita. However, Arnab was not surprised at the absence of the innocent's mother. After taking some 15 snaps of selfies, as Vaishnavi stepped out of his house, she got a phone call from an unknown number. The voice said it was Rukmani, and her mom had headed to her house for some important meeting, forgettably taking the keys along with her. So head for Airoli, instead of Old Panvel.

Vaishnavi almost knew all of her mom's close colleagues. As she reached Airoli Sector 2, she wondered why her mom didn't phone her herself. Underestimating the seriousness of that small question, she reached Rukmani's and was surprised at not finding Akshita there. Unfortunate, that her surprise could only last for moments before a painful chill went down her spine from her neck, and a ‘blackout' engulfed her world.

At 3:15 AM, a phone call quaked the Airoli Police Station. It was Madhuban, a Wockhardt employee reporting the unusual death of his girlfriend and fiancee Rukmani. The cops reached Rukmani's house and investigated her body. The forensic team on diagnosing her body revealed the presence of a strange chemical present in her body. Police appointed Sun Pharma Ltd. for analyzing that dose and took Madhuban and Akshita in their custody. A subteam backtracing Rukmani's activities found that her last visit was to Harbour Bar situated on the Colaba Causeway the prior night. Closely analyzing the CCTV footage of that half-hour, they asked the worker to give them the glass that she left on the table. Unfortunately, they had removed those glasses. But luckily, they did that in a specific order from the first table to the last table and more luckily didn't wash any of them. This led to a milestone discovery in the Rukamani murder case and the team found the glass that Rukmani sipped last night. The forensic examination revealed that the last few drops left had the traces of the same chemical that was present in her dead body: a toxic mixture of mercurous oxide and benzodiazepine that acts as a slow but lethal poison on a person's body rendering him dead within three hours: an explanation given by the appointed team of Sun Pharma Ltd. The in-custody Akshita claimed it was only meant for medicinal goods and ethical purposes. “I believed my team almost made a radical discovery in the history of medicinal inventions”, she said. Akshita also informed them about Arnab, the suspicious man seen in the CCTV footage along with Rukmani. He left the bar along with the drinks and re-entered, stealing glances from Rukmani before joining her, thus confirming he was the murderer. Accessing his residence details from Wockhardt Office, they raided towards his house encircling it from all sides and positioned themselves in a manner to avoid his escape. With guns reloaded and the nerves high strung, they charged inside his house. However, to their utter perplexity, they found Arnab troubling for breath on the floor. A blue froth was gurgling out from his mouth, just like in Rukmani's case, making them sure he was given the same dose. Before an ambulance reached there, and before the cops could decipher out anything meaningful from his mouth, he gave up. Just a second later, the wall clock strung 4’o clock, more or less sounding like his own death bell!

In their custody, Akshita cried for her stepdaughter’s whereabouts, as Vaishnavi was not responding to her calls. The ongoing murder sequels in Mumbai made her look more horrified. Akshita informed that her stepdaughter went to Arnab's on the latter's birthday, but never returned. Patrolling began for Vaishnavi at 4.30 AM, and ended up at 8.00, with another milestone discovery of her dead body at the D'Souza Chawl, one of the most haunted places of the world situated in Santa Cruz East, Mumbai. The scarce number of visitors here are still haunted by the ghost of a person, who died in a well. The team also found a blood-slimed knife thrown two floors above the floor that was getting eerier and eerier with the smell of her neck-stabbed dead body.

To utter surprise, the knife had something else on it apart from the bloodstains, and they were Rukmani's fingerprints! The postmortem report said she had been murdered around ten hours ago, at about 1:40 AM. The teams also found two phones from the haunted Chawl, one of Vaishnavi, and another, a probably knowingly - broken phone. The call logs revealed Vaishnavi had a call from an unknown number at around 1.15 AM when she was at Arnab's.

The B-team backtracing Arnab's activities found a few shots of selfies on his phone, with the same little girl Vaishnavi. To their third shock, the cake along with Arnab's body had the same toxin: Delta 2, making it clear that he was knowingly or unknowingly killed by Vaishnavi. Although she was present with Arnab the last night, her diagnosed body didn't reveal a single trace of ∆-2 present in her body. “She was allergic to sugar”, Akshita cleared away that doubt that was much smaller than the maelstrom of doubts which were quaking the CID bureaus and the police stations of Mumbai. The needle of suspicion for Arnab's death turned towards Madhuban, who could possibly have tricked Vaishnavi on her way to Arnab, adding a few drops of ∆-2 on her cake. He often had run-ins with Rukmani for meeting her ex Arnab.

With all the law protecting agencies combined, a timeline of events of this strange murder case named 'TRIO' was prepared, which was as follows :

11.30 PM - Arnab entered the Harbour Bar.

11.45 PM - Rukmani took the first sip of the intoxicated drink.

12.00 AM - They both left for their homes.

12.25 AM - Arnab reached his home on Carmichael Road.

12.45 AM - Vaishnavi reached Arnab's home with the intoxicated cake.

1.00 AM - Arnab had the first bite of the ∆2 dosed cake.

1.00 AM - 1.15 AM - Vaishnavi had the call from an unknown number that was used by Rukmani, deceiving the former about her mom’s current location.

1.30 AM - Vaishnavi reached Rukmani's home.

1:40 AM - Rukamani murders Vaishnavi.

2:00 AM - Rukmani returns to Airoli Sector after dumping the corpse in D'Souza Chawl.

2.45 AM - Rukmani dies.

4.00 AM - Arnab dies.

Police investigated the kitchen of Akshita's and Madhuban's houses. They collected some samples of sugar from both their houses but could not find a trace of a single chemical there. They heard how the two former soulmates Arnab and Rukmani had a serious breakup. They also tracked Rukmani's name in their criminal records, suspecting her to be guilty of Arnab's murder. “He hated to see her yesterday’s fiancee cuddled and hugged by Madhuban, but the poor guy couldn't be responsible for a murder”, Akshita added to Madhuban's suspicion on his girlfriend's ex. The Mumbai police could not find any other alive evidence, thus making them close the TRIO murder case file, considering it a result of mutual hatred. Since it was judged as a cyclic murder case, where each victim was also an accused and all the victims and accused were dead, there was no sense in making further proceedings. The court freed Akshita and Madhuban from the police custody on 3rd June 2013, at around 6:00 PM. Akshita with nerves relaxed, put on her goggles, unparked her car, and drove to her residence at the Old Panvel. After all, she was going to have a tough night, busy with the cremation rituals of her ‘beloved’ stepdaughter Vaishnavi.

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