The front page of every newspaper read 'a doctor strangled to death in the backyard of police headquarters.' On the narrow lane behind the district police headquarters was the house of the dead man, Dr. Asish Mukherjee. The house was locked from the inside and the doctor was all alone in his home. Victim's maid alerted the police in the morning when she discovered the body. The time of death was estimated to be around midnight. There was no indication of any forced entry; no signs of tampering the lock and no hint of the murder weapon, which was assumed to be a thin metal string. The case remained open with no leads, until another person was killed a year later in a similar manner. Premkumar Punjabi was strangled to death in a first class compartment of a moving train. The compartment was empty and locked from inside.
Few years later, an artist was murdered in his studio in the same way. It was then that the police merged these three cases and named it- the invisible strangler serial killings. Over a span of fifty years, thirteen cases were added to that file. Even the first officer in charge of the case had retired from his service long ago, but the case stayed unsolved.
Today, this old case once again attracted the lime light with the seventeenth killing. 'Minister murdered in his bedroom as tight security guarded his house' said the current media buzz. The only lead on the case till date was that all the seventeen victims visited S.C.A.M., State Central Art Museum, on the day before their death. Serious enquiries were conducted amongst SCAM's staff and all the footages were thoroughly checked. But the investigation ended in a clueless trail, followed by numerous agitations by public.
But the scientific eyes of every investigator missed a glint in the footage. A glint from a large ruby displayed in a guarded glass cabinet on the wall of the jewellery section at SCAM. A glint almost unseen as if it was invisible. A glint so minute, it seemed to appear for a fraction of second. Small, shiny victorious glint on the blood red ruby at midnight- in synchrony with the time of death of the seventeen victims. This ruby is the central piece of an antique necklace dated hundreds of years back; the necklace that has entered the museum after it was excavated from an archaeological site fifty years ago. But the interesting aspect of this necklace that everyone failed to notice was the pattern of its chain; the pattern which was an exact match to the murder weapon- a thin metal string.
Hundreds of years ago; in the south western part of India, was a prosperous kingdom called Mayusvapuri. It was ruled by the King RanaMayusva IV. He had two daughters whom he loved a lot. The elder princess was Mahathanethrani and the youngest princess was Mahathalochana. Since the king had no sons to crown as his successor, he decided to pass on the kingdom to the grooms of his daughters after their marriage. But the greedy brother of the dead queen, Vishwakarma, wanted to reign over the kingdom.
Never believing that the king would refuse him, Vishwakarma has proposed to marry the princesses. This served as the last straw for the ever forgiving king who tolerated his corrupted brother-in-law, only as a token of respect towards his late queen. The king discharged him from the royal panel of advisors and delivered the ultimatum of banishment from the kingdom for his next mistake.
The following night, filled with rage and humiliation, Vishwakarma murdered the king. In his fit of unabated ire, he proceeded to kill the princesses. Loud screams awakened the entire castle by the time he entered the abode of his nieces. The hurrying guards were too late to save the elder princess. But before her death, Mahathanethrani has managed to buy some time for her sister to escape. Just as Vishwakarma cornered his niece, he was captured and arrested by the Army Chief, Jayasimha.
The tragedy of the death of their beloved king brought melancholy over the entire kingdom. Vishwakarma was publicly hanged for his betrayal to the royal family. The night before his death, he sent a letter to the princess pleading for his life. Repugnant to even touch that letter, the princess ordered her maid to burn it.
Adhering to the collective decision of the royal panel of advisors, Mahathalochana married her saviour, Jayasimha. He was crowned as the new king and his reign was cherished by all. Over the period of time Mahathalochana's respect towards her husband turned into love. The king returned the love tenfold.
Mahathalochana's pain over the deaths of her family started to lessen as time went by. Jayasimha made her proud by expanding Mayusvapuri. The tales of his courage spread to all the other kingdoms. They were praised as an ideal couple that the kingdom has ever seen. Many gifted poets and artists, dedicated beautiful poems and artworks to the royal couple.
But happiness lasted only for a short time. The day when the queen discovered a parchment in the corner of her old closet was the day her mirage of gaiety vanished. She realized that her forgetful maid had failed to burn Vishwakarma's letter. Piqued by curiosity, the queen unrolled it. Each word of that letter revealed the truth; the truth hidden from her knowledge, the truth that uncovered a heinous plot, the truth that unveiled the real perpetrator of her family's murder- her husband.
Her loving husband had planned the murder of her family. At that time, immersed in sorrow, her eyes had betrayed her perception. Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye but her heart failed to see the unseen, as she welcomed a killer into it. That night, the enraged queen threw the letter in her husband’s face and accused him of murder. Little did she know that it would be her last night!
Jayasimha loved his wife. That was the reason why he had rescued her. The plan to eliminate the royal family was his master-scheme and Vishwakarma was just a pawn in his game. He’d promised Vishwakarma an equal reign over the kingdom. Not knowing the actual plot, Vishwakarma played his role and was perplexed when Jayasimha arrested him. Before he could disclose the details, he was moved to the prison by the lapdogs of Jayasimha.
Jayasimha made sure that his pawn was executed immediately. He convinced, bribed and threatened the royal panel of advisors to initiate the proposal for marriage. His almost perfect plan brought him the woman he loved and the power he desperately yearned. The only flaw was Vishwakarma's confession letter to the princess. He thanked all the gods for the luck, when he learned that Mahathalochana had burnt it.
But upon seeing the literal proof of his treachery in the hands of his wife, in a rush to destroy the proof, he killed his love. That night, Jayasimha strangled his wife with the ruby necklace that was embellishing her neck. Though he loved his wife more than his life, unfortunately he loved power more than his wife. After his death, Jayasimha was remembered as a great king. But his wife would always remember him as a cold blooded murderer who killed her father, sister and unborn child.
She failed to kill him. He failed to love again. Her spirit avenged other treacherous men resembling her husband. He lived a lonely life and died a lonely death, with no kith and kin to pass on his kingdom.
Vengeance was her soul's liberty, but her spirit could not avenge her love. Remorse was his penance for afterlife that he could not express, as she never ventured there.
Unbeknownst to all, the glint of the ruby- 'her spirit's contented smile,' remained invisible forever. But glint it did and glint it would, for one can avenge death but can never avenge love.