The moon was shining bright, and a bridge was hanging loose above the canal which, after issuing forth from the river, passed across the fields. A young boy, sitting on the bank of the canal, was playing upon a flute so passionately as if the charm of music would allure his estranged beloved back to him. Suddenly he stopped, and almost shrieked on seeing a white gleaming piece of human flesh on the canal stuck into the shrubs along the bank. Dropping everything there he ran towards the village.
‘Hey! Bring me the file, you lazy morons.’ Inspector Zulfi finally broke the ice.
‘Here it is, sir.’ Sergeant Maqsood replied.
‘The arm, found on the canal, was of Qasim’s. It established his death. A case was registered, but filed due to lack of evidence.’ Continued Inspector Zulfi.
‘Yes, sir. A few days ago Qasim’s father lodged an application to get the case reopened. Fahim, his cousin, and Mrs Qasim who is now Mrs Fahim nominated as alleged murderers. They were married a week ago. Fahim married Qasim’s wife.’
‘I’d like to have some more information about the family.’
‘Qasim was a village school peon. Fahim is a railway employee in Pindi. Both are cousins. Tehmina, the wife of Qasim, is now re-married to Fahim four months after Qasim’s death. And this became the turning point---their marriage---Qasim’s brother doubted that there was something wrong at the bottom, so he, along with his father, lodged an application to reopen the case.’
‘Arrest them both. Prepare the file and we’ll directly go to the court. We have to start investigation as early as possible.’
The couple were arrested, taken to the court and handed back to the police for further investigation. A lady police constable led Mrs Fahim to the investigation cell where Inspector Zulfi was awaiting her.
‘Hello, Mrs Fahim,’ Said Inspector Zulfi.
Tehmina was her name. She had blonde hair, fair skin, nice face-cut and her eyes were stunning black. She had a fine soft voice. Inspector Zulfi was startled at first, but immediately composed himself.
‘A normal inquest, you see. Your ex in-laws are not happy with your marriage. I would like to have answers to a few questions. And that’s it. Was Mr Qasim a good husband? I know it hurts, but this is my job.’
‘Yes. He was a fine husband, but why’re you asking that? What is it to do with his death?’
‘Before his disappearance, did you two have a quarrel or something?’
‘Not at all. I told you I loved him, and he loved me. He went away happy that night. He ate my cooking.’
‘Did you have any child?’
‘Yes, we had a daughter.’
‘Mrs Fahim, wasn’t it a hasty business? I mean getting remarried too soon.’
‘What? It is----um---- legal. A woman needs protection, you know. Moreover it is a tradition here. The society does not like to have young widows around.’
‘Qasim’s body wasn’t found?’
‘No. The river washed it away as they say. Just an arm. We buried it.’ She burst into tears.
‘Did he have rivalry with anyone?’
‘Not at all. I don’t remember any. He was a polite man, a loveable man.’
‘Ok. Mrs Fahim.’
‘How long have I to stay here? I’ve nothing to do with his murder. Why should I murder my own husband? My father-in-law is losing his wits. Believe me. I can’t live here.’ Inspector Zulfi made towards the door. ‘Where’re you going, Inspector?’
‘Duty, Mrs Fahim. It’s my duty. You’ll stay here until we find Qasim’s killer. You can be free by helping us find him.’
‘I don’t know anything.’
‘Ok. Good bye.’
Inspector Zulfi came out and entered his office.
‘Sir, Fahim is in the investigation cell.’ Said Maqsood.
‘Ok. Do we have search warrants?’
‘Call Sub-inspector Saleem.’
Mr. Saleem came in and saluted.
‘Hello, Saleem. Take these warrants,and search every corner of Fahim’s house. You’ll sure find something. But hurry up. Delay won’t help.’
Inspector Zulfi entered the investigation cell.
‘Hello, Mr Fahim. So you’re a railway employee in Pindi?’
‘Not a suitable place to have our maiden meeting. But life has its twists.’
‘Anything could be better than this.’
‘Both of you got aboard at the railway station, I mean you and Qasim?’
‘Yes. I was with him. I had to go to Pindi and he was going to a village along the way.’
‘Then what? I don’t know anything. When I reached Pindi, I received a message from home that he was dead.’
‘By the way, your marriage with Mrs Qasim was a hasty decision, don’t you think?’
‘No. We married because she needed a guardian. What’s bad in it? It happens here whenever one of the spouse dies. What’s the point in it, inspector? I’ve nothing to do with his death.’
‘Well, the FIR names you two. And you say you’ve nothing to do with his death! Keep your mouth shut, and wait. You’ll be treated well as long as you be polite.’
Sub-Inspector Saleem came back holding pistol.
‘Was the search fruitful?’ Asked Inspector Zulfi.
‘Yes, sir. We found this.’
‘I knew it. Any finger prints?’
‘Yes. Matched Fahim’s. The laboratory will examine it.’
‘And, sir, there is another surprise for you. Actually, Constable Shakoor has. Both of you may come in,’ Saleem said pointing towards someone outside.
Constable Shakoor along with an old man came in.
Saleem started speaking.
‘Sir, Chacha Gul Khan lives in the village where Qasim worked in the school. He was there lying on a cot in the fields a few feet from the road. Chacha says that night he saw Qasim coming from the railway station and after sometime he also saw a man who went in the same direction. Both of them disappeared in the grove of trees.’
‘Then?’ Demanded Inspector Zulfi.
‘I didn’t follow them as I had no business my son. I only saw Qasim looking back and shouting, “Fahim, what’s it?” Then both disappeared into the grove of trees, and I heard a shot.
‘So he lied that he went straight to Pindi. Write down his statement and bring that scoundrel back to the investigation cell. Hurry up.’ Said Inspector Zulfi.
‘So what are your plans? Are you going to tell me the true story? I think after we have an eye-witness who saw you following Qasim that night, you don’t have a choice. Now shall we have the truth or……..?’ Said Inspector Zulfi holding up the pistol.
Fahim was trembling with fear.
‘It wasn’t me only. She too is equally guilty. I fell for that bitch. That’s all. She asked me to do this. She is responsible. Damn her. She designed this plan. I didn’t want to do this. It all happened when we fell for each other. And then we decided to marry. We knew we couldn’t without getting rid of Qasim. So a murder was designed.’
‘Who designed it?’
‘Us both. That night Qasim and I left for the railway station together.’
‘Qasim got off.’
‘And you too?’
‘Um…….ye……yes. I too got off. I followed him. I was under a curse, it seemed. I followed my cousin. I shot him dead in the grove of trees near the bank of the river.’
‘With this pistol,’ Inspector Zulfi showed him the pistol brought by Maqsood. ‘Then you chopped his body into pieces.’
Fahim was grave like a stone.
‘And then what happened. Speak up.’ Inspector Zulfi shouted.
‘I…………I was blinded by love.’
‘Don’t call it love. It’s nothing but lust.’
‘I made a bundle of the pieces of his body and threw it into the river.’
‘A perfect plan! But you didn’t know the arm would show up---the arm that is a mark of identity of Qasim due to a missing finger. Still it wasn’t an issue. But you made a terrible mistake----the marriage. You married too soon.’
‘Yes. It was her plan, damn her. I’ll kill that dim-wit.’
‘Forget it. You’ll never be able to do this.’
The trial was easy. It took just 10 days. The evidence was conclusive. Fahim and his wife had no choice but to confess. The former was sentenced to death, the latter to 20 years in jail.
Inspector Zulfi came back from the court, entered his office, and asked for a cup of tea. He looked gloomy.
‘What happened, sir.’ Said Sub Inspector Khalid.
‘Fahim is sentenced to death and his wife to 20 years in jail.’
‘Love could be nasty sometimes.’ Replied the Sub Inspector.
‘Not love, my friend. The forbidden love.’
‘You don’t seem quite pleased at the conclusion of this case, sir.’ Said Sub Inspector Khalid. ‘It’s quite an achievement for us, don’t you think?’
‘An achievement for us, yes, but not for the poor girl who has lost both her parents,’ Saying this Inspector Zulfi shot out of the room.