Continued from “Kavya’s Quagmire”
After Radha left Castle Hills to meet Natya, as Dhruva was wondering how Ranjit’s death might have affected Kavya’s relationship with Pravar, Raju informed him that a woman came to see him; irritated though about the intrusion into his reverie, he, nevertheless, headed towards the anteroom.
Seeing Kavya seated therein, even he was immobilized at the threshold, struck by his enamored demeanor, she stuck to her seat. When he walked up to her, as if out of trance, waking up to the reality, she got up in greeting, and as he gesticulated to be seated, she reposted herself languidly. Sensing though the import of her visit and the possibilities it portended, yet he acquired a questioning look, and pulling out his call letter from her purse, she held it out to him.
Perusing it as a ruse to hide his excitement, he told her in the end that the job was hers for the asking, but she said that the purpose of her visit was to seek his assistance and not to assist him. While he feigned ignorance, outlining the circumstances that had brought her there, she sought his help in unraveling the mystery of her husband’s death. He wanted to know if she had any suspect in mind, she said that if it were so, instead of coming to 9, Castle Hills, she would have gone to the Jubilee Hills police station. Bowled by her sense of humor, he said that he wished he had half her wit, and thanking him for the compliment, she returned it by adding that she knew he had enough of it to outwit Ranjit’s killer.
As he was inclined to take her brief, she offered to take him to her place in her Alto, and reckoning that with her at the wheel, he would be able to assess her better, he went with her idea. On their drive to Spandan watching her closely all the way, he came to the view that her visage suggested that she was innocent, and as if reading his thoughts, she asked him if he really believed she was not involved as the cops thought she was. He said that though personally he believed she might not have had any hand in the murder, he would not be worth his salt as a detective if he took her at the face value. Pleased with his approach, she asked him if he cared to tell her about any intriguing murder that he might have solved, and he said that her query made him recall a case in cracking which Mithya, his late wife, played a crucial role. When she acquired a grave look for form’s sake, he said that it was her sudden death a year back that prompted him to release that ad.
At that, Kavya wondered whether he would have selected her, even if she had called on him at the right time, he said that, if only she were inclined, time still beckoned her. While she kept quiet, as a prorogue to his narrative, he asked her if she could recall the serial killings of wealthy middle-aged women in the Langar Hauz area that shook the Hyderabadis five years back. Nodding her head, she said that she followed the intriguing killings in the press thinking then that some psychopathic misogamist, jilted by a wealthy woman, might have been behind them, and added that she always wondered what came out the case, as it never came to be reported.
He said that Mithya preferred to view those mysterious murders from the kaleidoscope of illicit affairs and so moved into that area as Maya, the estranged wife of a wealthy man. When she befriended the gossiping housewives of the locality and as the response from them was on expected lines, soon she had drawn a list of cheating spouses, males and females alike, in that area. Since the resumes of the illicit couples that she presented hadn’t revealed the nerves of a killer as he was not inclined to pursue that investigative course, she shifted gears to get acquainted with the abused women of the area, and came to know about Haritha a middle-aged widow and Ramya her young step-daughter, both of whom in some way were constrained by an unusual will and testament that was still talked about then.
Shortly before his death, the deceased had bequeathed his considerable wealth, lo, to the would-be-born children of Ramya, his five-year old daughter from his first wife and made Haritha, his childless second wife, her guardian with an entitlement to enjoy the property. Venting his apathy towards his young wife, he willed that she would be entitled for a meager maintenance once Ramya bore a child, but were she to die childless then an orphanage he named would benefit out of his wealth. Adding insult to his wife’s injury, he conditioned his will, rather cruelly, that upon being widowed, were she to enter into a fresh nuptial, she would cease to be the Ramya’s guardian and all that goes with it. Well, as that will underscored mistrust and spelled malice, Mithya befriended Ramya, who in a moment of weakness made her privy to her intriguing life.
Widowed, at barely thirty, Haritha though seethed with a hapless rage at seeing the death-knell of a will, in time, to get even with the situation, she applied her mind to browbeat the imposition, and came up with an ingenious solution to bypass the will’s proposition. She brainwashed Ramya, six then, about the need to have a male in the house for their protection, and got her married to Rahul, a sixteen-year old, whom she readily seduced to cater to her own sexual needs. But coming of age, when Ramya realized that her man was her stepmother’s lover, she was at a loss to comprehend her position in her own house. Haritha, however, addressed the issue, so she thought, by letting Ramya consummate her marriage, when she was barely fourteen, but soon turning eager to have Rahul all for herself Ramya tried to wean him away from her stepmother’s grip, but to no avail. But once Ramya’s youth blossomed into womanhood that coincided with Haritha’s weaning charms, as Rahul started leaning towards his wife, the peeved woman took to throwing tantrums at them to rob their newfound marital bliss. While that prompted Rahul to lean towards his wife even more, pushing the embittered woman out of the unethical love triangle altogether, Haritha, left out thus, turned even more cynical towards Ramya, which made her wonder how to get out of the ordeal.
When Dhruva said that was the clue for her, Kavya wondered what a hapless Ramya would have got to do with the serial killings; he said that Mithya thought that it could be Ramya’s idea of killing some middle-aged women randomly, before they murdered Haritha. Ramya confessed that reckoned that unless caught in the act, none would ever suspect them of killing unacquainted women, and acting under the smokescreen of the serial killings, when they hit their target, the police would treat that as another episode of the same serial. When they were all ready to strike at Haritha, she was struck with terminal cancer; and Ramya felt remorse for killing those innocents.
Dhruva said in conclusion that as Mithya felt that Ramya, being the victim of the poison of abuse, deserved a fresh lease of life, he had agreed to put a lid on the case that the police had anyway closed as unsolved. Dhruva wanted to know how Kavya felt about it but she said that she was at a loss to form an opinion and as he averred that the discretion to arraign or not, lent charm of being a private detective, she told him that she hoped he would not abuse his privilege in the case on hand.
Continued to “The Other Woman”