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|by Subhajit Ghosh|
The party was on in full swing. I had to leave it early. I had quite a distance to travel to reach my home. I started off my car and soon it touched 40 km per hour. No soul was anywhere to be seen as I drove through tree lined avenues. A quarter of an hour passed in a jiffy.
It was well beyond midnight when I had left the party. The absence of homosapiens on the road at this unearthly hour was, therefore, not unusual. I turned on the car stereo and it started playing a Hemant Kumar song from a popular Bengali film. I remember wistfully that HK was a great favourite of mine during my school days, and the particular song on air brought back nostalgic memories. As Hemant magic was casting a spell over me, all of a sudden the headlights of my car fell on a man lying on the road. I put my foot instinctively on the brakes bringing the car to a halt.
The man must have been unconscious as there was no sign of any movement even when my car screeched to a halt noisely in front of him. I pondered for a while whether I should alight and inspect the matter more closely. Alternatively, I could have ignored him and driven off from the scene.
Summoning all my strength and feeling an urge to lend a helping hand to a man in need, I got off from my car. When I went near, I couldn't detect any sign of life in him. Could he be dead? I shuddered at the thought for a minute. Regaining my composure, I bravely touched the man. He felt cold. And then, I saw blood! And a dagger resting on his belly. I felt uncomfortable and dizzy. I nearly fainted.
Suddenly, the clicking of a photograph by an invisible entity startled me. And then calm prevailed again. An unknown fear gripped me. What the hell is going on? I decided to escape from there to avoid unnecessary trouble.
The next morning I found a news item in the newspaper. It said that Abhijit Niyogi, owner and director of Special Effects Software has been found murdered the previous night. Police are investigating into the matter. Anyone who can provide leads in the case would be handsomely rewarded. The place where the incident have occured is exactly the same spot where I had found the unknown man stabbed the previous night. Rewinding my memory to replay the encounter of last night's chance brush with fatality I kept wondering whether fleeing from the crime scene was the correct stance that ought to have been adopted. I kept the matter a secret from my spouse.
The next couple of days I kept on brooding about the incident endlessly. Inspite of my best efforts to shrug it off, I couldn't forget it. A few days later, one morning I was awakened by the sound of my doorbell. My wife was busy in the kitchen. I opened the door to face the cops. "Are you Mr. Ghosh?" "Yup." "May we come in?" "Why, what happened?" The cop entered the room without waiting for my consent. "Mr Ghosh, we have a piece of bad news for you. We have come to arrest you on suspicion of murdering Mr Abhijit Niyogi. " "What?" "Yes. We've received a photo last evening wherein you're clearly visible holding a dagger and the lifeless blood-oozing frame of Mr. Abhijit Niyogi lay by your sides. You can engage a defense Attorney to plead your case in a court of law when your trial will get underway, but presently you must accompany us to the Police Station."
Never in my wildest dream have I ever imagined that one day I will be holed up in a prison cell. As I lay shattered in a dingy corner, my only consolation is that the case is being investigated by Mr. Anindyo Bakshi, well known private Investigator and a good friend of mine.
A few days passed in extreme anguish and anxiety. I could have turned insane had it not been for the comforting fact that Anindyo is investigating the case. I knew he would leave no stone unturned to solve the mystery and save me from being falsely implicated. Everyday in the evening he would pay me a brief visit. He informed me that the case was indeed a tough nut to crack but encouraged me not to be disheartened. He has managed to obtain some clues, and he seems confident that he is proceeding in the right direction. He also informed me that he has managed to influence the concerned authorities and postpone the date of my trial for a later date. He said he would use the increased time at hand to hunt for leads and make an all out effort to find a solution and absolve me of all charges.
One fine morning, a forthnight later an elated Anindyo came to me and claimed he has been able to solve the case. He has managed to pin down the culprit and the criminal has finally confessed at having committed the heinous act. He has been arrested. Soon, I was also released from my confinement.
The following Sunday, my wife invited Anindyo over for lunch. She had prepared a sumptous meal with several delicacies lined up in her menu. After the meal she queried Anindyo "Would you reveal to us how exactly you have solved the case, Anindyobabu?" Anindyo said "Most Certainly." After lighting a cigarette, he began "It has really been an extremely difficult case to crack. Had it not been for the fact that Mr. Ghosh was known to me and I was cocksure of his innocence, I would have been misled by the photograph which the police have received by post from an unnamed person. Firstly, I decided to find out something about the background of the deceased. Mr Abhijit Niyogi, owner of Special Effects Software, has a flourishing software development business. I found out that he has recently bagged a big contract worth in crores from a large Multimedia house based in the US.
My troubleshooting instinct sensed a possible lead in the case. Can a rival group which lost out in the bid be involved in killing Mr. Niyogi?" Pausing for a moment to dispose off the ash into the ash-tray, Anindyo continued "I studied the tenders of the Contract and stumbled upon the fact that two companies, Movie Software Inc. & ET Software were pretty close at the stakes. As I proceeded using the fact as a lead, I chanced upon a small tape-recorder in Mr Abhijit Niyogi's room concealed in his drawer while I was searching his room desperately looking for more clues to unravel the gordian knot. To my utter surprise, I found it contained voices of Mr Vikram Tarafdar, proprieter of Movie Software Inc. offering a huge sum of money as bribe to Mr Niyogi in order to increase the quoted price in the tender. Armed with this revelation, I was hellbent on delving deeper to solve the mystery.
With the help of police, I raided Mr Vikram Tarafdar's office. After a frantic search, luckily I found the negative of a photo of Mr Ghosh taken on the night of the incident from the place." Extinquishing his cigarette, Anindyo put in in the ashtray. And then started "Mr Vikram Tarafdar is an editing specialist. He scanned Mr Ghosh's picture and using editing tools and techniques like Morphing and such others on the scanned file, he transformed Mr Ghosh's picture with such finesse that it would give anyone an impression that Mr Ghosh was actually holding the dagger and is the real culprit! The transformed picture was next photographed with dexterity maintaining a good resolution and it was sent to the Police which proved to be the beginning of all woes for Mr. Ghosh." "Caught red-handed with the proofs, Mr Vikram Tarafdar acknowledged his involvement in the death of Mr. Niyogi. An accomplice of Mr. Tarafdar actually stabbed Mr. Niyogi. Both of them are now in the custody of the Police." All I could do when Mr. Bakshi completed his disclosure was gently pat him on his back. I was left with no other way of showing my gratitude since he wouldn't accept a penny from me.
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