Continued from “The Other Woman”
That early dawn, waking up to the first ring tone of his mobile, so as not to disturb Radha lying beside him, Dhruva switched it off readily, and moving out of the bedroom, he realized that the call was from Shakeel’s cell. When he returned the call, as he was kept on hold for long, he dialed the residential number and found that too was ever engaged; however, soon, ending the stalemate, Shakeel’s son got him on the mobile. Shocked at learning that the cop had died in his sleep, he was dumbfounded, and recovering, he wondered whether he too went the Ranjit’s way. Then, recalling Radha’s fears for Shakeel’s life, he looked at her instinctively, and finding her in a serene sleep, as he set out to visit the bereaved, he told Raju to inform her about the tragedy as she woke up.
When he reached Shakeel’s house in Chatrinaka, he had to wade through the milling crowd to make it to the corpse, not only to pay his respects to the departed soul but also to unearth the clues, if any, to his death, even as it transpired that it was business as usual for the deceased on the day of his demise. Even though all thought that he could have died of a stroke and he found nothing incriminating, yet insisting upon a post-mortem and having assured to stand by the family through thick and thin, the detective left them.
However, on reaching home, when he aired his apprehensions about the death, as Radha voiced her suspicions about Pravar’s possible involvement in it, he wondered what if he targets Kavya next, piqued at her possible indifference towards him. If he indeed had seen Ranjit’s end to own her, would he pardon her for ditching him? Had he avenged himself on Shakeel for his foisting a false case on him, would he go soft on his lady-love for being hard on him? Isn’t sexual hurt a compelling impulse to commit crime, and hadn’t the cop sketched him as cunning and ruthless; but still, why place the cart before the horse; let the post-mortem report arrive, so averred the detective to her.
The next evening, when Dhruva reached the Chatrinaka Police Station, as he was given to understand that the as the forensic tests confirmed that Shakeel’s death too was owing to poisoning, he was truly worried about Kavya’s safety, and so as to have a word with her, he readily drove down to her Spandan.
Though she received him warmly, feeling embarrassed by his enamored look, she instinctively became tentative, but when he managed to camouflage his ardor, she impulsively regained her poise, and revealed that probing Shakeel’s death, just then the police came to inquire about her whereabouts the other day. So, when he wanted to have her take on the probability of Pravar avenging himself on the cop, she said that, on and off, he was wont to rage for revenge, when she used to urge him to desist from such thoughts. However, after her husband’s death, as she turned cold towards him, he begged her not to desert him for he might go berserk all again, but sick and tired of her shameful association with him, she was firm not to yield to him anymore, come what may. So, who knew, he could have killed the cop hoping that she would reach up to him to renew her counseling, so be it, but there was no way she would succumb to him ever again.
At that, while he espied her with empathy, saying that she felt miserable carrying the cross of her weird past, as she broke down, he told her as that brat was not worthy of her thoughts, it made no sense for her in suffering on his account. Then, as she looked at him with hope, he unraveled Pravar’s criminal background, as etched by Radha and sketched by Shakeel, which prompted her to say that she felt even more wretched for having carried on with such a character. Moved by the radiance of her visage in her repentance, as he was impelled to take her into his arms as if to feel her soul, driven by her sense of emptiness, she insensibly sank into his chest as though for her solace. However, when he reiterated the need for her to let bygones be bygones for the sake of her future, she confessed to him in remorse that she reduced herself to be his accomplice in crime as well. Though he said that was quite understandable, shamed by her recollections, she withdrew herself, but goaded by him to off-load her guilt, she briefed him about her life and crimes with that brat.
By the time he kidnapped her, he was a rank broke, having splurged all the booty, acquired through a boy’s kidnap, for Natya’s endearment, and what with that farce of a ransom in her case having ended in the confiscation of the stolen cars as well, he had nothing left to fall back upon. So, she was constrained to provide succor and support to the hapless couple but while he was initially content with living on her doles, however, after he won her over, he came to seek more and more from her, but her man, as if on cue, curtailed her access to the family purse, and that forced her to play ball with him at extortions. Why, it was her cynical idea that with right tactics, he could make the corrupt to cough up part of their ill-gotten money, with none of them going to town about it for fear of further trouble. At that, he proposed that they might conduct fake tax raids with forged identities, but she reckoned that, sooner than later, it would only land him in one gaol or the other as someone at some stage was bound to call his bluff. So, when he said what to make out of her non-starter of an idea, she told him that with her brains and his brawn, they could yet make it workable; what with her contacts in the department, she would be able to prepare the profiles of the high-end tax evaders for him to pick up the faint-hearted from amongst them. But still, if someone were to act out of character, yet there was no way he would go to the police to report against him, and if only he would keep his greed at bay, it might as well be a smooth sailing for him.
Then, benumbed by shame, she paused for a while, but as if driven by his empathy, she resumed, saying that her plan did work to her peculiar excitement, which made her realize that her heart after all had a criminal beat in it. When he gently pressed her shoulder, as if to convey his understanding of the human frailties, she said that she abhorred the darker side of her nature; and even as he reached out for her hand, she ran inside in despair, and he stayed back to let her overcome her remorse in solitude.
However, smelling some gas and rushing into the kitchen, as he saw her picking up the gas-lighter, he grabbed it from her and closed the cylinder valve, after which, crying inconsolably, she sank into his arms, but as he led her to the verandah for fresh air, she withdrew from him in self-remorse.
Shortly thereafter, having led her back into the drawing room, even as he was at a loss to understand as to how to calm her, she told him that she could not bear the very thought of leading life with a foul soul in a polluted body. Taken aback at her self-remorse, he pleaded with her not to feel so low, and told her that it was only a matter of time before she regained her self-worth; and as if to demonstrate his belief in his prophesy, he was impelled to embrace her to inject hope in her through his ardent kissing, and as though she had already realized her mettle, she soon lent passion to her tongue to deep kiss him for long. However, when she withdrew her lips and presented her sparkling eyes to him as if to enable him espy her rejuvenated self, elated at that, he enlaced her ardently as though to cherish her rejuvenated persona.
However, as though to carry forward the moment, when he proposed that she may put up in his house, where with the Rajus in attendance, she would have Radha, his companion, for company, thanking him profusely, as she hesitated to go with him, as if to show her the way, he took her hand, and cajoled by him, she packed up some essentials.
Thus, when Kavya stepped into 9, Castle Hills, seeing her body language, Radha realized that she had a formidable rival to contend with, and reckoned that it might not help her cause if she were to cut up with him on her score. However, while reviewing Shakeel’s demise with her, when Dhruva wondered whether it had any connection with Ranjith’s death, she asserted that she could see Kavya’s extended hand in both the murders. But before she could elaborate upon that, he received a call informing him that the day he died, Shakeel was seen with a woman in burka, and as he shared that news with her, she said that it too could have been a case of Pravar’s poison at work under Kavya’s burka; why, she had Natya’s word that having reduced herself as his vassal, she became his partner in crime no less.
Then, warning her not to jump to hasty conclusions, he told her it was not wise to go by Natya’s words alone for she could have grouses against her rival to her man’s affections, and added that she should’ve learned about that from her own experience; wasn't it Shakeel’s over-reliance on Pravar’s account that caused her so much grief; so why repeat the mistake to Kavya’s hurt as well? However, she reminded him how Kavya had given a clean chit to her paramour in her husband’s murder, and added that it was for him to decide whether she faked that suicide attempt, a la Pravar, to gain his sympathy, or if she was only feigning remorse over their liaison just to evade his investigative radar.
But as he maintained that his gut feeling was that Kavya was innocent, and her change of heart was genuine, she said, half in jest, that his fondness for attractive women tended to fudge his judgment about them. However, making light of her remark, he said that she was free to keep a watch on her suspect, and she told him smilingly that it would be far better for her if he kept his eyes off the charming guest. Then, as he came up with a repartee that her own allure had already blinded him, she retorted by saying that what if her rival uses her rare sex appeal as a laser to restore his vision.
Continued to “A Perfect Murder”