Continued from “The Dilemma”
12th July 2010; 1pm
The day had begun with the heaviest rainfall of the season. It had been pouring since three in the morning. The sky was absolutely dark, occasionally lighting up with thunder. Inspector Raj had a harrowing time navigating through the traffic to reach his office. Due to extreme water logging, there were traffic jams almost everywhere in the city, causing the inspector to be late for work.
“Damn the weather!” exclaimed inspector Raj while sipping his tea.
“Sir this shower will really be very lucky for you, you just wait and watch. This new weather will also bring upon several new possibilities and openings. At least that is what my mother always says,” stated one of the inspector’s colleagues.
The inspector gazed at his colleague for a moment before flashing a thin smile. He was aware that what his colleague had just stated might hold water since a lot of leads were expected today and the following days to help him crack Bobby’s case. He had already received a call from Vivek Oberoi exactly at ten in the morning giving him the details of the court and the case. Although the inspector already had those details now, but he liked Vivek’s commitment of keeping his word or maybe he was just trying to keep the inspector off his trail by being prompt. Whatever the case may be, at least one thing was confirmed that he was showing respect to inspector Raj and the inspector was kind of enjoying this sense of being powerful and in control.
The constable who had been dispatched to Damien’s had also reported back late the previous night that Damien was not in town and would be back only after two days. Now the inspector was eagerly waiting for Bobby’s calls’ records and the fingerprints’ report to come in to get some traction on the case.
“Sir, this mail has just come in. It seems like a list of names with their phone numbers,” walked in a constable holding a sheet of paper in his hand.
This was the list that Sandy was asked to send in by the inspector the other day. Inspector Raj went through the list. It was not a very elaborate one, just had six names and numbers therefore once again proving that Joy did not have many people known to him. He gave that list back to the constable,
“Give it to SI Singh and tell him to run through all these people and to meet them all one by one, face to face to get any information that we can on Joy and his whereabouts and ask him to carry Joy’s photo with him when he is talking with these people to get a positive ID on Joy.”
12th July 2010; 5pm
The fingerprints from the court were now with inspector Raj. Tiwari, who had gone to fetch them, had done a splendid job. Since the case was very old, the court had sent all the records to the central record room and getting the information from there was not an easy job at all, but Tiwari really persisted. He did not rest till he got what he was delegated to get. Inspector Raj congratulated him on a job well done.
Presently the inspector was at the Forensics main office in Rohini. He had come here hoping to get a match of the fingerprints with the ones that were found on the rod. He had already met the Head Officer and had handed him the prints obtained from the court. He was now patiently waiting for the results. It was almost two hours now and the inspector’s patience was running out, just then he saw the Head Officer coming out of the laboratory toward him.
“Sorry inspector, you don’t have a match. They are not matching.”
“Are you sure? I mean, could there be a possibility of a mistake??”
“No. You don’t have a match and there could be no mistake. Besides, both of Sandy’s print match, the ones you brought from the court and the ones you got on the glass,” said the Head Officer apologetically, patting the inspector on his shoulder.
Inspector Raj’s heart skipped a couple of beats. He did not know what hit him. He just dropped into a chair. He was so sure that there would be a positive match but now all his hopes were dashed against the wall and the entire investigation would have to be started afresh. All the efforts seemed wasted. He kept sitting there for almost ten minutes before regaining his composure. He dragged himself out of the premises. His mind was numb. He felt breathless and terribly sick. He rushed to a cigarette stall and bought himself a cigarette which he lit up quickly and took a deep drag. He was a chain smoker about ten years ago but had later kicked the butt; however it were anxious moments like these that prompted him toward the poison again, so once in a while he smoked a cigarette or two to relieve himself of the tension. He knew that all the leads that he was hoping for had come to a dead end and that he would have to start afresh. Not that this had happened for the first time in his career, but it was always such a setback. Whenever he hit a similar roadblock he would sulk.
The inspector slowly picked himself up and decided to break off early from work. He got into his vintage car and drove off. He headed straight to a liquor store in sector 8 and picked up a bottle of cheap vodka to drown his sorrows with. As he was driving on he got an idea.
He called up his office and instructed Tiwari to call up his connections in the media and leak the details of this case along with the names of all the people connected to the case. As it is the case was hot news and already being reported. This was his attempt at getting some clues, maybe a desperate one but if it worked then he might have a breakthrough. He was really hoping that someone out there reads the report and gives him something to proceed on with in this case. He also instructed him to get Harry’s and Nira’s cell phones records for the last three months. He looked heavenwards as if seeking divine intervention. Then he switched his cell phone off, lest he be disturbed and headed straight home to wait....and to get drunk.
13th July 2010; 12pm
Sona was busy with her daily household chores when she heard the chimes of the doorbell. She heard the door being opened by her maid who then came into the kitchen to inform her that there was a visitor. Sona hurriedly washed her hands and face, wiping the water off she quickly moved toward the living hall. She was greeted by a very attractive lady in her early thirties. The woman introduced herself as Rosa, a friend of Sandy’s and enquired after him. Sona was perplexed. She introduced herself to Rosa and informed her that he was not at home; she offered Rosa the basic courtesies that a normal Indian household practices. While Rosa sipped her refreshment, Sona enquired, “How do you know Sandy?”
“I modeled for his brand some time ago. Today I was informed about this case. A friend told me that he had read in today’s news that Sandy was being suspected for someone’s murder. I tried to call him but his phone was switched off so I got a little concerned. That’s why I thought of paying him a visit.”
Sona knew what Rosa was talking about as this case was all that the family had discussed at home for the last three days. Everyone was anxious as they knew that the police was suspecting Sandy as well, although they believed that he was innocent. However, right now that was not what was there on Sona’s mind as she was getting an uncanny feeling about this woman in her living room. “How long have you known him?” she enquired.
“For slightly over three years now.”
“I wonder why Sandy never mentioned you to me.”
“But why should he mention me to you?” asked Rosa softly.
“Coz he never keeps anything from me, after all I am his wife.”
“You are his....what?!” enquired Rosa surprisingly.
“I am his wife.” Sona missed a heartbeat as she sensed something definitely amiss there. Rosa seemed equally astonished at this revelation which reflected clearly on her countenance. She did not know how to react. She was thinking how Sandy and she were together for slightly more than three years now but never ever had he mentioned anything about him being married to her. She started feeling cheated and at the same time guilty toward Sona. She could not understand what to feel more bad about, Sandy cheating her or her illegitimate intrusion into Sona’s married life.
“I just came to check on Sandy. Is he alright?” enquired Rosa, trying to change the uncomfortable topic.
“Yes, he is but I guess you are not. Rosa I think you are keeping something from me.” Rosa looked at Sona. Her face was as pale as a vampire’s. Her eyes clearly reflected the turmoil that was going on within her.
“Not really. I think I should be going now.” Rosa kept her glass down on the table and was about to get up when Sona moved swiftly and parked herself beside her, she placed her hand over Rosa’s warmly.
Sona’s eyes were almost moist by then and with a quiver in her voice she said, “Rosa, please tell me what is the kind of relationship you share with Sandy because I have an uncanny feeling that Sandy has been cheating on me?!”
Rosa’s eyes widened all the more as the direct and frank approach of Sona’s completely shook her and threw her off balance. “What a baseless allegation is this?”
“What a wasteful attempt to conceal things, is this? I am a woman and so are you. I can clearly sense the discomfort in you. I can see you are trying to keep a secret here. Rosa, I had sensed something amiss with Sandy a long time ago. He was always a very consistent flirt, but I thought marriage had changed him. However, lately I could sense that he was not behaving normally, and I was living in denial, but this is real, right! Please Rosa, from a woman to a woman…....please tell me the truth.”
Sona’s plight, her own guilt and anger became too much of a strong concoction for Rosa and she suddenly burst out, “I did not know that he was married all this time. I swear to you, I was unaware otherwise I would have never trodden this path. I am so sorry, oh my God! Please forgive me and my trespasses. I beseech you to pardon me Sona. You are not the only one who was cheated; even I have been deceived and intruded. He always promised me marriage. He told me that he had a younger sister who was his responsibility and once she was married, he would marry me. He was lying to me all these years and I, the fool I am, didn’t even realize it.” Rosa had become inconsolable and was shivering like a leaf in the wind by that time.
Her wailing attracted the maid’s attention and she rushed toward the living hall. Sona who was also crying by now, gathered her wits and asked the maid to leave. The maid left but not before giving both of them inquisitive looks. Fortunately, at that hour of time there was nobody else in the house otherwise all hell might have broken loose.
“I believe you, Rosa. I don’t blame you at all. It is his second nature to be unfaithful. He has always hurt people who have trusted him.”
“I cannot undo whatever that has happened, but I promise you that I shall not cause you any botheration ever again. I will not let Sandy exploit me anymore. I cannot promise you for sure, but I would definitely try to make it up to you.” Rosa asserted.
She looked apologetically at Sona, wiped off her tears and regaining her composure got up to leave, “Although I don’t know whether you would want to or not but in case you need to speak to me ever again, you can call me at this number.” She handed over a business card to Sona, hugged her and walked out of the house.
Sona’s eyes followed Rosa out and then kept staring at the emptiness of the door of her house. She had sacrificed so much for Sandy. Her father was a billionaire who was against her alliance with Sandy, yet she had gone against her family’s wishes to marry him. Her family never forgave her for that and disconnected all their ties with her, ostracizing her immediately after she left home for Sandy. The only person who maintained a relationship with her till date was her brother who lived in the US. She had not seen or spoken with her parents ever since her marriage. They had not even blessed her when she had had a beautiful daughter three years ago. She had gone through so much pain and endured it all for Sandy but now everything seemed worthless. Sandy had mocked her; he had disrespected and hurt her. While she was going through the ordeals of her pregnancy due to the complications, he was having a gala time with Rosa behind her back. Sona did not know how to react, who to turn to in this adverse situation. Her parents had already disowned her, therefore turning to them would be against her principles and self-respect and then they would always keep reminding her of how she suffered by not listening to them. Her brother was too far away to help her and sharing her agony with him would be causing him extreme distress, especially when he could not do much to relieve her of her pain from a distant country. The man she left everything for had stabbed her in the back. She wanted to end her life but then the thought of Sakshi, her young daughter deterred her not to take that extreme step. Her life had just come crashing down. She was shattered. Her head was numb, and her breathing was very slow and deep. She kept staring inanimately at the main exit for almost fifteen minutes before the ringtone of her cell phone shook her out of that stupor. She glanced at the cell phone and realized that it was Sandy calling her. She decided not to take the call and walked toward the kitchen to complete her daily household chores.
13th July 2010; 1pm
Inspector Raj was reading the newspaper. He smiled while going through the article on the Bobby Patel’s murder case. The story had all the ingredients including the names of the people under the lens along with the photographs of all the three ex-partners. He hoped that this effort might lead to something concrete. Just as he was going through the rest of the articles, his cell phone rang. It was his boss calling. The inspector shook his head as he picked up the phone because he knew the reason behind the call, “Jai Hind, Sahib!”
“What the hell is happening Raj?” shrieked his boss.
“Sahib, I don’t know. I think someone from our post has leaked the information to the press.”
“You know this could have serious repercussions, especially if the people named in the report file a defamation suit.”
“I understand sir, not only that but it could also have severe negative effects on the investigation itself. I will try to reach to the bottom of this.”
“The DCP also called up, he wants an explanation. Sandy has gone to him and complained as to why his name has appeared in the news, along with his photo.”
“I know DCP sahib knows him but sahib, I am shocked and surprised myself. I will revert on this very soon. Jai Hind.”
The inspector had a wicked smile on his face while disconnecting the call. He summoned his sub-ordinate into his chamber, “Good job Tiwari. The newspapers carried exactly the information that I wanted them to carry. Just be discreet about the whole ‘leaking issue’ as the superiors are bound to question us, I got a dressing down from the ACP sahib just now. Remember we don’t know anything about it.”
“Don’t you worry, sahib, I have worked under you for so long. I know the drill.” Tiwari assured the inspector with a smile on his face.
“Is Sandy being followed?”
“Yes sahib. Rana and Kishan are on his tail but nothing worth mentioning has cropped up so far. Even his cell phone records are clean, nothing fishy at the moment. All seems in order as they are all regular calls, and he has not even made any calls to Bobby’s cell in the last three months.”
“What about Joy, anything on him?”
“Not really! Everybody on Sandy’s list has been met but nobody has been in touch with him for quite some time now. No one has any clue on his current whereabouts; however, he had met one of the people on this list at Connaught place about two months ago. He was in a financial mess and was contemplating going back to his native place. That person thinks that he might have moved out of town by now as he was not doing well professionally. Further, Joy’s cell phone number that Sandy gave us has not been in use for the last three months.”
“What about Bobby’s phone records?”
“Nothing seems out of place as yet. It’s the same....all regular calls.”
The inspector let out a soft expletive under his breath and stared out of the window. Besides the news on Joy which raised slight hopes of locating him sooner or later, once again the avenues seemed to be closing down on him. He had hit a roadblock once again. He started feeling suffocated by the smell of the old files, paper and the dampness of the room and decided to go out in the main lobby of the police station to get some fresh air.
As he reached the reception area, he saw a fairly handsome man walk in. This person was broadly built, very fair, tall and bore a greyish mane and beard, indicating that he was probably in his mid-fifties. He walked up to the receptionist, smiled very confidently and asked for the Assistant Commissioner of Police. After a brief while he was taken into the ACP’s room. The inspector could not help but admire the person for his confidence and charisma.
He moved to the reception and took a glass of tea which was being served there to his other colleagues. His colleagues were busy discussing the cricket match from the ongoing series. The inspector used to be an avid boxer and a soccer player during his school and college days. He had even represented the state and some clubs in various prestigious tournaments, but those days were long gone by now. He had never had a penchant for cricket ever and therefore he quietly kept sipping his tea all the while as he was least interested in the discussions that his colleagues were having so animatedly.
The weather outside was very good. It was still drizzling. The refreshing cool breeze along with the pleasant smell of moist soil rejuvenated his senses. He wished that he had some Samosas or Pakoras along with his tea in this lovely weather. He realized how long it had been since he had last felt so good and relaxed. He remembered how during his childhood he and his friends used to slide on their tummies across the cemented veranda which they had in their home in the village during the rains. How they used to make paper boats and throw them in the neighborhood pond. How, after getting completely drenched they used to gorge on the spicy and hot Pakoras along with the steaming tea. So fresh were the memories that it felt as if all this had happened just yesterday. Today, life had changed so much. He had not visited his village for almost two decades now. He did not even know the whereabouts of most his childhood friends. All that he was left with were these memories in his lonely life.
He had lost his entire immediate family in a road accident. Although he was not in touch with any of them ever since he had got Sunaina’s parents married but blood relations are blood relations after all. He secretly longed for them and missed them....almost every day. That fateful day they all had boarded a bus and were on their way to Dehradun to attend a family wedding when disaster had struck. The driver had lost control and the bus fell into a ditch killing all onboard instantly. He had lost everyone, his father, mother, his two brothers and their families, his uncles, aunts, cousins.
Today he was so lonely that at times he wondered as to why was he also not dead but then it was for Sunaina that he lived on. He had ostracized himself from them post Sunaina’s parents’ wedding, hence was saved by the cruel hands of fate or else who knows maybe he also would have been on that bus. Then on, he had immersed himself completely into work during the day and booze during the night because every lonely moment was as torturous as being in hell for him, especially after Sunaina’s marriage. Then on he had made his mission to fight for the rights of others, sympathizing with them in their grief and finding relief in their solace.
He finished his tea and shook his head to shake himself out of the reminiscent stupor. As he was moving back toward his room, he got a message that he was called in by the ACP. When he reached the ACP’s room, he was greeted by the same smiling handsome guy. The ACP asked him to be seated and introduced the stranger. “Inspector Raj meet Mr. Damien Vaghela. He is here to meet you. I guess you have summoned him here. I just want to tell you that he is Mr. Gulati’s friend, a very close friend indeed.”
To be Continued