Game of Blogs: ENTANGLED LIVES- CHAPTER 13
The white pages with letters scribbled all over them lay on Shekhar’s table in his study room. He clearly remembered those pages, which he had kept aside in one of his “To Read” files initially and had taken them out only a couple of days back after Naina reminded him. It was a Sunday afternoon, when Tara was at work finishing up her next cover issue and Roohi was fast asleep. Naina knocked on Shekhar’s study room door ‘Knock Knock’; “yes?” came the reply from Shekhar. Naina had never disturbed him when he was inside his study, which she considered to be his sacred place.
As Naina entered the room that afternoon, Shekhar was surprised. “What brings you here? Has Roohi not slept yet?”, said Shekhar in a mellowed voice with a cigarette stuck in his left hand and a copy of the latest TIME magazine in his other.
Naina took out a bundle of papers hidden behind her and handed them over to Shekhar. “What’s this?” he asked thinking was he supposed to get any letters that day. “I have written something. I want you to have a look and tell me how it is. I did not want to disturb Tara Madam as she might not like me writing something,” Naina uttered in her soft voice. Shekhar was taken aback.
“Not really. I just wanted to write this.”
“What is it about?”
“I don’t know. I wrote what I felt.”
Before Shekhar could say something more, Naina spoke again, “It is nothing great. It is merely a small something in Hindi. I was scared English might not do justice to what I wanted to say. I just want you to look at it and tell me if it is nice.”
“I never knew we had another writer in making in our home.” Shekhar smiled.
Naina didn’t say much and excused herself from the room. Shekhar had an uncanny habit of keeping things in his “To Read” file unless it demanded his attention then and there. It was two days before Naina was murdered that she had reminded him of the pages. Shekhar had as usual taken the pages out but never managed to read what she had written.
A strong breeze brushed inside from the window of Shekhar’s study. The papers that were kept on his table were all flown here and there. Shekhar was suddenly transported back to the scene today. He got down and picked all the papers that lay scattered on the floor. He recognised the writing that he had seen when Naina had handed him those papers. They were small poetries in Hindi. They all had a sense of awakening in them. Shekhar was bowled over by the thoughts that Naina possessed. However, the smile on his face faded as he recalled the fact that such an aspiring life was cut short so soon. “Why would anyone want to kill Naina?” he thought to himself. As he got up with the papers in hands and placed them on the table, Inspector Java walked in.
“Oh, I am sorry I didn’t see you come in.”
“I am sure the papers had something more mesmerising than this bulky officer to have your gaze glued to them,” Java sad in a sarcastic tone.
“No, actually…” Shekhar wanted to say something about Naina’s poetry but cut himself short.
“So, Mr Dutta, Sad about your loving maid being dead?” Java said in a tone that unsettled Shekhar.
“What are you hinting at Mr Jawalkar?”
“Call me Java. I prefer that.” He was so profound in his expressions while calling himself by that name that it seemed it was not his name rather an honour equivalent to a Padma Shri.
“So where were we? Ah, I was asking you generally that you must be saddened by Naina’s death. No?”
“Yes, we all are. She was like a family to us. Roohi was too close to her. Naina would take care of the house like her own. When Tara and I had to step out for some work, she would always pitch in, to take care of Roohi, the food, the house, everything. Naina had become quite the woman of the house.” Shekhar stopped and suddenly felt he shouldn’t have said the last line.
“Woman of the house? I thought that’s your wife Tara.” Java was enjoying the beads of sweat that occupied Shekhar’s forehead.
“No, what I meant was like a foster mother to everyone of us.” Shekhar felt relieved having said that. He wondered what if Java speaks about what he said to him, to Tara. She will never like being compared to a maid as the woman of the house.
“So, Mr Dutta, what had you been upto since the morning of the crime?”
“I was finishing up some freelance writing assignments that I am due to submit tomorrow.”
“Ok. What was Naina doing then while you were writing?”
“I don’t know. I work in my study and she never disturbs me until it is something extremely important.”
“Why did you then come out of your study?”
“I heard the door bell. Naina called me out. My daughter Roohi was in Cyrus’ arms. She had hurt herself.”
“Do you know that man personally?”
“No. I have met him just once near the tea shop opposite our apartment.”
“Do you think Cyrus knew Naina?”
“Excuse me? How can he know her? He had come to Mumbai only a few weeks back while Naina has been here in Mumbai all her life.”
“No, may be through social networks?”
“I don’t think so. Naina was not the social network freaks. She was too humble to get into all that. She even refused our offer of gifting her a smartphone on her birthday. She had strictly told us to give anything but a phone. She was happy with her old Nokia 1100.”
“That reminds me, I will have to check her phone records too.” Java shouted out to his counterparts outside the room and asks them to get hold of Naina’s phone records.
“So Mr Dutta did you like Naina?”
“ Sorry? What did you say?”
“I said did you like Naina?”
“As a person, of course yes. I told you earlier she was like a family to us. Roohi liked spending time with her.”
Shekhar was getting annoyed by Java’s continuous poking into his personal space.
“I did too. She enjoyed listening to my poetry and articles.”
“How sweet is that!” Java said in a mocking romantic tone.
“That’s it.” Shekhar got up from his chair and looked straight into Java’s eyes. He had moved couple of inches forward to come face to face with Java. There was hardly any space left between the two. Shekhar was angry now.
“Listen Mr Java. It would be good if you spend your time asking or finding about who the killer is rather than asking me about whether I liked Naina or not. Whatever information I had I gave you. Being a top cop, you should do the rest. Stop harassing our family unnecessarily.” Shekhar spoke in one breath and stopped as Java put his hands on his mouth.
“Don’t teach me Mr Dutta, what to do and what not to. I know my skills perfectly. Naina died or was murdered to say it clearly, when all four of you were inside the house. How can she be killed without an insider’s hand?” Java spoke in a stern voice.
“Are you trying to say I killed her?”
“Oh come on Mr Dutta, I am neither a fool nor are you. You might not have killed her but you may have assisted in her being killed. Of course, that needs to be established. Or should I say its done already?” Java said in a voice that was confident of proving Shekhar as the guilty.
“Listen Mr Java, you can go ahead and say whatever you want. I have told you what I had to. There is nothing much I can say.” Shekhar said and turned around to leave from his room.
“By the way, why don’t you ask Tara about her fight with Naina the other night? She might give you a better answer.” Shekhar said and walked out of the room.
“Smart ass. He knows how to play his moves. You think you can fool Inspector Java? You are wrong Mr Dutta. I shall get hold of you very soon. Just wait and watch,” Java took out his cigar to smoke. “Why would Tara want to kill Naina? Did she suspect her of having an affair with Mr Dutta?” Java thought to himself. He hastily got up from the chair, where he had reclined till now while interrogating Shekhar, walked out of the room and called his next “suspect.”
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