Friday, April 15, 2011

The Final Adieu - Part 9 (Final)




Day 2, 09:00 pm

Sagar was screaming at everyone who tried to talk to him. He had put a shield around himself and did not allow anyone to come anywhere close to him. He could not believe what had just happened. He, who always prided in himself for manipulating criminals, had been manipulated and fooled by a psycho serial killer. The thought gave him shivers through his body and he promised to himself to catch Madhu alive. Madhu was going to pay for what he had done.


Yamuna tried to console him, but then gave up concluding there was nothing she could do to console him. She tried to talk to him, only to get yelled at by him. Initially she felt offended, but then she knew how much Sagar loved Asheeta, so she let it go. She waited patiently for Sagar to return back to his normal self. She waited in his room for around half an hour when she was suddenly startled by a voice.


"Sorry!"


It was Sagar, and his apology sounded with utmost sincerity.


"Hey Sags, no problem. Do you think I can't understand what you are going through?"


Sagar remained silent for a while. Now it was Yamuna who broke the silence.


"Any news about the real Shankar?"


"Yeah, he was handled hard, but no serious damage. I am surprised why Madhu did not kill him. It only proves Madhu has absolutely no interest in men."


"But how did Madhu know the name Shankar?"


"Science and Technology has its own pros and cons, you know"


"Um...I totally lost you"


"Do you remember I was trying to call Asheeta, but her mobile was not reachable? Madhu had placed a cell phone jammer nearby, it blocks all the cell phone signals, so Asheeta's mobile would have lost signal, and that was why we could not reach her. Similarly he had also used an antenna that could capture and barge-in calls at a close perimeter. He must have listened to our calls and he would have known the name Shankar"


"He did not take the devices back with him"


"No! I guess he does not need them any more"


"Where is he right now? And what is he doing?"


"I will find out soon" replied Sagar in a firm voice.


Just then, their conversation was interrupted by a call. The call was from the cyber crime office. Sagar answered the call immediately. He spoke for a few minutes. After a long time, Yamuna found a streak of hope in Sagar's face as he disconnected the call.


"Yams, they got the location of Madhu. I am going now. For your own safety, please don’t compel me to take you along, I have no such intentions"


Having said that Sagar did not wait for an answer from Yamuna and sped off. Yamuna started waiting for a good news from Sagar.


*************************************

Asheeta tried hard to open her eyes. But as hard as she tried, it was difficult. She tried to remember what happened to her. And then a series of images played in her mind. She realized how she was fooled by Madhu. She again tried to open her eyes and with much difficulty, was finally successful. She was lying on the ground. She checked if she was wearing her dress and to her relief she was not undressed.


Asheeta saw a small glass window at a distance. She tried to open it, but it proved very hard. After innumerable attempts, she could open it a little. The next second she heard a sound that sounded like a whistle. But she was not sure what it was. She squinted her eyes trying to figure our where she was. But all that she saw was darkness. She thought she saw something when she heard a cough. She quickly closed the window and looked around the room.


At a distance Asheeta saw a woman lying at the corner naked. She immediately realized it was Sabitha. Asheeta felt a pang of guilt. It was all because of me. She tried hard to push away that feeling and walked slowly to Sabitha. Asheeta touched her softly and immediately Sabitha started wailing loudly.


"Please, please leave me. Please"


Asheeta did not know what to do for a moment. Then she quickly turned around to check if Madhu was back. But there was no sign of him. Asheeta sighed and tried to shut Sabitha's mouth.


"Shhhh...It is me, Asheeta...Please open your eyes and look at me"


It took Sabitha a while to realize it was not a man's voice, but a woman. She opened her eyes very slowly and looked at Asheeta.


"Who are you? Are you an angel? Is this heaven?"


Asheeta understood Sabitha was confused and did not know how to explain to her.


"Uh...no...I am Asheeta, a story writer in WW site"


"Oh! So you are dead too?" Sabitha asked and started laughing uncontrollably. "I am a fool. For a second I thought if I was moved from hell to heaven. So why are you in hell? What sin did you commit?"


Asheeta sat thinking what to reply, when she was startled by a male voice.


"Don't waste your time, Ash. She is convinced this is hell."


It was Madhu smiling.


"Who are you?"


"For starters, I am Madhu"


"Why are doing this to us?"


"You asked me to Ash"


"I don’t even know you"


"Aah! I thought the same until few months back. And then I came to know about your story from Naresh. Only then did I realize how much you had loved me, that you had taken all the pain to find my past and also started writing it as a story"


Asheeta understood Madhu's mental state was no different from that of Sabitha. Both believed in something that did not exist and there was nothing she could do to prove them otherwise. She chose to remain silent, but her mind started racing to find all possibilities for an escape.


"I want you to write the final chapter of TFA"


"Now?"


"Yes! But this time the climax will be mine. Tell the viewers that you preponed posting the final chapter by one night. Is it clear?"


Asheeta nodded her head. She was given a laptop. Madhu showed her a word document which had the final chapter of TFA. Asheeta posted it in her blog and shut down the system.


"Good! Now do you want to know what happened after my mother died?"


"Yeah, tell me" Asheeta replied. Though she had no interest in it, she wanted to buy some time.


"My dad was my mentor, guru, everything. I stopped going to school as it meant nothing to both of us. We had better things to do in the World. He taught me how to handle women. He..."


Asheeta was not listening to Madhu any more. Her mind was in deep thoughts struggling hard to keep her calm. I am going to make it. I will find a way out and see Sagar again. I can and will do it. She kept repeating the same to herself until she believed in herself.


"You don’t seem to be listening to me" Madhu's voice interrupted Asheeta's thoughts.


"No! I am listening to you"


"You B***H! You are just like my mom. Don't you women ever speak the truth?" Madhu's voice echoed all around the room. Asheeta tried hard to keep her voice calm and said


"Believe me, please"


Madhu stared at her for a while.


"Alright! I know what is disturbing you. I will be back in a while. I need to make an important call" Madhu said and left Asheeta in the darkness.


Once Madhu left, Asheeta tried hard to make Sabitha get back to her sense. She reminded Sabitha about the TFA story and how Sabitha always commented on her story. Finally when nothing helped, Asheeta slapped her hard which immediately proved effective. Sabitha stared at Asheeta for some time. Then slowly Asheeta explained to her about their current situation.


"Can you tell me what all happened after you were kidnapped?"


"I...I was brought here, and then the first thing he did was to destroy my mobile phone"


"Then?"


"He...He killed...Oh...that poor woman...He..."


Asheeta held her hands tightly and comforted her.


"Everything is fine now. Don't worry"


Sabitha barely nodded her head.


*************************************



Sagar and his team of five entered the remote building at the ECR. It was a guest house owned by some big shot and was mainly used for rent for movie shootings. Sagar and his men stayed out for some time, and tried to find any movement inside. But there was absolute silence. Sagar discussed with his men about the different options that they had before them. They could break in and risk getting the women hurt. They could wait outside for any movement, but it could be too late to save the women.


After a long discussion it was decided that they would break in.


The front door was not locked. So they had no issues in entering the house. They turned on the lights. The living room looked like someone had been living there for some time. The men dispersed in each direction in search of any clue as to where Madhu was hiding the women. Sagar slowly analyzed each and every object in the house. He was on the look for any potential clues when an object caught his attention.


It was a small black cube, with a small opening in the front. Sagar had never seen anything like that before. He turned it all around the sides, but could not figure out what it was. Just then his men came out and claimed that they could find nothing.


"Ram, take a look at this. Do you have any idea what it is?"


One of his men, Ram, came forward and analyzed the object.


"No! This looks totally new to me"


"Hmm...Did you guys find anything useful?"


"Nothing Sir"


"But this is the place from where Madhu sent that mail. At least there must be a laptop"


"I think he shifted from this place Sir"


"Even I was thinking the same. But there is something around here sending me an alarm. I just don't know what"


Just then Sagar received a call on his mobile. It was Yamuna. Before he could answer the call, he heard some buzzing noise from the object he was holding on the other hand.


Sagar stared at the object for a while. Then he moved his mobile close to the object, the buzzing sound grew more. When he moved his mobile away, the buzzing sound reduced. Sagar rejected the call and brought the object close to him. His body immediately turned rigid.


"Boys, Madhu is currently looking at us"


"Sir!!?


"Yes! Don’t show any change in your facial expression. Continue talking to me naturally. Don’t look at this object"


"What is it Sir?"


"This is a camera device with video calling facility. You might have known the latest Video calling facility our service providers are offering us. This object that I am holding is something similar to our mobile. It has a camera and a SIM card inserted in it. The device has a dedicated number just like our mobile number. Now anyone who calls this number would be able to see us through the camera. I believe Madhu is watching us from somewhere"


"But Sir, won't there be a mike attached too"


"I know. I am holding the mike with my thumb. Now I am going to release it. We need to act as if nothing happened and quietly leave this house. Understand?"


The men just nodded their heads.


Sagar released the camera device. He then placed it back on the table from where he took it. Sagar and his men was about to leave the house when the camera device beeped twice and turned silent. Sagar was immediately alarmed. He sensed something was going to happen. He shouted,


"Come on, quick guys, let us get the hell out of here"


They ran out of the house. Sagar was the first to run out and when he turned to check if all had made out, he heard a huge blast. The sound deafened him for a second and the last thing he saw was bright light before closing his eyes.


*************************************



Asheeta was sitting on the floor, still unable to find a method to escape. She was tired thinking of all possibilities. Sabitha was in no way of any help. So Asheeta had to think for both of them.


Oh Sagar! Why are you not with me? Why did you leave me and go? Was that the last time you touched me? Was that the last time you kissed me? Will I ever see you again? Will I ever tell you how much I love you? I need you Sagar. Oh please God! Give me the strength


Asheeta was silently praying, and tears rolled down her eyes when Madhu entered the room.


"Ash..."


Madhu called her in a husky voice.


Asheeta lifted her head, and to her surprise found Madhu much more calm than before.


"Ash...you know what?"


Asheeta was simply staring at Madhu. She was not sure if she wanted to hear what Madhu was about to tell.


"Sagar is dead"


"No!" Asheeta retorted even before the message Madhu said sank in her.


"I killed him just now, my dear"


"Nooo!!"


This time Asheeta's voice went high.


"Yes!" Madhu said and shut the door behind leaving Asheeta gape at him.


"No...No...No..."


Asheeta's voice turned to a scream and then to tears. She burst out crying and there was no stopping. Outside the door, Madhu was listening to her cry and was smiling, pleased with himself.


*************************************



Sagar was unconscious for over an hour. When he got up, the first person he saw was Ram.


"Ram...Ram...What happened?"


"The camera device was designed such that after the call disconnected, a bomb inside was to go off in a few seconds."


"Are...Are all safe?"


Ram remained silent.


"Ram...please answer me"


"Only we both made out in time Sir. For the rest, it was too late"


"B*****D. I will kill him. I will find him and kill him" Sagar screamed.


"Sir, please be quiet. This is a hospital. Please try to control yourself Sir"


"No Ram! This Madhu is always ahead of us. We need to stop him. Oh my poor Ash, she is with him. I need to get her. Do you understand?"


"Yes Sir"


Suddenly Sagar realized something.


"BTW, where is Yamuna?"


"Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Yamuna had left you a note and she has gone Sir"


"Gone where?" asked a surprised Sagar.


"We don’t know Sir. This is the note she had asked to be given to you" Ram said and handed over a small piece of paper to Sagar. Sagar read the note. Yamuna had asked her to call a number. Sagar did not understand head or tail of the note. He did not understand what could have been all the more urgent that Yamuna had left in such a hurry. As if reading his mind, Ram continued,


"Sir! I have a small doubt"


"Hmm...what?" Sagar asked though he knew what was coming.


"What if Yamuna was somehow involved in the murders? May be she is doing all this to gain popularity for her site."


Sagar did not comment anything. Neither could he accept it totally, nor could he deny it totally. He remained silent. Then he called the number mentioned in the note, hoping he should not hear any more bad news.


*************************************



Asheeta was drained of all her emotions. She had nothing left to live. It was always the same. Whenever she loved someone with all her heart, God took them away from her. First it was her parents, not it was Sagar. Asheeta did not find any reason to live. She was ready to die. She was ready to see Sagar again, in heaven.


Madhu pushed his way inside the room. He saw Asheeta and screamed


"That lucky son of a B***H, he escaped you know"


Asheeta was not sure if she heard him correctly. She simply stared at Madhu.


"Your Sagar did not die. He is not brave enough to die. He is so scared of death, that he just ran away. And do you want a coward like him? Look at me, I am ready to die. Don’t you realize who is better?"


Asheeta's happiness knew no bounds. The news that Sagar was alive was enough to bring her back to her normal self. All the hope that had drained came back again. She smiled and decided to play the game along with Madhu. She understood that was her only way to escape.


"Yes Madhu. It took me so long to realize the truth. Definitely you are the better one" Asheeta replied and smiled graciously at Madhu.


The next minute, she got a hard slap on her face. She failed to realize what had gone wrong.


"You smile just like my mom. I hate that. Don’t you ever smile again"


Madhu roared and stared at her. Asheeta realized it was not an easy task. She tried hard to control her tears and nodded her head.


"OK! Now, I am going to kill this w***e, just as you had described in your story. Ready?"


Asheeta looked at him scared. She had to try real hard to hide her fear. She managed to smile and then remembered his warning. So she immediately changed her facial expression. Madhu glared at her for a while, and then turned to Sabitha.


Sabitha did not cry, nor was she scared. She stared back at Madhu, her eyes and face totally void. She then turned to Asheeta.


"I told you this was hell. You did not believe me"


She then closed her eyes and continued,


"I am ready"


"Open your eyes, baby" Madhu whispered in her ears. "I want to see you when I do things to you"


Sabitha opened her eyes, and Asheeta noted that Sabitha had fully surrendered herself to Madhu.


It took every bit of her self control, for Asheeta to keep her eyes open. Whenever she closed her eyes, Madhu would shake her strongly and would force her to open her eyes. She saw Madhu mounting on Sabitha, and rocking back and forth. He cut her all over her body and finally he snatched her ring finger.


Exactly at the moment when Madhu was about to chop the finger, he let out a wail and fell down unconscious.


*************************************



"Hello, Janani speaking"


"Hello! This is Sagar, ACP Chennai. Yamuna, founder of WW site had given me this number to contact you"


"Oh yeah! I am from the network team of WW"


"OK"


"Actually there was some activity in Asheeta's WW account."


"What was it?"


"She had logged in and posted a blog"


"TFA?"


"Yes, the final chapter"


"Oh! Could you trace the location?"


"No! But we found something else"


"What?"


"Well Sir, actually Asheeta had posted a blog first at
10:35 pm and then modified it at 10:36 pm"

"So?"


"We wanted to make sure what she had modified. So we checked in our database, and found an address"


"What? Just an address?"


"Yes Sir! She must have known the place where she is kept. She had first posted the address and then modified it with the story"


"Can you give me the address?"


Janani gave the address. Sagar thanked Janani profusely and immediately left for the place with Ram and few other men.


*************************************



Asheeta did not understand what had happened for a while. She was so shocked that she felt like she was paralyzed. She slowly turned around and to her relief found Yamuna holding a long iron rod.


Asheeta ran to Yamuna and hugged her very hard. Both were very happy on seeing each other. They hugged and cried for a long time.


"How Yamuna....How did you know I was here?" Asheeta managed to ask.


"Aah! You did everything and now you are asking me, huh? That was a very thoughtful idea Ash, to post the address and then modify it with the story"


"Oh Yamuna, I was praying so badly that you should see it and the address should be correct"


"How did you find this place Ash?"


"Oh! It was that sound. I have heard it so many times in my childhood. My father used to take me to a resort and I used to get so scared of that sound, a kind of a whistle from one of the nearby factories. That sound used to freak me out and I remember hugging my dad tight. My dad used to take me to the beach nearby to make me feel better. When I heard the same sound here, and when I saw what I thought was waves from one of the windows here, I just roughly guessed it should be the same beach resort"


"And thank God you were right"


"BTW, how is Sagy? Is he fine? Where is he?"


"Cool down Ash! Just ask me one question at a time. Sagar is doing great. I wanted to bring him along, but he was not ready yet. I did not want to delay any further, so I came first. He will come soon, I hope"


"Oh, thanks Yamuna. Thank you so much"


"Are we going to stay here forever? This place gives me creeps"


"Oh yeah! Let us move. But Sabitha is in a very bad shape. I think we need to carry her"


It was only then that Yamuna noticed Sabitha. Yamuna felt Sabitha's heart beat. It was very feeble.

Yamuna removed Madhu's shirt and put it on Sabitha. She then held Sabitha's head and Asheeta held her legs and they both carried Sabitha out.


The room was in a basement. It tired them out while carrying Sabitha on the staircase. But the image of Madhu kept them going. They slowly reached the ground floor. Then they rested for a while. Then again they carried Sabitha towards the front door.


Both Yamuna and Asheeta were sweating heavily now. They had come near the front door. It was just few foot away and then they would be free. Yamuna tried to push open the door, but the door did not give in.


Yamuna stared at it confused. She again pushed it, but the door was shut tight.


“How did you come in Yamuna?"


"The door was open, so I just walked in. Looks like now it is locked. May be it is auto lock and I did not notice it. Now we need a key"


"Wait! I remember seeing a key in Madhu's pocket. Let me go and get it"


"No, you wait. Already you look very tired. I will get it" Yamuna said and started walking back to the basement.


Yamuna felt like it would take forever before she reached the basement. She did not like the idea of going back, but she knew that was her only was to escape. With pounding heart she climbed down the stair. With each step she took, she felt her heart race and she could hear her own heart beat.


She reached the end of the stairs and she slowly opened the door. Madhu was still lying on the floor. Yamuna slowly walked towards him. She made the steps as small as possible, scared that she may wake him up.


She went near him and slowly touched his arms. Madhu did not respond, he lied there like a dead man. Yamuna heaved a sigh of relied and sat down and put her hands inside Madhu's left pant pocket. She did not find the keys. Then she searched the right pocket, and finally she felt the keys. She slowly pulled it out and stood up. She was happy that she finally made it.


She turned around to leave when something caught her legs. She quickly turned alarmed, but to her relief found her slipper caught under Madhu's hands. She raised his hands when he suddenly grabbed her hands.


Yamuna reflexively screamed. But Immediately Madhu shut her mouth and whispered


"Did you really think you escaped?"


*************************************



Asheeta heard Yamuna scream and instantly realized what could have happened. She wanted to go down and help Yamuna, but, she was not sure in what condition Madhu was. She remembered Madhu falling down in a pool of blood, so she was sure if she went, she along with Yamuna could bring down Madhu. But she was scared to leave Sabitha alone.


Asheeta then realized that there must be a back door. She left Sabitha and went searching for a back door. She went past a master bedroom, then a dining room and a kitchen. She knew the back door must be somewhere close by. She kept walking until she found it. And thanks to her prayers, the door was open. She again went front and started pulling Sabitha towards the back door.


Pulling Sabitha proved much more difficult. But Asheeta utilized her last bit of strength to pull her. She reached the back door and peeped out to check if someone was there. There was no one. Then she pulled Sabitha out and stood there for a while debating within herself if she should go back inside for Yamuna, or bring some help.


Just then someone closed her mouth from back. Alarmed she turned around, only to find Sagar.


Asheeta found it difficult to express her emotions. Words went meaningless, and she hugged Sagar with all her might, almost crushing his bones. Sagar was no less in his hug. He cried on her shoulders and kissed her gently on her eyes.


Then suddenly Asheeta remembered something and whispered in his ears


"Sabitha..."


"I know" Sagar said and immediately called for an ambulance. One of his men started giving her first aid.


"Ash...Where is Yamuna?"


"She is with Madhu in the basement. She hit him hard on his head. It knocked him unconscious temporarily. But he came back to his senses pretty soon. Oh Sagy, please save Yamuna. She came here for me" Asheeta pleaded.


Sagar comforted her. He then called his men and when they were about to enter the house, Ram stopped Sagar.


"Sir, look at that"


All turned towards the direction where Ram pointed. It was smoke.


There was an immediate tension among them. Sagar did not waste any time. He pushed everyone and went inside the house. He ran towards the basement.


There he saw Madhu being burned alive. Next to Madhu was Yamuna lying down unconscious.


*************************************

Epilogue 1

Day 3, 07:30 am


Yamuna was lying on the hospital bed. Sagar and Asheeta were sitting on both sides of the bed.


"So, you thought you were some Jhansi Rani?" Sagar asked Yamuna in a teasing voice.


"What? You police are always late as in movies. So I had to take charge"


"Oh yeah...And you decided to go and catch Madhu single handedly, without any police force. Very Good! I thought you had some brains"


"Oh come on...Accept the truth that you wanted to save Asheeta. I spoiled that chance of yours and now you are blaming me" Yamuna teased him back.


All started laughing and it was very hard for Asheeta to control her cheeks from turning pink.


"Oh...look at that...Guess those cheeks are inviting for a kiss" Yamuna teased again.


This time Asheeta’s cheeks bright scarlet.


"Oh come on...stop teasing her" Sagar supported Asheeta.


Sagar and Asheeta looked into the depth of their eyes and Yamuna saw a burning passion in them. She smiled and mumbled about taking a walk and went out.


The next moment, Asheeta was in Sagar's hands.


"Hey Sagy, did you ever find out who kept sending me those flowers?"


"Of course, it was Naresh"


"Hmm...how is Sabitha?"


"She is fine now, my love. She needs some professional help to come out of her trauma, but along with Rajesh she would make it"


"Oh...I am so happy. But the other women...."


Sagar gently closed Asheeta's mouth and said


"Let us make a deal. We are not going to speak about the past. Only present and future, what do you say?"


"Sure, my dearest. But I have one last question. What happened in there? Did Yamuna tell you?"


"Yeah! When Madhu realized that we had surrounded the house and that he had no escape, he pushed Yamuna and set fire on himself. Yamuna had fallen on the sharp edge of a wall, so she hurt herself and was knocked to the ground. I wonder what would have been Madhu's last thoughts"


"Who cares...Such a monster is better dead. I still can’t imagine Kathir was real. I will never write a thriller story again. TFA would be my last"


"Uh-ho...Why don’t you try some nice romantic love stories?" Sagar asked and winked.


Asheeta smiled and blushed again.


The fire in them reignited and Sagar locked his lips in hers in a tight embrace, never to leave her again.


*************************************

Epilogue 2


Day 3, 07:30 am


"What is he doing?" he asked her, pointing at their son's locked room.


"The usual stuff. Watching cartoon, I guess" she replied.


"Who knows, may be he is watching some porn"


"Oh God! He is just 9. He does not know such stuff."


"When has he ever behaved like a kid? Your brother spoiled him for the few years he stayed with us"


"Now please don't talk about him. I don’t even want to call him my brother"


"Of course he is your brother. How else do you want me to call him?


"First of all, he is just a cousin and not my own brother. Secondly, you need not have to call him by any name. Let us forget that such a person existed in our life. If we stop talking about him, our son would eventually forget that such an uncle existed"


"Hmm...you are right. BTW, I saw our son bringing home some package from school. Did you check it?"


"He is our son, not a criminal. Please give him some space. He needs his privacy"


"Whatever you say, my dear" he laughed and she too joined in his laughter.


Inside the room, the 9 year old boy was watching the TV without batting his eye lid.


On the screen was a woman being brutally raped, tortured and murdered. In the background was Madhu's voice...


"This is what you need to do when you grow up..."


*************** THE END ***************

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Final Adieu - Part 8


Day 2, 07:00 pm



"So...we are back to square one, I guess?" Yamuna questioned Sagar in a concerned voice.


Yamuna was sitting opposite to Sagar in his room. Sagar was sitting on his chair, his hands on his head and eyes closed. He nodded his head in acknowledgment to Yamuna's query. But his mind was elsewhere. When he had thought he had almost caught the serial killer, there was a hard blow on his face. And there was much more he wanted to know. He needed to find out Naresh's true intentions of visiting Asheeta's house, if Naresh shared the story draft with anyone else, if Naresh worked with the serial killer as a duo, if it was Naresh that sent the mail or someone else that used his laptop.


"You seem to be in deep thoughts. Many unanswered questions, huh?" Yamuna questioned again.


Sagar understood her intention. She was trying to make a conversation in order to make him feel relaxed. But Sagar knew that until he laid his hands on the serial killer, he would not be relaxed.


"Hmm, yeah..." Sagar replied in a disturbed voice.


"So, what are you waiting for? Can't we start interrogating Naresh?"


"He is in the cell for only half an hour. Let him wait for some more time. I want to scare the s*** out of him"


"Does he know why he is arrested?"


"We have not told him anything. He would have known that it is something related to the mail, if he was the one that sent it to me"


"You still believe it could be someone else that sent the mail?"


"No, I am just suggesting that could be a possibility. Anyways, we will know the truth in some time."


"All right! I want to be with you during the interrogation"


"Very much appreciated" Sagar smiled.


Sagar and Yamuna decided they would start the interrogation after half an hour. Sagar spent the time by discussing the case details with his senior officers. He also made several calls to the cyber crime office regarding tracing the sender of the mail that Sabitha received. They still could not trace the mail. Meanwhile, Sagar also called Asheeta and told her the developments in the case. He instructed her not to open the house for anyone or answer any other calls, but him.


Yamuna found it hard to kill time. So, she opened the WW site in Sagar's laptop and started reading Asheeta's story from the beginning, hoping to see any clues that Sagar might have missed.


After reading the first two parts of the story, she understood the pattern in which Asheeta had written the story. The whole story was written from Kathir's point of view. It was like Kathir was telling his story to the readers. The story had two time lines; one time-line talked about how women were abducted and killed by him, whereas the other time-line talked about his past.


Yamuna found the abduction and killing highly improper to read. Asheeta had explicitly mentioned the way Kathir tortured the women before killing them. If it had been just a story, Yamuna would have had no problem in reading it. But now since she knew it happened to real women, she skipped reading it and chose to read only Kathir's past.


I was fast asleep in my bedroom. Suddenly I woke up hearing a loud scream. First, I could not identify the voice, but then in a moment I understood it was my mom. It has become a routine these days, my mom would scream on top of her voice, yell at dad and do things I never understood. I used to be so scared that I went underneath my bed until the scream slowly faded and eventually stopped. But the next day my mom would act as if nothing happened, and would come around with a smile on her lips. I never understood her behaviour. Only later did I realize that women all are great actors.


Yamuna could not imagine what Kathir would have gone through as a child. She tried to understand, but the dead woman's image kept popping in her mind making it impossible to empathize.


I had just come back from school. Due to fever, I had started from school earlier than usual. I wanted to surprise my mom, so I slowly sneaked through the back door of my house and reached the bedroom. I was about to knock the door, when I heard some strange voices from inside. I tried to peep in through the key hole. There, I saw my mom holding my neighbor uncle's hands and crying. I immediately understood what had happened. I was wild with anger, I wanted to smash the door open and kick that uncle out of our house. But being so small in size, I could do nothing. I slowly sneaked out and went to a nearby park. I stayed there until my mom found me and took me back to our house. I looked up at her face and searched for any guilt. But there she was, smiling as always. I could not understand her behavior. Only later did I realize that women are all big liars.


Yamuna understood that Kathir's mom had been in an extra marital affair. With heavy heart, she continued to read the story.


I could not sleep the night I learned my mom's affair. I was lying on my bed staring at the ceiling. I was awake for a long time and never knew when I dozed off. Suddenly I felt someone caress my body. I immediately knew it was my mom. Was she going to leave me? Was she going to run away with that uncle? I tried so hard to control my tears, but I did not dare to open my eyes. I did not want my mom to know that I knew everything about her. My mom kissed me on my forehead. Please don't leave me mom, please, please. I was screaming silently. And then I heard my mom whisper something. I could not understand her. I immediately opened my eyes, and the sight caught me totally off guard. My mom was crying.


"Hey Yams, shall we start the interrogation?" Sagar's voice brought Yamuna back to the present. She very badly wanted to continue reading the story, but did not want to miss the interrogation. So she half heartedly closed the site and followed Sagar to the cell where Naresh was kept.


"Hello Naresh, how are you doing?" Sagar said in a low yet authoritative voice.


"If you could just tell me what is going on, I would feel much better" Naresh retorted.


Sagar studied Naresh closely. Naresh was trying hard to put a brave look. It was evident he was scared to heights, but did not want to show it. He was made to sit on a chair, and his hands were chained. There was dry blood near his nose, which Sagar concluded, would have been the result of the punch from his man. Sagar made a mental note to appreciate the man who had done a fair job.


Sagar signaled his men, who then brought two chairs, one for Sagar and another for Yamuna. They sat opposite to Naresh.


"So, tell me Naresh, what were you doing at Asheeta's house?"


"Oh that, Um...actually from when did visiting a friend's house became a crime?"


Sagar paused for a moment and then pulled out a cover from his pocket. He opened the cover and took some photos and flashed each of the photos before Naresh. Naresh took a look at all the snaps. Sagar closely watched Naresh for any signs of emotional response in his body language. But there was none.


"Do you remember these women from somewhere?"


"No! Why are you asking me this?"


Sagar ignored his question and pulled out another cover from his pocket. It was the printout of the mail he had received. He gave it to Naresh and asked,


"Remember this mail?"


Naresh's face did not change a bit, but Sagar noted something else. Naresh's hands were clutching the paper tight and his feet were pressing the ground hard.


"No. I don't know who sent this mail" Naresh finally managed to say.


"Look, I do not want to treat you the usual way we treat criminals. Don't force me to do so"


Naresh gulped down his own saliva and shook his head.


"No, I really don't know who sent it"


"Hmm...You know what? I checked your bedroom. Any guess what I found?"


Now Naresh's face showed a clear trace of terror. He did not want to believe what he was hearing.


"You are lying" Naresh said completely shaken.


Sagar smiled to himself thinking how easy it was to break down someone.


"Am I? Lets see...what is his laptop password Yamuna, we checked right" Sagar said turning towards Yamuna.


Yamuna knew she need not reply anything. She understood Sagar was trying to make Naresh speak the truth. So she kept quite.


"Aah!! Well, if you she does not want to open her mouth, let me do it. it was 'Asheeta', right?"


Now Naresh was totally horrified. He realized it was time to speak the truth


"Oh please Sir, I will tell you whatever I know"


"Good! So, why don't you start from the mail you sent?"


"Yeah, Um...Actually before that, please promise me you won't tell any of this to Asheeta"


"Why?"


"Well, she holds me in high regard, I don’t want to spoil it, please Sir"


Sagar for the first time pitied Naresh. He did not want to beak his heart by saying that Asheeta already knew it. So he just nodded his head and prompted Naresh to continue.


"Well, everything started two years back. The very first day I set my eyes on Asheeta, I knew I loved her. It was not her beauty, it was not a physical attraction, it was a feeling I never felt before. I knew we were lovers in our previous birth, but could not unite for some reason. We had born again to reunite in this birth"


Sagar felt uneasy listening to Naresh for two reasons; one, he was in love with Asheeta and two, Naresh seemed to be too much obsessed. But he wanted to know the truth, so without uttering a word, he allowed Naresh to continue.


"I moved very close to her, and I was always with her. I tried all possible things to impress her, but I never got the courage to reveal my feelings towards her. And then two weeks back, she came to me with her new serial story. In one of the episodes, she had written that the serial killer sends a suicide note to police. I thought if I wrote a real mail similar to that, then if it becomes a police case, her story would gain popularity and she would be impressed"


Naresh finished and hung his head in shame.


"You are a software engineer right? Didn't you think twice before sending that mail?"


Naresh did not dare to lift up his head.


"Hmm...and the purpose of your visit to Asheeta's house today?"


"Uh...I had planned to propose to her"


Sagar felt his face turn red in anger.


"Did you?"


"No Sir! Your men stopped me"


Sagar heaved a sigh and continued,


"Is there anything else you are hiding from me?"


"No...No Sir!"


The answer came too fast,
Sagar thought.

"All right. Thanks for your confession" Sagar said and called some number from his mobile.


"Hello...Sagar speaking Sir. We got Naresh's confession. We can arrest him for the murders of the women. I will bring him shortly"


Naresh almost jumped out of his chair.


"Hey..no...what murders? I don't understand anything"


Sagar turned to Naresh.


"You accepted you sent that mail to me right? Similarly you killed those women hoping the story would gain more popularity. What a psycho you are?"


"No...no way Sir"


"Yeah, I know. You did it. Want to know how Asheeta would react when she comes to know about it?"


"No...." Naresh screamed.


Sagar remained silent allowing Naresh to regain his composure. After a while, Naresh started to speak.


"Fine. There is one thing I hid from you Sir"


"What is that?"


At exactly that instant Sagar received a call on his mobile. It was Asheeta calling. Sagar was immediately alarmed and excused himself out of the room.


Naresh studied Yamuna for a moment and asked,


"Were those women really killed?"


Yamuna nodded her head.


"I can’t believe it"


"Me neither"


"Who are you by the way?"


"I am Yamuna, the founder of WW site"


"Oh...Ash had told a lot about you. I wish we could have met in a better situation"


Just then Sagar came inside the cell. He called Yamuna to come out with him. Yamuna sensed that something was bothering him. She immediately followed him.


"What happened Sagar? Any bad news"


"I don’t know how bad it is. Asheeta says a man is watching her house for a long time and that she had never seen him before"


"Oh...what are you going to do?"


"I will be sending one of my men to bring her here. I don’t think anywhere else is safe for her. I want her to be with me until the serial killer is caught"


Yamuna noted that Sagar was extremely worried.


"Dont worry, she will be safe"


"Yeah...I know. By the way, you were reading the story right. Did you find any clue about the real Kathir?"


"No. I haven't yet completed reading it"


"Fine. You complete the story. Meanwhile I will interrogate Naresh"


"OK, done!" Yamuna shook Sagar's hands and left to his room.


She opened the site and continued reading from where she quit.


My mom was crying. That was the first time I was seeing her cry. Immediately I too started crying. She hugged me hard and assured me that everything was alright. She then picked me from my bed and slowly sneaked out. She seemed scared of something, but I did not know what. Without making a noise, step by step she went past our kitchen, dining room and finally my parent’s bedroom. Now she looked even more scared. She moved very slowly and without making a noise, she opened the front door. But I don’t want to leave daddy, please mom, let us take daddy too. I did not know if I said it aloud or if she read my mind, she shut my mouth softy and asked me to keep quiet.


We had come out of the house. The uncle was standing outside our house. I knew what was going to happen. I did not want to go with my mom. I was about to scream when someone pushed my mom from back, and my mom and myself fell hard on the ground. It was my dad standing there. Immediately I noticed that the uncle fled from the scene. My mom and dad argued for sometime. My dad kept accusing me for deserting him. I tried to tell him that it was not my fault. But he did not listen to me. He shut the door and went inside his house. I looked at my mom. She was still crying. I hate her, hate her, hate her.


Yamuna realized all this had happened to the serial killer. But still, could it validate the brutal death of the poor women? She shook her head and continued reading.


I was so angry at my mom. I wanted to hurt her. There was only one bad word that I knew. I said that to her and fled away from her grip. She was completely shocked. She told me that dad was always hurting her and so she requested that uncle's help to flee to her native place. But am I a fool to believe her? I repeated the bad word to her and asked her to stop lying and get out of my life. She gave me one final glance and that was the last time I saw her alive.


Yamuna closed the site and lied down on the table. So, it was never the mother's fault. It was the father. And Kathir never realized it. Yamuna needed some time to rest.


*****************************

Asheeta was sitting in her living room when she heard the calling bell ring. She peeped out through the key hole to check on the visitor. A young man was standing, waiting for her to open the door.

"Who is this?" Asheeta called out.


"Shankar ma'am. Sagar had sent me to bring you safely"


Asheeta heaved a sigh of relief. Sagar had told the man's name who will come to get her. Asheeta felt safe and opened the door.


"Thanks for coming" Asheeta smiled.


"My pleasure ma'am. By the way, is the man still standing outside?"


Asheeta peeped outside, but did not find the man who was standing there few minutes back.


"No! May be he fled seeing you"


"May be! Let us not delay any more. Please guide me to your back door"


Asheeta looked at him surprised.


"But Sagar never told me anything like that"


"Yes ma'am. He spoke to you right before me. After speaking to you, he instructed me to get you through the back door, so that no one will notice. Then our plan is to catch that man who was watching your house. Sagar Sir did not want to take any risk in your presence"


"Oh...OK" Asheeta replied though still unconvinced.


Asheeta stared at him for a while. The she suddenly remembered something.


"Um...please don't mistake me. Can you show me your id card?"


Now it was Shankar's turn to stare at her. But he recovered quickly. He went through his shirt and pant pockets. He then bit his lips and said,


"Sorry ma'am. I think I left it at the office itself. Please trust me and come with me ma'am"


"OK. Then let me call Sagar. I want to confirm"


"Ma'am, please don’t delay any further. We have no time ma'am"


"Step back please" Asheeta warned.


Shanker stared at her for a while.


"Please don't do this" Shankar said.


"I just want to make a phone call" Asheeta said and picked her mobile. She noticed that there was no signal.


"Can you give me your mobile" Asheeta asked Shankar.


But Shankar's mobile too did not have any signal. Asheeta lost all her hopes and knew that her only choice was to trust the man before her. She hesitated for a while and then continued with him towards the back door. Exactly at the instant when they reached the back door, the calling bell rang again.


Asheeta was immediately alarmed. She wanted to know who the second visitor was. But Shankar did not give her the chance. He almost pushed her out when the voice from the front door called out


"Ma'am, please open the door. Shankar reporting, sent by Sagar Sir"


Asheeta stood rooted to the spot dumbstruck. Her mouth failed her and she felt paralyzed with fear. She realized the danger she was in and she knew she had to act soon. She immediately opened her mouth to scream for help when the man inside shut her mouth tight and shook his head.


*****************************



Sagar was back in Naresh's cell. Naresh started telling the remaining truth he had hid from Sagar.


"There was this man who worked in our office previously. He was in a different department. I knew him because we stayed just two streets apart. Asheeta never even knew he existed. He knows I like her. It was his stupid idea that I should send the mail to police, and that it would impress Asheeta and fall for me"


"Where is he now?"


"He quit two months back. He said he does not have a contact number. So I can never call him. It is always he that contacts me. He is working in a different company now."


"What is the name of the company?"


Naresh said it.


"Did you share the story draft with him?"


"Yes. I told him that about the story. He was interested in it and wanted to read all the episodes up to the climax"


"Did Asheeta share the climax with you?"


"Yes"


"What was it?"


"Well, she did not write it down. But her idea was that the psycho would kill his beloved and bid his final adieu to the World"


"Hmm...What is the name of that friend of yours?"


"Madhu"


It was at that instant when Sagar received a call on his mobile. It was again Asheeta calling.


This time Sagar did not care to go out of Naresh's cell. He was so happy on hearing her voice, he forgot everything else.


"Ash...Oh Ash...I tried your number so many times. I could not reach you and I was so worried"


"It is OK Sagar. I am fine now. It looks like the real Kathir uses many men to work for him. The man standing outside my house could have not been the serial killer. He was probably set up by the serial killer to watch me. And you know what, someone who called himself as Shankar tried to take me away few minutes back"


"Oh God! What happened?"


"Nothing. I was almost fooled when the real Shankar rang the calling bell. I bit the imposter's hands and ran out. Shankar took care of him"


"Oh! Thank God. But how did he know the name Shankar?"


"I don't know. Oh Sagy, how I wish you were here with me"


"I will be with you in a while. Is Shankar there with you?"


"Yes. I am coming with him. He is driving the car now"


"Can you give your mobile to him?"


Asheeta obliged and handed over her mobile to Shankar.


"Shankar, what did you do with that imposter?"


"What do you think?"


Sagar looked confused at his mobile. This did not sound like Shankar at all. He was immediately alarmed.


"Who is this?" Sagar asked unable to contain himself.


"Uh-ho...Didn't my dear friend Naresh tell you?"

Sagar did not utter a word. He knew what was coming and waited with bated breath to hear it.

"I am Madhu"
the voice said.

And the call was disconnected, and the mobile was switched off, never to be turned on again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Final Adieu - Part 7


Day 2, 02:30 pm

Sagar waited for Asheeta to stop crying. Whatever information he wanted to know, he needed Asheeta's full attention while interrogating her. It took some time for Asheeta to regain her composure. Once she stopped crying, Sagar began questioning her. Yamuna was observing both of them intently.


"Ash, I need you to tell me something that would help us find the real Kathir"


"Yes, tell me"


"Um, the other day you told me you share your story draft with Jacob for reviewing right"


"Yea..."


"Do you share the draft with anyone else, other than Jacob?"


"Oh yeah, one of my friends at office"


"Anyone else?"


"Um, no"


"OK, can you share the draft with me? I need to take a look at it"


Asheeta looked confused, but without uttering a word she opened the folder in her laptop where she had stored her draft. The folder contained a list of word documents, each dedicated to each episode of her story. Sagar opened the document having the ninth episode and read it.


Just then Sagar received a call in his mobile. He spoke for a few minutes and disconnected the call. He then turned to Asheeta.


"Um, what is that friend's name?"


"Naresh"


"Where does he stay?"


"An apartment for rent at T.Nagar"


"Uh, fine, I need to go now. I will try to come back in an hour or so"


"What is all this about Sagy?"


"Um, nothing, just a routine check. I will let you know once I am back"


He then turned to Yamuna and asked if she would also like to join. Yamuna threw a stare that stated it was obvious that she would come along. Before leaving the house, Sagar did something he had never done before. He went near the door, and then he came back and kissed Asheeta on her forehead gently and left.


Asheeta was standing for a while unable to believe what just happened. She felt the wetness on her forehead and it felt good. A smile automatically crept on her lips. She locked her house and started listening to her favorite tracks on her ipod.

***************************

"Do you think it is Naresh?" Yamuna asked in a curious voice.

"I don't think so. I know it" Sagar replied and handed over the mail printout to her.


"This is the mail I received yesterday. Just read it once"


Yamuna read the mail and looked at Sagar confused.


"OK. Now what?" Yamuna asked.


"Just check the spelling of the word 'Humor' in the mail. It is the American spelling, right?"


"So?"


"In the blog, Asheeta had used the British spelling 'Humour'"


"What are trying to imply?"


"In the draft, she had used the American spelling. But while posting the story, she had changed it to the British spelling..."


"...which implies the serial killer took the mail from Asheeta's draft and not blog" Yamuna completed with her eyes wide.


"Exactly! From the beginning, we were under the assumption that the real Kathir was someone from WW. But we had been wrong"


"Hmm, by the way, what was the call you received few minutes back?"


"We had sought cyber crime office to assist us in tracking the mail id sent to me. We just got the location of the sender"


"Let me guess, somewhere at T.nagar?"


"Absolutely"


"The case is now cleared I guess"


"Except for the fact that we must find Sabitha"


"And hopefully Naresh should be at home"


The rest of the journey continued in silence, each immersed deep in their own thoughts.


***************************


Asheeta was listening to the song 'Nenjukkul peidhidum maamazhai' from the movie 'Varanam Aayiram ' when she heard the calling bell ring. She peeped through the key hole to check who it was, but she could not find anyone. So she just opened the door. She found Naresh standing near a window and peeping in.


"Naresh..." Asheeta almost screamed.


Naresh spun around immediately.


"What the f**k are you doing Ash? I have been ringing the bell for more than 5 minutes. I was sure you were home as the door was locked inside. So I just checked through the window if I could find you" Naresh grinned.


"Oh, I was listening to songs in my ipod. So may be I did not hear. I just now heard the calling bell. Sorry yaar"


"Hey no problem. By the way, won't you call me inside?"


"Oh yeah sure, come in"


Naresh went in and took a look around the house. He made sure that no one was inside.


"What Naresh, you are acting as if this is the first time you are coming here?"


"Hey no, it looked like something has changed in the house. So I was just checking"


"The house hasn't changed anything, only I have" Asheeta said in a dull voice.


"Hey, even I was thinking on the same lines. You look awful. What happened?"


"I will tell you sometime later Naresh. Actually it is so nice of you to drop in. Are you busy with something else?"


"No, I just dropped in to have a chit-chat"


"Thank God! I really need a company now, someone to divert my mind"


"Anything serious, Ash?"


"I don't feel like discussing it yet. Just talk about something else"


At that instant Asheeta realized that there was something different about Naresh. First of all, he had never visited her without prior informing. Second, he looked very tensed and nervous. Third, he had never before addressed her as Ash.


Naresh was staring at Asheeta for a while. He was occupied by a zillion thoughts. He knew he had very less time and had to make the move soon.


"Um, why not we talk about your serial story?" Naresh asked and immediately bit his lips. He knew this was not the best time to talk about her story. He wanted to do things he had rehearsed million times, yet at this close proximity, he could not do anything.


"Oh Naresh, let us not talk about the story now. This is not the best time" Asheeta said in a low voice. She again remembered the woman's death and her body shuddered involuntarily.


"Hey Ash, it is your story. An author should not be afraid of her own story" Naresh said and laughed at his own joke. But then he saw the look on Asheeta's face and changed his tone.


"Oh come on Ash, I came here to have some fun, but you are spoiling my mood" he said in a complaining voice.


"Alright, tell me, what do you want to know"


"You told me about the possible climax you have thought for your story right. Have you changed your idea or is it still the same?"


But in his mind, he was screaming What are you doing Naresh, come on, don't loose the chance. Get her now


"Yeah, same, kill his beloved and bid his final adieu to the World" Asheeta replied in a dry voice.


***************************


Sagar and Yamuna had reached the apartment in half an hour. They rang the calling bell, which was answered by a tall, lean man.


"I am Sagar, ACP. Does someone called Naresh stay here?"


"Oh yeah, he is my friend. At present he has gone out" the man replied in a shaken voice. It was evident he had not expected a police at that hour.


"What is your name?"


"Vikash. May I know what this is about?"


"Yeah, I will tell you. Mind if we come in?"


Vikash glanced at both of them for a moment and asked Sagar to show his id card. Once Sagar showed it, Vikash seemed convinced and prompted them to enter the house.


It was a small two bed room apartment with a kitchen and a bathroom.


Sagar checked the house and continued "Which is Naresh's bed room?"


"Um, the one on the right"


Sagar moved towards the room, but was blocked by Vikash. Sagar considered pushing Vikash away for an instant. Vikash was too lean and Sagar knew that Vikash would not stand even a single blow from him. But he restrained himself and continued


"I am not in the mood of dueling with you. Just let me in"


"Do you have a warrant?"


Sagar glared at him for a while.


"It wouldn't take me a second before pushing you away, but I want to give you some respect. Now if you don't mind, can you please move?"


Vikash just stared at Sagar, and then gave in.


"Naresh had never allowed me to enter his room. He always locked it. I don't have the keys"


"I don't need a key" Sagar said in a dismissive tone.


Sagar took out something that resembled an electronic device from his pocket. He inserted one of the sharp edges of the device in the lock and twisted for a while in all possible directions. In a couple of seconds, they heard a click and the lock opened.


"Oh, they teach you this too in your training?" Yamuna asked surprised.


Sagar just ignored her remark and went in. The sight that he saw totally caught him off guard. Yamuna followed him, whereas Vikash was standing outside.


"Oh my, what is this?" Yamuna asked glancing around the room.


"Obsession" Sagar replied.


Sagar saw a laptop on a study table next to the bed. He switched on the laptop.


"Don't you need a password?"


"I have a hunch" Sagar said and typed a password. The system dutifully accepted and logged him in.


"Was the password Asheeta?" Yamuna asked.


"May be you could join our branch, you seem to pick up things pretty fast"


"Yeah, as if..." Yamuna smirked but did not complete what she intended to say.


Sagar went through several folders in the system. He was not sure which folder contained vital information.


"I think you should just search for folder names like 'Asheeta'. It will save you some time"


Sagar agreed and did the same. It returned hundreds of folders with her name.


"Try something like 'The Final Adieu'" Yamuna said.


This time the system returned just a single folder. It contained all the drafts of Asheeta's story. There was also a separate document which contained just the mail Sagar had received.


"I think the evidence is overwhelming. Why don't we just get him?" Yamuna asked


"I was just checking if we can get some clues on Sabitha's location"


"Once we get him, can't you make him tell?"


"Fine, let’s go and get him"


Sagar closed the laptop and went out. He moved swiftly towards Vikash and pushed him inside the room.


"Just look around, this is exactly what he did not want you to see"


Vikash looked around. Asheeta was smiling in various photos all around the room.


***************************


"Hey Ash, can I use the restroom?"


"Oh yeah sure"


Naresh went inside leaving Asheeta staring at him. She could feel something wrong about him but could not identify what it was. Her thought was suddenly interrupted by her mobile. She picked it up and checked who was calling. It was Sagar.


"Hey Sagy, where are you?"


"Ash, listen to me carefully. Don't answer any call other than mine. Lock the door and stay safe. Don't open unless it is me. Do this without asking me any further questions. Is that clear?"


"Whoa whoa, slow down. I am totally lost. What is the problem?"


Asheeta heard a long sigh at the other end. Then Sagar continued


"OK listen. We have identified the real Kathir. It is none other than Naresh"


"What...What do you mean?"


"Yes Ash, just stay safe and follow my instructions. I will get back to you in a while. OK?"


Exactly at that instant Asheeta felt a strong sensation pierce at her back. She realized Naresh was staring at her from behind. Asheeta wanted to somehow convey to Sagar that Naresh was in her house. But she realized she could not do so without alarming Naresh.


Asheeta felt a chill spread through her spine. She did not have the nerve to turn around and look at Naresh. She was still holding her mobile and was debating within herself what to do next. Sagar was still on the call waiting for her response.


"Ash, Ash, are you there?"


Asheeta's heart raced thinking all kind of possibilities for an escape. Finally when she noted she had none, she managed to say a 'Bye' and disconnected the call.


Slowly she turned around. Naresh was staring at her with a knife in his hand.


Asheeta was stunned to silence. By reflex she moved back and looked at Naresh terror stricken.


"Hey Ash, what happened?"


"Noth...Nothing. What are you doing with a knife?"


"Oh, never mind that, I saw an apple in the kitchen and thought of eating one."


Naresh showed the apple he was having in his other hand. He then slowly started slicing the apple, but his full attention was on Asheeta. Asheeta was staring at Naresh dumbstruck. With each cut Naresh sliced on the apple, Asheeta felt her flesh being cut.


Asheeta remembered how a great friend Naresh had been. On her first few days at office, it was Naresh who helped her familiarizing with her job. He was always praising her and was always with her. Asheeta had shared all her personal issues with Naresh, including her parent’s death. She had never been that intimate with anyone else.


Many times she felt Naresh touch her at improper places which looked like an accident. But later she dismissed her thoughts and convinced herself that it was indeed an accident. But she did have doubts if he loved her. That was because Naresh never moved that close with anyone else. Slowly she felt all the pieces fall together. Naresh had never shared his childhood memories with her. Even if she initiated a conversation about his parents, Naresh would tactfully divert the topic.


What if Naresh had had a bad childhood?


What if he connected himself with Kathir?


What if he loved me?


What if he decides to make my story climax come true?


With these thoughts in mind, she blurted out something, even before she could consider what she wanted to say.


"I want to change my story climax"


Naresh stopped cutting the apple and looked at her intently.


"What?"


"Yeah, I want to...um...change it to...um....something like....you know..."


Asheeta could not come up with any possible alternative. Her heart was throbbing fast and she could not think. Just then to her relief someone rang the calling bell.


"Wait, I will check who it is" Naresh waved her to sit back and went out.


He peeped through the key hole, but could not find anyone. He turned back at Asheeta and shrugged his shoulders.


"Are you expecting someone?"


"Um, yeah, uh...my friend" Asheeta said hoping it must be Sagar.


Naresh opened the door and stepped out. The next moment he found someone punch him hard on his face. Naresh fell down unconscious.


***************************


"Yes! Naresh was captured by my men, Yamuna. I am relieved now" Sagar said in an excited voice.


"But how did you know he was at Asheeta's house?"


"I just..."


"Cut the hunch crap and give me a logical reason" Yamuna interrupted.


Sagar smiled and continued "Asheeta sounded very distressed. Though you call it a crap, it was really my hunch"


Yamuna smiled and Sagar noted that Yamuna looked even more beautiful when she smiled.


"Why don't you smile more often?"


"Men made me so. It has been ages since I smiled. You are the first man who made me smile"


Sagar looked at Yamuna closely. He did not want to cultivate any false hopes in Yamuna.


"You know, after we recover Sabitha, I am planning to propose to Asheeta"


"Did you actually think I would fall for you?" Yamuna asked in a sarcastic tone.


Sagar looked at her alarmed. This is a woman who could read other's mind. I should be careful with her he told himself
.

"No, I was just informing you, as a friend" Sagar smiled sheepishly.


"Actually you are good at everything and I really admire you for that. But you don't know how to bluff. You need to work on that"


Sagar decided it was better if he just shut his mouth.


They reached the police station in an hour. Sagar went to the cell where Naresh was held captive. Just then he received a call.


"Hello, Sagar speaking"


"Hello, we are calling from cyber crime. I called you sometime back about the mail id you received, remember?"


"Yes, of course!"


"Yeah, and you had also given us another id to track 'goldie.in4u@gmail.com' right?"


"Yes"


"Well, the sender of that id seems to be more sophisticated. He had routed the mail through several proxy servers across the globe. So, I called to inform you that it would take some more time"


"Wait! You mean, the senders of both the mail ids are different?"


"Yeah, I mean, you knew that right? You had given two ids"


Sagar realized that the speaker had no idea that they were dealing with one man. Sagar had assumed that the both the ids would lead to the same man. But at cyber crime, they had assumed that both the ids were of two different people. And it seemed the cyber crime people were right.


Sagar disconnected the call and went inside the cell. As he had expected, Naresh was not the one who kidnapped Sabitha right before him.


***************************

Day 2, 06:30 pm


Sabitha was lying on the floor. She tried to open her eyes, but found it too difficult. Her head felt very heavy. She tried to remember where she was, but she could not remember anything. Suddenly she heard foot steps nearing her.


Sabitha tried to sit but her whole body was aching, and she could not move an inch. She felt a hand caress her body. She tried to push the hand, but she was too weak for the move. The hand then moved to her face and pulled her forward.


"I will be leaving you for a while. But don't worry baby, I am going to bring you a company" a husky voice whispered in her ears.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Final Adieu - Part 6


Day 2, 08:00 am

Sagar was walking back and forth in the living room. Asheeta was sitting on the sofa and checking her blog in her laptop.

"Has anyone else commented, Ash?"

"I told you, I will get an instant email alert if someone commented. And for your information, this is the eleventh time you are asking this question in the last 15 minutes" replied Asheeta wearing an exasperated look on her face.

"How many views?" Sagar asked ignoring her remark.

Asheeta threw her hands up high in the air and said

"Give me a break Sagy. What is the use in knowing the number of views?"

"I am wondering why Kathir hasn't made the call yet"

"I don't know. But what I know is you are losing your grip. Just slow down and think"

"Alright! Let us focus" Sagar said and sat next to Asheeta. "Now think and tell me, how many members regularly comment on all your blogs, especially the TFA series?"

"Around 20"

"Fine! Out of them, how many comment within the first 2 hours of posting your story?"

"Um, 6 or 7"

"Hmm. Now this man, the real Kathir, is obsessed with your story. He believes you are writing about him. He waits for
7:00 every morning just to read your story"

"So?"

"Now listen carefully; I spoke to Sabitha's husband Rajesh this morning. He told that when he figured Sabitha did not return last night, he had checked Sabitha's mail id for any clues as to where she might have gone. The last mail that she received was from a friend, who Rajesh never knew existed. What if Sabitha was a member of this site and this friend is the lunatic who befriended Sabitha and then tricked her into coming to the beach?"

"What do you imply?"

"If we find Sabitha's site id, we can find the one id of the 20 members who reply to your story who is also in Sabitha's friend list?"

"That is under the assumption that Kathir comments on my story, right?"

"This man correlates with your Kathir character. He could not restrain himself from commenting”

"Let us hope your assumption is correct. By the way, how do we find Sabitha's site id?"

"No worries, I have her mail id. I have contacted Yamuna and she is on her way here. She said she will provide us with all the support required"

"What...You mean the WonderWomen site admin Yamuna?"

"Yes"

"Oh my God! You mean Yamuna mam is coming here?"

"What is so surprising?"

"Wow! When were you planning to tell me this?"

"I guess, just now"

Asheeta threw him an angry stare and ran to her bedroom mumbling about changing to some other clothes. Sagar could not understand what the hype about Yamuna was. And that was because he had never met Yamuna.

**********************
"Juice, mam"

The air hostess, who had seen so many film stars and models, decided she had never seen a woman like the one sitting before her. Yamuna had an olive complexion. She was wearing a white denim shirt and a dark blue denim skirt that came down to her knee. She was wearing a white gold, round shaped stud that had intricate flower designs and glittered like a diamond. She had let her hair fall free on her shoulders. Her hands were beautifully manicured and her legs were long and slender. The rigidity of a man and her femininity had blended well in the right proportions. There was no trace of make up found on her face, yet she managed to look extraordinarily stunning.

Yamuna looked up at her interrupter mildly irritated. She never liked being interrupted, especially when she was reading. But her anger vanished the moment she saw the smiling face of the air hostess. She briefly shook her head and resumed reading the book 'Practicing the Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle.

"Ask yourself what problem you have right now, not next year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now. What is wrong with this moment?

You can always cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future - nor do you have to. The answer, the strength, the right action, or the resource will be there when you need it, not before, not after"

Yamuna closed the book for a while and let the lines sink in her mind.

This was the sixth time she was reading that book. Every time she read it, she learned something new and felt rejuvenated. She always carried it wherever she went. And she knew it was now she needed the book more than any other time.

Yamuna was born in
Madurai. She lost her father when she was 2 and her mother when she was 3. She had only one elder brother left for a blood relation who ran away when she was 6. She later stayed in a hostel and studied. Her expenses were taken care of by her aunt and uncle. They never loved her, nor did they ill-treat her. They just acted as guardians but never once called her to stay with them for weekends or holidays.

When all the children of her age played with barbie dolls and teddy bears, she spent her time dreaming. All her dreams were different yet the same. In one dream, she was a little princess for who all were fighting among themselves to adopt her. In another dream, she was a charming witch and with one swoosh of her magical wand she got herself a handsome father and a beautiful mother.

When she was 13, nature took care to turn her into a beautiful young girl. She kept staring at the mirror. And she did not stop dreaming. But this time, it was not about her parents, but handsome young men competing for her proposal. She kept rejecting all the men in her dreams saying to herself that her man was none like the ones in her dreams.

When she was 17 she realized that just dreaming was not going to do her any good. She decided it was time to make her dream come true. Her uncle had told her that he could not afford for her studies any more. But he promised to get her a job or to get her married. Yamuna replied firmly with a bright smile lit on her face

"I am first going to become famous. The rest will follow on its own"

Her uncle thought for a while and asked suspiciously "So, how do you plan to become famous?"

"Simple...Media" Yamuna replied and walked out of her pathetic life with her head held high in the air.

She heard her aunt mutter under her breath "She will only become a s**t", but that did not stop Yamuna. She decided that nothing was going to stop her thereafter.

Yamuna flew to Chennai the next day. She always had a passion for writing. She wrote innumerable articles in her school magazine. When she sat and thought how she was going to attain her dream, she could only think of journalism. She started sending articles to news papers. Her first was rejected. Her second was also rejected. Her third, forth, fifth, every one of her articles were rejected. That was the time when she wondered if she was wrong. May be she should have got married like her uncle suggested. But she did not realize that with every article she wrote, her writing skills were getting sharpened.

It took her 13 failure articles to reach one successful article. When she was her name and article on print in one of the top selling news paper, she flew without wings. It was just a kick start for her career. From then on, she encountered only success.

She learned she could not survive in the competitive field without proper training. She did part time jobs and did courses as well. Her natural talent and her hard work paid well. She became a well known journalist.

One common thing that she faced wherever she went interviewing people was, women were not acknowledged. She once interviewed a female artist who said how much she yearned for one comment for her works from her friends and family members. There was another female chef working in a 5 star hotel who admitted reluctantly that her husband never complimented her recipes at home.

Yamuna met hundreds of women who had no one to share their works, exchange ideas and interact without any barriers. She wanted to do something for these women. It was on a bright Sunday morning that the idea of a site for such women to meet and interact popped in her mind. She raced to her friends to share about her idea. Most of them rejected saying it was the most stupid idea they had ever come across. Some, who encouraged her initially, backed off when she took measures to make the site come true.

Yamuna stood all alone yet bold and vivacious. Even before starting her dream project, she knew how she was going to call her site - WonderWomen.

At first, due to her persistence her friends joined WW. But after seeing the creativity and hard work she put for the site, they actively participated in the discussions. Word about WW spread through their mouth. Then it was banners and news paper advertisements that took care to bring in more viewers for WW. Women all around the world found almost all their questions answered from WW and only then did they turn to Google.

When WW reached thousand members, her friends thought Yamuna achieved what she had wanted to. But Yamuna was insatiable. She worked even harder. She introduced blogs in addition to the forums. She included many more sub-forums for nation wide discussions. WW grew enormously and there was no stopping.

The latest statistics states that WW has more than a million members and there were at least a million hits every month.

Yamuna was stationed at Mumbai for an interview with one of an upcoming model when she received a call from a police officer about one of her active members, but she did not give it much of her attention then. But one hour back she had received a call from the same officer who now claimed that a psychopath serial killer was making a story in her site come real. Such popularity was the last thing she wanted for WW. She had immediately booked a flight to Chennai.

Yamuna's mind was in turmoil and she was reading her favorite book to keep herself calm. The pilot flipped the seat belt sign. She knew her flight was going to land in a couple of minutes. She closed her eyes and prayed for the women and for WW.

**********************
"How do I look?" Asheeta asked Sagar adjusting her hair.

Sagar studied her closely. She was wearing baby pink georgette Kurti with sequins and crystal work and dark blue skinny jeans. A heart shaped silver stud adorned her ears. She looked dazzling as ever.

"Beautiful...!!" Sagar answered unable to move his eyes off her. Asheeta blushed instantly and she felt the need to change the topic.

"So, what were you doing all this time?"

"I was reading your story. Actually, I wanted to ask you something. You never mentioned about the call Kathir makes to all the women before kidnapping them...?"

Asheeta felt a sudden chill spread inside her. She remembered the call she received from an unknown number the previous day after meeting Sagar at the beach. She debated for a second if she had to mention about the call to Sagar. Then she decided against it and said

"Oh yeah, I...I forgot"

Sagar raised an eyebrow and eyed her suspiciously. He opened his mouth to say something when they heard the calling bell ring. Sagar opened the door. It was a woman in her late 20s.

She briskly marched into the living room and quickly glanced around the house. Then she turned to Sagar and said

"You must be Sagar?"

"Yes, and you are?"

"Yamuna, WW admin. I believe you requested my help" Yamuna smiled courteously.

"Oh yeah, sorry for the trouble"

"Absolutely not. And is this Asheeta?" she asked turning towards Asheeta.

"Yes mam, I..." Asheeta started but was interrupted by Yamuna.

"Just call me Yamuna"

"Ah...yeah...I am sorry, Yamuna"

"For what?"

"About this TFA series. I never thought in my wildest imagination that a serial killer will land up in my blog. I..."

"Oh no no, this is not your fault. Don't worry" Yamuna said and turned towards Sagar and said in business like tone

"So, what do you want me to do?"

"I have an email id. Can you get me the corresponding WonderWomen site id?"

"It is just a matter of seconds. I have an excellent team working with me waiting for my word. Please wait" Yamuna said and made a call on her mobile. Then she put it on speaker and prompted Sagar to continue.

"OK. I have an email id - cutesaby.r@gmail.com. I need the corresponding WonderWomen site id"

After a couple of seconds, a voice said

"Please take it down Sir. It is sabsneedhelp"

Asheeta saw the id, written on a piece of paper by Sagar, open mouthed. She picked the paper with trembling hands and looked up at Sagar terror stricken. Sagar immediately knew that something was wrong.

"What happened Ash?"

"This...this id..."

"Come on speak, what about this id?"

"She...she is a regular reader of all my blogs"

"Does she comment on your blogs?"

"No, she sends me a PM"

"What is a PM?"

"PM means Private mail. It works only within WW, for the members to interact and get personal" clarified Yamuna.

"Wow! We police officers are working our a** off to provide security and reduce crime, and here you have provided a site for criminals to barge-in victim's lives" Sagar said in a sarcastic tone.

"Oh really! And you were the one who let a serial killer kidnap a woman right before your eyes, right?" Yamuna retorted.

Sagar and Yamuna stood for a while glaring at each other.

"Alright! I was wrong. Sorry" Sagar said in a pacifying tone.

"Fine! Let us get back to business" Yamuna said.

"So, what do we do now?" Asheeta asked.

"Give me the id's of the members who regularly comment on your stories" Sagar asked.

Asheeta gave the list. Then they cross checked with Sabitha's friend list but found no match. They also checked with the few members who sent her PMs, but none matched.

"So, we are back to square one, I guess?" Asheeta asked.

"No, we know that the real Kathir never commented on your story" Sagar replied.

"What about the sender mail id to Sabitha's mail? We can check for the corresponding side id?"

"He might have used a different id. Anyways, let us get it confirmed"

Sagar was right. The voice on the call said that there was no id in WW corresponding to goldie.in4u@gmail.com.

There was a moment of silence for a while.

"Wait, you have a point" Yamuna said suddenly

"What?" Sagar asked.

"You accused me of providing platform to criminals to barge-in their victim's lives. But, tell me something. Four women from this site have shared their email ids with this man they have never met. Though they thought they were interacting with a woman, when will a woman trust another woman so soon?"

"What do you mean?"

"If I have a problem, anyone who interacts with me claiming she too has a similar problem will make me move closer to her, isn't it?"

"Hmm, true"

"So, if we could check the threads started by Sabitha and find out the one id who had been empathizing with her recently could lead us to the serial killer"

"But, why can't we find the other women ids that were killed and find the common friend?" Asheeta asked.

"Good idea. But the serial killer would have used different ids for each of these women. We need to match the ip addresses for the ids. That is a long shot" Yamuna said.

"But it still is a shot. Let one team work on that and another team work on what you said. I have asked my team to track the sender of the mail that I received. One of these should work" Sagar said.

Asheeta let out a sarcastic laugh and she broke into tears almost immediately. Sagar held her in his arms and said

"Hey, what happened Ash?"

"While framing the script of this story, I thought of making Kathir record all the killings and present it to his nephew. You know, it was so interesting to frame such thrillers then. But now I just can't believe it is happening for real"

Sagar did not know how to comfort Asheeta. He watched her helplessly when Yamuna barged in and almost pulled Asheeta from Sagar's arms.

"Is there anything else useful you can do other than crying?"

Asheeta looked at Yamuna perplexed for a while. The shock treatment seemed to work, as Asheeta had stopped crying instantly.

Sagar just then received a call on his mobile. He was on the call for a few minutes and then turned to Asheeta.

"Um, Ash, I need to go now."

"What happened?"

"I will tell you as soon as I get back, I promise" he said and hurried to the door.

"I am also coming" Yamuna said.

"No, this is..."

But Yamuna did not allow him to finish.

"I am not asking your permission. I am just informing"

Sagar did not want to delay any further, so he accepted half heartedly.

Sagar and Yamuna were traveling in the jeep. Yamuna waited patiently for Sagar to start the conversation. After a while, Sagar spoke.

"So, why did you want to come?"

"I wanted to see the body"

"What...what do you mean?"

"The other woman who was kidnapped, she was killed right?"

"How did you know?"

"The look on your face"

"Yeah, and I don't know how I am going to break this news to Asheeta"

"That is your problem. I will discuss only about the problem at our hands"

Sagar looked at Yamuna surprised. He could not understand Yamuna. But since there were more critical problems breaking his head, he ignored Yamuna.

They reached the location in 45 minutes. It was a new building in the ECR road where construction work was going on. It was said that due to some legal issues, the construction work was stopped temporarily.

They saw the corpse of the woman on the ground naked. The head was shaved. There were burns and knife wounds all over the body. The ring finger was cut from the right hand and was placed in a small polythene cover next to the body.

Yamuna let out a wail and she closed her eyes in disgust. She knew the sight she had just witnessed would haunt her for the rest of her life. Sagar studied the body for a while, and then he too turned away as he could not bear the sight.

An on the spot post-mortem revealed that the woman was alive all the while she was tortured. And the cause of death was found to be strangulation.

It took Sagar two hours to finish his interrogations. On their way back, both Sagar and Yamuna did not utter a word.

Asheeta was devastated on hearing the news. This time nothing could stop her from crying. Yamuna was holding her hands and offering comforting words, whereas Sagar kept wondering why Kathir went off script.

He opened WW and started reading Asheeta's story from the beginning.

It was the 9th part, where Kathir sent the suicide mail to police, that raised an alarm in Sagar. Sagar checked the mail printout he received the previous morning. A smile lit his face.

Sagar knew how he was going to trace the real Kathir.

**********************

Day 2, 01:30 pm


Sabitha was lying on the ground eyes shut tight and she was blocking her ears with her hands fiercely. Yet she could hear the screams of the woman who was tortured and killed hours earlier. The harder she tried to shut her ears, the stronger the screams wear.

She heard the woman scream for help, wail in pain and beg him to kill her. But the man showed no mercy. He kept shouting

“You asked for this Mother, you asked, you asked, you asked…..”

The screams went higher and higher until it reached a peak and then there was silence.

Sabitha opened her eyes. She glanced around the room for a while. She then looked down at herself. She smiled at herself. Slowly her smile turned into a wild laughter. She then started laughing hysterically.

Suddenly she felt a strong hand slap her hard on her face.

“What is so funny?” asked an angry and irritated voice.

Sabitha looked up at the man who kidnapped her.

“I know who you are”

“Really? I am myself searching the answer to that question. Why don’t you clarify?”

“You are the Yama and this is hell” Sabitha smiled deliriously.

The man smiled and knelt down before Sabitha. He moved closer to her and whispered

“For once, you are right baby”