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”


Monday, March 7, 2011

The Final Adieu - Part 5



Day 2, 05:50 am

Asheeta was driving her car at top speed. Her father was sitting in the front set and mother in the rear seat. Her mother was pleading her to slow down, but Asheeta did not care to respond. She was laughing merrily and her father too joined her in her laughter.

They were interrupted by the honking sound of a vehicle behind. Asheeta looked at the rear view mirror to check who it was. She could not see the man's face, but the vehicle was a lorry. She realized it was the same lorry that had killed her parents in a car accident few years ago. And she realized it was going to happen again. She frantically did a zigzag trying to move away from the lorry's path. She quickly turned to her parents to assure them she would not allow them to die again. But they were both gone.

She realized she was sitting alone in the car, and the man behind was continuously honking which irritated her to a great extent. Unable to control herself any longer, she shouted NO! NO! NO!

Her screams thankfully aborted her nightmare and she opened her eyes wide. She sat in an upright position unsure if it was just a dream. She heard the same honking sound from her dream, which turned out to be the calling bell.

She was perspirating heavily. She took in some deep breaths, allowing herself to calm down. Her eyes glanced at the clock next to her bed. She wondered who was calling her at that time. She slipped on her night robes and went out. She peeped through the key hole and found Sagar impatiently buzzing the calling bell.

Asheeta could not imagine why Sagar had come so early. Unsure she opened the door.

"Hey Ash, you..." Sagar said and stopped mid-way.

Asheeta was wearing a semi-transparent night dress which did not fail to project the curves of her femininity in an elegant manner. It rose where it had to rise and fell where it had to fall.

Sagar simply stood staring at her for a couple of seconds. Then he quickly gathered his thoughts back to the issue at his hands.

"Can't you wear some proper dress?" Sagar managed to ask

"It is morning 5:50 and I was still sleeping. What else did you expect?" Asheeta replied with gritted teeth and stormed inside.

She came back after 5 minutes and was wearing a white Tops and pink skirt. Sagar was still standing outside the house unsure if he could go in. He thought Asheeta still looked extremely gorgeous. Asheeta greeted him inside and made him sit on a sofa in the living room.

"So...what is the matter?" Asheeta asked

"Um...We have got ourselves a situation Ash. Take a look at this photo" Sagar said and handed over a photo to Asheeta.

Asheeta stared at the photo for a few seconds trying to recognize the woman in it.

"Who is this?" she asked confused.

"This woman's name is Sabitha and she is missing from last night"

"Oh...So?"

"Can you recall what you wrote in your serial story yesterday?"

"Oh my God! Do you still believe it? And you woke me up for this?" she asked irritably.

"Sabitha was kidnapped the same way as you have described in your story"

Asheeta stared at him unbelievingly.

"You have got to be kidding me"

"No, I am not"

"Are you sure about this?"

"I was there when she was kidnapped"

"What do you mean?"

"Yeah, I...I was there with her. I read your story last evening and I was sure someone was going to make it real. I just knew. I raced to the beach and found a man usher a woman into a car. But the woman claimed it was some personal problem and that the man was her brother. And I just let them go. It was my fault"

"But why did the woman lie to you?"

"I don't know. But after learning that she is missing, I remembered something else. The woman kept staring at me all the while, like she wanted to convey something through her eyes. She would have been begging me to understand. But I missed it. I can never forgive myself if something happens to her"

"Did you see the man who kidnapped her?"

"Yes, but he kept staring down. He never dared to look up at me. I should have known" Sagar admitted guiltily.

"Don't blame yourself" Asheeta said in a pacifying tone. "I can't believe all this. Why should someone do what I write in a story?"

"I don't know. First tell me what is going to happen in the next episode? Why did he kidnap? I want to know everything"

"See, the protagonist of my story is..."

"Sorry to interrupt, but what is his name?"

"Kathir"

"OK, carry on"

"Yeah, as I was saying, Kathir is a sexual psychopath, who was abused by his parents as a kid. His girl friend breaks up with him, which acts as a stressor and he devolves into a serial rapist cum killer. He kidnaps women, tortures them, rapes them and finally kills them"

"So, why did he send a suicide note to the police?"

"Um...He feels nothing can stop him and to stop him, he has to die. He is a narcissist and to gain attention from the public and press, he sends a suicide note"

"So, is he going to kill Sabitha today?"

White writing the story, Asheeta found it pretty interesting. But now the fact that it is really happening somewhere sent her shivers through her body.

"Um...actually he does not kill the woman he kidnaps immediately. He kidnaps two women. He tortures and kills the first woman right before the second woman. Then he kidnaps a third woman and does the same to the second woman. And the cycle continues" Asheeta replied uncomfortably

"Why"

"To give the psychological pain before the actual physical pain"

"So you mean there is already a woman kidnapped before Sabitha?"

"Um...yeah..."

Asheeta appeared more uncomfortable now.

"See, I know how you are feeling. But be assured, this has nothing to do with you. You just wrote a story and some psychopath is making it real. Don't beat yourself"

"Hmm..."

"Spit it out, how many women have been kidnapped before Sabitha?"

"Uh...If he is following my story from the beginning, he would have already killed 3 women and now there is Sabitha and another woman held prisoners"

"Can you tell me the dates when the previous women were kidnapped and killed?"

Asheeta told the dates. Sagar made a call and spoke to someone. He was on the call for a few minutes.

"I just spoke to my junior officer. I have asked him to check if these kidnappings are real"

"I am so sorry"

"Don't! Don't do that to yourself. As I already said, this is not your fault"

Asheeta barely nodded. Sagar held her hands in his and continued

"Look, we are now going to save those two women. And I need your cooperation. And for that to happen, I need you to be strong and able. Is that clear?"

"Yes"

"Good! Now listen carefully. Kathir knows that I saw him. But still he would stick to your version of the story. He is obsessed with your story and will be unable to deviate from what you write. He will do exactly as you write. So, I want you to modify the story such that Sabitha manages to escape unscathed. Is that possible?"

"What about the other woman?"

"She would have already been terrified. She may not have the physical or emotional strength in her to escape. Let us first get Sabitha. Then through her we can rescue the other"

"Alright! But there is a problem. Kathir makes the woman nude and burns their clothes immediately after their kidnap. Do you think Sabitha would be able to find a spare dress?"

"Why does he do that?"

"Nudity makes a woman vulnerable and she never dares to escape"

"Very good! Nice thinking, you know" he said in a mocking tone.

Asheeta looked hurt. Sagar immediately changed his tone.

"Fine, but there must be a way" he said

"Why don’t we make Kathir surrender voluntarily? I will make him feel guilty and he will turn over himself to the police"

"Till now you have thought like a serial killer. But now you are talking like a B grade masala movie. Only in movies the villain changes with one sentimental scene or fight"

"You have a point"

"Think like a serial killer. He does something that goes wrong and the police sets their hands on him."

"What about this?" she said in an exciting voice. "He makes a call from Sabitha's mobile to warn the police that he needs to be found soon otherwise which there is no stopping him. We will open a trace on Sabitha's mobile and when he makes the call, we can figure out his location"

"Good idea! Start editing your story. I will make the necessary arrangements"

The next half an hour flew like a second. Sagar was mostly on calls, convincing people to help and cooperate with him. Asheeta modified her story and let the call creep in without much notice to it, so that the real Kathir would not find it suspicious.

At exactly 07:00 am, the edited story was published in the site. Asheeta and Sagar started waiting with fingers crossed that the real Kathir should make the call.

Day 2, 07:30 am
 


Sabitha was lying on the floor naked. Different images kept flashing before her eyes. She tried to block the images by closing her eyes tight, but it never stopped.

Sabitha was 5 years old. It was a bright sunny morning. She was at the beach with her father. Her brother and their dog were playing in the water. Sabitha was scared to enter the sea. She held her father's hands tight and pleaded not to put her in the water. Her father pulled her close and whispered "Never sweety, I will never do anything that would hurt you."

Sabitha was 6 years old. She was riding in a swing that her father got exclusively for her. He was pushing the swing from behind. Sabitha was screaming hysterically "Higher papa...higher...higher..."

Sabitha was 9 years old. She came running all hurt, blood oozing from several pores in her left knee. She had fallen down from her bicycle and started crying. Her mother applied some medicine whereas her father hugged her tight and consoled her.

Sabitha was 12 years old. She came home drenched in sweat. She hugged her mom tight and said she was going to die soon. Her mother later figured out that she had attained puberty. Her mother introduced a lot of restrictions whereas her father secretly supported her.

Sabitha was 17 years old. It was her first day at college. She met the most handsome guy in the world. It was love at first sight. He had swept her off her feet. Oh my dear Raju, where are you now

Sabitha was 23 years old. It was her marriage. Rajesh was sitting next to him, beaming at her. Sabitha tried to steal a glance at him. Someone nudged her from behind to be patient. Her cheeks went bright scarlet and she never dared to look up for the next few minutes. After a while Rajesh tied the mangalsutra and she was his wife. They were one now. The best moment in her life was beautifully captured and still decorates her bedroom.

Sabitha was 25 years old. She was at the maternity ward. The doctor was asking her to push. As hard as she tried, she found a part of her body tearing from herself. She thought she was not going to make it. She felt nauseated and was about to faint. Someone slapped her hard on her face and warned her not to faint. She again pushed with all her might and then it was easy. She then heard a shrill cry. It was her baby, a boy, her boy. She was laughing as well as crying. The doctor laid her son on her arms. She kissed him on his forehead. She was overwhelmed with emotions. She felt happy, sad, tired, dehydrated, and was in pain. She closed her eyes content.

Sabitha was 27 years old. She was looking at the diamond ring presented for her birthday. She was feeling depressed. Her husband had been avoiding her for the past few months. But that was not the reason for her depression. There was someone else, someone new in her life. It was Kamal, her new colleague. He was not prince charming, but he gave all the attention Sabitha needed. He made her feel like a woman again. Kamal gifted her the diamond ring for her birthday whereas her dear husband Rajesh forgot to even wish for her birthday.

Sabitha was 28 years old. She had been trying to come out of the affair with Kamal, but Kamal would not allow. Sabitha grew more and more anxious and she did not have anyone to share her problems or seek advice. That was when she accidentally stumbled upon the WonderWoman site. She shared her issues as an anonymous user and with wonderful advices from her online friends, she managed to come out of her affair as a clean slate. They also made her realize what went wrong between her and Rajesh and she managed to get back the old romance she shared with him.

Rajesh had called her yesterday about some sweet surprise and had asked her to come home early. How stupid of me. I should have gone home straight. Why did I go to the beach. Oh Raju, please save me. I really need you now.

Sabitha was ushered into the car by the man who held a knife at her neck. She saw a man at a distant waving his hand and calling them to stop. Sabitha felt relieved for a second thinking she was saved. But the man next to her had other plans. He pushed her into the car and sat in the diver seat. He ignited the car engine and then turned to her.

He looked deep into her eyes and said

"One word you say anything against me, I will tell your husband about the illegal affair you had with your colleague. The ball is in your court now"

It was a hard blow on her face. How could she ever let her husband know about Kamal. Many times she had wondered if she should confess to Rajesh. She had even tried talking but all in vain, she never gathered the courage to tell him. She would rather die than letting Rajesh know through someone else. She cursed herself for hiding it from Rajesh. If she had told him, there was a possibility that he might have accepted. But now, if he heard it from a third person, he would never forgive her. In comparison to that, death felt much better.

Just then they heard a gun shot close to their car. Sabitha decided what she had to do. She lied to the police officer that the man was her brother and managed to convince him. Though she knew she had no hope for rescue, she kept staring at the police officer hoping he would deduce something from her. But it never happened. They were allowed to go.

Sabitha was pushed into a room. Her clothes were forced out of her and she was made to stand naked for a while. She felt ashamed and disgusted. It was at that instant when she realized she was never going to leave the room alive.

The man then came close to her and forced some injection into her. She was drained out from all energy, so she did not protest. The last thing she remembered was the man kissing her hard on her forehead.

Sabitha woke up with a start. She tried to remember what happened to her. She felt wet on her forehead. She rubbed it off thinking the man had kissed her just then. She then thought that it was all her dream. She ran through her fingers on her body and realized she was naked. Only then did she realize it was not a dream.

She tried to lift her head, but it felt so heavy and dizzy. She managed to turn around to check where she was. The room in which she was lying was pitch black except for a small ray of light originating from a distant window that was left ajar. She tried to open her mouth to scream, but just then the window was shut tight from outside.

In a moment a door in the room opened and the man entered. He turned on a switch and the room plunged into a bright light. Sabitha had to close her eyes for a moment. She waited until her pupil got adjusted to the light. Then she turned around to check the room.

At a distance she saw a woman in her early 30s sitting naked in a fetus position. That sight totally caught her off guard and she let out a wail. She hastily covered her body as much as possible with her hands.

The man let out a giggle.

"Scared are you?" he asked.

Sabitha did not dare to open her mouth. She did not even look up at him. The man bent down and grasped her shoulders. He said in a husky voice.

"Today is not your day. But you are going to see what fate has in store for whores like you. Enjoy baby" he smiled and continued "But before that we have some work to do"

Sabitha looked up at him terror stricken. She could not imagine what the man was going to do. He pulled out something from his pant pocket. It looked very similar; she remembered seeing it somewhere else. On a closer look, she realized it was her cell phone.

He moved the phone closer to Sabitha and said "Shall we start our game, baby"