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.