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.

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