Shot Dead – Episode 4

Episode 4

“What’s that blood stain?” Chatur asked.

Nandhini looked at the wall. She couldn’t spot any stain.

“On that shirt” Chatur pointed out. Nandhini went near the wall and took out the shirt from the hanger. There was a blood stain below the last button spreading till the end.

Nandhini looked at it for a while, trying to recall how it happened. “Last week, he slipped in the kitchen and accidentally got himself cut in the stomach by the knife that I had kept for cutting vegetables. This is the cause of the blood stain”. Chatur then entered the room and sat beside Vinayak. The room stunk like vomit.

“Please don’t disturb him. He is sick.” Nandhini was concerned.

“I am sorry but this is an investigation Mrs. Nandhini” he said and turned to Vinayak.

“Mr. Vinayak Ram” Chatur called. When he didn’t respond, he called again. Vinayak opened his eyes and slowly turned towards him. “I’m detective Chatur Nath here to discuss Sudha’s case. Hope you know what happened to Sudha” Chatur said. Vinayak looked at him puzzled, and shook his head. Surprised, Chatur glanced at Nadhini demanding an explanation.

“Yesterday, he was drunk and sick. I couldn’t tell him” Nandhini said.

Chatur studied Vinayak for a minute. He was lean, his stomach was wrinkled, almost as if he were starving, his eyes were red and he was coughing continuously, sweating and breathing heavily. For a second, Chatur pitied Nandhini for managing her life and the household with a sick husband and two young daughters. 

“Mrs. Nandhini, may I know what happened to him?” he asked. “Liver failure. Early stage. Result of losing all the property in a business and continuous alcohol consumption..of course” she said flatly. She was used to the drudgery.

“How do you manage the family?” he asked, confused, concerned and shocked. “I take tuitions” she said with a sad smile. She was a bold woman.

“Okay. Do you think Mr. Vinayak had or has any grievance against Sudha or Shravan?”

“To the extent of my knowledge, he has nothing of that sort.”

He looked at her eyes. They were unwavering and fearless. “Can you wear these slippers ?” She eyed the slipper for a moment and said, “This is not mine” she said as she wore it. It didn’t match. Her foot was too broad to even get in. He nodded and stepped out. The children were carving letters on the magnet. He smiled at them and left.

At about 9.30 AM, when he reached his office, he saw Shravan waiting outside. “Good morning, Mr. Shravan Ram”

“What are you doing? Why are you disturbing my sister’s family?” Shravan asked.

“I was investigating , Mr. Shravan. Is that counted as disturbance?” he said, smiling, as he took out his files and the key to his office.

“Trying to be sarcastic, are you? Why do you want to investigate my sister? That too early in the morning?” he sounded exasperated.

“It’s all because of you” Chatur said, opening his office. Shravan looked confused.

“You made the commissioner speed up the pace of the case and he woke me up early for discussion. I couldn’t waste my time and so I started my work. I obviously will question your family first. So, I started my investigation with them. Thanks to the commissioner and your sister, you are here. I actually wanted to meet you myself. I went to your office. They told me you weren’t there”

“Why do you want to meet me?” Shravan asked.

“For investigation, of course. Get in.”

They both entered the office. It was small and messy with lots of files. There was a basketball net nailed to the wall. The ball was somewhere under the table.

“Why do you wanna investigate me?”

“Don’t be silly. You are her husband. Firstly, tell me – how was your relationship with her?”

“I love her, dammit” Shravan said. He slipped back into his past, his eyes turned dreamy, perhaps remembering his marriage with Sudha. His lips carved into a vague smile.

“Do you suspect anyone?”

“No.” he said, sighing and sitting on the chair near him. “I didn’t tell you to sit” Chatur said and when Shravan stood up, he said, “Just kidding. Sit.” Shravan stared at him. Chatur grinned.

“Save your stares and now tell me how your party went on yesterday?” Shravan was shocked.

“What?” he asked as he stood up. It came out just as a whisper.

“You loved her so much that you couldn’t stop partying on the very night of her death. Is it?” Chatur asked, still not losing the smile.

“Look. That was an important business meeting. I couldn’t avoid it. I don’t confuse my personal life with my business”

“So perhaps, you were a businessman when she was murdered” Shravan couldn’t talk any more. He just stood there, fear in his eyes and frustration on his face. Chatur, meanwhile, cleaned his office. After that, he cleared his throat to ask something but then the telephone rang. The shrill ring eased the tension in the atmosphere. Shravan exhaled heavily watching Chatur who attended the call.

“Hello” he said and stood dumbstruck.


You can read the previous and the next  episodes by clicking on the respective links:

Episode 3

Episode 5

Shot dead – is an exclusive bilingual crime novel series, jointly written by Swathi Mohan and Anirudh Ramesh (English) and Arun Balaji, Kishore and K.Pavithra (Tamil).