Shot Dead – Episode 5


RECAP:

Industrialist Shravan Ram’s wife Sudha is murdered. Detective Chatur Nath is assigned the case. Shravan’s family is his prime suspect, he investigates his family members first. While investigating Shravan, he gets a phone call.

Episode 5

Shravan had no clue as to who was on the other end of Chatur’s line. In fact, Chatur didn’t talk one word. He was just smiling and thoughtfully said, “Call me when you arrive.”

He then placed the receiver, took a deep breath and smiled again. That smile, Shravan noticed, was natural and not forced. Chatur turned to Shravan, “Where does your watchman live?”

When Chatur reached the given address, he saw what he hadn’t expected to see – a small dilapidated house with fading paint. The bricks were escaping from the lot. The house screamed “I need renovation”.

Chatur had to crouch and go inside the house. The faded and short walls confined very small space which was divided into two rooms. The watchman, Rajaram, was in the kitchen, boiling water and packing a bag. He was in his late thirties and wrinkles had just begun to appear on his round face. Chatur cleared his throat. Rajaram jumped, frightened. Not the quality of a good watchman. Rajaram slowly asked, “Who are you? What do you want?”

“Just like the streak of grey in your hair, I was wondering if you have shades of grey as well”, Chatur said sarcastically, after introducing himself.

“Sir, I am not that kind of a person. I will tell you whatever you want.”

“Okay. So, where were you when your employer’s wife Sudha was murdered? “

“Sudha madam had given me one week off so that I could take care of my pregnant wife. She was admitted in the hospital for delivery.”

Chatur paused and asked “How was Sudha? What was her routine?”

“Sudha madam would often go out, if not every day. She would sometimes manage the business if Shravan sir was out of town.”

“Does Sudha meet anyone so frequently? Or what about sudha’s friends?”

“No sir. Madam won’t bring anyone home. Even business partners. I have never seen a friend of her in my service.” Chatur nodded, though he was a bit shocked and disappointed.

“Now, can you recollect any quarrels between the family members that you watchmen love to eavesdrop?” Chatur quipped.

“I don’t listen to anything of that sort, sir” Rajaram looked offended.

“Are you sure ?Speak up”. He persisted. Chatur knew something big was coming.

Rajaram, after deep thinking, spoke up hesitantly “About 2 weeks ago, Sudha madam had a spat with Mythili madam. It was initially verbal, but later became physical when Sudha madam pushed her out of the house”.

“Do you know the reason?”

“No sir, I am not sure. I figured that it would just be an usual quarrel which every family has. Mythili madam told Sudha madam that she would take revenge. Never did I expect this to happen. Oh lord, what will happen to my job!”

“Are you aware of any other incidents like these?” Chatur seemed to be apathetic about his lamentations.

“I swear, sir. I don’t know anything more. Please leave me, sir. I have to go to the hospital now. My wife is alone.”

When he left the house, Chatur thought to himself, “He’s a good watchman, after all” and smiled to himself.

“Mr Chatur Nath, please don’t disturb me now. I myself am in grief” Mythili said, pathetically holding her head. Her in laws were not at home.

“I think you must probably be happy, Mrs Mythili, about what happened to Sudha, especially after your quarrel two weeks ago. She pushed you out of her house, so you decided to push her out of this world,eh?”, asked Chatur, looking sternly at her frightened eyes. Blood had drained from her face. “We didn’t…”

Chatur grinned. ”We have our sources, ma’am. Now answer my question”, he said suddenly changing the tone of his voice.

There was a tear or two flowing from Mythili’s eyes. After few seconds, she started talking “Yes, it’s true. I used to borrow money from Shravan for emergencies. Sudha did not like it one bit. But, Shravan didn’t mind giving me money and so I didn’t stop getting it. That particular day, Shravan was not there. Sudha knew why I had come. She insulted me and pushed me out of the house. Such arrogance!” She gritted her teeth.

“And the only way to control this arrogance is murder, right, Mrs. Mythili?” Chatur asked, raising his voice.

“No sir. I didn’t do this” she shook her head too fast and dramatically. Chatur didn’t seem to be convinced. His cold stare was burning her. She broke down.

“Believe me sir… I didn’t do” she said in between her sobs. Though Chatur didn’t believe her, he couldn’t proceed due to lack of evidence. He warned her not to leave the town till the case was open and left her to cry alone.

Chatur wanted to inspect the murder scene another time. His intuition had told him that there was something in that house; something he had missed. The sun was upright. With no people and houses around, the desolated street looked like it was haunted. He entered the house guarded by the constables and went around the living room which had the chalk mark of the dead.

He couldn’t find anything in the living room. He opened the door to the backyard. He decided to venture into the thorny bushes which he had avoided the previous day. He searched throughly in between the bushes. The dried and shrunken wastes of vegetables and fruits were scattered in the bushes. It was essentially an organic garbage dump. Suddenly, his eyes spotted something. His lips broke into a smile.

“Check” he said.

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

Episode 4

Episode 6

 

 

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).