Thursday, September 25, 2014

Entangled Lives – Chapter 14 - #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging


We are Team #PotliwaleBaba who are playing the #GameOfBlogs initiated by to #CelebrateBlogging

Links to all previous chapters (read them if you haven’t read them already)

Chapters #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13

Now you can move on to Chapter 14 … link to Chapter 15 at the end of the chapter below. 



“Keep an open mind”, he had learnt all his life, “Never get into an interrogation with pre-conceived notions in the mind. Especially when they have been ‘planted’ in your mind by others. Especially when the one who has planted them is a suspect. Especially when you personally hate one of the suspects and would love to see them charged for murder”.
Java knew all these perfectly well but reminded himself none the less. He had to calm himself. It was unlike him to get agitated by a suspect interrogation but the conversation with Shekhar had irritated him. Yes, he was biased here and really wanted an opportunity to get back to Shekhar for that demeaning article. But, he had a reputation and personal integrity, both of which prevented him for victimizing Shekhar.
He could not deny the ‘woman of the house’ angle which Shekhar had provided him. “Had that become the reason, the ‘motive’ for Naina’s murder? And how come the maid was wearing expensive footwear and jacket which seemed incongruous to her simple saree? Did someone force her to wear those before killing her? Did Shekhar make her do those things … to see his wife in her?? Was Naina a willing participant or a victim?”
“No. No. No. You are getting ahead of yourself Java. Nothing suggests such a thing.”
“But, look at it man. Shekhar gave you the clue himself.”
The conversation inside Java’s head was not between the devil and the angel. It was almost always between two devils and this constant chatter in his head was often responsible for cracking open the cases he has handled so far. Trouble was, while he was interrogating Shekhar, both the devils had been silent. It was only after Shekhar had dropped the Naina-Tara bomb, that the devils inside has begun the bickering.
Java had to not only overcome the temptation to interview Tara immediately, to avoid interrogating her with a bias planted in his head by Shekhar but he also wanted to irritate Shekhar who expected him to follow his lead and interview Tara next. He did not want to give that man the satisfaction of having manipulated Super Cop Java. With this dual thought in mind, he called out to his next suspect who wasn’t really a suspect for him yet.
“Hey Virus. The neighbor who is not really a neighbor.”, he called out with sarcasm loaded in his voice,  “Yes ... You.  Come in quick. You are next.”   
Java’s first devil said that Cyrus was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time - a mere coincidence placing him in the house during the murder. The other devil, in contrast as usual, reminded him that in murder investigations, there were no coincidences. As Java reclined into the same seat again, he observed the confident unperturbed gait of Cyrus as he came in. As expected, the first thing that Cyrus said when he came in was “Look here Inspector, my name is Cyrus. Not Virus”
It was what he said next, that was unexpected. “I am a law student and I know what all you are going to ask me. So let me cut the chase and arrive directly at the finishing line”.
“I have already told you that I am a neighbor and I came here today because of Roohi’s fall from the tree. Let me add that I don’t really know the members of the Dutta family, including the maid, and this is the first time I have actually come to this house. That’s it. I don’t think there is anything more to add”
Contrary to popular notion that police and lawyers are on the same side of law and would be friends with each other, the reality is that often they are actually at loggerheads trying to prove their own supremacy over the other. The police does kittench the criminals, doing all the investigations and legwork, but it is the lawyers who finally bring them to justice in the court of law. So the argument for supremacy is always there. Also, the police are more often than not, pissed off at lawyers, for letting criminals go scot-free after all the hard-work the police has put in for bringing them to the court-room. The lawyers on the other hand, blame it on the careless and incomplete work by police and are often appalled by their high-handedness. The mutual hatred is a constant and comes out often.
Moreover, Java never liked when the conversation was being dominated and driven by someone else. He was used to being in charge. He sensed the defiance in the would-be-lawyer’s voice and it irked him. First Shekhar and now Cyrus – both were getting on his nerves by not being nervous when interrogated by Super Cop Java.
What he had thought would be an easy short inconsequential conversation; suddenly seemed nothing like it. The devil inside reminded him that ‘offence is the best defense’ and right now, Cyrus seemed to be in an ‘offense mode’. The other devil simply questioned - ‘Why?’
“I like it”, said Java with a mischievous smile coupled with contempt on his face, “Straight to the point. No wasting time. I like it. So let me also jump straight to the finishing line and ask you – Did you kill Naina?”
Momentarily taken aback by Java’s direct question, Cyrus fumbled with his thought process. All the preparation he had made while walking in came to grounding halt. “What? No. Of course not. Why would I? How could I?”
Even before he completed the sentence, Cyrus kicked himself in his head, with the realization of what Java had done. He immediately reclaimed his calm and confident demeanor and looked straight into Java’s eyes. “No Inspector. It wasn’t me. And anyway, it is your job to find out who did it … isn’t it?”
The staring match continued for a few moments with neither of them ready to blink. Java’s mental machinery was whirring and clicking trying to slot and kittenegorize Cyrus into personality types and suspect types. He decided to get back to the usual questions.
“Where were you at the exact time of the murder?”
“I was very much in the house and seated in the living room. The power cut caused some disorientation but I was right there with the other girl who came in with Mrs. Dutta. Incidentally, Inspector, as Mrs. Dutta had told you earlier, that girl is also like me.” Java raised his eyebrows and Cyrus continued, taking the chance to strike out Jenny from Java’s suspect list, “She met Mrs. Dutta quite by accident at the café and drove her home and was here just by chance when the murder happened. She also has nothing to do with the members of this house. Just like me. This should make you job pretty simple Inspector. You now have only 2 people on your suspect list – Mr. and Mrs. Dutta.”
Java did not like it when someone else was doing the thinking for him and right now, Cyrus was not only doing precisely that but also taking decisions for him about his suspect list. This was unacceptable. Also, he found it coincidentally strange that two strangers at the murder-scene were alone, with each other only, around the time of murder. Perfect alibi !!!
“Mr. Virus Neighbor. You don’t have to worry about my suspect list and this investigation. No one is off the list at this stage, not even you. I don’t believe in coincidences and it is hell of a coincidence to have 2 total strangers come to the crime-scene at the same time. That girl stays on the suspect list and I would recommend that you answer only what you are asked and not play ‘lawyer-detective’ here. Now, describe the sequence of events to me”
Cyrus began his monologue again starting from the point where he had heard Roohi’s scream from the tree. He was conscious of java’s eyes boring into him but also knew that the inspector had nothing to connect him to the murder or the household.
Cyrus came to the point where he and Jenny were seated alone and took the story further. “We were both in the room alone while Mr. Dutta went to the washroom and Mrs. Dutta was in the bedroom with Roohi. Then there was a power-cut and it became dark. I called out to Mr. Dutta and Mrs. Dutta. Just then, I heard Roohi scream and this was when Mr. Dutta came back from the washroom and turned on the emergency lights. We saw Roohi and her blood-covered feet. Then Roohi said something like “Mumma” and went into the room. We followed inside and saw the dead body lying the pool of blood.”
Java decided to move from facts to feelings at this stage and intervened, “So what was your reaction on seeing the dead body? How did you feel? And what did you do next?”
Cyrus, who had been standing near the window gazing outside, turned and looked at Java. With almost no change in expressions, he continued, “We were all shocked when we saw the dead body. Looking at her clothes and the pumps on her feet, we thought it was Mrs. Dutta since she was wearing those just a few minutes back when she came. Roohi thought the same and was very scared. I took Roohi to a side, away from the scene while Mr. Dutta and the other girl stayed. Just then we heard a scream from the door of the room and turned around to see Mrs. Dutta. This is when we realized that the person who had died was the maid and not Mrs. Dutta. Everyone went through the shock and relief and then surprise on the maid’s murder. I took Roohi out of the room to wash her blood stained feet. While going out, I advised everyone to not touch anything in the room and immediately move out. I also advised Mr. Dutta to call the police. Since then I have been with Roohi and Mr. Dutta. That’s about it.”
Java was only half-listening to Cyrus. Something was not quite right. He knew most of these facts already. It was not the facts or the sequence of events that was making him uneasy. It was Cyrus. In spite of Cyrus’ attempt to keep emotions off his face, Java was sharp enough to notice the fine changes in his facial expressions and in his voice.
Java’s train of thoughts while Cyrus was speaking was something like a truck driven by a drunken driver speeding and swinging along the higway.
“Mr. Virus. Your law studies give you confidence but it is your calm composure and narration that is unnerving. A murder has happened in your vicinity and you are narrating it as if it is something you talk about often. Not a shred of nervousness. And a forced attempt at hiding your emotions. What is it that you are hiding Mr. Virus?
 “And why would anybody want to kill a maid. Maids are so insignificant. Did it have anything to do with the clothes and sandals she was wearing? What did the report mention – yeah … red pumps. Why would they call that thing ‘pumps’ – isn’t shoes or sandals good enough. How ridiculous it would sound in court to say that they thought the dead body was Mr. Dutta because of the shoes and pumps!! And then I will have to explain what are ‘pumps’!!”
“But ... could it happen that the maid mistaken for Mrs. Dutta and knifed. Was Mrs. Dutta the real target? If yes, then she cannot be the killer and that would mean one less suspect to think about. That girl had accidently met Mrs. Dutta today itself so she can hardly have a motive and I don’t see a connection between this Virus and Mrs. Dutta … so we are back to one and only one suspect. Mr. Dutta, here I come for you.”
That is precisely when Cyrus completed his monologue and the other devil inside Java’s head roared, “Seriously Java. You must be kidding. This is how a naïve investigator hops, skips and jumps to conclusion. How can a super cop like you do that? You don’t start with the murderer and then work backwards fitting in logic, motive and force-fitting the different pieces of the puzzle together. You work like your gurus Sherlock Holmes,  Byomkesh Bakshi and Feluda … and even something like Karamchand. You keep all your suspects on the list till you find the killer.”
Java was shaking his head while Cyrus watched him with surprise. Cyrus thought, “He doesn’t believe me. Why? Why would he doubt my story? There is no way he can connect me to this murder so why?”
Shaking himself out of the dual-devil-battle, Java looked up at Cyrus and literally barked, “I am done with you for now. Get out but don’t leave the house. And yes, send that girl in.”
Cyrus was in two minds to say something that will put Jenny further away from the suspect list but thought it was better to leave it for now. Java was irked and it might be counter-productive to mention Jenny now. Also, java might begin to suspect connection between them which he wanted to avoid at all costs. He couldn’t afford Jenny getting into trouble because of him. He loved her … it was only his search for the father who had abandoned his mother and him that made break-up with her.
With these thoughts, he left the room, leaving behind Java and his muddled thoughts and the constant bickering of the devils inside.


Next Chapter #15
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