Diaries Magazine

The Tangled Mess - VII

Posted on the 15 August 2014 by Rajrupa @irajrupa
Read Part IPart II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI here.
The Tangled Mess - VIIJha was waiting for Ambekar to arrive. He had requested an audience of Bibha, Mr and Mrs Sharma, Mr and Mrs Basu, Mrs Murthy and her son Raja (out on bail), Rahul – the sub inspector and Ambekar in apartment 9B in Paradise. Everyone except Ambekar had arrived on time and now they were waiting. They sat in a circle on the dirty floor. Some sat on their shoes or sandals. Everyone had a different expression on. Bibha kept making a clicking sound as she opened and closed a lighter. Raja kept making odd grunting sounds as he always did. Mrs Murthy kept digging the floor with her toes. The Sharmas, the Basus and Rahul however sat quietly.
At half past seven Ambekar walked in carrying a paper packet with him. He looked around and settled down on the floor beside Jha. “I see everyone’s settled. Good. Shall we begin then, Jha? Here, I brought snacks for all. After all, we have never had such round table meeting with suspects. I thought we might as well be good hosts.” He said and handed samosas to all. Jha took a long hard look at Ambekar and began, “Let us start from the beginning. Shall we? Miss Bibha, you can correct me if I am wrong.” Jha paused for a moment and then continued, “It all began three years back when Bibha met Aditi at a tailoring shop which used to take orders from the designer whom Bibha used to work for. Now Aditi had been an orphan at a very tender age. She had learned to survive on her own. Whether she had recognised an opportunity toward a better living when she had met Bibha or whether she had really considered her a friend I don’t know. In fact I know very little about her past. Surprisingly the tailor shop where she worked didn’t know much about her either. They just knew she stitched really well. 
Anyway, when Bibha and Aditi moved in here, Bibha was particularly happy. She had every plan of settling down, because she thought she had found her soul mate and hence paid no heed in decorating the home to her heart's desire. To the world however they were only roommates. They also struck an instant friendship with the Sharmas, Mrs Sharma in particular.” Jha stopped again to look at the audience. Bibha was grinding her teeth and her hands were clenched. Mrs Sharma kept looking at the floor resolutely. 
Jha began again after a moment or two, “They had met at the supermarket downstairs and according to Bibha, Mrs Sharma took an instant liking to her upon learning that she worked for the famous designer. She was, apparently, fond of expensive clothes that carried the designer’s label. They socialized, met pretty often and were invited to each other’s house. 
Everything was going alright, but somewhere, along the way, all got mixed up. You see, Mr Sharma fell for Aditi. And this is where Raja comes into the picture. Raja used to watch these two ladies through the window, sometimes climbed over the window sill in his excitement to watch them, which his mother took as tendency of suicide. Whatever Mrs Murthy may think, but Raja didn’t dislike them, he actually liked them. Bibha and Aditi also kept the window open most of the time. When they did close it, Raja didn’t like the hazy window pane obscuring the view. That’s why he often broke the window pane to get a better view. Now why these two ladies didn’t add a curtain, Bibha would probably be able to tell us, but that was that. 
So when one day Raja saw Mr Sharma and Aditi, it reminded him of his father and he started hating her. He often shouted crude slangs through the window. Initially Bibha ignored but then she started paying attention. When she confronted Aditi, she accepted, because by then she was really in love with Mr Sharma and together they had thought of many plans or it might have been another of her schemes to climb the social ladder. We have no way of knowing. Bibha was jealous, of course, but she really loved her and so decided to leave gracefully. Meanwhile Mrs Sharma also discovered her husband’s affair, while he was sick and was in the hospital few weeks back. It wasn’t meant to be, because Mr Sharma had planned it well but a few minutes slippage in timing was all that was needed. One day, Mrs Sharma walked in on Aditi while she was visiting Mr Sharma. They tried to pass it off as a friendly visit because Aditi was in vicinity but Mrs Sharma wasn’t a fool to buy that. Later when confronted, Mr Sharma accepted the responsibility and agreed to end it. He was, however, too cowardly to admit that he was planning for a divorce and that they were planning to go to abroad together. Mrs Sharma on the other hand never really believed her husband. She went ahead, visited Aditi in her apartment and threatened her quite a few times. Quite understandably she was furious with her because they had a certain level of friendship and Mrs Sharma blamed Aditi for overstepping it. Then only on the day of murder, she discovered the divorce notice in her husband’s briefcase in the morning when he was out doing yoga. Losing her sense she rushed to Aditi’s apartment, a violent argument followed and then Mrs Sharma killed her. I don’t think she intended to, but once it had happened, she kept a surprisingly cool nerve. She took her mobile and meticulously wiped all prints. All happened while her husband was busy doing yoga on the terrace.”Jha stopped again. Mr Sharma and Mrs Basu had gone wide eyed and Mr Basu seemed likely to have another attack. Raja was even more jittery than he usually was. Mrs Sharma resembled a stone. “But she only called me to inform about her death. Surely she wouldn’t do that if she had killed her!” Bibha asked. She was sniffing softly.“That was a masterstroke, wasn’t it now? Telling you about her death and then taking you into confidence not to tell the police about your acquaintance because then police would dig the dirt out about her husband’s affair. But she had missed one thing. The visitor's pass. If only she had searched the room better and found it, it would've taken me a much longer time. Anyway Mrs Sharma then asserted me that she didn’t know anything about any woman called Aditi and heard about her only after her death. She was quite an actor and I too believed her. Initially at least.”“Why would she put her dead body across the window? It doesn’t make sense!” Bibha asked.“She didn’t do it. Raja did.”“What?”“Oh yeah. Isn’t it Raja? He watched the whole thing from the window. The argument, the killing, everything. When Mrs Sharma left, he went to see what happened actually. As I already told you, he hated Aditi as she reminded him of the woman his father left with. He saw her lying dead on the bed and thought she deserved that. He also seemed to believe that it was his duty to display her to the world. So that everyone will know what happened to people like her. What fate God entitled them to. Hence he pushed her body through the window, out in the open, for everyone to see and learn a lesson. He then came out and locked the apartment and kept the key with him.”“What gave me away?” Mrs Sharma spoke. She was still looking at the floor and her voice seemed to come from a very distant land.“Your slippers Mrs Sharma.”All the heads in the room turned together at Jha’s direction. He took a moment to relish the rare attention and then continued, “Mrs Murthy told me that she had stumbled over a pair of blue flowery slippers outside Aditi’s door. Incidentally I had seen Mrs Sharma wearing that very type of slippers earlier that day. Now I only had to add two and two. Mr Sharma and Aditi were having an affair after all. A chat with Mr Sharma later proved more helpful than I could dream of.”“Hmm. Quite cool. But I am going to charge Raja as well. He is capable of extreme violence.” Said Ambekar.“I agree. It was shocking what he did to Aditi’s body. We will definitely have to charge him. But probably we’d have to charge Mr Basu as well for withholding information from police.” Jha replied with a smirk. As an immediate reaction to these words Mr Basu dramatically clutched his heart and let out a whimper. “What did I do?” he asked.“Why didn’t you say you met Mr Sharma in the elevator? Why did you lie about the time you found the body?”“I blacked out at the sight of the blood. When I woke up I didn’t remember meeting him, all sense of time were lost too. Why would I not tell you otherwise?”“Ridiculous. He is lying right?” Ambekar asked stupidly.“As a matter of fact, he isn’t”, smiled Jha. “Then why didn’t he say it before?”“He was just afraid everyone would think him a coward.”“Huh? Do only insane people live here?” Ambekar shook his head.“Anyway, Sharma confessed of running away after seeing Aditi dead. He didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t express what he felt, the whole affair being a secret, but he couldn’t hide it as well. So he went directly to his office. I double checked. It holds up.”“Still he is no less a criminal.” Rahul, the sub-inspector had spoken up.“Can’t agree more, Rahul. Did you know he had no plan to take either of these two women with him when we went abroad? Did you know that he had another mistress, someone in a more advantageous position to help him with his career and that she was the one who had facilitated this abroad vacancy for him?”Mr Sharma looked up, dumbstruck.“Don’t worry Mr Sharma, we won’t be able to charge you for being an opportunist and a bad husband. I do however hope that you will be a responsible father to your daughter when your wife serves her life in jail.” Jha finished with a scorching look at Sharma and walked away. A victory at last, he had solved a murder, a crime. But was the murderer a criminal? He didn’t know. It was a tangled mess, the world of crimes and criminals. Often they meant different things. The more you delve, the more confused you become. It was much better to live with solving just the crimes and not the criminals’ minds.
He looked back again. Back in the room, Rahul was urging Mrs Sharma and Raja out of the room. He hadn’t handcuffed them. A sudden smile lit his face up. This lad, Rahul was going to have a lot of problems in his life detangling the meaning of crimes and criminals. He watched a few seconds more and then walked back in to help him.Love,
The Tangled Mess - VII

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