It rained that night. It was nothing less than a deluge. The sirens of the police cars could be heard from a distance. The gossiping voices were not audible because of the heavy pouring but I could see a blur gathering of the crowd from my window. The murder of Mr Bajpai and his 22-year-old son, living on Sector 3A of Cumballa Hill, had shocked every soul in the vicinity. The deeply shocked Mrs Bajpai was in no condition to talk. All the high-class socialites who populated this street felt safe no more.
“The police are doubting their maid. They took her in for questioning” said Mrs Kumar to Mrs Pandey when they were strolling around the garden the next morning. The lifestyle at Cumballa was relaxed and luxurious. I kept sitting on the same bench for Mrs Kumar and Mrs Pandey to pass by me while walking around the garden so I could overhear any other advancements about the murder. They didn’t have any. Well, it was easy for ladies of Cumballa Hill to shift from something like murder to which designer’s saree they were going to wear for the next day’s party. I moved on.
My routine was quite simple. Wake up early, go for a run, sit on the same bench in the garden where the tracksuit & gold-clad ladies took their morning stroll. Then, make some lunch, pack it and head out for work only to come back late at night. The abrupt murder in my locality hadn’t really affected me. I occasionally saw cops around the Bajpai house, but it felt irrelevant to me until the day they knocked on my door.
I was sitting on the swing chair lying in the terrace of my apartment reading one Agatha Christie book when I heard the knock on my front door. It was a Sunday night and the clock showed ten. I was surprised to see Mr Rai, the inspector-in-charge of the Bajpai case waiting at my door and then entering after he opened the door by himself.
He looked ravishing in the white t-shirt he was wearing. I couldn’t help but stare at him for a long moment. He looked like the perfect cop. The kind you read about in fictional stories. The kind who always gets the toughest of cases.
I kept looking at him as he looked around my house, finding hints and clues to solve the Bajpai murders. And, I didn’t care even if he did find something on me. I was too smitten to care about it. I still tried to tell him about the night Mr and Mrs Bajpai had talked to me and invited me over to their house for drinks. I had accepted the invitation as I was new in the locality and wanted to make some friends. I was welcomed by Mr Bajpai who told me his wife had gone out for some work and would be back soon. Their son, a smart young lad was up in his room listening to loud music. I had a few drinks as we waited for the wife to get home. What happened after that is still a blur to me. The heavy thudding in my head and the pool of blood around me is still a faint memory I cannot recall properly. I remember images of Mr Bajpai groping me and Alok, their son, running down the stairs with a cricket bat. I also remember the red lights on the top of the car I was taken into.
Mr Rai didn’t seem interested in my story as he left without saying a word, slamming the door after him. Almost as if he didn’t want to believe my story.
A month later, a rather atrocious news was unveiled in the newspapers. “The death of Bajpais: A murder or suicide?” This had shocked the whole neighbourhood once again. A wealthy businessman who’s company ranked among the top five in the country would take such an immature step suddenly was unbelievable, who not only killed himself but also his young son.
Days went by and people believed the suicide story. Everyone moved on. I didn’t. I knew no one would listen even when I had a lot to say. They had turned a blind eye to me since the night I was picked up from my own pool of blood into the red light car that I figured was an ambulance. No one acknowledged my presence. No one smiled, not even a hello. I had gotten used to the disdain and lived my own life without bothering a single soul.
One night I saw Mr Rai below the Bajpai house. The case was settled and yet this gorgeous man was here. It made me curious and I couldn’t stop myself from going up to him and saying a hello.
He was talking to the watchman who was looking at a photograph and saying something as I approached. “..no, no-one lives there but sometimes the terrace light switches on” he completed. I smiled at Mr Rai. He looked confused. He took the photograph and started walking away from the watchman. I followed him so we could talk. Right then the wind blew making the photograph fall from Mr Rai’s hand and land on the ground. I looked at it too and I got a shiver from the root of my spine.
It was my photograph.
The watchman yelled at Rai from behind “Forget it Saheb, you will never find out what happened to them. She is dead. I know she came back to kill them as a revenge for what they did to her. It’s best you leave this case alone.”
I stood there looking at the shadow of Mr Rai under the street light as I realised that I couldn’t see mine.
The wind howled and roared.