Team – The Spellbinders
The story up until now :
“I am afraid patient is in no shape for the interrogation, Officer. Fortunately the knife missed the spinal cord tissues but he lost a great deal of blood and has concussion.” The doctor informed Malik who was waiting outside the operation theatre.
“It will take only a minute; this is a crucial case and he is a vital lead.” Malik persisted sizing the doctor in blue scrubs. It was a futile effort; he knew officials of this type. The doctor would not let him anyway near the patient. Interrogating a patient can make you a bad guy fast.
“Officer Malik I have to ask you to come back later.” The doctor started to walk towards his cabin only to be stopped by Malik’s piercing gaze and urgent voice, “Little girls are dying and he can lead us to the killer. You have to understand – ”
“No, you have to understand” the doctor raised his voice by a notch “I cannot let you take risk with my patient’s life. Now if you will excuse me I have more patients to attend.” And he walked past him.
Malik stormed into the police station with such a fury that everybody steered clear of him. Where is my coffee? he wanted to shout at the juniors. If it was his police station, he would have. But he was here at the behest of the DGP and had been given the use of a corner of the evidence room. At least he had a desk and a phone.
He had a strong hunch that this attack on Aryan was the breakthrough he was looking for. If he could get a clue, he would solve the case and go home. Living in circuit houses was not his favourite thing. But the damn doctor …
It was sheer luck that he was at Nariman Point when the Police station was notified regarding the attack at The Oberoi hotel. Aryan was taken to the hospital immediately; he was in pretty bad shape. A rigorous search had yielded two clues, the knife and the newspaper clip. The staff and guests at the restaurant were informative. Yes, this case could be solved.
“You did not put me under surveillance,” Cyrus spoke through clenched teeth as soon as he entered the police station. Malik smiled. The last time the rich brat had dodged interrogation. Not this time.
“I underestimated you, Mr. Daruwala.” Malik added the last part just to rile him up a little more, and it worked. Malik did put tail on him, not one but two. One was decoy, he was supposed to be found out by Cyrus. Just as he planned, Cyrus was here. He hoped that now Cyrus would get overconfident and make mistakes, and get caught.
“Why? Was your wife unable to catch who was on her tail when you put her under surveillance before you married her?” Cyrus leered unaware about the web he was getting himself trapped into.
“Mind your words young man or I’ll knock you so fast it’ll make your eyes spin.” Malik almost got out of his chair and threw Cyrus in a cell but he clenched his fist instead “Where were you when Aryan was stabbed.”
“You don’t seriously think I stabbed him? He is an old friend!” He exclaimed.
“A friend you threatened to kill.” Malik said with a dry smile.
“Threatened—” Cyrus started to protest but caught himself as Malik’s smile vanished and his eyes narrowed with a subtle warning: Don’t lie to me, I know.
“It is not what you think. We met for drinks, we had a subtle argument and I left for the bar. That was the last I saw him.”
“Just the two of you?” Malik raised his eyebrow.
“At that moment, yes.” Cyrus gave him his best blank look.
“Who was the girl? What was the argument about?”
“The girl has nothing to do with it. Keep her out of it Officer.”
“Yet she keeps bumping into it. Eh?” Malik sneered.
“We were on a date and Aryan gate crashed. So I was furious. That’s all I have to say. Now I will take my leave.” Cyrus stood “On second thought, I would like to meet Roohi’s father.”
The jail was nothing like what they show in movies. Cyrus in his protected life had never been in close contact with the dregs of humanity. In fact his father wanted him to practice corporate law after graduation. Until now, Cyrus had wanted to get into criminal law. Now he was not so sure. Malik glanced his way and smiled at the shock on his face.
It was hot, and the place stank of human sweat mingled with urine. He finally came face to face with Shekhar. As an undertrial he was allowed to have visitors, under supervision. Malik was here to supervise.
“Shekhar?” Cyrus said quietly, leaning forward. Shekhar did not respond but keep staring at the wall without paying heed to his visitor. “Your daughter isn’t dead.” Cyrus whispered.
That got Shekhar’s attention. He turned his head towards Cyrus and shrugged matter-of-factly “But I killed her.”
“No you did not kill her. I doubt you even killed anybody. What happened that night?” Cyrus asked.
“I have seen you before…” Shekhar said, trying to recall the visitor. Cyrus thought better not to mention that he was at the airport. He recalled that Shekhar looked angry as he walked to his wife and child. Tara and Roohi both had frozen expressions when they had looked his way at the airport gate.
“We need to get you out of here so that we can find the real killer Shekhar. I am studying law, I can help you with your bail, hook you up with other lawyers.” It pained him to even think of an innocent man incarcerated in this hell hole.
“I don’t want your help. Go away. I killed Roohi, I never loved her, and she ran because… Go away.” Shekhar screamed.
After several futile attempts Cyrus left the jail. Malik stared at Cyrus intently, noticing for the first time the idealistic nature of this man. He said, with cynicism, “An old proverb, Mr. Cyrus Daruwala, which you should keep in mind. It was made for fools like you. No good turn goes unpunished.”
He walked away, his mind busy. Why would Cyrus want to help Shekhar? Was he innocent or was this his way of muddying the case? The whole day had been wasted in this pointless exercise.
Jenny gingerly wiggled her wrist then flexed her hand. She probably just sprained it. Then she typed ‘Cyrus Daruwala’ on Google.
“Oh my, why didn’t I search him earlier?” She whispered to herself in glee at the dead of night. Her date went pretty bad. First Cyrus’ friend Aryan gatecrashed the date, and after that, he left in haste because that Aryan got attacked. Her mind kept running a marathon as she scrolled Cyrus’s blog. (http://www.devilsadvocate.ddtn.com)
“Now that’s my guy.” She shrieked as her jaw literally dropped seeing the breathtaking photographs he had captured from almost all over India, Bihu Festival of Assam, Thiksay Gustor festival of Ladhak, Elephant festival of Jaipur and what not. She almost did a happy dance seeing the photographs of Fort Kochi clicked during the sun set, reflecting many shades of the region. She kept scrolling and scrolling and found almost a year old picture of Aryan and Cyrus hugging in front of a half-open door. It looked eerily familiar; she zoomed in to the flat number and jerked, stifling a gasp. It says 108 and Roohi, the girl Cyrus is quite taken with lives in 107 and their doors looks identical.
After some more digging in Cyrus’ s blog she was sure Aryan is Dutta’s neighbour Damn.
Cyrus dug into his pocket and found the keys he was looking for; he had picked up the keys Aryan had probabaly dropped while he was attacked. Now he had to act, get things under control. Malik was too shrewd and Shekhar was useless. He had to break into Aryan’s flat and search for any clue.
It was not easy to blend in with the people of Ayran’s building, he was afraid not to bump into Tara but somehow he managed to safely enter Ayran’s flat. He was wearing his gloves of course before breaking and entering; he then searched the apartment but found nothing but pile of books on psychology and also Aryan’s famous work Mind Freaks, a collection of dirty CDs. The stench of rotten food was strong and it looked like a typical bachelor’s pad, totally messed up. Even after a meticulous search of half an hour when he found nothing, he let himself out carefully. Without thinking he went and knocked Tara’s door.
“Cyrus, what are you doing here? And how do you know I live here?” Tara was startled to see Cyrus standing at her doorway early this morning.
“May I come in?”
“Yes, of course” She opened the door wider, she was getting ready for work, her makeup was flawless, hair-do perfectly in place. In pastel shade saree, she looked more like a model.
“Any news of Roohi?” Cyrus asked.
“No, police are still searching.”
“And what about Shekhar?”
“What about him.” Tara frowned.
“You know he is innocent.” Cyrus stated. Tara felt the cold blade of a chill at her spine.
“I see–” Cyrus began seeing Tara’s expression and Tara was afraid he really did see —right through her. She masked her face but it was bit too late. “You actually believe Shekhar is capable of hurting little girls.” Cyrus asserted. Tara didn’t reply.
“My God! Now I see what is happening here. You have some kind of anger against your husband.” Cyrus took a few agitated steps and then turned to her and pleaded, “You aren’t seeing past your anger Tara madam, if you want Roohi back you need to get Shekhar out of the jail and talk to him about what happened that night. He is not coherent and won’t tell anyone what transpired that night.” Cyrus wanted to shake some sense into Tara but she was one stubborn woman. She smiled, it was a mechanical motion of her lips. Her eyes flashed with anger.
“Stop being selfish, you want to get even with Shekhar, find some other way but not at the cost of letting an innocent being jailed.” He practically shouted.
“Rotting in jail is far too kind a fate for what he did.” Tara retorted.
“You are one blind obstinate woman, don’t you want your daughter back?.” He was yelling now.
“Cyrus… leave.” She said through gritted teeth, trying not to break. I am not going to break, she told herself firmly.
Will Tara shatter ?
Or she is much stronger than what others believe. To know more, stay tune.
Read the next Chapter – Mixed Feelings by Sunita Rajwade
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