“Caroline? Murdered? Are you sure?”
“Sure. It happened right in front of me. We were having dinner. Suddenly, she slumped forward and was dead.”
“You were having the same food?”
“Yes, but I did not have one item – dal. I have always considered it to be a food for the low class people,” so his exotic tongue must have saved his life!
“Where is this place?”
“It’s nearby. Actually, it’s the next building to the ladies’ hostel.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Become my alibi,” he was actually pleading.
“Do you realize what you are asking? It could jeopardize my future. How will I face my parents?”
“I can take care of that. Once this crisis is over, I will marry you in front of the whole world.” His sincerity shocked her.
“Do you expect me to believe that?”
“Yes, please. My life depends up on it. I could get a death sentence for homicide. I can prove my sincerity. Come with me,” Shyam caught hold of her hand, for the first time in her life and lead her to a nearby Lakshmi Narayan temple. Leaving their shoes outside, they found that it was empty. “Let us exchange garlands first,” they lifted the garlands off the idols and put them on each other’s necks.
“Now, I have a plain stamp-paper, on which I will write that within a month I will marry you. Under any circumstance, if I don’t, the entire ad agency will be yours. As you know I created this agency on my own. I have not done this for any other girl. Now you can keep this for security.”
“But, tell me,” she asked, folding the stamp-paper and dropping it into her handbag. “Did you kill her?”
“Do you think I would have made a commitment like this if I had killed her? I would have run away without even looking at you. No, Radha, I did not kill her.”
“Let us go back to her place.”
“Why not? Did someone see you?”
“Not that I know of.”
“What did you do when you saw her slump?”
“I went up to her, obviously being concerned about her safety. When I tried to shake her awake, she fell back, out of the chair, on to the floor. I panicked and ran out of the house.”
“Then your fingerprints are practically all over the place,” Radha started thinking fast. “From now on, I am Katherine, Caroline’s sister. Tell me move about this girl.”
“We met last weekend during a party. She is an NRI from USA. She came here for a vacation.”
“That’s not much to go on with. Anyways, let’s go.”
They left the garlands near the hundi in front of the idols and came out to get their shoes.
The house was actually a well-furnished bungalow. They entered the open gate stealthily. The door was unlocked too.
“Did you switch off the light?”
“Yes. I did,” lucky for him, she thought.
“Then please switch it on, again.”
Wordlessly, he did as he was told. He seemed to trust her, entirely. She wondered, why?
Light revealed the dead body, which was as Shyam had described fallen on the side, beside the table. The chair was intact.
“How is the chair still standing?” she asked.
“I straightened it out in panic.”
Since the body had not been discovered, there was no witness to the crime except Shyam.
Quickly, she dialed the police control room, from her mobile and posing as the bereaved sister informed the authorities of the death.
The police came to pick up the body. They said to Inspector Sinha, the officer-in-charge that she was already dead by the time they arrived.
Radha and Shyam proceeded to Shyam’s residence in his car, which he had parked in a nearby parking lot, since he had intended to stay longer at Caroline’s place. Shyam lived alone in his house, since his parents lived in America. After a quick dinner, they retired into 2 different bedrooms.
In the morning Shyam did not want to go to the office. But Radha convinced him into going.
“What will you do?”
“I’ll get my clothes from the hostel and see what can be done about finding the murderer.”
Shyam dropped her at the hostel on his way to the office, taking the keys with him.
The warden was very angry with her. Radha tried to give her a silly excuse that she had partied with a friend and got drunk. The warden believed her, since she did not know that Radha had never touched alcohol in her life.
She picked up her clothes and saying that she would be away for few days, left. Asha had already left for her office, so no questions were asked. She deposited her clothes in Shyam’s house. He had given a set of keys to her. She returned to Caroline’s house to look for clues. Having posed as Caroline’s sister, she had received the custody of the house.
But even before she could open the gate, she was stopped by Inspector Sinha.
“Ms. Katherine, you are under arrest for killing your sister!”