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The Body in the Boot! (III and Concluding Part)

Part 3


As planned, Radha and Valli posing as representatives of a hair-care brand visited Mrs. Pandey, the next day. It did not take long for them to convince her into letting them into her house.

“Since your hair is long, you can make it into many styles with this hair oil. I’ll show you,” Radha applied oil into her hair. Then she picked up a few strands of hair from either side of the woman’s thick and long tresses and started working it into a French braid. Radha was using a comb they had brought so that whatever strand of hair got plucked off could be safely tucked away for later use. After spending some time with the woman, Radha and Valli left.


It turned out that the strands of hair that Radha had brought perfectly matched the ones found in the dead man’s fist. Kartik ad Keshav decided to stage a mock arrest of the woman. ‘Mock’ because they still did not have any solid proof of her involvement in the crime. When they reached the Pandey residence and proclaimed their intentions, the woman panicked and confessed everything!

Her story was as follows: She and Surekha were childhood friends. On account of Surekha’s father’s transfer to Delhi, they could not complete their graduation together. 6 months ago, they had bumped into each other at a mall. They started meeting often and gradually realized that their husbands were the same person. They thought of taking him to task. Murder was never in their minds. Komal Pandey was already in an abusive marriage situation. One day when she gathered courage enough to confront him, he got angry, caught hold of her hair and was about to bang her head on the wall.

Surekha was hiding in the next room. She caught hold of a candle-stand and brought it crashing on his head! At the same time, Komal had caught hold of a knife lying on a table nearby and she drove the blade into her husband’s body to save herself!

“A few minutes of shock later, we realized the full impact of what had happened. Surekha started thinking fast. At that time, we heard a car stop in front of the house. The driver was trying to restart it but after the initial sound of ‘kar kar kar’ the ignition went dead.

“Surekha went out and saw a man come out of a Maruti car. The moment he came out, the man banged the door shut, kicked the tire hard and made off. As Surekha had watched all this, she hit upon a plan. She walked up to the car and opened the door. It opened easily. On entering it, she found a bunch of skeleton keys dangling in the ignition. Apparently, the man was a car thief and had forgotten his bunch of keys. Surekha found that the petrol tank was empty. She carried some reserve petrol in her car, which she brought out and poured into the gas tank till the brim, all the time taking care not to leave any fingerprints.

“It was night time and there was no one around. Surekha and I dragged the body over to the car and transferred it on to the back seat. Then both of us took a leisurely cruise towards the Mumbai-Pune Highway. The moment we reached the highway, the car sputtered and stopped. It appeared that the car had sprung a leak in the fuel tank. Abandoning the car there, we waved for a passing taxi. Taking a circuitous route we reached Belapur, but did not go to Surekha’s house. Instead we took another taxi back to Panvel,” she uttered in between sobs.

Mrs. Pandey’s statement was recorded. By the time they got it completed Keshav received a call on his mobile about the letters, which has been sent for hand-writing analysis. It appeared that the dates on the letters and the written matter had been written by 2 different people. Putting 2 and 2 together, Keshav and Kartik could conclude that Mahendra must have written letters addressed to Surekha without dating them. Surekha on her part dated them to keep them as a proof of correspondence with her dead husband.

The next job was to arrest Mrs. Poddar. But as Keshav was about to get down from the jeep with Kartik, the inspector from that area and a female constable in front of the Poddar residence, Surekha shot out of the house with lightening speed and got into her car which was standing in front of the house. She started the car and took off. The jeep also took off in pursuit. As they reached the highway, there was a sudden crunch of metal up ahead. The pursuers got down to investigate. Surekha Poddar’s car had met with an accident and she had died instantly.


Radha sat silently as she heard the court verdict. She had been acquitted and Komal had been given a few years’ imprisonment. Radha was free now but her eyes did not show happiness. When Kartik asked her what was the matter, she replied, “Why did Surekha have to die?”

Kartik was silent for a while. Then he put an arm around his sister and said, “A crime always has a punishment. Pandey had committed a crime by being a bigamist. He deserved to be punished. But Komal and Surekha did not have the right to kill him. There is a right procedure for everything. Komal got panicky and confessed. Surekha did not want to be caught and in her haste took a wrong turn. Every crime has its punishment and Surekha got hers.”


About Yashaswini K

Controversy is the second name of Yashaswini. She goes where something is amiss and picks up the threads to make a clear story out of it. She has also written 2 books in the Radha Srinivasan Mystery Series.

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