The second neighbor also banged her door on Radha’s face. As she dejectedly turned to the fourth and the last door on that floor, she spied a woman looking at her from the edge of the door. The moment she realized that Radha was looking at her she closed the door.
Radha did not want to give up. Acting as though she had not seen the woman, she pressed the door bell. The door was thrown open immediately. The moment she stated the purpose of her visit, she was steered in and the door was closed.
“I tell you, it must be that Chandu.”
“Their live-in servant. He and her daughter had an affair going.”
“Is that so?” Radha asked without flinching.
“Don’t take my name. But the 2 must have taken the jewelry and the money. The girl was sent to the Pune College because of the affair. As if there was a dearth of colleges in Mumbai! The girl left last week and he did so a couple of days before the theft was discovered. See they need the financial security for getting married, don’t they?”
Try as she may, Radha did not want to believe such shit about another girl, who was probably only few years younger than her. But truth sometimes was stranger than fiction.
“Radha, call for you,” the receptionist called out to her that afternoon, in The True Story office.
The call was from Nalini, an operator in one of the telecom service providers. Radha had once saved her brother from getting crushed under a truck. Since then, Nalini had become her sworn friend and would tip her off time and again on new cases, which had been very helpful to her.
Nalini told her that Radha’s mobile was unreachable, so she had to contact her through the office board number. Nalini also reported a call to the police station hotline number – 100 that a dead body was discovered, on Juhu beach, moments ago.
Radha caught a taxi immediately to reach there; minutes after the police had arrived. As luck would have it, the officer-in-charge was Kartik, who readily allowed her to scrutinize the dead body from afar, since the forensic team had not still arrived.
The dead body was of a man in the early 20s. On a sudden inspiration, Radha brought out her smartphone and opened the file, where Chandu’s picture was stored. The dead man was the same as the man in the picture!
Radha immediately told her brother about it and asked, “Did you find anything on him?”
“Yes, a suicide note, saying that he is ashamed of even thinking about his employer’s daughter.”
“How do you think he might have died?”
“Probably, by drowning and the waves might have brought him here. But, I can be sure only after the post-mortem reports.”
Kartik promised to keep her informed. Radha took a couple of pictures of the dead body with her smartphone and left.
Her next stop was the Vora residence. The moment Mrs. Vora saw her, she was about to close the door saying, “My husband called up to tell me not to talk to you.”
Radha put a foot within the threshold so that the woman could not close the door. “Do you know Chandu is dead?”
“I am coming from Juhu beach after seeing the dead body.”
That did it. The woman let her in and Radha could detect a couple of tears being brushed away.
“You did not tell me why your daughter is in Pune, when there are many colleges in Mumbai?”
“She wanted to learn Film-editing at the Film Institute.”
Mrs. Vora was fast to clarify, “You get better quality film-based education there according to her. I don’t know what our neighbours have been telling you. But this is the truth.”
“What makes you think that your neighbours had told me something about you?”
“I saw you speaking to Mrs. Patel, the neighbour opposite to us, when I was leaving for the market, immediately after you met me in the morning.”
“Why should Mrs. Patel say anything bad about you?”
“Because all the 3 neighbours have sons and we have a daughter only. All the 3 boys would trouble my daughter, Priya. Being a bright student, she had not shown any interest in these school drop-outs. That is another reason why we decided to send her to Pune.”
“Ok, I’ll be frank with you, Ma’am. Mrs. Patel did tell me something about an affair between your daughter and Chandu.”
“Did she? She would go to that extent? Yes, she would. She has a daughter, who went that way. She wants others’ children also to go that way. In any case, there is no more truth in this affair than UFOs from the Sun.”
“Then, why did Chandu leave you?”
“He told my husband that he wanted to return to his mother back in his village.”
“Then how on earth did he land on the rocks in Juhu beach?” Radha spoke up agitatedly. She would always get agitated and think loudly when she was excited or would find something hidden from her perception.
Radha descended the steps to go to the second floor of the Sea View Apartments in thought. At that time a man came up fast, 3 steps at a time. As Radha came out of the gate of the building and was about to hail an auto-rickshaw, the man hurried back towards a waiting taxi, with Mrs. Vora, in tow. At that moment, an empty rickshaw answered her raised hand.
On an impulse, she requested the rickshaw driver to follow the cab.
Radha stood musing over the events till date that night, in her room. A theft has occurred in the Vora residence. It had occurs in a peculiar way. The door lock is screwed open but the cupboard is opened with a key. Cash and jewelry worth 3 lakhs has been stolen.
There is another side to the story. According to the neighbours, Priya Vora has an affair going with their live-in family servant, Chandu, due to which she’s sent way to Pune, seemingly for higher studies. Chandu leaves the job to go to meet his mother, in his village, but lands up dead on the Juhu beach.
The post-mortem report said that Chandu had been first strangled and then drowned, since a lot of air still remained in his lungs. This was despite the fact that his clothes were still wet, when the police had arrived. Death, according to the report had come around 10, the previous night.
Obviously, Chandu had been murdered. With the prime suspect out-of-commission, Radha was in a jeopardized position, “Who is the killer? Why was Chandu killed? Where did the jewelry and cash go? Most importantly what is the connection between the 2 incidents, if there was any?”
Suddenly, Radha snapped her fingers, “That’s it!”