“Hi, Tasneema! Anything new?” Radha asked the girl sitting inside the telephone booth.
“Not much,” Tasneema replied and lowered her voice after looking around discreetly, “other than a theft that took place day before yesterday in the Sea View Apartments. The latch was screwed open together with the lock, when nobody was inside. Jewelry and a lot of cash were taken.”
“Thanks for the tip, Sweetheart,” Radha whispered and left. Radha Srinivasan was an investigative reporter, working for the newspaper The True Story. She had the knack of making friends easily. Tasneema Khan was one of such ‘sources’, who would keep her in touch with ‘news-worthy developments’. Radha decided to visit the nearest police station first. She found her brother, Sr. Inspector Karthik chatting with a colleague, Sr. Inspector Keshav.
“Oh, that case? That case is with Keshav. You ask him,” Karthik told his sister. Then he turned to Keshav, his friend, “Now reply to the questions posed by the ace investigative reporter from The True Story.”
“Anna, gimme a break. I am not an ace reporter. There are seniors who are better than me,” then she addressed Keshav. “What do you think about the case? Who would have done it?”
“Like brother, like sister. Straight to the point,” the officer gave her a charming smile. “The theft occurred two nights ago. The latch was screwed out.”
“What is your opinion about the case?”
“Enquiries are still on,” was his diplomatic reply. “Can’t say anything more now.”
The next day, Radha visited the police station again. Her brother Kartik was not there. Keshav was there.
“You are still behind that case? I can’t reveal anything more and you are not going to write about it,” was his decisive answer.
“Well, if you don’t tell me, someone else will and I am going to write about it,” Radha burst out in anger. Keshav was always a spoil-sport.
“Radha, how many times have I told you not to poke your nose into the police work? I’ve already got a couple of warnings of suspension from the higher ups for helping you.”
“Oh, really? When my brother helps me, he is not threatened of suspension. Only you are. That is believable! Look here Inspector Keshav Pradhan, it is your duty to inform the press about the progress of a case. And my job is to inform the public. So you will have to co-operate.”
“No. It’s non-cooperation from now on.”
“Ok. So be it,” and Radha stomped out of the police station in disgust.
Finding Sea View Apartments was not a big problem, as it was located a few buildings away from her hostel. The flat where the theft had occurred was located on the third floor. The door bell was answered by a woman of medium height and built, wearing a sari.
After the preliminaries, Mrs. Vora asked her to come in. “Total loss is worth about 3 lakhs of rupees, including 1 lakh in cash,” the woman told Radha, sadly.
“How did it happen?”
“My father-in-law is to undergo an open heart surgery in Rajkot. My husband had withdrawn the money from the bank for the same purpose. He was supposed to take the money today to Rajkot. That fateful night, I got a call from my daughter’s hostel in Pune that she had met with an accident. I forgot all about the jewelry and money and went all the way to Pune. There I got to know that all the girls from the hostel had gone for a picnic to Ajanta.
“In the meantime, our house was broken into and all the jewelry and cash was gone.”
“How was the theft actually performed?”
“The latch was screwed open.”
“The whole thing?”
“Yes, the whole thing with the lock. Then the thief must have had a key to open the cup-board and the locker to remove the items.”
“What else was robbed?”
“Do you doubt any one?”
“I don’t. But my husband suspects Chandu.”
“Now, who’s Chandu?”
“Chandu is our live-in servant, who left us 4 days back. He was like our son and had been with us for a long time. He could never have done it.”
“Do you feel that anybody else could have done it?”
“No. Nobody could have known about the jewelry or money before they were gone.”
Radha asked her to show her a photograph of Chandu and she clicked a picture of the same with her smartphone and left.
Next she rang the bell of the next door neighbor. The moment she introduced herself and stated the purpose of her visit, the woman, who had opened the door, banged it on her face!