The girl said with finality that the Iyers had to go.
“Who is she?” Kartik questioned Kanetkar.
“My first daughter,” he replied arrogantly.
“How many children do you have?”
“3. All daughters. The other 2 are married.”
“Why has she not married?”
At that all their faces paled.
“I am his ‘son’, that is why,” the girl ventured.
Kartik came out of the house feeling queasy. Why was everybody so strongly against the Iyer family? The reason probably lay with the Iyers, themselves. Therefore, next he went directly to the hotel, where the Iyer couple was staying.
He did not have the reply to the unspoken question raised by their eager faces. So, he straight away started asking questions.
“The only way I can help you is if you give truthful answers to my questions,” Kartik looked at Mr, Iyer straight in the eye.
“Oh, yes, yes. We will,” Kartik saw honesty in his face.
“Why are your neighbours so strongly against you?”
“Well! It is a long story. I will try to cut it short,” Mr. Iyer sighed. He went on to say that he was a well-educated man and stressed much on the education part as far as his daughter was concerned. He felt that he did not get the opportunities suitable to his education in India. So when he got the job in Saudi Arabia, he jumped at the opportunity, leaving his family behind. He had thought that his neighbours were good; they would take care of his wife and 10-year-old child. But he was mistaken. As soon as his plane took off, the neighbours started harassing his wife and only child. People would make movement a difficult thing for the Iyers, who lived in the last room on the first floor.
The boys living in the neighbourhood started creating problems for Savitri. Things came to such a head that one day police had to be called in, since every year during Savitri’s exams they would create some or the other problem. Despite all this Savitri would pass with flying colors though leaving enough scope of doubt that she could have done better under congenial circumstances.
Now, the situation deteriorated when this year during her second year exams, they called the police. Mrs. Iyer immediately called her husband and asked him to come back from abroad. A plethora of NC (Non-Cognisable) complaints at the police station made the police get disinterested in the issue. So when the Iyers tried to lodge a complaint, it was not entertained. Besides, it was the majority vote against them.
“The police even asked us to look at ourselves, why these people were behaving this way towards us,” Mr. Iyer recalled, sadly. “Then I complained at the Police Commissioner’s office. Luckily, one of the higher officials there spoke our language. It is sad that today in Mumbai, we cannot get anything done unless you know someone in the concerned department or somebody happens to speak your native tongue. After my complaint was lodged with the higher authorities, the local police sprung to action. They called all the concerned neighbours and gave a nice firing. Things began to settle down and went on smoothly until… until the murder took place at our home.”
“Why did you continue to stay there?”
“We were planning on leaving the place, but were getting good flats only in the suburbs. We would have shifted, but for the murder.”
“What kind of person, do you think was Rajan?”
“He was the gang leader of the bunch of boys here. All the boys are academic failures. They detested my daughter’s being good in studies. Despite all this, she came first in Accounts!” Mr. Iyer said proudly.
“What do you know about his connection with the underworld?”
“I don’t have any idea about it more than what the newspapers are saying.”
“What about the allegations about Savitri’s character?”
“Those were only rumours spread by despising neighbours. Actually, their girls keep dating new boys and marry one of them. Their boys are on the lookout for good girls to spoil their lives. Savitri did not care a hoot about them. She wanted to study further and do MBA. Girls like her do not have time for momentary romantic flings,” Mrs. Iyer spoke up, emphatically.
“Now, what will you do, Kartik?” Mr. Iyer asked, eagerly.
“I have to get Savitri to speak. That I can do only when I get her out of the lock up. I’ll try to get her out on bail.”