Radha Srinivasan got down from the rickshaw, hesitantly. The gates beckoned to her with affection. She had always felt welcome at this place.
Senior Inspector Keshav Pradhan looked up from his desk as she entered his office. His eyes were soft and warm, but for a moment only, and the emotion disappeared as he spoke with determination. “No, Radha. I’ve told you time and again. I repeat I won’t reveal anything about this new case.”
“This time I’ve come with something…well, personal.”
“What could be… personal?” he asked asserting the last word. He looked mockingly at her.
“Look here, Keshav, I wouldn’t be here if Kartik Anna were in town.” Senior Inspector Kartik Srinivasan had gone to Delhi to find a cyber criminal.
“Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I’ve been getting crank calls. Somehow, this guy knows when I am home…”
“Home? If I am not mistaken, you live in a hostel.”
“I did. Our company felt it would be convenient if I and Asha live in their quarters closer to the office. That way we could be easily accessible.”
“But, what’s so dangerous or worrying about crank calls? It happens to most people particularly girls. At one time, even my sister used to get them. The trick is in how you handle them.”
“‘I like you, Baby’ or ‘Darling’ is fine, but if the person starts stalking you, it’s a different story.”
“Hey, I thought you were a brave girl,” his eyes mocked her again.
“There is a time for bravado. This is time to use common sense. See, if you want to help me, do it immediately. I don’t have the time or inclination to be teased now.”
“Gotcha! In your brother’s absence, you can place yourself under my protection.”
“Keshav, I can take care of myself. I just want to get my hands on that creep. Our landline did not have a caller id. We got it fixed, but it did not help. The man seems to be calling from different places at different times. He never calls on my cell. Asha convinced me that you will keep all this stuff under wraps.”
“You seem to be in a rotten mood,” he went on, relentlessly.
“You would be too if you were a girl and received this letter… It was dropped into our letter-box, probably during the night or this morning,” she put a sheaf of papers on his table.
The long letter that had been printed from a computer gave details of her whereabouts on all days of the previous week with endearing punctuations. Time to time Keshav’s expressions changed to one of displeasure while reading it.
“It is surprising that how much a stranger can know you just by observing you. Even I don’t know so much about you,” Keshav said seriously. “A stranger usually stalks a person to create fear or to blackmail the person. In your case, your being a crime reporter could be the reason.”
“What do you mean?”
“You have helped the police place so many criminals in jail. One of them could have come out of jail and would be taking advantage of the fact that you are a girl. I will personally visit your home and handle the case myself.”
To be continued…