Vihaan Shetty jumped out of the police jeep in style. Twirling the ends of his mustache one at a time he adjusted the ends of his tucked-in shirt.
“You are not here for a film shooting. We have come here for an investigation. Keep that in mind “, snarled Jayant Godbole, the senior inspector.
Both the policemen entered the mansion. The security guard had informed the police of the suicide of Mr. Jagdeep Kapoor, the scion of Kapoor Industries.
The place was buzzing with reporters scampering for bits of information. “Vihaan, ask the reporters to wait outside. Tell them they will get all the information that they want but after the investigation.” Vihaan looked a little perturbed at the task given to him.
Mr. Jagdeep Kapoor’s body had slumped down on the study table. A gun was found on the floor. The adjacent walls and the floor were splattered with blood. The blood soaked-table housed an open laptop and a few documents.” Why would someone shoot himself amid his work?” Jayant thought aloud, running his fingers across his chin. Vihaan was busy clicking photographs to record the position of the body and the appearance of the room.
Jayant walked around the room scouring every nook and corner. Prima facie it somehow didn’t look like suicide to his experienced eyes.
“Mrs. Jagdeep is in the living room, sir. She is inconsolable. How could Mr. Jagdeep do this? How could he have left his young wife in the lurch? “Vihaan butted in, twirling the end of his mustache.
“Hey, hero! Don’t jump to conclusions. Go and inform Mrs. Jagdeep that I need to have a word with her.” Jayant barked as Vihaan scooted out of the room.
Rihanna Kapoor sat hunched on the sofa. Her hair covered most of her round, red face. Now and then her shoulders shrugged involuntarily. Her loud sobs were muffled by a tissue that she used to cover her mouth.
“I am sorry, Mrs. Jagdeep. Can I have a word with you?” As he spoke his eyes studied Rihanna’s face. It failed to exude any emotions. Her shoulder-length hair looked almost perfect with not a hair out of place. Refusing to speak she just handed out a printed note. With just a glance, Jayant read the contents. It stated that nobody was responsible for his death and that he was ending his life of his own free will. “Ma’am, you shouldn’t have touched this. Please don’t enter the study till the investigation is over”
Seeing no response from her side, “I will meet you at 10 in the morning tomorrow”, he walked out with Vihaan in tow.
“I smell something fishy. I remember reading something about a marital dispute between the two and Mrs. Jagdeep’s extramarital affair in the newspapers.” lighting up a cigarette Jayant blew circles of smoke in the air.
“I don’t think so, sir. She looked so distraught. Her pretty face looked like a dried-up flower. I checked the CCTV camera and there were no visitors to the mansion. And sir, I follow gossip of only film stars. By the way, sir, are you suspecting her?”
“I can’t answer that question right now. Vihaan, collect all information about the couple. I want to be well-equipped before meeting Mrs. Jagdeep. I will try to get information about the insurance money or if there is personal wealth that Mrs. Jagdeep would bequeath. And one more thing Vihaan, never go by what appears to the eye.”
Jayant left the place after giving the required instructions. Vihaan looked on in awe at his superior. He has a track record of cracking every case to date.
The next morning they met Rihanna in her room. Looking at the spacious, opulent room Vihaan thought that it looked bigger than his one-bedroom flat. The room had a king-sized bed in the middle. Rihanna sat in one corner of the room by the window. Her eyes were red and swollen. Jayant’s shrewd eyes caught her freshly painted fingernails.
One look at her face and something struck Vihaan. The black, round mole on her right cheek stood out on her otherwise perfect face. “I have seen this face before. But where?” Vihaan was lost in his thoughts.
“Mrs. Jagdeep, how are you feeling today? Can you tell us what happened? “Jayant rolled out his question.
“Jagdeep has been facing huge losses in his business. He was under a lot of stress. He had to repay huge debts. For the last 6 months, he was on pills for depression. Since morning he had holed himself up in his study. I was in my room when I heard a loud gunshot. I ran down and saw his body slumped on the table. I asked the security to call the police.” She spoke at length and broke down into loud sobs.
The mellow echo of the tinkling of the windchime caught Vihaan’s attention. The vibrant silver bells looked familiar but he was not able to put a finger on it. Scratching his head, he kept staring at it. It was as if the echoes were trying to tell him something.
Pulling him by the sleeve Jayant called him aside, “If you have finished admiring the architecture of the place, concentrate on the investigation. Next time I see you distracted you will be out of this case. Do you get that?” Jayant thundered.
“I want to question the mansion staff.” Jayant looked straight into Rihanna’s almond-shaped eyes and for a fraction of a second, he got distracted.
“Every morning at 8 the servants’ shift changes. The night staff leave at 8 am and the day staff report at 9 am. Jagdeep shot himself at 8.30 “she answered without batting an eyelid. “If you have finished with your questions, I need to make arrangements for Jagdeep’s funeral” Rihanna walked out of the room.
“Sir, that windchime, her face, I-I have seen it before…” As Vihaan mumbled Jayant cut him short. “She and the security guard outside were the only people at the mansion at the time of his death. All that she is saying seems right but something is just not adding up. I have checked the place thoroughly but couldn’t lay my hands on anything crucial. And you Vihaan instead of assisting me you are feigning amnesia. Rihanna is a socialite and so you must have seen her in magazines. And that windchime, come on that is so common. Every household has a wind chime so what is so striking about the one in Rihanna’s room? You are just wasting my precious time” Jayant’s voice tremored unveiling the stress hidden underneath.
“Let’s take a few more days to study the case. We cannot go by just our instincts. We need concrete evidence to prove that it is a murder. Vihaan, let’s meet the management team of Kapoor Industries to get first-hand information about the company. We will talk to the security guard and Mrs. Jagdeep one more time before we close the case”, rubbing his fingers across his forehead Jayant spoke in a low but firm voice.
“Sir, what about the insurance amount that Mrs. Jagdeep is supposed to get? “Jayant just dismissed the question with a wave of his hand. Vihaan did not probe further thinking that it wasn’t important.
Within a week of working on the case Jayant Godbole and Vihaan Shetty put down all the information in the report. The fingerprints on the gun, the post-mortem report, the suicide note, the financial position of the company, and Mr. Jagdeep being treated for depression, all stood testimony to the fact that Mr. Jagdeep Kapoor had indeed committed suicide.
6 Months Later
It was almost a week since Jayant Godbole had gone missing. Vihaan Shetty was shell-shocked. He did everything possible to look for his boss. He searched the flat in which Jayant was staying for any clues. When he was looking through Jayant’s office drawers he recollected where he had seen Rihanna’s face before.
It was 2 years ago when he had just joined the police force. Jayant had asked him to get his car keys from his drawer. As he was searching for the keys, he found a photo album. Out of curiosity, he had opened it. The smiling, happy faces of Jayant and a beautiful girl stared back at him. The round, black mole on the cheek of the girl was something that made him look at her picture again and again. And! And! Yes! The windchime! How could he forget? Jayant Godbole had bought it in an antique shop in Jaipur when they had gone there to investigate a theft. The windchime had silver bells with shades of blue. It was priced exorbitantly. Jayant had purchased it as a gift for someone. The smile that lingered on his face had said it all.
Vihaan immediately called up the Kapoor mansion. “Mrs. Jagdeep has been out for a week”, came the reply.
“I always wanted to be an actor but sir seems to have walked away with awards for acting, a huge amount of wealth, and the love of his life,” Vihaan thought, out of practice his hand moved up but now his fingers refused to twirl the ends of his mustache.
In a distant land, the windchime tinkled in rhythm to the cool breeze. And as always, the noise around drowned its mellow echoes.
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