Sheena rested her head on Siddarth’s chest, caressing his beard. He engulfed her into a warm embrace.
“Ouch! This locket is going to pierce into my head someday.” Sheena pouted her delicate lips in mock anger.
“Sorry, darling,” Siddarth said, arranging his chain to keep the locket from disturbing their romantic moments.
“Inspector Siddarth, it is intriguing to learn that you are a conformist,” Sheena pulled Siddarth’s nose.
“It is three months after our marriage, but you haven’t yet told me the orthodox story behind this locket.”
“Don’t you think we are wasting our time in unnecessary discussions in the middle of the night?” Playfully chiding her, Siddarth locked his lips into hers. They made compassionate love.
“I am eager to know the story,” Sheena guffawed as she noticed Siddarth yawning.
Fiddling with his wife’s stray curls, Siddharth said, “My parents say a cairn was spotted on a mound in the backyard of the house that my great grandfather purchased. An astrologer ascertained that beneath the mound is the idol of Lord Krishna who Himself has planted this cairn there to indicate to us his presence.”
Stifling a yawn, Siddarth continued.
“As per the astrologer’s advice, all male progeny in the family, upon turning twelve years, should wear a chain with a brass locket of the cairn. Losing the locket was akin to sin. In case that happens, a Parihara Puja* has to be conducted and a new locket made. I had heard that it happened once when my father’s valeeyacchan* lost his locket while bathing in the river.”
Sheena grinned, exhibiting a set of pearl-like teeth.
“I have to caution Nishant’s wife from getting poked. Your kochacchan’s* son is the only other male progeny in the family. Fortunately, others are all girls.
“You won’t have to wait for long to do that generous act. Kochacchan is trying to finalize a proposal for him. Nishant’s parents think marriage would be the best solution to bring a vagabond like him to his proper senses,” Siddarth smiled. “He is turning twenty-six tomorrow but still irresponsible.”
“Oh! I forgot to tell you. We have been invited for the birthday lunch at the Tharavad*.” Sheena hit her forehead, reprimanding her forgetfulness.
“We will go,” Siddharth said before dozing off.
It was 6 am when the phone buzzing woke up the couple.
“An emergency,” said Siddarth. “It may take time. I will join you for lunch.” He left hurriedly.
During lunchtime, Siddarth entered the Tharavad in a flurry.
“It was a brutal rape case. The twenty-year-old victim, who was declared dead upon arriving at the hospital, probably put up a strong fight against the lustful beast immersed in drinks. But I am going to arrest the culprit soon. Look, what we found in her closed palm.”
Siddarth displayed a brass cairn locket smeared with dry blood.
Involuntarily Nishant’s hands reached out to his neck as the hooting of the siren filled the air.
“Sorry kochaccha, no time for Parihara Puja.” Said Siddarth, removing the handcuffs.
Parihara Puja——– A ritual conducted as repentance for some wrong committed
Valeeyacchan——–Father’s elder brother
Kochacchan———–Father’s younger brother
Tharavad—————The family house where all siblings lived with their family.
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