NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE - 29

NOBODY LIGHTS A CANDLE

Anjali Deshpande

29

“What happened to your case?” asked Adhir. “Got to know for sure who killed her?”

Nitesh was glad to get the opportunity to change the subject. “How can all the evidence be collected in such a short time? You have to handle other things too in a thana, you know. I am sure that driver did it.”

“Caught him or not? Is he still absconding?”

Nitesh laughed. “Why do criminals do this? Why do they run away? If they had any sense they would not.”

“You may have evidence. He will be caught.”

“I got to know the very next day.” Nitesh began to tell him about the investigations he had conducted. “I even talked to him. Brought him here. DO you remember that mamaji from Hauz Khas? He had gone to drop him, that Parduman. I asked that mamaji. I found out that when the man left his house after dropping him there it was about 7.30 in the evening. That old man has some very old time clock, quite primitive. That clock apparently tolled only after he entered the house. Only once. So he looked at it and it was 7.30. That is why he was sure that Parduman left around and slightly before 7.30 that evening.”

It had not been easy finding this out when Parduman got back to Preet Vihar. There were so many cars parked there. Nobody in the house paid any attention to who came at what time. All the servants were inside. Even if they did step out who had the time or even reason to check whether Parduman was back or not. Parduman himself maintained that he had gone back straight to Preet Vihar. He had reached there around 8.30 and since there were many cars there he had parked the car he was driving outside the colony on the roadside.

“He did not go in to ask if anyone else wanted to go anywhere? Had he gone in would he not have to tell his employers that he was back? he would have to go in to at least return the keys to the car,” Adhirath said.

“I latched on to this very point. He said he did not go in deliberately that he had come back. They had ruined his Holi. Everybody was getting high on bhang and booze and he was sitting there in the car outside. Sometimes even the children ordered him about. Aksed him to help lift the crate of coca cola or ask him to get some milk. Had he gone in the evening they would have dumped who knows how many people on him, asking him to drive them to their homes. That is why he parked the car outside and went to sleep in it. He had thought he would take a short nap but when he woke up it was very late. So he slipped away quietly and went to a friend’s house to spend the night there.”

“Meaning he shirked work, nothing else,” said Adhir. He thought there was something fishy about this explanation but he could not once again lay his finger on what was missing or was superfluous in it. The stress of the enquiry in his case still gripped his mind. “You did not give him a dose?” he asked Nitesh.

“Yaar I haven’t been able to find anything against him. Nobody on the farm says Parduman came that day. I asked in his neighbourhood and they all said he was home that morning. The morning of Holi. He lives alone. Unmarried. Had tried to molest some girls in the neighbourhood under the garb of playing Holi and there had been a scuffle with him too. There is a girl, who kept refusing to play with him but he grabbed her and rubbed some gulal on her neck and also somewhere under it. He was beaten up. That is why people remember he was there. He left around noon. Now the time that remains is the night. He has accounted for the night. It is possible after all that he wanted to avoid driving a lot that evening and had slept in the car. That friend of his, he also lives somewhere in that Jhilmil place, what is the name of that area, it is on the tip of my tongue and I can’t recall…yaar, what is it called…yes, Bargadiya gali. There it is. His friend lives that Bargadiya gali and he said that Parduman had arrived in the wee hours. He looked exhausted. His clothes were all rumpled. He said he was unwell and went to sleep.”

“That is it. Yaar tell me, if you are unwell, will you go home or come to mine early in the morning?”

“I also thought it was suspicious. He said once or twice he had returned home late from work but he was given no time to rest. The phone kept ringing. He would switch off the phone but Sahib would send a servant to fetch him. That is why whenever he now wants to vanish he simply goes to a friend’s place. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.”

“Even otherwise, nobody has seen anything. Who wants to appear as a witness…” Adhir said. “The bloody janata wants the police to work but when it comes to being a witness they will all step back.”

“True. Yaar had it not been true that Sathiya kand would never have happened.”

Kand. Scandal. In which Adhirath was caught.

“Did he actually kill sixty people?” Nitesh asked him.

“I don’t think so. He claimed that of course. Openly.”

email: anjalides@gmail.com

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