The prosecution had managed to construct a clever case around the motivation of a harassed battered wife’s need to kill her husband. Mira knew that she had to do something and do it fast but the walls were closing in on her.
Farzana walked in looking shattered. She tossed her sunglasses to a side and sat down more defeated than exhausted. Mira waited for her to start detailing her findings when she was ready.
“Rajesh did not do it. His alibi is watertight. He was waiting for Vaidehi at a coffee house and both the manager of the coffee house and the CCTV confirm the fact that he did not leave till he got a phone call at 11:00 PM, which was way after the murder.” Farzana did not care to open her tired eyes as she imparted all that information leaning back on the couch.
“Aruna? The daughter?” Mira asked. “Again a strong alibi. Aruna was in Pune when this happened. She only got to know in the morning when the police called to inform her,” Farzana stared out of the window and thought about Vaidehi being a possibility.
“Vaidehi did not do it!” Mira said reading her thoughts. “My bet is on Aruna. She wanted to avenge her Mother’s death and now she is old enough.”
“But she was in Pune!”
“Does not take long to drive to Mumbai, murder and then get back to Pune. I bet she has Shekhar’s original gun. Only we can’t get a search warrant.”
“What is your theory?” Farzana asked knowing that Mira had already thought something out.
“Okay here it is then,” Mira began to explain. “Aruna’s Mother was killed in a car crash. The police report and the media said that she was driving the car while Shekhar was in the passenger seat but it was not consistent with their injuries and forensic reports. If I were Aruna I would have grown up thinking that my Father killed my Mother, remarried another woman and forgot all about me. I would try and get rid of both of them in one blow. I have a hunch that she was the one who called her Father anonymously and told him that Vaidehi was seeing Rajesh. There was no way a drunkard like Shekhar would ever think of hiring a detective.”
“So far you have me, but…” Farzana interjected but Mira held her hand up, asking Farzana to wait till she was finished.
“On the day Vaidehi had planned to run, Aruna knew there would be an altercation, knowing her drunk Father. She entered the house, waited for an opportune time. Then shot Shekhar with her gun because she could obviously not use his gun. She took Shekhar’s gun with her and left her gun in his hand. This way the gun had Shekhar’s handprints and when Vaidehi being stupid picked up the gun it also had her prints.”
Mira sat back looking at Farzana and Farzana in turn, took her time to process the theory.
“There is only problem The CCTV footage shows that no one entered the house for the two hours between the time Vaidehi came from office and the murder took place. So if Aruna stole into the house, how did she do it?” Farzana posed the question almost killing the theory completely.
“She could have stolen in during the day and… but no, we know that in the day she was in Pune.” Mira was mulling the facts but to Farzana it seemed that she was trying to make the facts fit the theory and not the theory fit the facts, this was not like Mira, perhaps she was not on top of her game.
“Do you have the CCTV footage here?” Mira inquired out of the blue.
“Can I see it?”
Farzana brought the CD out of her bag and handed it to Mira who slid it into her DVD drive on her laptop and clicked on the play icon.
The image came alive.
Mira stared at the images for what seemed like a really long time and then called out to Farzana. “You see that puddle of water outside the building?” Mira asked with a smile. Farzana nodded, wondering why a puddle was important. “I think we have just cracked this one. Get someone to enlarge the puddle image.” Mira stood up with relief, picked her handbag up and walked out to spend the evening with her daughter. Farzana had no clue how the puddle was going to help!
“The defense would like Mr. Rammurthy. He is the manager of the security agency,” Mira announced to the court.
“Objection Your Honor!” The Public Prosecutor was up in a jiffy. “We have already examined his testimony and introduced the CCTV footage of the apartment building as a prosecution exhibit!”
“Your honor, the defense has a question on that very CCTV footage. I am sure we are well within our rights to a re-examination?” Mira shouted above the din, rather forcefully. “Objection overruled!” the Judge seemed as eager as everyone else to know what the defense was after.
The head manager of the security agency took his place in the witness box. Mira walked up to him and then with a splash of drama she turned on the television that was placed in court to replay the CCTV footage.
“You are the manager of the Security agency, Mr. Rammurthy, right?” Mira began her examination.
“Yes, I am.” The man croaked out of nervousness.
“Are you in charge of the CCTV footage of this apartment building”
“Yes I am.”
“You have submitted to the court a copy of the footage of the night of 1st of May 2018, the night Mr. Shekhar Varma was murdered in the same apartment building. Is that right?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Mr. Rammurthy, is this the copy of the footage of that night?”
Mira played the footage for the Manager again. No one in court had a clue what Mira was after.
“Yes, this is the footage,” the Manager confirmed.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am,” the Manager was a bit shaken.
“And we can see that no one really came in and out of the building at the time before and after the murder?” Mira pressed on.
“Yes that is correct.”
Mira then paused the CCTV footage and looked towards the Judge,“Your honor I would like to draw your attention to the biggish puddle of water that one can see clearly in the footage. I would like you to see what image is reflected in the puddle.”
The Judge narrowed his eyes to see but he could not make out. “I cannot see clearly.” The Judge said.
“I took the liberty to get a soft engineer to magnify the image and since it was inverted owing to the reflection I got him to set it straight.” Mira offered to explain and then paused on the inverted image.
“What do you see Mr. Rammurthy?” Mira asked the Manager.
“It is the movie theatre across the street. And the poster of a movie on it.” Everyone in court could now read this clearly, including Vaidehi who was caught up in the confusion as everyone else.
“Does it say Now Showing? And the name of the film?” Mira asked the manager again.
“Yes I can.”
“Can you see the name of the film?” Mira asked again.
“The Power of Nano.”
“That is correct!” Mira said encouragingly.
“Do you know Mr. Rammurthy that the 1st of May was a Thursday and the 2nd of May obviously a Friday. The Power of Nano released in theatres on the 2nd of May and I can bring the manager of the this theatre to attest to this fact, do you wish me to do that?”
The Court burst into a huge uproar. Everyone was talking at the same time and the Manager Rammurthy looked like he was getting a heart attack.
“Mr. Rammurthy, you have lied under oath and you will go to jail I am sure. Is this not the footage of the next day? Have you not replaced the footage?” Rammurthy was now a shaking aspen leaf.
“Answer me!” screamed Mira.
“Yes! Yes!” Rammurthy said looking pale.
“Who asked you to lie to the court? Tell us now!”
Rammurthy pointed to Aruna Varma sitting quietly in the corner of the court. Nothing could be heard after that. Everyone was speaking at the same time.
Mira looked at Vaidehi with a smile, Vaidehi could only fold her hands and thank Mira through the tears that ran down her face.