Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 134 Innocent

Part 3.

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.
“Yes.”
“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.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 133 Innocent

Part 2.

The Monsoon had arrived early. The rain came down in torrents, splattering Mira’s office window with millions of watery stars that refracted the light of the moving traffic outside. It made her feel like she was in a universe of her own with the glassy sky making for a wall between her thoughts and the chaotic world outside.

Farzana had been Mira’s assistant for a few years now. On a case that was important to Mira it was always Farzana who was her deputy.
Mira rewound the Dictaphone once again to the beginning and asked Farzana to take notes while she let the facts talk to her. She did not want to hurry this one up, she did not want Vaidehi to hang for something she had not done.

The Dictaphone came to life and Mira’s voice filled the room.
Mira: Meeting number four, client Vaidehi Varma, Tuesday 29th May. Vaidehi, while we tell the court that you have not murdered Shekhar we must also point the court in the right direction. In other words proving that you did not murder is not enough, we must also bring the real killer to light. You understand?
Vaidehi: Yes
Mira: Good, now tells me everyone who could be involved. We must suspect everyone who could have a motive. Starting with Rajesh.
Vaidehi: Rajesh was helping me escape why would he kill Shekhar?
Mira: He could be sending you out of town so that blame would not come on you and then kill Shekhar. He has been secretly in love with you? And you know that, right?
Vaidehi: Right
Mira: So Rajesh is on the list. Then you said that Shekhar had an ex wife?
Vaidehi: Yes but she is dead. Years back.
Mira: But did Shekhar not have a daughter from that marriage?
Vaidehi: He does.
Mira: How old is she?
Vaidehi: She is about 22
Mira: Where does she live?
Vaidehi: In Dubai. Shekhar and Aruna, that is his daughter’s name, are not in touch. I have seen her only once through my married years.
Mira: Hmmmm, so Aruna is very much on the list. Anyone else you can think of? Anyone who might have a motive?
Vaidehi: I have no idea.
Mira: Hmmm, all right, I understand.
Mira turned the Dictaphone off and gazed out at the rain swept city.

Farzana played a rhythm beating the pencil on the pad, putting her mind into high gear. “So it could be Rajesh or Aruna?” Farzana made the question seem more like an ambiguous statement hanging in the air. Mira did not respond. “It could also be Shekhar himself…” Farzana added with a little bit of hesitation.

Mira turned to her with a sudden interest, “Why would you say that?”
“There are some kind of people who can cut the nose to spite the face. Shekhar knew he wasn’t getting anywhere in life and then realized that even his only source of income was running away. He could get vindictive?” Farzana posed her theory and chucked the pencil on the table.
“Hmmm, he could do that but have you seen the forensic report?” Mira got up to get herself a glass of water from the bottle on the study table.
“No, I have not,” Farzana felt a tad guilty for not having done that.
“I am foxed by the report. It says that the bullets found in Shekhar’s body were definitely fired from the gun that was found at the crime scene and it had both Shekhar and Vaidehi’s fingerprints on it but…” Mira sat back down sipping on the glass of water. “But the strange thing is that there was a road rage incident that Shekhar was arrested for a couple of years back. He had fired a bullet at someone’s car. The police had done a forensic report at that time as well. The thing is that gun is different from this one. The bullet fired at that time does not match the bullet found in Shekhar’s body. They are two different guns. Why would Shekhar own two guns of the same kind? Also he has license for only one gun. So where did this other gun come from?”
Farzana could only stare back in response.

Mira continued with her thought process, “If the guns have been exchanged then someone killed Shekhar with this gun and took his gun away. The guns were exchanged. Farzana, in this gun exchange lies the secret of this case!”

To be continued….

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 132 Innocent

Part 1.

Mira watched her seven-year old daughter walk into school, a water bottle and lunch box in her little hands. The smile lingered on her face long after her daughter had disappeared in the throng of other tots.

She had much to thank God for even though her divorce had been bitter and the physical battering had left her scared for life, there was still her darling daughter and her work. The pain and humiliation had made her one of the top criminal lawyers of the country.

Mira turned around and walked back to her car albeit slowly. She was deep in thought. She had a decision to make. The murder case that had come to her was pro bono and it would take a lot of her time. Yet, there was something about the lady she had met the previous day in the female prison that reminded her of herself. As she strapped the seatbelt on and turned the ignition she decided to go meet Vaidehi once more before making her mind up.

Vaidehi was brought in handcuffed to the visitor’s room. Mira could see what prison could do to a demure, timid woman. Vaidehi looked like she had not slept in days, her hair was all matted and there were slight bruises on her face. Mira flashed her most reassuring smile as she sat down in front of her.

“The police not hurting you I hope?” Mira inquired. Vaidehi shook her head, “No, they just keep asking me the same questions again and again.” “That is just an interrogation technique. They want to check if your answers are the same every time,” Mira tried to make little of the interrogation hoping it would make Vaidehi feel better but she knew that nothing could make a woman who was accused of killing her husband feel better. “Will you take my case?” Vaidehi asked hopefully. “To be honest, I have not decided yet,” Mira decided to be honest with the woman. “I need to understand what happened the night your husband died. Bluntly put I need to make sure whether you killed your husband or not. Though you say you have not and I have no reason to doubt you but I have my own ways of going about things. I hope you understand?” Vaidehi nodded. “Then tell me once again what happened?” Mira asked softly. Vaidehi took a deep breath and launched into her story of anguish. “I was married to Shekhar for four years and as I told you earlier, in those four years I only saw the ugly side of him. Shekhar was a drunkard, unemployed and frustrated. I ran the house with whatever I earned at the advertising agency.” “And you were an accountant at the agency?” Mira interrupted to check her notes. “Yes, that is correct.”
“Please go on,” Mira sounded apologetic for interrupting. “As the years went by Shekhar’s behavior only got worse. He would beat me at the slightest provocation. I was scared, very scared. Then one day I met a friend of mine from college. He was someone I had dated for a bit but things did not work between us. This time however he became my pillar of strength.” “This is Rajesh?” Mira quickly checked again. Vaidehi nodded and continued, “Rajesh told me that the only way out for me was to run away from Shekhar and start a life somewhere else, in some other city. I could see the sense in this. On that night I had decided that I would get home, behave like everything was normal and then when Shekhar was asleep I would just leave, taking all the money and jewelry that was mine. But when I got home Shekhar had pictures of Rajesh and me together. Apparently he had hired a detective. He somehow knew that I was planning to run. He began to slap me around again. I tried fighting back but he was just too strong for me. Then he took his gun out. He told me he would shoot and kill me, he had had enough. I was petrified. I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in. I heard him hollering and threatening to break the door down. Then I heard two gunshots. After that I did not hear anything. I was too scared to come out but when I heard nothing for about half an hour I let myself out very carefully. To my horror Shekhar lay there in a pool of blood. He was shot dead, two bullets inside him. I saw his gun lying there. I picked the gun up, in case he was playing some trick on me. The next thing I heard was the police sirens and I was arrested for killing my husband.”

Vaidehi closed her eyes, too rattled to live through it again. Mira stretched her hand and held Vaidehi’s shaking hands. “And that is all that happened? Your husband threatens to kill you but lies dead himself when you come out after half an hour?” Mira asked for the last time.Vaidehi could only nod. “I have no idea who did it but I know you did not. I will take your case!” Mira said with a smile.

Vaidehi smiled, tears of relief rolled down her face.

To be continued….

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 131 Expectations

“Richard Bryner, was awarded the Tacitus Award for outstanding achievement in Law. In the award ceremony held last night he did not even mention your name in his ‘thank you speech’, as someone who mentored him and set up him as a lawyer in this cutthroat city. How does that feel, this lack of gratitude?” the voice of the Journalist asked Malcolm Meyer.
Malcolm took a deep breath and tried to look for the words but they failed him. Years of court battles had taught him that when in doubt say nothing. “I am sorry, I am in a meeting but I would be happy to talk to you after office hours,” Malcolm obfuscated. The Journalist promised to call back and hung off.

Malcolm could feel a huge weight on his chest, like someone was feeling physically pressing on it. He was hurt. Very hurt.

Richard was a paralegal in his firm all those years ago. Malcolm had seen a bright mind and sincerity in the boy. He asked Richard to stop working and study for the bar, in that one year that Richard did not work Malcolm paid for everything, from his rent to his food. Malcolm was right; Richard passed the bar with flying colors and turned out to be a bright lawyer. Malcolm was one of the biggest lawyers in the city and any ambitious lawyer would have kill to be his assistant but Malcolm did not give that opportunity to anyone. In his heart and mind he always saw Richard as his assistant and in the years to come he saw Richard’s name on the letterhead with his name. Meyer and Bryner that was his dream.

It was Richard’s birthday and Malcolm took out for a drink. Over their second Bourbon Malcolm offered Richard to be his partner, to have his name with his. Richard did not look happy, instead he asked for a day to think about it. Malcolm found that odd, he thought Richard would jump at it, anyone would have but he said little. Richard had the right to choose.

The next day Richard told Malcolm that he wanted to start a firm of his own.“I work best alone, that is something I have realized,” Richard confessed. Malcolm felt a stab in his heart but also knew that every man had a right to make his destiny. He blessed Richard on his new venture and even offered to help. Malcolm parted with a few high value clients so that Richard could have a good start on his firm. “Well begun is half done boy!” Malcolm said with a pat on Richard’s back. Richard had readily accepted the clients.

As the years went by Malcolm saw Richard do really well for himself but he also saw that the phone calls from Richard became less. The Christmas wishes and Thanksgiving phone calls ceased as well. And then the award function where Malcolm learned in the cruelest fashion that Richard had not even a thank you for him.

Malcolm found it difficult to sit in his office chamber; his hurt was turning into a rage. He had to teach Richard a lesson; he had to make sure that Richard knew that even dogs had gratitude. He had to put Richard in his place and Malcolm was still the cat in the game of rats. It was time to take a rat apart.

Malcolm walked out if his office and on to the park that spread adjacent to his office building. The day was grey; a crisp breeze blew in from the North. Malcolm sat himself down on the park bench. This was his place, his strategy place. He had sat there on many occasions making strategies to tear the opposition apart and all those strategies had worked.

How does one destroy another lawyer thought Malcolm? He had to start by making him look ungrateful, which was not tough because Richard was ungrateful. He would speak to that Journalist in the evening and give an interview that would make him look mean and selfish. Next, he had to tear his reputation as a lawyer apart. He knew that all lawyers played around with the law to get their way in court but most of them crossed the line between legal and illegal and Malcolm would have to catch him crossing the line.

Slowly a plan to destroy Richard began to take shape in Malcolm’s mind. This was going to be fun; it would help heal the wounds that Richard had given him over the years. He wondered who coined the term “ungrateful dog” when it was humans who were ungrateful. He felt better about everything and decided to spend some more time sitting on the bench feeling the breeze and the scant sun.

In front of him he saw a toddler playing with his Father. The toddler walked a bit and then fell, his Father gave him a hand; the toddler stood up, walked a bit and then fell again. It was a very moving game to watch. The Father and Son both seemed to enjoy it. Malcolm had no clue why the tears began to flow from his eyes; he had no clue why the tears turned into a sobbing.The Father and Son stopped playing the game and looked at him. Malcolm closed his eyes to understand what the tears were telling him.

Gratitude was not a right, you could not demand gratitude, you either got it or you did not, it was not up to you but up to the person who you think you had helped. The Father could not demand gratitude from the toddler for teaching him how to walk. The need for gratitude could not be a cage where you could trap someone. Gratitude had to be the need of the other’s soul. Feeling gratitude meant that you had to realize that others aided your journey and to realize that you had to first understand that you are not the be all and end all of everything. Richard would get there one day, if he did at all. It had to be his journey, not his. His journey was to pick up another Richard working as a paralegal somewhere.

Malcolm opened his eyes and smiled. The sun peeped from behind a cloud and bathed Malcolm in its golden hue. He walked up to the Father and thanked him, the Father of course had no idea for what he was being thanked.

He took his phone out from his pocket and wrote a message to Richard, “Congratulations on your award, may you soar higher and attain new heights, love Malcolm”.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 130 The Victim

Autumn was in the air. The leaves were betraying their green for a yellow and gold; the summer was leaving to go warm a cold world in the south but for Fabian Alexander it was the best time of his life. He was the youngest lawyer to be appointed a Judge.

The wine and cheese gathering to appreciate modern art bored him but these were things that he had to do. He also reminded himself to smile. That was another he had to do. No one liked a sullen Judge and he had this terrible need to be liked at all times. June was of the opinion that this came out of low self-esteem; he was of the opinion that June was full of shit! “Language dear Fabian,” his mother reminded him from a different corner of his mind.

He was slowly moving towards the door when a young lady accosted him. She did not seem like she was really part of the gathering, a pair of jeans and a T-shirt to a wine and cheese do, not done.

“Judge Alexander?” she asked, a terrified look in her eyes.
“Yes, that is me,” Fabian smiled.
“The hit and run case that you are hearing is not a hit and run. It is a murder case. Please remember that!” she said with a strange urgency.
“Look here Lady, it is not legal for you to do this and I can have you arrested. You are interfering with the process of law by coming to me like this!” Fabian’s words however only lingered in the air for the young lady had turned around and walked away as fast as she could, out through the doors and into the street.

Fabian spent an uncomfortable night. He decided that he had to tell both the lawyers, after they had finished their opening arguments, that a young lady had warned him about the case. He should leave it to their judgment if they wanted him recused.
The court was full. The hit and run case had a celebrity at the wheel. He knew that this was going to be a tough one. Fabian gestured asking everyone to be seated and then invited the District Attorney to start his argument.

The District Attorney stood and marched towards the Jury with a picture of the deceased in his hand. “This ladies and gentlemen is the picture of the hit and run victim. This of course is a picture taken by the forensics hours after the accident but let me assure you that the victim looked way better than this when alive!”

Then he turned Fabian, “Your honor I would like to introduce to the court this picture as prosecution exhibit A.” Fabian nodded, “So let it be entered in the proceedings of the court.” The clerk got up and handed the Judge the picture.

Fabian stopped hearing what the District Attorney was saying and a faint screaming sound began to ring in his head as he saw that the hit and run victim was wearing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, it was the young lady at the party

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 129 Faith

Mikolaj was only seventeen, the youngest member of a Jewish family that lived in the village of Radocza, a few hours drive from Krakow in Poland. Mikolaj had no idea what his family discussed over dinner. They spoke of Nazis and a man named Adolf Hitle, they also spoke of a war that was coming and the place of Jews under the Nazis. It all sounded like some alien talk to him because all Mikolaj cared about was Bruno, the little Labrador that his Father had gifted for his birthday two years ago. Bruno was Mikolaj’s first love. He would spend hours with him, playing with him, taking long walks with him, talking with him and it was endearing to see Bruno listen to all Mikolaj had to say to him, like he understood.

It was in September 1939 that Hitler’s forces took over Poland. Mikolaj’s Father told the family three hours before they were captured by the Nazis that if at all any one of them should survive they should wait for the other members of the family at the Radocza square everyday for three months after the war. After that they were free to start life again, if at all there was a life after what was happening.

Mikolaj found himself being dragged into a truck that had young men in it. He saw his two Sisters and his Mother being taken to another truck and then he watched his Father taken away by foot to an unknown destination with men his age or older. He could not see Bruno anywhere! Had they killed him? He felt his bile rise and a wave of panic!

Then as his truck began its journey he caught sight of Bruno running towards his truck, attempt to follow him on his journey. The soldiers began shooting at Bruno. Then he heard a long painful whine and he knew they had killed him. Nothing mattered to Mikolaj anymore, they could have just as well killed him.

The years went by as Mikolaj was sent from one camp to another. In the year 1943, four years after he and his family were taken, Mikolaj met his Mother at Aushwitz, the most dreaded of the concentration camps. She told him that she and he were the only surviving members of the family, all the other were dead including Bruno. The meeting was short and he never met his Mother again. Six months later he learned that she was gassed.

It was in the camps that Mikolaj met a Russian prisoner of war by the name of Pavel. “If you want to survive you have to work well. If you stop you are dead.” Mikolaj thought it was better to stop. He had no reason to live and stop he did.

It was on the morning of 27th of January that the gates to his bunker were thrown open and he knew his time had come. This was the end. When his eyes adjusted to the searing bright sunshine that poured in through the gates he found that the soldiers were wearing a different uniform. It was the Russians They had come to liberate the camp.

After almost five years Mikolaj was free and ironically he had nowhere to go. When a man has nowhere to go he seeks something familiar and so he began his journey towards his village of Rodocza and got there after a three-day trek.

It was early in the morning and a bit of a fog covered the square. Mikolaj thought back to what his father had instructed but he also knew that there was no one to wait for… Unless… Could it be… There under the memorial he was waiting for him, Bruno!

Mikolaj felt his heart stop for a while and he wondered if he was imagining this! What if this was not Bruno? What if…? He had no time to think anymore. Bruno ran to him and hugged him like a lost lover. The two fell to the ground in laughter and tears. Bruno couldn’t stop licking him and Mikolaj couldn’t stop kissing him. He had grown to be a big handsome dog, just as Mikolaj had imagined on so many lonely nights in the camp. Only at that time he did not know that Bruno had survived!

Bruno had indeed understood what was being said. He had understood the instructions their Father had given and waited at the memorial.
“He came to the memorial everyday since they took you and your family away,” said a young female voice. Mikolaj looked up to see a face silhouetted against the winter sun. “My name is Ada, I used to live across the street from you. I saw Bruno come here regularly and I knew you would come back alive because he had faith that no one else did. Faith that only true love brings with it.”

Mikolaj hugged Bruno once again and began to sob.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 128 Lonely

Inspector Prahlad More swallowed the anti-depressant that the good Lady Doctor at the polyclinic had prescribed for him. He had no idea what depression was and the explanation that the Lady Doctor offered him confused him even more. All he could make out was that the pill would help him smile more often; he could use that.

Seated in his beat vehicle he headed for the crime scene and something told him that the “depression” had something to do with the “crimes” like these. A young actress had hung herself in the middle of the night. Her flat mate who let herself into the house after a night out had discovered her body hanging from the ceiling fan. Prahlad More knew he was going to hate the media circus and the merry-go-round arrests, which would lead to nothing, that usually followed cases such as this one.

A Sub Inspector led him to the fourth floor apartment where it happened. The body was still hanging, the forensics were doing their job, even in her grotesque reality the girl looked so young and beautiful. What made them do such a dreadful thing to themselves wondered Prahlad More and on cue he was handed a suicide note written by the girl. More unfolded the letter carefully and began to read the contents.

Dear whoever finds my dead body,

It will be easy to infer that this is my handwriting and no one else is writing this. I am taking my life and no one is responsible for this but me. Please don’t blame anyone and please don’t arrest anyone.

You will learn that I had a boyfriend. Let me make this easier, I did, his name is Sameer Khanna. You will also learn that things between us were not going too well and this is true.

What started as something meaningful, at least for me, had become just plain painful. We fought all the time and I kept getting the feeling that there were other women in his life but I had no way of backing my suspicion. Just before I took my life I asked myself this question, “How much do I still love him?” And the answer came to me almost immediately; I love him more than ever. But he does not love me anymore and that is the truth.

I come from a very humble background in Haryana. My Parents and my Brother will be shocked to hear of my going away. To them, I want to apologize. I want them to know that this was the only way for me.

I have no way of explaining why killing myself is the only way out of this mess called life for me. But I shall try to explain. I wish that all the girls who come to the city of dreams have a chance to read my letter, perhaps they will but in all probability they won’t.

We come here alone with our dreams in our purses and a lot lies that we have left behind, mainly said to our parents. Then, in trying to find our way through this maze called showbiz we often feel humiliated and without hope. That is when a man comes into our lives and makes us feel beautiful, fills us with hope. We grow to depend on this man; we grow to love him madly and he becomes our pillar of strength. Then one day, he runs out of love or runs to another lost girl.

The problem with these relationships is that they control you by giving you love and they control you by not giving you love. And you come to hate the men and yourself. I realize that it is not really these men who are at fault, it is just our need and it is this need for love that is at the core of this puzzle.

Somewhere all of us make the journey from the Alone to the Lonely. Alone is easy to understand but lonely is when your need makes you feel the absence of someone in your life. That need controls you, like when he slams the phone down and asks you to, “fuck off” then you get lonely. Lonely is not good cause you have no control on your being lonely, other people do. Alone is good but lonely is pathetic, horrible.

I have tried very hard to be Alone again but all I get is Lonely. This is the only way I know how to make the journey from the Lonely to the Alone.

Mr. Policeman, who is reading this, there are many out there like me. Please be a caring person and share this letter with them. So, they can see the fault of their ways and don’t end up like me.

Thank You.
Roshni

Inspector Prahlad More felt a wave of sadness again and in that instant understood the meaning of depression. But this letter he could not completely understand, the alone and lonely bit had him muddled, perhaps the Lady Doctor at the polyclinic could help him.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 127 Justice

Part 2.

Saturday 18th June 11:30 PM

Molly was wondering if she should wake Ryan up, the man worked really hard all day. Yet, she needed her asthma medicines. He must have forgotten the medicine in the car because he did call her to tell her that he had picked them up from the pharmacy but he had not brought them home. Molly grabbed the key to the car.
 
Molly found the car parked at its usual spot in the underground parking of the apartment building.  Ryan ran a Limousine service for rich tourists who liked to roam the city in style and that made his car into, “his second home”, in his own words. Molly searched through the glove compartment and then under the seats, in case the medicines had slipped through but could not find her medicines. Perhaps in the compartment under the backseat but they weren’t there either. She was about to shut the compartment when she found a phone stuffed in a corner of the compartment. She had no idea that Ryan owned another cell phone.
 
Sunday 19th June 00:45 AM

Molly stared at the phone in disbelief. Sweat trickled down the side of her face, her breath in short gasps. On the phone she saw pictures of the girls who had been missing for two months. Their pictures were all over the news and police had launched a massive manhunt for them, she recognized them easily. The girls were gagged and tied on steel beds that had no mattresses. The girls looked petrified, emaciated and it made her feel sick to the stomach. Could it be that her husband had a secret life that she had no clue about?
 
Sunday 19th June 3:45 AM

Molly put down her fifth cup of coffee and she could finally make sense of things. Confronting Ryan was of no consequence, he would lie through it and also at this point of time it did not seem important to her. What was important was to save the girls and he had obviously locked them away at some secret location. She had to get to them, somehow! Not only did she have to get to them but also she had to lead the police to them.
Police? What about the Police? She could go to the police with the phone? Then again it was not choice cause somewhere in her heart she wanted to believe that her husband was not the culprit. She wanted to believe that this was all a mistake. What if she went to the Police and this turned out to be one big mistake. Her husband would be finished… His business would be over. No! She had to get to the bottom of this herself!
 
Monday 20th June 4:45 PM

Molly stared at nothing standing in the aisle of the grocery shop like a mannequin holding a stuffed trolley. It was all coming to her and she was scared that if she moved she would lose her chain of thought.

It was two months ago that Ryan had told her that he was tired of this mundane life and wanted to take a day off every week and spend some time with his friends. Molly encouraged that, he did work hard and he did deserve a day off every week. He had taken Thursdays off for the past two months. He would spend Wednesday night out and then go out for a bit on Thursday after he had his lunch. He was surely fishing for these girls on Wednesday night and probably going to them on Thursday. It had to be Thursday.
 
Monday 20th June 5:15 PM

Molly met the sweet Mr. Terry Lewinski in the elevator. They exchanged smiles. The penny dropped. She had the plan in the place!
 
Tuesday 21st June 01:15 AM

Molly checked the trunk of the Limousine; it had a release key. She could hide in it.  It was simple now; she would hide away in the car on Thursday before Ryan had his lunch. If he was going to the girls, she was going with him.

Now there was only one more thing to do. She had to make sure that someone realized that she was missing. Mr. Lewinski was the only one of the rare species of newspaper readers that she knew. He read the papers and she had seen him dressed in his funeral suit on more than one occasion.
 
Thursday 23rd June 2:30 PM

Molly lay hidden in the trunk. She felt Ryan put the car into gear and back up. She held her breath.
Now everything depended on Mr. Lewinski, the only one of the rare species of newspaper readers that she knew. He knew he read the Central American Journal and she had seen him dressed in his funeral suit on more than one occasion.
If he did not read the obituary column on Friday morning, she was never going to be found.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 126 Justice

Part 1.

Friday 24th June 9:30 AM

Terry Lewinski opened the door to his apartment and picked the morning newspaper up from the mat. The world read their news on computers and smartphones in these modern times but he still preferred the newspaper and his morning tea. Retirement meant that he could finally live life on his own terms. It also meant that he would have to look at the obituary column everyday to figure which of his friends or acquaintances had kicked the bucket. What he saw he did not expect. 
Molly Fry was dead! That could not be! She was the sweet young woman who stayed in apartment 21A. It was on Monday that they rode the elevator together and he remembered her smiling at him with grocery bags in her hand. He read her obituary in disbelief.
 
Friday 24th June 11:00 AM

Terry rang the doorbell for apartment 21A and Molly’s husband Ryan answered the door. He looked like he had not slept in days. Behind him Terry could see that the apartment was a mess, clothes strewn around and half eaten junk cluttering the dining table.

“I am really sorry to hear about your wife,” Terry sympathized. Ryan looked at him for a while, like Terry had lost his mind, “What have you heard about my wife?” Terry was wondering if this was supposed to be a dumb joke. He had heard, nay read, that his wife was dead! But had Ryan not heard? “I read that Molly was no more,” Terry mumbled. “Are you out of your mind? Where would you read such a thing?” Ryan was clearly enraged.

Terry told him that he had read it in the obituary column. Ryan dismissed it as a joke that some insensitive person may have played and shut the door on him. Most odd, thought Terry.
 
Friday 24th June 3:30 PM

Terry has spent his life at the Chicago Chrome, first as a sports correspondent and when he finally retired he was the sports editor. He knew how the newspapers worked. No one paid for an obituary as a joke because it just was not funny. Another thing that his life in journalism had taught him was how to smell a fish and here, he could smell a whole school of fish!

Sebastian had been his best correspondent and someone who he had mentored. Sebastian was the person to go to he decided.

He called Sebastian and asked him for a favor.

Could he check into an obituary printed in the American Central Journal? Sebastian asked Terry to give him an hour.
 
Friday 24th June 7:30 PM

Terry waited for Joe Scazzi to finish his briefing with the beat officers. Joe and Terry had become friends over a sports fraud that Joe was investigating and Terry was reporting. Terry had only the highest regard for Joe, both for his integrity and his talent as a police detective.
“A beer?” Joe asked from across the hall adding enough warm laughter to his voice. “Would love it!” smiled Terry.
 
Friday 24th June 8:30 PM

“Let me understand this,” Joe said thoughtfully,“this girl Molly is dead according to the newspaper and not dead according to the husband?” “That is correct!” Terry confirmed.
“Could be a mistake?” “It cannot be a mistake because I asked my source at the newspaper to confirm the obituary and my source got back saying it was genuine but when we dug deeper we discovered something very suspicious,” Terry said.

“What is that?” Joe leaned forward getting drawn into the mystery.
“The Obituary was paid for by Molly, in person, in cash. Why would a woman publish her own obituary?”
 
To be Continued….

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 125 Law of Karma

The clouds of war had been gathering over Germany since the German takeover of Austria and one knew this better than Otto Zimmerman.

Otto ran a small newspaper that he had inherited from his father. Though he had spent most of his life in the town of Brunswick, Otto had a way of predicting the world events way before they unfolded and he could see that his beloved country was going into a phase of history that they would live to regret.

He watched very closely as Hitler’s Nazi Germany passed special decrees against the Jews. It happened over years, systematically.  In 1933 he witnessed the boycott of Jewish books and businesses, in 1934 Jews were excluded from exams like medicine and pharmacy, in 1935 they were denied basic civil rights, in 1936 Jews lost German citizenship and were not allowed to vote, in 1938 special identity cards were issued to the Jews and Jewish children were expelled from their schools, in 1939 Jews were evicted without reason from their homes, in 1940 Jews could not have telephones and were forbidden rations and in 1941 Jews were forced to wear a special star of David with “Jew” written on it. For nine years Otto had watched his country target the Jews and for nine years he saw no one from his country raising a voice against this atrocity.

On a winter morning in 1941 Otto asked his wife Adalia to get ready to move out of Brunswick and Germany, for that matter. Adalia did not understand why Otto would want to do something like that, “We are not the Jews and we have nothing to fear. Why should we move out of Germany?” Otto took a bite of the sandwich Adalia had made him for breakfast and spoke with a sad concern in voice, “Adalia let me tell you a story that my father used to tell me when I was little.” Adalia sat on the chair next to him and poured herself a mug of warm coffee ready to listen to her husband.

“A Zen Master once asked his Disciple to find him the most foolish man in the world,” Otto launched into his narrative, wiping his hand with a napkin, “The Disciple found this a strange request but he did not question his Master. The Disciple began his journey and travelled through many lands, many cities and countries but he never really found the really foolish. Then one day the Disciple found himself in a sultanate of a very powerful Sultan. The Sultan there was very angry with his Vazir and had appointed a new one. On that day the new Vazir was to take his seat by the Sultan’s side. But there was a strange ritual to get to that seat. The new Vazir had to step on the murdered body of the old Vazir and then take his seat. As the ceremony began the new Vazir stepped on the dead body with newfound pride and then sat himself down next to the Sultan with great smugness. The crowd cheered wildly and the Vazir waved. As soon as the ceremony was done the Disciple asked the Vazir if he would accompany him to meet his Master. The Vazir inquired why and the Disciple told him that his Master had asked him to find the biggest fool and he had found one after a long search.”

Otto then looked at his wife, “Do you know why the Vazir was the biggest fool?” Adalia thought a moment and then nodded, “I know why. When you climb over someone’s body to get somewhere one day someone would climb over your dead body. No one can be a Vazir forever.”

Otto smiled at his wife, she was clever.
“We must leave this place Adalia because the German people stand quiet and watch the evils committed against the Jews. What we forget is that today we might be the new Vazir but a day is not far when we shall be the old one.”

Adalia held her husband’s hand. She knew he was right.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 124 Secret Affair

Never ever change your lover in the middle of the night, everything may look so different in the early morning light. Aaron remembered listening to a song that went something like that, he did not think he would be caught in a vice of a similar kind.

Irene, his wife, was hosting a gala to support her charity and Aaron, who generally made an excuse to stay away from such acute boredom was on that day given no chancs to make one. He had to be there!

And that was the night he met her, she looked like she had stepped out of the cover of a vogue magazine, gorgeous to a point where she could send any middle-aged man into a severe middle life crisis.

In retrospect, she did begin his crisis.
Her name was Shawna, he fell in love with her and what was hard for him to believe, she fell in love with him. As time went by she did make him believe that it was possible to feel all those emotions that he had thought he would never feel again. He had never felt more loved.

Secret meetings in highway motels, getaways buried in lies, hidden text messages, Irene had no clue that her husband was having an affair and the clandestine fires of love burned right under her nose. Long for though…
It was six months into their affair when, one afternoon lying in the corner suite of the Spa resort Shawna told Aaron that she was pregnant. The heavenly bubble that they had made for themselves burst and the harsh reality shone through scorching everything in its wake. Love was made of very fine threads that anchored it to the real world, the fine threads could snap with the slightest wind of changing agendas. And the agendas here were changing. 

Shawna wanted the child, she wanted Aaron. But she was trying to change the rules of having an affair with a married man. There was only a today in that game, never a tomorrow and there was no changing that rule. Aaron had no choice but to distance himself from her but in the times of DNA parental tests he had to make sure that Shawna did not have the baby. If she did everything was over, his marriage, his reputation, his estate, Shawna had to be stopped. There had to be a way!

Shawna was heartbroken and the only choice on the table was to pick up a cheque of a large sum of money that lay on it.

It was sad that love came down to lawyers and a lot of stamp paper but that’s how everything that’s wasn’t legal ended up; a lot of pains to make the illegal, legal. Shawna signed various clauses agreeing to abort the child and never in the future mention about the affair to anyone. She gave Aaron one last hurtful look and walked away without love but with a lot of money.

Two days later Irene lay in bed, the warm sunlight filling the motel room. She kissed Shawna deeply, “this is fun! Now you must introduce me to your husband.” 

Shawna smiled, “if you promise not to fall in love like I promised you.”

Irene promised and Shawna kissed her back.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Krishna · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 123

Once Narada informed Kansa that Krishna was Devaki’s eighth born and living among the Yadavs in Brindavan, Kansa couldn’t wait to eliminate Krishna and with his death bring an end to the nightmares that he had been suffering for more than two decades.
 
The politics of the time prevented Kansa from going against the Yadav clan and so he deviced a cunning plan, arrange a wrestling match between the sixteen-year old Krishna and the mighty Chanur. The monster that Chanur was, he would crush the little boy in minutes.
 
Kansa sent Akrur to invite Krishna. Akrur a Vishnu devotee saw the plan for what it was but also knew that he had little choice in the matter.
 
Akrur travelled to Brindavan and met Nandraaj, Krishna’s forster Father, and told him of the invite. Nandraaj knew that the time had come. The prophecy had to be fulfilled. Krishna had to leave but there was only one big problem, Yashoda. She did not know that Krishna was not her son. Telling her the truth was going to be heartbreaking. How was he going to tell her that her dear Kanha was not her son but Devaki’s son?
 
It was devastating!
 
Yashoda’s grief could have torn the world apart. The hamlet of Brindavan came to a standstill with shock over the news that their beloved Kanha was going to leave them.
 
Yashoda walked to Kanha, tears flowing down her beautiful tragedy struck face. She caught hold of her startled Son, “Kanha, there is a man here from Mathura, says you are not my Son! He has come to take you away from me. But no one can take you away from me! Come with me! Now!”
 
Yashoda dragged Kanha to a room and bolted the door from the outside. Kanha’s heart was breaking seeing his Mother’s anguish. He knew this day would come even before he had incarnated.
 
Nandraaj, Gargacharya, Balraam and the elders of the village, all of them tried to reason with Yashoda but she would not listen. There was no way anyone was going to take her Kanha away from her. She stood like a sentry outside the bolted door, stoic and defiant. The entire village had gathered and watched the scene in pained silence.
 
Then Kanha spoke from the other side of the door, “Maa, everyone is lying, don’t believe them. I am your Son. Have you not brought me up? Have you not seen me grow day after day? Then whose Son can I be?”
 
“Hmmm… ” a sound of acknowledgement was all Yashoda’s choked voice would allow.
 
“But you know why you brought up me to be this strong and clever boy?” Kanha continued to talk to his Mother with tenderness. “Cause one day you knew I would have to face life without you. Every mother knows that there is a Kansa out there for her son. Because Kansa is the fight every son has to fight to earn his place in the world. Kansa is the reality of every boy who grows up. Do you want the world to say that you brought up a Son who was too scared to face Kansa?”
 
Nandraaj and Balraam admired Kanha for his wisdom. The villagers listened, their eyes welling up with tears.
 
“You are trying to fool me with your words Kanha!” Yashoda said between sobs.
“Maa, when I had the butter and broke the pot, that was when I tried to fool you, when I harassed the gopis and they complained, that is when I tried to fool you, when I stole out of the house with Balram and got lost in the forest, that is when I tried to fool you but today I am not. Today, I am telling you what your heart already knows,” Kanha spoke with a tear in his eye and a smile on his lips. “I cannot live without you Kanha,” Yashoda opened the bolted door and hugged Kanha.

Kanha, now taller than Yashoda, spoke like the older one amongst the two, “Yashoda can never be with Kanha because wherever Kanha goes he takes Yashoda with him. Yashoda lives in Kanha because Yashoda has made Kanha what he is today. Every mother lives in her child because a child is nothing but a mother’s values, her intergrity, her sleepless nights, her constant worry, her honesty, her love and her upbringing. Yashoda lives in every cell of Krishna.”

Kanha let Yashoda hold him and cry as much as her heart desired, while he cried too. Nandraaj and Balram, Garagacharya and the village, everyone wept their tears.
Then from the waiting chariot Akrur watched Yashoda kiss Kanha on his forehead, “Go rule the world my Son! Let the world know you are Yashoda’s Son.”

It was then that Akrur cried as well.

-Arsee.