Aiyana – the name created ripples in his heart!
He tried to get on to his feet when he was suddenly pushed back on the bed – a long sword pointing to his chest. “Stay where you are – don’t dare to move” The voice came firm and low – He looked up to see where it came from. The eyes looked familiar – the rest of the face was covered with a veil.
“Who are you?” he asked the figure behind the veil – “Do I know you?, Do you know me? What do you want from me?”
“Vengeance” came the voice, hissing in wrath!
He looked beyond the veiled face to see Kara clinging to her robe.
The veiled lady broke into laughter tinted with wrath. “You shall live to long for death – This is Lady Aiyana’s promise to you!”
Her laughter and words struck him like thunder.
The moonlight fell on the desk as Detective Jamaluddin read from the open manuscript and looked behind him.
His team worked diligently so as to not miss a single piece of evidence.
Chief Medical Examiner for the Karnataka Police’s elite Extreme Crime Investigation Unit (ECIU), Dr. Paul Thomas was hovering over the bed with his camera. He was an old hand, having seen many crime scenes that were investigated by the ECIU, but even he looked lost for words at the monstrosity in front of him. On the bed lay a young man, possibly in his thirties, with close cut black hair and his eyes staring vacantly at the ceiling. Those eyes had once seen an idea twinkle, and after that, the young man had started to write a sci-fi fiction, something Indian literature had possibly seen very little of. But it wasn’t the literary skill of Qashif Ayhil that Dr. Thomas was interested in at that moment. It was the 32 inch scimitar that lay pierced into his heart.
Detective Meera Radhakrishnan, the newest member of ECIU, was taking photographs of the room in the state that it was in. She made sure nothing was missed… not the latch on the French window that was jimmied open, the strands of black hair that were fallen near the single bed cot, the half-empty plates of food or even the drop of blood that was near the now open bedroom door. She had even videotaped him as he read from the open manuscript, just to make sure the scene was as they found it. Bespectacled and hardworking, she was recruited by him directly when his former partner Das was shot dead by a fleeing criminal a month back. He was shattered at the loss, and even the fact that he had exacted revenge by shooting that criminal hadn’t offered him solace.
Detective Vishal Jain was helping her out by placing number tags near those items before she photographed them, and then bagging and tagging it carefully. Only these clues would help them in their investigation. Somewhere in that mess, lay a mistake… a mistake made by the killer, a mistake that would trap him. Vishal had been part of ECIU only a few months more than Meera but he knew the importance of their work. He looked up to Jamal and Paul as his seniors, and respected Meera for her diligence. They were a team, he knew, and he felt honored to be part of it.
“DJ, so the question to answer immediately is, who else knew about this manuscript? There’s no doubt that Qashif Ayhil was murdered in with a long sword like in the manuscript, but what made him long for death before the story could be finished? And don’t give me any rubbish about an Aiyana murdering him. This was his life, not a fiction.”
He smiled. DJ… it was how she fondly referred to him when he demanded her not to call him sir. But yes, she had a point. From the two page manuscript that lay on the author’s desk, it was quite evident that someone knew enough about the story that they got a scimitar to murder him. That was where he and his team had to start from.
“Yes, we should get to answering that question soon, Meera. That’s very important. Well spotted,”he praised her, before moving to the doctor, to confirm the obvious.
“Don’t need to ask me what caused the death, Jamal. It was the scimitar in his heart, as you can very well see. What I can tell you is that the victim was probably unconscious when the sword was pierced into his heart. So he was given sedatives somehow, possibly in his last meal. Who brought it to him is something you can look at I feel. That might help. Jain and Meera would agree with me on this, I’m sure, that the killer came in through the grill-less French windows and walked out through the front door. So he knows the lie of the land, has possibly been here in the past. I can tell you more about the sedatives once I do the postmortem,” Dr. Paul informed him.
Jamal looked worried. The farmhouse where Qashif Ayhil, author of yet another bestseller romance story, had chosen to focus on his new genre of writing was away from the main city of Bangalore, and very few people knew of the place. The guy was single, and had no relatives, having lost his parents in an accident when he was very young. He was known to be soft spoken, and Jamal was certain that such a person could have no enemies. Then who could plan his assassination so carefully, and succeed? There were too many questions suddenly.
“Jamal sir, the housekeeper who found the body, he has finally calmed down. Maybe you would like to speak to him sir?”
Inspector Nagappa led him to another room, where a pale looking old man in a white dhoti and banian sat on a bed, sweating profusely. As soon as he saw the new detective, he jumped up, took his hand and began to blabber.
“Qashif! Qashif! Qashif! I saw… saw the… saw him saar! It was a man. He was in black. He… he walked past… past this room. He had… another… another big knife with him. I… I thought.. thought he will kill me. You.. you must save… whoever he is after next. Save…”
And he fell unconscious near Jamal’s feet.
(Aug 5th, 2013)