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Observation Power!Born 1978, M, from Kolkata/West Bengal, India
“Stop your bid or I will not hesitate to kill!” said a muffled voice over the phone before it went dead.
Aurobindo Bakshi was at his wits end, to think that threats were now coming over his telephone.
He started thinking, “Was it a crank call or was it real? Should I approach the police? Who would want me out of this business deal? I don’t have enemies, or do I have any?”
Slowly as he started thinking, his thoughts started getting clouded.
Suddenly, his nine year old son, Satyabrata, entered the room and said excitedly, “Our Minnie has given birth to five kittens. Is it not wonderful! I am so very excited.”
Aurobindo’s concerned look went unnoticed by him as Aurbindo smiled and replied “At last your pet collection seems to grow! Satya, you should inform your mom, and see what she has to say regarding this!” He then settled himself on the couch in the drawing room.
Aurobindo started thinking again, 'If Sudha comes to know of this fact, she would be worried sick!'
Then Sudha, his wife, entered the room with Satya and said, “Minnie has been blessed with five kittens, on this Christmas Eve, four of them are milk white and one jet black!” Then she stopped short and enquired “Is something wrong?”
Aurobindo recovered quickly and replied, “No I was only concerned of how we could feed these five kittens along with her mother, apart from you and Satya!” and smiled back.
Sudha laughed and said, “Whatever, change management you implement in your office, might change your office but will not change your habits of fooling around! Seriously is something wrong!”
“No, nothing is wrong, my dear!”
Sudha knew Aurobindo never shared his worries regarding his business as he had the opinion that “Business work would be best left at the office!” So she went out with Satya to look after Minnie.
That night when they were having dinner Satya said “Mom, could we keep all five of them, please!”
Sudha said “I don’t like a black cat! I think you should give it away!”
Aurobindo said, “No we should keep them together! After all, we should not let Satya grow up with the inhibition that, like the west, a black cat is unholy. It is a baby cat after all, Sudha, and Minnie has to have them as long as they grow up!”
Sudha replied, “A black cat is scorned upon! And this has green eyes!”
Aurbindo interjected, “Well, after all this a just a fragile baby cat and would die if we try to give it away now. And what’s the harm in keeping a black cat! I don’t want Satya to be growing up prejudiced!”
Changing the subject, Aurobindo said, “Satya, have you decided what you will name them?”
“Yes! I have already named them as Hullo, Bhullo, Mullo, Gollu and Kallu!”
The musical rhyme of the names made both Sudha and Aurobindo smile.
The next morning, Aurobindo went to the police station and informed them of the call. Initially the police said, “This might be a crank call, have you noted the phone number!”
Aurobindo said “Well this was just a call and I forgot to notice, since it came in the telephone.”
The sergeant then asked, “Whom do you suspect, Mr. Aurobindo?”
“Well, I am at my wits end! I frankly do not have any clue!”
“Come back if you think who might do this!”
“I don’t want to tap your telephone right now, but if this recurs then do keep us informed!”
“Alright, I shall do it!”, said Aurobindo and left the police station.
As days flew past the kittens grew. Kallu the black kitten was somewhat neglected by Sudha, as she was afraid of black cats! Sudha would give most of the milk to the other four kitten and Kallu was somewhat neglected. However, Satya had developed a certain fondness for Kallu and he would not drink his milk unless he shared his milk with Kallu. So much so, Sudha had to scold Satya sometimes so that he didn’t share his entire milk with Kallu and have some of it, himself.
One evening, Sudha and Satya took the kittens for a walk in the park. Aurobindo’s house was located at an alley across the park in Salt Lake. They didn’t care to take the belts and buckles of the five kittens that Aurobindo had brought the other day, as it was so close to home and after all cats have nine lives! Unfortunately, it was not to be so that day, as when they were returning from the park, the kittens started chasing a flying butterfly and ended up running along the road after getting out of the ground. It was near the iron gate, when suddenly two TATA Sumo’s appeared from nowhere and crushed the four white kittens under their wheels in front of Sudha and Satya’s eyes. Except for Kallu, for whom one TATA sumo had stopped allowing him to scamper to the other side of the road, none of the others had survived. Satya started chasing the TATA sumos on foot, but what could a nine year old kid do in such circumstances.
The sudden and sad demise of four kittens, softened Sudha a bit and she returned with wet eyes clutching Satya and Kallu. As Minnie returned from her evening stroll, she saw the dismembered bodies of her offspring lying across the road. She gently picked each one of them by their neck and lifted their dismembered lifeless bodies and carried them towards the house. A few neighbours had gathered and were looking at the scenario when Aurobindo arrived. As he arrived, he saw Minnie sitting at the edge of the footpath and touching the lifeless bodies of Hullo, Bhullo, Mullo, and Gollu. What appeared as an accident to many, but not so to Aurobindo. One of the neighbours had related to him what had transpired and when he asked about Sudha and Satya, they said they were safe but devastated by the loss.
The first thing that Aurobindo did was call up Sudha and Satya from their rooms and then sitting on the couch asked what had transpired that evening. After Sudha and Satya had related the story, Aurobindo asked “Do you remember the number of the number plates of the cars?”
Sudha and Satya started weeping uncontrollably and replied in the negative.
“Did you see who were sitting in it or driving the car!”
Satya replied “The cars had tinted glasses!” We were inside the gate of the park and the five of them had escaped through the iron-gate. I ran to catch up with them but the TATA Sumos were driving too fast for me.”
Aurobindo’s worst nightmare was taking place before his eyes and he couldn’t think what he should do. He remained calm. The exasperated looks of his wife and child forbid him from asking any more questions and he ambled across the room towards the telephone, just to check if there were any calls which Sudha and Satya had missed. Strangely there were no calls.
Aurobindo looked at Sudha and Satya and said “Well, Wash your faces will you! You both look devastated. After all they are cats only and it was an accident!”
Both Sudha and Satya slowly went to wash their faces.
Suddenly his mobile phone rang out and he saw Jishu was calling. Jishu was Aurobindo’s childhood bosom friend and he was in Delhi when he called last time. Jishu was the Head of the Forensics Department, Kolkata, before he was transferred to Delhi.
Aurobindo quickly picked up the mobile and said “Hello!” in a straight dull fashion.
Jishu, who knew Aurobindo’s jovial tone, was a bit taken aback since he was expecting the usual long “Helloooooo” from Aurobindo. Jishu said, “I am back in Kolkata, where are you these days, should we catch up for some drinks! How are Sudha and Satya?”
Aurobindo replied, “Well, can I ask you for a favour!”
Jishu joked, “I only favour the criminals, you know after all crime always pays! Otherwise, we would have been penniless, man! Jokes apart, anyway what do you need!”
Aurobindo's tone set the alarm bells ringing for Jishu, when he set about narrating the entire issue to him.
Jishu said, “I will come now! Don’t worry stay put and we will see what we can do about this issue!”
By the time Jishu arrived, with a leather bag slung across his chest, Aurobindo had gathered with Satya downstairs in the drawing room. Jishu said “Helllooooo” to everyone, although he could feel the tension in Aurobindo and the gloom in Satya. Jishu said to Satya “Well, I heard you lost four of your kittens to the mad driving lunatics! Don’t worry, we all lose some of our most beloved persons in life sometime or the other. It is a part of life, and you are growing up to be a young handsome man, so don’t worry I am here to catch the culprits, if this was not an accident.”
Satya, intelligent as he was, inquisitively asked, “Well, did you mean this was intentional?”
Aurobindo added, “You know, Jishu is a forensics man, so he doesn’t always rule out any of the options!”
Jishu said, “Well, let’s catch those who have done this! What do you say Satya? They didn’t stop even when you chased them. I guess, they were pretty much in a hurry! Or were they just afraid of public thrashing, or maybe they are just young blokes who are often racing down the alley in search of some fun, until they commit this misdeed!”
Aurobindo asked Satya, “Would you like to catch these culprits? After all this is a detective’s job and you always wanted to become one seeker of truth! What do you think?”
The morose look of Satya, brightened a bit, and he replied resolutely, “Yes we have to catch these culprits! We will do it!”
Then Jishu, brought out a powerful torch from his leather bag and said, “Do you have any like this at your home?”
Satya replied, “Yes we have one not exactly like this but quite a powerful one. Should I fetch it?”
By the time Satya went to fetch it, Jishu said, “You shouldn’t involve Satya in this now. We don’t know who we are dealing with. However, the enemy knows who we are and what our strengths and weakness are! If at all, there is any enemy!”
“Enemy? What enemy are you talking about?”, asked Sudha who had overhead the word “enemy” while entering the room with some chips and sweets.
“Enemy of the state, madam!” replied Jishu trying to cover up the matter and he picked up a sweet and started eating it.
“Is it the movie you were talking about?”
“No, I was speaking about something classified!” replied Jishu.
“You can tell your friend what is classified and not me! I guess you trust your friend more than me!”
“Please take these sweets away, I don’t want any of them any more after what I heard! Apart from it, you have to understand that now our enemy is those bastards who had crushed Minnie’s offspring under the wheels! I would like to hunt them down, even if it was an accident.”
“Yes, please do that, because they didn’t have the courtesy to apologize if it was an accident!” added Sudha.
Then Satya entered the room with the big torch and Sudha asked, “What on earth do you want with that torch now!”
Satya innocently replied, “We are going to inspect the crime scene!”
Sudha excitedly said, “Aurobindo now you are asking Satya to inspect the crime scene? It was an accident!” Then looking at Satya said “You should go up to your room and study! No more chit chat!”
Jishu saved the day, intervening, “Well, it is I who gave the idea to Aurobindo and absolutely insisted upon it since we got to catch the culprits. Don’t you agree?”
To this, both Aurobindo and Satya, the father–son duo, nodded in unison.
Sudha left the room saying, “Alright, but Satya has to promise me of studying for three hours to cover up this time that you lose!”
Then the father-son duo along with Jishu went out.
Minnie was still sitting on the pavement. Then Jishu opened his bag and took out two rubber gloves and put them on. Then he instructed Sambhu, Aurobindo’s driver, to find a gunny bag, if he could find one from the nearby market.
Sambhu said “I have one in the garage, Sahib. Should I get it!”
“Yes, please!” replied Aurobindo.
When Sambhu brought the gunny bag, Jishu expertly started working with the dead kittens. He lifted each one from its tail and placed it inside the gunny bag. Fortunately, all the bleeding had stopped and so it was just cleaning the corpses. Minnie was moving from one end of the lawn to the other as if resigned to fate. Then Jishu asked Satya, “Where did the mishap actually happen?”
Satya replied “There, just in front of Amit Uncle’s house.” pointing to the spot.
“Then how did the kittens end up here?” asked Jishu.
“Minnie carried them here with her mouth, Sahib” replied Sambhu, before anyone could say anything.
So all four of them went to the spot and started looking. The road was made of bitumen, so there was no possibility of the car tyre imprints. They used the powerful torches and looked around the spot.
Jishu suddenly asked Satya “Well tell me what happened here will you. I have heard it from your father but I would like to hear it from you again.”
Satya replied, “Well, mom and I had taken the five kittens to the play-ground. We were playing inside the play-ground. Then suddenly the five kittens got distracted by a low flying yellow butterfly and they ran after it. The butterfly flew out of the ground and the kittens gave chase. Suddenly, two TATA Sumo’s appeared from nowhere and crushed them dead. I think one had stopped when Kallu came in front of it. I guess the driver had spitted too, but since I was to the left of the car, I could not see their faces as the cars had tinted glasses and they were being driven so fast.”
Aurobindo interjected, “You didn’t tell me that one of the cars had stopped and the driver had spitted!”
Jishu said, “You see sometimes the most important facts go unnoticed if you don’t know how to ask the victim the correct question?”
Aurobindo said, “I guess, when I had asked Satya, he was too upset with the loss of his kittens. So he might have missed out the details!”
Suddenly Sambhu said, “Well, Sahib I think I found the spot where one of the culprits might have chewed betel leaves and spitted!” pointing at a certain spot overlapping the pavement and the grassy area in the lawn of Mr. Amit Srivastava.
Jishu said, “Well done Sambhu. Let’s see if it is of any use.”
The spitted area had a reddish brown grey tinge with some sort of leaves and elachi husk was distinctly evident. It was somewhat fresh and Jishu said, “It was spitted out two-three hours back," using his experience.
Then Jishu said, “Well, there is always a possibility that someone else might have spitted here soon after this had happened!”
Satya said, “No, I was sitting the entire time upstairs watching Minnie lift her babies from upstairs. I don’t think anyone else would have done it, since none of Amit uncle’s family members chew betel leaf or gutka.”
Suddenly they were interrupted by Mr. Amit Srivastava. He said, “Searching for something important!”
Aurobindo replied, “No, you must have heard of the mishap this evening. Your four pets were run over by the maniac drivers!”
Mr. Amit replied, “They are just cats, why bother!”
Before Satya could say anything, Aurobindo placed his hand over Satya’s shoulders and pulled him towards himself and replied, “Well, they were just like family. You have never lost a pet so you will possibly not understand how sensitive these issues are for kids!”
“Mr. Amit, did you watch anything suspicious?” asked Jishu.
“No, No nothing in special that I can remember right now!” replied Mr. Amit.
Then Jishu went opened his bag again and took out a small plastic jar and a small tweezers and picked up the reddish brown grey leafy remnants of the betel laced spit and put it inside the jar and then again closed its mouth.
Then they went back towards Aurobindo’s house. In front of the gate, Jishu stopped and asked Satya, “Do you know how forensics people earn their bread, Satya?”
“Yes, crime always pays like you say Jishu uncle. However, the pay does not go to the culprits, it pays to law enforcers, and the forensics guys, I guess!” before giving a naughty smile.
To this reply, everyone started laughing. Jishu replied, “I know you are Aurobindo’s son, you had to be intelligent but I didn’t expect this from a ten year old, frankly!”
“Not ten, but nine!” corrected him Aurobindo.
“Then let me ask you a more technical question!” said Jishu.
“Fire away!” said Aurobindo.
“What are the constituents of this reddish spit?”
“Well betel vine leaf, elachi, gutka and Tobacco leaves” replied Satya.
“What do you think Aurobindo?”
“Well the first three were correct and apart from it, I guess, I think it is Marijuana, if I am not too wrong!” replied Aurobindo.
“What is Marijuana?” asked Satya.
“I shouldn’t encourage you to search on this matter in the internet, but after what you said about crime and the forensics guys, I have to offer you some leeway regarding this issue. You are now mature enough to learn about them I guess! What do you think Aurobindo? But whatever you do, don’t tell this to your mom!” said Jishu.
“Well, Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves and flowers of Cannabis sativa—the hemp plant. It is used as an intoxicating substance by criminals and drug addicts generally. Although it has some medicinal value as well!” continued Jishu.
Then Aurobindo asked Satya to go inside their house.
By the time Satya was inside, Aurobindo asked, “Is there some eminent danger for Satya and Sudha?”
“Well, I have already spoken to the local police inspector, regarding this. I have everything covered!” Said Jishu before he winked at Sambhu and said, “Be alert!” Then he left in his car.
That night the entire family slept uneasily because Kallu and Minnie were crying time and again throughout the night. Next morning when they woke up, they couldn’t find Kallu in the room although Minnie was soundly sleeping in the room. They ended up searching their entire house but to no avail. Finally when they gave up, the door-bell rang. Sambhu had arrived. When he heard Kallu was missing, he asked “Sahib did you search the garage?”
They quickly went to search the garage. When they opened the gate they could hear the soft purring of Kallu. So they searched the garage and then found her safely hidden behind the spare steel pipes kept at the back of the garage. Satya and Sambhu slowly removed the steel pipes to retrieve Kallu. Then Satya noticed that there are stains of almost the same reddish brown grey tinge colour, although very very dry. Satya excited called Aurobindo to take a look. Aurobindo then, on seeing the sit marks, asked Sambhu, “Well do you take chew leaves as well!” Sambhu, a little perturbed, replied “Have you ever seen me chew betel leaves, Sahib?”
This was a very logical reply of saying no, since although Sambhu had joined as their driver last two months, both Satya and Auroindo had never seen him chew betel leaves. So, it eliminated Sambhu from their suspicion. Then Aurobindo remembered that Ratan, their previous driver, used to chew betel leaves along with gutka. So, Aurobindo’s entire suspicion went towards Ratan, as he had fired Ratan, since he had one day came drunk during duty hours. He called up Jishu and told him what Satya had found. Jishu instantly came over at their house with his forensic-kit and took the remnant samples of the dried betel leaves and left for his laboratory.
That evening, when Aurobindo was returning home, his car driven by Sambhu, Jishu had called up and said, “Well the samples match perfectly. They belong to the same person! The constituents’ were betel vine leaf, elachi, gutka and Marijuana leaves. So as you say the culprit might have been Ratan! We have to raid his house and catch Ratan.” Aurobindo excited said over the mobile, “Catch that bastard, Ratan!”
Aurobindo waited that night, for some police action to take place, hoping that Ratan would be caught and he might spill the beans whether he was alone doing this or someone else had instigated him in doing so!
At around ten Aurobindo’s mobile phone rang and he answered the phone. Jishu was at the other end. Jishu said, “There is some bad news, buddy!”
“What’s the bad news!” replied Aurobindo.
“Well, when they went to raid Ratan’s house, they found him shot. He was alive but he could only utter “Sat…” before he died.”
“What, how can this be?”
“Someone wanted him out, we have to find out who wanted him out. Well the autopsy report will tell us what bullet was used to kill him! We are also going through his mobile to trace what numbers he had received in phone calls. We will nail them don’t worry!”
Next morning, around half nine, Jishu came to their house and said “Where is Sambhu?”
Aurobindo said, “He hasn’t come yet!”
Jishu said, “Well, he possibly never will come here again!”
“Why?” asked Sudha.
“Well, he may be the actual culprit.”
“Well, Ratan had been shot by a service revolver, and it possibly might belong to Sambhu?”
“Sambhu had a service revolver! But how?” asked Sudha.
“Sambhu belonged to the police department madam! I had him stationed here because Aurobindo received the threat. Unfortunately, he turns out to be the double agent and a rogue policeman! We will catch the bastard. We traced not one but around 10 phone calls from Ratan’s mobile to Sambhu’s mobile within a single day and the last call as well to Sambhu’s mobile before Ratan was killed! We have been searching for this for the last two years, how the news of our planned raids reach the mafia whenever we have to raid them. Now we found who actually informed them.”
“Well, since Sambhu has fled, we have also raided his house and found one business man named Satnam Singh was actually funding him. He received 10 lacs yesterday from Satnam’s account!”
Then Aurobindo remembered that during the tendering process of the Merlin Towers, he had briefly met a Sikh gentleman named “Satnam Singh” who had repeatedly asked him not to submit his bid. So, he said “Yeah I have met this man Satnam Singh!”
Well, that clears it all I guess, said Jishu, “Once we can catch Satnam we nail them!”
That evening Jishu called up Aurobindo and asked, “Can you come over to Lalbazar!”
“When do you need me to come there?”
“We have caught up with Satnam. We now need you to see what he has to say! Come tomorrow morning and we can hear the rest of it from him! No news of Sambhu yet but we are searching for him as well!”
Next morning there was loud banging on the door, as Aurobindo opened the door he found someone falling on his shoulder. When he got hold of the man, he found it was Sambhu. Aurobindo was shell shocked but recovered fast and immediately called up Jishu. Within ten minutes the police arrived only to find an unconscious Sambhu. They immediately took him to the hospital. Jishu arrived and on hearing that Sambhu had returned, left for the hospital to find out what had actually happened.
By the time Sambhu recovered, the police were there to take his statement. Sambhu said that “I had possibly been kidnapped by Satnam’s goons when I was returning from Mr. Aurobindo Bakshi’s house to my house, after finishing my duty. Someone had hit me from behind and when I woke up I found that my hands were tied from behind and I was gagged. Later on the next day, when they freed my hands to let me eat, I overpowered two of them and shot the two fellows killing them.”
“Where are their bodies?” asked Jishu.
“Well, they had held me captive at a warehouse In Tiljala!”
“Can you take us there?”
“Yes, why not! Well the taxi driver (WB-02L, 6682) who took me to Mr. Aurobindo’s place picked me up from the place. They had taken my phone as well!”
“Well, we will check it out.”
When the police located the taxi driver named Shibu, who had taken Sambhu to Mr. Aurobindo’s place, he took the police to the place at Tiljala and located the warehouse. They found the dead corpses and half loaded country made revolver there. That ratified what Sambhu had said. They found the men killed were Tarak Lal and Hijub Mollah, an expert driver by profession, but were both anti-socials.
However, Satnam singh was always insisting that Sambhu was the kingpin. The funny part was Sambhu accused Satnam of being the kingpin. So, police brought them face to face.
Satnam said “Sir, I am an ordinary man, who did what you said for want of money and now you accuse me of being the murderer.”
Sambhu replied “Who are you calling Sir? First, you had me kidnapped and gagged and almost got me killed, now you are hell bent on destroying my police career. We won’t let you go bastard!”
This went on for some time, and then police gave Sambhu the benefit of doubt since he was a one of them and let him go, but not before they handed him another mobile since his mobile was being held as forensic evidence.
That evening a police car left Sambhu at the locality of his house. As Sambhu was returning home he stopped at the shop of a street-side vendor. He brought a gutka and a paan, or a betel vine leaf, with assortments. He turned around and watched to see if there was anyone else watching him but old habits die-hard. He started having the paan and gutka together. Then he reached his inner pocket of his trousers and brought out a packet of weed and quickly stuffed it in his mouth. It was dusk, and not a lot of people were around. He started chewing it. Then he spit on the pavement. It had that reddish brown grey tinge colour.