I am taking Maniparna’s post and modifying it a bit, in my way. I have been thinking a lot about this story and I needed to publish my version. She has done an excellent job, I loved her story and that is the only reason it stayed this long in my head. Here are the links to her post 1, 2 and 3. This is her blog.
ACP Roy Mendonsa, working for crime branch was asked this morning to attend a case on Mr. Singhania’s death. He was still at his office waiting for DCP Gupta to arrive. In the meanwhile, he instructed a team inclusive of forensic experts and photographers to visit the hotel and more over made clear that not a single leaf in the room is to move an inch.
Roy was known to be the best investigating officer. He has not been able to solve all of his cases due to political interference most of the time, but he was know for cut-throat investigation styles. It was also an easy method to shut the media up from making too much fuss.
DCP Gupta arrives and directly goes to meet Roy.
‘Roy, This is a open and shut case. This case was not intended to be given to you, but Anand your subordinate. This bloody media. Elections are near-by and there is lot of pressure. It will be great for everyone if this remains a natural death. Suresh Singhania is a big shot. I can’t just shut the case in a day, without someone good attending it. All cos of this media.’
Roy has a smirk on his face. He never understood all this politics.
‘ OK. sir, I need to start and check out the spot. Let me see what can be done. Hopefully I will find nothing. I have to start now from here and start on the case tomorrow’
‘I have arranged for the tickets from Delhi to Dehradun. Good luck.’
He goes to the control room.
‘Dial, kashyap. That Hotel Viewpoint manager. Let me have a quick word with him.’
‘Kashyap, This is Roy Mendonsa, ACP crime branch. I am sure somebody must have contacted you by now from here.’
‘Yes Sir, they did. They told about people coming in for investigation.’
‘Yes, that’s just a photographer. Listen, I am coming to Dehradun. I am planning to stay at your hotel, for investigations. I think this will be more of a holiday trip for me. I hear that it was just a mere cardiac arrest.’, Roy trying to make Kashyap speak out something about the case.
‘I have not been to the room sir. It was the new lad, Anil who informed and I informed the police right away.’
‘Okay, Tell me this. Can I get a room on the same floor as Singhania, preferably the same view.’
‘I can arrange sir.’
‘Do it, and send a taxi 6:00 am in the morning.’
Roy hangs the phone up. He was one of the most shrewd officers in the department. He was said to have the skill of reading a persons mind looking at his face. His questions right to the point, and yes he has never resorted to 3rd degree till date to solve a case. The stories were many about this officer who was in his mid 40’s and unmarried.
The next day morning he is at Hotel Viewpoint. Kashyap is right there to welcome him. The team is also there. He tells the hotel guys to unload his suitcase and take it to his room while he said that, he wanted to go to Singhania’s suit.
‘Who is Anil?’ he asks
‘Sir!’replies a feeble voice. A young guy in his late 20’s.
‘It’s so cold, do you have a hand glove that I can use. I am sure you do.’
Anil goes to the reception, gets a pair of gloves made of rexine. Roy again continues,
‘I don’t have time, son. Just quickly tell me what you saw yesterday in the room.’
‘I went to the room with the morning breakfast.’
‘Is the breakfast complimentary? I guess it should be for a 4 star hotel right.’
Kashyap replied swiftly, ‘Sir, this is a 5 star hotel. The breakfast is free and is served in the mess room. But for people who book titanium suite, we deliver the breakfast. They are mostly VIP’s.’
Roy could sense the aggression in the tone. All he wanted was answers and he was happy that he got it. He continues,
‘ Carry on, Anil.’
‘ Sir, I went there with the breakfast and knocked the door for 15 mins. No response. Later, after half an hour I had to get the spare key to open the door and check though there was a Do not disturb board.’
‘How long have you been working here?’
‘Just these 2 weeks sir.’
Roy gestures Anil to walk ahead and show him the room. Except from Singhania’s body being removed, everything else was untouched as instructed.
The room was opened and Roy walks into the room, the first thing he notices was the open window. It was chill.. winds blowing in. It’s a sliding window, Roy noticed.
‘Who opened the window?’
‘It was from before sir’ Anil replies.
He turns to the other police team. ‘Did any one from Dehradun Police Station come here?’
He walks around, finds nothing out of place. Then again under the table, he finds a bookmark. How often have you seen business men read books was his first thought. He just picked it up and placed it carefully in his side pocket and exclaimed, ‘I can use this while reading books.’
Kashyap had already assumed that he is a gold digger and was not amazed with this act. Roy had rather succeeded to convince him so.
He asks Kashyap, ‘Is there any good bar nearby? Just a bar not attached to restaurant. I hate seeing families eating alongside. A bar should be by itself.’
‘There is a Lounge bar just 5 mins away.’
‘Who would name a bar, Lounge. Stupid! Regarding this case, I think it’s an open shut case. After a couple of days I will submit my report of natural death.’
Kashyap looks relieved, exactly as Roy wanted.
‘Kashyap, do get me a list of people who were staying on this floor. Every single detail about them as entered in the register. Don’t tell me you don’t have it. Also you have a CCTV here I reckon. Get me all the footages for the days Singhania was staying.’
‘This will go with the file when I close the case. I will be glad to have it by tomorrow morning.’
Kashyap replies, ‘Sure sir!’
Roy orders the team that he needs complete details of everyone related to Suresh Singhania, personally and professionally.
That night before leaving to the bar, he calls DCP Gupta to inform that he had a quick look and apart from an open window, a bookmark he hasn’t found anything. DCP Gupta overwhelmed with joy by this news, said ‘Close the case and return back, asap.’
Roy replied,‘I will wait for couple of days. Let the media cool down a bit. I will close this case within a week from today. Also I wanted visit couple of places in Dehradun. Staying here would help me get my personal job done too. Anyways, Kashyap won’t charge a penny for this suite.’
DCP Gupta smiled and replied, ‘OK Roy, If you say so.’
Roy is glad that he won’t have to deal with the DCP for a week now. He walks towards the bar. The climate isn’t helping at all, it’s windy and its freezing cold outside. He had a jacket to protect him, but that was not enough.
He reached the bar and looked around. At the entrance, he sees two young guys may be in their early 20s having an argument.
Guy 1 : ‘God damn, I am waiting for you outside for the past 20 mins here in this cold. You are sitting inside and gulping vodka. You are a great friend.’
Guy 2 : ‘When I called you, I told you to come in, not wait for me outside. I was already in the bar with a client. I finished the deal here without having to show him a stupid presentation.’
Roy looks at them as immature lads fighting and soon goes into the bar. He asks for the bar manager, after finding the bar manager he recklessly throws his Police id on his table.
‘Nothing to worry, I just want a calm place to sit down without any disturbance. Can you arrange?’
‘Yes sir! Why not?’
The bar manager leads him to a corner.
‘2 double large, Jack Daniels. Don’t want ice in it.’
As he orders, he gets his packet of smoke and lights one. Jack Daniel arrives, and he gulps down the first peg on the rocks.
After the 2nd peg, he orders another two and while waiting for the that he thinks of the case.
‘How on the earth would anyone open his window and sleep? That too in this climate? Unless he is too drunk. Suresh Singhania wasn’t drunk at all, I believe. Somebody was there in that room with him. Definitely.’
‘He was high blood pressure patient. I need to confirm that.’
‘What was about the bookmark? He is an educated man, but I am yet to see a business man who reads novels. No books were found in room as well.’
Another 2 more pegs down, Roy again says to himself, ‘This sure is a messed up case.’
The bar manager refused to give him a bill, thanks again to his Police job. He walks back to his suite and in no time he is asleep.
The next morning he receives every detail he asked for from the hotel. He went through the CCTV footage and at the end he sighs, ‘I was stupid wasting my time watching this. If there is a criminal, which I believe there is, he is going to be smart enough to avoid this CCTV.’
With the list of people he walks to the receptionist. Once he is there, Roy was scanning the list. Singhania was found dead on Sunday morning. From Friday evening to Saturday evening there were 25 people who checked in the hotel. Of them, 17 were new guests. 10 American tourists, one newly wed couple, three businessmen who were quite old to commit a crime….the suspect list had finally three people. A young man who introduced himself as a nature photographer, a middle-aged person, officer of an MNC and a lady, she introduced herself as a tourist.
‘Show me the credentials of these three persons, fast. Are they still in the hotel?’
The receptionist handed him some papers and checked his register again.
‘Sir, this photographer is still here. Mr Kohli, the MNC guy has left the hotel on Monday afternoon and the lady checked out early in the morning on Sunday.’
Roy was on alert. His instincts told him that he was on the right trail.
“When did the lady leave? I want to know the exact time”.
“It was quite early Sir, 5.00 am”
“Did the hotel authority arrange her transport?”
” No Sir”
Roy was checking the credentials of these three. Apart from the woman, every other photo id was looking good. Her Photo ID card was showing a rather blurry picture. The only thing clearly visible was her white bobbed hair.
“How come you people accept such Photo ID proof?” Roy was fuming.
The receptionist looked nervous. It was a PAN card.
He dials the Police Station from his mobile.
‘Listen, note down this PAN card number. Get me details of the person.’
In 10 mins, he gets a call back telling that the PAN card number wasn’t valid. There it was, the break through.
A Police constable walked in with the list of people associated with Singhania. He grabs that file and tells him to leave. He tells the receptionist to send Anil to his room in 10 mins.
‘Sir, Anil is off now. His duty was night shift yesterday.’
‘Do I care? I repeat, Call him tell him to come to my room asap. Are we clear?’
In half an hour, Anil is with Roy. Roy asks him while he examines the file handed over by the constable,
‘Anil, Tell me this. As men what do we look around for the most?’
Anil looks clueless. He says, ‘It’s women!’
Anil nods his head. Roy says, ‘I like women, I think they are amazing.
Can you tell me about that lady who used to stay on Singhania’s floor.’
Anil understands what Roy is on about. He is quick to react, ‘Whom are you talking about?’ showing a blank expression.
Roy switches on the CCTV footages to show the lady. Anil quickly says, ‘The old toursit lady.’
‘How do you even say she is old?’ asks Roy.
‘Her hair was white, Sir!’
‘How was her body? Did she look old? Leave the hair!’
‘I must say yes to that too Sir!’
‘OK thanks for coming, I will call you if something comes up.’ exclaimed Roy quickly to get rid of Anil, who leaves in a state of fear.
The reason why he ended the conversation was because he saw Nishita Singhania’s picture in that file. He exclaims to himself,
‘How did this happen? How does a old timer like Suresh Sighania get Nishita as his wife? He was 52 and she is not more than 35.’
She was ravishingly beautiful. The beautiful fair face had big round eyes with black eyeballs, with nice long hair. An amazing body like a cherry to the icing.
Roy was known to be a womanizer. He was seen with many women during many occasions, but none of them could prove nothing. Roy was adamant he was meeting this lady, whatever may be. He right away calls DCP Gupta,
‘Sir, I am going to kasauli on a vacation. I don’t want media to be behind me. I am going to visit Singhania’s house and have a word with his wife so that it becomes official.’
When he gets a no objection, he calls the Police Station
‘This is ACP Roy. I need to visit Mrs. Singhania. I am anyways planning to go to Kasauli 3 days from today. Arrange me one of your jeep, no driver, just the jeep and call her right away. Tell her she be there.’
Roy had no worries about the case. If he shut this one as a natural death, no one would even doubt it. But he decided, he is not leaving this old lady. He looked at his job in a different angle, having fun investigating these mysteries. But first things first, Nishita became his priority. That night with his dry shots of Jack Daniels, all he could think about was Nishita.
Third day came by and early in the morning, Roy set off on a 185 km long journey. It took him more than 4 hours to reach his destination. It was around 9 am in the morning. The winds were strong, the mountains were looking beautiful. Roy was very much mesmerized. His old school jeep had done all the uphill journey with ease. On the way, he stopped at a small shop to get some tea. The evergreen line of oaks, willows and firs, on both sides of the road, formed a delicate leafy canopy with their foliage. The picture perfect place owed much its beauty to the British who used to throng in there once upon a time. Age old Victorian mansions still stood gracefully here and there adding serenity to the divine beauty of Kasauli. He wasted no more time, asked for his directions and in a bit he is there at the huge mansion. The mansion covered quite a few acres of land.
As the gates were opened and Roy parked his jeep inside, he did sense some insecurity in himself. The place was not known, and it was huge. and scary with some age old oaks standing right in the front giving it a vintage look.
When he walks with his small handbag towards the door, the maid greets him and shows him way to the hall. He sits on an exquisite Moroccan leather sofa right under the dazzling Swarovski chandelier waiting for Nishita Singhania to make her entry. He looks around and thinks as to the comfort and excellence that money could buy. Roy himself had his father’s and mother’s share back in Delhi, which he never had to look at.
In a short while, Nishita descends from the traditional staircase. Roy couldn’t help but stand up. She was amazing in her black gown and matching ear rings. Everything about this lady screamed quality. Her eyes wide and beautiful. Even the kind of shoe she wore, a black one matching her dress was perfect. Nishita excelled more than his imaginations. Roy pondered, ‘This doesn’t happen often. It’s rare to find such women.’
Regaining his composure, Roy starts, ‘Hi there. Myself Roy Mendonsa, ACP crime branch.’
Nishita replies to him in her gentle,’Everyone knows about you, Sir!’
‘You have a very pleasing voice, Nishita. Just like you I must say. You can call me Roy!’ trying to be a bit flirty but not too much.
Roy continues, ‘I had mentioned that I need to meet you in private. What are these maids doing here?’
‘They are here everyday. They come, they do their job and they leave.’
‘Can you tell everyone to leave till 2 in the noon? Don’t ask me why, just do it!’ he exclaims a bit annoyed.
Nishita calls everyone and does what Roy had asked her to do. In the mean while Roy walks around the house amazed and astonished.
There is a huge room, connected to a balcony. The view from the balcony is amazing.
In a while, Nishita joins Roy. She asks Roy if he had his breakfast, to which Roy replies negative.
Nishita says that he can have it if he wishes to.
‘I do like to have my breakfast, but you just sent all the maids away.’ Roy exclaims smiling.
‘It’s OK. I can manage I believe.’
Roy is served with bread, butter and jam with some scrambled eggs. While he has it Nishita sits in the opposite having her orange juice.
‘Can you tell me about your marriage, Nishita? How did you end up with Suresh? What’s your age now? I couldn’t believe seeing your picture that you ended up here, for you are that beautiful. I think beauty falls a yard short when there is money involved.’
‘I am 33 now and Suresh was 50.’, Nishita exclaims with a slight blush.
’52?’ asks Roy
‘No, he was 50. I met him when I was 20-21 at dad’s office. He was not rich, but just an employee there. The usual fall in love, marriage stuff. He was 37 then, hence dad wasn’t very happy about it. Later on he took over the business.’
Roy finishes his breakfast and proceeds to wash up. After that he moves directly to the hall where they were before, the one with the balcony.
Nishita joins Roy in a bit. They talk about her life before Suresh and a lot about her hobbies. Roy understands that she is a voracious reader, a great fan of Nicholas Sparks. He has read a couple of them. After that was done, Roy asks Nishita if he can see the whole mansion.
‘This is a massive mansion. I haven’t seen anything like this in my whole life.’
They walk around the mansion, she shows him her room and her little library. While they walk out, he points out to a sparkly bookmark lying carelessly on the floor. Nishita suddenly happy about finding it, takes it and keeps it in the draw as she mentions, ‘I thought I lost this bookmark.’
Roy asks, ‘Do you have a lot of them bookmarks?’
‘Not a similar one. But I use variety of bookmarks, but obviously the number of bookmark fall short of the number of books.’ she giggles.
Roy and Nishita settle down again in the same hall.
Roy starts speaking again, ‘I think I am pretty much done here.’
Nishita now bold enough after talking to him this long asks, ‘What’s happening to the case? Is it anything other than a cardiac arrest?’
Roy smirks again and says, ‘Somebody wanted me to believe that it was a cardiac arrest. I hope DCP Gupta will believe that, the stupid politicians would believe that. They don’t care anyways about crime and investigation but money.
There is this one lady who was next to his suite, who I believe finished him off, I must say pretty well’
Roy stops and looks intensely at Nishita, who is trying to cover her anxiety. She feels like she committed a mistake asking him about the case.
‘I am sure I can get her in two days if I want. May be even today if I want.’
Nishita is red as a kashmiri apple, but she had to hide her emotions. Roy was looking right at her like a culprit. She had to smile back, but she was hit by a wave of emotions.
Roy again starts, ‘ so Nishita, How did you manage to get rid of Singhania?’
That moment right there, she froze and looked vulnerable. She stood up and managed to loudly blurt as she walks towards the balcony, ‘What? aw.. are you serious? You are talking about my husband? How do you even think of this? ‘
She looks back at Roy. No changes in facial expression, he looked cold as usual. She stood there on what should be said next. In an instant, Roy gets up and walks to her, he stops right next to her. He can feel her breath as hot as a lava pouring on to his face.
He looks in the eye and asks, ‘Do you think I am stupid? These grey strands right here speak of my experience with criminals. Multiple degree in psychology, one of them in criminal psychology. How does my resume look?
This was not even hard, sweetheart.’
Nishita’s eyes gave up. Roy had a powerful look through her soul and her eyes revealed her guilt. She gazed down and couldn’t raise her head up to look at Roy. Roy says again.
‘That bookmark you got from your library, I threw it there when you were looking away. To check if you would identify it. Just as I suspected, you did and you said you had lost it. I have enquired quite a bit about Suresh and he is not into reading while you read a lot. I hope you don’t make me take an untoward step against you. Please do tell me what happened.’
Roy had forced all he knew on Nishita and hoped that she would give in. And she did. In a while, tears rolled out of eyes. Roy felt bad for her beautiful eyes now had a reddish tint, pearl like tears touching her cheeks but continued to look strongly in her eyes.
She just moves away from Roy, towards the balcony …
‘Yes I killed him. I had to, for he was not a man but something else. It has been 12 years to our marriage, but after the 1st year itself I hated life with him. He was a womanizer, abusive husband…’ she recollects all the incidents and pours her heart out.
Roy asks again, ‘Men can be pigs sometimes. In spite of having you as his wife, it is sad to know that he used to womanize. Tell me how did you execute it. I suspect Anil helped you a lot through this, didn’t he?’
‘Yes. He is actually someone I know from before. I had Suresh’s mail id and password from where I got the escort’s details who was going to be with him in that hotel. I called her up, met her offered her a huge amount. She helped me a lot. I got Anil to get me a spare key, as I watched him die slowly. I was reading a book then, and that’s how the bookmark was there.’
Roy asked intriguingly, ‘Did you open the window too?’
‘Yes, so that the medicines for high blood pressure that I replaced with sleeping pills affect him, plus the aphrodisiac given by the escort lady helped. The opened window made sure he died. I left the room in a bit, but never realized about the bookmark.’
All the tears had vanished by then for Nishita. She was feeling kind of contentment.
Roy started packing his small hand bag. Nishita doesn’t dare to say another word.
Roy gets up, ‘It was a pleasure meeting you Nishita. You will be in my memories for long. I think Suresh Singhania deserved death anyways from what you told me. I am going to close this case saying natural death, and it is natural death if you look at it.’ he smiles.
‘I wish you all the luck for a good future. I hope you enjoy your life without any barriers.’
He walks back to his jeep, fires the engine and leaves for Dehradun. On the way back, he is all content that answers is what he asked for, answers is what he got….