Who killed Balasubramanium?

Padmalakshmi sits there in the interrogation room, facing the famous detective Kondaswamy. she adjusts her saree’s pallu strategically enough to let some cleavage slip out. The table fan to Padmalakshmi’s right gorges on anything remotely cool in the room like a bulimic, only to throw it up in hot, stifling blasts that barely touch the sweat streaming down Padmalakshmi’s ample sideburns.

“Madame”, Detective Kondaswamy says, as his eyes stare not into Padmalakshmi’s big black, kohl smeared one, but right at her heaving chest. “So, you say that you were taking a bath when you heard a commotion and came running down to discover his body?”

“Yes Sir.” she sniffles for effect and he hands her a murky handkerchief from his pocket. “Have you found out who did it? Who mercilessly bashed my dear Balasubramaniam’s head like a pulp?”

“Madame Padmalakshmi” Kondaswamy says, unbuttoning his first two buttons, shaking his collar and gulping down the lukewarm cola in front of him.

“We have sent your husband’s body for autopsy. Until then please answer my questions.”

“Sir… my husband is dead.” As if on cue, Padmalakshmi’s eyes water and rivulets run down her cheeks mingling with salty sweat. “What will I do? How will I eat? How will I survive?”

Kondaswamy shakes his head and continues. “Madame please, who else was in the house except you?”

Through tears Padmalakshmi pulls up her pallu, that was on the verge of threatening to expose more cleavage, and says, “That wretched Mahalakshmi. She was there in the house when it happened.”

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Kondaswamy mutters in disgust, as if disappointed at the game of tease that Padmalakshmi’s pallu has been playing with him. He brings his diary out and writes Mahalakshmi in capital letters. “Do you know of any enemies that Balasubramanium had? Anyone who wanted to hurt him?

“Oh sir” Padmalakshmi sprawls her torso on the table and this time her pallu finally falls off to reveal her sweaty breasts trapped between her and the unvarnished surface of old teakwood.

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Cold Case Files – #795666

“Detective Inspector Shane Devouc, you and I are gathered here in this room, on 10th April 2010, to discuss the events of the dispatch call on 13th May 1990, at 3 am, where you were the first responder” I say and then stare at my smart phone recorder.

“Oh shit,” I say again, and look up; embarrassed at my rookie mistake.

The burly man with head full of hair as white as snow stares at me impassive.

“I’m sorry, Detective Inspector.” I say. “We’ll have to go over this again. I forgot to press the record button.”

He grunts, and I start over. I can see that he is trying to brush this off as just another interview. Cool as a cucumber, or at least that is what he wants me to think. But no matter how hard he tries, he can’t hide his twitching fingers.

“Detective Inspector”, I start, again. “You and I are gathered here in this room, on 10th April 2010, to discuss the events of the dispatch call on 13th May 1990, at 3 am, where you were the first responder.”

He grunts again and then picks a strand of chicken stuck between his front two teeth. He pulls it out from the crevice slowly, like stretched bubble gum as I watch fascinated. That visibly obvious strand has been distracting me since the past fifteen minutes and now that he is pulling it out, I can’t help but feel a sense of strange relief.

“Can you tell me about the events of that night, Sir?” I ask, my eyes fixed on that long strand as he finally pulls it free and then pops out back into his mouth, chewing slightly.

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Nina

Nina was found buried in the crook of a Wych elm deep into the forest. or perhaps what would have been deep into the forest before Sobha builders decided to make a home away from the city, in the lap of nature, eco apartments that were only five minutes from fairy falls, only fifteen kilometers away from the nearest school, hospital or office space; and only twenty minutes away from NICE road.

It was barricaded to the public; only Sobha resident joggers eroded it every morning and practically turned it into a freeway to the waterfall.

It was a dog that found her hand dangling like a T-Rex’s arm from the rotted core of the elm; one of those furry golden ones. I saw them often with the joggers, trotting along, burying their nose where it didn’t belong.

Devoid of skin, tissue or even rot, Nina’s arm had been licked clean to the bones. I was surprised that the foxes hadn’t ground the bones into a powdery puff, yet.

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I stood among the few joggers, as the police pulled Nina out from the dark hole, one limb after another. Her torso came last and a small man was sent inside to fetch her head.

It was almost thirty minutes later that a head popped out, not Nina’s, but the man who was sent after it. He climbed out, panting and repeating, “Kuch nahee hai, Saab. There is no head.”

The Chief Inspector who looked like mosquitoes had made half a meal out of him, stomped his foot and shouted, “Where the hell is the head, then?”

“Kamraj sir…” said his deputy, smiling like a patient grandmother, “Where will the head go? It will be around somewhere. Mil jayega.”

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23:23

People believe I am mad, a crazy lunatic, obsessed with the time 23:23. But let me tell you something; I did not go searching for 23:23, it found me. It was relentless in its pursuit; it hounded me night and day, until I had no other choice but to acknowledge it. I tried everything, switched off my phone, tried to sleep when it was still a safe 22:22, shut my eyes and refused to look at my bedside clock. But somehow, somewhere I always managed to see 23:23.

I had such confidence in my sanity, my logic, my rationality; that I discussed about 23:23 with people, many people; my husband, friends, colleagues and believers in the paranormal. Some looked at me in awe, some even suggested I was a shaman and some strongly believed that I was ready to fall over the threshold of madness.

Before you throw away this paper, attributing it to the rant of a mad woman, let me tell you about me.

My name used to be Anu, short for Anuradha. I say used to be, because now, it is just patient no. 2323.

I was happy, once. I used to live in the bustling city of Bangalore, with its surprise showers and cool weather. I was married too, to the man of my dreams and I bore him two beautiful little girls, twins at that. In our uninhibited joy, we named them Thea and Rhea. Thea, Goddess of the moon and Rhea, the daughter of Gaia (Earth). Both my daughters orbited around each other from the time they were born. Oh how I had loved them until they were toddlers, their constant need to be with me, their constant demands, their unending cries for ‘Mumma’. That was only until they were old enough to realise that all they ever needed was each other. They had a look that was only meant for the other one, like telepathic Siamese twins.

Such strong was the connection between my daughters; that I became the ostracised mother who wasn’t privy to that bond.

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Detective Phansy and the case of too many women…

Detective Phansy knocked thrice on the gargoyle knocker and we waited for the massive oak doors to swing open. In five years with the murder squad, not many things intimidated me, I had seen it all, or I thought I had. But the three-mile drive inside the estate and finally parking my mini wagon among rows of Ferraris, Rolls Royce and Lamborghinis had ensured that I stand smaller than my five feet eight inch, in front of whoever opened that door.

“The Kains are wealthier than I imagined, Sir.” I spoke, tapping my feet.

“Of course they are, McLane. You Irish don’t know the meaning of true wealth now, do you?” Phansy said, roaming his disdainful gaze from my mop of waist long red hair down to my freckled face and a body that worked out, but did not say no to baguettes.

“Sir, we got wealthy people in Ireland, what are you talking about?” my voice took a high-pitched whine, the kind that appeared whenever I felt defensive.

“Not like the English do, McLane, not like the English.”

Just when my voice was about to reach a pitch higher than earlier, the door swung open and a stately woman of about fifty opened the door, and said, “Yes?”

Phansy jumped in to educate the woman of the house, “Oh Mrs. Kain, I am Detective Phansy, with a ‘Ph’. I know this would be terrible inconvenience but we have some questions regarding your husband’s unfortunate demise yesterday. I do hope you can give us ten minutes of your precious time.”

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Bad erotica…

Abhay paces the small one room kitchen apartment, it wasn’t a lot of pacing; four steps back and forth made up for his tiny dwelling. But then again what is a struggling writer, if not living in a space cramped with a chair, a bed, a foldable writing table, a solar powered lamp, a bowl full of cigarette butts and five day old pizza.

Abhay’s predicament wouldn’t be something new for you, but for him it was a dilemma that put him in precarious situation. You see, the next chapter in Abhay’s highly ambitious debut novel about four friends who had just passed out of IIM – B; was that one of those friends was finally getting lucky. And Abhay had to describe him getting lucky.

Now this shouldn’t be a problem to many writers, or maybe it would be. I would never know. But Abhay is still a virgin, which means, he has never gotten lucky. And the poor little peasant has no idea how to, either.

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