“Hello, I am Sopna here and I am coming there right now. Your friend BK had directed me to be there”. Saying so, she went to the address given to her. She found Hemant Kumar waiting for her. As soon as she alighted from her car, he held her hands in ecstasy and applied extra pressure on her wrists while taking her inside. There was a reason for his explicit excitement.
Both Basant Kumar, better known as BK for his close associates, and Hemant Kumar were close friends personally and at the same time arch rivals in their business, vying for each other’s fall. Sopna had nothing to do with their friendship or with their business ties. She had been hired by BK for the day and was at his disposal for attending to his personal needs. This was the first time BK had booked her for himself – but was offering her to his friend, Hemant Kumar.
Hemant Kumar openly admitted that he did not expect such a great gift from his friend on the special occasion of his birthday. He did mention that a very special gift would be sent on his birthday. “Oh! Such a nice person he is!! Only I had miscalculated him”.
“Never mind”, said Sopna “You can thank him profusely, after my work is completed and that too, to your utmost satisfaction. You sure will agree with me”.
“Yes, yes. let us go in”, he said hurriedly.
“Will you have some hot drinks”, he asked her, pouring some into a glass. She abruptly stopped him “No hot drinks- No cold drinks either! Very-very occasionally I take a sip or two of lime juice, - but that too, not today. Of course, tea and coffee are excluded in my list of NO. I enjoy them. Do you know that I am a very good bartender, very good hostess and an event manager too! I am good at mixing cocktails. Can I mix one for you? I am rated as an ‘A’ Grade performer. That is why BK chooses me on special occasions”.
Hemant Kumar came to her and held her by her shoulders and led her to his bedroom. The bedroom was exceptionally well decorated with mild fragrance in the air, exotic paintings on the wall, window screens in pleasing colours and prints, neatly laid out bedspreads, the air-conditioner buzzing as a background musical score, a dim light shedding less light but, highlighting the interior decoration... all set for the ultimate satisfaction of the day!! Awesome!!
“How did BK spot you?” he asked her.
“Oh! Why all these questions now? Let us avoid questions. ’How you came to this line, what were you earlier’… These are routine questions I encounter with every customer. Let me tell you. Nobody comes into this line, on her own. She is just thrust into this oldest profession by force. Finding nowhere to go she succumbs to pressure. Luckily for me, I am moving only in the elite society. I am happy, my partner is happy – that’s all. My role is to keep my partner fully satisfied. I have learnt the nuances of good performance over these years.”
She continued, ‘Can I call you by name, even though you are my boss for the day? By the way, in the bed, no one is a boss, nor any one a subordinate. I have a cardinal rule and I observe very strictly – never talk about my previous customers. So do not ask me about my profession or about my customers. Let us concentrate on ourselves and spend our time usefully. I normally have a bath and come freshly. Today also I will do the same’. Saying that, she started undressing – but not fully. Her change of dress – night gown and other accessories were in a bag which was in the other room. She fetched them and made her way to the rest room. Before then, she noticed that there was something strange about the house. Nobody was to be seen.
She asked him, “Why this eerie silence? No one at home? Not even the servants?”
He replied, “Yes. When I was told, a fairy like Mohini is coming to my house, why have people around me! So, I gave them all a day’s leave and sent them home. About my family folks? they have gone to my native village to worship our local deity and offer special prayers seeking long life and prosperity. It is our customary practice”.
“So, you are well planned for the day”, she said sarcastically.
“You see, now in the entire house, just you and I are alone there and none else. So, the entire house is like our bedroom. Enter any room, it is our bed room”, he too replied smilingly.
“OK. Be ready. I will be back in a while”, she said coyly with her head bent towards him. He felt ‘her shyness’ and other gestures were not natural. To him it appeared as though she meant something more than what she whispered. Did she have any ulterior motive and that was why she wanted to ensure that nobody was around – his thoughts ran frantically. To shake off his wild thoughts, he headed for one more peg. In fact, he wanted to prepare himself for the night ahead – a night long entertainment. He smiled to himself and thought it would be better to have ‘that’ particular private video, which he had preserved secretly in a rack upstairs. Occasionally, he used to share ‘that’ video with his friends – of course, only when his family members were not in town. “By the time she comes out, even I will be ready with my unit”, he said to himself and went upstairs.
Sopna, in the bathroom, was wondering how life was playing with her. This very Hemant Kumar was the first person who had come to see her in her younger days when her parents were looking for an alliance. But it did not materialize. She was wonderstruck to know that years later now, she was destined to meet him in a totally different situation. At the first instance, she did not recognize him at all. Who remembers those broken alliances? But sooner she realized that he was the same guy who had come to see her and then, that became a trend setter – the first one to start! A trail of guys rejecting her hand on some plea or other - mainly for dowry, jewelry, luxury items, et cetera usually demanded in a marriage as a matter of right and prestige and social status, by the parents of the prospective groom.
“This very man”, she recollected, when he came to see her years ago as a prospective groom, was demanding hefty dowry, “but is now prepared to pay any amount – just for sharing a night with her. What a paradox! Strange are the rules of Men. They want easy money that too, in a large quantity, if the girl comes to their house, as wife. For that, they openly make a demand. And the very same men throw huge sums on whores and call-girls, secretly, without the knowledge of others. This time it is easy money in the hands of these professional women!”
She thought it was a golden opportunity for her to taunt him and chide him by recalling that old incident and in the process, dampen his spirits and eagerness. Compared to the degree of mental agony she suffered in ‘those days’, this was nothing. But she being herself, the real Sopna, did not want to antagonize her real boss BK who fixed her. She was after all, an agent, who had come over here to please Hemant Kumar, at the behest of BK. She soon returned to her cool compose. A light makeup, a delicate scent, a fluffy hairdo…., with all these, she came out as a bundle of elegant grace. She thought he would be waiting impatiently for her – but to her surprise, he was not to be seen anywhere around.
In a shrill voice, she called out his name – “Hemant, Hemant, where are you? You said in the whole house, any room is our bedroom, so are you in some other bedroom?” She paused. There was no response.” Hello. Come on, I am ready and waiting for you. Hemant…, Hem…, Hemu…, where did you go and why this hide and seek at this hour?” She went room by room, looking for the playboy. All rooms were maintained spick and span, but there was no sign of Hemant Kumar. Could he have gone upstairs? ‘Why carry a doubt, let me go and see there also’ – she went up. There too, were many rooms, all well-kept, but no sign of anybody having come or gone.
Suddenly she stood stunned gasping for breath. She looked around for a switch and then turned it on. A terrible shock ran through her. Hemant Kumar was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. A hideous crime!! Who could have committed? How she never heard a bit of sound. First of all, when nobody was at home, how did the murder happen? Who entered the house? How, when? – was anyone hiding upstairs waiting for Hemant Kumar to come upstairs – first of all, how did that fellow know that Hemant Kumar would come upstairs…. Too many unanswered questions thronged on her. She saw all around as to how the intruder would have entered the house and then she noticed an open window and a crowbar lying on the floor. So, the killer had come from outside by climbing the drain pipe or something of the sort and force-opened the window. She wanted to know little more and when stepped forward, she was about to stumble upon something. It was a blood-stained knife. She carefully took it by the edge of her gown so as to ensure, neither to erase the existing fingerprints nor to implant her own fingerprints. She went to the open window side and took the crowbar also.
She looked at herself and the worst situation she was pushed into– only two persons in the house – one dead and one alive. The dead man was lying in a pool of blood and the person alive was holding blood stained knife just near the dead body – Any damn fool could put two and two as four and conclude who the killer was. She realized her grim situation and the only escape route was to run away from the scene, or else she might be straight away heading for the gallows. She quickly understood with the passing of every second, the noose around her neck was tightening. She needed time to relax, sit back and think and find out a solution to the life-threatening problem. Could she come out of the “chakravyuham”, she was dragged into! Whirlpool was too small a word to describe her standing.
Soon she packed up her belongings, put the knife in her blue scarf and the crowbar in another bag and sped on her car. It looked as though she was staring outside, but actually she was rewinding the entire day’s happenings. On a deep thinking, she concluded that she had walked straight into a trap, quite unknowingly. So neatly it was planned!!
As a civilized person, it was her duty to inform the police about the murder. But if she had done that, she would be inviting hell upon herself. Why a police dog? – even a street dog could smell and point out who the culprit was.
“BK, You…. You….! how could you do that to me? On the one hand you had sent me to Hemant Kumar to take care of his comforts and at the same time you had arranged for a killer to eliminate your friend. With the killer gone, the entire offence is squarely on me. Now I have to run helter-skelter to save my skin.” She was driving, but in her mind, she was cursing and condemning BK. While contemplating over the entire episode and to save herself, she hit upon an idea and that was what she was up to now.
She drove straight to BK’s house. She took the crowbar and threw it into the garden area and went to into the house looking for him. As she feared and apprehended, he was not to be seen. In a way, it was so much the better. She hid the blood-stained knife in his bedroom, sans her scarf and sneaked out. She asked his whereabouts from the servant maid who came out just then. To her dismay, she too was not aware of. As no other go, she had to call him on his mobile phone – but the matter was so confidential, it could not be openly shared on phone. She preferred a missed call. It worked. They decided to meet at a non discreet place. She narrated the whole of what she knew. BK was bewildered and dumbfounded when he learnt about the cold murder of his friend – that too on his birthday. He immediately called the police and informed that his friend was not responding to any of his phone calls and there was something amiss.
Sopna was wondering how cleverly this man was handling the situation. Having arranged for a cold blood murder he was posing now as though he was a stranger to everything! She was very confident that he was the master mind behind the hideous crime. But who would believe? What proof was there? The long arm of law required only evidences, proofs and witnesses in order to put him behind the bars.
Thank God! She escaped. She got entangled in a cobweb and was now out of it. It did not matter to her how BK would manage to free himself. He had already informed the police and they would take care.
Let the police do their job and find out who the murderer is. Every person at the site of crime need not be a criminal. Anybody, from a remote corner can also be one, like BK. Who knows! He too could be innocent. That is what Police is for! Sopna is free and that is all it mattered now.