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Artikills

Mr. Dalal

“ No liza you know how busy we are these weekends…….laundry has to be done, pantry has to be stocked and most importantly mr dalal has a prescription with the doctor……need to accompany him”

“ you understand ,right?” mrs dalal added with a pause.

“ but then the invitation is just for you” liza said rather irritably.

“ just me………..just for me…mr dalal isn’t invited ..why?”

“ umm…because………..” and there was a pause ,a long pause , so long a pause that mrs dalal thought liza had hung up.

Then liza sounded more controlled “ …because everyone knows mr dalal’s condition , right? Being vocally paralysed and wheel chair bound it will be very difficult for him……so come….join us…you ‘ll feel better”

“ thank you…but I won’t come without him ” and mrs dalal hung up.

She looked at her watch . it was half past four.

“ well,well I need to hurry  before it’s dark”.

She got into her car ,slammed shut the door , put on her seat belts and drove down a bumpy road. She first turned right , then  took the second left through the church road, then again right straight to the house having a signboard “ The Dalals”.

Mrs dalal these days runs short of breath. There’s nothing in the world she doesn’t aspires to do or rather there is nothing she finds impossible these days. Just the previous day her swimming instructor nearly collapsed when she enquired whether a non-swimmer couple in sixties can scuba dive without an oxygen cylinder. The postman had to rush back without delivering the letter when she screamed accusing him of having robbed her jewels. The neighbors are well aware of these incidents but they prefer staying indoors than poking their nose in her matters. Mrs das says these are “ absolute nonsense” but mrs basu feels pity and calls her to be a “ poor creature”.

Without wasting a second , she drove through the main gate, straight into the garage, locked the car ,then the garage behind her and hurried towards the house. She tried to open the door with the latchkey but then realized the door’s not locked, she just needs to push it.

“ aah …….I am going nuts these days”

“never mind “

The living room was huge and airy. A big dark rustic sofa was at the centre above which hung a copper shaded old-fashioned chandelier. The room was partially lit by the rays of the dusk entering through the grimed curtains and they cast a murky shadow over the room.

“ well..where is mr dalal, geeta?” she demanded

“ mr dalal…?” geeta was confused for a second but it took her less than a second to change her tone “…….yeah ….mr dalal….right …..umm ..he ought to be here……I just left it, I mean him….. here in the living room , right beside the sofa,but……”

“ you left him?”  “Alone?”

“alright cool ,cool mrs dalal…. “she daid to herself.

“ fine, then…….where is ‘HE’?”

This time geeta was actually baffled ,rather surprised. She again recalled the incident. It was 4 : 15 sharp when she finished dusting the living room,left it ….means mr.dalal near the sofa , took the basket from the kitchen then went into the backyard to water the plants and get some tomatoes. then how did…….?

“ my goodness…….” shouted Mrs dalal from the porch.

Geeta was nervous .she rushed to the porch.

There stood the 3’4” wheelchair facing the garden outside.

“ are you crazy geeta ?”  “ how can you be so irresponsible?”mrs dalal was furious.

“ I am very sorry ma’am ……believe me I really…”

“ I know …he must be inside …..but then you can’t expect him to be there all day long, he is  a human being afterall…….you should have helped him come here , what if he got hurt…you know his condition, don’t you?”

“ uppff….. you know what geeta , you better see a psychiatrist , you have this tendency of forgetting…..” mrs dalal added.

“ ohh really?” geeta muttered.

“ did you say something, geeta?”

“ no…..just that …..how grateful I am…..and that I will be ever indebted to you for having me as a caretaker…”

“yeah, you better be” mrs dalal remarked.

“ okay…..so now no more wasting time mr dalal……let’s go…..its time to get some fresh air” mrs dalal turned away pushing the wheel chair.

They walked in the garden silently. The autumn breeze kissed her face . the atmosphere was calm and quiet . the only sound she could hear was the rolling of the wheels of the wheelchair she pused.” You know mr dalal,…..” she said finally breaking the silence. Obviously …..she had to , his vocal chords won’t allow him utter a word – she thought.  ”………. We came here just yesterday but it feels as though we are in open after ages.”

“isn’t it?”

“ yes?”

“ haha ….i know …I know”

All the while she kept speaking softly,nodding her head,smiling occasionally……….moving her fingers on the arms of the wheel chair where she could feel her husband’s warm hands……….” Always” she says.

Geeta comes with a cup of coffee and a cup tea.

“ good” mrs dalal remarked. she kept the cup of coffee on the teapoy in the garden, took her cup and went inside with geeta to finish the leftover work. Geeta set the table before leaving for home .

Just as she was about to open the main gate ,her eyes fell on the cup and to her utter disbelief it was empty , there were only dregs left at the bottom. She wanted to scream but somehow could not . she found herself rooted to the ground. She took a deep breath ,gathered courage, turned back and walked straight out of the gate.

She had seen the report with her own eyes which said ” death due to excessive bleeding.” She had heard the doctors saying “ spot death “ ,even she had discussed with mrs dalal’s psychiatrist about her condition ,she was even present when she said” hallucinations” and that she may take “ a few more days” to recover. The more geeta ignored such thoughts the more it troubled her . she increased her pace.

——————————-                       ———————————                         ——————————————–

“ please tell us in detail what you saw when you entered?” the police SP asks geeta.

Geeta was trembling……she was crying, she said in broken sentences,” ….came……..front door opened…….all things scattered…….cupboards and drawers opened……..called…..no answer……bedroom….flooded with blood………mrs dalal lied dead on the bed…….. a man dead on floor..” that’s all she could say.

“ yes , she is right “ the CBI chief said coming out of the bedroom with the doctor.” The incident took place nearly midnight, a thief broke into the house , found a lot of valuables from his backpack ,mrs dalal must have woken up , screamed, he would have got nervous and in order to save himself must have first stabbed her with his knife.we got his fingerprints on it. There is no trace of anyone entering or leaving the house except him. But then how did he die?  The room only had abed , a wheelchair and a cupboard. He didn’t kill himself as we found even he was stabbed from exactly a 45 degree angle ,from a height of somewhat 3ft.”

The doctor’s eyes widened in horror and amazement. His heart beat faster, a cold shiver ran down his spine. “ 3 ft” he repeated and rushed to the bedroom . The others followed. There stood near the bed , the wheelchair exactly at 45 degree angle to the dead thief. As they gaped at the wheelchair,it turned. Towards them.

 

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