Sunanda checked her watch, it was twelve noon. The sun was blazing hot, and the heat was unbearable. She scanned the semi-burnt room. A table in one corner, with a whole lot of burnt junk on it, a pile of ashes from what must have been a stack of writing paper, spilled mud from the broken pot of an aloe vera plant, and every inch of the room was closely observed and recorded by her. Having taken all the notes that she needed to, and looking around repeatedly for something that she missed, Sunanda stood in the centre of the burnt room where the girl died, as her eyes darted sharply from place to place.
The char patterns, the direction of the melt and the heat shadows showed a clear place of the origin of the fire. Dev walked in at the moment, and she gave him a brief glance before turning her focus back to the room, and specifically the window.
“Found anything? You have to hear me out, it will help,” said Dev.
“Not here, you came at a time I had to leave, so be patient. We go back to my office and then you spill the beans. But, till then, I would request you to zip your mouth and act like an assistant,” she said, without glancing at him and her tone in a slightly loud whisper.
“But-” he began, but Sunanda cut him off sharply. Then she turned back to the desk and the broken window, and walked closer to it.
“It started from the desk, the char pattern is all too clear, and the desk is near the window. No plug points around the desk- couldn’t have been a circuit fire that began there, and if she did not start the fire by herself-”
“Of course, she did not. I know that for a fac-” started Dev again, but was once again cut off mid sentence. He gave an exasperated sigh.
“-then it leaves us only one option through which fire can come from outside. The window,” she completed, taking a careful peek outside the window sill making sure she doesn't touch it. “I don’t want to hear anything from you before I finish my inspection of the room, please. I don’t need a pre-influence before I take my first look. That would be a route to failure in this case.”
Dev nodded slowly. “Okay, so what do you think is the cause?”
“There are only three possible causes for a fire,” she replied. “It can be chemical, electrical or natural. While the origin place of the fire is too simple to identify here, and I can’t understand how and why that is so, the cause I can only take a wide guess. I don’t think electrical, and I have a hunch it’s not chemical.”
“What did the fire services tell you?” asked Dev.
“They think accidental, and the University feels it has been purposely set-”
“It has been. I know-” started Dev, but she glared at him.
“You ask questions, then you wait for answers. Don’t jump in.”
Sunanda sniggered at him. “A fire is usually a complex event whose origin and cause are not obvious.”
“But you just figured them out, they are fairly simple in this case at least,” commented Dev, walking up to Sunanda who had by now bent down to scrutinize the bottom part of the main door to the room.
“Too obvious, and that can never be,” said Sunanda, taking out her camera and clicking a shot at what she was scrutinizing. Dev bent down to check what she clicked.
“What did you click?” he asked, not able to notice anything obvious.
“Burnt newspaper trailers, and tool marks,” she said pointing to them in particular without touching them. “And, that’s the right hunch.”
“Did you collect other types of evidence?” asked Dev.
Sunanda gave a short, incredulous laugh. “I am just going to leave that question and rightfully conclude that you know nothing about crime scene evidence. Let’s get going and hear your story.”
Read Chapter 6!
Read Chapter 6!