Friday, July 3, 2020

Murder In Beltour | Chapter 06 | Questions

Saira had been called to the Dean’s office regarding the fire. She waited outside the office, tense and fidgety.

“What?! Why you? What do you have to do with it! You didn’t even know there was a fire, you were sleeping!” Diya had exclaimed when Saira told her about the call. “You don’t even know what happened.”

“I don’t know, but they won’t know that. My room is on the same floor as Ruchi’s. Let’s see what they want,” Saira had replied.

Standing there, Saira’s thoughts wandered back to the day of the fire. She was sleeping deeply, and she remembered nothing. She wasn’t even someone close to Ruchi, after all they had a very polite hi-bye relationship that faded away into a curt smile. What could they possibly want to know from her? The opening of the Dean’s door by a woman, Sunanda as they had called her the other day, brought Saira’s thoughts to an abrupt end.

“Saira?” asked Sunanda.

“Yes, ma’am,” said Saira.
“Please call me Sunanda,” she said, smiling professionally. “Saira, please take a seat. I won’t take much time, I have a couple of questions that I want to ask you, that is all.”

“Sure. The Dean isn’t here?” Saira was confused. The Dean’s office had only this woman and no one else. But, she had got an email saying she needed to meet the Dean. Sunanda looked up at Saira.

“No,” she said curtly. “I am Sunanda Amble, and I am a private investigator. I have been asked to investigate the fire by the Dean of your college, and hence I am on this case. I need to just ask you a few questions, and then you can go back. Please take a seat.”

Saira sat down slowly in one of the two chairs in front of the Dean’s desk. “Investigate? So, it wasn’t an accident?”

“I’d advise you to just reply to my questions, and not ask any yourself. So, where is your room?”
“Second floor.”
“Number?”
“42.”
“Do you know Ruchi?”
“This is a small place, we all know each other. She lives on the same floor as me, so I saw her often. But, I don’t know her well enough beyond the smile we gave each other as we passed.”
Sunanda paused and nodded.
“Can I know what you usually do around afternoons in college?”
“I sleep. Everyday.”
“And, on the day of the fire?”
“I was sleeping, as usual.”
“How deep?”
“I can’t sleep at night. I have trouble sleeping at night. So, afternoon is the time I make up for it. I wouldn’t know if an elephant was stomping around when I sleep in the afternoon.”
“Do you lock your room while sleeping?”
“Yes, always.”
“What were you doing right before you went to sleep?”
“I came back from the University classes.”
“And?”
“And, slept.”

There was a long pause. Sunanda stared at the notebook in front of her.

“So, you came straight back from the classes, and slept?”
“Yes. I always do.”
“You never left your door open and went anywhere?”
“No.”

Saira was confused. Why was the woman repeatedly trying to figure out if her door was open? Did it matter?

“Okay,” said Sunanda, dragging her voice.
“Uh, I think I went to fill my water bottle before I went to sleep.”

Sunanda’s eyes darted back to Saira.
“When?”
“After coming back to the room, and right before sleeping. The cooler is just down at the end of the floor. Ruchi’s end.”
“Did you leave your door open?”
“I latched it from outside, but didn’t lock it. The cooler was right there.”
"How far is your room from Ruchi's?"
I am not sure, but around 8-9 rooms away, I think."
“And, how long did you take to get back to the room?”
“A couple of minutes. Maybe two or three. Not more than that.”
“Right, thank you very much.”

Sunanda suddenly seemed to be scribbling tons of notes into her notebook, and Saira was curious to know how it mattered.

“Why? How does it matter?” asked Saira.
“That’s my job, Saira. Thank you for your cooperation,” said Sunanda, politely. “That is all, you can-”

“Something isn’t right. You are involved in this beyond being a private investigator, aren’t you?” asked Saira plainly.
“Why would you think that?” Sunanda’s tone was smirky. She went back to looking into her notes, and scribbling with a pencil.

“Who is the Boss?”
Sunanda’s face turned white like a sheet, and for a brief moment Saira thought that she saw a hint of fear. A couple of moments passed, and then Sunanda looked up from her notebook.

“Excuse me?”

“Who is the boss? And, why doesn’t he want you to take up the case?”

*

Read Chapter 7!

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