Ullas villa had never seen such huge crowds for a long time, not even when Mahendran had died. But this was different, it was not a mere accidental or natural death, it was cold blooded murder and that too at the hands of a 13 year old child. Everyone was present, the royalty, the commoners, the beggars……
Inside, O.G sat trying to console a sorrow stricken Saraswathi in her room while Kannan crouched in a corner of the entrance hall, his head buried between his knees, afraid of looking at anything or anyone. The murder weapon lay on the floor next to him and no one dared to touch it. The police arrived shortly and requested the crowd inside the house except for close family, to disperse. The crowd outside only seemed to grow larger in spite of the arrival of the men in uniform, after all things like this don’t happen every other day in Nellur.
“Is this the boy?” asked one of the officers.
“Yes” replied O.G, who had now come out of Saru’s room to meet the officers. He had learnt about the incident early in the morning but still had not conveyed the news to either Janakiamma or Shankaran Nair. He had instead directly come to Ullas Villa to know the truth of the matter on his own and he prayed to God it would just be a bad piece of rumour. Having learnt the truth, he decided to stay back and help in every possible way. He would have to soon inform Shankaran Nair for the revolver under scrutiny belonged to him and it was only a matter of time before the police found out and questioned him.
“How old?” asked the officer.
“Nine, if I am right sir” replied O.G.
“And his relation with the house?” asked the officer.
“Grandson of Shankaran Nair, the head of Ullas Villa” replied O.G.
The officer had a tender face that became softer as he stared at the dead body of Chinnan lying on the floor. There was a bullet wound in the middle of his chest and his small shirt had turned maroon from the blood. His parents lay crying on either side of the body. The officer tried to control his feelings and get into the rest of the investigation.
He next went to Saru’s room and after a brief period of questioning returned to the entrance hall.
He now interrogated Kannan,
“What is your name?”
“From where did you get the gun?” asked the officer.
“It is my grandfather’s?” replied Kannan
“Did he give it to you?” asked the officer further.
“No, I took it to show my friends” replied Kannan.
“Why did you shoot your cousin?” asked the officer.
“I didn’t mean to, it was an accident. I was only trying to save my mother from the vampire that was trying to kill her. Ask her, there was a black hooded creature after her. I was only trying to save her, save her, save her……”and Kannan’s voice broke down into silent whimpers.
The officer then questioned others in the house, which included Janu, the neighbour who reported the incident; Chinnan’s parents he saved for the last as it would be the most difficult part.
Having finished the formal investigation the officer ordered the constable to take Kannan into custody. Saru broke down at the site of the police handcuffing and leading her son outside Ullas villa. She soon fell unconscious, the shock having taken its toll on her.
As he left the house Kannan cried out to his mother, “Amma please tell them I was only trying to save you, amma please tell them”
Some people uttered curses while some gasped in shock and disgust as Kannan was led onto the kadavu.
“I tell you, boys nowadays won’t mind killing their own mother” said someone.
“Must be hanged to death” said another.
Kannan tried to shield his ears from the stabbing words thrown at him. The officers sat on his either side on the boat and the boat began its journey towards the opposite bank where a police jeep awaited them. Kannan wondered if it was Ayappan chettan who rowed the boat but he was too afraid to look at anyone, even at his reflection in the water.
He stared at his hands, unwilling to believe that they had killed his best friend, his soul mate, his Chinnan- it was a mistake, but the crime had been committed at his own hands. His heart felt so heavy that he literally felt as if he were sinking into the river.
At the opposite bank, there stood another huge crowd awaiting the arrival of the murderer. Kannan shut his mind to the outer world as he got off the boat, he could not hear anything anymore, just see moving lips on faces; they were all saying something bad to him perhaps cursing him but he was not capable of any more feelings, the point of saturation at least for now had been reached.