THE CLEAN-LIVING DEAD

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THE START OF EVERYTHING

"What??" asked Neha as she leaned forward to read it. The note was a tiny notebook page which was taped under her bed. The writing was neat and slantly cursive. It was written:

I'm sorry, I have no option. My death should be noted as a suicide only. I feel pleased to die due to the burden of harrasment.

"This is, her handwriting!! What is this?? What is going on??" screamed Neha as she impatiently walked here and there.
"What does she mean by harrasment??" asked Aneeldeep.
"Take this note, her diary and come to the department. We have to check her call history" said Neha as she stormed out.
They all came downstairs.
"Have you investigated?" asked her mother.
"Um, had she talked about any of Aesha's problems?" asked Neha.
"She didn't, but her friend told me that she was a frequent donor" said her mother.
"Which donation?" asked Neha.
"Some small office which lends money to the Savita Orphanage. She was a regular donor and the amount was collected by a group of men. That's what her friend ever told" said her mother.
"Who's this friend? Do you have her number?" asked Neha.
"Well, I don't know. She is Manasvi. That's what I know. She came to our house last week and Aesha dropped her back. But Aesha never personally told me about anything. I don't know why she doesn't open up with us" said her mother.
"That's because you force her! Yo--" Amoli knew that if Neha started, she wouldn't end. So, she dragged her out of the house and into the car.
"What are you doing? It's a waste to scold them!" said Amoli harshly.
"Guys, connect the dots. When Neha asked about Aesha's problems, her mother popped with the donation matter. What is that they're hiding, and, yes! Savita Orphanage!" said Aneeldeep.
"Yes! We'll check Aesha's call history of last week. We'll possibly find a clue on who this friend is" said Neha.
"Are you jealous?" asked Amoli.
"Obviously!" said Neha as she drove to the PDIAC Department headquarters.

"Hey Aarti! Did you check the saliva sample?" asked Neha.
"Yes! I have the cross-section of it. You can match it with your suspect" said Aarti.
"Venu, please contact the telecom service to send the call history data of this number through the police. Inform me when it arrives" instructed Neha.
"Amoli, where is Savita's orphanage? Check the Google maps" ordered Neha as she unlocked her car.
"Um.....yes! It's at Bhadka Chaurasta opp. of Dulhan street. The visiting hours are from nine in the morning to nine at night. It takes approximately 2 hrs from here!" said Amoli as she scrolled for more information.
"Ok then, we'll go after the call history arrives" said Neha.
"I'll go home once and come. Call me when it arrives" said Amoli as she left.
"I have to leave for the supermarket, call me too" said Aneeldeep as he too left.
"Ok, I'll gather some more information" said Neha as she left out.
"Venu, call me when it arrives" she said as she left home.

"What's missing? Her diary was talking about her forced marriage and now, an orphanage? Why is it changing? Am I missing anything? This was a rape? What is going on?"
On the way home, Neha kept thinking about it. Her instincts couldn't wait.

She went on when she stopped by Umed's house. Suddenly, she remembered what she blurted in her anger that day.
"You bastard! Stop surrendering! You don't deserve to be alive!!"
The words were still ringing in her ears. She felt bad. Gathering some courage, she knocked on the door. Umed opened it.
"You?" he asked.
"Yes, I want to talk" she said. Umed opened the door and she entered.
"Nobody's home?" she asked.
"No" he said.
"I wanted to apologise about that day. My anger spoils me all the time. I'm so sorry, I didn't know what I was saying. It's just that I love Aesha. It's not like we're friends, were sisters. I couldn't accept the fact that she died. I don't accept it now too. Well, she didn't die! Someone did this. I'm not sure how I'll figure it out. I'm sorry, you should blame me!" she said as tears welled up in her eyes.
"You came to tell me this?" he asked.
"Yes, I felt bad and shameful for that day" she said.
"Ok" he said.
"So you don't forgive me?" she asked.
"I did" he replied.
"Ok then, I'm leaving" she said as she opened the door slowly and headed out. He clutched her hands tightly.
"Don't leave"
"I have to go"
"But I'm alone"
"Asked anyone to come"
"You come"
"No im--" she was interrupted by his pull. He pulled her inside and closed the door shut.
"What?" she asked. He wrapped his hands around her and hugged her tightly. She dropped her car keys.
"Thank you" he whispered.
"For what?" she asked. He gave no reply. The situation was startled by Neha's mobile buzzing rudely. She suddenly unwrapped herself and picked it up.

"It's my...um..... emergency! Bye!" she said as she rushed out.
"Are you a detective?" he asked. Neha stopped.
"Um....yes" she answered.
"Why did you lie to me that day?" he asked.
"I....just don't trust anyone blindly" she said.
"You know me from 8th grade" he said.
"You could have changed over time" she said. The environment turned harsh.
"So you don't trust me?" he asked.
"I didn't say that!" she said.
"What did you say then?" he asked.
"Look, I came to apologise, not to create another fight!" she said as she walked forward. By her hand, he hauled her back. She missed the step and fell forward on him.
"Ouch!!" she cried sharply.
"That's what you get for your fuss" he said as he smiled. They were nearly 1cm far from each other.
"You idiot!" she said as she quickly got up and smoothened her dress.
"Apologise!" he asked as she, without even looking back, ran into her car.


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