THE CLEAN-LIVING DEAD

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SAARTHAK KIRAN

"Neha! You haven't even come home from some days literally! Where have you been?" asked her mother and she entered the house nervously. It was a bright morning and Neha had come home from Umed's house now. She was running late to meet Aneeldeep and Amoli at the park. They had decided to leave for Saarthak's house that morning.
"Um....I was with friends. Just---" she was rudely interrupted.
"Stop! Are these the family values we taught you? Not telling and going somewhere, that too for the night? Who was that friend you stayed with? Was she more important than informing family? You changed! No job, no will to earn a job, and not even a family value. You are turning like a...burden to us!" she said as she started the silent war. Whenever she would scold a family member, she would act like she heard nobody when they spoke to her. Neha took a bath and rushed to the park.

"Sorry guys!" she said as she panted continuously.
"What did you do at Umed's house?" asked Amoli.
"Well,...nothing much" she said as she talked limitedly.
"Tell me! We aren't going anywhere until you spill the beans!" claimed Amoli.
"We had dinner and I came home. Nothing else." she replied.
"Really? Then that is boring. Did you come home at 12 noon?" she asked.
"Umm.....no...at 6 am. See, nothing bad! Just talking about our childhood!!" said Neha as she tried to stress.
"Wow! That is very odd. I know something must've happened!" said Amoli as she kept irritating Neha for the rest of the car journey to Saarthak's house.

"Knock!"
A slender and pale woman opened the door. She let them in and treated them to black coffee.
"Are you Saarthak's mother?" asked Neha. The woman nodded.
"Can you please call Saarthak?" asked Aneeldeep. The woman suddenly started sobbing.
"Saarthak Kiran is not alive. He died on 11th October. I'm his only family and I couldn't help. He was very ill!" she answered. All the detectives exchanged glances.
"What was the reason of his death?" asked Neha.
"He normally had a recent heart surgery and we had a celebration at our hometown. I hesitated to leave him at home alone, so I disagreed. He persuaded me to go. I refused. But, I went. When I came back, he was not at home. I called him and a woman lifted the call saying he was no more. I ran to the hospital very fast and I already had a shock. I had a seizure. I was admitted in hospital and my son was dead. I was informed. His dead body I couldn't see! I don't even know if he is alive or dead. Please help me! I just want to see his dead body atleast!" she sobbed. She was telling the truth by her tone and the detectives had more and more questions.
"Where is his phone?" asked Neha.
"I don't even know where" she replied.
"Do you know anyone called Aesha Deola?" asked Neha.
"No" she said.
"Do you atleast know the doctor who performed his surgery, or the hospital name?" asked Neha.
"Yes, I have the prescription. I don't know why he was out, having chest pain!" she said as she looked everywhere for the prescription. She finally found it with something else.
"Ohh! Here is his phone you were asking" she said as she gave them. They thought it was probably a forgetful place. But they got suspicious when she asked them if they wanted black coffee again.
"But you just gave us coffee!" said Neha.
"Ok, I forgot. Did you find my prescription too?" she asked.
"Why yours?" asked Aneeldeep.
"I have a brain tumor and I knew it only when I fell that day looking for Saarthak. The doctor told me I needed surgery, but I disagreed. I don't have the sufficient money and also, I'm not going to live longer when my son has passed away." she replied. Now things made sense. Maybe she could've forgotten Aesha too! They tested but no use. It was genuine that she didn't know her. They unlocked his phone which had no password, and they checked his call history. There was a significant unknown number repeatedly for ten times. And what they were shocked at was that it was Aesha's phone number! Also, the photos had Aesha's too! It looked like....he was her boyfriend!
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