Sara was standing in front of a broken door of an old building. They were in a dirty lane with garbage kinds of stuff lurking around. She came here to meet the Das family. Arup also came with her. He didn’t want to let Sara come alone, even though she denied for his company. Sara had to bring this stubborn person with her.
“Whack! What a dirty smell is coming from around.” Arup grabbed his nose.
“I told you, Mr. Roy, you’ll have to suffer a lot,” Sara said sarcastically while knocking the door.
“I don’t care. I just came here because the machines were sent to repair. Otherwise, why I’d need to come to such a filthy place. Besides, you know... I can also protect you if you want.” Arup smiled.
“Aha! I see, I even got an unnecessary protector of mine all of a sudden. Well, I’m feeling very... awkwardly happy. Thank you, Arup.” Sara said in a mocking voice.
“Huh! What a style of compliment! No welcome for that...” Arup couldn’t complete his sentence because the door from the opposite was about to open.
An old lady came out from the other side. She became surprised to see two well-dressed people. She seemed scared a bit. Sara came ahead first.
“Namaste! I’m Saravi Hussain, and this is my partner Arup Roy.”
“Namaste Ma’am.” Arup greeted the old woman.
The old lady greeted Namaste in her body language. Then Sara said,
“We’ve come from an organization which is investigating Melina’s murder case. If you may, can we...”
The old woman stepped aside from the door immediately and let them enter. Arup and Sara came into a broken drawing room. The whole room seemed like it was repaired and damaged for thousands of times. Two small sets of chairs had its legs tied together with a dirty cloth. Probably a try to keep the chair in one piece somehow. The only window of the room is so small and narrow that even if sunlight could enter through it somehow, air entry is completely forbidden here.
House utensils were hanging on the walls, and in one corner of the room, a middle-aged man was lying down on the floor. He was covered with a dirty gray blanket and was shivering continuously. The whole room was a part of hell. The old woman gave Arup and Sara two chairs to sit. Then she ran away to another room. Arup slowly took his seat on the chair, fearing if it could break down. Sara remained standing. Arup tried to talk with the man.
“Hello, Mister! I’m Arup Roy. We came here for Melina’s murder case,” He said in a calm voice.
“Po-Police?” The shivering man said.
“No. But we work like that,” Sara replied.
“I... I’m Melina’s father. Melina... Melina... that night... she went out for me... My medicines... She never came back... She died... That Beast killed her.” The man coughed hard, though continued his talk.
“Beast... That dirty beast... Who kills people... That murdered my daughter... My Melina.” The man tried to catch a breath during his cough.
A woman entered the room at that time. She came with a medicine syrup in her hand. She sat beside the man, took his head on her lap and gave him the medication. Probably, she was his wife and Melina’s mother. After she had given him the syrup, the man seemed to calm down a little. Then the woman told Arup and Sara to come out of that room. Sara didn’t see that old lady anywhere. The woman said to them,
“I know who you are. Did you come here for my daughter? Again came to insult us and rub salt in our wound?” The woman raised her voice, but then looked at the drawing room and said in a lower voice.
“Our daughter was innocent, and now she’s dead. Why are you here? We don’t need anyone to touch the matter. Stop playing with my dead girl. You police like peoples are so cruel. You always want to make bad jokes about my little daughter. What did we do to deserve this, huh?” She rushed into anger.
“Whoa! Lady, calm down. Why are you uttering so nonsense...” Arup stopped in the mid-sentence seeing Sara’s alert eye expression.
Sara looked at Melna’s mother.
“Well, we are not here to hurt you, Mrs. Das. Just need some questions to be answered. It’d be helpful for her murder case. I hope you’ll help us,” Sara said softly.
Mrs. Das nodded.
“Well, if you are not here to choke on my Melina and care for her death, then ask me whatever you want. I’ll try my best to answer.” The woman was getting emotional. She was visibly trying hard to control her.
“Well then, tell me everything about Melina and what was her reason for going alone at the Gulshan Lake Park?”
“Melina was my only one daughter. When her five brothers died because of Cholera at her early age, she survived the disease and was granted life by the grace of Sri Krishna. Melina was cheerful and lovely to all. She was a very bright student in her primary school, but her father didn’t let her study more and said that she would never need to study. The study is not for the poor like us. When she was an only ten years old girl, we sent her in the garment industry to work. She worked hard for us, a bone-breaking effort to maintain our food needs. She dreamt of being a successful person in her life and save us from this hard situation.” She wiped her tears with her sari.
“A few days ago, she started to see strange things.”
“Strange thing means?” Sara asked.
“She said that she was seeing a madman following her on the road. He used to say that she’ll lose everything. Nothing would be left. He also talked about someone who would take away everything from her. She’d never be able to dream again let alone sleep in peace. He was coming to get her. Melina saw him for three days. After that, he stopped appearing in front of Melina. I was happy for her. I thought that was just a vision of her. Nothing would ever happen to her. Nothing was meant to happen. But who knew that his words would come so true like that. That beast would take everything away from her and me. Oh Lord Krishna, let him burn in his worst pain in hell and give him the hardest punishment for his deed.” Poor woman started to sob.
Sara couldn’t resist the feeling of pain the woman was feeling. She was hearing the pathetic sound of howling coming from her inside with her sobbing from the outside. Her tears of both inside and outside blended, and they formed into a sad music to Sara. Maybe this is how deep and strong a mother’s emotion can be. Sara let her cry for some moment and then said,
“Well, Mrs. Das, I understand your sufferings. But you’ll have to help me to get the real murderer, and you have to be strong enough for that. So, now tell me what exactly happened that night?”
Mrs. Das controlled herself and continued,
“Her father has asthma. That night, he had a severe asthma attack, and his medicine wasn’t in the house at that moment. We even tried to call the doctor, but he refused to come in the late night. So, we had to send Melina for the medicines. I never wanted to send her that way. I told her to bring from the nearest shop. But the medicine she needed wasn’t available there, and her father’s condition was getting worse. So, I had to send her to that hell, to that Beast.”
“But there were other roads for the medical shops, then?” Arup asked.
“That road was a shortcut to the medicine shop. It was Melina’s grandmother’s thought to send her there.”
By Melina’s grandmother, she probably meant that old lady who welcomed Sara and Arup.
“If I ever knew I would lose my Melina, I would have never let her go there.” She again started to shed tears.
“You let her go all alone?” Sara asked.
Mrs. Das wiped her tears.
“No. For her safety, I sent my neighbor’s relative with her. His name is Niraj, Niraj Kumar. He was with her all the time.”
“Neighbor’s relative? Where is he now?” Arup asked.
“I don’t know anything about him. He didn’t come back with Melina. We don’t even know if that beast has had him or not.”
“Maybe he witnessed the murder and that... Beast has killed him for that?” Arup said.
“This can happen, although I can’t be sure if he killed a male because till now there’s no male murder case happened around that area,” Sara said absently.
“Who knows, maybe he has lost his life while saving the girl,” Arup said.
Sara went back to Mrs. Das.
“Mrs. Das, can I go to Melina’s room? I have to make a searching.”
“Okay, you can go and search whatever you want. It’s back there, the last room on the left,” Melina’s mother showed her the direction and stepped aside to let her go. Sara went to search Melina’s room, leaving Arup alone with the lady.
Sara turned back and looked at the room very carefully. She walked around and watched every single corner and things of the room to find the place where the smell was more intensive than other places. The smell now wasn’t a disturbance for her anymore, but a useful element to find something and solve the case. Though, she couldn’t ignore the matter of odor, no matter what. She went cupboard again and here the smell was increasing more just like the first time when she searched here. She decided to move the thing. As it was already half broken, it wouldn’t be a hard job to move it aside.
Other than that without a small cane chair in another corner, the tiny room had nothing more. Sara entered the room, and a foul smell hit her nose immediately. She grabbed her nose to get rid of that foul and bothering smell. First, Sara went to the cupboard and carefully opened it. She thought it could be collapse anytime to the ground with its broken body. Just after opening the cupboard, a pile of dust came out and hit Sara’s face all of a sudden. She started to cough hard.
“What an ancient piece of wood! God knows how many days it was close like this,” She said with disgust while coughing.
After that, when everything was inside could be seen, Sara searched the old cupboard. Surprisingly, it was all covered with many clothes. There were both male and female clothes present in that cupboard. They might be using this as the primary source of keeping clothes for the whole family. Surely they were dirty and unused for like ages as the speck of dust was telling Sara. However, she scoured each cloth. The bothering smell was increasing more and more. It was more like putrid as if something was dead inside the room. Maybe a small animal or insect. Sara had to work hard with both hands, ignoring the nasty rotten flesh smell which was a terrible thing to tolerate.
After searching the whole cupboard, she found nothing interesting or helpful for the case. She was even thinking of finding one or two rotten insects or cockroach but no use. Leaving the cupboard, Sara went to the pillow and blanket and searched them and the area. Still, nothing came in hand. Then she went to the picture and stood in front of it. She thought this photo frame could be something useful to keep things inside. She looked out the room if someone was watching or coming to her. When she was satisfied, she went to that photo frame and took it from the wall. She also noticed if anything drops from the wall or not.
People sometimes use a photo frame to hide things, and some Hindu people find the place behind God’s picture much safer than other locations. As it’s a matter of religion thing, people don’t want to believe that something could be hidden behind their devoted God’s photo. However, nothing dropped from the frame, nor she found anything from there after the checking. Searching the room was a big failure. Sara felt much disappointed at the result. She placed the photo back into its place and was about to leave. The smell was now taking tests of her patience in a very cruel way. When she was about to cross the room, a thought came into her mind.
“What if the smell could give my answer? I searched the whole room very well but couldn’t find a single rotten or dead insect or animal. Even there is no hole or anything that could be suspicious of a dead being. But there is something in the room that is well hidden. So, it means the smell can do the work I guess. Well, why not give it a try?” She thought.
Sara turned back and looked at the room very carefully. She walked around and watched every single corner and things of the room to find the place where the smell was more intensive than other places. The smell now wasn’t a disturbance for her anymore, but a useful element to find something and solve the case. Though, she couldn’t ignore the matter of odor, no matter what. She went cupboard again and here the smell was increasing more just like the first time when she searched here. She decided to move the thing. It was already half broken, it wouldn’t be a hard job to move it aside.
Sara went near the cupboard and started to push it from the left side. It was way lighter than expected. Within two minutes Sara was able to move it aside, and the foul smell of putrid gave a sharp blow to her nose. She ignored that like before and continued to find out what was behind the large cupboard. Then, she found an interesting thing. A small hole. Something she was searching for hours. She went near the hole and looked inside of it. She saw a dead mouse lying in the mouth of the hole. It was rotten for months as the smell’s intensity was telling it.
Sara quickly grabbed her nose with one hand and with the other hand, she grabbed the tail of mouse flesh. She brought out the dead mouse out of the hole and threw it away. Sara again looked at the hole and found something white there in the hole. She brought it out with fingers. It was a twisted and folded small paper. She unfolded it. It turned out to be a photo of a young man smiling. He should be around 20 years old. On the other side of the picture, there was a handwriting. It seemed the writer must have an awful writing style, like when a kid learns to write for the first time in his life. However, the handwriting was readable, and what was written there was a name. It was called ‘Niraj.’
“Okay, okay. So, this is the case.” Sara said sarcastically.
Niraj and Melina had a possible love relationship with each other. The handwriting might be Melina’s, and she hid it in that mouse hole somehow. The mouse was dead, and luckily it died in its hole, so Melina’s secret remained hidden to everyone. But it was a matter of wonder why no one in the family didn’t care to find out about the smell. Sara didn’t think more. She took the photo and quickly came out of that smelly area. She saw that old lady, Melina’s grandmother, went out from inside and grabbed the sorrowing mother. Arup was standing in one corner, helpless and waiting for Sara. Melina’s grandmother was trying to calm the crying mother down. The whole environment of the room got heavier for both of the sufferers and the outsiders. Sara silently left the house with Arup without disturbing the suffered beings.
Both of them were walking in the filthy lane, but at least it was fresher than the room Sara was a few minutes ago.
“Sara?” Arup called her. But she didn’t respond. She was thinking something deeply.
.“Hey girl!” Arup grabbed her shoulder.
“Huh?” Sara looked at him.
“Lost somewhere I guess?” He tried to make the mood light.
“That person who went with Melina that night, Niraj, I’m quite sure he has witnessed something that day.”
“Yep. But he might be dead now. He was the only light on the case. We are lost, Sara.”
“But we don’t have his body. So, I guess he can be alive somehow. Though, that’s not even guaranteed.”
“What do you think the beast that can kill females with such brutality and has very refinedly hidden every evidence, will leave a witness alive just like that! Come on Sara, that’s just a daydream for us. Let’s consider him dead. Now we’ve come to another dead end.”
“Not yet, another one is still left for the interrogation. Let’s go.”
“Wait, Sara. Tell me what were you doing inside Sara?”
Sara turned back, surprised.
“Searching the room. I thought you knew.”
“For that long? I was getting nuts here.”
Sara smiled at him.
“Elders say, you should always listen to the right kind of advice.”
“Oh yes, I’ll never come to such place again, especially, when the people in the house are mourning like that. I mean, it’s not like I don’t feel the pain they are suffering from. But still, it suffocated me much to want to get the hell out of there, you know. Well, anyways, did you find anything? I think we should go to Niraj’s home for more information.”
“Later, Arup. Right now I need to recharge myself with some food.” Sara smiled.
“But that thing is also important.”
“We still have some time to dive deeper into this mystery case. So, no need to rush into it. Besides, it’s almost 2:00 PM. Aren’t you hungry enough, Arup?”
“But what about the case?”
“Well then, let’s call our next client Daniel Roger to the restaurant party then. We’ll have our lunch and talk both in there. I hope you’ll have no problem then, Arup.”
“Okay then, as you say, my friend.” Arup smiled back at her.
Both walked at a fast pace and got out of the lane. A car was waiting near the road to pick them up at the office.