“Dr. Agarwal, may I have a minute with you?” requested Dr. Prabhakar, the Dean of the college, pointing towards the officers who were accompanying him.
Swadha nodded in affirmation, signing to her friend who was assisting her for the day, Dr. Aditya, to take over the ritual of measuring the vitals of everyone in the ward. Prabhakar began to guide the group into the nearest duty doctors room to utilize some privacy for the conversation which was about to happen.
“Swadha, meet ACP Vikrant Arora. He has taken over the case of your missing friends. Vikrant, she is Dr. Swadha Agarwal, who happens to be a good friend of the missing students. You can ask her any questions that you have about the students,” said Prabhakar, signing to Swadha to help the officers in any way she can.
Swadha, stopped Prabhakar from leaving, and requested, “Sir, just a request, you can message me or call me anytime but if you are visiting me in the wards or OPD, can you come as a commoner instead of an officer?”
“Why? Are you scared that it’ll taint your reputation or something? Helping out police is a noble thing,” replied Vikrant, with a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“It isn’t about me. The patients would be perturbed to see the officers in uniform. They would lose the sense of security they feel with the doctors if they see us being questioned or if they realize that even doctors aren’t safe, because we haven’t let the news about Vartika and Bhavani leak out.Hence, the request,” answered Swadha, wondering if the ego of the ACP was so fragile or the temper was short that he got annoyed at such a minor thing.
“Well, she has a point, Vikrant. I request you to either keep the investigations out of hospital or dress up as a commoner,” added Dr. Prabhakar, glad that his student had pointed out the blunder they were committing.
“Okay, Sir. We will respect the rules laid down by you,” replied Vikrant, rolling his eyes internally for the inconvenience that would be caused by the rule but since he was exempt from the rule of wearing the uniform for leading a task force instead of a police station, he realized that it would not really affect him much and it was the part of accepting commands from someone else that was affecting him.
“Thank you, Vikrant. Carry on with your investigation. Like I said, any help required, from anyone at the institution, we are always ready to help,” assured Prabhakar, shaking hands with Vikrant before staging his exit along with few of the officers who were to search around the campus.
Vikrant turned to the woman who was looking at him inquisitively. He had expected to see some kind of fear in her eyes or in her actions, especially when he had learnt that the missing person were her good friends. Yet, she was busy rendering her services to the patients and ready to answer questions from the police.
“Look, there isn’t anything to be scared. We assure you of your safety and everything you disclose will be confidential,” assured Vikrant, keen to dispel any fears she was not showing.
“I am not really scared for myself, Sir. Mostly, I am just worried for them and curious to know who is behind this. No hint of being kidnapped, no ransom calls, not even calls from them, it’s just like they just vanished,” answered Swadha, sighing in disappointment, reminiscing her memories with her friends.
“You can call me by my name. You are not my subordinate. Anyways, tell me something about the two of them. Any suspicious behavior? I know you wouldn’t want to speak ill of your friends, behind the back, but it is necessary at the moment to find them,” he questioned, her attitude towards the issue at hand was something he never witnessed before, leaving him in surprise.
“I know, it is necessary and I am ready to answer any question of yours. Vartika was obviously worried after Bhavani went missing, apart from that, I did not observe anything suspicious. Bhavani was the same. She is reclusive by nature ever since her father passed away, that’s why I was worried if she was fed up with her life when she went missing but thirteen days later, Vartika went missing and then we found the mysterious notes hinting towards two of them stuck near the morgue, dating one day prior to these events, that’s when we realized that they were connected,” answered Swadha, the events she was describing playing out in the canvas of her mind as she began to explain them.
“Any chance that Vartika and Bhavani could be involved with each other and devised this plan to escape the notice?” he asked, clearing his throat as he saw her raising her eyebrows in question fro being asked such an awkward question.
“No! Vartika had a boyfriend and Bhavani....she was into boys,” stated Swadha, gulping down the details, much to Vikrant’s annoyance.
Before he could respond to her, the door opened to reveal a very much worried Senior Inspector Abhimanyu Shukla.
“Jai Hind, Sir! Hey Swadha, how are you?” he greeted politely, surprising Vikrant with his acknowledgement of the doctor by her name. He handed over an envelope to Vikrant but the exchange somehow intrigued him more than the contents of the envelope.
“Hello Abhi! Not really good, you see. How are you?” she replied, with a smile playing on her lips, unlike the serious frown etched onto her face throughout her conversation with Vikrant, only irritating him further.
“You know each other?” he questioned, alternating between the two.
“Swadha, I mean, Dr. Agarwal was one of the forensic experts of our previous case, Sir, when she was posted in Forensic Medicine. That’s how I know her. We found another note near the morgue, Sir. There’s another kidnapping, I assume these were kidnappings, to take place in the next 24 hours,” pointed Abhimanyu, prompting Vikrant to tear down the envelope and look into the contents.
Loves to be loved,
The one who is shoved,
As sweet as honey,
As mad as looney
You love to play but I play to win...