The Masked Criminal
"This is our second session," said Dr Sen, looking at his file. "You had not been entirely co-operative during the last session. I can't help you much if I can't reach the depths of your mind. So today I would like to hypnotise you; with your permission of course."
She blankly stared at him. There were dark circles under her eyes and a lost look in them.
"Do whatever you think is best for the treatment," she replied with a sigh.
Both their mobile phones were switched off and Dr Sen ordered his secretary not to allow anyone into his chamber for the next forty five minutes.
He changed the light of the room and drew the heavy curtains. Apart from a soft focus on her face, the room was veiled in semi-darkness. He asked her to relax on a sofa and sat opposite to her, directly looking into her eyes.
"Are you ready?"
"Good. Now relax every muscle of your body and take deep breaths."
He dangled the golden chain of a small pocket watch in front of her eyes, talking to her simultaneously. His soothing voice had an instant calming effect on her.
"Look at this watch and concentrate. You're letting yourself slip deeper and deeper into a calm, peaceful trance... You can feel a heavy relaxed feeling coming over you.... It will grow stronger and stronger, until it carries you into a deep, peaceful state of mind.... You can feel your eyelids getting heavy.... Let them drift and fall... Every word I say is putting you faster and deeper into a calm and peaceful state of relaxation... Sinking down and shutting down the exterior you completely...The deeper you go, the deeper you're able to go...The deeper you want to go...the more enjoyable the experience becomes...You are at the top of a long staircase in a cool, quiet room... As you step down, you feel yourself sinking deeper into relaxation...each step takes you down into the depths of your subconscious...There are ten steps and I will guide you down each one. Take the first step down and let yourself sink into deeper relaxation.... Now you take the second step and feel yourself getting calmer and more tranquil...You have reached your third step...Your body feels as if it is blissfully floating away..."
His soothing voice continued till she reached the stage of somnambulism. Dr Sen extended the induction to ten minutes and reached the first session of hypnosis. Then he began the second session of hypnotherapy by asking questions.
"Can you hear me?"
There was a dreamy, faraway note in her voice.
"Who is it you want to kill?"
"What's her name?"
"Why do you want to murder her?"
"I hate her."
"Why do you hate her?"
"She proved me a liar."
"Did she harm you in any other way?"
She seemed to hesitate. Then she said, "No."
"You said she wants to blackmail you."
"I was wrong."
"Then who wants to blackmail you?"
"One of my closest friends."
"What's her name?"
"Why should she blackmail you? What sort of a friend is she then?"
"She's frustrated and lonely."
"Her husband left her and she needs money."
"So, what would you want to do with her?"
"Help her as a friend should do."
"That means you'll forgive her and continue to be friends with her?"
"Fine. But why do you want to kill an innocent person?"
"I will not kill her."
"Good. You must not kill anyone. Its criminal. You will land up in jail."
"He will kill them."
"Yes. All of them."
The doctor felt a shockwave pass through him. But having faced worse situations he controlled himself.
"They may know his secrets."
"How does he plan to murder them?"
"I don't know. He never told me."
"Then find out immediately!"
"Yes, I will find out."
"Then come back and report to me. Do you understand?"
"That will be all for today. You will not forget the last part of our conversation but the rest will be erased from your memory. You will not mention my name to anyone. You will derive the information I asked for completely on your own. I will see you after two days."
Dr Sen looked at the sleeping woman and his mind was filled with horror and disgust. He had no doubt in his mind this woman was a dangerous lunatic who needed prolonged treatment in a mental hospital. Under normal circumstances he would have advised her family to get her admitted to a good mental asylum. But emergency forbade him from doing so. He felt sure that the man was also a nut. These psychopathic killers must be stopped before they made a massacre.
He asked his compounder to send no more patients after she left. He needed time to think. He would never forgive himself if some disaster occurred because of this deranged woman.
Rima was having a great time. Goa was her favourite sea side destination and spending a holiday there with her family gave her immense pleasure. But in spite of everything, a nagging feeling of fear trailed her. Not for a moment could she abandon the thought that soon they would be returning into the clutches of danger.
They stayed in a beautiful resort at Calangute Beach in North Goa, popularly known as the Queen of Beaches. The blue swimming pool facing the beach was in accordance with the blue-green waters of the Arabian Sea.
"What's the use of the small pool Ma, when there's the huge ocean in front?" asked Rima's teenage son Ronnie.
"Maybe you are right," replied Rima, "but the sea is too vast. I feel safer swimming in the pool."
"But I love to play with the waves," replied Ronnie.
"Then let's go out and wash our feet in the waves, Ronnie," laughed Aniket.
They leisurely walked on the golden beach, collecting pebbles on their way. The beach shacks were already crowded with tourists and local people.
"This is something I love about Goa," said Aniket. "In other places people wish 'Good Morning' with a cup of tea or coffee; but the Goanese do it with a mug of beer! The number of beach shacks far exceeds the number of tea stalls here."
"You're not a Goanese dear,' laughed Sohom. "So don't you dare start your morning with a beer. We'll find a tea stall all right."
Sohom's daughter Monika and Rima's daughter Aishi walked a bit away from the others, engrossed in their personal conversation. Ronnie walked towards them.
"Hallo Frauleins! We exist!" he teased them. "It won't harm if you talk to us sometimes."
"Don't bother us," replied Aishi. "Go play with your waves!"
"Of course I will," said Ronny. "And you will join me too."
Monika put out her tongue and said, "High hopes, Bro! We'll never do that and get a tan."
"Ha! You'll miss all the fun."
They found a good tea stall at Baga Beach. The beach was mostly thronged by foreigners. Bikini clad women sunbathed on deck chairs. Masseurs walked about offering massages. Tourists flocked round tattoo artists haggling about the charges of the tattoos they wanted to make. Vendors sold beer and soft drinks along with different eatables. The beach was already littered with empty beer cans and plastic wrappers.
Rima and the others had tea and breakfast in Baga's popular beach shack Brittos. Aniket would have preferred to have a beer, but a stern look from Sohom made him settle for a cup of tea instead. He finished his tea with a sour face and hungrily looked at those happily sipping beer.
Pretty beachwear and colourful garments were sold at surprisingly reasonable rates in the beach stalls. Aishi and Monika bought beachwear and Kavita bought a salwar kameez. Rima was not fond of salwar kameez; hence she and the male members settled for bermudas.
They walked back to their resort and got ready for their conducted tour. They had plans to cover the northern beaches within the next two days. The excellent roads of Goa made it possible for them to visit most of the beaches like Anjuna, Candolim, Vagator, Morjim, Ashvem, Mandrem, Sinquerim, Aguada, Dona Paula, Querim, Chapora and Bambolim within a short span of just two days. All these beaches were famous for their exquisite beauty and attracted tourists round the globe.
The evenings were spent in enjoying the serene night life of the Goan beaches. Most of the pubs offered live music. It was a rare treat listening to the tune of Careless Whispers' while staring aimlessly at the endless ocean and sipping beer. (Aishi and Monika were highly infatuated with the handsome youth who sang it)
Their next stay was in a resort at Colva Beach in South Goa. Like the Bengalis, the Goanese were fond of fish and rice. It was also their staple diet. Rima's family being fish-loving Bengalis tried out new fish preparations every day. One such preparation was the Goan curry of the King Fish. It was extremely delicious.
The southern beaches were no less beautiful. Mobor, Palolem,
Majorda, Varca, Cavelossim, Agonda, Benaulim....Each of these beaches were exquisite in their own ways.
They spent the last two days at Panjim (or Panaji), the capital of Goa. The Miramar Beach of Panjim was extremely crowded and Rima felt that this beach was nothing compared to the other beaches they had seen earlier. They spent the day shopping and sightseeing. In the evening they reached the banks of the river Mandavi to have a river cruise. They made their tickets and boarded the vessel.
There was a permanent stage on the upper deck for music and dance programmes. The discotheque was in the lower deck. Most of the younger crowd gathered in the discotheque and the rest took their seats to watch the music and dance programme. Ronnie, Aishi and Monika spent the first hour dancing in the discotheque and then joined their elders on the upper deck to enjoy the musical show.
Their return flight to Mumbai got delayed by an hour due to bad weather conditions. The sky looked gloomy as they stepped out of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal.
The same evening, Rima and Aniket availed the flight to Kolkata. Aishi and Ronnie happily stayed back with Sohom's family in Mumbai.