“You’d never believe me if I told you that I saw Rohini Ghatge getting murdered, but it’s true and I can prove it. Just come over at 5 today.” Rohan told Mira, his on-again-off-again girlfriend who was presently off-again again.
After disconnecting the call, he ran a frantic hand in his hair. He couldn’t sleep since that eventful night. And he was going crazy with lack of sleep. On top of that, his editor was giving him a hard time for not finishing the article. He wasn’t even ready to consider the fact that Rohan had never missed a deadline before.
Even without meaning to, he kept on reliving the night over and over again.
It was quarter past two and Rohan was nowhere finished with the article. At this rate he wouldn’t be able to meet his deadline if the blaring music from above went on. The last time he had knocked at her door, she had promised to wrap up the party soon. An hour later, though the dancing had stopped, the sounds hadn’t abated much. Frustrated, he walked towards the door. He had played good neighbour long enough.
The door was slightly ajar. He didn’t press the bell; who would have listened to it in that pandemonium anyway. He stepped inside.
Where was everybody? The lights were on; empty bottles and glasses were strewn in all nooks and corner. A heavy stench of cigarette smoke filled his nostrils, but he could see nobody. Then he detected a movement in the balcony.
Through the see-through glass door, Rohan could see Rohini, his neighbour standing on the balcony. She looked at him; fear in her eyes. Before he could think or react, he saw a diamanté gloved hand on her throat pushing her. She lost her balance and the next moment toppled over the marble balustrade. Rohan heard a loud scream as she did a free fall. Suddenly he realized that he had not only witnessed a murder, but also, he could be seen by the killer any moment. Quietly he ran out of the apartment.
He closed his apartment door and put on the locks and latches. The killer had not seen him but he was still scared. As his breathing returned to normal, he heard a great commotion outside the balcony. He went to the balcony and saw a big crowd in the parking below. She was lying, on the top of a white car, lifeless.
The next day, newspapers carried the story of her death. “Lonely over-the-hill TV actress committed suicide’. They called it suicide, not murder. But Rohan knew otherwise.
Who killed her? He asked himself. There were some twenty-odd people in her penthouse when he had visited the apartment to complain of the loud noise. But later there was no one.
That afternoon Mira came right on time. She had a very irritating habit of being punctual. But, today, he was not complaining.
Rohan and Mira visited Rohini’s apartment for the condolence meet called for by her sister. Though he was hardly as they called it “in the inner circle” of the actress, they had exchanged pleasantries many a times while waiting for the elevator.
“But, you don’t know either the killer or the motive behind the murder?” Mira was doubtful.
“Finding motive is not my job, the Police can do that. But, I know the way of finding out the killer.” Rohan was confident.
Rohan had a purpose in going back to the apartment. He had a plan, he just needed to execute it. The same living room which the other night was the hub of one of the noisiest parties Rohan had ever seen was now painfully silent. There was a big crowd but Rohan and Mira stood silently in one corner. Rohan was closely observing the people in the room. He knew the killer was known to Rohini or else Rohini wouldn’t have invited to her party.
He went to the balcony. Squatting down, he picked up an imaginary something off the floor. He went on to make a great show of squinting his eye and looking at the object closely. If his plan went well, the killer would be out in the open in the next 5 minutes. He looked up and caught the eye of a woman. A tall and sturdy woman walked towards him.
“What have you found?” She asked him gruffly. Fear and menace evident in her eyes.
“The proof to nail down the killer,” He replied confidently.
Suddenly her expressions changed, like a wild boar she leapt at Rohan. Anticipating this, he ducked in time.
“She killed Rohini…I saw it,” Rohan announced.
That night Rohan slept like a baby.
I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018