Chapter 2: The Following

"So where were you last night Miss Rupali?" the police officer may be asking her. Rupali is the last one he called for questioning. We were just formality, it is her, he is really interested in. He asked us to sit on another side of the hall. We can clearly see the smirk on the officer's face but Rupali's was barely visible. We have many questions ourselves, to ask her. Why she called him? that too just before he was attacked? Does she know him personally? If yes, is there any conflict between them? Why she didn't tell us? The police officer may be asking her the same questions. We don't want to doubt her but the teeny tiny practical side of our brain is blasting all sorts of possibilities.

S: I hope she is not afraid. Officer is taking too long
M: Why would she?
"Yeah, why would she?" I muttered. We exchanged a worried look. "Shipra, she was with you last night, right?"
S: Yes yes, we were strolling through the garden and ...
S: And Pratham video called, I walked on the rear end of the garden.
A: And she was with you, right? Tell us that she was.
S: Actually no. I have no idea where she was.
"Whatttttttt???????" we shouted in unison.
M: Guys it's Rupali. Can we actually doubt her?
A: Obviously we don't want to. We really don't. But...
M: No if no but. We are not doing this. That's it.
S: Should we ask her?
"I guess this is the only choice we have."
Our doubt was not baseless. The rooms in our row open in the common garden. No one knows where exactly she was at that time. And she is acting really weird since last night, on top of that 'the call'. Why did she call him last night? And why none of us know about it?

It's been an hour now. They are still investigating her. The police officer called the hotel manager Mr. Vikram Serdesai and whispered something. He then conveyed his message to us. Police need some more time with her, so the officer wants us to wait in our room. It was more of an order than a request, so we followed. We don't want any trouble for our friend.

Restless and scared, we keep pacing the room. Another hour has passed, when we hear 2 feminine voices outside our room.
A: I think she is here.
The door opens and yes it is her. Along with her is Martha. One of our favorite staff member. In the last few days, she has been a delight for us. She gets us coffee the way we want. Insist cleaning staff to knock our room after 12 PM. She tells us about her family and how they are planning to celebrate Christmas.

Rupali is still talking to her on the gate while we sit inside and wait to start another round of questions and answers. She comes in, pulls out 2 500 rupee notes from her purse and offered to Martha. We notice and a warm feeling spreads through our hearts.
"I can't do this. We should not do this."
A: Yes, we were foolish to doubt her, she can never do such a thing.
S: You are right, we know her better than anyone, we should be the last people of this earth to do this.
"Let's not ask her anything, if there is something we should know, she will tell us."
"What are you discussing without me?" Mota inquired as she walked out of the washroom.
A: We decided not to ask her anything about last night, we should trust our friend.
M: Daaah, I always have, it was you, practical morons.
S: Haan Mota tumhe sab pata rehta hai na?
M: Sab kuch!
Finally smiles return on our faces.

R: Areyyy, mujhe bhi batao? Mota would have done something, I know.
We all hugged her immediately."You okay?"
R: Haaaan, why would I not?
A: We were just worried, that officer was taking too much time with you.
R: Don't worry, he is only trying to get some limelight. He will now have more data for the media.
M: Ohoo heroine, anyways, leave all this, Martha seems happy when she left?
R: Haan. I gave her 1000 rupees as a Christmas gift for her kids.
S: We saw that, and we are proud of you.

"Guys!" Aashi said anxiously. "Martha works in morning shift right?"
S: Yeah, but why?
A: Are you sure?
S: Yes, she is the one bringing our favorite coffee in the morning and she personally told me that she starts her shift at 7.
A: Then what she was doing here last night? Didn't we saw her in the hall, where everyone presents in the hotel was gathered?
R: Fuck!

We took some time and cleared some of our doubts by asking the receptionist, a couple of google searches and a few interesting facts came out.
S(on intercom): Please ask Martha to bring 6 cups of latte in room 104.

Martha enters our room after exact 15 minutes. "Madam, anyone coming? You asked for 6 cups."
S: It is for you Martha, please sit.
Martha: Madam, thank you so much. You all are my favorite guests. People give me money all the time, but I only received love and respect from you 5. May God fulfill all your wishes.

R: Martha, what were you doing here at the hotel last night?
Martha: I don't understand madam.
R: You work in morning shift here, then why were you here last night?
A: Martha, we know about your husband, Stephen, right?
Martha: Ma..Mada..Ma...
M: Please tell us, Martha, if the death of Stephen has something to do with yesterday?
Martha busts into tears. "Madam, Stephen was a good husband, no one in my basti is like him. He never pushed me to work but always asked me to stay with kids and take care of their studies."
"Martha, we know how he died."
"Madam, Mr. Rastogi started the shooting for his new film in February. Stephen got the job there. He was very hard working madam, and one day someone called me and said, he is no more." She is now crying like a baby who has lost her favorite toy.
"Madam, people say some part of the movie set fell directly on him, and he died immediately. My poor Stephen. Mr. Rastogi had promised to help our family financially. I never begged for money madam, but in April when I needed money for admissions in school, he strictly refused any help."

She is sobbing heavily. We can all feel her pain. Still, we need to ask one important question.
"Martha, did you try to kill Rastogi last night?" I asked her hesitantly.
She raised her teary eyes and looked at us in surprise. "No madam, I would never do such a thing. My kids have already lost their father, what would they do without me?"
S: Then Martha, what were you doing here last night?"

"Enough!" The police officer shouted standing at our gate. "Arrest Martha."
S: What? She didn't do anything? How can you arrest her?
PO: And who are you to decide? You have given us enough to arrest her as a suspect. The whole department is thankful. Now move, we will interrogate further at the police station.
Martha: No I didn't do anything, I didn't do anything. Please madam, save me, save me, madam. I didn't do anything.
We run to find Mr. Vikram but couldn't find him, we tried to request but the officer was adamant. We watched them drag her out of our sight, we want to stop them but are helpless.
"Guys, we may have done something really wrong?"

For 3rd and last chapter: The Confession


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