Trenched in guilt, we decided to go out to refresh our minds. It is Christmas Eve and the whole town is ornated. Everyone is in a festive mood, people are dressed, and kids are laughing and running. We brought some sweets and gifts for Martha’s children, but couldn’t face them. Their aunt opened the gate and we handed over the gifts to her. Martha lives in a crude neighborhood. Only small houses, shops for bare minimum necessities, no park for kids, or even a decent medical store. We walked out of the place immediately and drove to the Palolem beach.
“What should we do now?” I asked breaking the silence of the roaring waves.
A: What can we do?
“It’s because of us, Martha is behind the bars, and does anyone of you believe, she can murder someone, after everything she told us?”
R: What do you suggest?
“Buckle up and let’s find the real culprit.”
M: Are you high or something? How can we find out who attacked Rastogi. Only he knows and right now he is in a coma.
“Exactly, and that is why we can not wait for him to come out of coma and tell everyone it was not her. It can be too late. Guys, we can do this, we just need to be extra careful. What do you say?”
A: I’m in. We need to try, whatever it takes.
S: Me too.
R: Fuck it, I’m in.
M: You really think you all can do this without me?
We burst into laughter, run to the sea and starts splashing water on Mota.
Because of the news, many canceled their reservations and we decided to extend our stay a little bit longer. After dinner, we locked our room and start the discussion.
“Let’s see how much we know about this case.”
R: I know Rastogi, he is a cheap druggist asshole and has a lot of enemies.
A: But not every enemy was present at the hotel. We can simply rule out who came back partying after 1:30.
“Good. What else we know.”
M: Receptionist told me that the camera's footage on the ground floor between 12 to 3 is malfunctioning.
S: It is not a planned murder.
S: Yes, think about it. He or she used a vase, instead of a real weapon. The culprit didn't come with a murder motive.
It is a very valid point. After a couple of more hours of discussion and internet searches, we may have got our man.
Next morning, we divided into 2 groups. Rupali and Shipra, went to chit chat with the receptionist and then arrived at police station with the hotel manager Mr. Vikram Serdesai, where we were already waiting for them.
We explained to the police officer that we have a new theory and we want to run it with him and Mr. Serdesai. It may help us catch the real convict. Though he really was not interested, somehow we convince him to hear us out.
“Shall we begin officer?”
“We know police has enough data to hold Martha as the prime suspect. She has the motive and was present at the crime scene. But we are forgetting that she is a single mother and she knows the consequences.”
S: She knows if she kills someone, her kids will be alone for life and no mother can imagine that. Trust me I’m a mother.
R: Moreover this is not a planned murder but an impulsive act, otherwise something more deadly would have used as a weapon.
M: But this isn’t too complicated. Actually very simple and clear if we look in the right direction.
A: It is someone who can come in and out of the hotel without any doubts. Someone who has access to recording room and distort the 3 hours of video recordings. Someone who is continuously up to date with the case proceedings and influential enough to alter its development.
“Mr. Vikram Serdesai, would you like to confess or shall we provide more data?”
“What? Have you gone crazy? How could you blame me? Rastogi is an old friend and I’m deeply hurt with what has happened to him and you girls who have no knowledge of law and order are blaming me?”
“Keep your voice low Mr. Serdesia. We know everything about your ideal friendship.”
A: He is such a good friend of yours’ then why you started arranging his stay at hotel, instead of your place?
M: We know this has changed only a few months back. Your receptionist has confirmed it. It started after Rimi’s accident. Am I right, or am I right?
“Don’t you dare to drag my daughter in this,” Vikram shouted and stand up in rage.
R: We will, cause she is the reason you did this. We found the news article about her accident. It says she was on drugs while driving. You don’t seem like a father who would let loose his child into drugs. You sent her to the best schools, kept her in good company, then who was responsible?
S: It was Rastogi, isn’t he? He was a frequent guest at your place. He himself is a huge drug addict, you still never refused his stay, cause you are a good friend. But a father will always defeat a friend.
“You are the hotel manager as well as his good friend, no one would have doubted you. We thought Martha was there off-time, but it was you as well. Since you called the police, no one thought you can do this.”
R: After calling police, he called Martha and asked her to come to hotel. I checked your call logs, Mr. Vikram when I asked for your phone, on the way to the station, remember to call my manager.
S: You knew someone will link her husband‘s death to this attack. She only kept her silence cause she was in your debt. It was you who gave her the job and helped her financially.
“Only thing we are not sure about, is why that day? What happened that you couldn’t resist your anger which was there from over a year. Confess Mr. Serdesai, your friend is not dead, he is just in coma, someday or other, he will come out. Or police will themselves find out. We just catalyzed the process.”
Vikram collapsed on his chair. He was speechless with thousand words trying to come out of his throat.
“Yes, it was me. Rastogi is a prick, a dreadful person and I’m extremely sorry that he is not dead.” He raised his head and looked at Rupali. “It was because of you.”
R: What? Me? How?
“That night when I came to see him, I was determined to confront him. I can no longer see his face and pretend everything is fine. He promised my daughter a lead role. He used to take her on the sets. He is the one introduced her with drugs. It was because of him, my baby couldn’t walk ever. Forget about sympathy, he didn’t even say sorry once. Why would he? It never occurred to him that it was his fault. I tolerated him for months, now I couldn’t anymore. I simply wanted to ask him to leave and never show his face ever again. But then I hear him talking to you Miss Rupali. You called him to apologize, for quiting his film in between. But he abused you, threatened your career. He said you are making a mistake by getting married and he will create a bad repo in media. He said you will be forgotten tomorrow but not him. He will always be there. No girl could refuse him. Am I right Miss Rupali? How can I let such person live?”
We all looked at her, she has tears in her eyes but brushed them away.
R: And then you hit him!
“Yes. He doesn’t deserve to live. He does not consider humans as human. He must die. I’m not sorry for what I did. Though I'll regret my whole life I didn't succeed.”
“That’s it, girls. I have to ask you to leave. And I thank you personally for all this.” Said the police officer and ordered to arrest Mr. Serdesai.
A: When Martha will be free?
PO: In few hours.
We thanked the officer and left for our hotel. Even after the win, everyone is quiet in the car.
R: What if he is right? What if I’ll be forgotten soon?
“Honestly it could happen. But it is up to you. Artists have voice to which people listen. Use it. Create a legacy that no one can forget. If you left a film in between, we understand there must be some reason and be respect that. If it is right, world will respect it too. Don't be too hard on yourself. We all know you and trust you and will always be there for you.”
R: Hmm. I guess you are right.
"And no matter what you will always be a celebrity for us, you know this right?"
She smiled in response.
M: O God, now tell me, how long are we going to stay this serious.
A: Mota moo tuma, chalaao na jyada.
M: Yeeah ye hui na baat.
S : Mota sab tuaaye hi karan hua hai?
M: arey ab humne kya kiya?
R: Mu kyun chalaya tumne?
M: matlab had hai, sab humpe daal do.
A: jei hai jei, isi ne kara sab, kambal kutaai hogi abhi Mota tumaai.
And everything returns back to normal. I always knew we are strong together, but had never imaged this much. Ooh, I completely forgot, I never introduced myself, this is Ayushi, the newest member of this group. Nothing special about me, I just have 4 crazzzzzy friends who I know will always be there for me.