A shred of cloth, a tuft of hair, a bottle, a cigarette packet cover and a strange shaped stone! That is where I left the tale of my adventure with my friends. In case you are starting with this one, I suggest you go back and read this first.
We had the clues – now it was time to join the dots and come up with the picture. I was the most imaginative of the lot. So it was up to me to come up with the hypothesis. So this was how I interpreted. The bottle indicated a drunken man. The tuft of hair seemed to have something brown on it – could be dried up blood. Torn piece from Sari – a woman was involved. So if I put these three together my hypothesis was a man had murdered his wife in an inebriated state by striking her head with a sharp object and then buried her in the grounds of his house and made his getaway. This also tallied with the rumor of the house being the favorite haunt of a female ghost. Why would she haunt the house unless she was murdered there? It was up to us to bring her murderer to justice.
Now again we were short of two things – suspects and murder weapons. Ideally we could again get into the house and look around for the murder weapon but somehow we did not feel too keen to enter that house again after our last experience. So we decided to shift our investigation to a more accessible location – the local park. We had seen lot of suspicious characters lurking there. Maybe it was one of them. But how do we identify the murderer? Of course, the packet of cigarettes! The criminal was the one who smoked that brand of cigarettes. One clue was still left unaccounted for – the stone. It was kind of star shaped. I had a theory that it was part of meteorite or from a distant star. But no way could we fit that with our case. So Deepak decided to make it our team’s logo and as the boss retain its possession.
Somehow our search for the murder weapon seemed too fortuitous. It was out there staring us right in our eyes. There was a screw driver driven into a tree and flies were buzzing around. What else do flies buzz around but blood, eh? So there it was: the murder weapon. However we could not retrieve it as it was too high for us and it was not one of those climbable trees. But the police could always retrieve it later. This had however given us another clue about the suspect: he was a tall man. So we had to watch out for tall men who smoked.
But let me tell you from experience: it is not a great idea to go stalking tall men who smoke. One day as I was intently observing a suspect, I suddenly found pain surge through my shoulder as my right arm was forced close to my back.
“What are you hooligans up to? Last few days I have noticed you people following me suspiciously. Now you are after that other gentleman. Trying for some easy money, eh?“
My hand hurt as he twisted my hand hard. I was trying hard not to cry. It did not suit my tough image to be seen crying in public, eh? Deepak would disown me as a sissy.
“I will take you to the police station. A few months in juvenile prison will set you right.”
Now this was getting serious. I did not want to go to jail. I was really scared. I prayed to God that I would give up the investigation if I got out of this safely. I closed my eyes and started fervently chanting the name of God as I was being dragged away.
God seemed to have suddenly answered my prayers for I felt the grip on my hand loosening.
“Run!” said a familiar voice. I needed no further persuasion. With a strong tug I freed my hand and ran like hell without looking right or left.
“I won’t leave you boys. Next time I catch you, you will regret it.” The man was shouting furiously. I did not stop to hear. I just ran out of the park across the street into Deepak’s house.
Phew! What an escape. It was hardly a minute before my friends were there too. For it was they who had rescued me my throwing stones at that man. We hoped he had not seen us getting into Deepak’s house. We decided to remain underground for the next few days. We avoided the park. We did not even come out into the streets except to go to school. We suddenly discovered a passion for indoor games and books. As far as detective work was concerned, it was meant for television and story books. In real life, it was better for one’s health to stay away from such stuff.
But I was really overwhelmed by my friends’ gesture of putting their neck out to rescue me. Our friendship was cemented. I felt a kind of close bond even with Ragi from that day. A few years later, when I read this line in Harry Potter, “There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them”, I knew exactly what J K Rowling meant.
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