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Chapter 15 New Avenues

  • Just before the wrecked vehicle collapsed on the river bed on that ill-fated night - scraping out earth and turning the waters muddy, pairs of hands pulled Arunava and Shivangi away. When a river patrol boat found a woman's scarf and policeman's cap floating in the waters with a broken railing on the bridge, they immediately sent divers down. What god wills no frost can kill. Despite the harrowing experience, Arunava suffered only a few minor fractures and was released from the hospital in a week. Shivangi's life was saved by a miracle though she suffered multiple injuries and had to go through complex surgeries before she could recover. One of her legs was badly affected by the accident. Doctors had implanted steel plates in it and she'd have to use a stick for the rest of her life now. Her face was badly wounded, her eyes spared by a mere inch. Despite plastic surgery, much of her earlier looks couldn't be restored fully and the trauma of the accident left a black mark in her life. But whenever she thought of Arunava she found it difficult to fight her emotions .. accept the reality of her life. As a result she stopped meeting people, and chose to confine herself within the four walls of her house.
  • A few weeks later Arunava Sarkar paced up and down on the corridors of Saltlec P.S. once again . A few minutes earlier he had ordered some toasts, omelette and a cup of tea which were lying cold on his table now. He had a sudden IPS visit to attend that morning and didn't find time for breakfast. Since the day Shivangi survived the terrible accident at Dakshineshwar, her husband started staying at home and giving time to his wife . During the time she stayed at the hospital Upendra made it a point to visit her regularly. Later, he looked into the preparation of her daily meals, fed her with his own hands, gave her medicines on time, took her to doctor for regular check-ups and did all those things which she had so much dreamt of but never expected. Sometimes accidents reconciles a man and woman in ways which dull, mundane, married life fails to. He sighed. The girl probably liked him. How old was Shivangi? Twenty two? Twenty-five? Few bengali girls are willing to get married and settle-in nowadays at that age - not without having had a career for a while and making sure they had the perfect life partner. Unless like in the case of Shivangi.
  • In his life, Arunava hardly had time to contemplate love . At college he had few girlfriends, but they remained only good friends, till he had contact with them. His father was a lower division clerk in the municipality, and mother a homemaker. They were three brothers and two sisters and he was the oldest. Being born in a lower middle-class family where each day was a struggle for existence, getting a secured job after college was the only thing he could dream of day and night. He was the best in studies amongst his siblings and his father had aimed for an IAS or IPS. Arunava's father had showered all his savings on his eldest son's education and his happiness knew no bounds the day Arunava got selected in police. Being the eldest child had responsibilities too and Arunava had stood beside his father through thick and thin, including marrying his sisters off. Out of his two brothers, the older had landed a job in bank, while the youngest was still at college. Besides looking after his parents, he paid for his brother's education too.
  • Arunava Sarkar lit a cigarette and mused over Shivangi's case. He had currently five other important cases in hand. A bank robbery in Phoolbagan, a housewife's unnatural death in Joramandir, a child kidnapping in Ghoshpukur and two political murders one near bypass and other at Khal-par. His boss was on his ass twenty-four by seven and he could hardly get a wink of sleep the last few nights. Apart from saying 'Well done boy' with a smirk, he didn't say a single word of approbation since Arunava resumed duties again following his bare escape from the jaws of death . He knew he was getting in over his head and needed to loosen up to maintain his calm unlike other ASIs who lost their temper at the drop of a hat resulting in their suspensions. The bureaucracy in Kolkata Police hadn't changed much since years.
  • The pendrive they collected from the crime scene was the only lead he had now in Shivangi's case. It contained a list of names and addresses of people. The first name was Suparna Chatterjee, Shivangi's sister. The second was Anirban Dutta, an employee of Urban Skyscrapers - a reputed real estate developer company in the city. Investigation revealed that the man had suddenly disappeared one night from his office in Saltlec, where he was held up late for an important tender. His wife had lodged a missing person report at Kankurgachi police station. Two weeks had passed since then and no trace could be made of her husband so far. A security guard was found dead in the parking lot of the building with his head smashed with a blunt instrument. The name listed in the pendrive file was Ramesh Paswan, a forty-five plus man hailing from Muzaffarnagar, Bihar. Some car screens were reported to have been broken.
  • The fourth name was Biplab Sikdar - a garment dealer of Garia, accused of killing his wife and daughter and to have committed suicide in the end. Parts of two incinerated bodies of a thirty-eight year woman and a nine year old girl were found inside a microwave. The man's body was missing from the crime scene. Only a bloodied pair of jeans trousers and T-shirt were found lying on the bed in one of the rooms, with the door locked from inside. And strangely their size indicated that they belonged to a child. The room was bathed in blood and it appeared that a wild beast had tore upon the body ruthlessly and devoured it. It was quite impossible for a man to kill himself that way, anyone would agree. The DNA samples of blood and tissues found in his clothes confirmed to be of Mr. Sikdar's. However in absence of any lead behind the mysterious disappearance of the accused's body, the case was shut down and Biplab Sikdar was declared the offender. The bodies were cremated before the press could get a sniff of the incident. Mr. Sikdar's wife and daughter were named in the list too.
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