The Murder of Raj Verma

Sheila went back to Col’s house that evening. Col was pleased to see her and knew that she had solved the mobile riddle. He always thought that she was smart and never left anything till she reached the bottom of it. As soon as she sat down and Raju had left the room, he said – “Any update on the mobile phone?” Sheila smiled and said – “Yes. You knew I would go behind it, didn’t you?” Col smiled in response. Sheila told him everything that she had learnt, which was all the more confusing to Col as he could not think of any international contact that Raj had. They had no relatives, he had no friends, then who could have called him at that late hour? Both kept discussing the possibilities, but could not put a finger on the identity of the caller. This left them very disturbed even after Sheila left for home. The subject matter was left as it is and there were no more discussions again.

It was now over six months and Col had just returned from the airport where he had gone to see off Sheila and her husband who were leaving for US. Sheila had reluctantly agreed to marry someone after a lot of pressure from the family and gave in when the Col too requested her to do so. There were tears in his eyes when he pleaded with her to start a new life and not hold on to the past. When an old man who had lost everything was insisting that she move on, she simply gave in. They got married last week and tonight both of them left for US where she was going to settle down. The Sharma’s were happy and so was Col Verma who felt guilty to see a young girl living in sadness and longing for a life partner who had left never to return. He had no choice but to live with it, but she was young and had a world waiting for her. He was glad he was able to convince her.

Col Verma was all alone in the house. Raju had quit the services and had left him a month back. Col opened the doors of Raj’s room and went in, something he had not done for a long time. He went in and sat on the chair looking at the photograph of Raj which was garlanded with sandalwood flowers. He kept staring at the photograph and could sense Raj come alive to him. Col went six months back to the fateful night.

It was around 12 midnight and the Col could not sleep. Something was keeping him away from sleep. He felt Raj was behaving very vaguely this time when he came back. He was always on the mobile phone of his and never parted with it. He would not sit and talk with him like he used to and was always in a different world of his, where Col found no place for himself. It was this unease that was keeping him away from sleep. Col decided to step out of his room and get some fresh air. When he opened the door to his room, he could see light from under Raj’s door. Raj was talking to someone and he knew it was Sheila that he was talking to. Col was very proud of this girl and was hoping that she would bring some stability in this boy’s life. Wait a sec….it was past 12 and Sheila could never stay awake beyond 10 or 10.30pm, so it couldn’t be Sheila. Then who was Raj talking to? On any other day, Col wouldn’t be bothered but lately he was a bit worried and without realizing, he found himself tiptoeing towards Raj’s room. As he reached closer he could hear Raj better, till he could hear him absolutely loud and clear.

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