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21st October 2:00 PM
"Hello, Hemanth," Prakash said. "I'm inspector Prakash." He waited for a few moments and then said, "We would like to question you on Priya's murder case…Oh, yeah…That's correct…I'll send my constable to bring you here…That's perfect …I'm looking forward to seeing you. Bye." Prakash tapped on the red button.
"Did Hemanth agree to meet us?" Aisha asked.
"Yes. I'll send my constable to him." Prakash rang the handbell.
A constable in a dark khaki uniform with a brown belt buckled around his waist and holding a cane stick, approached. His enormous black mustache stood out on his papaya shaped, semi-dark face. His potbelly made him look more like a joker than police personnel.
Prakash told him to get Hemanth from his residence. He gave him the necessary details - a phone number and the residence address.
"We can wait here until Hemanth arrives," He said to Mayur. "I don't think it'll take more than twenty minutes."
A sudden air gushed into the room through the windows, and the main door with their drapes fluttering and rocking like swings in the garden. Prakash busied himself placing the paperweights and heavy objects on the sheets to prevent them from flying away. A sound of rain pattering on the rooftop echoed in the room followed by a rumble of thunder. The rain intensified within a few minutes, lashing the windows and the parking lot tin shed. An acrid smell of wet soil filled the room. What started out like a thunderstorm transformed into a steady downpour with the raindrops dancing on the windowpanes.
Mayur exchanged small talk about the change in the weather with Prakash and Aisha before he said, "Did we update you about our possible suspects list which we have prepared?"
"No, not yet," said Prakash. "I can’t wait to see it."
Mayur took out his phone and opened the word document. He glanced over the list of suspects and then gave the phone to Prakash. "Everyone listed there has a strong motive to kill Priya."
"Can I know more about Rahul?" Prakash asked.
"Rahul is Priya's uncle - her mother's brother," Aisha said.
"He was betrayed like Harsha," said Mayur. "Rahul knew Priya since their childhood and everyone in their family had decided about his marriage with her."
"Why didn't they marry, then?"
"Because of Priya's father," said Mayur. "He wasn't comfortable with Rahul's social status and his profession."
Prakash looked back at the phone screen. "What's Harsha's motive?
"He too was betrayed. He dated Priya before she was engaged to Nayan."
"No doubt these two have strong motives." Prakash continued to read the list and said, "What about Nayan?"
"Nayan had a girlfriend before he was engaged with Priya."
"What about Chirag and Poonam?" asked Prakash. "I see them on the list."
"As you already know, Priya's father had written a will saying his property should go to his daughters equally. After Priya's death, Poonam inherits all the family's assets."
Prakash gave the phone back to Mayur. "I think you need to go back to Bangalore without further delay."
"But we need to conduct the DNA tests on Praful and Hemanth with the clues we've found at the crime scene," Mayur said. "We might get some surprising results and there'd be no need to go to Bangalore if we found the DNA match with any one of them."
Prakash nodded. "Sure. I'll try to arrange for the DNA tests after we interrogate Hemanth and make the results available soon." He paused for a moment and then went on: "Mayur, I'm getting pressure from my boss to close the case early. It's better for us to hasten the inquest."
Mayur's chest constricted. Goosebumps erupted on his skin. "What are you saying, Prakash? Are you going to punish someone who is innocent?"
"Well," said Prakash, forcing a smile. "I didn't say that. We're investigating the case and finding the culprit. I only meant not getting lackadaisical in our approach."
"Have you seen me lackadaisical?" asked Mayur, his breath increasing.
Prakash smiled for the second time, trying to clear the air. "I'm sorry if I offended your feelings. You know how my boss is, and you're well aware of how the police department works. It's not new to you."
Mayur inhaled a deep breath. There's no reason to get angry with Prakash. He was used to his repeated advice to close the case. "I can understand your situation, Prakash," Mayur said. "But you know my method of investigation; we'll not achieve success and find the real perpetrator unless we investigate the case meticulously. My objective is to find the culprit and not to close the case to please the higher authorities."
Aisha straightened in her seat. "Okay, okay." She smiled. "Let's not go deep into the matter. We know we'll solve the case successfully with our own and unique approach. Let's abide by the rules which Mayur has laid out."
"Sure," Prakash said. "I apologize to you if my request has annoyed you."
Mayur sighed. "It's okay."
Approaching footsteps echoed in the hall. It was the constable, who had gone to get Hemant.
"Sir," the constable said. "Hemanth is here."