Sajitha had finished making palak paneer, baingan bharta and the dough for making rotis.She invariably asked her husband Atul the menu for lunch. It could vary from South Indian, North Indian, and Mexican to Italian pastas. He enjoyed whatever she made and heaped praises on her. He generally came around 1 pm from his office that was just seven minutes drive away.
She lived in a large apartment complex that housed nearly 800 apartments that had all amenities like a gym, pool, club, small store and play ground. There were only few Indians in her complex. Her neighbors in her floor were a Spanish bachelor, a Japanese family, a Philippine girl and her fiancé, a couple of American families, two Chinese families and a few others whom she had not seen. While most were friendly, she detested the Spanish fellow as his stare at her and the grin in his face betrayed his wicked intentions. He was a heavily built tall man with a large bulbous nose that stood out prominently and he always reminded her of big sized wrestlers in WWE on the TV. She had mentioned to Atul once her aversion for him without going into details.
It was 11.45 am .She thought she would make the rotis and put them in casserole before having her shower. She stirred the Palak paneer and kept it warm by keeping the burner low.When she heard the doorbell, she was not surprised as Atul frequently came earlier for lunch if he had meetings later. But to her dismay and shock she found the Spaniard with a leer on his face when she opened. He literally pushed her in and closed the door behind him. She ran towards the phone and he came rushing behind her and grabbed her hair. As she tried to extricate herself, he tore her blouse from behind. She hit him hard repeatedly on his head and face with the ever silver ladle she had in her hand. Unable to bear the onslaught, he let her loose only to grab the kitchen knife lying on the work station. She was cowering in a corner in total fright and was dazed by the sudden happening. Angered by the blood trickling from his head and face, the brute stabbed her deep in her stomach.
As she lay bleeding, he quietly swiped the knife of the finger prints with her apron and left the apartment leaving her to die a slow and painful death. She could hardly move let alone walk towards the phone. Things began to black out and she was alternating between consciousness and blankness. She feared her life was ebbing out and closed her eyes involuntarily. It was then she heard a voice as if from a deep well “Sajji, Sajji, please open your eyes. Tell me who did this to you” Even as she recognized Atul’s faint voice and could feel his gentle touch she heard him ring someone.
As she lapsed into unconsciousness she could feel his shaking her shoulders and asking “Give me a clue on who did this. Police and ambulance are on their way. Please indicate quickly before you blackout.”
She raised her hand and touched his nose before she lapsed into unconsciousness
Even as finger prints were taken and she was being carried to hospital, Sergeant Jackson told Atul that he would accompany him to the hospital leaving his colleague behind.
On the way he asked Atul “How long are you living here? Do you have any enemies or did you get any threats?”
“Two years. I can think of none”
“Was she conscious when you came home? Did you not ask her who did it?”
“I was shaken and she was not fully conscious. My concern was to take her to hospital to save her life. Still I asked her to give me a clue on who did it. She was in no position to talk”
“Did she indicate? Think carefully as it is important.”
“She lifted her hand with difficulty and touched my nose. I don’t know what it meant. She blacked out immediately thereafter”
“I can now understand why your nose is scarlet. I was wondering. The clue is the nose. Who are your neighbours?
As he was telling, the sergeant asked Atul “Is there anyone whom you could relate to a nose?”
“Yes, my adjacent neighbor on the right side, a Spaniard has a prominent nose big for his face. Come to think of it, I recollect my wife telling she disliked him though she didn’t tell why”
“OK, let me check on him now.I hope the doctors would take care of her. You stay here.He seems a violent guy. I will return after having a look and a small chat with that fellow.”
The sergeant knocked the door twice. It did not open. He took out his gun and asked his colleague to cover him. When he thumped again loudly the door opened and the Spaniard in a clean jeans and white T-shirt appeared showing surprise. He had three plasters on his head and one under the eyes. He asked”What is it you want?”
The sergeant asked him to go to the wall with his hands up even as he asked colleague to have a quick survey
“Did you go to the adjacent apartment today? You seem to have recent wounds all over you head and face? How did they happen?”
“You mean the Indiians.No,I did not go. I do not know them” The sergeant remembered that he did not say which side of Spaniard’s apartment but only adjacent. This was a giveaway.
“You have left a lot of tell tale evidence of your having been there” the sergeant said
The Spaniard looked at his T shirt and jeans and said “What evidence you are talking about? You cannot pin anything on me. I have been resting in my place. I did not stir out”
“OK,if you have been resting, can you explain how you got those wounds? Were they self inflicted?”
Meanwhile the colleague came to report blood soaked garments in the washing machine. The sergeant put the handcuff on the Spaniards hands held behind and went to see the clothes. He asked the colleague to take him to station for further interrogation
On reaching the hospital, he put his arm around Atul and said “I learn from doctors that your wife will be out of danger. She will be fine soon. You will be pleased to know that we have nabbed the Spaniard and have clinching evidence against him. He is in our custody and we will ferret out the truth.Do you have any relative or friend in the city to be by your side? Give me his number. Do not worry. It is iron clad and we will secure a conviction.”