! sank down on my knees in the dock I was standing when the foreman of the jury said ‘found guilty of murder’ The rest about the judge condemning me to life imprisonment is all bizarre except the wicked smile on the face of the accuser when I was led out of court room by policemen. I will just narrate what happened on that fateful evening for you to decide for yourself on my innocence or otherwise.
I was new to that city where I came in search of a job just the day before. I needed a place to stay and a job for my food. I walked in and out of many doors of business establishments with little luck till I found rest to my tired limbs on a bench in a park. I found a middle aged man sitting with a morose face and muttering to himself. I could see he was tormented by some worry.
Though I was in no better condition; I tried to bring cheer by saying “The day is beautiful and the sun is setting in its crimson glory. Cheer up, my friend, and lighten your heart by sharing with me what is bothering you”
“I lost my wife two days back and her memories keep oppressing me” he said
"I am extremely sorry. Was she ailing?” I asked
"No, she died of an accident. I will tell you more. Can you come with me to my house on the other side of the road? I need your small help” he replied
It was a large house with a portico. He took me inside through a large hall that was dimly lit. I was seated in a chair by the small dining table. He brought from the fridge a small can of coke. He said “I need your help in carrying that large box to my car. It is too heavy for me. I have to deliver it today. I will get the car to the portico. I will be back in a shortwhile.Please make yourself comfortable” he said before he left to bring the car.
The air was stale and some weird smell assailed my nose. The dining area was also dimly lit.I was not comfortable with the thought of being alone in an unknown house of a stranger. My throat was dry. I sipped the coke. As I moved my leg,I found something sticky under my shoes. I bent down to notice thick blood leaving a trail to the box. I moved gingerly towards it and opened the lid.Lo, there was a body of a young woman with several stab wounds and a knife sticking out. She must have been dead. I closed the lid immediately and returned to the same chair.
I wished to run away from the scene when I heard the car drawing to a halt in the portico. The man straddled in and said “Sorry for keeping you waiting”
I asked “You said your wife met with an accident. Was she run over by vehicle or had a big fall? How did she die?”
His face suddenly became red with anger. His eyes bulged out as he shouted “Why do you ask such a question?”
"Nothing. You said it was an accident. So I wished to know how” I replied calmly though shaken by his sudden rage.
“Did you open the box? I see your slimy trail of blood towards the box. Answer yes or no. Still you ask me whether she was run over or had a fall. I will kill you if you do not tell me the truth” he shouted like a mad man.
I looked around to find a way to escape .Luckily the door was ajar. I made a quick bolt to the door and ran as fast as legs could carry with the angry man in hot pursuit. My heart was pounding with fear and my knees became weak. Lucky I thought when I ran into the arms of the two policemen standing a little yonder.
The fact that I trespassed into a private building (he denied having invited me or met in the park), the blood in the sole of my shoe, the trail left near the box and my finger prints on the box and on the furniture did me in to conclude that I stabbed her for money and concealed it by putting her in a box in the absence of her husband away on work. It was a cruel murder by a cunning husband foisted on me whose only foolishness lay in unwittingly trying to help a stranger but it was an iron-clad case to the police against me with no extenuating circumstance or alibi.
It is a mean irony that I have now found the shelter and the food I was looking for.