There were Dead Flies in the Soup – Part 2
Part – 2
He continues intently, “I returned home from a friend’s place about 9:45 p.m. when the lady from the opposite door surprisingly interrupted me at my doorstep to give me a bowl of soup that she boasted she had specially prepared. I brought it inside, placed it on the dining table and went to take a hot shower. Then, I made my dinner and settled down at the table to begin with the soup. As usual I was praying over my dinner when I was disturbed by someone at the door.It was Nivash from next door asking me for a bunch of old newspapers to use on his shelves. While I was digging for them in the store room, I heard him say something indistinct in a rush, and by the time I got back, he was gone. His house was locked too. Once I sat back for dinner, I noticed there were dead flies floating in the soup. In utter disgust, I impulsively rushed to the kitchen, flushed it off the sink and washed the bowl right away. Something started bothering me as I retired on the sofa with a sudden loss of appetite.
After an hour of thinking about the incident and the circumstances, my past relationship with them, and their notions about me, and tying all ends together, I feel they were trying to poison me to death. Since that moment, there’s no end to the spiritual torment I have been experiencing, considering that I am no longer wanted in this world. Am I disposable? Am I too old to be of any use to anyone? I need answers. Please help me!I have read about you in a tiny cover story called “The Curious Case of the Death of a Legacy in a Crooked Old Dungeon” in children’s magazine and learnt that you were one detective who always had time. Help me, please!”
Am I disposable? Am I too old to be of any use to anyone? I need answers. Please help me!
“Would it not be possible that the flies died of bad taste?” I blurt out laughing maniacally and then quickly press the mute button on seeing his deadpan face, “Sorry, a bad one. Did you talk to them later? You could have cleared the air,” I blow my nose due to the nasty cold, “right?”
“No proof! I am livid for disposing the soup on impulse. Later, I didn’t have the slightest urge to talk to them. What if they acted indifferently? I would look like a fool then. I don’t want to go back to my house until this is solved. I don’t know how I will react on seeing them. I strongly believe they are guilty and if it turns out true, I will go back with proof and curse in their face and make them feel guilty of trying to kill a harmless old man.”
“But you said there is no proof! How would you go back with it? At least you should have taken a sip or two and gotten hospitalized. A sip wouldn’t kill you for sure!”
“How could you insensitively ask the victim to impulsively poison himself in the act of preparing concrete evidence for a coldblooded conspiracy against him? You are the detective! You have the facts. Gather proof. Solve it and then get paid!”
“These are not facts yet. I have only your statement.”
“Oh, do you think I am lying? You all are the same! You call an old man a liar with such disdain…”
“I am terribly sorry! I believe you. I believe you. I meant I didn’t have complete facts yet. Let’s start over. Was the soup bowl covered with a lid when she handed it to you? Did you see dead flies in it while accepting it?”
“Are you crazy? Why would I accept if it contained dead flies?”
“So, when did you first open the lid?”
“When I sat down for dinner, I think. No dead flies then. But a swarm of flies whizzing all over the place because there’s always some unattended fruit peels or juice spills on the table. I generally live an unkempt lifestyle and I am not ashamed of it any more than I am of this scummy world we live in. I always feel my home should be a microcosm of the world. Since my wife’s death, I have been liberally practicing it. So, I am very used to shooing flies away and get on with the business.”
“Then why would you suspect the lady from the opposite door? Nivash could have well poisoned it when you were in the store room, couldn’t he? What motive could she have?”
“To show control,to feel powerful, to prove women always have the upper hand. You know? Her husband is a policeman from the high ranks. He spares the criminals and beats his wife. Ever since they moved here, I’ve had sleepless nights. He beats her, bad-mouths her, and sometimes drags her outside in the middle of a ruckus. What a nuisance couple! Even when he is away at work during the day, the nuisance continues, but in the form of melodramatic TV serials with high-decibel dialogues that often break flower pots in the corridor.
She is totally in her zone, keeping her door open all the time, sitting in the hall, and watching those serials wide eyed, back to back, in full blast. Sometimes, I have seen her sit so close to the television and touch the screen to feel those exaggerated characters who cry viewers into eternal damnation. There is no exaggeration in her mind. It has blurred the line between her fantasy and reality. Television these days! My god! It spreads a cult, especially in prime time with sponsors, of pushing housewives to the realm of feeling oppressed and then kindling visceral emotions inside them like torture, deceit, murder, revenge as one-way ticket to their liberation. It draws their minds in at first, comforts them for a while, and manipulates them, and then conditions them to a point where they lose absolute sense of reality.”
“I am appalled by your cynicism. They are TV serials. Just a matter of entertainment, that’s all. Don’t we all have our favorites that draw us into fantasies? You know, even I used to try out what the ward councilor from the old case files did. You want to hear that?”
Television these days! My god! It spreads a cult, especially in prime time with sponsors, of pushing housewives to the realm of feeling oppressed and then kindling visceral emotions inside them like torture, deceit, murder, revenge as one-way ticket to their liberation.
“You are a kid. Stop challenging my notions. I went to her door a couple of times asking for cups of salt, sugar but she was so hooked to a show she pointed out to an open window from where I could jump and drown in the pond nearby. One day, I lost my cool due to the unbearable noise of a serial character grunting over the murder of her pet dog and in turn marching thunderously towards a secluded temple in the outskirts and taking a vengeful oath amidst wildly dangling bells against her ugly, arch-rival, kleptomaniac cousin who stole her drunkard husband. I shouted at her to turn down the volume or at least shut the door. Since then, she started acting strange with me. Whenever I came home, she would rush to her door to slam it shut as though I was going to sneak in and steal some potatoes. Just couldn’t digest her bringing of soup out of the kindness in her heart!”
“I understand. But why would she kill you? Why not poison her husband?”
“That’s the whole point! Her abusive husband has to know she controls his life and she could kill him at will. I am the soft target – a disposable old man who doesn’t have anyone to come back for him.”
“Would she not have feared getting caught? She being in the same floor could be questioned first up.”
“No one saw her give the soup. And it’s quite difficult to establish a twisted motive. Moreover, her husband is a notorious man. He would influentially seal the case. Though he beats her, he would always protect her from the outside world. That’s how women-beaters find pleasure!”
“No one saw? If Nivash is the culprit, he should have seen her give the soup.”
“Why so? The soup bowl was open anyway at the dinner table. He knows when I usually sit for dinner as he comes home every night for a game of chess with me.”
“So, are you close with Nivash? What’s your relationship with him? What motive could he have?”
“Yes, he is a dear young friend. And that breaks my heart. He is a college-goer and someone who is about to rot in the notion of becoming a self-proclaimed rebel. Never does he pay attention to what I say. Always thinks that an open mind could solve all problems in the universe. His parents are abroad while he stays alone at home playing computer games breeding violence and vandalism, mostly shooting stuff, where the rebel shooter’s first strike in the morning would be a senior citizen suffering from arthritis waiting to catch a bus for a doctor’s appointment. Every now and then, we go for a walk; I speak nostalgia while he clicks weird things on the street using his overpriced camera. And every night, we play chess; he makes brash, intimidating moves killing my battalion .I hate that. Though he wins every time, I insist on teaching him how to win ethically, causing least damage to the opponent but he never listens. Two nights back, while playing chess, he was talking about a Hitchcock movie that he had watched.
He suddenly asked, “Is it cool to kill a person?”
To Be Coninued…
Picture Credit: Dharini Sundaram