It was odd. The advertisement in the local daily which simply said “If you wish to bring a change in your life just dial …..” And God knows how she wanted to run away from the hell that she was living day in and day out. Desperately. The gruelling housework . The long hours in the kitchen. She did not mind all those. But serving the guests every evening was tortuous. A new face each time killed her. And those surreptitious knocks on her door in the dead of the night…..!!!
Uncle was patient. Very patient. Ever smiling. It was her aunt who always egged her with questions like, “Did your parents educate you for this?” Strange woman who never spoke a word to her husband or raised her voice when matters went beyond control. But she always made it a point to nag her, criticize her, torment her with such questions.
So much so that it was becoming unbearable now. Claustrophobic!! So she did what she had to.
The body was found next day in the bedroom. Spreadeagled on the floor. Stiff and cold. Mouth open. Eyes staring at the ceiling. Dr. Chakrabarti, the family physician, signed the Death Certificate. But not without a pinch of doubt, “He never ever complained of even a mild fever. Last night he was hale and hearty. The regular tests done about a week back were all normal. And to die so suddenly of such a massive heart attack!” He shook his head gravely. Uncle and doc were fast friends.
Inspector Rao combed the room in vain just to find one slim clue which could point towards something other than a ‘mere’ fatal coronary attack. He had almost come to the conclusion that his suspicions were baseless when his eagle eyes fell on it. That little creature lazing on the railing of the balcony the bedroom opened on. A go between a grasshopper and a bumble bee it flaunted colours of the rainbow on its fragile wings. A pair of bulging electric blue eyes stared innocently. Thin long tentacles rising above its eyes sliced the air with a kind of formidable grace that had the power to immobilize an intent gazer. Tck…tck…tck….that soft pecking sound emanating from its mouth which opened and closed intermittently tore the silence of the room. Drenched in the soothing rays of the winter sun, it surveyed the room nonchalantly, resting its gaze for a fleeting moment on her face. An odd kind of understanding in the depths of those protruding eyes comforted her. Seemed like she was wordlessly communicating with a friend.
Rao’s brows furrowed. This was the third case in a row. Each death flawlessly choreographed – double pneumonia. Cerebral Thrombosis and now this…. Men in their late fifties with sordid pasts and susceptible to vice. And in every room was this strange little thing indolently dissecting the stillness of the dead with its disturbing tck..tck.
He looked at her. Why her of all the people in the room? She wondered. And then his mouth twitched at the sides ever so slightly. He extended his arm to pick up the mobile from the bed side table to check the call list.
A split of a second. And then she relaxed. A smile dying to hover on her sensuous lips. She hadn’t forgotten to delete the number dialed last night….. a lone, life changing numeral………… !!!!