“YOUNG BUSINESSMAN DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT”
This was a small column news in an inconsequential page of a local daily. I read it with the usual nonchalance one has while reading such news. I felt sorry for the person and heaved a sigh for his soul and went about my business. As the days went by, the news slowly progressed through the pages and finally ended on the front page. The reason being that it was not a usual car accident, but a well executed homicide. The news became the hot topic of the week and all the news channels cashed in on it. The car he was travelling was destroyed in the accident. But he was already dead when the accident occurred. Autopsy reports confirmed he was poisoned. I couldn’t treat those revelations with the same stoicism with which I read the initial small column news because I had dinner with that man on the night he was murdered. The deceased man’s photo was now all over on TV and newspapers and I realised I was with him when he had his last meal. He was Ramesh Singh.
The hullabaloo about the case reached its zenith when the murderer was arrested. It was his driver. The young man was an up and coming businessman with forays into real estate, hospitality management and many other businesses. The driver was with him on that night. Even though Ramesh had a driving license, he never drove. The driver in his statement said he dropped Ramesh at a restaurant that night and he asked him to leave. But Ramesh’s family was very sure that he will not drive. And the driver had no alibi on where he was after dropping Ramesh at the restaurant. He was not home and he was vague on where he went that night. This increased suspicion on him and as there were no leads the police closed in on him.
I was having dinner at my usual place. One of the perils of going to a restaurant alone is that it is difficult to find a place to sit. Most of them will be occupied by family or group of friends and you will have to make do with a vacant one in a group of people whom you have never met. But that night I was lucky enough to find a free table. Just as I gave my order, a person asked if the seat next to mine was taken. It was Ramesh. He was accompanied by his driver. I heard him asking him to leave. So I know that part of the driver’s statement was true. After he gave his order, he started talking on the phone. I now remember how annoying it felt to me then. He was loud. He was talking about closing some deal that night. There was talk about money and some other stuff. I wish I had paid more attention to that annoying talk now. Little did I know then that he was going to be murdered. Then he waved at another man who was standing at the entrance. He paid his bill in haste and went with that man. There was no talk about this man anywhere in the news. Now that the culprit has been arrested, the interest in the case subsided. But I felt he had something to do with the murder. But I am a common man with an office job just enough to pay my bills. I have no right to be concerned about this. So the best I could do was spent some sleepless nights over this.
I didn’t find the driver having no alibi as such a big thing. If a random day in any of our life is put under scrutiny, god only knows how many lies come up. If you ask me where I was last night, I will tell you where I was. But if you check it, you will find that I was lying.
It was before the driver was arrested that I saw that man whom Ramesh went with that night. He came to that very restaurant and I was having dinner there as usual. I identified him straightaway as he had peculiar eyes and was well dressed. He wore a shirt which could not be more whiter. He was wearing a white shirt that night also. He ate, bought some parcel and left. I was stalking on him the entire time he was there. He paid his bill through credit card and I glanced upon his name. But the name in the card startled me. It was Ramesh Singh.
My doubts were strengthened. I wanted to let it go but somehow it came haunting back to me. I had taken a photo of him at the restaurant. I decided to inform the investigating officer about him. But I didn’t want to reveal my identity and end up as a small column news myself. So I wrote an anonymous letter to the officer with his photo saying he was with Ramesh that night. I felt relieved as I did something about it. At the same time a fear started gripping me as to whether the police will trace the letter to me. I had this dream one night in which I was being chased by police. Suddenly someone came and rescued me. It was a man in white shirt. He then slit my throat.
There was news of some new leads the day after I sent that letter. I knew what the lead was. I really hoped the perpetrator would be brought to justice. But the investigation reached no where and finally they arrested the driver as the pressure was mounting.
The public bought the idea of the driver as a killer. Strangely as time passed even I started believing that as it was convenient. Then one day I met the man in white shirt again at the restaurant. I decided to do some thing. I wrote “you are a murderer” in a piece of paper and slipped it with his bill. It was not so difficult as all the bearers there knew me. I just went to the waiter who had his bill. I struck up a conversation and asked for a glass of water. When he turned, I slipped the paper with his bill in the plate. I waited in a vantage point to see his reaction. He found the paper. He looked nervous on reading it. He took his towel and wiped his forehead. But there was no sweat yet. He was trembling, looked around in a frenzy, folded the paper into his pocket and left hastily. That just corroborated my belief that he was guilty. I wanted to make sure his reaction was not normal. So I slipped the paper with the same note to another random person. He crumbled it aside and went about with no change in emotion
Six months later there was news about a suicide. It was no small column news. It was the man in white shirt. He poisoned himself. The report said he confessed to killing Ramesh Singh in his suicide note. Police also found another piece of paper in his pocket. It read “you are a murderer”. As the hand writing in the suicide note and the piece of paper were different, the police is looking into who wrote that.