Suspense Short Story – Path To Perdition
OSLO: Aula hall, University of Oslo.
“For a long time I wondered if I really deserved this. For a woman who had never stepped out of her country, India, coming this far and standing in front of you, is really a proud moment.”
Mrs. Arora looked at the smiling faces of hundreds of women. She looked at the sympathetic faces of many mothers and wives present in the auditorium.
“I lost my son to drugs.”
The faces of smiling women became sorry faces now.
“I had no hope to get justice for my son. But I fought and resolved to get to the bottom of the matter and know the truth. I had many difficulties in my way. My own country’s embassy declined to provide help.”
She glanced at the void and then smiled.
“But luckily Norway understood me as a desperate mother trying to find the truth behind her son’s death. I am thankful to all the people who helped me at the time of peril.”
The hall was quiet, quiet like a graveyard. There was no mourning today. It was the day of joy. Mrs. Arora was a source of inspiration for all mothers not only in Norway but all round the globe. Today she had launched her first book “Path to Perdition” published by Cooper Publication House.
Outside the auditorium the media was on fire. They were trying to get inside but were strictly prohibited. Oslo was seeing its summer.
The summer in Norway is the best time for travellers to vacation to this remarkable Scandinavian country.
Norway, the land of beautiful fjords and unique nature, offers the visitors plenty to do. Many opt for hopping under the midnight sun in Lofoten, a brilliant experience that every person on this earth should get pleasure from.
The other major attraction is the mountain skiing in Tromso. It’s one of the favourites among the tourists. This is liked especially by those who like sports and are quite sporty themselves. Skiing in these peaceful mountains is an altogether different experience. The scenic beauty and also the snow, who wouldn’t like that!
Australians love Norway for its vast smorgasbord. It satisfies them internally, their mind and the soul. But there are many who think skiing is not their cup of tea, have the amazing choice of taking a dog sled to the Sami village. The Sami village visit is a beautiful experience. The people are very welcoming and most importantly they share their living habits with the tourists, a lot to learn from those villagers indeed.
Norway has an unending set of bliss to people of this planet, a true paradise on earth. The best of all is unique Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
Norway is best all round the year; it’s like an ever-happy smile on the face of the planet.
The summer winds pleasantly blew past the anxious reporters and cameramen waiting for getting more reports about the book.
Mrs. Arora sipped water from the bottle and quietly capped it.
“My son spent 3 years in Norway and I can gaily say that he enjoyed his stay to the fullest. He used to tell me,
“Mom, Norway has two best things that other countries require, one of course is the awe-inspiring country and second is the affable people that make this country all the more attractive.”
She gaped at the ceiling and took a deep breath.
“But serpents dwell in paradise too.”
Everyone present in the hall very well knew what Mrs. Arora meant by serpents, the serpents, which were a dirty splotch on the pretty air of Norway.
Outside the hall: Mrs. Arora facing the media.
Reporter: Mrs. Arora, what is this book about?
Mrs.Arora: I suppose you all know what this book is about. It’s about my quest, my story of finding the truth about my son’s death.
Reporter: What message do you want to convey?
Mrs. Arora: My message is that, a mother should never let her child fall in debauched situations and also, never say never.
The pleasant summer breeze of Oslo brushed Mrs. Arora’s ebony hair softly. She knew her son was always beside her, his shadow.
She came to her car and then turned to the smiling faces waving to her. She smiled and waved goodbye.
“Home, no stop elsewhere.” She directed her chauffeur.
She connected the earphones to her iPod, and hit the play button. The soothing music of Frederic Delarue filled her heart with ease.
She glared outside the car window while the chauffeur drove her BMW on the smooth roads of Oslo. Mrs.Arora had been living in her son’s house in Rotnes, 27 km from Oslo. It gave her a sense of satisfaction and made her believe that her son was always with her.
Rotnes is a quiet place and also important enough to be the administrative centre Nittedal municipality.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She soon lost herself in a peaceful yet sad trance.
NEW DELHI, INDIA: A year ago.
Mrs. Arora was as usual at her desk writing her column for the next day’s daily. She was a psychologist and what set her apart from her counterparts was that she was considerate and caring. She didn’t ‘treat’ her patients she called it ‘serving’. She thought of her patients as friends and sometimes she got so involved with her patient’s predicament that the patient would overlook the fact that she was a doctor, a close friend they called her.
She was a widow and her only son Raj, resided in Rotnes, Norway. She was quite lonely but she had many friends who never left her side in times of crisis. After her husband’s death she fell into depression, but it was her caring friends who got her out of her sorrows and showed her life with a complete new perspective. She too was the same caring person and never let anyone be left in angst and woe.
Her phone rang. She realized that it was not a local call as the ringing was different. It must be her son she thought as she sprinted to pick up the call.
What followed the call was really heart-rending She dropped the phone and fell to the ground. She had just received the call from the Indian embassy from Norway that her son, her only son was found dead by the banks of the Alna River, near Brynfoss.
She stood up and picked up the phone and called her best friend Sheila Khanna, a housewife.
“I have a dreadful news Sheila.” Mrs. Arora’s voice was wobbly.
She talked to her for five more minutes and then wiped her tears.
She called up the Embassy.
GARDERMOEN International Airport, OSLO: 2 days later
Mrs.Arora came out of the second-busiest airport in the Nordic countries. This magnificent airport is one of the four airports of Oslo, designed by the architect Gudmund Stokke.
The main art of the airport is Alexis; it consists of six steel sculptures in pure stainless steel. On the air side of the airport is the incredible Ada Astra, it makes the impression of clouds and webs constructed using 30,000 metres of thread.
The marathon dancers, located in the baggage claim area are actually a set of two electronic boards that show a person dancing. The best part is the Sound Refreshment Station that successfully makes soothing music when a person is immediately under them. They are rightly called ‘sound showers’.
Mrs. Arora took a shuttle to the Indian embassy in Niels Juels Gate, Norway. The Indian embassy represented the Royal Kingdom of Norway. The jet lag wearied Mrs.Arora reached the embassy and completed the formalities.
“Velkommen til Norge” greeted a pretty lady at the ‘Consular Services’ department. “How can I help you?”
“I am Sakshi Arora. I have come to see the Indian Ambassador to Norway Mr. R. K. Tyagi. I have an appointment” answered Mrs. Arora keeping her baggage on the clean white tiles.
“May I view your Passport please?” asked the lady at the desk politely.
Ambassador’s office: Mrs. Arora’s appointment.
Ambassador: I’m very sorry for your loss, Mrs. Arora. It’s very nice of you to have flown at such a short notice.
Mrs.Arora: My son died Mr.Tyagi. I would go to any extent for him.
Ambassador: I know. I understand how difficult it must be to come this far, so tiring.
Mrs.Arora: I have sold my ornaments to buy my ticket to Norway. What is it that you wanted me to know?
Ambassador: Mrs.Arora I can’t let you take your son’s body for some time now. There are a lot of sensitive issues concerned.
Mrs.Arora: May I ask what?
“Ambassador: Mrs. Arora there was trace of drug Heroin in your son’s blood. Investigation is going on and you understand it quite well how illegal it is to consume Heroin even back in India.
Mrs.Arora: But there can be possibility of him being drugged before his death.
Ambassador: As I said it is under investigation.
Mrs.Arora: I want it done quickly. It is my son who has died. What will I do in this strange country? And I am not rich frankly, to afford this country’s high living standards Mr.Tyagi
Ambassador: Mrs. Arora I can arrange for your return flight to New Delhi this afternoon. We will hand over your son’s body once the investigations are over.
Mrs.Arora was fumed now. She stood up and roared.
Mrs.Arora: Mr.Tyagi my son is dead and I’m broke and have come this far not to listen to your mucky explanations but for my son. I’m going out and I myself will find out the truth. And I don’t want you to show me my son’s body. I don’t want to have the dead face of my son as his last memory.
She howled loud enough to gain the attention of the employees. She stormed out of the embassy determined to find the truth.
Later that evening while she was taking a hot shower at her hotel, she received a call from a lady named Adelis, who claimed to be her son Raj’s close friend.
“Mrs.Arora I have something to tell you.” She said. “Meet me at the Cajun café at 8 pm.”
Mrs.Arora did not expect such turn of events, by this time she had planned to be on flight with son’s dead body.
Walking down the alley she found the new country very pleasant. People smiled at her as a way of saying “welcome to our country”.
She smiled back, even though Raj’s death shook her internally and emotionally. The cool breeze of the summer was one of its own. The city even being the capital was not much populated and the streets were wide. She kept walking with a smile on her face trying very hard to hide her miserable condition.
Cajun café, OSLO: 7pm.
She reached the café asking for directions at every turn. It seemed like Oslo’s own summer ‘bourbon street’ from Rosencrantz gate in to Cajun café. It was an outdoor restaurant in New Orleans restaurant’s backyard.
Adelis recognized her and greeted her. “Heisann, I’m Adelis. You must be Mrs.Arora, your son looked much like you.”
All Mrs. Arora could do was smile back at her.
They ordered Muffaletta and gumbo.
“Mrs.Arora, Raj was my close friend.”
She introduced her to a guy seated next to her; he was around 20 and widely built. He had black hair and French beard. “This is Ron, Raj’s best friend.”
“Mrs. Arora, Raj had visited Norheimsund, a town a bit far from here. I was with him. There is a club named Marhaba. We did not know about it. One of our friend had taken us there to; you know relax, during last weekend.” Ron spoke looking directly into Mrs. Arora’s eyes.
“When we went there we came to know that this was an illegal club and heroin was the relaxing drug here. We wanted to leave as soon as possible. But our minds didn’t let us. We thought what will happen with just one injection. But how could I have anticipated that it would lead to my best pal’s death.” Ron took a deep breath.
Mrs.Arora looked away, tears in her eyes. Just one mistake had taken her son away from her forever.
Ron continued. “After hours of intoxicating ourselves I searched for Raj. His car was missing too. I was in no condition to search for Raj. I just slept in my friend’s car. In the morning I found myself in my bed. And the next thing I heard of him was from the police.”
“What about the stab marks on his body?” questioned Mrs.Arora.
“That’s what I’m wondering. But I will take you to Norheimsund. ” Ron stood up pointing his finger towards his car
Norheimsund is a pretty town surrounded by majestic fjord nature in the middle of Hardangerfjord, near Bergen. Mrs.Arora loved the scenic view of this place. She saw the awe of the Steinsdalsfossen waterfall from the car.
“Raj was lucky to have such a loving mother as you.” Ron smiled at Mrs. Arora. “You have come so long from India to get justice for your son.”
“I failed as a mother, Ron. I should have done something.” Mrs. Arora’s eyes were filled with sad tears. She tried a lot control them but in vain.
“I don’t know what to do, where to go?”
“Everyone will help you Mrs.Arora.” Ron assured her.
“You know Raj was always this anxious kid. Even as a child he experimented, he was so sweet.” Mrs. Arora’s voice was sore.
“There was once this poor lady at the doorstep of ours, and Raj without even letting me know gave away my clothes to her. I just miss him so much.”
Ron smiled, remembering his conversations with Raj.
Raj would often speak of his mother.
“You know Ron; she would sacrifice anything for me.” He would say with a big smile. “Maybe one day I can buy her a big house.”
Ron’s eyes were filled with poignant tears. He gaped at Mrs. Arora who was looking at the vast beautiful grassy lands.
They reached the Marhaba club which was now swarming with police officials. It looked like an old building.
Mrs.Arora went to one of the lady police official.
“Excuse me, I’m Mrs.Arora.”
The lady officer smiled and checked her file and looked at Mrs.Arora in her eyes, as if saying I’m really sorry for your son’s death.
“Halo, I’m chief inspector, Asdis, I’m really sorry for your son’s death. We are all with you Mrs.Arora. I’m here investigating your son’s death.”
Asdis’s Residence, Norheimsund: Dinner.
Mrs.Arora observed that Asdis’s residence was quite a wonder in itself, a common Old Norwegian house. This house had grass on the roof, holding the turf down. The roof was of the slating type called the slate roof. There were wooden panels and the house was painted with strong colors such as red, blue and yellow, most of the houses Mrs.Arora had seen were in pure white. The house was south-to-west facing. Almost all the houses Mrs.Arora had seen had a patio or balcony on the sun side with deck chairs and hanging pots. These homes were really charming.
“This matter is very serious now Mrs.Arora, the media has got hold of this matter. You are very brave enough to come this far in search of truth.” Asdis offered Mrs.Arora a cigar.
“I want to know why my son died.” Mrs. Arora looked at Asdis.
“Mrs. Arora your son was drugged. This drug business is done by mafias. The trafficking routes leading to the beautiful city of stiff winds and North Sea oil money, Oslo, have reopened, and Norway is again a prime destination in the international drug network. Opium smuggled out of Afghanistan and turned into heroin is ferried by Albanian and Serbian gangs through Bulgaria and Romania before being distributed across Central and Northern Europe. In one of our raid this year, we confiscated nearly 150 pounds of heroin — double the previous largest seizure, in years.”
Mrs. Arora’s mouth was wide open. She looked at Ron. Ron was equally shocked.
“This is such a big crime. Why aren’t you catching the culprits?” Mrs.Arora asked innocently.
“It’s not that easy Mrs.Arora, and it is also the responsibility of parents to keep their children away from this muck. The society at whole is at fault. Every country has some or the other blots on its face.”
“I completely agree with you Asdis.” Nodded Mrs.Arora reminding herself of the disease of corruption India is suffering from.
“But you don’t worry Mrs. Arora; we have questioned Ms. Adelis, who was with your son that night at the Marhaba club. I suppose we have already interrogated Ron.” Asdis stared at Ron.
“Ron is like my son. I believe him completely.”Mrs. Arora smiled at Ron who smiled back.
“Whatever, Ms. Adelis says she will tell the truth to us, however we had to apply some police treatment to her. I think she knows who might have done this.”
Outside Asdis residence:
Mrs. Arora and Ron were returning from the nice dinner Asdis had offered. Ron suddenly jumped.
“Mrs.Arora, Raj had said that he was planning to go to Nordkapp from Marhaba. It’s not far from here. Maybe you may find some clue there.”
“Why didn’t you tell that in there?” Mrs.Arora questioned Ron.
“I didn’t want the media to follow us, because where the police go media does follow. We should hurry.”
Nordkapp is 310m high cliff, and also the northernmost point of Europe. This was the place in olden days where Sami people used carry out the sacrificial procedure.
Nordkapp, Norway: early dawn
“I don’t think I would find something here.” Mrs. Arora said wearily.
“I know you wouldn’t. I brought you here to kill you Mrs. Arora.” Ron advanced towards her.
“Really, will you kill me just like you killed my son? You did, I know that.” Mrs. Arora smiled at Ron.
The cool morning breeze blew past them. The sun was coming up.
“How do you know?” Ron was shocked and taken aback.
“I’m a mother, Ron. I can, at the first glimpse could tell that you had something to hide. The question is why, why did you kill him? What wrong had he done to you?”
Ron fell down to his knees and started crying, his hands on his face.
“How can you be so nice to me, even when you realized it was me? I am a sinner. I am an orphan and was raised in foster. I never received the love of a mother; you are the only one who ever called me ‘son’.” Ron’s eyes were red with tears and his face covered with guilt.
“You are still like my son. It’s no fault of yours. I forgive you. It was just my fate.”
Ron stood up and wiped his tears.
“Mrs. Arora you a are nice person. I killed your son because I was completely intoxicated. We had a fight in the club that night over some petty issue and I killed him and took his car and dumped his body by the river in Oslo. I did not realize what I had done till next morning when Adelis told me what I had done. I made Adelis promise that she would not open her mouth.”
Ron held Mrs. Arora’s hand.
“I should not live. If I do, I will drive myself crazy with this guilt.” Saying this, and even before Mrs. Arora could speak anything to comfort him, he jumped off the cliff.
Mrs. Arora could hear a distant faint voice growing louder by every instance, “Mrs. Arora, Mrs. Arora..”
Mrs. Arora woke up. It was her chauffeur.
“Mrs.Arora it’s your home.”
“Thank you, Peter.” She got out of her car. Her gaze caught a faint figure standing by the tree. It was her son’s shadowy figure.
“Good night son!” saying this she entered her house.