Team #Alphabet Soup
Read the previous part of story here:
Read the previous part of story here:
“Cyrus, Are you sure you heard it right?”
Cyrus had called up Jennifer, first thing after he learnt about the priest’s son.
“Yes Jen! It seems snake bites were very common here during these times.”
“Well it’s true, he is dead. But we will not leave it at that. We need to hear it from the old man’s mouth. We want to know what happened in detail.”
“Ok I will talk to priest again.”
“Oh… No! You already went as a writer and it would cause suspicions. Whoever is behind this, shouldn’t know that you’re working with us. I will go.”
Jennifer decides to meet the team first and ask Sudheeran about the boy.
“Yes, but he died. What has that got to do with this?” Sudheeran spoke casually as though someone had commented on his shirt.
“If priest had a son who knew his way with metals, couldn’t he be a prospective suspect?”
“How can a dead boy be a suspect?”
“I don’t know. But I want to know more about him. I am going to meet the priest again.”
Ravi said, “I don’t think it is a good idea. If we keep visiting him, people might feel something fishy.”
Sudheeran said, “Priest is not going to tell you anything new. We all know
how he died. It must have been one year or so after the last procession. I don’t remember exactly when. The priest’s son went missing. All of us were concerned. After many days, he was found dead in the interior parts of the village. My father was active then. I remember the look on his face after he went to see the boy. “
He was now looking straight up at the wall as though the memory pained him, “He was half eaten by dogs and insects. Later we were told that he died of snake bite. He must have wandered off into the forest area. Poor thing.”
Jennifer knew there would be no use going to the priest’s now. What could a paralysed man say more about his son’s painful death?
“So, have we reached a dead end?”, Tara asked.
“That is not possible. There must be something. Some loose end. Let me take a break. You guys carry on. I really need some fresh air.”
“Jayalakshmi!”, it was Ravi.
“Please don’t talk to the priest about this. He may not be able to handle it.”
“Don’t worry Officer. I won’t”, she smiled.
Jennifer was very upset. She reached her room, took a shower and opened her Laptop. She was immersed in thoughts about the priest and his son. What fate had befallen the poor man who served the Goddess for all these years? His wife died while giving birth to the boy. The priest got paralysed and his son died out of snake bite. Why do Gods punish the same people again & again?
She began going through the files, reports and photos of the last few processions.
Suddenly she had a revelation. She called up Cyrus. Picked up on the second ring,
“How did the priest get paralysed?”
He was flabbergasted by her sudden question.
“Er… Umm… I told you that.” He seemed amused.
“Yes. Tell me what the priest told you.”
“He said, he was about to give the idol to the child and he slipped and fell. Is everything alright?”, Cyrus asked.
“But the police report says that while he was giving the idol, he slipped and fell. Aren’t they two different things?”
“Ha Ha! You shouldn’t have been a photographer Jen. You should have taken up law. You do have a knack in manipulating words. I too thought of that. It could be used to prove a case in court. But in this case, we need conclusive evidence. He could have meant the same thing when he said ‘I was about to give’ and ‘I was giving’. Or, his memory could have failed him.”
Jenni: ” Or he could be faking?”
“I don’t write that possibility off. But we can’t count on that either. Especially using a sentence structure that he used 14 years back.”
“Cyrus, if he is faking, and we cross question him about the events that happened that day, at some point of time, he would get caught.”
“But police must have done that Jen. And it was about 14 years back. He is old and ill. He is bound to screw up things in this condition. Anyway, we’ll give it a try Jen.”
“Ok Cyrus. I’ll call you soon. Bye.”
Jennifer was in some kind of a spell. She has never investigated a case before. This was her first time and she felt that she was getting addicted to it. She poured through all the files, reading and looking at the snaps.
The photo where the child is sitting on the elephant with the idol
The girls holding the plates with lamps and flowers. There were many snaps of the same. The priest was walking next to the elephant on which the child was seated.
The devotees praying.
There were similar photos from many angles.
The elephant bending to let the child down.
The child is being taken down. The idol is held by the priest.
The child holds the idol and the two are walking towards the pond.
A man carrying the child from inside the pond. There are many onlookers.
The child lying on the pond steps. There are two legs shown at the corner of the photo. Must be the priest’s.
Another photo where the priest is being picked up by men.
The child’s photo from different angles. Men in police uniforms are seen in some of the snaps.
Jennifer read the reports.
The priest was found on the stairs… The child had drowned… The idol was found inside the pond…
The priest was giving the idol… Unconscious… Paralysed… She was walking down the pond stairs. She gave her laptop to Sudheeran Varma. The laptop had to be immersed in the water. She went into the pond. Sudheeran was giving her the laptop. She was about to take it from him, but something inside the water pulled her down. She was falling… falling… water… she was gasping for breath…
“Ah!” Jennifer got up.
“Damn! I need to get some sleep. Immersing laptop into water, my head!”
She closed her laptop and was about to get up. Suddenly, something
struck her. She opened her laptop and went through the snaps again.
She called up Cyrus.
“Jen! It is 3.15am.”
“If I want to know the time, I can check my watch Cyrus.”
“Very funny! What are you so happy about?”
“Answer this. You are standing on an elevated platform. You are giving something to someone who is standing a few steps below you, in water. You get dizzy. How would you fall?”
“If I’m falling forward, I’ll fall into the water. If I’m just sitting down, I’ll be on the stairs.”
“In short, you’ll either get fully wet or not get wet at all.”
“Do you remember the photos in the report?”
“I will have to look-“.
“No time Cyrus. I’ll tell you. There is only one photo where the priest is seen. In that, he is only wet until his chest.”