ADVENTURES OF PRADEEP CHATTERJEE
(Addresses & names used are completely fictional)
Our very own Shona da was sitting idle for the past 1 month. No new cases were there and the old ones were brilliantly solved by him. His brother, Birju’s business was flourishing and Bholadadu was fit and fine.
One day, Bholadadu came and looked quite upset. Shona da asked, “What happened Dadu, why so sad ?”.
Bholadadu replied, “Pradeepbabu, for the past few days, I am very unhappy. Actually, many of my friends who live in nearby localities are visiting various destinations for leisure with their children and grand-children. And look at me, I am still a bachelor and without any family. How depressing!!”
Shona da, with his charismatic smile, said, “Bholadadu, I call you ‘Dadu’, which means you are my grand-dad. We three are a family – You, Birju and Me. You should never feel that you are alone. Coming weekend, We all would be going to Mumbai for a short stay. Happy, Mr. Bholaram Das?”
Bholadadu was delighted. In the evening, when Birju returned, He was told that their next visit destination was Mumbai. Birju jumped in joy and said, “Shona da, I am excited!!” Shona da laughed at his silly antics.
Next morning, Shona da went to the railway ticket counter and bought 3 Gitanjali Express Tickets. Bholadadu and Birju went to the market for buying all the important stuff required for their visit like sunglasses, some new shirts and trousers, dhotis (Bholadadu’s favourite), a travel guide and a book on The history of Mumbai. The old man was more excited than the young man!! Pradeepbabu did all the hotel bookings via telephone and also fixed a driver for sightseeing. As planned, they got ready for their Mumbai visit. The train was on time and the trio reached Mumbai safely. Their driver, Nandlal Guha, was a friendly man and could speak both Hindi and Bengali.
Shona da preferred to rest in the hotel and allowed Bholadadu and Birju to go with Guha for sightseeing. Shona da was tired after the journey. He started reading the book on the history of Mumbai. When he was on page 38, a doorbell rang and Shona da became a little suspicious because Birju and Bholadadu went for sighseeing half an hour ago only and it’s impossible for them to come so early leaving the heritage of Mumbai behind. He went near the door and asked,” May I know the name of my visitor?” The person on the other side of the door replied, “Housekeeping staff, Sir”. Pradeep opened the door and let the man clean the room. After he left, Shona da found a chit lying near the chair. He picked it up and read it. It said, “8 pm – Bombay Cocktail Bar – come with your relatives, yours truly, BC.”
Shona da was quite perplexed and decided not to disclose this to anyone. He went to the Reception and enquired about the housekeeping staff but the receptionist told that he didn’t send anyone to their floor. Shona da was confirmed that someone had sent the guy intentionally to deliver the message to him. He was going back when he heard a familiar voice. It was Birju’s. He was so elated that he couldn’t control his emotions and hugged Shona da and remarked, “O thank you Shona da for this wonderful trip. I am loving it.” Bholadadu was also exhilarated.
After ordering some snacks and tea, Shona da in a very casual tone said, “Let us visit Bombay Cocktail Bar tonight, around 8pm. I have already made the reservations there.”
Birju instantly said yes but Bholadadu was reluctant to go because once when he was 18 years old, some of friends mixed something in his juice and he acted silly in front of his family members after which he got a good beating from his father. But after Birju’s innocent request, he agreed. Around 7pm, with Nandlal, they started from their hotel and reached the bar, which was 19 kms far, at around 8:05 pm. He saw many people dancing, laughing and drinking. Birju chose dancing over drinking started enjoying there while Shona da ordered a beer for himself and a juice for Bholadadu. Shona da was cautious and alert while Bholadadu was feeling a little drowsy.
Suddenly lights went off and hooting started. After few seconds, light supply was resumed and they again started dancing. Shona da was getting bored so he paid the bartender and advised Bholadadu to remain seated. He rose from his seat and went outside the bar for a casual walk. In the garden, he started getting a strong smell of cigarette and after the search he found a cigarette butt near the bushes, still red which indicated it was just smoked by someone. Shona da carefully saw the cigarette which had the name of the company written.
After 15 minutes he went inside and called Birju and Bholadadu and told them that it was 11 and now they should go. Shona da called Nandlal and they started for their hotel, The Windfall. On the way, Birju was full of excitement and said, “Oh!! I loved dancing with her. So elegant, so charismatic.”
Shona da questioned, “With whom brother?” He replied, “Beena Sarkar, a 25 year old IT professional. She studied with me in my school and we met after a long time, but, after the light supply came, I couldn’t spot her. Maybe she was tired and had left the bar.”
Shona da smiled and within half an hour they reached their hotel. Next morning, Shona da got a call from an anonymous number. He picked up the call and asked, “May I know your name?” The caller replied, “Ah!! Shona, how are you? Remember me? I am Inspector Mr. Mazumdar who accompanied you to Lucknow for that diamond theft. Where are you nowadays?”
“I am in Mumbai for a short visit, will be returning after three days. What about you?” replied Shona da.
“Oh! What a co-incidence. I am also here in Mumbai for a training visit to the headquarters. But see, today I got a missing complaint from a man named Ganashatru Sarkar whose daughter Beena Sarkar is missing from yesterday night, right Mr. Mazumdar?”
Mazumdar was astonished and exclaimed, “Are you practising Mind reading now a days? I mean how did you guess it?”
“It is a long story Mazumdar babu. I want to meet you today evening at 5pm. Please come to my hotel, room 124.”
“Sure Pradeep Sahib, will be there”. Conversation ended.
Birju and Bholadadu were afraid after they were told about the incident. Birju said,” How is this possible Shona da. We danced together and suddenly after that she vanished?!”
In the evening, Mazumdar babu arrived with another bad news. Beena Sarkar’s dead body was found near a lake, which was 2 kms away from the Bar. Mazumdar needed Shona da’s help to which he readily agreed. First of all, all four of them went to the Bombay Cocktail Bar and ordered the manager to bring the reservation list of members yesterday along with their phone numbers and addresses.
Mazumdar and Shona da visited the spot of murder. A stinking smell was there. Blood stains were there along the road which proved that the body was dragged from a distance. Beena was stabbed with something sharp and her face was disfigured with a stone or heavy object. Shona da scrutinized the spot and found three important things. One was a blood stained knife behind the bushes, a cigarette butt near the leg of the body and a torn piece of cloth. Shona da picked up the cigarette and saw it. He told Mazumdar to keep it safe in the packet with the piece of cloth. Confused Mazumdar agreed.
Shona da rushed to the bar and directly went to the garden where he saw the cigarette lying. He picked it up and rushed back to Mazumdar who was still near the lake. Meanwhile, her father, Ganashatru Sarkar, and mother, Benilata Sarkar were called. Shona da called Mr. Mazumdar aside and told him that he needed his favour. He assigned him the task to locate the people who bought the cigarette from the brand ‘Copper and Wright, since 1897’ within the last one week or so. Shona da returned back to the hotel.
Next Morning, Mazumdar arrived with the reports which clarified that Beena was stabbed around 9:30 and her body was dragged. Also, Mazumdar shared a vital information that the brand ‘Copper and Wright, since 1897’ is a very expensive cigarette brand which very few people can afford. In the last one week, only four people have brought the cigarette from various stores in Mumbai. Here’s the list. Shona da closely matched the list with the other list of the reservations and revealed a shocking truth that all the four people were there in the party. Mazumdar and Shona da were startled. Bholadadu decided to rest and Mazumdar had some important meeting to attend. So, Birju and Shona da first called four of them and took their address but didn’t disclose the reason of their visit.
The first guy was Mr Bilasmoni Chakraborty who was a businessman and was living in Mumbai for the past three years. He had curly hair and was short in height and had a dog named Husker who was quite violent. Shona da first questioned him the purpose of his visit to which he replied that he wanted to take a break from his hectic schedule so he took a day off and wanted to enjoy. Shona da also asked him about the cigarette to which he agreed and replied, “Rich people, rich lifestyle you know”. Shona da was done with the first one.
Second one Mr. Kanti Kumar Pilgaonkar who ran a saree shop in Andheri. Upon asking the same questions he replied, “Yes, I visited the bar with my wife to spend some quality time together.
“And Cigarette?” Shona da asked.
“Ummm! I don’t smoke. Actually, I have Asthma and doctor prevented me from smoking. You may have the wrong information.”
The third one was a lady named Sunita Krishnaswamy who was a bachelor and had the bad habit of smoking too much. Her house was full of smoke and she was an alcoholic too and had a bar inside her home also. But, she visited the bar to meet her office friends.
Last one was Mr. Jaishankar Wadkar, who was a decent man but had a rich lifestyle. He visited the bar because his friend was the manager and he was invited. He also agreed that he loved smoking ‘Copper and Wright, since 1897’ for it had a unique taste.
Shona da had done with the investigation. Next, just for a casual talk, he visited Mr. Sarkar with Mr. Mazumdar who was free by then. Sarkar welcomed Shona da and his team and started crying bitterly when mentioned about Beena. He said,” She was our only daughter and we have lost her. Oh Lord!! ”
Shona da found something suspicious but remained quite. That night, Shona da applied his brains hard and finally cracked the case.
Next afternoon, he invited all of his colleagues to his hotel room. Mrs. and Mr. Sarkar were also invited. Shona da advised Mazumdar to bring two policemen to handle the situation. He started, “The night when we went to the bar, in the garden I saw a cigarette butt, still red, of the company ‘Copper and Wright, since 1897’ and when I investigated the crime scene I found the same company’s cigarette butt lying there. But with that, a piece of cloth was also found, which was possibly torn from a cotton shirt. Previous night when we visited Mr. Sarkar, I saw his shirt was little bit torn and had a black spot which he was trying to hide. Before leaving, I spotted an ashtray in the corner of the room which had an unfinished cigarette which has to be thrown because of our unexpected arrival, Right Sarkarbabu?” Ganashatru Sarkar remained quiet. Shona da continued, “In Mr. Pilgaonkar’s house I could smell the scent of the cigarette but was not sure. Later I was sure when I spotted a missing knife from your collection and the design resembled the knife found in the crime spot. And in the cigarette buyer’s list we couldn’t find Mr. Sarkar’s because a packet of cigarettes was provided to him by Mr. Pilgaonkar, right?” There was a strange silence. “Also I could spot the cigarette pack in Sarkar’s pocket when he visited the spot. ”
Mazumdar questioned,”But why would a father kill his own daughter
“That’s where the twist is. Mr. Sarkar was not the real father of Beena. Her real father was Mr. Apurbo Sarkar who died in the plane crash. Her mother married this cruel man as her daughter needed a father’s love because then she was too young. But Mr Sarkar never ever loved her and was running behind her property because they were rich and Beena was to get all the property according to the will signed by her late father.”
Birju asked,”How did you get to know?”
“When we visited Sarkar Mansion, I saw a strange fear and anxiety in Mrs. Sarkar’s eyes and I found it mysterious. I met her today morning where she revealed me the truth. Mrs. Sarkar knew everything but just because of trauma and fear she couldn’t tell anyone. Pilgaonkar also favoured Sarkar because he lured Pilgaonkar and told him that he would give him 45% of the property’s paper. So, that’s the muder mystery case.”
Mazumdar exclaimed, “How strange!! Greed kills humanity and destroys the humans”.
Shona da added, “And yes Mr. Sarkar, I got a message in the starting of the case, here it is.”
Shona da handed the chit to him and Mazumdar replied, “Another case to solve, Oh dear!”
Shona da jokingly said, “No no! This chit was written by our dear Birju who wanted to go to bar but didn’t have the courage to say. So he wrote this and sent the housekeeping staff to place it in the room so that I could smell some Mystery and would like to go there, right Mr. BC I mean Mr. Brijmohan Chatterjee?”
“Yes Shona da, It was me!!I am sorry”, replied Birju.
Mazumdar chuckled, Pilgaonkar and Ganashatru were arrested and Mazumdar left after thanking Shona da. Bholadadu, who was quiet throughout, called Shona da and said, “Shouldn’t I get some credit for sharing my sad experience which brought us here??” Shona da said, “Of course!! Three cheers for our Bhola Dadu!!!”
-: The End :-