- Ajay – Husband / Not a convincing Alibi / First Suspect in the case / No known motivation identified to kill Maya
- Sanjay – Ajay’s best friend from childhood and Maya’s close acquaintance from work / Known to have spent more time with Maya recently / No known motivation identified to kill Maya / booked a room at Trident hotel at the time of the murder but no solid evidence that he was in his room
- Ritu – Maya’s close friend / currently in a small role and more to gain if Maya leaves the show / On Personal leave for 2 days due to sickness / Claims to be at her residence at the time of the murder / No known Alibi.
Shyam started with Sanjay. He felt he could learn more about Ajay from his best friend.
“Sanjay, how long have you known Ajay?” asked Shyam.
Sanjay was a dark, sturdy and well-built guy and walked with a touch of confidence. The recent events did seem to have taken a toll on him.
“We did our high school together. We lost touch during college days but later became close again. I got a good role in this show, because of Ajay. And Maya was such a lovely person. I was so happy for them. Ajay always felt like he was missing something in his life until he met Maya,” said Sanjay wiping his tears.
“Did you know Maya well?” asked Shyam.
Sanjay took few seconds to compose himself and then replied.
“Ya, I was the best man at their wedding. Before Ajay fell in love with Maya, I knew her from work but never too close. During their marriage, we became good friends,” said Sanjay.
“Did Maya any time disclose any information to you that might be linked with what happened to her?” asked Shyam.
Sanjay looked surprised for a second. He quickly recovered and said, “No, nothing I could recall. She seemed quite happy. I couldn’t understand how would anyone ever do this to her. Did you check with all workers and security at her place? It might be an inside work too.”
“Yes, we are inquiring with all workers, too. Thanks for your time and also for your suggestions, Sanjay. We shall be in touch. Feel free to reach out to me if you remember anything that might help us,” said Shyam.
“So what do you think? Is it Sanjay?” asked Kiara curiously.
“It’s too soon, Kiara. We shall talk to others and decide.”
Shyam then moved on to Ritu.
“Hi Ritu, I’m Shyam and this is Kiara. As you would know, we are looking into the death of Maya. We thought we could catch up with you and have a small chat,” said Shyam.
Ritu was a smart looking woman with blonde hair and a round face. She had a bob cut. She looked apter as a TV Serial actress than a mainstream actress. Shyam noticed that she was wearing a bright red jacket which seemed to be a misfit to her dark blue shirt and white pants. ‘Fashion is really evolving these days,’ thought Shyam. Or maybe not … He parked his thought for another day.
“Of course, detective. Anytime. Maya was my best friend. I knew her only after the show started and when we were both cast in it. But in a short time, we grew very fond of each other. I can’t imagine something like this happening to Maya,” said Ritu and started crying.
Immediately Kiara got up, went to Ritu’s side and put her hands around her shoulders.
“It’s fine Ritu. If you can’t talk now, we understand,” said Kiara.
“No, no, I’m fine. Sorry about that. I couldn’t control myself. I just can’t believe I won’t be able to see her anymore. How can someone who was with you just the other day smiling, full of life and vigor suddenly disappear?” said Ritu.
“I understand. Prayers and fond memories are what we have to remember our dearly departed. I cannot begin to understand what you might be going through right now, Ritu. But we must ensure that we bring justice to Maya’s death. If you could help us with anything that Maya might have said to you or you felt something was off, please let us know,” said Shyam.
Kiara took her hands from Ritu and silently sat beside her, all the time, looking surprised at Shyam.
‘The stone does melt at times,’ thought Kiara.
“Maya seemed very happy after marrying Ajay. It was like all she ever wanted was happening to her. She had a good life, a loving husband and a lead role in a TV serial. But last few days, she was upset about something. She turned up for shooting a little late than usual and she wasn’t her enthusiastic self lately. When I asked her about it, she shunned it away saying I was imagining things,” said Ritu.
Shyam listened to Ritu with rapt attention.
“Do you have any idea what might have been bothering her?” asked Kiara.
“No, she never told me. She seemed very secretive. But I think it might have to do with her conversation with Sanjay. I overhead Sanjay and Maya having an argument a couple of days back and that involved Ajay,” said Ritu.
“Could you please elaborate it for us?” asked Shyam.
“No No, I guess it was nothing. I don’t want to complicate matters,” said Ritu.
“Even a small piece of information will go a long way in solving the case, Ritu. So please do tell, I insist,” said Shyam.
Ritu started narrating the conversation exactly as it panned out.
“What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?” Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. “Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.”
“Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .” she rolled her eyes in disgust. “That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man. Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.”
She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, “Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?”
“That’s it? Do you have any idea whom Maya was referring to?” almost shouted Kiara shaking Ritu’s shoulders.
Shyam shot a look at Kiara, raised his voice a little and said, “Kia!”
“It’s okay. Someone walked in and they changed the topic,” said Ritu.
“Thanks for your time, Ritu. It was helpful. You take care now. We shall look into it,” said Shyam and dismissed Ritu.
“Do you think, Sanjay is the one? Obviously, he hid this conversation with Maya from us,” asked Kiara.
“No, we can’t conclude anything yet. There would have been plenty of reasons why Sanjay choose to hide this from us. We either need to make them confess or need solid proof to build a case against them,” said Shyam.
They took a short break for lunch. Upon returning, Shyam looked confused and little offbeat.
“What’s up with you?” asked Kiara.
“I just got the postmortem results. We don’t have the complete information yet, but few hours before Maya was murdered, she was intimate with someone,” said Shyam.
“Any idea with whom it could have been? It can easily be Ajay. They are husband and wife after all,” said Kiara.
“No it’s not Ajay,” said Shyam looking perplexed. “It’s Sanjay.”
“What? You have to be kidding me. After all that!” exclaimed Kiara. She took a pause, looked at Shyam’s reaction and said, “And you don’t seem convinced.”
“Yes, I don’t. Sanjay is not an idiot to kill Maya right after he had been intimate with her,” said Shyam.
Shyam and Kiara then went back to Ajay’s place and had a talk with the security.
“Sir, Maya madam’s car came into the apartment at 12:30 p.m. and she was alone when she came to the apartment. Ajay sir had already left the building by the time she entered. I didn’t see anyone else entering or leaving the apartment last night,” said the security.
“Did you by any chance check the truck of the car?” asked Shyam.
“Yes sir. She had some luggage and asked me to carry it inside. There was no one else in the car,” said the security with an air of confidence.
“I believe Sanjay and Maya were not intimate in the apartment. Wherever they had been together, Maya then left Sanjay and came alone to the apartment. But someone was waiting for her inside while she came,” said Shyam.
“Do you think Ajay might have never left the building? He could have pretended to leave but then returned via some secret entrance. It’s his home after all,” said Kiara.
“That’s a possibility. But I think we need to re-visit the crime scene to see if we can get any more clues,” said Shyam.
“Hi, Detective. Were you able to find anything?” asked Ajay once they entered the apartment. Ajay looked shaken and was still in his dress he wore the previous day. He had a glass of rum in his hands.
‘Either he should be a really good actor or he is genuinely not the killer,’ thought Kiara.
“We have few suspects in mind, Ajay. But we haven’t been able to conclusively find anything yet,” said Shyam. He started to go through the crime scene inch by inch in the hopes of finding anything tangible.
“So did you talk to everyone in the studio? There was a cameraman who always had issues with Maya’s poses. And then there was this make-up artist who Maya asked me to fire last month. I guess you would have talked to Sanjay. Maybe you could also talk to his girlfriend,” said Ajay.
Both Shyam and Kiara looked at Ajay with Surprise.
“Sanjay has a girlfriend? I thought he was single,” said Kiara. She looked like she was annoyed that she missed out this tabloid gossip.
“Yes, it’s kind of their secret. She is a blonde girl with short hair. She was also Kiara’s close friend at work. Sanjay likes to keep his personal life, well personal,” said Shyam.
Kiara was dumbstruck.
At the same time, Shyam noticed two blue colored buttons lying at the right upper corner of the bed, which the forensics team might have missed confusing with all other stuff in the room.
“Ajay, does your security have an entry of all the visitors for the past 2 days?” asked Shyam.
“For last 2 days, you ask?” quizzed Kiara.
“Yes, I believe the murderer has been in the home for the last 2 days and we both know who has been missing for 2 complete days from work,” said Shyam with an air of finality.
Haven’t figured out yet? Here you go…
“What the hell is going on between that bitch, Maya and you?” Ritu’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. “Look, Ritu. There is nothing going on between the two of us. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.”
“Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .”she rolled her eyes in disgust. “That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a committed man. Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.”
She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, “How long have you been sleeping with her?”
——– THE END ——–
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