Wednesday, April 20, 2016
The Suicide Point - A Short Story
The Suicide Point
The Inspector was in a deep slumber at his desk when he was woken up by the Head Constable with a shake of his shoulder “Sir, wake up. We have another golden goose come in” which must have been their code word for something of importance as the Inspector Of Police came suddenly awake and alert and nodded to the head constable to bring in the goose to be plucked. The two persons who hurried in next were both young, twenty something males who were weeping but trying hard to show they were not. “Sir, sir” said one of them who had stepped forward, “our father has fallen off the cliff into the bushes below, you have to help us find him”. The head constable hurriedly put in his own version of their story “Their father has jumped off suicide point sir”. At this the other guy, who looked to be the younger one interrupted angrily “no, no, he didn't jump, he slipped and fell as he was posing for a photo”.
The inspector who had heard the same story a dozen times in his life raised a hand to cut him off in full flow “Stop, do you expect me to believe that any man would be able to slip and fall off that dangerous place despite all the warning boards we have put up and the fence surrounding it? Don't lie to a policeman” he threatened the brothers. The elder who seemed to be more in control of his feelings said in a plaintive voice “Sir but that's exactly how it happened, even we didn't see clearly how our father climbed over the fence and got to the edge to peer down there. When he called us to take his picture he was already there and waving at us. In a fraction of a second he disappeared over the edge and we think his foot must have slipped or something otherwise we could have saved him.”
The head constable said then “They have already wasted so much time trying to find the old man on their own, they should have come straight to us instead of wasting time”. The inspector looked sharply at the two brothers and asked “what time did this happen? “ The elder brother replied “Around noon today sir ” and he stood there staring guilty at the inspector who replied “And it's going on three pm now, you look like educated people, how can you behave like this? Don't you know you have to report any crime like this immediately to the police?”.
The younger and angrier brother replied “Sir this is not a crime, this was an accident. We know the rules too. But have a heart. Our father had fallen over, we were mad and distraught and didn't know what to do. Coming to the police station to give a complaint was the last thing on our minds then”. The inspector looked sharply at him and asked “Then why have you come now ? For what?”. The kid looked boldly back at him and said “For your help in recovering our father’s, father’s” he couldn't complete his sentence. “Body?” asked the inspector with a cruel grin “of course you will come to the police for help when no one else is there, otherwise what are we for?” he continued “Now hear this , we are overburdened with crimes already,the investigation of which takes precedence over anything else, you yourself say this was an accident, so that's it, go give a statement to the head constable that your father fell in an accident and take a FIR copy with you when you leave” he turned back to contemplate the calendar behind him marked with dates for court appearances.
“But, but” the elder faltered in front of him “aren’t you going to help us search for him sir? Search for” he swallowed and said “my father's body?”. The inspector turned back with a look of genuine amusement in his face “what do you think we are mountaineering experts like they show in movies? Do you know how dangerous it is, that place where you father fell? No policeman is going to risk his life searching for a corpse there” and he paused to look meaningfully “BUT, there are people who can help you, certain of the guides there will go down to bring up your father’s corpse but it will cost you money, as it's very risky they charge a lot, talk to the head constable there, he will guide you”. The elder brother said then “money is no problem inspector we just want our father” and suddenly the younger one erupted “wait a minute, isn't it your duty to find our father's body? Why should we employ someone else and what guarantee is there that they will find him for us after taking our money?”
The inspector almost got up out of his chair with anger “guarantee, how dare you ask for a guarantee here, you whelp” he screamed and raised a hand as if to hit the kid when suddenly the head constable loomed in front of him, intervening with his anger and driving away the two brothers to the other side of the room “sir let me talk to them and explain things” he cajoled the inspector into relaxing and moved away to the other corner of the room with the two bereaved offspring of the dead man. After what seemed a long time but was little more than ten minutes the head constable came back to the inspector and said “I have talked to the boys and the deal is finalized”.
The inspector grumbled “and how much are they willing to pay” the head constable gave a sly grin before he said “Five Lakh Rupees for their father's body”. This time the inspector did get up out of his chair almost involuntarily “FIVE LAKHS? damn, how did they agree to that amount? And they have no idea that the tribals who do the actual finding charge no more than twenty or thirty thousand rupees depending on how deep they go?”. The head Constable preened himself “no sir they are just kids and they have no idea about the value of money. The elder has already given me fifty thousand rupees which he carries about as loose change in his pockets. He was ready to bring around the rest tomorrow but the younger one insisted, he is pretty annoying by the way, that the balance will be paid only after we show them their fathers body which should be no trouble at all. And then we are in luck- almost four and a half lakhs to divide between ourselves”. The inspector looked thoughtful “OK. This seems to be our lucky day. Get their statement, write a damn FIR that it was an accident and get rid of them immediately. Go call up that fellow Irulan and his team, to go down the suicide point immediately before these two idiots realize they have been duped”.
But the best laid plans can go awry too and that's what happened with the inspectors plan. Two days later, Irulan a well muscled tribal whose profession was retrieving dead bodies at the suicide point stood before the inspector wringing his hands “We searched everywhere Yeajaman, but we couldn't find the old gentleman whose photo was shown to us. He must have fallen even deeper into the Devil's pit area and not one of us will willingly go into there”. The inspector and the head constable both looked at each other sadly, they could feel the rest of the money slipping away through their fingers. As they hesitated over their next course of action it was Irulan himself who suggested a solution to their dilemma “unless, if you agree sir we can bring up some other unclaimed body fully smashed and claim it's their father's dead body. No one can say how damaged a body will be after failing from such a height and you can convince them and give a death certificate that its so.”
With no other option to lay their hands on the balance amount the inspector immediately agreed to Irulan's plan and it all went as smoothly as he said it would. Even the younger brother whom they suspected will make a scene quietly accepted that it was their father's body and after paying the rest of the finders reward the two brothers went away with the death certificate and the corpse, to cremate it. And thats the end of it all thought the inspector as he went onto buy a new maruti swift with his share of the dead body money. But fate had a different story to show.
A few months later the inspector got a sealed envelope which he opened, read thoroughly twice and then whistled before beckoning the head constable near to him “Those two bastard swindled us. Look,” he said and showed him a photo of a fifty something man coming out of a bank “Do you remember those two brothers who came to us with five lakhs to find their father's body. Seems that the old man had swindled five hundred crores from the banks before convenient falling off the cliff in an accident. The bank which had sealed his lockers in anticipation of his bankruptcy petition had finally relaxed their careful watch after seeing his death certificate and two days ago the same guy had walked in and emptied his lockers of all the cash. Now the bank has sent us a photograph from the surveillance camera asking us if this is the same dead body we recovered? And how a dead guy came back to life in the banks vault?”.
The inspector and the head constable looked at each other with crestfallen faces “And of course we have to reply that it was the same corpse that we recovered form the suicide point. We can't be changing our story now after all this time especially after insisting to the boys that it was indeed their father's body we found. We would be accused of falsifying our own records and we will lose our jobs. We are screwed both ways unless we stick to our original story till the end”. The head constable looked sadly at the inspector “To think that we let those frauds get away with just five lakhs from that five hundred crores” And the inspector said more irritably “To think we were both fooled by two young kids pretending to cry over a still healthy father. What idiots we were”.