Beyond these files, a truth out there is still left untold. Missing. Escaping and sliding out of their views and their comprehension, as if making a mockery of them.
It was the first time in her life that Maya felt incompetent. Hapless. Unable to do anything. She felt like everyone in the office should stand up and take a bullet to their heads. Somewhere, someone, was laughing, giggling. There was a smile somewhere. How could they? How is it possible for them to do so? How ignorant are they to do so?
She cupped her face in her palms, as Prakash stood watching quietly, not quite knowing what to do next. And then she stood up with a spring in her step, she looked rejuvenated, almost too energetic for her own good. And as Prakash guessed, the spring wasn’t a good one.
Nas took slow, assured steps as Prakash guided him into the office. His previously dark hair now have shades of gray, and most of them have fallen off as time seemed to have caught up with him within a blink of an eye. “Cancer, selfish bitch,” Nas said meekly as Prakash seemed to almost blatantly analyze him as they walked side by side. “It sucks out everything from you, you have to beg for it to spare you something at least,” he added. Nas left his post as chief once he was diagnosed with leukemia nearly two years ago. He felt life outside the office was too valuable to spend the remains of his life confined to office spaces, or even carrying a gun and hunting down a criminal. “Here?” Nas asked, seemindly indecisive whether to turn right or left when they reached a corner in the crime lab. Prakash was surprised. This is Nas, his and also Maya’s mentor, who seems to have forgotten the way to get around what was once his own sanctuary. How much he has changed, as he seemed frail, almost too human, rather than the assured leader he once was in these spaces.
Prakash guided him all the way to where Maya was now seated. “Hi Nas,” Rajeev greeted with a formal handshake as Nas came close. Maya was still shaking her head in utter refusal. “Maya?” Rajeev is more occupied with getting Maya to agree with his suggestion. Another shake of the head. Maya would not comply to his request and what nots. “Let’s give Nas a chance, shall we?” Prakash interrupted. There was a momentary silence. Both Rajeev and Prakash looked at Nas. Nas is now supposed to play the doctor, the psychologist. To the toughest woman that has ever walked into this office in years. As far as the conscience of these three go, they have not met a woman like her. Nas seemed busy fondling the depths of his mismatched khaki pants for something. He seemed clumsy. And finally he took out what he was looking for all along. It was his taqiyah. Slowly, he placed it on his head. He made sure it was in place, neat and tidy. The same can’t be said for the manner in which he was dressed at the time. “So,” he cleared his throat. Prakash and Rajeev already were smiling at each other. Here was a man who would skip Ramadan for his favorite briyanis, now seeming all pious. It was unfathomable for the two who have known him for so long. However, for Maya, it was not the same case. Having known him personally, and having kept consistently in touch with him over the past one year since she was promoted as the new chief, in Nas’ place, she knew how he goes about his business nowadays.
“Jhansi Rani,” Nas said. Her popular nickname. That’s how she was known in the office during his tenure. All three of them let go a burst of giggle. She smiled broadly, looking at him dotingly. It seems like she always saw this tender, frail man beneath all those strengths he portrayed when he was in office. Cancer changed everything about Nas. “Bitch,” he said again. That was the nickname he gave for his illness. He never uttered that word in his life before. The counseling had to start. But Maya knew it was already done. Prakash knew too. All Nas needed to do was to make himself present.
“You showed them who is boss,” Nas said, almost in a whisper. “Where is the golden boy?” he asked. Whether it was coincidence or not, Maya did not know. But Mukesh happened to be walking right into the crime lab as Nas asked that question. Maya looked at him and pointed. Nas looked at Mukesh’s face. There was a red bruise around his eyes, and his eyes were swollen. He threw a scathing look to Maya as he walked by. “Ouh,” Nas said.
“You are violent,” he said. Maya did not say anything. “You are the best there is, if you can’t solve this, nobody can,” he whispered to her ears. “And I have become so pious that I don’t lie anymore, not even to please anyone, so I’m telling the truth,” he added before she could react. The punch of Mukesh’s face afterall, did release a substantial amount of anger that she had within. She was unable to bear with his giggling, which was probably the only he did every day in office consistently. And if he thought it was okay to do so when your boss is fretting and breaking over an unsolved case with you doing nothing to help her out, he learned his lesson. Mukesh had gone to speak with Rajeev. Prakash, who has been speaking to Rajeev the whole time, came walking back to Maya and Nas. “He’s not going to do anything to you. You are too good to be found out for a matter like this,” Prakash said casually to Maya. He bent down and got close to her ears. “I have been wanting to do that to Mukesh for a very long time. Thanks for doing it,” he said and made himself stand straight again. Rajeev and Mukesh glanced at them from far.
“He only knew how to giggle, gossip, and eat. He has a humongous belly, thinks he is good, a sexist because he despises me being the boss, and is too happy at times when we are unable to solve cases,” Maya said eloquently. She needed to put forth her justification for punching Mukesh as such. Yuva starred at her. “Am I allowed to laugh and giggle in front of you?” he asked. “Help me Yuva, help me,” she cupped her hands together, and kneeled down. “Oh great man, please, I’m begging you,” she continued. Yuva signaled at her to stop. “I am, I am…,” he started. “Can you stop trying to stabbing yourself with cupid’s arrow and help me figure this case? Please?” she continued with her childish tone, still kneeling. Yuva nodded feverishly.
“I love her,” he said after a silence. Maya’s jaw dropped.
To be continued..