While going to B23, John was surprised of himself.
Why I felt so worried about her?...
He never felt so worried about some woman in his life, though he had handled so many cases. B23, he arrived at, and knocked the door. He pushed the door and entered in, as it was open. Anjeni was lying on the bed, looking in void outside the window.
Anjeni came out of her thoughts when she heard the footsteps. Finding it was John; she smiled, still with traces of grief on her face. It was clear that she still was not able to come out of the shock, she had undergone. He stood in front of her. She gestured him to sit, pointing at the stool kept aside. He pulled the stool and sat close to her bed.
" How are you?" He said, keeping the bouquet beside her.
She grinned faintly.
"Those who undergo the difficult times, only can feel the pain... I can understand the state of mind you are going through... " John was consoling.
Tears came out; she tried to stop, but failed. John stopped talking. He kept his consoling hand on her shoulder. But it resulted into more outbursts. She was sobbing uncontrollably holding him tight. John was trying to soothe her, exactly not knowing how to do it.
After a while she seemed to be normal. John thought, it would be a better time to ask her about the murder.
"What do you think? Who must be behind this?... I mean any guess?" John asked cautiously. .
She shook her head and again started to look outside the window. She seemed to be lost somewhere. John removed a photograph from his pocket.
" Look... here on this wall ... something round is drawn with blood... What it could be?... Any idea... rather who would have drawn this?'' John asked.
Anjeni looked at the photograph. Looking at her dead husband in the photograph, melancholy crept over her face again. John kept back the photograph.
" I mean ... can you relate that circular shape with something? ... It can be 'O' in the alphabets or even it can be zero..." John said.
" I can understand that this is not the right time to ask the questions about the murder... but the sooner we get the information, faster we can catch the criminal. ... " John continued.
Anjeni now sat right trying to control her emotions and firmly said, " Ya, you can proceed... "
John also sat right, knowing the gravity of the situation and time.
" What was Sani doing?... I mean by profession" John fired the first query.
" He was into import-export business... mainly of garments... his business was spread all over the Indian continent." Anjeni was telling.
" Any professional rival?"
" I don't think... his domain of work was totally different ... so he was not having any professional rivals" Anjeni said.
" Ok... What do you do?" John asked.
" I am a fashion designer" Anjeni answered.
The session continued for an hour or so. Lastly getting up, John said, ''Ok then... I think it’s sufficient for now... You must be tired.. ... I mean mentally... You should take rest... If anything comes up later, I may trouble you again"
" It doesn’t matter" Anjeni answered.
John turned to go. As Anjeni got up probably to usher him, John said, " You keep resting... You badly need it "
Still she followed him to the door. When John was about to turn out of the door, he heard her say, "Thank you!"
He abruptly stopped, turned and asked "For what?"
" To save me... doctor told me everything... had you not breathed me, I wouldn’t have been alive now " Anjeni said with tears and gratitude filled in her eyes.
" What’s so special about it .. I have done my duty" John shrugged his shoulder and said.
" Its your kindness" Anjeni said, reaching the door.
John turned again to go, this time walked off fast, might be to control his irrepressible emotions. Within seconds he reached the end of the alley, stopped before turning right and found she was still looking at him with intense tenderness.
John was walking through the passage towards the lift. He was feeling heavy to leave Anjeni. Suddenly something odd near lift caught his attention. A man wearing similar black T-shirt, with zero sketched on it, was approaching the lift from the other side. But the man seemed not to be the same as he saw before. John dashed towards him as he was still far.
John called out " Hey... Hello"
But before he could hear John, he entered the open lift. John was on his toes, trying to reach the lift before closing. Lift closed, but still there was a chance, for it was stationary at its place. . At last John could make it, pressed the lift button hard, but in vain, as lift started to slide down. John struggled for his instinct, and darted down the steps. There must be some relation between the 'zero' and the murder, his gut feeling said. John ran as fast as he could, keeping eye in between on the position of the lift. But the lift never waited in between, may be it was destined to stop only on the ground floor. Lift went ahead two floors, as he realized, he ran down more swiftly to win the race between machine and human. Could he win?
Exhausted John reached the ground floor, looked at lift to find who won? Red display above the lift door showed an arrow pointing upwards. He was lost, as lift was emptied at ground floor long back. He rushed out of the building, scanned everywhere around to find everyone but the one who he wanted. He returned to the parking. The man in black T-shirt was not there. He rushed to the road beside the hospital, but he could not find the man, he wanted very badly.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Mugdha Apte