Bansal was walking swiftly towards his office. His colleague Ramu cornered him on the way and dumped a large bundle of files into his hands. Bansal was a senior officer in the CBI headquarters in Delhi. He had worked in the police force for 30 years now and had only 3 months to retire. “You have to sign all these papers now”, said Ramu. “Okay, but I might take time. I am going to prep the new guy”, replied Bansal as he carried on to his office. He entered his office and kept the new set of files with the existing dump on his table. He sat on his chair and told the guy standing opposite to him to take a seat. He opened a file placed before him and said, “Sub-Inspector Avinash Verma huh? I went through your files yesterday and the level of your involvement in the Nithari killings was the only reason I selected you in my team which is investigating this case”. “Thank you sir”, replied Avinash. “You are going to start work from today on wards  You will be in charge of the evidence. Your job will be to collect all the evidences, some which we have and some which we will get in future. Since you are new to the functioning of a high profile team like ours, I can’t send you to the field right now”, said Bansal. “That’s okay sir, I just want to make myself useful”, said Avinash. “Good, now you can go out and meet Inspector Ramu who will brief you about your work in the office and answer all your questions. All the best!”, said Bansal as he stood up and shook hands with Avinash. After Avinash left the room Bansal switched on the t.v and started signing the files one by one. A breaking news report was being telecast on CNN-IBN. A group of well known psychologists and politicians were debating on the Nithari killings. Bansal looked at the tv with disgust. “All they do is yap, I bet none of them has the balls to even look at the photos of the crime scene”, he said. Just then Ramu came into the room to tell Bansal that he had told Avinash about his work and everything related to his work when he glanced at the tv. “You should not be watching such shows, it might get you worked up”, said Ramu. “If it hadn’t been for those dirty politicians I would have become DGP at least by now”, replied Bansal. “Hey, it’s over buddy. This is your last case so let your last case be a slap to their faces”, said Ramu. “Thanks Ramu. By the way, the next hearing on the case is next week so tell the new boy to start his work”, said Bansal. “I have already told him everything, take it easy. You need to go home and get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day with the press conference and Commissioner visit coming up”, said Ramu. “Okay, as you say boss to-be”, said Bansal, as he picked up his coat and patted Ramu on his back on his way out of the office. 

With 5 days left for the Supreme Court hearing the mood in the CBI headquarters was tense. Bansal had to work late nights and had to live on coffee and biscuit packets kept in his office. One such night when Bansal was working intensely in his office he heard some noise outside his room. He got up from his chair and slowly opened the door. He saw light in Avinash’s office. He was packing up his belongings after being in the office for 18 hours straight. Bansal didn’t move from his spot as he was carefully observing Avinash. After packing his suitcase he picked up a small box in his hand and left his office not noticing the hidden figure in Bansal’s office. Bansal remembered seeing a confidential mark on the box. He was apprehensive of the sudden inclusion of Avinash in the team and now he was all the more suspicious of his activities. He switched off his light and locked his office and decided to follow Avinash. He jogged down the hallway and signed in the register as he saw Avinash taking a U-turn in his black Lancer. He waited for his car to go a few meters ahead of the main entrance of the building and then bolted out of the door, unlocked his Skoda and dived into the driver’s seat to catch up with Avinash. Initially it was tough to follow Avinash as he was driving slowly but when he picked up pace it became easier for Bansal to follow him. Avinash drove till Connaught place and parked his car in front of Zen bar. Bansal parked his car 100 meters behind the Lancer and saw Avinash entering the bar. He decided to wait for Avinash to come back. Bansal was tense and his tension was only increasing as each minute passed. Finally, after 10 minutes of torturous waiting he couldn’t take it anymore. He got out of his car and walked towards the bar. After entering the bar it took a few seconds for him to get used to dimness inside the bar. As he scanned the whole bar with his eyes, a waiter came up to him and asked, “Sir, table for one?”. “No, I was looking for my friend who asked me to meet him here. Do you remember seeing anyone wearing a coat and carrying a briefcase? He might have come around 10-15 minutes back”, asked Bansal. “No sir, I have been standing at the door since 9:45 PM and my turn will end in another 5 minutes but I don’t remember anybody carrying a briefcase”, replied the waiter. “Can you please check once more? It’s a very important matter that we need to discuss”, said Bansal. “Sure sir, let me take a round and come”, replied the waiter. After 5 minutes the waiter returned and shook his head with a smile on his face. Bansal was disappointed at having come so close yet losing Avinash and suspicious of the waiter. As he came out with a long face Bansal was shocked to see that the black Lancer had vanished. He ran towards the spot where it was parked, but there was no sign of it ever being there. All this was too much excitement for the old man and he didn’t have the energy to pursue this investigation any further tonight. But he had made up his mind to question Avinash the next day.

Bansal couldn’t sleep all night, so he came to the office early. He went and checked in Avinash’s office but it was locked. He roamed around the office like a mad man not knowing what to do. He settled down in his chair deciding to go through Avinash’s file. At 9 AM Ramu opened Bansal’s office after knocking twice. Bansal was sleeping on the file drooling all over it. Ramu walked over to his desk and shook him till he opened his eyes wide and stretched. He suddenly remembered the events of last night. He jumped out of his seat and ran past Ramu to check on Avinash. He saw him working in his office. Ramu came up to Bansal and pulled him back to his office. “What is the matter with you? I know when something is bothering you”, said Ramu. “This time it is someone”, replied Bansal. “Just like the old times huh?”, asked Ramu. “Not quite. I saw Avinash carrying a package marked confidential last night after everyone had left the building. I followed him to a bar in Connaught place. After entering the bar he just disappeared”, replied Bansal. After a long pause Ramu said, “What do you want me to do?”. “Do a background check on him and check all of his files and record. I want to know him better than I know my son”, said Bansal. Ramu saluted Bansal and swiftly walked out of the room. After 15 minutes Ramu came back into Bansal’s office. “Promise me you will stay calm and not shoot that guy”, said Ramu as soon as he entered the room. “Why? What happened?”, asked Bansal. “That guy is a fake. It took me less than 30 seconds to find that out after entering his name in the database. According to our records this guy has been dead for the last 5 years”, said Ramu. Bansal was dumbfounded when he heard this. “This thing has to be dealt with immediately Ramu and I don’t want to make this public. This guy has made the whole police force and the CBI a laughing stock. I will be sacked for this”, said Bansal. “Listen to the whole thing first. I called the police station from where he got transferred here”, said Ramu. “And?”, asked Bansal in an irritated tone. “The inspector on duty, Ashish Singh told me Avinash used to work there. But after he died, Ashish got transferred there. He said he will check the old files and call me”, said Ramu. Just then his phone started ringing. “Hello”, answered Ramu after picking up the phone and putting it on loudspeaker so that Bansal could listen. “Sir, its Ashish speaking”, replied the voice on the phone. “Yes Ashish, I was waiting for your call. Did u find anything interesting?”, asked Ramu. “Not much sir, I found Avinash’s file among some old records here. All that is written here is that Avinash was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a bar”, replied Ashish. “Ask him which bar”, whispered Bansal to Ramu. “Is the name of the bar given?” asked Ramu. “Wait a minute sir, I had just seen the name somewhere. Here it is, Zen bar in Connaught place, Delhi”, replied Ashish. Bansal fell back on his chair, he had heard enough. “Sir, the case is still under investigation but it has reached dead end. Even this file was dusty and almost ruined when I found it. But there is one interesting fact or myth about this case which I don’t think is even related to the case”, said Ashish. This caught the attention of both Bansal and Ramu. “What is it?”, asked Ramu. “I asked the head constable about this case as he and Avinash got transferred here at the same time. He told me that 2 constables had died after seeing dreams about Avinash”, said Ashish. “What kind of dreams? And how did the constables die?”, asked Ramu. “I don’t know about their deaths sir. The head constable told me all this. Personally, I think all these are myths. I have been working here for a long time now and I haven’t heard about or had dreams about this guy”, said Ashish. Bansal nudged Ramu to ask more questions but he saw the futility in asking anything and thanked Ashish for his help before keeping the phone. “Don’t be so worried sir, it’s just a case of someone impersonating someone to get something. Let’s go confront this guy and sort everything out”, said Ramu trying to reassure Bansal. “What if someone comes to know?”, asked Bansal. “Just come with me sir, nothing will happen”, said Ramu as he pulled Bansal out of his chair. Both of them walked briskly towards Avinash’s office. Both of them walked into his office and locked it from inside. When they faced him he was looking at the ceiling with smile on his face. “You have some questions to answer Avinash”, said Ramu in a menacing tone. Avinash looked down at Ramu, he raised his finger and started humming, “Inkey pinkey ponkey!”. Both Ramu and Bansal looked at each other, perplexed at Avinash’s behavior. “What the fuck is this Avinash? You can’t get out of this” said Ramu at the top of his voice as Avinas continued his chants. “donkey died father cried inkey pinkey ponkey. There is a way out Ramu, but not for me, for you”, said Avinash with his finger pointed at Bansal. A sharp noise filled the atmosphere at that precise moment; Bansal turned left and right and rolled on the ground as the sound filled his head. His eyes and ears were paining and suddenly he jumped up and opened his eyes. And he woke up! 

Bansal looked at the clock as it said 7 AM. Ramu his house help was filling tea in a cup for his master with his back towards his master. “That was a weird dream that I was having. Thank God it’s 7”, said Bansal as he stretched on the bed. “Awww, did my baby get up? Let’s put my darling back to sleep”, said Ramu as he turned towards Bansal. Bansal looked at Ramu’s face and stopped breathing, his eyes filled with fear as Avinash came up to him and kept his hand on Bansal’s head. 

Ramu ran from his room and seeing Mrs.Bansal sitting in the front lawn ran up to her and asked her, “memsahib, where is sahib?”. “What do you mean where is sahib? You didn’t wake up in the morning and make tea for us. I had to get up and make tea and your sahib didn’t wake up even after I shook him for 5 minutes. I don’t know how you wake him up because you do it everyday”, said Mrs.Bansal. Ramu didn’t wait for her to finish and ran inside the house as Mrs.Bansal kept on yelling behind him. 

Isaac Mathew

My work does not define me, now that i think about it i guess nothing ever will.

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