What The Hell Happened?

Shadows of the past!..."What the hell happened?" Shruti burst out as she saw Rohan waiting in the hospital corridor.

"I... I don't know. I went over to her house. We were going to have dinner together. She didn't open the door, so I broke it open and saw.." Rohan replied. His eyes were swollen from the tears. Sameer stood beside him. "What did the doctor say?" Sameer asked. "She is critical. She went through a lot of blood loss." "Get a hold on yourself, man," Sameer said as he held Rohan. "She is still critical." The doctor came out and revealed it a few minutes later. Rohan bit his lip and looked away. "But one thing is for sure. This is not suicide. It was an attempt to murder." Shruti sprang to her feet. "What?" "Yes." "The cuts were made on her left hand indeed, but the way it was made, it couldn't have been by her own right hand. Plus, there are marks on her wrist which might indicate she was tied and forced." "Was she....." Rohan's voice trailed off. "No. No assault." "Thank you for the update, doctor."

"We would let you know when there is any change in her condition." "Thank you!" Sameer said as the doctor walked away. Shruti cussed and turned to Sameer. "Get me CCTV footage and guests register from Raina's apartment. How the hell did someone enters a police officer's house and tries to kill her?" Constable Shetty took out the paper that was being faced and looked at the heading.

"Members of Second innings 1997-1998" He looked through the names and marched his way towards Shruti's cabin. "Ma'am! Got these papers from the fax machine." "Keep it on the table." "Ma'am, how is Raina Ma'am?" "Still critical, Shetty." "Is it true that someone tried to murder her?" "Yes." Shruti's phone rang, and she picked it up on the first ring. Shetty left the room. "Do you mind telling me what's happening, Shruti?" The commissioner was pissed, and Shruti knew this was coming.

"This was unexpected, sir. We are solving.." "Oh yes, you are solving! The media has caught hold of the story. Who the hell gave out this information?" "Sir, the case was already out since we received the photographs, but Raina's involvement in this was not revealed." "I know that Shruti; I am talking about someone leaking out the information about her being attacked!" "What? But I didn't... "Good job! people are saying that if a policewoman could be attacked in her own house, there is no way we can protect common people! People are judging us. Do you know where this is heading to Shruti?" "Sir... "My hands are tied. And I have pressure from above. You know if this doesn't solve soon, you and I are both looking at transfer orders in our hands." "We are close to the culprit, sir." "Yeah, right! Shruti... "Shruti listened as she got an earful. Her mind worked out the next plan of action. After a few more minutes of blasting, when Shruti finally hung up the call, her phone rang again. "Hello?" "Hey! How are you?" A chirpy Shivam spoke. "Uhm, good. Listen..." "I know you must be busy. But I just wanted to ask if you are free for dinner tomorrow night? I am cooking." "That's sweet. But..." "Really, was the date that bad?" "No! It's just...

I am in the middle of solving this case and...." "And I am being a hindrance. I understand." "It's not like that.." "Hey, that's okay." "Okay. Let's me try for tomorrow." "Great." "But I can't guarantee." "No problem. I will. Wait till 10 pm. If you don't come by then, I will eat your share as well. Anyway, people have been telling me I am skinny these days." Shruti cut the call as she saw Sameer enter the cabin. "Who was that?" "Commissioner." "Aah! How was the talk?" "Who the hell told the media about Raina's attack?" The woman stood in her house as the TV blasted out the news. "….. police was found... "She stared at the screen, and perspiration trickled down her skin. "Mom, have you seen where my black socks are?" A young teenage girl asked. The woman stood unmoved. "Mom?" "Huh?" "I want my black socks." "Yes. It's in your second drawer. I washed it yesterday." "Thank you. Are you alright?" "Yes." "You haven't been yourself lately." "I am good." "Okay. I am going out with friends tonight. I would be back by 11. Love you!" "Love you too."

The woman sat on her sofa, her body trembling. She picked up her cellphone and gave a call. The sane news was being blasted in a posh sea-facing house. The elderly man picked up the remote and pointed at the TV. the volume increased, and he listened intently. "Feroza? Isn't she the same police officer who came knocking on our door last week?" His wife came out of the kitchen and looked at the TV screen. "Yes... What happened to her?" Apparently, someone attacked her, and people are questioning if a Police officer who is trained to protect themselves is being attacked, then what will happen to a common man." "Oh my god." "And her name is Raina.." He said, facing his wife. "Oh my god." "I can't believe this." "Should we go to the police?" "Of course. We have to tell what we know." "What's the update?" Shruti asked as Rohan entered the cabin. "Spoke to the security guy and the chairman of the society.

Guests are mandatorily needed to sign the register when they visit, and then a phone call is placed to the concerned apartment. After this, the guest is allowed to go upstairs." "Okay." "The register has no entry of anyone going to 801; that is Raina's flat." "Did you look at the footage?" "Yep. There are a bunch of people, but no one suspicious." "Damn it. Play the footage." Rohan played the footage, and Shruti saw it intently. She pointed to someone and was about to say something when there was a knock. "Ma'am?" Constable Shetty came in. "Yes." "There is an elderly couple here. They want to talk to you." "Tell Sameer to handle it." "Ma'am, they say it's related to Raina ma'am's case." Rohan and Shruti looked up from the computer. "Send them in." "My name is Feroza Furniturewala, and he is my husband, Arif." "Yes. Tell me." "Two of your officers had come to talk to us about a long-forgotten case last week. Oh yes, this guy with a girl." She said as she saw Rohan standing in a corner and Sameer standing beside Shruti. "Right. You are Nalini Raghuvanshi's neighbor." "That's correct."

"When they had come to talk to us, I didn't know the lady officer is… is Raina." "You know Raina?" "I wouldn't have opened my mouth if she weren't in danger. Yes, I know her. She is Nalini's daughter." Shruti looked at Sameer, who pulled up a chair and sat opposite them. "But you said Nalini..." Rohan tried to say. "Yes, I know what we said. We had to." "You had to?" "Nalini's father and my husband were very good friends. I had practically seen Nalini growing up. I saw her getting a degree and also saw her getting married to that monster." Shruti glanced at Sameer and then back at them. "That guy was a monster. He tortured Nalini every day. For five years, Nalini suffered but didn't tell anyone. Not even her father. Then one day, when she couldn't take it anymore, she came home and revealed all the horrific details." Rohan looked at Shruti. "That Nirav wanted boys who could join the army as he had. 5! 5 abortions she had because he wanted a boy. Nalini was shattered with every abortion. She loved every one of those little babies. I have four daughters. I can't think of killing them yet; that's what Nalini was forced to do." "But we met Nirav, and he said they separated because Nalini had an affair…." Sameer trailed off. "All bullshit. A facade. How could he tell the world the real reason? Wouldnt the world judge him?" "So you are saying Nalini came back and separated from him because she couldn't take this anymore?" "Yes. I was there when Nalini told all about her ordeal.

Sulakshana, another neighbor of ours, her husband, Devi, and Sarita were all there. We had gone over to surprise her, and we all were surprised. Nalini's father supported her decision. A month later, Nalini came to know she was pregnant. I was the one who took her to the hospital for the test. This time Nalini wanted to keep the baby. And she knew if Nirav or his family came to know about it, they would surely force her to abort. Technically they weren't divorced yet, and she feared they would do something to her baby." "So Raina is Nalini's daughter?" "Yes. Nalini had made a name for herself. Her little boutique was flourishing. She liked someone too. I remember she told me she was planning on settling down again. And then she disappeared. Just gone. Nalini's father begged all the neighbors and us not to say anything about Raina to the police or anyone. He was afraid if Nirav came to know, he would naturally take her away considering he was still married to Nalini, and God knows what he would have done with her." "I anyway suspected that guy had a hand in Nalini's disappearance as well. But the police said he had an alibi and that he was clean. But I still bet he is the culprit! We had even given this abortion information to the police officer who was investigating the case back then, but he went and spoke to Nirav, and suddenly Nalini was the villain here because she was seeing someone." Arif said. "It all makes sense now," Sameer whispered. "Which is why we have come here. If Raina has been attacked, especially after she opened up her mother's case, only one man can be responsible for this. Nirav Rai!"

Shruti knocked on the familiar house again. But there was no response. "It's locked," Sameer said as he took a stroll around the property. Shruti glanced at a neighbor and went up to her. "Do you know where Nirav Rai is? His phone number isn't reachable too." "He went to his hometown. It's Holi, right?" "Aah, okay. Do you know where his home is?" "What are you thinking?" Sameer asked Shruti asked they rode in the car. "I don't know. If what Mrs. Furniturewala told us is true, then it was me who told Nirav that he had a daughter." "Please don't blame yourself. He would have known sooner or later the whole case is blown out of proportion IN the media." "Yeah, but still.." "Don't stress about it." He said and kept his hand on hers. She clasped it and kept her head on his shoulder. "I can very well understand what you must have gone through when... I wish you didn't have to abort." "I know." "Do you still think of her?" "Yes." "Do I still remind you only about that bad phase?" Shruti looked at him and nodded her head. "No. I have made peace with it." "Is it because of Shivam?" "I guess so." Sameer looked out of the window. His eyes are moist. Rohan entered the hospital room, where Raina lay on the bed. He checked with the constable outside and asked for updates. He then went inside and kept the fruit basket on the table, and went near her. He caressed her cheeks and kissed her. The nurse came in just then and smiled at him. "She is very much loved. She will be better soon. Don't worry." "I know she will. She is strong. Stronger than me."

"That's a coincidence. Well, that's what her mother said." Rohan looked at the nurse with a start. "What?" "That's what her mother said." "Whose mother?" "The patient's." "The patient's mother was here?" Yes. She had come by at 1 in the afternoon to check her condition. The constable wasn't outside, so I was in here. I updated her. She said she is stronger than anyone she knows. Lovely lady." The house of Nirav Rai back in his hometown would put any millionaire to shame. It was a huge palace with at least a dozen servants just between the main gate to the main door, engrossed in their work. Shruti and Sameer looked around a bit and then proceeded towards the main door. A woman, presumably in her early 60s, came to the door. She had her head covered. "Yes?" She asked. "We wanted to meet colonel Nirav Rai." "You are?" Shruti showed the badge, and the woman asked her to follow. They entered the house, and we were taken to another room with sofas all around. "This is the sitting area. Please have a seat. I will call him." A man appeared with a juice and some sweets. Shruti and Sameer politely declined it. A man entered a few minutes later. He had a striking resemblance to Nirav, but he looked much younger. "Hello, my name is Nishant. I am Nirav's younger brother. Is everything alright? I mean, we are not used to having police personnel at home." "Don't worry.

This is just related to a case." "Nalini bhabhi's case?" "Yes." "I see. Nirav bhaiya would be home soon. Please make yourself comfortable." He said and turned around to leave the room when Shruti stopped him. This house… It's beautiful!" "Thank you. This was built by our great grandfather. He was a zamindar. We deal with land and farming." "I see.: Shruti looked at the photographs hung on the wall. Men in different attires of different eras were photographed and displayed. "They are our ancestors. That's our great grandfather. That's our grandfather with his brothers. Their sons. That's my father and his brothers. Then that's Bhaiya and me. Those are our cousins, Manish and Manoj." He gave an introduction to each and every person in the photograph.

"And these?" Sameer asked, pointing to the small kids in a photo frame. "They are my sons. Vishal and Chirag." "They are quite young.? "Yes. I had them in my early 40s." "So this is just the male members. What about female members? Daughters of the family?" Shruti asked with a smile.

Nishant looked at Shruti and smiled. "We don't have daughters in the family." "Oh. That's sad. Isn't it?" "Not really. It's how you see it." Nirav entered just then and cleared his throat. "Uhm... Why are you both here?" "We have some questions. Though your brother was helpful too." "Nishant, give me some privacy," Nirav said. "Sure, bhaiya." He said and left the room. "What is it?" Nirav asked, turning to them. "Recognize her?" Shruti showed the photograph of Raina. "Who is she?" "Your daughter." "How many times have I told you I don't have a daughter?" "Well, if you belong to a family which enforces having a 'son' with so much vigor, then I surely do understand…." "This has nothing to do with my family. Keep them out of it." "Surely. But we have proof that Raina is your daughter.

We can get a DNA test done in case you want to be..." Sameer said. "No. I don't need that. Why would Nalini not tell me if she was pregnant?" "Because you made her abort every time you came to know she had a baby girl inside of her, illegally." "That's not true." He said, gritting his teeth. "Where were you yesterday evening around 7 pm?" "I was on my way here. With my driver. Why?" "There was an attempt to murder your daughter." Nirav looked at her as if he had seen a ghost. "And you think I did it? Are you crazy? I told you I don't even know her. I don't accept she is my daughter; then why would I try to murder her?" "Well, that's our question too." "I have given my entire life to the country. Sacrificing my family. My wife. I can't stoop so low now and try to murder a woman so that all that I have worked for go down the drain. Now, will you please leave my house? I am done talking."

Shruti and Sameer came out of the house. "What do you think?" Shruti asked. "This place is more crooked than we ever thought." "Exactly. Constable Gaurav has a village accent, right?" "Yep." "You know where I am going with this?" "You bet I do." Sameer smiled. Rohan barged into the security room of the hospital. "I need the footage of the corridor on the third floor. And also the entrance of the hospital." "May I know what this is regarding?" The head of security asked. Rohan slammed his ID on the table. Sameer came into the cabin with a smile on his face. "We have something. The whole net worth of the Rai estate is close to 20 crores." "What?" "Yep. And get this, the great grandfather Shri Shashikant Rai, a then 18-year-old, had supposedly taken a priest's advice on his failing crops and poverty-ridden life, and he was advised if he had two sons and the second son touches the soil of the land he owns, he will reap all the benefits.

Apparently, a female child carries a bad omen for the Rai family, the priest said. So the great grandfather had two sons with God's grace. And guess what?" "You don't say." "Yep. It happened exactly as the priest had said. They became wealthy. So it became a norm to have only a male child in the family. There were, as per what Gaurav came to know, six female children that were abandoned or given away to servants to raise as their own in these 100 years. Since the family is influential, no one dared complain." "Bloody hell." "Well, since the introduction of the technology and the affluence of the family, they would find out the sex of the baby and take care of it before it's born in the later years. We are trying to see which hospital they would go to to take action. Anyway, because of this, the baby was abandoned reduced to a certain extent." "And that's what happened to Nalini." "And Sunita." "Who's Sunita?" "Nishant's first wife. She had close to 4 abortions before she fled her house, just like Nalini. She then committed suicide in her parental home because of the constant advice of going back to her husband's house." Shruti put the hand on her mouth. "The second wife Parul has borne him two sons, which was what the delay was all about." "I can't believe this." "Anyway, this gives Nirav a motive for murder." "But why would he kill his wife with whom he was separated for six years? How was it fruitful?"

Rohan blasted his way in just then. "I know who the culprit is." He said and gave a pen drive. "I went to the hospital and found Raina had been visited by her mother today." "What?" Sameer and Shruti exclaimed in unison. "Yes. So I went over to the security department for the footage and look who I find going to Raina's room?" Rohan plugged in the pen drive, and the video turned on. A woman in her forties was seen walking from the car inside the hospital. She was then seen walking toward Raina's room. She had flowers in her hand, which she kept near her chest to avoid showing her face. "We can't make out the face," Sameer said. "But we can make out the way she walks." He said and looked at Shruti. "Wait… I have seen this woman." Shruti opened the footage of Raina's apartment. "This lady walks in with this group of birthday party people who go up the 10th floor. And she has the same limp as the woman in the hospital!" "But who is she?" Sameer asked. "I have a hunch," Rohan said, looking at Shruti. "Me too." "Why am I without a hunch? We can't zoom in on the car number." Sameer said. "Not in this one. But I saw another footage where this car passes through the main gate where the registration number is quite visible."

The landline rang just then, and Rohan picked it up. A minute later, he smiled at them. "We have the Address." Shruti, Rohan, and Sameer walked up to the main door of the posh bungalow on the outskirts of the city. Shruti rang the bell and waited. A man in his late 50s opened the door. "Yes?" "Mr. Ram?" Shruti asked. "Yes." "Know this woman?" Ram looked at the screenshot of the footage, which showed a woman getting out of the car. "Yes. That's my wife. What is this about?" "Could we meet her please?" "Poorna?" He called out. The woman came out of the room and stood motionless, staring at the people who were equally shocked at seeing her. "What a pleasant surprise Mrs. Poorna Ram, Or should we say, Miss Poovi Senthilkumar!

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