The Underwater Thug – Ep. 2

In last episode, The Underwater Thug Ep. 1, you read that village head of Agwanpur called Feluda, a private investigator, to investigate in the strange crime by a saffron-wearing man allegedly living in a pond. Feluda arrived to investigate on his own before starting the same two days later officially. Now read on for adventure that lies ahead in episode 2:

We had two days in hand to investigate in the matter before Mr. Shukla would have joined us.

Feluda said he would go to library and bus depot to gather some information and asked me and Lalmohan babu to travel towards the district court and adjoining areas.

Lalmohan babu felt reluctant to go out in the sun without his umbrella that he’d forgotten to bring with him so it became necessary to buy one.

Feluda was already out so I asked Lalmohan babu if he would at least come to the market in the alley beside the hotel. He put on his khadi jacket and reached his hand out for the umbrella behind the door only to realise how foolish this was. He slapped his forehead with left hand and grinned from ear to ear which made him look even more foolish. I wished I could tell him that.

The shopkeeper of the store was a talkative man and he seemed to have some knowledge of the incidents in Agwanpur. While Lalmohan babu was busy picking an umbrella, I asked this man if he knew something more than what was printed in papers already.
It turned out that he lived in Jaisinghpur – one of the three villages adjoining Agwanpur. “People think it is the ghost of old priest of Agwanpur’s Kali Temple. Oh yes, he was allegedly removed from his position following an accusition of theft of the temple jewels. Balram Manohar Mishir, that’s what his name was, commited suicide by jumping in the same pond after the allegations. This was 5 years ago.”, he narrated animatedly.
“Then why didn’t the ghost appear in last five years?”, I countered.
“May be it was waiting for the right time. For Radhemohan to become village-head. He was the one who alleged Balram Mishir of theft during the time his father Ramnarayan Shukla was village-head”, he explained.

Lalmohan babu came to counter and our conversation was interrupted. He had picked a long traditional-looking umbrella. I asked storekeeper if he knew something more but he ignored my question and went on to count currency notes Lalmohan babu has given for the umbrella. We took off in a man-pulled rickshaw towards the nearby ghat of river Gomti.

Unlike other ghats we have seen ever earlier this one was thinly crowded and had a temple of Lord Hanuman with walls painted orange and smeared with orange vermilion paste. The priest was preparing for evening offerings and arti. We found a quite corner for ourselves and waited next 20 minutes for the arti to be over.

Priest was a man in his late fifties with salt and pepper hair and beard. He had experienced but restless eyes. We asked him if he had heard of the priest of Kali Temple of Agwanpur and the incident of theft five years ago. He wasn’t expecting this question so for a moment he found it difficult to believe what was being asked. He did agree however, that he knew this priest as as a community they mostly know prominent ones in the villages around.
“Balram did not steal the jewels. I had met him once in a Yujna arranged by our former MP in Sultanpur civil lines. He was a man of principles. And also, I could see no reason he would do such a thing for he had a reputation. People respected him and that is why he was at receiving end of many large donations and offerings people used to make. His house too was no less good than the house of Agwanpur’s village-head’s. What concerns you two after so many years, anyway?”

I was obliged to introduce ourselves.

“Is someone going to dig the dead now? Who, did you say, hire you?”, he asked with astonishment mixed with a tone of disgust.

I saw no harm in keeping away that information either. I told him about the thug and Radhemohan babu’s call.

“I have heard of it. It is really bad that people are being looted of their valuables. Although I personally don’t like Radhemohan, for he was the one who alleged Balram Mishir and pressed hard for his arrest thus forcing him to commit suicide, I however think he did the right thing by calling you people for help. May you succeed, God bless.”, he said while climbing down the footsteps towards the river.

We felt an urgency to let Feluda know about everything that we’d learned so far so we rushed towards rickshaw stand.

To be continued…in Episode 3

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