The Underwater Thug – Ep. 4

In last 3 episode you read about the crime in Agwanpur, Feluda’s involvement in unraveling the mystery. Read on as Feluda joins the threads to find the culprit.

Previously – Episodes 1 2 3


Radhemohan talked in detail about the childhood of his sons while tea arrived.

Feluda asked him about the incident of theft in Kali’s temple five years ago as he lifted a cup from the tray.

Radhemohan was visibly surprised, “I didn’t know you already have gathered that information. This strengthen my believe ten folds on your ability Mr. Mitter.” He paused to sip from his cup.

“The temple is famous around here. People from many places come to pay their respect. My father used to be named manager of the funds that temple received, while Balram Manohar Mishir was the priest at that time.”

“The theft took place in the month of Vaisakh, three days before the Saraswati-Pooja when temple was to receive a lot in its funds. What made you think that Balram Misir did this?”- asked Feluda.

I was tempting to ask this myself.

“I was not sure, but the fact that Balram used to be there all the time and he was supposedly responsible of managing temple somehow made me think that he should be investigated as nothing could happen without his knowledge. Plus, I have always heard him and my father, in father’s study, buried in deep arguments about the expenditures of the funds collected. Apparently, I have grew annoyed of him and thought of him as someone who could have held a personal vendetta. Of course I was wrong.”

“Mr. Shukla, I would take your leave now.”, declared Feluda and got up to leave. At the same moment a man entered the compound on cycle and greeted Mr. Shukla loudly even before he got off of it.

He parked his vehicle in a corner, resting on a wall, and approached us.

“I was wondering if you could give me an advance pay of my work. It has been 3 days; only two more are left when I will be done with wheat and start in Arhar’s (pigeon pea) field after that.” he pleaded.

“And on my way here, I have asked the locksmith to come, as you have asked. He will be here in an hour.”, he added without waiting for an answer.

I knew they were talking about cutting the ripen crops of Radhemohan’s fields but what was locksmith for. Feluda must have thought the same for he raised an eyebrow to Mr. Shukla while Lalmohan babu frowned deeply and scratched his head to make head or tail of this conversation.

“It is for my safe. I have forgotten it’s combination, you see Mr. Mitter, old age is not that much fun after all.”, Mr. Shukla clarified.

We took leave and first thing Feluda said made me hold my breath for a second. “He’s lying.”

He asked us to go to find and meet Balram Misir’s son while he had something urgent to attend to.

Balram Misir’s house was near, so we walked. The house was as big as Radhemoha’s and had welcoming air, we couldn’t find Kamal, Balram’s son, at his home though.

It was getting dark so we decided to go back to hotel. We started walking towards market to find a rickshaw when I saw a man secretly coming out of small house’s back entry. A motorcycle passed beside us that same moment and for a fractions of second the face of this man lit up in the light coming out of the vehicle’s headlamp. He saw me looking at him and disappeared the very next instant into the thick foliage of darkness and probably in the forest beside us for the source of light was gone. It all happened in a few seconds and I saw Lalmohan babu didn’t notice anything happening.

~

We got into hotel at 8:30 and found Feluda was already there, waiting for us at reception.

“We don’t have time to go to our rooms. Come with me.”, he sounded grave and I actually felt excited that we were going to have a little adventure.

“I met Nishant, Radhemohan’s elder son and what do you know – he studies chemistry in college.”

I didn’t know how was that even relevant to our case but I had known better than interrupting Feluda.

And even if one asks he won’t tell anyone before it’s time so there was no point questioning relevancy.

I told him about my short and apparent encounter with the man secretly coming out of the house while Lalmohan babu seemed surprised for he had no clue about this incident while he had been me all that while.

~

Thirty minutes later we found ourselves near Radhemohan’s home. Village was sleeping. Feluda asked us to wait outside and jumped the wall to Radhemohan’s courtyard. It was too dark to see where he landed and we couldn’t use a torch. I saw him entering the veranda a few seconds later, there was a kerosene lamp hanged to the low ceiling.

A few minutes later a figure came out of the door across the veranda and went towards the entrance of the courtyard. I would have mistaken it for Radhemohan given its height hadn’t it been walking with more agility. A sound came of entrance door being opened and came out a motorcycle which went to the direction opposite of us.

Lalmohan babu had cold sweat all over his face and refused to stand up. He kept sitting in a corner like a small kid hiding from the monster in those children stories.

A minute later I saw another figure coming out of the veranda, it was Feluda.

~

We reached our hotel at 10 and went straight to the dining area. Feluda had already requested for a late-night supper. Food tasted more delicious by virtue of us being tired after all day’s engagement and adventure.

We saw Lalmohan babu to his room and returned to ours.

Soon as we unlocked the door we discovered a broken window. There were some pieces of glass scattered on the floor and a vase has also fallen into pieces which adorned the window side table in the morning. Feluda reached and picked up a paper folder over a stone. My heart gave bounced on thought of a thickening plot. I knew what that paper was. It has happened many times before – like a million times, metaphorically speaking.

Every case Feluda have picked in the past, he has been threatened uncountable number of times.

“Threating could mean only one thing Tapesh…”

“…that you are very close in solving the case and there is someone who doesn’t want you to.”

This paper was teared at the top and the bottom.

“Someone didn’t want us know where this paper is coming from. Tearing the top means the name of the printing press or the name of the school must have been there. Tearing the bottom implies removing page number. Do you know who uses notebook with printed page numbers?”

“Children in their early age of schooling?”

“Right. This is to prevent them from making mistakes too often and to ensure work is recorded properly and they don’t tear up the results and remarks from teachers; and I know who goes to kindergarten.”

“Who?”

“Now is not the time Tapesh. I need to make some calls tomorrow morning. This business will be over in next two days. Go to sleep now.”

Feluda switched-off the lights after I got into my bed.

~

Next morning when I woke up, Feluda was on telephone. It was six in the morning and his famous blue notebook was lying on the bed. I couldn’t help my temptation and picked it up to see what was written into it.

I couldn’t understand that script as most of them were symbols, all I managed to read was – ‘face’, ‘chemistry’ and ‘memory?

To be continued – in Episode 5


Words & Photographs ©SanjeevKumarPandey

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