Receiving the emergency call, I directed the constable to steer our patrol van towards the Madhuban Society that was in the heart of the city. While traversing the lanes and by-lanes, my mind was occupied with the thoughts of the Society. It was one of the oldest societies that had comprised of a couple of small rise apartments with four flats on each floor. All the dwellers in the society were mostly pensioners with their children settled abroad. It was the peaceful part of the city. That made me wonder as to what awaited us.
Zooming inside the compound of the society, our van came to a halt in front of the “Amrut” apartment. I was greeted by the person who introduced himself as the Society Chairman and led me to lobby of the apartment. There stood a lady, with a worried look. Going by her appearance, I could make out that she was the house help.
“I did not do anything Madam” she pleaded.
“That we will see later. First tell me what happened?”
“I came for work around 9 in the morning, my usual time. Every day, I start my work from Dinu Kaka’s house. Today, when I rang the bell, he did not respond. It has never happened before. I have been working with Dinu Kaka for close to 9 years now. I thought maybe he was taking a bath, so I decided to come back later after finishing my job in the next building. I returned around 11 am and rang the bell again. This time also he did not open the door. I came down and checked with the building watchman if he had seen Dinu Kaka going out. He hadn’t seen him either. So, I went to the Society Chairman’s house. He tried calling Dinu Kaka. Dinu Kaka did not respond to the calls either”, she informed.
Turning to the chairman, I asked, “Does he keep extra keys to his flat with someone in the society?”
“Dinu Kaka is recluse and hardly mingles with anyone. I doubt if he had kept the keys with anyone”, replied the chairman.
“Let me check the CCTV footage”, I demanded.
While we checked the footage, I learned from the chairman and the house help that Dinu Kaka lived alone with his autistic son, after his wife passed away five years back fighting a prolonged battle with cancer. He took care of their autistic child all by himself until last year when he also passed away. Dinu Kaka was a gentleman who lived about himself peacefully. He never had a fight with any of the residents in the society ever and always paid the maintenance on time. Meanwhile in the CCTV footage, Dinu Kaka was not seen going out or coming back to the society nor there was any delivery made to his house by courier.
That left me with the last option, breaking in. And I did just that. We had to force open the door.
Strange silence filled the house. Cautiously stepping in, I started checking out from the living room and was followed by house-help and the chairman. While the house help kept calling Dinu Kaka’s name in a subdued tone, there was no response. The walls were saintly still as were the curtains and furniture. The house looked in order. As we entered the master bedroom, the silence was shattered by the shriek of the house help.
There sat Dinu Kaka motionless, facing the window, on the chair next to the study table, half seated and rest leaning on the table, with a pen in his hand resting above a diary and some paper cuttings of travel and tour companies in front of him. I went near him cautiously, and checked for the signs of life. The cold touch of his arm was an indication of his passage into the unknown.
Calling the constable, requesting the house help and the chairman to leave the place, I was getting ready to complete the formalities for further investigations. A fluttering page from the diary below Dinu Kaka’s cold rigid hand caught my attention. Dinu Kaka had written in the diary with his neat and clear handwriting. Suspecting it to be a suicide case, I took the diary in hand and started reading.
“Now is my time to live life. First it was Sudha and then it was Sumukh for whom I had devoted all my life. Never once letting a slightest of my wish to surface. I am glad I did it. But now I am free. I must bring life back to my life. I must enjoy every single moment of awakening as per my desire. I must say ‘yes, to life’. Dear life…here I come. The world awaits to be discovered. So what if I am alone and…” the words in the diary whispered languidly to me, from the incomplete note written by Dinu Kaka, as I witnessed pen held between his fingers, sliding down listlessly as had the life slipped from his hands, like the quicksand, before he could say ‘Yes, to life‘.