By Kali Hawa
Sir Prabhakar sat at the head of the table, Acharyaji flanked him on his right while CP followed by Dr Bhaskar, Atiputi, Simone, E Babu and Shishir sat on the other side of the table. Next to Acharyaji sat Sarita Devi then Maiku, Dr Golu, Shaheen and in the end a mystery guy closed it. As already described Timsy sat at a skewed corner between Attorney Sangam Lal Saxena and Shishir Caulla.
The mystery guy didn’t utter a word through the meal. After casual small talk conversation veered to mystery of Shashi Vader. Acharyaji was first to offer his opinion. According to him Shashi Vader is neck deep in loans he borrowed from the loan sharks and he doesn’t think there is too much left to him by K D Saheb therefore unwilling to risk his limbs and enter Bareilly. Sir Prabhakar interjected, “Serves him right!” Dr Bhaskar embarked on character analysis of Shashi Vader. He is a restless person with streak of criminal tendencies. He lacks a sense of balance like other people that make them socially responsible therefore the reckless gambling. The realization that such acts invariably result in dreadful backlash occurs to him when it is too late. Shashi Vader was known to steal from K D Saheb’s fancy watch collections and sell them through Shishir for a pittance. Strangely K D knew this but never took forceful steps to bring Shashi Vader to responsible ways.
At this point Sangamlal Saxena coughed and sought Sir Prabhakar’s permission to begin reading relevant portion of K D Saheb’s will. All eyes now focused on the attorney. He walked over to the mantle, removed sheaf of papers from the leather bag he had left there and began reading the document in his deep baritone making every word sound crisp and clear. The dinner hall submerged in deathly silence except the ringing voice of the attorney ricocheting across the hall.
I, Kedar Dutt Caulla in full control my mental faculty assert this operating part of my will as supplement to my initial assertion already read and hopefully in execution for the past fifteen years. At this point I cannot discount a remote possibility that Shashi Vader may not have claimed the sum earmarked for him in the opening part of my will, should it be the case, that sum which now becomes imperative to be disclosed, will remain isolated and lie dormant for another one year for that scoundrel. Yes, scoundrel because I have no sympathy for that heathen but as an obligation to an old friend who came to my rescue when I truly needed his help. Without Murlidhar Vader’s help I could not have raised this small estate of which you are all beneficiary. However at the expiry of this extended period this entire sum will go to Atiputi. My attorney may please open that envelop and disclose the sum at this point of reading my will.
Sangamlal Saxena fumbled briefly, fishing out a small vanilla envelop, tore its seal and removed a small piece of paper. He began reading from it:
I, Kedar Dutt Caulla, in my full senses and in full awareness of my responsibility towards my dependents, bequeath a sum of rupees five crore to Shashi Vader…………….
Everyone began to speak together causing a brief chaotic din, when Sir Prabhakar yelled in his authoritative voice, "Quiet!” Sanity returned to the table. Sir Prabhakar continued,
But Sangamlalji, where is the money?
Prabhakar Bhai, don’t jump the gun. Let him finish the document. K D Saheb must have known what he is talking about. Most of the estate worth lies in immovable assets, there never was enough liquid cash, certainly not five crores, I believe.
You are damn right!
‘May I make a suggestion’, CP interjected. Not many liked this unscrupulous hanger on. CP had no direct stake in the estate, only through his wife but that was not the reason for the general dislike. Everyone knew Meenakshi Devi had on several occasion public asserted absolutely no interest in inheritance accruing from K D Saheb’s will, but CP was quite another fish or should we say shark!.
You shut up! Yelled Dr Golu, vicious venom spewing from her quivering voice. Everyone was surprised by the ferocity of her reaction. CP knew Dr Golu indulged in unethical medical practice. She had done some clandestine organ transplants, abortions etc. Money attracted her, no matter where it came from. E Babu had a hunch, CP was blackmailing Dr Golu.
“Please be quiet gentlemen and ladies”, urged Sangamlal, ”We may discuss the will and its complete ramification once the document is complete read. Let me assure you that the content of this document is as mysterious to me as it is too. You may as well know that the document was witnessed by my brother and a clerk of our firm both of whom have expired.”
“Yes, of course! Please continue", egged Sir Prabhakar.
Sangamlal looked around importantly, coughed once and began,
I, Kedar Dutt Caulla, in my full senses and in full awareness of my responsibility towards my dependents, bequeath a sum of rupees five crore to Shashi Vader son of my close friend Murlidhar Vader. The money will be raised by selling 1904 Imperial Bank bonds. The bonds are of face value Rs 25,000/- which were already worth five crore in 1984 and the Reserve Bank of India is obliged to honour these bonds as assignees of erstwhile Imperial Bank. The bonds are kept in a safe within the Bareilly mansion. The safe can be located by carefully deciphering the following clues.
“The known Mersenne prime numbers form the matrix of mantle.”
“The number of Bridges in the Konigsberg’s problem will be the number of matrix horizontal element from left. “
“Zeno’s motionless runner paradox divides the distance by this number to get the vertical matrix element from base”
At this point a harried Timsy entered the hall, looked around for a seat, unable to find one, she cast a helpless glance at the gathering feeling very miserable; finally went out to fetch a chair. Timsy always looked harried, bewildered and lost as her mind worked ferociously at different tasks at the same time, so when she settled down at the table she had forgotten what was going on or why she was here. When Atiputi collapsed she felt relieved at attention moving away from her. After Dr Golu was through her macabre routine the quiet stranger got up, cleared his throat and said in his gruff voice,
‘I am inspector Manmohan from CID’, flashing his ID badge, ‘please remain seated in your place while I arrange for the investigating team’. E Babu looked at him approvingly. Sir Prabhakar informed the gathering that he had requested for CID presence as he had received anonymous threat of harm over phone.
E Babu found the motley group queer, desperate and pathologically inclined to crime. Every one of them except Sarita Devi, had an agenda, need for the money and some beastly ambition to match it. The queerest of them Shashi Vader, was keeping a low profile, while Acahryaji may have been manipulating Atiputi. He made a mental note; Acharyaji for ‘Chanakya buddhi’, CP and Dr Golu for being natural criminal needed to be watched very closely. All other were capable of murder, some by manipulation and some for bizarre reasons.