PEDAGOGY IS DEAD
‘Hello sir, I’m Robert Boycott. Ugh, for solving the case. Private det.’
‘Oh yeah, welcome Mr. Boycott. I’m Harrison Treat, their servant.’
‘Shall I meet Ms. Pieterson?’
Harrison bowing down formally waved to Robert gently towards the way as if welcoming a queen. Robert observed that he’s a left hander and has baldness only at the centre which will get revealed only while bowing down. Robert, is a trained detective of 35, took in every minute details as much as possible, though most of the data accumulated in his brain proved useless to his cases. Yet it has become his habit to see everything with a moderate suspicion, speak to everyone the same way.
‘What’s the status?’
‘They’d hired a detective. A shit named Boycott.’ He echoed back into the phone.
‘Oh I see. No one can-‘
‘Wa, Wait he’s coming. Bye.’ He places the receiver as quick as possible in its abode.
Robert saw a woman who may be in her forties being seated on the couch with her face buried in her palms. On sensing footsteps approaching, she rose as soon as possible and greeted Robert, at the same time, clearing away her tears with her left palm.
‘Hello Mr. Boycott, I am Mrs. Pieterson. Its my-‘
‘Oh oh that, that’s ok Mrs. Pieterson, I can understand. I will do my best to help you. And yeah that’s my duty. Don’t worry. You calm down Mrs. Pieterson.’
‘Trust me ma’am, you need some rest. Please go and take rest. Your eyes are red and swollen. Take care and sleep now. Please.’ Robert said with a formal bow.
‘This is Mr. Tread.’ Mr. Pieterson said indexing to a bald old man who was dressed perfectly in his zoot suit with a neatly folded tie. He bowed down to Robert and gave him his hand.
‘This is Mr. Shankar. He’s here for over 5 years.’
Robert shook hands with him mumbling something like “nice to meet you”. When Robert shook hands with him, he felt Mr. Shankar’s hands tremble. Then, a Mr. Broad is introduced. He’s said to be a newly appointed just before only 2 months. Robert eyed him, protruded a smile and shook hands with him. The smile is not returned.
Releasing himself from Mr. Broad’s hands, Robert stood erectly and said, ‘You know Mr. Pieterson, the culprit’s hands will tremble when giving hands and his face may sweat. Do you know that, Sir?’ looking at Mr. Broad for a split second, he turned back to Mr. Pieterson with a feigned smile saying, ‘I, I’m just stating a fact. Don’t get confused.’
Mr. Pieterson, laughed and said, ‘Yes I know you’re shrewd Mr. Boycott!’
Robert was goaded to the room from where the incident happened. He spoke nothing. He gestured to them to leave him alone. After a good ten minutes in, he came out and smiled at the two servants who’re standing like guards to the room.
‘May I leave Mr. Pieterson? I’ve done my office.’
‘Yes sir, and by the way, tomorrow morning 7.30 am.’
Robert was eyeing Mr. Treat from a distance; and decided to follow him. It was around 10.30pm. Mr. Treat went into a dark alley and stood under a broken lamppost. He made a 360° and pulled out his mobile phone. Robert, who was hid from a distance in dark, cannot see what the object was, and once Mr. Treat pressed the substance to his ear, he comprehended that it was a mobile phone.
He waited there for a few minutes and a woman appeared out of nowhere. He spoke something for two minutes and carefully left the spot. After Mr. Treat left, Robert stealthily reached the rendezvous and with the little hand torch, scrutinized the place. The alley was like a dead end – it was too narrow. It can support only 3 men when stood in adjacency. Robert looked into the partial light the torch offered. He saw a door. He tried to open it and his efforts went in vain. He tried to see into the keyhole and quite succeeded, for on the other side is a faint neon light. He couldn’t see anything properly, but with the shadow and the pale silhouettes that fell on the wall, he could make it out that there are two women – a girl seated in couch and a lady in her 40’s, giving her something.
He noticed that above the door is a 45° open glass vent (the transom bars) through which some more view can be obtained when seen from the opposite brick building. He decided to check that out the next morning.
‘So Mr. Treat, you’re the 1st to inform the matter to the Pietersons, right? May I know why did you go to her room?’
‘Ugh, that, that was, I forgot the car key and went to-‘
‘Car? Why should you need a car?’
‘Mr. Pieterson asked me to take some files and come to his, his office.’
‘Oh really?’ Robert stared him down which produced no effects, and he added, ‘Ok, and is it her car?’
‘Then why did you go to her room? Why does she be having the key?’
‘She, she last used it and had it.’
‘No you’re lying.’ Robert said it sternly. Mr. Treat was gobsmacked. He fumbled something like “I, I, no its...” in the meantime, Robert’s mobile phone rang. He gestured to Mr. Treat and distanced himself to answer the phone.
“Yeah, yes sir (pause) its, ok (pause) yeah I’m on track Sir (pause) ja, just within today Sir (pause)”
After finishing talking, he returned to Mr. Treat and asked him to go and bring Mr. Shankar. Robert asked, ‘So you’re the sweeper? You sweep daily? When?’
‘Daily thrice, Sir. All the rooms.’
‘So did you sweep her room yesterday?’ seeing the man sway his head in affirmative sense, he countered, ‘Did you not go to her room? Why?’
‘Well Mr. Pieterson, that was not a mystery at all. And indeed, do you want to know the culprit? The culprit’s right here.’
Robert said and saw the three servants one by one, in a forced look, that made them cringe. Sweats tripped down in all their faces.
‘Well, the 1st suspect I had is Mr. Broad who was speaking to someone when I first entered here. He placed the receiver as soon as possible when he saw me. Well, I sought out the help of the police to trace the call. It turned out that he spoke to a certain Ms. Kennigan. Well, for your information, she’s none but your daughter’s best friend. Well then, if you ask if she and Mr. Broad together inveigled this plan, my answer is no.’
Mr. Broad set out a sign. Wiping out the sweat using a handkerchief, he smiled at Ms. Pieterson. Robert continued, the second suspect is Mr. Shankar. The very 1st time I shook hands with him, I felt his hands shudder. And, he lied to me that he didn’t go to her room after that kidnapping her. But indeed, he went. See what I found. Beedies. This is Indian tobacco, just like cigarette, but in lower cost. No one else but he will use it. He lied that he didn’t go to her room to sweep. That may be correct, but actually he was there when she was kidnapped. (Mr. Shankar tried to stir up) Wa, wait Mr. Shankar. Case is not solved yet. Now, the main suspect Mr. Treat. Well the loyal servant indeed is loyal to you. Though he actually executed the play, he remained loyal. I followed him last night and found him meet a certain woman in a dark lane. After he left, I found that there was a door from which the woman came. Today morning, I went to the 1st floor of the opposite building and saw through the transom bars what’s inside. And yes, that’s your daughter who’s inside.’
Robert let out a pause and continued, ‘and I inquired your neighbour. He said that he saw your daughter walk casually out of your home with Mr. Treat, after you two panicked and rushed to the police station. Thank goodness, he doesn’t know anything of this. Didn’t understand yet? It’s self-kidnapping. All is a set-up Mr. Pieterson. Did you get no doubt? Kidnaps normally happen for money. But the kidnapper just called you and claimed that your daughter is with him. He didn’t demand any amount, as you said.’
‘But why?’ Mr. Pieterson stressed on the word “why.”
‘Pedagogy is dead here. She wanted your love. She wanted affection, to be cared, to be the centre of attention, to be closer to you, to speak with you. You both barely see her and always, umm, like focussed on making money. More money. Have you ever spent time with your daughter? Do you know what your daughter’s favourite colour is? She’s 15. She’s mature enough. Yes, she did all this plan herself. She just wanted your love. She thought that once she would divert all your attention on her, she could get all the love she craved for! That’s human psychology, Sir. Craving for attention. To be the centre of attention.’
‘What should we do now, Sir?’ Mrs. Pieterson asked with reddened eyes.
‘Well, you two go there where Mr. Treat will take you and promise your daughter the love she never got. She’ll come back. By the way, you must thank your servants who stood by her side. They’re so loyal to you! If they’d wished, they would have claimed some money. But they didn’t. Thank them ma’am. And learn to love your daughter.’ Saying so, Robert vacated the house.