The cat has nine lives, she had only one

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic


The Kolkata Police are puzzled by the murder of a rich widow. The take the help of lady detective paroma Ghosh to help them uncover the truth....

Submitted: October 31, 2017

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Submitted: October 31, 2017

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She had almost retired for the night when the doorbell rang. She wearily got out of bed and put on her nightgown. She opened the door to find Inspector Das from Lalbazar Detective Department. “Sorry didi, to disturb you so late at night, but there is something urgent”. Ashun – she said and led him inside.

 

Paroma Ghosh had retired as a school teacher and lived alone off her pension in a South Kolkata flat. Years back, she had helped the police solve a nearly unsolvable murder in her neighborhood which had built her reputation as a Miss Marple of sorts. The police marveled at her deduction powers and have since consulted her unofficially on seemingly difficult cases. Paroma did not mind such intrusions and quite looked forward to solve the mysteries. Though she resembled an elderly matron, in her simple saree and specs, but behind that was a razor sharp brain with great powers of observation and deduction which the detectives had learned to respect over the years.

 

“Mrs Barnali Sen - bujhlen didi, Late Anil Sen , ICS ‘er widow – was discovered dead in her bathroom floor a few hours ago. Barir sabai bolche accident - head injury - possibly she slipped and her head hit the tap, but ami bhabchi something is just not right – tai apnake disturb korlam, jadi ekbar apni ashen.”

 

Paroma could not resist a mystery and immediately agreed to accompany Inspector Das. The house was a bunglow in Alipore Park Road. They went to the bathroom where Mrs. Sen was found dead. Paroma could make out that the room belonged to a person of meticulous ways. Everything was neatly placed and the curtains as well as the upholstery matched to perfection. Her bed clothes for the night were still laid out neatly on the bed. On the wall was a photo of Mrs Sen – a stern aristocratic lady. Paroma looked around the room and then the bathroom. She carefully examined the floor of the bath room where the body had been removed but the blood stains were still prominent. It was apparent that the tap, blood –stained, was the cause of death. She looked around a bit more and then with Inspector Das went down to meet the family members.

 

They were all sitting in the drawing room, looking visibly shaken.  Nabokanto, the elder son appeared composed. He introduced the rest of the family – his wife, Indrani, and his younger brother Sashikanto, who appeared to be affected the most. “I think it was an accident, pore giye she must have hit the tap and the accident led to her death”. Indrani just sat there puffy eyed. Sashikanto did not even look up.

 

“Did your mother have a pet cat?” asked Paroma. Surprised everybody looked at her. At this even, Sashikanto looked up. “But what has this to do ….” Inspector Das blurted. This time Indrani spoke up – “Oh no way, Ma was petrified of cats. Everybody knows of her fear” – Paroma looked at Sashikanto and aksed – “Then why did you bring a cat home?”

 

Caught by surprise, Sashikanto stuttered, and suddenly sprang towards the door. Inspector Das was quicker. He caught hold of him and brought him back. “But, how …. What ….” Inspector Das started, Paroma cut him off and said “Your game is up Sashikanto – why don’t you tell us?”

 

Sashikanto sank back on the chair with a sigh of resignation – “Ma always used to praise Dada. She thought I was useless, because I was into theatre. I also wanted to start a business like Dada, but she would not give me any money. I grew more frustrated as days passed and thought of a plan. We all knew of her being petrified of cats. So I brought a cat home and in the afternoon when she went for her bath, slipped the cat inside her bedroom. I lured it in with a plate of milk, so it stayed long enough. I thought when she saw it and screamed, I would rush in and chase the cat away. This way I could get her approval and maybe she would not refuse me the money when I asked her. The cat must have entered her bathroom and she in her fear must have slipped and hit the tap. When I later entered the room and found her dead, I hurriedly disposed of the cat in the garden. Please believe me - I did not want to murder her – it was an accident”

 

A still stupefied Inspector Das, asked Paroma – “But didi – how did you ….?”

 

Paroma explained - “Barnali Sen was a meticulous and neat woman. Her room was impeccable, everything in place but for a saucer of milk beside the door, strangely. I thought for someone with so much attention to cleanliness would not have pets in the house. The milk as well as strands of fur in the floor confirmed that a cat had been in the room recently. I noticed that Sashikanto had a scratch on his arm possibly from a cat. When I saw closely I saw strands of fur sticking to his clothes. When Indrani mentioned Barnali’s terror of cats, I put two and two together and Sashikanto gave his game away.

 

“Remarkable!” said Inspector Das admiringly.

 

Paroma smiled and said – “A cat has nine lives, sadly Barnali had only one……..”.


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