- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
MURDERS AT THE ORPHANAGE
- 14 Jul - 20 Jul, 2018
Babar paused, narrating his story. The police inspector had gained quite an interest by now.
“So, what happened further?” the inspector asked impatiently.
“A lot,” Babar replied, “I’ll tell you. Can I have a glass of water, please?”
“Yes, of course.” the police inspector looked at the constable standing by the door and said, “Go, bring a glass of water, cold water.”
After a few minutes, the police inspector asked Babar, “I just want to know that if you were completely unaware of the murderer, why didn’t you inform the police?”
“Because I was afraid…”
“Yes,” Babar replied confidently.
“Afraid of what?”
“I thought that I would be convicted.”
“Well, that’s a considerable point on your behalf but you would have been dealt with lightly if you had done that.”
“I guess so. But I told you now. And I am cooperating.”
“Now, it’s too late.”
“Yes, I agree but even if I did confess earlier, things might have been different.”
“Anyway…” the inspector said, getting to the point, “what happened next?”
“What happened next?”
“What happened next was Mr Jahangir Yousafzai…”
The police inspector’s eyes widened, gaining interest.
Babar continued narrating the event:
“I was sitting in the office, when a caretaker came by and informed me, ‘Mr Yousafzai is here.’
“Mr Jahangir Yousafzai.”
I got confused as to who this person was, as the caretaker seemed to know him quite well but I wasn’t told of. I stood up and went out to see him. There, Mr Jahangir was standing wearing blue suit, holding his briefcase. I saw that he looked quite stern when I came closer towards him.
“Yes?” I asked, politely.
“Where is Shahzaib?” he spoke with an extremely rude tone.
I remained silent and looked at him for a while, then spoke, “He’s not here, I’m working here as his substitute.”
“My money is due on him. He owes me a great amount. I want it right now!”
“Alright, let me call him and ask,” I said.
I left him and went back to Mr Shahzaib’s office then dialled his number on the phone. Meanwhile, furious Jahangir was standing outside, looking at the kids with extreme disgust. Happy kids playing in the garden were not appealing to him at all.
Shahzaib answered my call, “Hello?”
“Hello Shahzaib, an ill-mannered guy named Jahangir is here.”
While I was talking to Mr. Shahzaib on the phone, Jahangir sat outside on a wooden bench. The arm rest of the bench was made of steel. Jahangir was holding the arm rest of the bench with his left hand. Taha, the mute young boy was standing close by and looking closely at the metal. Mr. Jahangir, who was already too angry, got irritated as the boy was staring at his hand like a fool. He raised his hand and slapped the young kid on his face. Taha got frightened and ran away from him. Jahangir commented, “Stupid abnormal kids.”
Afterwards, I went outside to give Mr Shahzaib’s message to him, “Sir, I just spoke to the owner of this orphanage, he said he can’t return your money before two weeks. He is deeply sorry about that but he’ll try his best to return it as soon as he can.”
Enraged, Jahangir stood up and kicked the bench he was seated on. He furiously came towards me and grabbed my collar. He spitted out some bad words very loudly, which I couldn’t understand. Some caretakers came running towards us and gathered around. Few kids also came running. In front of the entire crowd, he said to me,“I want my money sooner than possible, or your orphanage is going to suffer!”
“Leave my shirt please…”
“I want it back or else there will be blood in this orphanage! Tell this to your boss, understand?”
I avoided eye contact and just nodded as I was also losing my temper.
Then he let go of me and angrily looked at everyone who was gathered. He then turned and looked at Taha who was holding a transparent plastic paper made of polythene sheet and he was looking at Mr. Jahangir through it.
Angry Jahangir left the place immediately. I just wanted him to get out as quickly as possible.
Later at night, while everyone was sleeping, I felt stressed out and angry for accepting such a huge responsibility from Shahzaib. But I didn’t realise back then that I would have issues such as facing cruel men like Jahangir or the caretaker’s murder inside the orphanage.
I just hope he comes back soon, I wondered, thinking of Mr Shahzaib.
I stood up and looked outside the window. It was a full moon. As I looked at it, it gave me a sense of hope. I began to think that instead of escaping I should accept the responsibility and face the challenges this orphanage was bringing to me. But what I didn’t know was that the upcoming troubles were even beyond my control.
Two days later, while I was in the office, I heard a glass break. I got distracted by the sound and stood up immediately to see what had happened. Outside the office, in the corridor, two caretakers were fighting. The other caretakers were trying to stop them. A crowd of kids had also gathered.
I ran to stop the fight. As the two men were separated, they started yelling bad words which I didn’t want the kids to hear. I gently pushed the crowd of kids away and asked them to leave. They took their time as they were enjoying the scene. Afterwards, I turned towards the caretakers and exclaimed, “What is it with you two?”
They both started explaining, raising their voices. I stopped both of them and said, “I don’t want to hear anything.”
They kept on explaining as if they were arguing with each other. The caretakers holding them let go of them now. One of the two fighters, who was dark-skinned, looked like a perfect criminal to me. I didn’t take his words or his opponent’s words seriously and I asked the other caretakers to take both of them away.
After few moments, when everybody left, I was standing all alone and I uttered to myself, Oh God…what is this place?
I heard a sound from behind. I immediately turned around to see the young kid Taha was standing there, looking at me. I always kind of liked this kid, so I smiled at him and held him by his shoulders. He couldn’t speak but it seemed as if he wanted to befriend me. I then held his right hand and walked him to his room. While walking I asked him, “Will you be my friend?”
He nodded looking up at me.
“Alright, we’ll be friends from now on.” I said to him.
As we walked, I kept on speaking to him until we reached his room.
Later that day, while I was having my dinner, a caretaker hastily came to my room and spoke with a heavy voice, “Sir, come with me quickly. Quickly!”
I got worried by his attitude and asked standing up, “What is it? What happened?”
“Sir, come quickly please,” he spoke, hardly using any body gestures.
I walked towards him and said, “Okay relax, tell me what has happened…”
He couldn’t speak. He was trying to tell me something but his voice faded. I got anxious, so I left the spot and rushed to see what had happened.
Outside Taha’s room, I saw plenty of kids and caretakers standing. As I went closer and got a clear look inside the room, I got shocked to see another dead body that appeared to have been murdered just then. The victim was stabbed in his throat and he was bleeding from the wound. I saw the window of the room was open, so I went inside the room to see outside the window. There was no one outside. I turned my head back in and looked at the men standing outside the room. I saw the dark-skinned caretaker who had a fight earlier today. And then I immediately turned my head towards the dead body. I recognised the victim; it was the other caretaker who was involved in the fight today.
When I angrily started walking towards the other caretaker standing outside, the two others came in between and one spoke honestly, “No sir, it’s not him.”
“He was with us moments ago when the kids found this,” said the other one.
Upon hearing this, I believed them but what occurred to me was to ask the kid who had witnessed this first. So I asked them, “Did anyone see who did this?”
Some kids pointed towards Taha. Taha was standing, resting against the wall and crying silently. I came closer to him, knelt down in front of him and asked very politely, “What happened Taha? Did you see who did this?”
The young kid nodded. I got curious and asked kindly, “Who was it, my dear? Who was it? Tell me!”
The kid went inside room. I was surprised to see him like this so I checked to see what he was up to. He brought a paper and some colour pencils outside his room. Using the wall for support, he started writing. Everyone paid attention to what he was writing. He handed over the paper to me. I read it: I saw him from behind.
I understood what he wanted to say. He had seen the killer from behind and didn’t see his face. This was not enough for me so I asked him, “If I bring him in front of you, could you recognise him?”
He didn’t respond, not at all. Maybe he didn’t understand the question, so I rephrased it, not knowing if I was making it more vague, “Taha, if I show you that person from behind, will you tell me if it’s him or not?”
He gave an expression of getting confused.
Some caretakers who knew and understood Taha better, sat next to me and asked him, “Taha, just tell us if can you identify the killer if he comes here again?”
He nodded slightly and then pointed at the back of his own head.
“From behind you mean?”
The kid nodded confidently. The caretaker looked at me and spoke, “Yes, he can identify the criminal if he sees him again from behind.”
“I knew it. But how can I bring suspects in front of him now?”
“I suggest you gather the entire staff of the orphanage here and ask him to recognise the culprit by looking at them from behind.”
“No, that’s not going to help us.” I replied, sadly.
“Why not? That’s the only option we have, and besides the look of that man must be clear in his mind right now.”
“No, that’s not what I’m pointing here. The issue is that the culprit has just escaped from that window.”
“Which window?” he asked looking inside the room. “That, big one inside the room?”
“You sure about this?”
“Well, I think so…”
He also gave it a thought. After a short moment of silence the care taker suggested, “Sir, what if we chase him?”
“Excuse me?” I didn’t get what he said.
“I mean to say, what if all care-takers run after him? The killer wouldn’t have gotten so far away from here yet. And there’s only one place he can hide if he has escaped from here. I know that place and I can get there.”
I had no words to say. The idea didn’t appeal to me but it was worth a try at the same time. I wasn’t speaking and they were all waiting for my reply. I looked aside and shrugged, giving a gesture as to I didn’t know what they should do. The caretaker looked at the others and ordered, “Come on, lets go.”
He ran quickly and jumped out of the window in the room. The others followed him reluctantly. However, most of them were still inside with me. I said to them, “Alright, you guys look after the kids. They shouldn’t see any more of this.”
“You’re right sir,” one of the care takers agreed with me. “These kinds of things can be very traumatising for kids of this age.”
“They’ve already happened, which means they have become those horrifying memories.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
I left the spot, holding my head. I wondered by myself, two murders in one orphanage. Are these two connected to each other? Probably yes.
I kept on walking until I remembered that the dead body was still lying inside that room. So I stopped and return to pick up the body.”
Babar stopped narrating and took a deep breath, trying to relax his mind from the disturbing memories. The police inspector put the glass of water in front of him and spoke nicely, “Here, have this.”
“Thank you.” Babar spoke picking up the glass of water, he took a sip.
“Were there any suspects according to you?” the police inspector asked.
to be continued...