The sun had set on a disappointing day for Michael. Nayak was tired too. The police station was a silent place in the night. Both of them had left the station without saying a word. Their only hope was to have a better day tomorrow. A break, a clue, something. The town had not seen anything like this before and the people demanded answers. Michael only hoped he didn’t have to test anyone’s patience.
The dark sky had eventually given way to an orange hue. The wind was gentle and the sun was friendly. There was an unusual chillness that Michael felt as he walked out into the car. Today is a good day, he had thought. He had received a call from Nayak just minutes before. “We’re waiting for you, Sir. There’s good news!”
Stepping out of the car, Michael hurried into the police station. Nayak was waiting at the entrance. He pointed to the corner, in the waiting area. Michael saw an old man clutching a worn-out bag close to his chest. The man looked tired. On his side was a copy of a newspaper. Michael asked Nayak to follow him to his cabin. As he sat down he said, “Nayak, who is this man?”
“His name is Venkatesh Swamy. It would be better to hear what he has to say directly from him.” Nayak peeped out of the room and called the man in.
“Sit down, Swamy. Tell me why are you here?”
Swamy laid down the newspaper on the table and with difficulty ruffled through the pages. He pointed at an article and in a faint voice he said, “This description matches my son…” he paused for a moment and continued “…I think”.
“What do you mean you think?”.
“Sir, he has been missing for the last 5 years. He was five feet six inches, he had a large mole on his left forearm and a smaller one on his back, and he wasn’t too heavy. All this matches the description. Where is he?”
“Tell me, Swamy, where are you from?”
“Vijayahalli, about 60km from here, Sir”
“What’s your son’s name?”
“What happened five years ago?”
“Sir, my son was in love for quite some time. He had just finished college. One day he had come home in a rage. Red eyes that showed no focus. He slammed the door, he was acting weird and breaking anything in his sight. He was completely broken and destroyed. After months of being locked up at home in his room one day he left never to come back again. Where is he sir? Where is my son?”.
“I’m sorry, Swamy. He is dead. Murdered.” Swamy’s face was flushed, broken. His eyes saddened but there was no shock. Michael continued “We are doing our best to find out what happened”. Swamy sat rooted to his seat. Michael and Nayak exchanged looks.
Slowly Swamy stood up, he pulled out an old file from his dirty bag. “Sir,” he said “My son was suffering. The days when he was locked inside his room we knew something was wrong. It was like he was two different people and he had numerous breakouts. I even had stopped him from cutting himself. I had to tie his hands”.
“Thank you, Swamy. Please sit outside. We need to complete a few things and then we will take you to identify the body. It’s a small formality that we need to do, to put everything on record.”
Swamy slowly made his way out. Michael went through the paperwork and his face brightened up with a smile. Nayak noticed this “Sir, what’s the matter?”
“Nayak, our case is closed”. Michael read from the medical report in his hand – “Vijay Swamy, Male, 32 years old, Diagnosis: Dissociative Identity Disorder…”, he continued to scan the papers “…and listen to this Nayak, – heavy signs of depression, substance abuse, and self-harm”.
“Disassociation?…Sir?”, Nayak interrupted looking puzzled.
“Dissociative Identity Disorder. Have you heard of Multiple Personality disorder?” Nayak nodded. “That is what it means.”
“But, it has been five years” Nayak questioned.
“The medications here have been prescribed for life.” Michael held the papers in the air, “Tell me, did you find any medication in the house?”
Nayak shook his head and said “No.”
“Nayak, this is a suicide, by a mentally unstable person.”
“Close the case, Nayak. It’s the only possibility. He must have had an altercation with himself and ended up stabbing himself. His father confirmed he has seen him trying to harm himself. We have only his fingerprints on the Knife. No one had entered his house that night. And we have his medical history. Send the guy from the hotel home. You might as well type down the case report and when it’s ready, let’s take Swamy to identify the body. Any questions Nayak?” Michael was relieved. Nayak could tell from his wide eyes and broken smile.
“No, sir. I’ll get to it immediately”
It wasn’t very long before Michael, Nayak, and Swamy were in the Morgue at the local government hospital. The medical assistant guided them to the body. Michael walked in front, with the assistant. Nayak followed close behind. Swamy walked slowly behind them with his eyes on the floor. They stopped in front of a rusty steel table. On the table was the cold body covered with a white cloth. Michael stood back with the assistant. Nayak helped Swamy, whose eyes were still on the floor, to the table. Nayak slowly lifted the sheet to reveal the face. Swamy lifted his gaze from the floor and stared at it. Almost immediately he turned away. Michael put a hand on Swamy’s shoulders in a show of sympathy. Swamy looked up at Michael and said, “Sir, this is not my son”.
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