Surrounded by the scenic beauty of the mighty Reo Purgyil and the gurgling waters of the Parbati river, Kasol is a small valley which is isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Ria used to come here every summer for a month or two, take an apartment on lease or a hotel somewhere in the woods and stay. She was a known face in the city and was loved by all. For this summer too, she had plans to visit Kasol. She had requested her caretaker to clean the apartment and keep it ready. She was scheduled to reach the valley in the month of August.
Today is 8th October, but Ria did not show up. Initially the apartment owner assumed that she might have been occupied with some work and hence a delay. But something was not right. Something just did not fit the equation. It isn’t like this sort of an incident never happened before. Everytime there used to be a delay, Ria ensured to inform all. However, this time, it wasn’t the case. Not only no one was informed, her phone was also not reachable.
Mr. Sarabh, the apartment owner was concerned. He found a visiting card that Ria had given him and decided to call her office to check on her, just to make sure she was fine. After a few rings, someone picked up on the other side. Mr. Sarabh introduced himself and asked about Ria. There was a silence for a few brief moments, followed by a heavy voice speaking from the other side.
Mr. Sarabh, my name is Inspector Vijay and I am the investigating officer for the case. How do you know Ria?
Case…what case? Mr Sarabh was baffled. What happened? Is Ria alright?
Mr Sarabh, we found Ria’s body in an objectionable condition in the outskirts of Delhi- said Vijay. There was a suicide note near her body. We are investigating all angles to see if this was really a suicide or something else. Her body has been sent for post mortem and her family members have been informed.
Mr Sarabh couldn’t believe his ears. How can this happen?
No,no,no,no….this cannot be suicide. She is…I mean was…..the jolliest person I have met, someone full of life. Mr. Vijay, this cannot be a suicide. Vijay asked a couple of more questions to him and hung up.
Mr Sarabh broke the news to the apartment workers and people who knew Ria. Everyone was mourning and praying for her. They organized a prayer meet for her two days later.
Early in the morning on the day of the meet, Vijay showed up with a search warrant. He wanted to search the room where Ria used to stay. A team of three people raided the room for more than an hour and all they could find was a photograph of Ria with a person that no one knew or had seen before. Vijay stayed back till the prayer meet and then left for Delhi.
The post mortem reports were now back and her body was handed over to her family for the last rites. Imagine a father who dreamt of her daughter’s wedding now had to lit the pyre. The agony of her parents knew no bounds. Vijay knew he had to talk to the parents if he really wanted to find out more about this case. He decided to wait until the rites were over.
The post mortem report made few grave revelations. It stated that Ria was raped and strangled to death. There were traces of semen and chemical samples on her clothes. It looked as though the chemical was used to remove any fingerprints.
Vijay met with her parents and informed them about the situation. They had already lost their daughter but the gory details of her plight broke them all the more. Vijay showed the photograph that he had acquired from the guest house. Ria’s mom told him that it was Ria’s best friend, Shravan. Few years back they had a feud over something. Post that they never met each other. Shravan left for America right after that and hasn’t returned till date. Vijay got the details checked and it was exactly what Ria’s mom had shared.
It has been a few weeks since Ria’s demise and the case seems to be on a dead end. The police couldn’t find one clue that could lead them to a possible path to solve the case. They have been investigating all possible angles but with no result. The post mortem report did clarify one thing and it was that this definitely wasn’t a suicide. The blood with which the note was written matched with Ria’s, so again that was a dead end. The police had no answer for the family and maybe a few weeks from now, the case file would be closed and would lie in the corner eating dust.
Today is Ria’s six month death anniversary. The case lies where it was when she passed away mysteriously- unsolved. Mr. Sarabh still calls Vijay every week for an update but always hangs up disappointed.
Ria’s parents would never know who did this to their girl, they would never be able to give her the justice she deserved. They have lost hopes and have broken down from the loss. Ria’s father recently had a cardiac arrest and is not keeping well and her mother is undergoing treatment with a psychiatrist. They still have not been able to come to terms with the loss, nor have been able to gather the courage to enter her room. It is left in the same condition it was in, when she was there for the last time.
The mightiest power of death is not that it can make people die, but that it can make the people you left behind want to stop living ~ Fredrik Backman
A cold blooded murder and a young, cheerful life gone too soon. Ria left behind a lot of memories, lots of unfulfilled dreams and a void……a void that can never be filled.