Lewis-Guilty or Not Guilty

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Karan who was on the driver’s seat was waiting for his friend Rahul. Rahul was taking his turn for last 10 minutes on the helpless little black girl. The little girl didn’t see at the face. She was crying and bleeding profusely.

Once done, both friends drove towards the isolated part of the highway and threw the girl and the beer cans on the agricultural land along the highway.

xxx

Lewis was busy at work and came late in night at 8.00. His wife Carolina informed him that angel had not come home from tuition. Lewis said, “Don’t worry. She will come back. Must be playing with friends.”

At 8.30 both lewis and carolina were worried. They called the tuition teacher who told them that she had left the tuition centre at 7.00. Tuition centre was 15 minutes distance from their home.

They called all her friends but no one had any clue about her.

Finally at 10.30 they filed complaint at the police station. Inspector assured them that they would start investigation immediately and some positive news should come in next few hours.

On way back home they met a man who came running somewhere from the open fields.

Lewis stopped him and asked him reason for his running. He informed that a little girl was lying unconsciousness in the field.

Lewis asked the man to sit in the car and they all reached the spot where the girl was lying.

They were shocked to see their 12 year old angel lying on the ground with very little clothes on her body. There were few locals who were discussing among themselves if anyone knew her.

Lewis and Carolina were quite for some time as they didn’t know what to do. After sometime Lewis lifted angel in his arms and covered her body with his shirt. He was literally crying and cursing his stars.

xxx

Siddhartha woke up every morning at 5.30 and went to 24×7 restaurant to collect cash from the staff and update records with the total cash collected. It was a part time work of 2 hours. He would come back home, prepare bed tea for himself and his wife Rekha and would leave for his law firm. He was financially not good and hence took up restaurant work to earn extra money.

The law firm was owned by Ranjan Kothari who had built the office about 15 years ago after getting his law degree. But his license was cancelled 5 years back due to his excessive drinking habit. The court had found him guilty. As he couldn’t see his office in ruins he handed over keys to Siddhartha who was working in his firm. Siddhartha, a senior employee was very honest and down to earth. Now Siddhartha had kept a secretary.  Deepti used to handle all office work in the absence of Siddhartha.

xxx

Lewis approached Siddhartha who was his one of the best friend, next morning in his office. Siddhartha was surprised to see Lewis who seemed to be very angry and upset.

Lewis narrated the horrible incident and informed his friend that he would shoot both criminals once he gets a chance.  Siddhartha didn’t like this statement and cautioned his friend not to take law in his hands.

But Lewis was adamant. He repeatedly asked Siddhartha if he would fight his case as he could not afford any lawyer.  Finally Siddhartha agreed.

xxx

Two days later the court date was fixed. Both the criminals were brought to the court. People were sitting on the benches and Lewis was one of them.

After the hearing of the case the police constable brought the criminals to the corridor that led to the exit gate.

Suddenly very loud sound of three shots was heard and both the criminals were lying dead on the floor. They were bleeding profusely. The police constable was also injured as one fire was shot on his leg.

Lewis was standing in the corridor facing both the criminals and the police constable. He had gun in his right hand.  Siddhartha coming out of the courtroom saw all this and was speechless.

xxx

Siddhartha met Lewis same evening in the coffee shop and asked why he did this? It was no point shooting at the criminals in the court premises and that too in front of everyone.  Lewis said he was boiling with revenge and had no choice.

xxx

It was 10.00 in the morning. Deepti informed Siddhartha that Ranjan sir had called just now and wanted him at his residence at 4.00.

Ranjan called Siddhartha every week to take updates on the office functioning and legal cases. Ranjan was not practicing law for some years but being an influential person his legal eye was sharper than Siddhartha. Ranjan on many occasions had advised Siddhartha that won him cases.

Siddhartha reached sharp at 4.00. Ranjan asked, “What is your opinion on Lewis? You will have to prove him insane to win this case. You have no other option.” Siddhartha didn’t get chance to speak.

John Douglas had the same habit as Ranjan and both friends enjoyed drinking the whole day without doing anything. Douglas was a renowned psychiatrist who could do anything to turn legal case in his favour.

xxx

The judge had appointed jury of 12 people who would hear each and every aspect of the case and would decide if Lewis was guilty of murder or not.

After several court hearings the case had become complicated in view of the fires shot by Lewis in front of everyone. State advocate was of the opinion that Lewis was in senses when he shot and he was not insane.

The judge asked the jury if they had arrived at any decision. They said that 6 of them are in favour and 6 are against Lewis.

xxx

Ranjan, Siddhartha and John were sitting at Ranjan’s residence thinking what to do to win this case. Winning this case meant money and fame for them. It meant something for Siddhartha to win this case as winning would have increased his clients base.

Next day the court hearing was started and John was called in the witness box. He looked at the Judge, then at the jury and then at the public. He started speaking by giving his brief introduction and how he had been helping insane patients.

Siddhartha came to the witness box and asked John, “What is your opinion about Lewis?”

John looked at the jury, became serious and said, “if my daughter would have been raped, I had been filled with anger and must have thought of shooting the criminals to take revenge. I believe if your daughter of 12 years would have been raped, you would have done the same.”

On hearing this some of the jury members were sympathetic and their eyes were wet. John saw this and sensed that he was going in the right direction.

He continued, “what Lewis did was absolutely correct. He could not think what was right and what was wrong as his mind was occupied with the image of his daughter who was lying in the hospital crying for his father. He had become insane.”

There was a silence for some time and then there was a loud applause in the courtroom. The judge asked the jury to declare their result by 4.00 in the evening.

The court was resumed at 4.00 and everyone was waiting for the decision of the jury. Now everything depended upon jury’s decision.

At 4.15 the jury confirmed their decision and handed over the piece of paper to the judge. The judge looked at the paper and then at the crowd in the courtroom.

Some people were praying and some were waiting for the result.

The judge cleared his throat and read the decision. “The court finds Mr. Lewis not guilty of murder”.

Within few seconds, the sound of claps could be heard everywhere and everyone thanked God for this positive decision.

The court was adjourned and people started going out of the court.

Lewis and Siddhartha left the courtroom and saw hundreds of people waiting for them to come. Press reporters were also waiting to live telecast interview with Lewis and Siddhartha.

After the interview everyone wanted to meet Lewis who had become a hero. A huge crowd met Siddhartha to get appointment to fight their legal cases.

Lewis reached home and hugged his daughter and wife.

Siddhartha reached office and relaxed. He closed office early as he wanted to enjoy evening with his wife.

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Evil Spirits

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I went to the temple today morning where Panditji had to perform Havan. I had visited this temple earlier on the recommendation of someone known in our family. This temple is known for accomplishment of your wishes. You make a wish and it will be done.

The Sankat Mochan temple is located near sector 22 of Rohini area. It does not occupy much area but whatever area it occupies is kept clean and hundreds of devotees throng this temple every Tuesday and Saturday with very long queues spreading over half a kilometer. On other days you will not find anyone outside the temple premises.

I reached with my wife at 8.15 which was 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled time. We touched our forehead on the entrance stair and saw about 10 people waiting inside in front of the main area where prominent idols of God and Goddess were kept. I inquired from the Panditji inside there when Sharma Panditji would come to perform Havan. He told us to sit and wait on the mat lying on the floor.

Five minutes later another Panditji came and was sitting on a desk. He called each of us and asked to pay Rs 551 and give yellow slip issued on our first visit. He marked the slip with his sign and entered details in register. We now had to go upstairs.

We went upstairs and sat on large mat lying on the left side of the room. Assistance was arranging for the things to be kept for each one of us. Sharma Panditji came in next 10 minutes. Some other arrangements had also to be done.

Finally Puja started at 9.30 which an hour later than the scheduled time. There were 11 small mats for each one of us. We sat on the mats facing one another and Puja started. We all had to keep our eyes closed with both hands folded near our heart. Within 5 minutes of starting of Puja, I could sense noise of breath being taken by someone that was sounding like ghost.

I kept my eyes shut. Sharma Panditji was enchanting mantras and we had to remember our God and Goddess whom we worship daily.

Images of Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva and Goddess Durga, Saraswati and Laxmiji came to my mind. But..

Within seconds my mind again diverted to breathing sound that was becoming louder and hollowed as if it was echoing. I could not remain my eyes shut and open my eyes.

I was frightened to see the girl sitting in the opposite line. She was shaking and her head was moving in circular motion first clockwise and then clockwise. 2 minutes later the girl sitting exactly opposite me also started shaking and her hands and legs were shaking. Sharma Panditji called people who had come with these girls and were sitting on the large mat. They were asked to take girls outside the room as they had started shouting in echoing mode.

The entire room was filled with fear and everyone was thinking what would happen next.

The moment both girls were about to leave the room, a lady sitting on the last mat in the opposite line started shaking and shouting. Now everyone was in deep fear. She was lying on the floor and was dragging herself in opposite direction just like a snake rattles. Panditji immediately asked the man who had come with this lady to take her also outside the room. Once all 3 were out, the Puja again started. Within minutes shriek sound of all girls/lady started coming inside the room. Panditji asked the assistance to lock the room door from inside so that he could concentrate on his Puja and enchanting of mantras.

The Puja continued for next half an hour during which we all continued to hear shriek sounds sometimes of one person or two persons and sometimes all three people.

We were asked to go outside the room for some time as Panditji needed additional time to prepare for Havan. Not the same room where three people were suffering but open balcony. In fact it was not open balcony but it was roof adjacent to Puja room.

I thought of going in the outside room from where continuous shriek sound was coming. I went inside the room and saw one girl standing on the floor and suddenly throwing her body on the floor with head banging on the floor. Another girl was moving her neck in clockwise motion with her loose hair covering her entire face. Lady was lying on the floor and was crying very loudly. Some people had come from outside wanting to meet Panditji. But since Panditji was busy they sat in the outside room and watched the horrible scene.

After some time we were called inside as Havan had to start. Havan Kund was brought inside the room and 8 mats were kept all around the Kund.

We had to perform as per instructions of Panditji. Panditji had instructed everyone sitting on 8 mats and other people who had come with us to say loudly “Swaha” after every spoon of ghee is poured inside the Havan. Ghee was necessary so that fire does not extinguish but intensity of fire increases with every spoon of ghee.

Havan continued for about 20 minutes. Once we finished another set of 8 people came and sat on the same 8 mats. Same procedure was followed again and eventually Havan was concluded.

We all stood now as Aarti had to be performed. Panditji instructed his assistance to bring all three people inside the room.

We felt horrified. What would happen if evil spirits continued to haunt those 3 people and what would happen if they attacked any one of us?

They were coming inside and we all stared at the entrance door with curious eyes. Now they all were pacified souls with no breathing sound coming. We all felt relieved.

Aarti was performed and we all contributed money whatever everyone had to give. We all took Prasad and were asked to leave and anyone having any doubt could wait and contact Panditji.

Everyone started to leave but looked at those three souls before leaving to check if everything was fine.

Those three people were still quite.

I got a chance to ask Panditji why this happened. He replied, “This is the influence of wind that gathers momentum because of evil spirits present all around.  The spirits are present because sins of people are washed away once they come here and Havan is performed. But you need not worry; evil spirits leaves human body in the process of performing Havan.”

I felt satisfied with this answer and left for the home.

Twin brothers

It was cold day. Light winds were blowing and sun was shining outside.

It was a jail with lots of visitors waiting outside the building waiting to go inside. Visiting hours were 2.00 to 4.00 in the noon.

I got a call at around 1.30 in the noon to meet a prisoner. I usually avoid going during visitor hours as it is very crowded.

But I had to meet this prisoner as I generally meet them whenever need arises and especially when someone’s life is involved. That’s what lawyers are taught-ethics.

I drove from my home in Hari Nagar to jail and thought of reaching in 10 minutes but it took half an hour in reaching due to slow movement of traffic.

I reached at around 2.30 and saw heavy crowd. I went to the gate and entered inside from the side gate after showing my identity.

It was a long distance from the entrance gate. I went straight about 200 meters, turned right and walked another 150 meters. I entered a big hall where I made entry in the visitors log register. I displayed my identity and went straight to the cell where the inmate was sitting in one corner.

I went near the cell. The inmate called me by name. Krishna. I saw his face. I kept on looking at his face. His face was exactly same as mine. He said I am your twin Shyam.

I was stunned. I did not have any twin. I was never if I had any sibling.

Shyam’s height and complexion was same as mine. His face was plump unlike me. His hair was clumsy. He could not have shiny and soft hair like me. One does not have that privilege in jail.

I said. Well Shyam. How can I help you?

He said I am a poor man and have been framed in a murder case that I have not committed. Please save me from the clutches of law and let me live my life. You are a very famous lawyer and have never been defeated in a criminal case.

I looked at him with suspicion. I knew these criminals. They gather information and use people for their personal benefit.

I said why I should believe you. I do not know you. I came because you wanted to meet me.

He started narrating his story.

He said Krishna, you will not believe me but our mother is same. Our mother name is Karishma Mehra and stayed in Paharganj. You were fortunate to get good education and become a lawyer. I was left to feed myself on the road.

I grew and attended a govt school but dropped out. I had to feed myself and think of earning. I started washing utensils in a road side hotel.

One day I meet Pappu a thief who stole petty things.

We became friends and started dreaming of leading a good life. Pappu was earning reasonable good amount.

Sometimes you earn more through wrong ways rather than going right way. Though person pays in some form or another for earning through wrong ways.

We were walking in Paharganj for our prey.  We were looking for someone with fat wallet or expensive watch.

10 minutes later a short and plump man got down from his car, a Mercedes. Three other men also got down. They all looked smart and rich.

Our plan was ready. The men walked and enjoying sunny weather. We walked and came near them. Pappu slowly took out wallet from hip pocket of one of the men and tried snatching wrist watch very gently from another man. This man suddenly noticed the movement and started shouting at us. Pappu and me were alerted and started running. But soon another group of men caught both of us and called police van. We panicked as we knew if once caught we would rot in jail. The man calling police seemed influential. We started shouting back at him.

He became angry and took out pistol and fired at us. But the shot was missed. The group of rich men with fat wallet and expensive watches on their hand also came at the spot. They knew each other as was evident from their faces as if they were about to beat each other.

They knew each other as it was evident from their conversation. The man who called police fired at rich man whose wallet was with us. The rich man also fired at him and the man fell down on the road with blood all over his chest. Now the rich man threw gun at me and ran from there.

The police came in about 5 minutes and saw gun in my hand.

No one came forward to protect us or say any defensive statement. Police wasted no time and took us to the police station. We were locked up for two days. Third day in the morning I was told by the constable that I would be shifted to Jail and Pappu would be released as there was no evidence against him.

But I had gun in my hand in the market and police had seen this. I had to be in the jail for this. On the day of shifting I saw a fat man talking to the police man. I got closer to him when I was being shifted. He was the same man who was in the market and fired in exchange for the shot received by the man calling police.

I started thinking and many things were cleared in my mind.  I had to think of my mine as no one else will tell me these things.

The fat man was a part of mafia dealing in drugs and smuggling. The person killed in the market was part of another mafia.

Shyam was now crying. He said it has been 10 years in the jail and heard about me last month. He saw me on the TV which is located in a hall in jail so that inmates could see it the evening.

My heart sank. It was not because he was my brother (as told by him though I did not believe him). It was because as a human Shyam had suffered for a crime he had not committed.

I said, I will take your case but you have to promise that whatever you had told should not be a lie. Otherwise I will leave this case immediately.

I left the cell and walked out. Sun had set and it was 4.00 in the evening.

I started working on the case. I went to meet him again next week and saw one man meeting him. He was aged about fifty years old.  He was tall and slim with white hair and glasses. I did not see him properly but he looked like my father.

My father had left my mother after incurring loss in business and was staying with another woman.

I had to produce him Shyam in the court for hearing of the case. There were few witnesses and few arguments were exchanged.

Finally after two months of hearing, Shyam was released from the jail.

I felt relieved that I had won the case and also Shyam had got justice.

I never thought of doing any DNA test to establish whether we were twins. I knew I never had any twin and I took Shyam’s case so that he is released if he is innocent.

He did not tell me any future plans after getting released.

A week later I was reading newspaper to know what was happening around the world especially in the field of crime.

I turned pages and suddenly saw my photo. I thought that the media has published it because of winning case.

I started reading but my happiness turned sour. The words read” Shyam and Richard are now great friends and hold a major share in mafia world.

I could not believe whatever I read. I again read the article and now I was furious.

Shyam had lied to me. The fat man had gather information about me and had got Shyam released from the jail so that they could expand their empire.

I learnt one thing. You should never be emotional especially in this field.

 

Dead man

I had to go inside the room. The light inside was very dull. It was dark outside.

Not because of street lights but because it was a moonless night. Street lights anyway did not work for last couple of weeks.

The municipal corporation was not doing its job properly. It did not listen to people’s grievances and gave excuses to address the issue.

The situation did not improve due to the corrupt officials in the corporation.

I was responsible for this planning.

I met Jacob about a month back in the summer of June.

I was having coffee in café coffee day in the relaxed atmosphere after visiting bank.  I was sitting alone chatting with my friend on phone when I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. I held the call and saw who he was?

He was a middle aged man about 55 years old, wrinkles running down his both cheeks. He was wearing stark white collared shirt with blue denim jeans. The gentleman was wearing black shining shoes. He was looking dude with goggles tucked in the shirt pocket and a black cap on his round face. Face was clean shaven.

He said hi. I replied the same. He said “how are you gentleman”. I replied I am fine and fit. He said great. I offered him a seat and ordered 2 cups of coffee

Jacob started conversation. He asked if I was interested in making money with a short span of time.

I was jobless. I was working in a call center for UK client but the process was ramped down and I was given a pink slip. It was not only me but there were many people who were asked to leave.

I was looking for a job and needed money. I shown him interest and he started telling me details of the plan. The plan was to go to Donley George capital bank and encash a cheque lying with Jacob. I saw the cheque. I was taken aback.

The cheque was bearing my name. Michael Harold. I saw the amount. It was 2 million dollars. I saw Jacob in his eyes and he was smiling.

I felt suspicious and told him that I would need time to think about it. I was about to leave but he stopped me and said this opportunity will not come again.

He had been following me for some days from home to office and office to home and had gathered information about me.  The cheque was given to him by one of his friend named Michael Harold and personality was almost same as mine. Jacob had shifted in my locality few months back though I had not noticed him before.  How will I notice him? I left in the morning and came back at night not interacting much even with immediate neighbor.

He had arranged for all legal documents including identity proof required to withdraw such a large amount.

Jacob and his friend Michael were partners in a finance company and Michael had run away with hard earned money earned in last 10 years of his life.

I had to go to bank next day. It should not be a problem as name was same and as per photo needed in bank the face was same as mine. Slim and long face aged about 29 years.

I wore my navy blue suit on white shirt. The button of my suit was unbuttoned and did not feel like buttoning it.

I was feeling high as I was about to get this money if not initially but in installments after one month of getting money from the bank. I had to go to a specified location every week and take out money from a box kept below the bed in the room.

The bank was full of people doing banking for different purposes. I went to the counter to get the cheque encashed. The person on the counter saw me and then the cheque and then again saw me with some strange looks. I felt uneasy. I thought if the person had recognized that it was not the same Michael. The counterman checked the system. He was satisfied now. He asked me to go to the senior manager and get his authorization in the system to proceed further. I stepped into his cabin. He cabin was big and well furnished. There was wooden work all around and very good cabins.

He looked into my eyes and then the cheque. He asked me to sit and checked his system. He asked me if I was doing well and if there was improvement in my breathing system. I felt nervous as Jacob did not tell me that his friend Michael was an asthmatic patient. Thoughts flashed into my mind and I said with calm tone that it was much better now and I could breath well now especially in air conditioner. The senior manager was comfortable now.

The senior management generally asks these questions to ensure that the bank is dealing with correct person where huge amount is involved.

There was no flaw in signature as Jacob had shown me his friend’s signature and I did the practice well.

I went again to the counter and finally got two million dollars. I kept on seeing money and could not believe my eyes.

I came out of the bank and saw Jacob in his Ford Mustang   waiting for me. I stacked bag on the rear seat with calmness so that nobody notices us. Jacob started engine and asked if everything was smooth. I assured him that nothing went wrong. He was happy to hear this.

He drove the car and stopped in front of a house on the deserted road. It was only one storey building. I felt uncomfortable as this was the place where I had to come after a month to collect half of my share in ten equal installments.  He would earn interest till then by lending it to other people at 24% interest p.a.

I again did not enquired much as I was getting 1 million dollars without slogging for it. It was 24th Jun. I had to come on 24th Jul.

24th Jul. I went to the house. I was not supposed to go during day time as someone could notice me. It was dark and humid. I went inside the room and opened the door. Jacob had given me a set of key.

It was a big room. There was old furniture all around with dust gathered on it. I found the bed and the box under it. I opened the box and found the exact amount. One hundred thousand dollars. I had a small bag that I opened and put all money inside the bag. I kept the box at its original place and came out and locked the door.

Second time I came after a week. This time I noticed some humming as if something was being aired on TV. I thought it must be coming from some neighbor. I ignored it.

This was my eighth visit. I had already gathered seven hundred thousand dollars. Now it was going to be eight hundred thousand dollars. I had dreamt of going abroad and visit casinos and doing bungee jumping.

I opened the door and saw the box lying under the same bed. It looked as if Jacob had been refilling it every week.  This time the humming sound was louder. I became curious. I thought of going out and check with neighbor about it. But I realized it would be a blunder and I might land up in jail and all my dreams would be shattered. I went further and found another small room. I never noticed this as I had to simply pocket the installment and leave the place quietly. It was anyway now only 2 more visits and I will have my share.

I noticed someone sitting on a rocking chair and was swinging. A very small radio was airing some news. The sound of the radio was very disturbing. My heart sank. I had never thought of this. I went ahead to face the man.

I was shocked and was about to faint. I controlled myself. It seemed as if I had seen my face in the mirror. I realized that it was not me but the face was very much same.

He was Jacob’s friend Michael Harold. He could not be anyone else. He was looking at me smiling. I went closer to him but found him dead. He was not breathing.

Now I started thinking Why Jacob had come to me on that day. It was his planning to get million dollars without any efforts risking my life. He chose this deserted place so that no one notices us and I could not find anything in this dark and desolated place.

I never returned to that place and did not find Jacob either later on. He was a con man.

It was a win win deal for both. He got millions in his share and also another three hundred thousand dollars with a planning well executed.

I had got seven hundred thousand dollars without working though I risked my life in the bank..