She had evidently tried to run down the stairwell when they had chased her. She had tried in vain to open each of the doors leading out into the corridor and reach the apartments beyond. She had tried to fight them before she …..
The receptionist in the auditor’s office on the first floor, next to the stairwell, had arrived early that day. She had heard a soft thud of something falling around 8:00 a.m., she would tell the investigating officer later. The nightwatchman was almost over with his duty, he just had to switch off the stairwell lights. On his last round, when he had entered through the door beside the still sleepy lift bank towards the rear of the building, he had discovered her in the lonely stairwell, lifeless but still warm, he would relate to the investigating officer.
Apart from the two of them, nobody else in the 15 storey high rise building that boasted of a polyclinic, a departmental store and offices on the ground floor; more offices on the next 4-floors; and then residences all the way to the top, not a soul, would remember her or remember seeing her earlier or even recount seeing her enter the building, nobody else would have heard a sound.
When she was found, they would discuss amongst themselves later, the bystanders – residents, office goers, maids, house boys, that they remembered how her lifeless eyes still stared at them through the door kept ajar by the officers. They would recall her eyes asking them questions and pleading with them for answers. The officers scouring the stairwell, one step at a time, would find bits and pieces of whatever belonged to her in her last moments, strewn all over the stairwell. Only nothing would point to her identity, her name, her address, that she belonged to a respectable family, that she had a purpose of visit that was not illicit or immoral.
Her youth, her beauty, her fairness of skin, her jet black hair and her pain – was finally covered in a white shroud and she was taken away, to be questioned, even in her silence. The normal cacophony of the morning in a building fully awake with the unfortunate happening had been silenced that day, by her and her silent cries of fear and pain.
Then everybody, in their need to get over such a tragedy, dispersed from the lift bank – only to huddle in the corridors, in front of their doors, in the parking lot, in nooks and corners. Everybody was curious – about her name, her identity, her past and her present but not the future any more – some were thoughtful enough to question her dignity, others her mental make up, some sighed at her fate and a few shuddered at her pain.
For the next one month, all that remained of her in and around the building were whispers, speculations and rumours.The investigating team considered the case very seriously, so they questioned every resident, all visitors were stopped at the gates, all the house boys and maids were cross examined – they left no stones unturned. They even ransacked through empty or recently vacated apartments they found suspicious for reasons best known to them. The residents once in a while winced at the thought of a killer at large among them.
And just as the nation was about to come together in celebrations and festivities, the investigation came to a close. Everything, according to the strict laws of the land were clear as crystal. They now had knowledge of her, of her family, past and present. She did not belong to this desert country, she was not a National. She was merely married to a son of the soil. So she still remained a foreigner, from the shores of the Mediterranean, a woman resplendent in her beautiful youth. But she was not a tamed spirit, not having belonged to this country, the customs, culture, values were foreign to her. So her free spirit with the wind on its wings had refused to remain tied down to one man, they judged. But, unfortunately, such flights of fancy never brought happiness to anybody. Her family was distraught with her wayward ways. Her husband, a pilot by profession had tried to give her the moon, he had confessed to the court under oath. But she would only have her way. She had ended up being on anti depressants perennially. The visiting psychiatrist to the ground floor polyclinic suddenly remembered that she had been his patient for a while. All this he narrated to the court of law under a solemn oath to tell only the truth and nothing but the truth. Suicidal was what he had diagnosed her to be not so long ago and had prescribed the anti depressants.
So the supreme court of justice, which ruled above all, kings and men alike, adjudicated that on that fine morning, unable to live under the guilt of her disarrayed life, she had driven from a distant corner of the city, past much taller buildings with much less security, to this apartment building, climbed up to the 15th floor and then taken her last flight of fancy. Case sealed, signed and justice delivered.