A Murder Mystery – Zan, Zar, Zameen

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/07/motive-for-murder-zan-zar-zameen.html


Crime Fiction – A Murder Mystery – Story By Vikram Karve

There is a saying in Urdu:

 Har qatl di e jar zan zar zameen

The Motive for every Murder is because of Woman, Money or Land

Think about it.

Zan (love for a woman)

Zar (greed for money)

Zameen (dispute over land and property)

ZanZarZameen – one or more of these are the root causes behind murder – aren’t they…?

In this murder mystery story – what is the motive for murder…?

Is it Zan…?

Or is it Zar…

Or is it Zameen…

Read on and discover for yourself…

MOTIVE FOR MURDER – ZAN ZAR ZAMEEN : a story by Vikram Karve 

“A man dies in suspicious circumstances. You arrest another man for his murder. Then – the “murder-suspect” dies in the lock-up. And then – you close the case…” Rita says.

“That’s what happened…” I say.

“Well, the higher-ups are not happy with your closure report…” she says matter-of-factly, “they feel you should have delved more deeply – and you should have investigated the case a bit more thoroughly.”

“It is an open and shut case. What is there left to investigate…? And Rita – you were there yourself when all this happened…” I say.

“I know. But the guys who died were top officers – influential men. The powers-that-be are concerned. The boss wants me to go over the case once more with you before he approves the closure report…” Rita says.

I say nothing – I remain silent.

Rita says:

“Sir – I know I am one batch junior to you – and – I know that you have independent charge – so if you feel that I am interfering…”

“No. No. It’s not that…” I say hurriedly, “it’s okay. I have no problem. After all – you are Head of the Crime Branch in Headquarters.”

“And – I am tipped to take over from you over here…” Rita says.

“You…? You’re going to take over from me…? Where am I going…?” I ask, surprised.

“Don’t you know…? Well – I am not supposed to tell you – but once all this is over – it is most likely that you are heading for a coveted foreign assignment…” Rita says.

“I’m going abroad…?” I ask.

“That’s what the boss told me – in strictest confidence…” Rita says, “he told me to discuss the case with you and satisfy myself – and the moment I submitted my report – he would close this pending case and relieve you – so that you can hand over your duties to me – and you fly off across the seas…”

“Thanks for the good news. Let’s get this over with fast. Tell me – how should we go about it…?” I say.

“Sir – just tell me what happened. I’ll take your word for it…” Rita says.

“The murder happened on Barren Island. As the name indicates – it is indeed a  desolate uninhabited island. There’s nothing over there – except the volcano – that’s what these guys had ostensibly come to see. There is the barren island, the volcano, the springs, the lovely beach and the site office-cum-guesthouse which we activate for such VIP visits – bloody work-cum-pleasure trips – having a good time under the pretext of work…”

“Your report says that there were only six people on Barren Island on that fateful night…” Rita says.

“That’s right – you know it.  Joshi – the Chief Scientist who was murdered – he was in Room No. 1 – and his deputy Sharma – the murderer – he was next door in Room No. 2. You – the Liaison Officer – you were in Room No. 3. The Technocrat Couple – Mr. and Mrs. Krishnan – they were in Room No. 4. And Me – the Camp In-Charge – was in Room No. 5 – that’s all…” I say.

“No one else…? Guest House Staff…? Cooks…? Security staff…? Boat crew…?” Rita asks.

“I sent them back to Port Blair and told them to come in the morning. We wanted some privacy – a cosy party all by ourselves on the beach. Besides – I wanted the staff to enjoy their New Year’s Eve with their families. Come on, Rita – you know all that. You were there yourself…”

“Just checking…” she says, “and when did you all turn in…?”

“Well – the Krishnan’s were the first to go to bed – immediately after midnight – they were quite drunk – both of them. And then you left – saying that you were tired and wanted to get up early in the morning…” I say.

“And then…?” Rita asks.

“We drank for an hour or so – and I was feeling quite high – so I came back to the guest house and went to sleep – but the two scientists Joshi and Sharma kept on drinking. In fact – when I asked them to come with me – I remember them saying that they wanted to lie down on the beach and drink until sunrise…”

“And next morning – Joshi’s body is found floating in the sea…?” Rita asks.

“Yes. The body had strangulation marks around the neck…” I say.

“So – you carry out an investigation – and you arrest Sharma on charges of murder…?” Rita asks.

“I had a post mortem done in Port Blair. The time of death was around 3 AM…” I say.

“So…?” Rita asks.

“You – Rita – you were in your room – the Krishnan’s were in their room – I was in my room – only Sharma remained with Joshi on the beach. Sharma had no “alibi”. Among all of us – Sharma was the only one without an “alibi” – so I arrested him as the prime suspect for the murder of Joshi…” I say.

“Did you ask Sharma where he was…? Did you try and interrogate him…? Did you try and get a confession…?” Rita asks.

“Sharma just kept mum like a zombie. He did not answer anything – he refused to give a statement. That’s why I …”

“That’s why you gave him Sodium Pentothal…? Sir – you know you cannot do this on your own – you have to take the court’s permission…” Rita says.

“A wee bit of truth serum never hurt anyone…” I say.

“But he died…!” Rita says.

“I didn’t know Sharma would react this way. I thought he was a tough cookie. I had watched him trek, swim, climb the steep slope of the volcano. You should have seen the way he was drinking and eating at the party…” I say, “and I wanted to get to the bottom of this case – I wanted to find out the motive behind the murder.”

“Motive…? Your Zan Zar Zameen theory, Sir…?” Rita asks with a grimace on her face.

“It was a case of Zan – a woman…” I say.

Zan…?” Rita says, looking quite astonished.

“Yes. I got a lead. Don’t ask me how…” I say.

“It must be your batch-mate – in Delhi…” Rita asks.

“Maybe. But that is not important. What is important is that Joshi was Sharma’s direct boss – and that Sharma was having a affair with Joshi’s wife.”

“So – Sharma murdered him…? But why…?” Rita asks.

“That’s what I was trying to find out with a bit of truth serum – but the bugger collapsed and died…” I say.

“Well I don’t know about the motive – but I can say with surety that Sharma did not kill Joshi…” Rita says.

“Then – who murdered Joshi…?” I ask her.

“I don’t know…” Rita says, “but you said that you arrested Sharma because he was the only one without an alibi. But actually – Sharma had a “cast iron alibi”…”

“What…? Sharma had an “alibi”…?” I ask.

“Let’s go through it once again…” Rita says looking into my eyes, “the Krishnan’s leave the party just after midnight – then I leave shortly afterwards – I remember the exact time – I clearly remember looking at my watch and the wall clock – I reached my room at 12:30. Tell me – do you remember the exact time you left the beach and returned to your room?”

“I told you I was quite high – and I don’t remember exactly. We drank for an hour or so. So maybe I came back to my room at around 1 o’clock – or maybe 1:30 – but I came back – and Sharma and Joshi remained at the beach and kept drinking…” I say.

“You are wrong. Sharma came back at 1 o’clock – not you…” Rita says

“What…?” I say.

“I told you that Sharma had a “cast iron alibi”. Sharma came to my room at 1 o’clock. Sharma was with me in my room the whole night…” Rita says.

“Sharma was with you in your room the whole night…? Doing what…? What the hell was Sharma doing in your room all night…?” I ask.

Rita looks at me – and she says to me:

“Sharma was making love to me – yes – he was in bed with me – making love to me. We slept together the whole night – and then – he went to his room at 5 in the morning – just as the sun was rising – before everyone got up. And it was much later – that the boat ferrying the staff came at 6 o’clock – and they discovered Joshi’s dead body floating in the sea…”

“It is very confusing – after this new twist…” I say.

“You said that the post-mortem report says the time of death was 3 AM – and you arrested Sharma because he had no alibi – he could not tell you where he was at 3 AM…?” Rita asks.

“Yes…” I say.

Rita says to me:

“But I told you – that Sharma was with me at 3 AM – he was with me from 1 AM to 5 AM – so Sharma had a cast iron alibi – in fact – everyone had an alibi – except…”

“Except…?” I utter involuntarily.

Rita looks at me – and she says to me:

“Do you understand what I am saying…?”

“Are you implying that I murdered Joshi…?” I say, my heartbeat rising.

Rita does not say anything – but she looks at me with a strange expression – a look of scorn combined with pity.

I look at Rita – and I say to her:

“But tell me Rita – why should I murder Joshi…? What is my motive…?”

Rita looks at me – directly into my eyes – and she says to me:

“Your motive for committing murder…? Well – I really do not know. You will have to ask yourself – is it Zan or Zar or Zameen? But whatever it is – now the onus is on you to prove your innocence – because now – you are the prime suspect for the murder…”


Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story is a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/07/motive-for-murder-zan-zar-zameen.html

This Story ZAN ZAR ZAMEEN was written by me Vikram Karve more than 5 years ago in June 2012 and First Posted Online by me on July 4, 2012 at 7/04/2012 12:55:00 AM in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/07/zan-zar-zameen.html  and re-posted online a number of times by me including at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/08/motive-for-murder-zan-zar-zameen.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/12/crime-fiction-murder-mystery-motive-for.html  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/06/zan-zar-zameen-whodunit-murder-mystery.html and https://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/08/motive-for-murder-zan-zar-zameen-women.html  etc

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