The Girl In Room 105[CHAPTER 30]



Chapter 30


One week ago

‘You don’t have to compare yourself to him. So what if he is super-rich,’ I told myself again. I lay in bed but couldn’t fall asleep. I had spoken to Raghu in the past as well. It had never caused insomnia before. Was it something he said? Did he make an indirect taunt or insult? I replayed our conversation in my head. I had just called him. Told him we had found out that Faiz had killed Zara. Told him about their affair. Skipped the gory bits like pregnancy kits. He had reacted as expected, cursing Faiz and becoming emotional. Later he thanked me and said everything he had seemed worthless. Life is quite incomplete without her, he had said.

Why was the phrase stuck in my head? It seemed familiar. I repeated it in my mind a few times. I picked up my phone from the bedside table.

I opened my last WhatsApp chat with Zara, one of the most precious things I had in my life. I had gone through this chat dozens of times since that day. I scrolled through it again, until I reached the end and found what I was looking for.

‘Life is quite incomplete without you.’

A tremor went through me. No, this could be a coincidence, I told myself. I looked at Saurabh. He was fast asleep.

I lay down again. ‘He was in Hyderabad. The hospital confirmed it. The cell phone location confirmed it,’ a voice in me countered the thought that had struck me. ‘It is Faiz only. Focus.’

I turned in bed, determined to fall asleep, when I had another thought.

If Faiz was looking at divorce lawyers, why would he hurt Zara? That too if he found out she was pregnant? He seemed ready to leave Salma for her.

I sat up again. I opened the Cleartrip app on my phone. I checked for all flights between Hyderabad and Delhi. I sorted the flights by time. Last flight out 11:30 p.m. First flight back 4:55 a.m. Difficult, but doable.

I remembered my earlier chat conversation with Raghu, when he was in San Francisco.

‘I am used to it. Do such trips all the time,’ he had said.

Maybe I should actually take the flights and check if this is doable, I thought, and switched on a light.

‘What happened?’ Saurabh said.

‘I can’t sleep. I need to go somewhere.’

‘Huh?’ Saurabh said.

I took the same trip he did, only in reverse. I boarded 6E765, the first flight from Delhi to Hyderabad at 4:55 a.m. It landed in Hyderabad at 6:50 a.m., ahead of schedule. As I made my way out of the airport, I noticed several CCTV cameras. Hoping Rana could help me access this footage, I stepped out of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at 7:05 a.m. Several drivers offered me a ride to the city. They took cash and did not want any of my details. I took a taxi to Apollo Hospital. With little early morning traffic, I reached the hospital gate at 7:29 a.m. I went into the main lobby and found a common toilet. He could have changed his clothes there to switch back to the green overalls that admitted patients wore in the hospital. I checked the time; it was still 7:33 a.m. I remembered Rana had called Raghu at around 8:45 on the morning of Zara’s death. Raghu would have just got back when he received the call. Rana had let me listen in. A nurse had picked up the phone before passing it to Raghu. She had a Christian name.

I took the lift and reached the private rooms on the first floor. If he wanted to leave unnoticed from the hospital, he must have taken the private rooms on the first floor itself so he could leave through a window.

‘Yes, sir, how can I help you?’ a nurse said to me.

‘I had a friend admitted here,’ I said. ‘He had a nurse attend to him. I would like to meet her. To thank her.’

‘What’s her name, sir?’

I went blank.

‘I am trying to remember. Jenny, no wait, Janie. She had a Telugu accent,’ I said.

‘Oh, Janie Anthony, sir,’ the nurse said. ‘She is around. Check the staff canteen. She must have gone for breakfast.’

‘Who will forget a patient who leaves a ten thousand-rupee tip, aan?’ Janie said, after I showed her Raghu’s picture on the phone.

The hospital staff canteen smelled of medu vadas and Dettol. The tiny room had flasks of tea and a small snack counter. All types of hospital staff, including masons, plumbers, compounders, lab attendants, accountants and nurses, occupied the various tables. I sat with Janie at a corner table, so nobody could hear us.

‘So you took care of him for what? A week?’

‘Five days. When he left, he still had a cast. However, once his tests came out fine, the doctor let him go home.’

‘He didn’t want me to get stressed, so he never told me everything properly. That’s why I came to ask you.’

‘Oh, it is ok, sir.’

‘What exactly happened to him?’

‘Left arm hairline fracture. Bruises on his arms and legs. Twisted ankle.’

‘Did he say or do anything unusual during his stay?’

‘As in? No, sir. He is a quiet sort of person, as you may know. His parents came to visit him. Otherwise he would rest or sometimes be on his phone.’

‘Did he make any calls?’

‘Just to his fiancée. I saw her picture. So nice looking. Some Muslim girl. She died, he told me. Very sad.’

‘Yes. Zara.’

‘It was her birthday it seems, and he was so upset he couldn’t be with her. He wanted to be the first to wish her. I still remember. I helped him.’

I looked at her, surprised.

‘Helped him?’ I said.

‘The doctor had instructed Raghu sir to sleep early, no later than 9 p.m.

He wanted to wish her at midnight. So I helped him.’

‘How?’

‘I had night duty. He gave me his unlocked phone. He had already typed a happy birthday message. At exact midnight he told me to just press send. I did, and Zara ma’am had the first wish from Raghu sir. Wasn’t he the best boyfriend in the world?’

‘Yeah,’ I said, letting out a huge breath. ‘He definitely was.’



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