Title: The Mohanbari Murders
Author: Esha Pandey
Simran, the swashbuckling, no-nonsense new ASP of the Mohanbari District is baffled when a nine-year-old is found dead in a busy market lane. Determined to crack her first heinous crime, she doesn’t leave any stone unturned. While trying to figure out the case her path crosses with Major Imran. Sparks fly, but she is determined to hate him. As the matter gets more complicated, Simran begins to trust Imran.
Running through the nooks and alleys of dingy Mohanbari and the mysterious forest nearby, Simran must solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again.
Simran mulled over her third cup of lal chai in the SHOs chamber. It was a typical police office. Portraits of Gandhi ji and Baba Saheb lurked in opposite corners, on the wall with the honour board, behind the wooden chair. A big whiteboard with details about court cases for the week and important investigations graced the south wall. The north wall was reserved for DKBasu’s Guidelines on Arrest. The west wall in front of the chair was a glass partition from where the entrance and the duty officer’s room were visible.
Deeply craving a cigarette, Simran involuntarily put her pen in her mouth as placebo. Investigation in a murder case, that too of a child, is urgent and should take precedence over everything. A police officer’s life, however, is not that simple. Her small red notebook was filled with all that she had to do and an important page in that was dog eared and labelled “Murder: 9 years old”. Her meticulous note-making skills while helping her in complying to all the orders passed by the seniors, were also a bane, because she never forgot anything. Another page which was folded into half bore the name of Major Imran surrounded by multiple circles doodled in anger. A small devil caricature also graced the page.
Two months since her joining as Assistant Superintendent of Police, Simran had run into Major Imran on two occasions. Imran had tried hard to impress her in the first meeting, at the evening gathering at the Mess. Dressed in his best formals, Imran had paid attention to Simran all evening and cracked stupid jokes to make her laugh. All Simran could think about was how short he was. She had been kind to him, but there was no attraction. None whatsoever. Imran followed it up with a message next morning.
“Morning Ma’am! Shall we catch up on coffee in the evening?- Imran”
Aghast at his forwardness, she replied a curt no.
“Morning…not possible…I am busy-Simran”
Simran wanted to make a sighing smiley but held back. She was distracted the whole day and cursed Imran for making her uncomfortable.
The second meeting was more eventful. They met at a high-profile intelligence meeting, where Imran completely ignored her. A curt nod in acknowledgment of her existence was all she got from the Major, who looked dapper that morning in his Olive Greens. He was not that short after all. Simran’s ego had been bruised by Imran’s neglect.
About the author
Esha Pandey, is an author and a police officer. She made her debut as an author with her book Kiss of Life and Other Stories, a collection of short stories. Esha currently lives in New Delhi. She is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 2010 batch.
Esha has a Masters in International Relations and Masters of Philosophy in American Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Before becoming a civil servant, she dabbled with the idea of being a journalist and worked with Times of India as a copyeditor. She has won a United Nations FPA Award for Excellence for the “Best Short Story”.
Esha has kept her passion for writing alive through her tough assignments in policing because writing is music for her soul. Her TDH hero is her partner for life, her husband Rajiv, who supports her in all her endeavors. When she is not doing either, policing or writing, she is busy dealing with her two bundles of naughtiness, her sons. She can be reached at twitter.com/PandeyEsha and https://www.facebook.com/EshaPandeyAuthor/ .