Swords and Stains – A Robert Langdon Mystery

Ramu Kaka had no secrets and encouraged openness. But even he would not have wished that his dead body be found in this state. When they discovered his dead body, his eyes, his mouth and his guts were wide open. The only difference between the three openings was that, his guts had Tipu Sultan’s sword sticking out of it.

The police were not able to get any leads on the murder with the cryptic message and thus sent an SOS to the foremost expert on such occurrences. Now, the expert was on his way to Bangalore, the Garden City of India.

Robert Langdon looked out from the windows of the class-S Mercedes that was employed to escort him from Bangalore International Airport to the scene of the crime.

“Mr Robert, I hope all the details of the murder are clear to you. Did you go through the case files? Do you have any idea on what might be going on?” asked Inspector Reddy.

Robert had already gone through the case files twice and was itching to see the dead body and the historical Mount Carmel College where Ramu Kaka’s dead body was found. But they were still stuck at Hebbal flyover and it could be hours before he would get a chance to look at the scene of the crime.

Robert looked at his Mickey Mouse watch, shook his head and said, “I do have some hunches but I would rather wait till I see the crime scene myself Inspector.”

Three hours later, Robert stepped out from the Mercedes onto Mount Carmel Campus. He stretched his legs, he inhaled deeply of the sights and sounds of the Garden city and exhaled violently in the form of short allergic coughs. He cursed himself for forgetting to pack his anti histamines.

They walked through the large hallways of Mount Carmel College towards the classroom where the deadbody was found. Robert looked at Ramu Kaka’s body. He had already seen the pictures of the crime scene. He knew what to do first. He reached into Ramu Kaka’s hand and pulled out a piece of plastic.

“What is it Professor?”

“The red stains on the wall are not blood Mr Reddy. They are pan stains from the pan masala that Ramu Kaka was chewing on” and held up an empty packet of Pan Parag pan masala.

Even on his last day Ramu Kaka had not littered and had taken care to put the empty packet in his pocket. But would this be enough for Langdon to solve the mystery? “If you allow me, I would like to keep this wrapper with me. I would like to analyze it further” said Langdon and put it in his pocket.

Robert heard the clap of heels at a hurried pace reverberate through the long hallways behind him.

Inspector Reddy said, “Professor Langdon, please meet Dr Aisha Agarwal, she has been looking forward to talking to you about the murder.

Robert turned around and suddenly found himself involuntarily looking into the eyes of Aisha Agarwal.

Aisha Agarwal, had a captivating face with eyes that were deep brown. The depth of her eyes was a clear contrast to the rest of her supple 24 year old frame.

Robert leaned forward genially and shook her hand. Her handshake was firmer than you would expect from the petite frame that stood before him.

The long drive from the airport had given him the chance to go through her biography in great detail and he done so with interest.

Dual degrees from Delhi University and St Xaviers, gold medallist at both places, and now a tenured faculty at Mount Carmel college at the ripe age of 24. Her physical features definitely came from her Punjabi mother but the agility of mind had to owe allegiance to her Bania father. A genetic and academic goldmine, she had her entire professional as well as family life lined up in front of her with a red carpet. Yet she chose to involve herself in this mysterious murder and its associated dangers. Why? This question intrigued Robert Langdon almost as much as the cryptic symbol engraved in the form of the bright red pan stains on the freshly distempered walls of the Mount Carmel classroom.

Aisha Agarwal leaned forward and whispered into Robert’s ear “I knew Ramu Kaka since I was a little girl. He always ate Manikchand pan masala, not Pan Parag” said Aisha and gazed into his eyes.

Will Robert Langdom be able to navigate the potholed urban bylanes of the garden city with the help of his attractive companion Aisha Agarwal? Will he unravel the murder mystery thread that somehow connected Tipu Sultan’s sword, the tobacco mafia and the Bangalore Municipal Corporation?

 

Image source: Indian Express

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