Sunday, June 3, 2012

RAMANUGEM CHRONICLES – MURDER AT SUNDARAM VILLA - PART I


(It has always been my dream to write a murder mystery and create my own detective character. So here it is. My first shot at it.)

It was one hell of a night. The clouds were clattering in a relentless thunder, lightning was on the lookout for trees to strike, wind was gushing ferociously and rain was pouring down mercilessly. Ramanujam was battling hard to keep his umbrella from flying into outer space, half cursing his fate that he had to work at this odd hour and half excited about the intriguing prospect of a challenge for his brain that was bored to death due to inactivity. In the mean time, Inspector Alex Pandian had taken stock of the murder in hand at the Sundaram Villa and had surveyed the body and the premises without much success. He was anxiously waiting for Ramanujam, the genius who ironically enjoyed the prospect of a murder!

“Hello Inspector. Seems like it is not going to be Happy Holidays after all!” The inspector’s sleepy eyes lit up as he saw Ramanujam. “Well, I don’t ever remember you having a vacation. They call you Ramanu-gem for a reason.”

“Okay snub. The Case?” Ramanujam was in no mood for any pep talk.

“Murder! Shot dead. Probably an hour ago. No sign of murder weapon. The bullet was found on the ground a few paces away from the body. So was his cell-phone. We’ll know more after the post-mortem and ballistics report. Martin’s on it!” Ramanujam wasn’t impressed. “Who’s the guy and what’s the dope on him?”

“Well, he apparently was a big shot industrialist. I am sure you have heard of Sundaram Textiles.” Alex pointed to the large billboard on the street.

“Yes. My wife takes me there every other week. Who knows this could be some frustrated husband’s doing! So is he Sundaram?” Ramanujam examined the dead body that was being taken out for post mortem.

“Nope, his son-in-law Raghavan. He runs the show now”, retorted Alex, a little stunned by Ramanujam’s ignorance. “Ran!” Ramanujam didn’t miss his opportunity to rub it in.

“Don’t I look irritated enough? Anyways.. Mr.Sundaram is retired now. All he does is to sit in various boards and provide professional advice. That, when he is not writing his autobiography!”

“Hmm... Interesting! Budding entrepreneur murdered at his door-step. Tell me about people in the house!” Ramanujam was assessing the house and the neighborhood.

“Mr.Sundaram has a son and a daughter. His wife is no more. His son Chander is a vagabond who graces various clubs and parties. His daughter Sunita is a renowned social worker. Her husband, Raghavan was a much respected gentleman who managed his father-in-law’s empire very expertly. Well, until someone decided to change the status-quo!”

“Lots of shades in these characters! Or may be lots of shady characters!” Ramanujam chuckled. Alex looked at him curiously. “Are you hinting an inside job?” “Relax Alex. It is dangerous to make assumptions so early. Anyone else in the house?”

“Yeah. There is Ponniah, their servant who has been here forever and then there is Jeniffer. She was apparently a homeless girl who Sunita picked up and brought home. She has been living here for almost 2 years now.”

“Aha! Who saw the body first?” Ramanujam was rolling his eyes.

“Ponniah. He heard Raghavan’s scream and ran to the door. When he opened it, he saw Raghavan on the floor soaked in blood. He died almost immediately.”

“Hmm… he heard the scream but not the gun shot. Silencer perhaps! So he was right at the door but didn’t knock it?” That seemed strange to Ramanujam.

“Someone shot him before he could do that. The killer was hiding somewhere nearby, waiting for him.” Alex’s response wasn’t convincing to Ramanujam. “But why wait here where he could have been easily caught by the inmates. He could have shot him anywhere. The whole area seems pretty deserted! Let us talk to Ponniah.”

Ponniah was crouched on the floor and looked pale with fear. “Ayya. My hands are shivering. Who could have done this dastardly act? Our chinna saar was such a noble heart. The stars are not good for our family these days.” Ramanujam put his arm around his shoulders. “We will catch the culprit Ponniah. Show me around the house, will you?”

“Yes Sir. This here is a small store room near the door. I sleep here in the night. Then you enter into the hall. There you see: the first room is our chinnayya’s: Chander. The bigger room to the right belongs to Sunita and Raghavan. Then you see the kitchen and puja room. The last room is our Sundaram ayya’s study and bedroom. Upstairs we have another room. Jeniffer stays there.”

Ramanujam was surveying the rooms and their arrangement very carefully. “So you saw the body first right? Can you tell me where the others were at the time and the exact order in which they came after they heard your scream?”

“Let me think Sir. The first one to come was Chander as his room was the closest. Sundaram Ayya came next. And finally I saw Jeniffer. Sunita was not in the house at that time. She had gone to her friend’s house.”

Ramanujam scratched his forehead. “Hmm.. No problem with the order. And did you see everyone coming from their rooms?” “I didn’t notice that clearly Saar. But where else could they have come from?” Ramanujam smiled. “Well, we will know in sometime. Tell me about everyone in the family? How were they?” “What to say saar! We were one loving family. Everyone is very close to each other. Our master sometimes had issues with Chander. But he still loved him.”

“Any health problems? Bad habits? Anything worth a mention?”, Alex interrupted to remind his presence. “Everyone in the family took to sports Saar. Our master Sundaram was a state level basket ball player. Sunita is good at badminton. Chander is good at shooting. And Raghavan was a busy bee. So no one had any illnesses. But we are all worried about Chander and his ways. He has gotten into heavy drinking and smoking. And you know: girls too.”

“How about Jeniffer? Does everyone approve of her?” Alex filled in for Ramanujam who was busy screening the family members’ reactions. “Well, initially our Master was against it. But Sunita and Raghavan were very supportive. Now she is almost like another family member Saar.”

“Thank you Ponniah. That was very helpful. Don’t worry. We will nab the culprit soon.” Ramanujam’s words seemed to put Ponniah at ease. He then turned to Alex. “Well my friend.. I am sure you would have done a preliminary inspection. Let me see how good you have gotten! " Alex knew a rapid fire round was coming his way.

“The family members. Any sign of nervousness?”
“Not really.”

“Their mourning?”   
“Seemed genuine.”

“It’s been raining for a while. Was anyone wet?”
“No.”

“Not even Jeniffer? She stays upstairs right! And how about Sunita?”   
“Nope.”

“Umbrellas?” 
“2 dry in the coat stand. 1 wet. Sunita came back in the car. It fits.”

“Well, whose umbrella was wet?”            
“Hmm.. Sunita's! May be it doesn’t fit exactly!”

“Any back entrances to the house?”        
“One. But is locked. Key is with Ponniah. He hasn’t opened it since morning.”

 “Hmm... Smoke?”      
“Ah.. finally you asked the right question! I was dying for one.” 


                                                                                                               - TO BE CONTINUED

50 comments:

  1. Too Good, Liked the narration, waiting for the next part.

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    1. Thank you so much Krupaa. :) Glad you liked the new attempt. :)

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  2. hmmm. aage kya hua...jaldi jaldi likho!!

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    1. thoda sabr keejiyae.. almost likh diya hai!! ;)

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  3. When I first saw the title, I thought, OMG, I need to sleep now. :) You didn't scare me. Thanks for that. It's gripping for a first time murder mystery. So, can we expect the second part tomorrow? Just Kidding..:)

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    1. :) Hopefully I didn't ruin your sleep. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. :) The wait is almost over for the next part.

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  4. I love Murder mysteries. This is such a gripping story, can't wait for Part 2. I can visualize the scenes in my mind as I read through the story. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely words Akshay. I am a big fan of murder mysteries and in my school days I had thought of a few mysteries but never penned them down. :(

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  5. murder mystery .. good one but why the continued .. by that time more people might get murdered ..

    looking forward to part two
    Bikram's

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    1. Hopefully the murderers are at bay for the time being. :P Hopefully the next part lives up to your expectations. :)

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    2. i did not mean to say i did not like this one, what i meant ws why the continued I dont have that much patience sir.. thats all so wanted to read all of it :) thats all

      sorry if i gave that impression..

      Bikram's

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    3. No no.. Bikram.. I totally understood what you said. And I completely agree. I don't have the patience to wait either. Sorry for keeping you waiting Sirji. Will post the finale very soon. :)

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  6. A very promising start. I like how the story is being developed through conversation. Frankly, Raj, and I am sorry to say this, there are not many good writers around in the Indian Blogsphere. I will return for the future parts.

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    1. Thank you so much Umashankar. I am really humbled by your comment. I don't know if I deserve such a high praise. But that coming from a wonderful wonderful writer like you makes me feel so honored.

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  7. Wow very captivating-even i love murder mysteries,i am so happy that you have started this genre.

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    1. Thank you so much Indu. :) I am so happy you like the story so far. :)

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  8. WOW wonderfully written :D I am so badly waiting for part 2... pls pls dont make us wait :D post it soon :P I tried writing thriller as well but can never match this perfection

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    1. Thank you so much Ramya. :) The wait is almost over. Part 2 is almost ready.

      Do write the thriller. I am sure it will come out great. Am so eager to read your thriller. :)

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    2. Raj :( Tried yaaaaaaaa
      http://ramya-chitrana.blogspot.in/2012/05/i-was-challenged.html

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    3. oh wow... I am going there to read it immediately. :)

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  9. woohoo!! This makes me insanely curious!! :D
    WAIIITTTIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Rohu. :) Am soo happy the story makes you curious! The second part is almost ready!

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  10. Very interesting.. Waiting for 2nd part.. Please write it soon..:)

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    1. Thank you so much Sonia. Your appreciation means a lot. :)

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  11. UGH- you have left me dangling- waiting to find out more-- am definitely waiting for second part- seems to be a real mystery!!!!!! Loved your dialogue.

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    1. Thank you so much Anjuli. Am so glad the mystery is intriguing you. :) Hope the next one too lives up to your expectation. :)

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    1. Thanks machaan.. Am glad you like the story. :)

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  13. Read like an Agatha Christie mystery. Waiting to read the concluding part.

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    1. wow.. that is indeed a great compliment. :) And coming from a great writer like you makes it even more special. Thank you so much Purba. It really means a lot. :)

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  14. Hi Raj

    Murder Mysteries are my all time favorites....Well, the success of any murder mystery lies in when exactly the reader is able to guess the culprit....In the renowned ones like Agatha Christie, usually you will have no clue at all....In your first part am able to come to no conclusion and that means you are off at a WONDERFUL start in writing mysteries..Good Luck Raj and as everyone else said, Waiting for the next :)

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    1. Thank you so much Jaish for the wonderful words. Your lovely compliments really made my day. :) I hope I live up to your expectations. :)

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  15. ok, you have kept me hooked! (Note, I am an avid reader of murder mysteries and am crazy about them). Will you please let your readers know when exactly the next post would come out?

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    1. Hi Bhavana.. thank you so much for the lovely words. :) I am crazy about murder mysteries too. :) The second part should be ready tomorrow. :)

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  16. You're cooking up something really good here. Can't wait for the rest.

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    1. Thank you so much. :) Am glad you are liking the recipe. ;)

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  17. Excellent and intriguing. It's really fun to write a detective story :) .. Will be back for the next part. There is something mysterious about Jeniffer and Chander ;)

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    1. Thank you so much Neha. :) You are absolutely right. It is really awesome fun to come up with a detective story. hmm... so you already have your thinking cap on. ;)

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  18. i thought to be continued is the link. really wanted to continue with the story.

    saw this post yesterday but decided to read it when i am in a murderous mood :D

    brilliant writing Raj, felt like reading a novel

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    1. err.. lots of people in a mood to murder me right now. :P :D

      Hopefully you will see me complete the story. :D Just kidding. You won't have to wait long. I can totally understand how difficult it is. Will post it soon. And thanks for the wonderful words. :)

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  19. No...You are very clever, leave the readers at a point where they are looking for answers. Why the smoke is important, we have to wait for the next part. Please post it soon. :)

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    1. Sorrrryyyy Saru for the wait! :( You won't have to wait too long. The finale is on its way.

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  20. laid out well ... seems worth the unlayering to be followed in the next parts

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    1. Thank you so much Sujatha. :) Hope you like the twists to follow. Howzz your computer? Are you back to virtual normalcy? ;)

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  21. Really interesting Raj.You seem to have that magic to catch the attention of your readers. Over to the Second part :-)

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  22. Thank you so much Ashwini. :) I am really glad you find the story interesting! Hope you will like the other parts too! :)

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  23. I love murder mysteries ! Would you believe, I left tab of this page open; when I switched off my computer six hours back, so I could read it, when I have time. :)
    You have created magic with your words. Going to read the second part now :)

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    1. Thank you so much Khawani for the wonderful compliment. :) A very warm welcome to you. Am really glad you liked it. Hope you like the other parts too. Do let me know what you think. :)

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  24. New to your blog, and come across to the start of the story. Totally hooked.

    Moving onto the next part.

    Have you read Michael Connelly books?

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Jenny. Very glad to have you here. :) Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment. I have read one of his books a while ago. Do you like his books?

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