Previously on ‘9’:
* * *
It’s 2 AM, Mukund almost done with the collection of testimonies from Kristina, other students and staff, he feels the next right move is to get hold of Pranav. Dials a number.
“Prathap, I have messaged you a suspect’s address, that is closer to your patrolling area” ya, I received, it’s just a 20 min drive from here.
“good, get a couple of our folks with you and check it out. If you find anything dangerous or need a cover, alert us and try to hold him from escaping till we arrive. I’m starting to station now.” Yes, sir, I would update you soon.
Mukund tries to call Satya. Despite multiple attempts, he couldn’t reach out. none attending the call. Hence, drops a message and starts to the station.
As he reaches the station, A constable approaches – Sir, a guy called Pranav is waiting for an hour. A girl missing case. He refused to leave the station after providing the details, he wanted to meet the inspector in action.
In a surprising tone, Mukund asks “What is the name of the guy?” Pranav Sir…
He rushes curiously. As he enters the room, he gets the back view of Pranav. A tensed mid-aged guy with both of his hands over the crown of his head.
* * *
1997, Genetic Research Council’s Dean office, 10:00 AM – Pondicherry
The Dean is carrying two files in each of his hands, one in blue and the other in green. As he enters the office, he gets the back view of Pranav. A tensed young guy with both of his hands over the crown of his head. In his due pace, he passes Pranav and settles down in his seat.
He pushes both the files towards Pranav and starts to explain in a gloomy tone. Pranav, the file in green is your thesis which claims ‘reproduction of 100’s of a specimen with a single DNA molecule source, that could be useful to stop the rare species from extinction’. Whereas the other thesis in the blue file is a proof of ‘controlling the spread of diseased cells. Especially for weak lungs’. which one do you think the board would have chosen?
Pranav in a despair, “Do I have a choice? come to the point”
The point is everyone voted for the blue file, what we want is a solution for the present existence with an economic milage. No extinct animal specimen gonna pay, but humans do.Your thesis is rejected once again. with a sigh, Dean continues..I can feel your pain, let’s be on the ground, I believe it’s better to look out for something else that works for all.
Pranav stands off the chair, picks his file “Ya, I too think so” and starts to walk out of the room.
Dean interrupts, ‘Son, compose yourself. I can recommend as a support staff in the department‘
Standing at the edge of the room, with the slightly pulled door “Maybe I produce a soap, baby oil or an organic lipstick. I see life in bringing something new to this world, no offense or concern whatever it is otherwise“. Shuts the door and walks out.
Leena arrives home at 4 PM after the work, surprised to see everything is been well arranged, tidy and felt as if she stepped into some else’s place. Drops her handbag on the couch of the living room and runs to the backyard lab. To her shock, the lab is empty. Not only all the stuff are missing, no one can sense there was something like that ever there. She finds a note hanging around “Leena, meet me at the beach – Pranav”
she is spellbound and thinking herself “Am I in a dream, what’s happening? this is unbelievable“. Her favorite Joe Cocker’s track “up where we belong” is playing in her mind. Beach is just a few yards from their house, as she transits, searches for him and takes each step towards him, she conceives visual of a bird that flew forever is returning to its nest in a slow motion. Leena is aware that the research experiments and she are the only priorities of Pranav, he wouldn’t have thrashed the lab unless he is completely away from it. He is not an impulsive kind.
Leena meetsPranav at the beach. Both knew they are back to their own groove. No explanations, descriptions, “you know what happened?” kind gestures. Few minutes rolled up in silence with the tides rhythmic lullaby.
Finally, a lovely breeze broke the pause.
“Leena, I’m thinking of making soaps or maybe organic lipsticks for deserving ladies like you” I’m here with you Pranav. Takes his hand and positions at her tummy and says “we both are here for this bud“.
In the world of companionship, the feeling of “I am here for you, in every moment” from both the partners is the only true definition of love, nothing else matters!
* * *
Mukund’s half mind is bubbling with curiosity to see this man, other half is already poking “If he is the culprit, why is this man here. is this another game?“. With complete attention and no blink of eyes he closely watches Pranav as he passes by, shakes hand and takes seat opposite to him. Pranav looks very matured and humble person in a simple outfit with a beard and short haircut.
“Hi, I am Mukund, in charge of this station, what happened?”
Sir, my daughter is missing. She is supposed to reach the hostel by 1 AM. But haven’t.
Mukund responds in a casual way “It’s the new year, she may be hanging out with friends, moreover, it’s just quarter past 2 AM. Just an hour delay as per the claimed schedule.”
She informed at 12:30 AM “Papa, I started from the college grounds, I’m done with the celebrations, would be in the hostel at 1 AM, see you there“. But she never made it. Her mobile is not reachable too. Pranav describes.
Mukund halts for a second to think “Except inhaler, nothing is been recovered at the scene. She didn’t possess anything. Where is the mobile then ??” and continues. “Are you not staying with her?”
My soap manufacturing unit is in Borivali which is far away from her college. In the interest of avoiding traffic and long journeys, she moved to the hostel a few months back.
Mukund in an investigative gesture, “How is it going with your daughter, do you have any repulsions?” Never, we were and we are fond of each other. Being a sole parent I know how to be with a teenage daughter. Pranav says in a furious tone.
“Are you suspecting anything or anyone?” I have no idea, thus I’m here to seek your help.
Mukund receives a call from Prathap, ‘Sir, I just reached the address you sent. The main door is locked, seems no one is inside. Do you want to break-in?‘. “No need Prathap, you leave now. I would call you later”
“We would take up the case immediately, did you provide all the details along with your daughter’s pic?”
Yes, I did. Permit me to be at the station until morning. The very thought of what could have happened to her is making me restless, at least looking at the progress overnight can be a consolement. Appeals Pranav.
“You can wait at the writer’s room, we look into what can be done ASAP“. Mukund sends Pranav and calls Kristina’s number. The line is not reachable and dead.
Satya reaches the station and explains about the black masked stranger jumped out of Kalki’s hostel room and the subsequent loss of the stranger and his mobile in the chase.
“This case is expanding, becoming complex Satya, the initial suspect Pranav doesn’t look like one. The forensic results of the inhaler are available only by 9 AM tomorrow. Who can be this masked man? Why did Kristina blame Pranav?”
How about investigating Kristina again, Mukund?
This is odd hours, moreover, it’s a ladies hostel. “Mukund, Sometimes these early moments decides the result of a case, it’s just 30 mins back we talked with her, she could not have slept yet. we don’t need to get her to the station, let’s check the details at the hostel office. A teenage girl died. We shouldn’t leave any potential chances”
With lady guards, Mukund and Satya reach the hostel corridor and comes to know from the warden that Kristina just left hurriedly with a luggage.
Satya questions warden in a gasping manner “When?“. Just 10 to 15 minutes back, she told her brother is not well.
Mukund, this could be a foul play from her, check out for her soon in the nearby areas. I would look at her room. What’s the room number warden? “213, sir”
Satya rushes into the second floor to reach 213 and breaks in to find traces of beach sand in her room. It should be her – The black masked stranger !!
In an odd 20 minutes, Satya gets the news from Mukund “I got her, taking now to the station. Come back”
- Kristina's backstory 48%, 11 votes11 votes 48%11 votes - 48% of all votes
- Pranav and Kristina's face to face meetup 43%, 10 votes10 votes 43%10 votes - 43% of all votes
- Pranav's background check 9%, 2 votes2 votes 9%2 votes - 9% of all votes