Parables Of Feluda | Arnab Patra
In the dazzling city of Kolkata, there was once a mysterious case which shook the whole country.
Yes, I am talking about the infamous case nick-named “A Mystery In Silence”, which is known far and wide for its unique way of committing a crime.
But what most don’t know is that it was not solved by any ordinary law officer or any forensics expert. It was solved by none other than the country’s greatest detective who works as a private eye and calls himself ‘Feluda’. Did you know that to this day, his real name is a much bigger mystery to me than the AMIS case?
By the way, my name is Anirban Bagchi, Kolkata’s Sub-division Inspector and the story’s deuteragonist and narrator.
This is the story of how Feluda works with a common police inspector that is me, to solve one of the most puzzling case of our time and restored our lost honour.
In the police reports the actual name of the case is ‘AMIS’vwhich is short for “A Mystery In Silence” but for the sake of simplicity of telling this story, I am changing the name of the case to CASE A. Now let me fill you up on the details of the case without any further ado.
This case is about the most famous and richest magician in the country, Prosenjit Banerjee, who was found dead in his secret thinking room.
His mansion is pretty big but he never lives in it. He has a secret thinking room outside of his mansion on his property where he thinks of ideas and keeps himself safe if any intruder were ever to come into his mansion to assassinate him as he was a known critic of the ruling Government.
Let his secret thinking room be named ‘Y’. There’s an abandoned shed, a few meters away from his mansion. After entering it we can see that there’s a staircase leading to a digitally locked door underground.
Let the digitally locked room be named ‘X’. The room which was protected by a digital lock was so difficult to crack that even our top-notch hackers took full three and a half hours to crack it and open the door to room X.
From the officer’s point of view, it was impossible for any normal human being to open it without a passcode.
The room X was like a tunnel to the actual room Y as there was nothing in the room X, no lights, no decorations, no furniture, absolutely nothing. The room only consisted of an opening door and an entry to room Y.
Next we come to the actual room Y. The door to room Y was locked by a simple lock and key mechanism but our locksmith still took an hour to crack it open.
This only goes on to show that no ordinary man or woman can even enter his room let alone kill him without his very permission. Finally, after a few hours of hardship, we have a look at the mysterious room Y and to our surprise the room was just like room X except for a single 10-Watt Philips bulb which generated judt enough light and a single sofa in the middle of the room. There was nothing else in the room, not even any personal belonging. With this we completed the tour of the place where the crime had taken place.
Now we start with the actual case, so buckle up!
Prosenjit was found dead on the 29th of December, 2020 by the police force, who were called by his wife, Rituparna. She told that Prosenjit was not responding to her phone calls or texts and wasn’t even giving her the passcode to let her in and so she had became paranoid and dialed 100. Soon the police came and cracked open all the doors which took them almost six hours with the whole police force by their side.
Upon entering the room, they saw the dead dried body of Prosenjit sitting in a foetal position at the far-right corner of the room. The key to the door was inside his shirt pocket. The autopsy reports showed that Prosenjit had died by starvation on 27th December and there were traces of the drug Lorazepam in his blood stream.
Other than that, there were no indications of any physical harm inflicted on his body. He was last seen on the morning of 22nd December when he had entered his thinking room, never to return alive again.
It was a widely known fact in media that Prosenjit used to take Lorazepam to sleep and heal his anxiety. So it was thought that he had committed suicide by starving himself and used the drug to pass away peacefully.
But now the question arises as to why the most famous and wealthiest magician in the country commit suicide that too at a young age of 35.
Investigation did not reveal any cause for depression or deteriorating mental health. The answer was still a mystery to the entire nation. The police wanted to close the case but the media and general public were against it and so ultimately it was decided that the case cannot be closed until the reason for his suicide is specified or if he was murdered, then how was he killed.
In total if we took all the possibilities then we get two scenarios.
Scene 1: Prosenjit committed suicide and that’s the end of it.
Scene 2: if Prosenjit was murdered, then we have three new mysteries,
number 1: how and why did Prosenjit end up like that,
number 2: How did the murderer get in and out of room Y if the key was in Prosenjit ’s pocket the whole time,
number 3: how did the murderer get in through the digitally locked door to room X. It felt like a ghost or a fairy passed through the physical doors and killed him in such a shocking manner. For two whole months the case continued but there was no success.
The public were heavily criticizing the police for their inability to solve the case and the media was roasting the whole police system almost every day. So, we the police, had to finally take of the help of the man who could have solved it.
Yes, I mean Feluda.
I had previously worked with him on another case so I was tasked with the job of his assistant. If there’s anyone who could have solved this case, then it was the one and only Feluda.
Feluda was not any ordinary private eye who would have a fixed office. In the past there were many times when he had solved cases which even left our best police detectives to scratch their heads.
He is by no means an ordinary person and when the police, at their final stage, ask him for his help, he merrily takes on the case and is given the whole assistance. His prices are cheap too, and that’s a plus point for us considering the countless difficult cases that he solves for us.
There are only two ways to track down Feluda, one is by calling him using the bait of an interesting and unique case and the other is by finding him at his favorite dining place, KC Das Rosogolla Dokan, at 3:00 pm sharp on a Sunday.
Normally, I would go with the second option and wait for him at the place but this time, to my surprise, he was already present at the dining. He was waiting for me and as soon as I greeted him, he asked me for the files. He had the curious look on his eyes and looked like a lion ready to leap for action. He was still wearing the same outfit as always, a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of light amber pants held up by a belt with an elaborate flower-design buckle, and his signature RayBan Aviator goggles.
After reading the files for 15 minutes he sighed and said, “It’s clearly a murder”.
I was confused and astonished at the same time. I immediately asked him about the reason for that statement and why he declared it a murder instead of a simple suicide.
But he just got up and said, “that’s what we are going to investigate now”. I knew at once that it means for me to follow him and that the case would be an interesting one. Luckily, I had my lunch before setting out to meet him.
On our way to Prosenjit’s mansion, Feluda and I had a talk about the case. He explained to me as to why he believes it to be a murder.
First of all, Prosenjit had no reason to commit suicide.
Secondly, the process of starving oneself just to commit suicide feels odd, plus the painful way of dying by starvation does not fit well with a person who was leading such a happy and luxurious lifestyle. He could have just taken a poison pill and not suffer aimlessly.
Thirdly, the odd position in which Prosenjit was sitting, as seen from the picture in the report files, puzzled Feluda. There’s a chance that he was working too hard and forgot to eat and rest and as a result he died of starvation and self-neglection. But that’s not possible because of his sitting position, what magic work requires you to sit in a foetal position at the far-right corner of the room?
None, simply none.
This ruled out the possibility of death by suicide. If one wants to die then he/she wants to be the most comfortable during their final act and die a quick death. Even if he had committed a horrible deed, it can be seen from his living conditions and behavior that he either feels no remorse or had already forgotten about it. Even if someone accuses him of some horrible deed, he is just too powerful to escape any law and live normally. So, there no reason for him to commit such an act. All of these are opposite to what Prosenjit did, he was either placed like that after death or something scarier happened to him. Feldman had already done some research and saw that Prosenjit was not an emotional type of man so we can rule out the possibility of guilt feeling.
In short, he was murdered and placed like that and through rigor mortis, he became like that.
Now the question that remains is how was it done and who is the culprit? For the sake of finding these question’s answers, Feluda and I came to the mansion to interrogate the only people capable of committing this murder.
The idea of Prosenjit spending most of his time in his thinking room Y was unknown to almost all the people who had known him or previously heard of him. So, the number of resulted to only three people, Prosenjit’s wife Rituparna, his best friend Dev and his father Satyendra Banerjee. Feluda had already called them before hand so the interrogation went quick and smooth except for the fact that all of them had alibis.
Don’t ask me how he got his hands on their personal phone numbers before I even approached him with the reports, because just like always, I am completely clueless about it.
The first person who was interrogated was Rituparna. Rituparna was actually not present during the time when Prosenjit died, as she was on a trip to Switzerland from the 24th to 28th of December. She went on her private jet and so her pilot who flew her could vouch for her. She only took her trolly bag and other basic necessities and left to enjoy her vacation at Malibu islands, then again on 27th December, her pilot came, picked her up and returned back to the mansion on 28th December. Dev was the next person to be interrogated. Even he wasn’t present when Prosenjit died as he had gone on a business trip to New Zealand with his co-workers on 23rd December and returned on 30th December. His co-workers can vouch for him. Lastly, we interrogated Mr. Satyendra. He was 89 years old and could barely stand without a wheelchair, probably too weak to even kill a fly, but he still had an alibi. He was in his room during the whole period of Prosenjit ’s death and his discovery. His maid can vouch for him. With this we were in a deadlock.
All of them had solid alibis and it couldn’t have been the work of an outsider because of the tough security and countless CCTV cameras guarding the property twenty-four hours a day. So, was it actually a case of suicide or the work of a revengeful ghost who attacked our poor magician and made his life disappear?
Feluda recorded everything and started writing something on his pocket notepad. I asked him to show but he ignored my request, maybe he was too focused to pay attention to my call or I am just too insignificant for him to notice me. After two minutes he asked me to gather information about Prosenjit like his behavior before dying, how long was he present inside the room, who he had met last, et cetra. I looked around and found nothing extraordinary. He was living like any other normal person but his attitude was nothing like a man wanting to commit suicide. I was useless but Feluda had a smile on his face when we meet but he refused to tell me why, at least this time he refused me in words and not by ignoring my existence. Next, we went to the underground rooms below the shed to look for some clues. For the next six hours Feluda did nothing but use his giant magnifying glass to examine all the rooms. He was looking around the rooms like a maniac, sometimes he would look on two legs and other times on all four legs, like a big cockroach all around the rooms. I was already tired after the first hour and slept in the shed for the rest of the time period. I wanted to help too but there’s little to nothing that I could possibly contribute to his investigation so I left him alone in peace. I know that the forensics have already scanned the whole place down but I believe that Feluda can find something which will definitely help us catch the culprit. I have seen him work before so I know that he is better than any detective in all of Kolkata, no, in all of India, so much so that he can be called the Sherlock Holmes of India. Maybe I am bragging too much like a proud mother showing off her perfect son to the whole world for them to notice him and admire his work, but believe me, everything that I say in this story is just as accurate as your love for mysteries. After almost six hours, he wakes me up from my sweet nap and asks me to call all the suspects with the mandatory officers tomorrow, first thing in the morning to arrest the culprit. Yes, Feluda had solved the unsolvable case.
It was early in the morning and the tension was set in the room. All the police force was given to Feluda to carry out the judgement of the case. Everyone was present in the shed at 9:00 am sharp like promised and Feluda started explaining. He first gave the reasoning behind the purpose of taking Mr. Prosenjit Banerjee’s case as a murder like he told me before on our way to the mansion the previous day. But he added the fact that the quantity of Lorazepam in his body exceeds the healthy dose of intaking it by a long stretch. Then Dev said, “Maybe he took too many of those drugs to make himself stable and reduce the pain, no sane person will measure a drug before taking it to die”. “Looks like I wasn’t able to make you understand my statement, let me make it simpler and detailed”, said Feluda, “Heavy doses of Lorazepam is enough to make you sleep like a baby for a long time but after that the side effects will take over, I did some research and the after effects mainly include nausea, abdominal pain, intense vomiting and seizures. If he woke up after taking the drug then Prosenjit must have barfed at least once during the six days in room Y from 22nd to 27th of December during the time he was alive but there was not even a speck of dirt in both the rooms let alone detecting any bodily wastes. So, I come to the conclusion that someone was constantly drugging him through a syringe injecting, the drug Lorazepam directly into his blood stream to prevent him from waking up. As a result, Prosenjit died via starvation during his sleep without any sort of consciousness.” The whole room including the suspects, police officers like me and higher up were surprised and astonished at his deduction. He not only proved that the case was a murder but also found the murder weapon only by using the police autopsy report. A true genius indeed but the show is still not over. Mr. Satyendra then asked a question, “Then Mr. Detective who killed my son if all the three suspects were away from Prosenjit during his dying times, even the household maids and servants don’t know about his secret place “. He said, “To answer that I need you all to look at Prosenjit ’s sitting posture when the police found his dead body. He was sitting in the foetal position which is both odd and rare. Why would one sit like that during their death? Also he had no reason to do so, then why? Its simple, because he was neither killed in this room nor anywhere near his property! “.
It was way too much information for everyone to digest at that moment. We were speechless and could not question anything but simply listen to his reasoning. He then proceeded to state his reasoning after giving us a few seconds to gasp. He continued, “Yes, you heard me correctly, the murder took place at a different location and the corpse was later returned here to create the culprit’s perfect alibi. It was a clever move I must say”.
With this he crushed all of their alibis and made them new suspects.
He resumed, “the foetal position of Prosenjit is playing a bigger role here. He was placed at the corner of the room to make it seem like he died in that depressed state but its false, so what is its importance?” he looked at me while he said that, indicating that I must answer his question or at least try. His direct question took me by surprise but like always, I couldn’t answer that. He then proceeded to answer his own question, “ Suppose you are carrying a body in a box and after killing it you put it back inside the box, then after a while you will see that the body has hardened and it cannot be reshaped like before, when he was alive. So, you are stuck with a dead body in the shape which he took when he was sitting or lying inside the box. Rigor mortis takes place immediately after death and the body hardened when he was inside the box taking the shape which he had inside the box. In short Prosenjit died and Rigor mortis hardened his body when he was inside something and with that, we can identify the container in which Prosenjit was carried by examining his iconic foetal position. Rituparna took a trolly bag and a hand bag to Malibu and Dev took a wildcraft Rucksack backpack with him to New Zealand. Mr. Satyendra was under constant surveillance so he is out of the suspect list. So where can one constantly keep him hidden, can freely inject the deadly drug and makes Prosenjit tale up that foetal position while being hidden inside something?”. All of us were trying to think and that’s when it hit me.
“INSIDE THE TROLLY OF RITUPARNA! SHE COULD HAVE KEPT A CLOSE LOOK ON HIM AND COULD INJECT HIM THE DRUG ANYTIME SHE WANTS BECAUSE OF HER PRIVATE JET!”, I shouted like a crazy man when I realized the truth.
“Yes, good job on getting that inspector Anirban”, said Feluda, “It went something like this. On the night of 22nd December,after Prosenjit went to room Y, Rituparna texted him something confidential and managed to make her meet Prosenjit inside his room Y. After getting the pass code she opened the door but left it open. Then she went inside and talked with Prosenjit regarding that confidential matter until he fell asleep due to the presence of Lorazepam in his morning food in small doses. It’s not difficult to put something in someone’s food when you are the head or in this case, the headmistress. She then carried his body all the way to his room and kept him asleep inside his trolly. She also left the digital door open for it to be used again when she returned. He was inside that trolly bag when she went to Malibu and he was still inside it even after his death. On the 28th after she came back, she went inside that room at night and left his corpse at a corner to make her alibi perfect. She also placed it in such a depressing manner which ultimately made one think that he committed suicide out of trauma or some sorrow. Then she used the previously left opened digital lock of room X to escape and closed it to reactivate the lock. I asked around and found that nobody went near the shed during the time Rituparna was out through the cameras. Dev was out of country and Mr. Satyendra was too weak to carry out that plan. Everything points towards Rituparna, her timing, her luggage and even her conduct, so, it’s safe to conclude that she is the culprit”.
We couldn’t believe that someone could deduce this much just from a report and a piece of picture…. truly marvelous. We all looked at Rituparna and were surprised to see her sweating buckets. She was silent the whole time but now we could see her confidence breaking. She suddenly started acting mad and revolted saying,
“IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. THEN TELL ME THE HOW DID I MANAGE TO LOCK THE DOOR TO ROOM Y WITHOUT THE KEY. TRY TO REMEMBER THAT THE KEY WAS INSIDE THE POCKET OF HIS SHIRT. ALSO TELL ME THE CONFIDENTIAL MATTER WITH WHICH I BAITED HIM INTO LETTING ME INDSIDE HIS ROOM, COME ON ANSWER ME!”.
I could feel a slight heaviness from her speech, maybe it’s a super power that I got while working as a police inspector. One thing’s clear as day and night though, its that Rituparna is afraid and her nerves are on edge.
Feluda replied serenely, “The trick to the second door is difficult to explain by speech. Its better to show you the practical explanation rather than listen to my boring lecture. Let’s go to the mystery door then, shall we?”.
We all followed him to the door like he asked and patiently waited for his explanation. Feluda took a few seconds to observe the door and then started to talk. He said, “To demonstrate this trick, I need an assistant. Mr. Anirban please become my helper for this part and come stand here”.
I happily complied and stood beside him. I could see all the people in the room looking at me and it somehow made me pressurized especially the nervous look on Rituparna ’s face. I wonder how Feluda manages to deduce anything with this much of pressure from everyone.
He then starts, “As everyone can see, the door handle is on the right-hand side and the hinges holding the door in place is on the left-hand side like any typical opening door. It looks and feels like an ordinary door but in reality, it’s a magic door. Prosenjit Banerjee was murdered using this magic door and now I am going to perform that same magic trick infront of all of you. So, to perform it, we first need to close the door. Inspector Anirban please lock the door using the key”.
“Alright”, I said.
“Now move toward the door hinges and remove the pin holding the leaf and knuckle of the hinge together. Just pull the pin from the top and it should come off easily. Do this on all the three door hinges”, he said.
“Ok”, I did as he asked me and the pin came off like magic. So, like that all the three hinges were unattached.
“Now try to open the door from the hinge side. It should rotate from left to right and work as a door”.
Like he said, the door opened from the left side and could act as an entry way inside the room without any key. The lock on that door was specifically designed to act as a pivot for the door it opened and closed. With this, he solved the mystery behind the door. The trick was not in the room but in the door. I couldn’t control my laughter and let out a chuckle. I must say that this was the best magic trick that I saw and probably the last one too, from Feluda.
“So, Rituparna, you are Prosenjit ’s wife and close enough, to learn of this trick from him. You first took the key and locked the door from outside, then you used the trick to open it from the other side and went in to put the key back inside his shirt pocket. Then you assembled the door back with the reattached hinges and went out through that previously opened digital lock from 22nd night. Finally, you locked that last door and went out of the shed, straight back to your room. No one even goes near that abandoned shed so your footsteps are practically untraceable. When I saw the CCTV footage, I didn’t see anyone going in or coming out of the shed, but I saw a one second glitch at around 11:00pm and 11:46pm. Everyone knows that it happens only when you substitute the ongoing CCTV camera recording with another pre-recorded video. I asked around the mansion and found that you are the first person who reviews the previous day’s CCTV recordings to see if everything’s alright or not. You could have easily replaced the recording from that period with another recording taken previously before the 28th night. The police were probably too lazy to even notice it and so it got excluded from the reports. Thus, creating the perfect murder scenario and making Rituparna the victim who lost her dear husband. Now tell me, am I correct, Ms. RITUPARNA?”, asked Feluda.
Rituparna froze where she stood and showed no signs of resist or argued back. Even she knew that she had already lost and her time was up. She couldn’t even think to answer him, the fear had gotten inside her head.
Feluda then continued to say, “If we check your check your trolly bag, we will definitely find the evidence in the form of any body related part like hair strands, drool, sweat, et cetra. Also, I did some research on you before the police came to me for help. I know that you were a nurse a few years back and your brother worked as a magician at the CoxBazaar Market near the Chitranghee street. You were proud of your brother for making it quite big in the magic industry but it soon changed when your brother joined Prosenjit as his disciple. Prosenjit was actually never the one creating his magic tricks, it was his disciples whom he exploited to gain fame for himself.
In short Prosenjit grew at the price of his innocent disciples and your dear brother happened to be one of them. He used your brother to gain more fame and, in the end, after squeezing out all of his talent, Prosenjit threw him out like a trash and started giving horrible remarks to his magic shows. Even after firing him from his show, Prosenjit constantly downgraded him and started spreading rumors about him ‘stealing Prosenjit ’s tricks’ to outgrow him.
After a while nobody came to your brother’s magic shows anymore and his fans became his haters. He became unemployed and took huge loans, ultimately driving him insane to commit suicide on the 27th of December.
You could have killed Prosenjit anytime but you waited for the perfect day. So, on the 27th you killed him, on your brother’s death anniversary to avenge your brother. So, did I say it correctly?”.
We all listened but couldn’t do anything. Rituparna finally broke into tears and accepted her loss. She confessed to everything right on the spot. She told us, “Yes… it was me; I killed that worthless scum and freed my brother’s lingering revengeful soul. He can finally be free. I came into the Banerjee household just with the aim of making Prosenjit suffer but somewhere along the path I thought of giving him a second chance. That’s why on the night of 22nd December, I called him out using my brother’s death and got inside his room. I would have forgiven him if he just apologized but what came out of his rotten mouth was the final blow to my patience. He simply told me that he couldn’t even remember his face, let alone his name! That was the final straw, I killed him after the drug took its effect and the rest is exactly like you explained. My rage outgrew my affection and he lost his life. Mr. Detective I admit my loss, you win. Officers, take me away now”.
With that we arrested her and the case was finally solved. I still can’t believe that the case which baffled the whole country was finally solved and now we, police officers can rise our heads again. The curse has been lifted and we got back our honour. We could not have solved it without the help of Feluda. When we were parting, I asked him, “Feluda why don’t you join any investigation or intelligence and security agencies? You are the best of the best; then why do you not settle down and grow with an outstanding team?”. He looked at me with a smile and answered, “I would rather stay as a private eye and solve only the best cases than work under someone and solve nothing. Right now, I’m going to get some drinks. Care to join me?”