Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Last Crime

Vaibhav plucked out a piece of meat from his tooth and belched. Everyone around him shuffled uncomfortably. Vaibhav looked around and smiled slightly. He knew that the uneasiness wasn’t because of his demeanour but because of his past. Or rather, what they will find out about his past. Vaibhav didn’t blame them but rather hoped that they would leave him alone once in a while. He liked the fame, especially initially but now, it was becoming tedious.

The clock ticked and the alarm rang. It was 1 pm and the official time for the government to pardon the year 1991. This was a good year, Vaibhav thought pleasantly. He had some good material to share this time, the 25th anniversary of the law, and he was hoping that this would be talked about for longer than the Kennedy case that actually went over 5 years. In fact, that was the case that gave him the fame that he was enjoying right now.

25 years ago, government passed a law that seemed utter foolishness to everyone. According to the law:

“Any crime committed 25 years ago from the date of closing will be considered null and no punishment shall be granted for it if the person guilty comes out and confesses the crime.”

The argument given for this was that due to this we might find out the reality of many unsolved crimes and this might help in the future. Also, if someone was wrongly punished for a crime, that person could be freed due to this law.

Initially, it was considered a joke. For almost two months after the law was passed, no one came forward. One of the reasons for this was claimed by the supporters of the law said that 25 years is a long time and some people might have committed the crime might have died or forgotten. Most people however knew that the reason was primarily expected backlash from the people against whom the crime was committed.

The first crime was claimed two months after the law was passed, give or take a few days. It was a car parking ticket fraud. Soon, similar petty crimes were being reported and being pardoned. It was no surprise the initial crimes were mostly against the government. Soon, however, bigger crimes also started surfacing. Thefts, accidents, murders all were reported at least once by the end of the year.

Rape and child molestation were two crimes that took the most time surfacing and not without backlash. The first person who claimed child molestation was found dead within 24 hours of the claiming. It was then that the law was modified to give the choice to the person to reveal the information publicly or in private to the officials. This was a monumental event and the number of crimes claimed shot up like anything.

However, this wasn’t the case for all criminals. A lot of people held pride in the crimes they did. A 65 years old man claimed over 100 robberies between 1965 and 1985. He was proud and almost celebrated for the crimes he committed. Soon enough, he became a consultant for police as well for the current robberies.

Vaibhav surfaced around 5 years after the law was created. He remained hidden for the first couple of years and only claiming the crimes to the officials. This changed once his daughter, Simi, wrote a book about those crimes and he gained fame. He had never expected that he would be celebrated instead of being crucified.

“Mr. Vaibhav, should we start?” The reporter asked breaking Vaibhav’s chain thoughts.

“Ah yes… yes… Let’s proceed.” Vaibhav said and put down the glass of wine he was holding. He took a sip before doing that. He knew that he wouldn’t get a chance once he began.

Everyone held there breath while Vaibhav sipped his wine.

“There was a triple murder in 1991 if you remember, around January I think.” Vaibhav began. Furious typing sounds started coming from around as people tried to find the triple murder of 1991.

“There were two such instances, 1991. One was a couple who was killed along with their son. Another was three teenagers were killed in an accident, but it can’t be called a murder.” A reporter with the fastest fingers and internet spoke.

“Really. My memory must really be getting fuzzy then.” Vaibhav said looking around imperiously. “I was talking about the triple murders in the Memory Love hospital.”

“There was no such murder.” Another reported said.

“Of course. It is possible. However, on 7th January, three newborns had died around the same time.”

“Yes.” A reporter with thick glasses said. He pushed his glasses on his nose and continued. “But those were death by natural causes.”

Vaibhav’s mouth twitched into a slight smile.

The mood in the room changed. Everyone had come to hear about murders, that was Vaibhav’s specialty but no one was prepared to hear about the death of babies.

“You… killed… babies.” A man whispered breaking the silence bringing out people from their trance.

“Should I start my story?” Vaibhav asked innocently.

No one said anything. Everyone looked at each other shying away from Vaibhav’s piercing eyes.

“I think I shall.” Vaibhav said and began.

“In the year 1990, a child was diagnosed with Krimm’s disease. As you might know, the cure for it was developed only in the past five years. Nothing could be done in 1990, except for a very vague and rare experiment. This technology was developed by a doctor and never found the light of day. In fact, it was used only once. It was successful in its attempt and saved the kid.” Vaibhav said looking around. Everyone was listening in rapt attention, all prior uneasiness forgotten.

“The only minor issue was that the cure required some certain organs from newborn babies and those organs were kinda necessary to live, you know, like liver, heart etc.” Vaibhav said his hand waving non-chalantly. “That obviously meant that these had to be procured. The good thing was that only three babies were sufficient for the process.”

Before Vaibhav could continue, he started coughing. His daughter immediately came to his rescue. She picked up a few medicines and helped him gulping them down.

“I am sorry but he is not well.” Simi said as Vaibhav tried to gain his voice back. The break seemed to act as a deterrent for the people who realised what they had been hearing till now.

“How could he be well after what he has done!” A woman said with tears in her eyes. Simi looked at the woman, her eyes flashing with anger. However, before she could say something, Vaibhav put his hand on her shoulder and whispered. “She doesn’t know.”

Simi looked at her strained but nodded.

“So, where was I?” Vaibhav said, his voice soft.

“You had killed babies to save some kid.” A man said disgusted.

“Ah yes. So, the process needed three babies. Thus, the doctor and his wife, also a doctor decided that their child was more important than three babies who were born on 28th December, 1990. You will be glad to know that the child was saved.” Vaibhav said.

“You are talking in third person.” A person with a rasp voice spoke.

“Ah yes. You noticed. Someone had mentioned a triple murder of a father, mother and a child. Incidentally, the couple were a couple of doctors as well.”

“They killed those babies.” The man with the rasp voice said in horror.

“Catching up, you guys.” Vaibhav said smiling.

“Then, you… you killed that family. But how do you know about all this?” Another woman asked.

“It is difficult to not know or forget when you see it happening.” Vaibhav said, sombre.

“But why didn’t you tell anyone?” A voice asked.

Vaibhav smiled and whispered something in Simi’s ears. She opened a laptop and showed on the screen a photo of an old piece of newspaper heading.

‘Father blames doctor for his new-born son’s death.’

Vaibhav looked around at the gaping faces and smiled sadly.

“Thank you for your time.” Vaibhav said and stood up to leave. “Also, there will be no more such meetings. That was my last crime.”

Saying that Vaibhav left.