‘It was dimly bright, the morning had just risen from its sleep when suddenly I heard “help……help. Somebody please help me” and went out of the room.’
Sitting on the bench at the middle of the long corridor which led to the huge library, the place where the incident took place Nisha was trying to convince the lady police officer about what she witnessed early this morning when she woke up to a screaming voice. But once again no one believed her.
“BELIEF”, this very word played a prominent role in Nisha’s life as this was the only thing missing in her life. She could never believe her own memory because the circumstances of her life never let her to.
The earliest incident which made the greatest loss of her belief was the day when her long friendship with her childhood best friend Julie ended. She was still a student of fifth standard, one fine day she was accused of losing a key chain owned by Julie. But she did not admit to the loss because she believed she had returned it a day earlier. At the end it was found in her own school bag which she ignored to check.
Another incident was when her teacher accused her of forging fake signature in the register for a test she didn’t appeared. Later on it was found that she forgot to write her name on her own answer sheet so it was assumed she didn’t appeared for the test. Incidences such as this were innumerable which made the existence of belief disappear from her life.
At the present she was the sole witness of a rape incident that occurred at the break of dawn, the victim of which was a blind girl. According to her, the culprit was their 50 year old Professor Borman, a greatly respected figure in the university. The problem was she didn’t witness the real incident but only saw him running out of the library early in the morning. That was the place and time of the crime, from where she was passing by that particular morning.
However another reason for disbelieving her statement was due to the fact that Professor Borman was actually out of town on his leave. Later he was admitted to a hospital for health issues. What was worst was that the victim was blind so she was unable to see her culprit and currently was in a state of comma. But Nisha was unable to let go of the whole situation and determined to help Swati the blind victim.
The police investigation went by amidst the doubtful time while the autumn break began. Nisha thought of staying back pretending to be busy with her research work since she was a Phd student. But one of the investigating officers assured her that they would contact her as soon as they find even the smallest hint. ‘Please do call me I am ready to help anytime. Swati is close to me. I can at least do this much. ’ requested Nisha.
‘Sure, Ma’am’ replied the officer feeling quite relief about her temporary absence during the investigation.
Back at home she shared the horrifying news with everyone and her firm belief on whom she saw. But her mother immediately reminded her, ‘It’s really kind of you to help the victim but remember that you are always mistaking one thing with another! Do you remember, you almost lost your sister’s ring on the day of her engagement and we found it near the pool?’
‘But Ma I am certain that the person I saw that morning was Professor Borman’, insisted Nisha.
‘And what proof do you have to justify your statement?’ asked her mother.
‘He was wearing the same light brown blazer that he often wears while out of the university campus and the way he walks is a unique one! I can almost mimic the way he walks’, she replied.
‘Oh dear it doesn’t look nice for a Phd scholar to mimic the body language of their teachers. Also who knows someone else must have had the same blazer. After all there can’t be just one blazer of that kind in the world. Moreover he is too old to feel lustful about a young female of your age’, reiterated her mother.
‘Yes, I agree but believe me it was him I can tell because no one else has the same figure as him in the entire university campus. The only thing I am confused about is that he cannot wear a cap upside down. So I was unable to get the glimpse of his head. That’s where I am not certain!’
Irritated at the argument, her mother dismissed her again, now with more emphasis, ‘That’s what I am saying you are always mistaking one thing for another dear. Forget it you will complicate the case.’
‘But my testimony can at the least bring him to the list of suspects so that Swati can identify her culprit. Unfortunately the professor is himself admitted at the hospital that’s what is saving him for the time being!’ Nisha put forward her last argument. Alas! her mother was in no mood to listen anymore. The dinner turned from a sweet reunion dish to some sour food they were forced to eat and the atmosphere at the table into icy cold.
That night while sleeping Nisha felt sad that she had lost the trust of her parents to the extent where they dismisses every word she says.
The next day she went to her sister’s anniversary party where she accidently met Raj, the guy she once dated. ‘Hey! Hi. Do you remember me?’ he asked the moment he spotted her at the party.
‘Yes, I do. We went on a date 5 years ago on Christmas day, how I can possibly forget that?’ replied Nisha.
‘Wow! You even remember the exact day. I thought you didn’t even recognize me. Seems like girls are good at remembering dates?’
‘Girls are also good at many other things. Like I still remember that we had cutlets that day which were very salty in taste but since it was expensive we still had the full cutlets. I even remember it was exactly 250 rupees each and adding the taxes the cost went up to 550 rupees. Then we went to the church to attend the Christmas celebration but you forgot your wallet at the restaurant so we could not enjoy it till the end. At last when we went back you remembered it was in your pocket’ completed Nisha with a sigh.
Amazed at her memory he complimented, ‘Wow, how can you possibly remember that much? I think it has almost been 5 years since then, we were still in our first year of college. You seem to have a very good memory that you can remember everything in detail. I couldn’t remember that much!’
Nisha was astonished at her own memory that she could remember the incident that took place so long ago. She always believed she was only good at remembering what she read and that’s why she was a topper. But today for the first time someone acknowledged her memory. It made her happy and both of them rekindled their lost friendship during the rest of the party.
After the party that night her sister Neha was not in a good mood when she found her standing alone on the terrace. ‘What happened? Why aren’t you asleep yet’ she asked tapping her from behind.
‘Nisha it is you! You just gave me a fright.’
‘Relax, no one is here.’ Nisha reassured her sister.
‘Yes I know and may be from tomorrow no one can ever be here’, replied Neha.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Nisha I am going to file for a divorce.’
‘WHAAAAT???????????’ Hearing this Nisha was taken aback while Neha continued. ‘Yes, don’t be too shock. I have been thinking about it for a while now, I can’t continue with a cheating partner for the rest of my life. I knew about this even before our marriage but I still married him. Thinking about it today I feel the person to whom I did the most unfair then, it was you Nisha.’ Nisha couldn’t grab the essence of her sister’s words.
‘I know you are confused about what I am speaking. Let me be clear. Do you remember on my engagement day I blamed you for losing my ring, and later we found it near the pool? Actually you were right that day you didn’t lost it, neither did you forgot it near the pool. It was I, who fought with Amit and threw the ring in the pool, but later on we patched things up. I didn’t want Ma to know that I did something so reckless as to throw away a diamond ring, so I put all the blame on you.’
Listening to her sister’s confession Nisha could do nothing but scream at her for she started disbelieving herself from then on and what could be worst she lost the trust of her parents as well.
For the next few days Nisha was in a state of distress as she was undergoing through a period of utter confusion.
The next shocking thing happened the following morning when she found her cell phone ringing with the call of the police. They called her to inform that Professor Borman had arrived in the university and he just found out that such a case had actually taken place. True to their words when Nisha met her mentor he didn’t manifest any traces of a crime suspect. He just got discharged from the hospital and had entered the campus for the first time after his leave.
‘Good morning Nisha dear. How have you been?………………………. I heard…….. that you suspected me for being the culprit behind the crime. Why would you think like that? I am your mentor and you are my most favorite student. I would have accepted this blame coming from anyone else but not from you my child!’ when Professor Borman asked her this question for a moment she was not just ashamed but also felt guilty for her firm believe on him as the suspect.
Once again Nisha’s belief turned into a mere illusion and everyone looked at her as a disobedient brat. The police dismissed Nisha’s statement and began investigating again. She was additionally blamed for slowing down the process of investigation.
But Nisha still could not believe that Professor Borman was not the culprit. For the first time in her life she completely believed herself and refused to disbelieve what she saw. Unfortunately there was no way to prove it. Swati was still in a comma and showed no signs of recovering anytime soon. She was afraid in the mist of all this the real culprit would escape.
Three days later she was invited to her High School Reunion where she met Julie. However unlike in their High School days Julie was quite friendly to her. ‘Hi! Nisha, how are you?’
‘Hi! I am fine. How are you?’ replied Nisha in a low voice to avoid any further troubles like in the past. But Julie seemed to have become someone else now.
‘Why are you being so formal? We are friends after all! Don’t be so shy’ Julie commanded.
‘When were we friends Julie? Our friendship ended ages ago. Did you forget that?’ Nisha replied now in a rude tone.
‘Oh! Seems like you are talking about the past? Come on just like you said, it has been ages since then. Why don’t you forget that now? Listen I am sorry for that’, reiterated Julie.
‘Really! Do you think a simple sorry can actually remove the tag of a thief that you attached to me. The whole school thought that I was a thief who lies every time she gets a chance’, Nisha replied.
‘You don’t know! I was just swayed by Priya and her group. They were so popular then, everyone wanted to be a part of their group. But since you were my best friend I could not leave you nor was there a spot for two people in the group so I intentionally accused you of stealing my key chain. It was I who put it in your bag. It was a silly thing that I did. Please forgive me’, begged Julie.
Nisha couldn’t understand why she was getting these confessions out of the blue. But realizing now that she was right she felt confident. Though she did not forget the past sorrows nor did she befriended Julie but for the time being they did get along.
When she returned to the university an amazing thing happened. Swati had woken up from the comma. The police investigation was now in full swing. But they were unable to take her statement yet as she was still traumatized by the incident. Nisha tried convincing her parents and the police to let her meet Swati but she was not allowed to make any further arguments. Everyone thought if she met Swati she would complicate the matter to the extent that Swati wouldn’t be able to give any statements at all.
Watching everybody so disapproving of her, Nisha’s belief began to shiver. During the night she even got calls from her mother to stop interfering in the case, it had already ruined her relationship with her mentor and was sure to make her loss her Phd research work. She was warned by her mother to control her emotions and to concentrate on her research. She was also told to return home till the case was solved. Hearing what her mother had to say Nisha was about to give up.
But the following day when she visited the hospital with little help from Raj and secretly witnessed Swati’s terrible condition in the ICU, she made up her mind once again to find the real culprit no matter what. However the way to the culprit just became more challenging than before, now that Professor Borman was no longer the suspect.
‘What shall I do? I can’t just watch her endure this. What was her fault? How can a person be so cruel to go to this length as to rape a girl who cannot even walk without help?’ Nisha asked Raj in a worried tone sitting in a café near the hospital.
‘May be lust knows no bounds!’ replied Raj sipping the cup of coffee.
Punching her fist on the table Nisha could only sigh remembering Swati on the hospital bed. But unfortunately there was no way to help. Since she was already accused of misleading the police, the police warned her to distance herself from the matter and not to interfere anymore.
However they were not even taking any serious steps. The only pressure that they felt was with the fact that the incident happened in a prestigious university and therefore its reputation was in stake. Otherwise since the victim was only a daughter of a maid was reason enough for them to close the case without finding the real culprit.
Walking out of the café Nisha was clueless what to do in order to find out the culprit. Deep in her heart she still couldn’t accept that she was wrong. She still couldn’t believe that the person she saw that morning was not Professor Borman. That once again she turned into a liar. Raj suggested her to calm down and promised her to find a way out.
Three Months Later……
The court proceeding was about to begin, the Judge entered the room and everyone stood up. Everybody sat down and the Judge opened the case file. He announced that the trial of the rape case of Swati Kumari was about to commence. The prosecutor stood up and requested to call Nisha in the witness box.
‘Miss Nisha, where did you saw the person standing in the defendant box that you assumed him to be the real culprit?’ asked the prosecutor.
Nisha replied confidently, ‘In the morning of 1 December at about 4:30 I heard a scream. Initially I resumed sleeping assuming it was nothing. But when I heard it again I couldn’t resist any further. I went out of my room to check was it really coming from somewhere and found out it could be heard along the corridor. Since our hostel was near the library so it was audible. But when I followed the sound it suddenly stopped and I vaguely saw a person in front of the library, I thought our Professor had returned but that person was departing in a hurry so he could not have been our Professor and since the sound was no more audible I went back to sleep.
However, the thing that I missed to notice was that the entrance to the library was left ajar. Later that morning we heard about the incident of Swati and I was horrified to realize that it was during the same time that I happened to pass by the library. So I became more certain that it was the culprit whom I saw.’
The Prosecutor asked again, ‘When did you found out that he was the culprit?’
‘When I found my camera!’
Three months ago when I visited Swati in the hospital with my friend Raj, he asked me about my camera. Unfortunately I had lost it till then. But he was certain I was just not willing to remember where I kept it and urged me to remember the last time I used it.
Raj was the only person who believed in me when no one else did and maybe that’s why when he disbelieved my forgetfulness I was determined to find it out. I asked every person I remembered using the camera with. But I still could not remember where I left it.
Then there came the day when Swati could finally communicate to others and coincidently it was I among everyone whom she wanted to meet. We had a close bond as she is the daughter of our hostel maid Sheela Bai.
When I met her she immediately narrated the whole incident that brought her to this condition but I was curious as to why she went to the library before dawn. That’s when she told me she went there because I told her that I left my camera in the library the other day. But before she could find it the culprit arrived.’
‘What happened after then?’
‘I went back to the library and found it in a bookshelf but its battery had run out till then. Days later when I went through my recordings I saw the whole incident that took place in the library that night, my camera that I forgot to switch off had coincidently captured it all. That’s how we found it out, about the culprit.’
The court proceeding ended for the day with a later date, Nisha came out with Swati accompanied by Raj. ‘But Nisha how did you identify the culprit when your camera wasn’t able to capture his face due to the darkness before dawn?’ asked Raj.
‘A few days ago I went back to my school to meet my fifth standard teacher who once accused me of forging my signature in the register for a test I didn’t appear but later on she found my answer sheet where I forgot to write my name. She told me that it was my belief that led her to find my nameless answer sheet when there was no proof that I appeared for the test. She told me I was good with observing details. That’s why she could finally find it and that’s how I realized that the culprit was indeed Professor Borman.
He wore his usual light brown blazer that he often wears while out of the university and his body language which is unique clearly spoke it was him. Moreover the day he arrived in the university after the incident, he was not wearing his usual blazer. The police found out that he went to the hospital before arriving at the university so that his body can relax from the exhaustion of the crime he committed, the one mistake that he made after committing the crime like all criminals and for which the police could nab him. Records from the hospital was also relied upon by the court and Swati could finally identify her culprit through his touch. All these evidence were enough to nab the professor.’
‘Do you know what I understood at last, belief is nothing but the courage to trust yourself. The moment I stopped doubting myself and gathered the courage to trust what I know is true, I found my BELIEF.’