Mrs. Sinha smiled at our discomfort. The ease with which she had spoken about her husband’s infidelity was making us feel uncomfortable.
“Surprised?” She asked us. “It doesn’t bother me anymore.”
I wondered what she meant by “anymore”. “Any more” now that her husband was dead?
“Mrs. Sinha..” I hesitated, “How can you be so sure that Mr. Sinha was having an affair?”
Her reply was a matter-of-fact one.“I hired a detective to follow him.” As though, all wives hire a detective to spy on their husband.
“Can we see his reports?” Shammi asked. Both of us were hoping that his report would give us some leads.
“Sure..” She left to get the reports. So far, she had been very co-operative.
“So what do you think?” I asked Shammi in a low voice.
“I don’t know,” He said thoughtfully, “She has the motive but, as of now, we have no way of linking her with the murder. It could be a complete stranger too.”
I nodded, “Yes.. But did you notice.. ” I stopped midway. Mrs. Sinha was coming down the steps with some files in her hand.
“You can keep them, I have no use of them.” She said as she thrust them in my hands. I flipped through them before I put them inside. A name caught my attention. Smruti Sharma. I put them aside, there would be plenty of time to study these back at the station.
“Mrs. Sinha, when was the last time you took your car out?”
She looked surprised at my question, “Me? Lets see.. I took it out yesterday for shopping.”
“Been up in the mountains lately?” I asked casually.
“Not really. Why?” She was on her guard again.
“Nothing, just asked.” I got up to leave, Shammi followed suit.
“One last thing Mrs. Sinha, you can claim the body at the hospital. If you need any help with that, please call me.” I handed her my card.
Her face changed. I guess, she realized, that as a wife, society would expect her to organize her husband’s funeral and mourn his death. It didn’t look like the idea appealed to her.
We heard the door slam as we walked towards the gate with the reports.
Shammi had started the jeep when I jumped back and ran back inside. I peeped in from the gates at the windows. I couldn’t see anyone. I sneaked inside.
“What are you doing???” Shammi hissed from the gate. I didn’t reply. I made my way to the car and crouched near the tyre. I quickly put on my gloves and pulled out what I had seen when I was helping Mrs. Sinha with the bags.
A thin strand of pine needle was jutting from the tyre. I also scrapped some mud from the tyre grooves and bagged it.
“What were you doing!!” Shammi heaved a sigh of relief as he saw me come unscathed.
I held up the evidence bag proudly.
“It’s a pine needle.” Shammi looked at me as though I had lost my senses.
“So??” He asked.
“So.. Pine trees don’t grow in these parts, but they do in the mountains. And the area where the body was found was littered with fallen pine needles.”
“Oh my god, so she lied! She did go up to the mountains.” Shammi was finally understanding what i was getting at.
I smiled at him, “I don’t know whether she went, but the car most certainly did.”