The Investigator

Shovon Choudhury | Updated on September 21, 2019 Published on September 20, 2019



I am investigating an abandoned warehouse in Badarpur. I have received a tip-off that Vikas might be hiding there. My editor has assigned me to find him. It’s an old story, dating back to 2014, but he thinks it needs following up. I suspect that he does not like me. He’s been like this ever since he discovered me photocopying my resume. It was lunchtime, and I had expected the editor to be at the local Udupi restaurant. Now I am on the streets. I have been searching high and low, starting from Connaught Place, and radiating outwards. I have asked many people, but no one seems to have spotted him. I have now reached Badarpur, on the outskirts of Delhi. The warehouse is full of junk. I try not to choke on the dust.


I flash my torch and call out his name,“Vikas, are you there?” My voice echoes in the dark. I do not find Vikas, but I do find a statue of Nehru, under a tarpaulin sheet in the corner. He is lying on his side and missing one arm, but he seems quite cheerful. “Do you have a cigarette?,” he asks, looking optimistic. I hate to disappoint him but I gave up smoking months ago. Due to economic pressure, I can no longer afford it. Nehru looks disappointed too, but he perks up.

“Are Priyanka and Nick still together?” he asks, “They make a lovely couple”. “You seem quite up-to-date,” I remark. “I have to be,” he says, “Otherwise how can everything be my fault? But not any more.” His smile is radiant. “It’s that finance minister,” he says, “I owe her so much. All this time intellectuals such as Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Ramchandra Verma were defending me. But their arguments were too complicated, and full of big words that only Shashi Tharoor can understand. In the end, it was Nirmala who saved my reputation. She has correctly identified the young people as the culprits. I’m not surprised. I grew up with their great grandparents. You couldn’t trust any of them. I feel so relieved. Around when they were blaming me for India’s loss at the World Cup, I was beginning to lose hope. The crash landing of the lunar probe was another low point. But now I feel optimistic.”

“What will you do with your new found freedom?” I ask. “That’s easy,” says Nehru. “My heart still beats for the nation. I’m going to hunt down those millennials and make them buy more Ashok Leyland trucks. Once they buy enough of them, India will awake, once more, into light and freedom.”




Munawar Sheikh, a senior officer in the purchase department of ONGC, has become a major celebrity in his neighbourhood, after receiving a moderate bill from a local private hospital. He was admitted with a minor heart condition. His first shock was after he received the bill.

“It was only three pages long,” said Sheikh, a regular customer. “I discovered that they had charged me for only three syringes per day, instead of 36, like they did previously,” he added. “When they handed me the bill at the payment counter, I was rendered unconscious and fell to the floor. I knocked my head, suffered a concussion and had to be readmitted. Luckily, I was already registered as a patient, so the formalities were less complex. Since I was injured on hospital premises, and the insurance company also owned the hospital, they were surprisingly co-operative. Plus I did not require an ambulance, leading to further savings. When I regained consciousness, I was in ICU. But they released me very quickly. Later on, when I discovered that under ‘Miscellaneous charges’ they had charged only two hundred rupees, I almost collapsed again, but one of my junior officers managed to save me, with the help of my PA,” he added.

The response from the hospital has been swift. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to Mr Sheikh,” said a spokesperson. “An investigation is underway, and as soon as the culprit is identified, he will face strict disciplinary action.”




In news which has been described by the Revenue Department as “highly encouraging”, “a step in the right direction” and “perhaps even historic”, Sajjan Kumar, a 32-year-old resident of Moradabad, has declared his intention of selling his bike to settle his traffic fines.

“I was riding down the wrong way without a helmet or licence along with my wife, three children and one small goat, also helmet-less, and had just jumped a red light, when the police caught me and started victimising me. I tried to make an illegal U-turn to escape, but they were too quick for me. I offered them a bribe, but they kept saying, not just yet, maybe next month. Since the amount of the fine is greater than the value of the bike, I have decided to sell it. The vehicle is sub judice, but I am looking for a sympathetic judge. I am hopeful that I will be able to make up the balance by selling the TV set, the goat, and possibly one of the children,” Kumar said.

The ministry of finance had lauded the young man’s efforts. “As the only nation in the world where the minor traffic fines are higher than the value of the vehicle, we bear a huge responsibility. We hope Mr Kumar will serve as an inspiration to his fellow countrymen. Once every citizen of India sells everything they own and gives the money to us, we anticipate a major upsurge in the economy.”

Shovon Chowdhury is chief Truthdigger and author of Murder with Bengali Characteristics

The Investigator is a monthly round-up of all things droll and newsy. All views are personal. Really personal. @shovonc

Published on September 20, 2019
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