The Investigator

Shovon Choudhury | Updated on March 27, 2020

We dig for the truth. So you don't have to


The Black Cat commando in the matching black mask pokes me in the solar plexus with his machine gun, and asks me to hold out my arms. He frisks me swiftly, wearing black rubber gloves. His probing is intimate and thorough. “But I’m only going to speak to him on Skype!” I protest. “Is all of this really necessary?” “We’re not taking any chances,” says the commando, concluding his search and stepping back. “Nowadays, through technology, anything is possible.” He keeps his machine gun pointed at me. “If you indulge in any harassment, cause any mental agony, or fail to show respect, I may have to shoot,” he warns. “Why for failure to show respect?” I ask. I can’t help it. It’s my journalistic instincts. I work with The Hindu Group. “Because of sedition,” he says, “He’s a son of the government. His mother is a senior officer. When you insult him, you insult the government.”


I turn to talk to the son. His face is fat. It fills the screen. He is sprawled on a sofa. A junior IAS officer is massaging the soles of his feet. I choose my words carefully, feeling the eyes of the commando on the back of my neck. “Some black-tongued evildoers are accusing you of spreading corona virus in Kolkata. You had come back from abroad, and naturally did not inform anyone. Then you went to a few parties, because that’s what you do. Then you were diagnosed with corona Vvirus. Because you had met 3,722 people by then, all kinds of allegations are being made. Personally, I am shocked. But what is your reaction?”

The youth looks upset. His face crumples. “I blame mummy for everything!” he says, before pausing briefly to poke the officer who is massaging him. “More baby oil!” he yells, and turns back to me. “I had begun suspecting mummy was lying to me after I found out that the Mercedes that she got me for my birthday was second hand. But this is too much. She promised me everything would be fine. She passed an order against corona virus. It had strict instructions not to touch me. Penalties for non-compliance included both fines and imprisonment. The home secretary himself had made a notation on the order. Despite all this, I was infected. I’m feeling very upset. I definitely blame mummy. But I also blame you for asking this.”

“Should I shoot him now?” asks the commando, finger poised on his trigger. “No need,” says the son. “Just bring him over here, and I’ll cough on him.”


In news described as ‘heartwarming’ by senior management at Hotstar, a husband in Chennai’s upscale Nungambakkam area is facing legal action from his wife of three years, Malini. “As it is, I’m doing all the dishes as well as the laundry, the cooking and the dusting,” says Malini. On top of that, I have to do my regular job. My boss is constantly calling me while I’m making the rotis. He’s not the only one.


Our finance officer called me while I was doing jharu-pochha, asking me about the expense vouchers I had submitted. Have you ever tried to scrutinise expense vouchers while doing jharu-pochha? It’s not easy. Both of us are working from home. But I am doing two jobs, while he is doing one. On top of everything else, because he’s at home, he’s even friskier than usual. My hands are really full. Netflix is my only true friend. I don’t know how I would have survived without it.

The other day, I may have said a few harsh words after he complained about too much salt in the matar paneer. I may have thrown a plate or two. I may even have emptied the bowl of matar paneer on his head. But is this any reason to lock me out of Netflix? After everything I have done for him, what is a bowl of matar paneer? As soon as Modi-ji allows us out again, I am going straight to court. Meanwhile, he can do his own dishes. I’m only doing mine.”


Dear Ally,

Why are the police not allowing me to buy vegetables? All I needed was some potatoes for the biryani.

Bappa, Dhakuria

Dear Bappa,


Have you noticed that I’m an alligator? Look at the picture. Don’t get fooled by the chappals. How much sympathy do you think I have for non-vegetarians, that too Bengali? Bengalis eat everything. Tomorrow you will turn me into kebabs and a handbag. The police did the right thing. Nowadays, action is being taken against you people. Your time has come. It’s all part of a plan.

The first thing was to ensure that non-veg food was unavailable during curfew. Hence supplying chicken and mutton have not been defined as essential services. Now you are being deprived of vegetarian food. Why should you have vegetables? You have always mocked vegetables. When people served them to you at parties, you would make humorous remarks. Why should a decent vegetarian person be deprived of potatoes because you wanted to use up the last bit of mutton left in your fridge? I wholeheartedly support this action by the police. No non-vegetarian should be allowed to purchase vegetables.

This is the first step of our final solution. By the end of 21 days, there should be less of you.

Yours sincerely, Ally

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 March 27, 2020

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