Saturday, December 1, 2012

ZAN ZAR ZAMEEN - A Murder Mystery

Weekend Fiction
Motive for Murder
Short Fiction – A Murder Mystery

From my Creative Writing Archives: 

There is a saying in Urdu:

 Har qatl di e jar zan zar zameen

(The motive for every murder is because of woman, money or land)

Think about it. 

Zan (love for a woman) or Zar (greed for money) or Zameen (dispute over land and property) - these are the root causes behind murder, arent they? 

Here is a short fiction story - a murder story I wrote around six months ago. 

What is the motive for murder? 

Is it Zan

Or is it Zar

Or is it Zameen

Read on and discover for yourself.

Short Fiction – A Murder Story

“A man dies in suspicious circumstances. You arrest another man for his murder.  Then the murder-suspect dies in the lock-up. And you close the case,” Rita says.

“That’s what happened,” I say.

“Well, the higher-ups are not happy with your closure report,” she says matter-of-factly, “they feel you should have delved more deeply, investigated the case a bit more thoroughly.”

“It is an open and shut case. What is there left to investigate? And, Rita, you were there yourself when all this happened.”

“I know. But the guys who died were top officers – influential men. The powers-that-be are concerned. The boss wants me to go over the case once more with you before he approves the closure report.”

I say nothing, remain silent.

“Sir, I know I am one batch junior to you and that you have independent charge, so if you feel that I …”

“No. No. It’s not that…” I say hurriedly, “it’s okay. I have no problem. After all you are head of the crime branch in headquarters.”

“And I am tipped to take over from you.”

“You? You’re going to take over from me? Where am I going?”

“Don’t you know? Well, I am not supposed to tell you, but once this is all over, most likely you’re heading for a coveted foreign assignment.”

“I’m going abroad?”

“That’s what the boss told me, in strictest confidence,” Rita says, “he told me to discuss the case with you and satisfy myself and the moment I submitted my report, he would close this pending case and relieve you so that you can hand over your duties to me and fly off across the seas.”

“Thanks for the good news. Let’s get this over with fast. Tell me, how should we go about it?”

“Sir, just tell me what happened. I’ll take your word for it.”

“The murder happened on Barren Island. As the name indicates, it is indeed a  desolate uninhabited island. There’s nothing over there. Except the volcano – that’s what these guys had ostensibly come to see. There is the barren island, the volcano, the springs, the lovely beach and the site office-cum-guesthouse which we activate for such VIP visits – bloody work-cum-pleasure trips, having a good time under the pretext of work.”

“Your report says that there were only six people on Barren Island on that fateful night.”

“That’s right – you know it.  Joshi, the chief scientist who was murdered was in Room No. 1 and his deputy Sharma, the murderer, was next door in Room No. 2. You, the liaison officer, were in Room no. 3. The technocrat couple Mr. and Mrs. Krishnan were in Room No. 4. And I, the camp in-charge, was in Room No. 5 – that’s all.”

“No one else? Guest House Staff? Cooks? Security staff? Boat crew?”

“I sent them back to Port Blair and told them to come in the morning. We wanted some privacy, a cosy party all by ourselves on the beach. Besides I wanted the staff to enjoy their New Year’s Eve with their families. Come on, Rita, you know all that. You were there yourself.”

“Just checking,” she says, “and when did you all turn in?”

“Well, the Krishnan’s were the first to go to bed, immediately after midnight – they were quite drunk, both of them. And then you left, saying you were tired and wanted to get up early in the morning.”

“And then?”

“We drank for an hour or so – and I was feeling quite high, so I came back to the guest house and went to sleep – but the two scientists kept on drinking – in fact, when I asked them to come with me, I remember them saying that they wanted to lie down on the beach and drink till sunrise.”

“And next morning, Joshi’s body is found floating in the sea.”

“Yes. The body had strangulation marks around te neck.”  

“So you carry out an investigation and arrest Sharma on charges of murder.”

“I had a post mortem done in Port Blair. The time of death was around 3 AM.”


“You were in your room, the Krishnan’s were in their room, I was in my room – only Sharma was with Joshi on the beach. Sharma had no alibi. Among all of us, Sharma was the only one without an alibi.”

“Did you ask him where he was? Did you try and interrogate him? Did you try and get a confession?”

“Sharma just kept mum like a zombie. He did not answer anything – he refused to give a statement. That’s why I …”

“That’s why you gave him Sodium Pentothal. Sir, you know you can’t do this on your own – you have to take the court’s permission.”

“A wee bit of truth serum never hurt anyone…”

“But he died.”

“I didn’t know Sharma would react this way. I thought he was a tough cookie. I’d watched him trek, swim, climb the steep slope of the volcano. You should have seen the way he was drinking and eating at the party,” I say, “and I wanted to get to the bottom of this case – I wanted to find out the motive behind the murder.”

“Motive? Your Zan Zar Zameen theory, Sir?” Rita asked with a grimace on her face.

“It was a case of Zan – a woman.”

Zan?” Rita says, looking quite astonished.

“Yes. I got a lead. Don’t ask me how?”

“Your batch-mate, in Delhi…”

“Maybe. But that is not important. What is important is that Joshi was Sharma’s direct boss and that Sharma was having a affair with Joshi’s wife.”

“So he murdered him? But why?”

“That’s what I was trying to find out with a bit of truth serum but the bugger collapsed and died.”

“Well I don’t know about the motive but I can say with surety that Sharma did not kill Joshi.”

“Then who murdered Joshi?”

“I don’t know,” Rita says, “you said that you arrested Sharma because he was the only one without an alibi. But actually Sharma had a cast iron alibi.”


“Let’s go through it once again,” Rita says looking into my eyes, “the Krishnan’s leave the party just after midnight, I leave shortly afterwards – I remember the exact time – I clearly remember looking at my watch and the wall clock – I reached my room at 12:30. Tell me, do you remember the exact time you left the beach and returned to your room?”

“I told you I was quite high and don’t remember exactly. We drank for an hour or so. So maybe I came back to my room at around 1 o’clock or maybe 1:30 or at the most 2.”

“You are wrong. Sharma came back at 1 o’clock, not you.”


“I told you that Sharma had a cast iron alibi. Sharma came to my room at 1 o’clock. He was with me in my room the whole night. In bed. Making love to me. Then he went to his room at 5 in the morning, just as the sun was rising, before everyone got up, and the boat ferrying the staff came at 6 o’clock, and they discovered Joshi’s dead body floating in the sea, ” Rita says.

Then she looks at me and asks me, “do you understand what I am saying?”

“You are implying that I murdered Joshi,” I say, my heartbeat rising.

Rita does not say anything, but she looks at me with a strange expression, a look of scorn combined with pity.

I look at Rita and say, “But tell me, why should I murder Joshi, what is my motive?”

“Your motive for committing murder? Well, I really don’t know. You will have to ask yourself - is it Zan or Zar or Zameen ?” she remarks. 

Then Rita looks me in the eye and she says, “but now the onus is on you to prove your innocence.”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like reading this story?
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my book  COCKTAIL an anthology of Short Fiction.
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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