Girl in the Mirror

Two identical twins, one is murdered. But who really died? Meet our detectives Supriya & Rahul as they try to figure out the puzzle. Will they be able to solve it, or are we witnessing the perfect crime?

Chapter 1: The dichotomy of thoughts.

Her ‘twinadar’, what her twin and she called their twin sense was screaming, “Danger alert”. She looked around but didn’t see anything – or anyone. But the sense of foreboding wouldn’t let her settle. The alarm bells were now, loud as a siren, begging her to seek refuge. She was safe in her own house, if one can’t feel safe in one’s own house, where does one solicit shelter? She looked out of the window, at the clear night sky, the full moon radiating a blanket of luminescence as light as gossamer over the city skyline.  She leaned against the window, mesmerized by the sight, the alarm bells, for the moment, quietened by the beauty outside. She heard a noise, soft initially, till it permeated through her reverie, and alerted her to its presence. She was startled, and physically jumped, her sense of danger spiking. Then laughed nervously, realising it was an owl hooting. The doorbell rang, she let out an involuntary scream, shock rendering her immobile. The doorbell rang again, insistent, breaking her inertia, she carefully approached the door, rueing the lack of a peephole. The doorbell rang again halted her in her tracks, but ignoring her fear, she cautiously opened the door. 

Chapter 2: Houston, we have a problem.

“Hello, I would like to file a missing report for a person. Have I reached the correct department?”, a voice tight with worry spoke over the phone. “Yes, ma’am. Who am I talking to? And, whom may I ask, is missing?”. “I am Dharini Singh. It’s my sister Medini. She’s missing from her house. I can’t find her, she hasn’t returned home or called me for the last two days, and I’m very worried. My twinadar…er…twin sense is telling me something’s wrong; I feel our connection is broken. Can you please find her?”, her voice broke. “Of course ma’am. Can you please provide your address and I’ll send someone to your house?”

“When was the last time you met your sister, Ms. Singh?”, asked Inspector Asif. “I saw her on Sunday. We had dinner together, but I left early as I had a red-eye flight that night and I wanted to rest. “. “How was your sister’s demeanour on Sunday night?”.” She was normal, her usual self. We often meet for either lunch or dinner, and it was a usual affair. We ate, gorged on the dessert, and then I left. She stayed back for a while to talk to someone.”.” What happened next?”. “I caught the morning flight, and attended the conference till Wednesday evening. I returned on Thursday early morning. After I rested, I called Medini, but got no response. So, I drove down to her place. I had got her favourite Karachi biscuits, and I wanted to drop them off. But she didn’t answer her door.”, she replied. “What did you do next?”.” We both have each other’s house keys, so I opened the door, calling out her name but she wasn’t home. She was nowhere to be found. Even her car was parked in the garage. Then I called you – I mean called the police.”. “Yes, of course. Can you provide more details for your sister, like job, friends, etc.? Did she have any enemies?”. “No, why would she have enemies?”, she responded, indignant.” Ma’am, everyone has enemies, but not every enemy is dangerous. Getting back, tell us about you and your sister.”. “Our parents died in a car accident a few years back. They were quite rich, being the only surviving family, we got the bulk of their money, split between the two of us. So we’re quite well off, and we both held jobs, well sort of. Medini runs a yoga studio in the city centre, and I worked as a software developer till a few years back. I sold a software I’d developed for a large sum, and since then I’ve been working on some freelancing projects. Medini and I are very close, especially as twins. My parents were single children, so we were quite isolated as kids, but it didn’t matter much to us as we are a very close-knit family. We grew even closer, if that’s possible, after our parents’ accident. We are the only two left in our family, and we are quite dependent on each other. Our bond is very strong. That’s why she’ll never go anywhere without telling me, I’m so worried about her.”, she broke down, crying, gulping down sobs. “Can we have a photograph…?”

Chapter 3: Un-break my heart.

“Asif sir, there was a report of a dead body being found in the abandoned shack near the railways station. It was a woman, well dressed, but no ID on her. The body is the city morgue, could this be tied to your missing case?”, Inspector Shailesh said. “Could be. Thank you for the information, man.”. Asif walked over to the city morgue, and examined the dead body. He called Dharini, “Ma’am, will it be possible for you to come down to the police station? Why don’t you come to the station? I’ll explain when you get here.”.

Dharini collapsed in Inspector Sara’s arms, crying, “Yes, yes, that’s Medini. I felt the thread between us was snapped, I couldn’t sense her anymore but I wasn’t willing to believe it. Oh Medini, why did you leave me?”. After she had composed herself, Inspector Asif introduced her to Inspectors Surpriya and Rahul, saying, “Dharini, they’re from the homicide department. They’ll be handling your sister’s case now. They have all the relevant information.”. Supriya lightly touched Dharini’s shoulder, asking, rhetorically, “Are you up for some questions?”.

Chapter 4: The webs we weave.

Inspectors Rahul and Supriya were partners for a few years now. They were well-settled in their routine, comfortable, and trusted each other with their lives. Supriya had earned her grey hair, dyed a boring brown, and seniority, in the homicide department, whereas Rahul achieved his name, and scars in narcotics. They were partnered when Rahul moved to homicide. Since then they had worked on several cases together. Their success rate was fairly good, and they were well respected in the homicide department. 

Supriya was listening to Rahul, her eyes closed in concentration, “The restaurant’s staff at ‘Bawarchi’ confirmed that the sisters had a meal there on 05/05/2002. And that one of them left early by 8.00 pm or so, the other stayed back for a chat with the manager. The manager, a Mr. Dinesh Mistry’s their friend from college. He corroborated that Medini stayed back for a chat with him, and Dharini left as she had an early morning flight. He said Medini left after 15 minutes by an auto. Dinesh booked the auto for her, from the regular ones, parked at the auto stand outside their hotel. I spoke to the drivers from the auto stand, and they verified that one driver ferried her. I’ve also located and spoken to the auto driver, he said it was an uneventful drive, no words were exchanged between the two of them, except the payment details. He confirmed the drop-off point was Medini’s house address, time was around 8.45pm. The watchman saw Medini exit the auto, and enter the building. No one saw or heard from Medini after that.”. Supriya opened her eyes, asking, “Did Dharini board the flight and attend the conference?”. “Yeah, I spoke to the airlines, and they vouched for her presence aboard the flight, both ways. The conference organizer verified that Dharini participated in all the events, they’ll be sending across the videos later on, today. I’ve been tracking her movements on Sunday. She was first seen at 6.00am in her studio by her staff, where she had classes till 10.00am. The staff ordered some sandwiches for breakfast that they had in their pantry, and it was back to work. She had three employees, four, if you count the cleaning lady. One receptionist and two teachers. Medini did some paperwork in her office later on. I spoke to the employees, they all corroborated she left before lunch and they didn’t see her till 3.00 pm, when she had a session, again. She told them about her plans with her sister, and had mentioned she would be leaving early, by 5.00pm as she wanted to buy some groceries before meeting her sister at 7.00pm.”. Supriya looked up, poised to ask a question, Rahul hurried on, “And, before you ask, I spoke to the grocery shop, she was on their CCTV as well, she left by 6.15 pm, and I also verified those groceries were present in her house, and the bill was on the kitchen counter, along with the shopping bags.”. Supriya smiled at him, “Cool. What else, Rahul? You seem to have covered a lot of information.’. “What do you mean, what else? Isn’t this enough? How about you?”, he stuck out a tongue at her. She waved it off, “Well, I had a look at the sisters’ banking accounts. They inherited a lot of money from their parents, including a lot of assets. Their own flats were purchased after they sold the family house, making a very neat profit. The money was split exactly in half, just like egg that made them twins.”. Rahul rolled his eyes, she laughed and continued,” Dharini has invested her money well, no frivolous purchases for her. She made a bomb after her software sale – it was a software that enables security for doors – opening and locking by a phone call and pin. She invested that money too, with their parents’ money and her own, she is uber rich. Medini, our victim, on the other hand has blown through her inheritance. She spent a lot of cash on her studio, ‘Yoga Say Hoga’ or ‘It’ll happen by Yoga’ and the incoming cash flow from her business, for the last five years has not been enough for her to break even. She was beginning to show some improvement last year, but she’s still off the mark. She wasn’t in debt, yet but she was speeding towards it. She apparently also has a shopping addiction, spending a lot – a lot of money, on shopping on eclectic items, clothes, shoes, bags, keychains, marker pens, sparkly cello-tapes, cutesy items, etc.”. “Sparkly cello-tapes What’s that? In what situation would one need a sparkly tape? I can imagine a few…maybe…”, Rahul commented. “Not interested.”, Supriya interjected, continuing,” As I said she hadn’t reached a debt situation but it was in her foreseeable future. Neither of them were in significant relationships. Okay, moving on to her autopsy report. As correctly called by Asif, she was strangled, death by asphyxiation and the hyoid bone was broken. There are ligature marks on her neck, and she was moved after she died, as per the lividity report. The abandoned shack had a gazillion fingerprints, none of her or her known associates. There was no struggle, no skin under her fingernails, basically not even a scratch on her body, except the neck, of course. Her stomach had partially digested food, so death was approximately between 12.00 – 2.00 am Monday morning, give or take. She was robbed of her jewellery, she was wearing a diamond ring on her index finger, diamond studs, a gold bracelet, and a navel piercing, are missing. We don’t know if she wore the naval piercing on the day she was murdered, and if it’s stolen. Her sister couldn’t vouch for its presence but she confirmed the other pieces of jewellery. The clothes she was wearing, pyjamas and a green t-shirt with sport shoes, appeared like a night dress. She wasn’t carrying her usual handbag, we did find a small purse near her body, it contained no money, a chapstick, and her house keys. None of the neighbours saw her getting in or out. How did the watchmen not see her move out?”. “He was answering nature’s call when she apparently moved out. I would say, it was a very stu-peed mistake. Haha.”, Rahul laughed. “Ugh, Rahul, just ugh. Very lax security, perks of staying in a low-crime area. Wherever she went, she either walked or was driven. How far does her sister stay from her house?”. “About 20 minutes walking distance or 5 minutes by car. We know Medini didn’t take her car, the leaking watchmen would have surely heard the car, and he would have been required to open the gate, too. Safe to say she walked. Her landline records don’t show her receiving any calls either. I feel we are stuck.”. Supriya suddenly sat up,” How about Dharini? Did we visit her building? Let’s go and speak to her night watchman.”. “Why? Why should we talk to Dharini’s watchmen? Sometimes I feel you speak in tongues, Supriya.”, grumbled Rahul as they moved out. 

 Chapter 5: Everybody jump!

“I saw Dharini Madame come into the building at 8.30pm. She said hello to me. “., the watchman in her building said. “Was she alone?” “Yes sir, her windows were rolled down so I could see inside her car clearly, she was alone.”.” Did someone come to visit her that night?”. “No sir, no one visited her, and there’s no entry in the register, either.”. “When did she leave next morning?”. “Sir, she had called an auto and left around 12.45am. She spoke to me and said she’ll be back on Thursday early morning and to collect any couriers.”. “Thank you.”, said Rahul. He went inside the building premises, where he saw Supriya talking to the other watchman. He saw her take a recce of the building perimeter, he approached her, “What’re you doing?”. “I wanted to check if it’s possible for someone to jump over the boundary well.”. “And?”. “And, yes. It’s possible for a woman in good physical health to jump over it easily.”. “Why would someone jump over the wall?”, Rahul puzzled,” Who jumped over which wall? You really do talk in tongues”, he said exasperated. Supriya smiled, till an idea popped into her head. “Rahul, do you know how far the abandoned shack is from this place, where Medini’s body was found?”. “Let’s find out. I’ll get the car”, Rahul said. “No, we need to walk it up.”

“So, it’s just 15 minutes walking distance from Dharini’s building. Hmm, quite interesting, Rahul”, Supriya said, lost in her thoughts.  Rahul looked mystified. 

Chapter 6: Crack the coconut!

Supriya, over tea, said to Rahul, “We may never solve the Medini Singh case. It’s quite close to being the perfect crime. Let’s go over the details. Two sisters, monozygotic twins that means they share 99.9% of their DNA with each other, inherit a fortune from their parents. One sister expands her income, the other blows through it. The one who is almost penniless, dies of strangulation, leaving the rich sister alone, with the additional money of the dead sister, of course that additional sum is peanuts. They meet for dinner on Sunday evening. The rich sister leaves early by car, and is home around 8.30 pm. The poor, and soon to be dead sister, after a brief chat, catches an auto and is dropped home by 8.45pm. Then no one hears or sees her but she is somehow found dead, 15 minutes from her sister’s place, who catches an auto and leaves for the airport the same night. How did Medini reach the abandoned shack, approximately 30-35 minutes from her house, in her nightdress or lounge wear, and is killed in the shack, and her jewellery stolen? Something’s fishy. I can’t seem to figure out why a woman would step out of her house voluntarily and go to a railway station at midnight. That’s a death wish – and it was a death wish.”. “So the real mystery here’s why did she leave her house again? She didn’t receive any phone call so what made her go down? Let’s get some samosas and I’ll tell you my theory.”.

Over more tea and samosas, Supriya said, “This doesn’t seem to me a random murder Despite the fact that Medini’s jewellery was stolen, there’s no signs of struggle. It seems to be that she went willingly with the person. Please bear with me, Rahul, the next part sounds very strange, even to my own ears. I don’t think Medini is dead.”. “What nonsense. We saw her dead body, of course she’s dead. Is this samosa filled with opium?”. “No. We have a dead body – one of the sisters did die, there’s no discounting that, Rahul. How can we confirm the dead body belongs to Medini or Dharini?”. A light bulb lit inside Rahul’s head, “So, what you’re implying is that, instead of Medini, it could be Dharini who’s dead and Medini has taken her place. But why would she do that to her own sister?”. “I don’t know, but it could be the oldest motive in the world – money. We know that Medini was hurling towards debt, and Dharini was still loaded. Could it be that Medini killed her own sister, Dharini in cold blood, and took her place? That would explain why a young woman would be willing to go with her own sister to a lonely place at night, she trusted her own sister. But we can’t prove any of this, as we don’t have either of the sister’s fingerprints on record. And since they are identical twins, there are no distinguishing marks that separate the two sisters. And the live sister, if she has planned this, has planned it with such deviousness, it’ll bring the devil to shame. The only hitch was how did Medini or the dead sister go out, that’s the only loose thread.”. Supriya and Rahul were lost in their own thoughts, till Supriya snapped her fingers, “There could be one way! They both had their meals at the restaurant on Sunday, right? Now assuming that they had different meals, we can determine, from the dead sister’s stomach contents what she had to eat. The only hitch is the waiters should remember who was served what.”. “Supriya, you’re a genius. Let’s go.”.

Chapter 7: Proof is in the pudding.

“Mr. Dinesh regarding the Medini Singh murder case, we had a few more questions. Can you please call the servers who were attending to them?”. “Yes, ma’am.”, Dinesh hailed a passing waiter, “Hari, please ask Subhash to meet me in my office.”. “While we wait for Subhash to arrive, can you please print their itemised bill?”. “Certainly, sir. Here you go.”. Subhash knocks at the door, “May I come in, sir”. “Yes, Subhash, these two inspectors are here about Medini ma’am’s murder case, please answer their questions.”, Dinesh said as he left them alone in his office. “Subhash, do you remember which dish was served to which sister by you?”. “Yes, sir. I remember quite well, as Dharini ma’am always orders the same dish – she’s very fond of our Alfredo pasta, she had ordered that.”. “How about Medini? What did she order?”. “Ma’am, Medini ma’am ordered the eggplant lasagne on that day. I remembered it clearly, as it took a little more time to be served, and she was miffed about the delay.”. “Thank you Subhash, you can leave now.”. Supriya nodded her head at Rahul, while consulting her notes about the autopsy report. 

“How do you think it was played out?”, Capt. Shukla asked Supriya and Rahul. “Sir, I think Medini after she was dropped to her house by the auto, went up and changed her clothes, and walked up till Dharini’ house, which is a brisk 20 minutes’ job. Dharini’s building has two watchmen – one for the front gate and one for the rear section. The sides of the building remain unmanned, and we’ve checked, the boundary wall is low enough for someone to jump over it easily. So, when Medini jumped over Dharini’s boundary wall, she went up till Dharini’s house and rang the bell. On some pretext she convinced her to go with her to the railway station. We don’t know how she could convince her as Dharini had an early morning flight, but she obviously did succeed. They walk up to the station, a 15 minutes’ walk Once they reached the railway station, Medini strangled Dharini using, possibly a cotton belt, and stripped her of her jewellery, dumping her sister’s body at the shack. She then exchanged their house keys, and walked back to Dharini’s house, taking 15 minutes. She, again, climbs over the wall and makes it to Dharini’s house, where the next day, as Dharini she catches her flight.”. “How did you figure out it was in reality Dharini who died and not Medini?”. “We visited the restaurant, realizing the undigested food in the dead sister’s stomach matched what Dharini ate for dinner. Also, unless both the sisters’ have had their navels pierced, if we can find someone who’ll vouch for only Dharini’s piercing, then we have another strong point in our favour.”. “And as per you the motive for the murder was money?”. “Yes sir, a whole lot of money. Dharini was loaded – and Medini was on her way to become a pauper. By killing her rich sister, she can easily commit identity theft and live the rest of her life as a rich woman.”. “Hmm…”, Capt. Shukla scratched his chin, deep in thought, “Here’s what I think, you can call Dharini or Medini – the live sister for a casual chat, maybe under the pretext of updating her. Ask her about the meal she consumed, and about the piercing. Keep it very low key. We can’t be seen as someone who is hounding a twin about her dead sister. And let’s take it from there. Keep me informed.”. 

Chapter 8: This is how the cookie crumbles.

“Would you like some coffee, Ms. Singh?”. “No, thank you. Do you have any updates in Medini’s case, inspectors?”. “We have some insights, but we are far from closing the case. We thought we could cover the details with you once again, if you don’t mind.”. “Sure, why not. Anything to help to catch my sister’s killer.”. “So to recap, you met Medini for dinner at the restaurant, where you both had Italian rice and tiramisu, right?”. “No, we had the pasta and lasagne, and yea the tiramisu.”. “Oops! Maybe we got a wrong copy of the bill. Rahul, can we check with Dinesh? So you had the pasta and Medini the lasagne?”.” Yeah, I always order the pasta.”, “Right, moving on. Did you notice anyone strange or different in the restaurant when you left?”.” No, it was a normal Sunday crowd. I kissed my sister goodbye, not knowing for the last time, and drove back home.”. “So sorry to make you relive it all, Ms Singh. Do you, too, have a navel piercing?”.” Oh yea, Medini had convinced me to get one, after one of our gym sessions. She was pretty wild that way! Though between you and me, I never wore a ring around my navel, it kept getting caught in my clothes. I switched to a stud. Take a look at it.”. “Yeah, thank you, Ms Singh, for showing the piercing to us.  Why didn’t you call your sister from the conference?”. “It didn’t strike me to do that. We had just met on Sunday and nothing worthwhile happened in the conference as such.”.” How often would you and Medini speak with each other?”. “Quite often, which is why I called her as soon as I reached home…”.

“We did strike out on the naval piercing issue, but we got her on the meal thing. We need to report to Capt. Shukla.”.

Chapter 9: Bittersweet aftertaste.

“I’m sorry Supriya and Rahul, I can’t prosecute someone on the basis of undigested tummy contents – it’s too flimsy to hold water in court. Unless you get me some tangible proof, I’m going to have to reject the arrest warrant.”, said Sharan, the prosecutor. “But Sharan, man, we don’t have any other proof. The stomach contents are the best we have.”.” Then I’m sorry guys. No can do. Get me more and we can talk. Bye for now!”. “Darn it, Supriya. She, a cold blooded murderer is going to escape because we don’t have any ‘tangible proof’. What can we get? A video recording of the murder?”, Rahul said, frustrated, “Yeah, it’s very tough to be in situations where you know she did it, but you can’t prove without reasonable doubt that she did do it. Wheels of justice, Rahul, wheels of justice often skid. We watch from side lines as the murders escape, taunting us as they go past. But we’ll get them, someday, someway, Rahul. Every criminal makes a mistake, it’s just a matter of biding our time.”.

Chapter 10: Unveiling the curtain…

She took a sip of the fantastic wine, sweet and light, still cool from the refrigeration, as she stretched out on the comfy sofa, stroking her hands over its silky smoothness. “This is life! It all worked out so well.”, she thought, taking a sip, “I’m frankly amazed at the way I executed it all last Sunday. After reaching home on Sunday, I rested for a while. Then changed my clothes, and slipped into my running shoes, reaching Dharini’s house in 15 minutes flat, swinging over the boundary wall. All the yoga classes have paid off well. There, I gave an Oscar-worthy performance. She was so easy to fool, so taken in by my act, I convinced her my ex-boyfriend had taken some pictures of us in a compromising position, and he was blackmailing me for them. She was very eager to help, like a needy puppy. I had her eating out of my palm, that the only help I needed from her was she accompany me to the abandoned building, behind the station. She immediately agreed, despite her early flight and the late hour. She was a little surprised when I suggested we jump over the building wall, but swallowed the reason, I didn’t want anyone to see us as I was carrying a lot of cash.”. She shook her head at that thought.  “She agreed to all my ideas, and we reached the station in no time. There it was just a matter of using the scarf I had hidden under my t-shirt to do the deed. I kept my eyes closed the entire time.”, she gave an involuntary shudder.” Jogging back to her house, and jumping over that blasted wall for the third time in one night was torture but well worth to live in her luxurious house. It’s a miracle the watchmen at Dharini’s building are so lax, they were snoring when I returned, poor sods! Anyway, I always did have the luck of the devil. Next part was the easiest, catching the fight and attending the boring conference, no one suspected anything. Heck, no one suspects anything. Goodbye penny-pinching, and hello shopping.”, she let out a contented sigh,” I do love money, I love it so much, more than anything – or anyone else. “.  She picked up the purse, removed the driving licence, from the loaded wallet, looking at the photograph on the licence. “Hello, Dharini. Welcome to your new life. It’s so nice to step in your shoes. Goodbye sister dearest, thank you for nothing.”.

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