statement about Tony.”
“Why did these two want to kill Purva in the first place? And how did she even know Tony?” Sarah asked.”The adoption papers don’t name the person who adopted that child. But, there is a clause in it that Alex and Lisa could ask for custody if they get married within 2 years of the adoption”,Issac said.
“So you think it was Purva who adopted the child and she refused to give him back?” Sarah said.
“Possible. But the neighbours said that they haven’t ever seen Purva with a baby.” Issac said. “We’ve to find Lisa. That’s the only way we can find out what happened. We’ve got to search that flat. Let’s go”
At Redwood Trail apartments, armed with a search warrant the duo enter Flat No 2204.
“There isn’t much stuff here SJ. Looks like they’ve cleared out.” Issac said.
“Ice. Look.” Sarah called out, going through a bunch of photographs. Issac came in and joined her.
“That must be Aaron” Issac said, pointing to the picture of an adorable little baby.
“Yeah..I wonder wher..” Sarah froze at one picture. She wiped the dust off it to have a better look. There must’ve been 20 people- All in Black, standing around a coffin- a small coffin. Kneeling by its side was Purva.
“Do you think that’s…” Issac said, afraid to name baby Aaron.
Sarah just nodded, her sinking voice and drowning heart making it difficult to say anything.
“Lets go.” She managed to mumble”We’ve got what we need”.
As they walked down from Lisa’s 20th floor apartment, Sarah was in a daze. Issac followed her mechanically, the photo firmly held in his fist. On the 17th floor, Sarah lifted her head to have one look at Purva’s apartment. She walked to the door and grabbed the tape that read “Police Line. Do not cross” as if to tear it. But she let go and turned to Issac, dug her face in his shoulder and burst into tears.
In that picture, was a face that Issac hadn’t noticed. Standing a couple of feet behind a kneeling Purva was Tony-His head bent in reverence and hands tied behind his back. He stood alone, away from the rest of the crowd but close enough to Purva to suggest that he knew her well. Issac still hadn’t realised this. He sat Purva by the stairs and waited for her to stop crying. In a while, her tears dried and she got up and walked over to the large glass window by the stairs. She stood there and looked out over the rising skyline of the city with the vast ocean on the horizon, still thinking of Tony. Issac walked over to her, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he said.
“Yeah. Tony loved this city. If he saw this now, he’d take off on his bike chasing the horizon, searching for some invisible joy” she said, a couple of tears slowly making their way out of her eyes. She took the picture from Issac’s hand and pointed at Tony, handed the picture back and rested her head on the glass, deep in thought. Issac didn’t immediately recognise the face. He took a closer look and realised who it was. He wasn’t sure what to say. He put an arm around Sarah’s shoulder, trying to console her.
“Sarah”, he said softly after a while. “Let’s leave”.
Sarah walked like a zombie and got into the car. For the next half an hour, they said nothing to each other. The radio in the car played some old malayalam song periodically interrupted by the police wireless address system.
Back at the headquarters, Inspector Murugan had the adoption details of baby Aaron from the agency. It confirmed what the duo had suspected. Purva was the one who had adopted the baby when he was barely 12 days old. When Sarah and Issac got back, Inspector Murugan had more news for them. “I just received some sad information about the baby. He died of pneumonia at the age of 3. Purva moved to Redwood Trails after that. She didn’t have many friends here but we got in touch with the head of the adoption agency…” he stopped seeing that Sarah looked distracted. “Are you alright Sarah?”
She nodded to suggest that she was. Issac handed the photo to the inspector and explained what had happened.
“Oh so you guys already know about the baby. But it seems you still don’t know about Tony’s involvement in this”. Suddenly, Sarah became more interested in the conversation. “What involvement?” she asked.
“Like I was saying, we got in touch with the head of the adoption agency. A nice woman by the name of Theresa. It is routine to conduct a background check of the person adopting a child. Usually, it is done by the police but often, we allow reputed agencies to conduct their own background checks. In Purva’s case, it was Tony who did it. They got quite close too apparently.” he said.
Sarah didn’t flinch. She was learning more about her brother after he died than before. She struggled to keep up with the conversation.
“So Alex and Lisa blamed Purva for the death of their baby? But there’s no way they could’ve known who adopted the baby. The agency doesn’t reveal those details normally” Issac said.
“Right you are. It was Theresa who informed the couple that their baby had died. She felt it was only right that the biological parents were present at the funeral. That’s where Alex comes in. Remember he was charged with criminal intimidation and a B&E?” Murugan said.
“He tried pressuring Theresa into revealing the details and when she didn’t agree, he broke into the agency and took all of Purva’s details.” Sarah inferred and completed the inspector’s statement.
“They must’ve seen Tony at the funeral. Since he was away from the crowd, they must’ve remembered his face. So it was pure coincidence that Lisa described him to the sketch artist. She had no idea that he was your brother.” Issac speculated.
“Did they have anything to do with Tony’s death too?” Sarah asked, trying to mask her fear with confidence.
“I had the checked too. But there’s nothing unnatural about his death. So it’s unlikely that these two were involved in that.” the inspector replied.
“But it took them 3 years to find Purva? That’s an unusually long time. Especially if they broke into the agency and found the details long back.” Issac said.
“True. But the details in the records only told them where Purva lived earlier. It took them time to track down her new location” Inspector Murugan clarified.
“I’ve already dispatched three teams to find Lisa. Good work you both. You’ve solved a crazy case. Now it’s time for the paperwork. Go on. Get on with it” he told them, before answering the phone that had been ringing for a while now.
Sarah and Issac walked out of the debriefing room and walked onto the roof of the headquarters where two guards were now permanently posted. They sat near the ledge, looking at the skyline again. In the distance was redwood trails and beyond it, the ocean on the horizon.
“Sarah, I get that you’re upset thinking of Tony. But you’ve got to get over it.”. Issac said bluntly.
Sarah was sitting with her hands propping up her head. She tilted her head towards Issac and smiled. Then, turned her face away from him and stared into the sunset.
“I can’t stop thinking of Purva. When I stood in front of her door after we found that picture, I could see her on the door. I could see her outside in the skies. I could see her in the skyline. Every little noise sounded like Aaron’s cries. Even now, when I look out at the horizon, I can see them. But then I remember Tony. I can picture him even now on his bike, chasing the horizon. Only now, it seems like he’s racing to join Purva and Aaron. It wasn’t an invisible joy he was going after. It was just one I couldn’t see it. But he did. He never told me about Purva but I remember him quoting G.K. Chesterton to me once, I’m sure now that he was talking about her: “Walking up a road at night, I have seen a lamp and a lighted window and a cloud make together a most complete and unmistakable face. If anyone in heaven has that face I shall know him again”. He will see her face again in heaven. And I just wish he finds the joy he was chasing.”