“Where did the milk go?” I said, empty Amul carton in one hand and fridge door in the other.
“Back in the cow,” Saurabh said. He sat on the sofa, tying the laces of his new, sparkling white sports sneakers. His fiancée Prerna had given them to him four months ago. Of course, Saurabh is more likely to enter a ladies” toilet by mistake than a gym.
“It’s not a joke, Saurabh. It was a full carton. Now I can’t even make a cup of tea.”
“I had biscuits in the afternoon,” Saurabh said, attention still on his shoelaces.
“I don’t like my biscuits dry.”
“You dipped them in a litre of milk?”
“I used what was there.”
I shut the fridge in disgust, threw the empty carton in the dustbin and sat on one of the dining table chairs, staring at him.
“I’ll get another packet later. And as we discussed, let’s avoid talking. Message me if there’s something important,” Saurabh said.
Like a twelve-year-old, Saurabh had stopped talking to me. Even though we lived together, we communicated mostly through messages.
I WhatsApped Saurabh even though he sat seven feet away from me.
“I want milk now. To make tea.”
Saurabh looked up from his shoes to check his phone screen. He saw my message but ignored it. He pulled up his socks, stood up, picked up his wallet from the dining table and put it in his kurta pocket. The olive green Fabindia kurta made him look like a baby elephant, especially with his thick black woollen sweater over it.
I typed another message on my phone.
He typed a response.
“In a rush. Will sort this out later.”
He opened the Uber app on the phone.
“Damn, no cabs. Uber or Ola,” he said out loud, after swiping away on his phone for five minutes.
“What happened?” I said, looking up from the dining table.
“I didn’t speak to you,” he said.
“Nobody else in this room. Did you speak to the wall?”
“Let me be,” Saurabh said, fumbling with his phone again.
“Do you want me to book a cab for you?” I said.
“No. And please don’t talk to me.”
“Saurabh, time you stopped sulking.”
He ignored me and kept staring at the phone screen.
“I can book –” I said, but he interrupted me.
“Keshav, we have two months before the lease ends here. Until then, can you please stay out of my way?”
“I said sorry enough times.”
Saurabh shook his head, eyes still on the phone.
“I will take an auto. Damn it, I will freeze in this cold,” Saurabh mumbled to himself and stormed out of the house.
I continued to sit in my house, staring into space, aware of the silence left behind by Saurabh.
Hi, I am Keshav Rajpurohit and I’m not a particularly nice guy. Not emotional either. I
don’t believe in love. I use Tinder to meet girls for the sole reason of having sex with them. Oh, and I am quite good at it. I slept with ten girls last year.
As you just witnessed, even my flatmate doesn’t want to talk to me. Saurabh and I used to be best friends. Now he hates my guts and is waiting for our flat’s lease to end. It is harder to break up with a best friend than with a girlfriend.
Why did it become this way? Well, I’m a dick. I don’t blame him for wanting to move out.
Saurabh and I both work at CyberSafe, a cybersecurity company. Working together complicates things further when you’ve had a fight. Anyway, like any other corporate job, CyberSafe sucks. My real passion is the little detective agency Saurabh and I own as a side gig, Z Detectives. We started it after we solved a murder case last year.
Z Detectives is located in the Malviya Nagar market, next to kirana shops. We dont get exciting cases. We aren’t James Bond. RAW and IB don’t approach us for help with international terrorists. We don’t even get any hardcore criminal cases. Most of our inquiries are from aunties in the area, suspecting their maids of stealing their gold necklace or their husbands of having an affair.
Apart from the occasional robbery, where someone’s laptop or cell phone is stolen, Z Detectives is a tame affair. Hell, the one thing I want is for us to get a real juicy murder case. Turns out Delhi isn’t quite the crime capital it is made out to be.
My phone pinged. Message from an unknown number.
“Need urgent help on a case.”
“Who’s this? What is this about?” I replied.
“Myself Pramod Gupta. I suspect my driver has not been filling petrol for the money he takes from me.”
I threw my phone down in disgust. I would deal with this nonsense later. I thought about Saurabh. Why was this fatso so oversensitive? Prerna had made him that way. But no, nobody can say a word against his fat bride-to-be.
Yeah, I called her fat. Fat just like Saurabh. Am I body-shaming? I told you, I’m not so likeable. Anyway, what’s wrong in calling a fat person fat? And why the hell do I still care so much about fatso? And why can’t I make a decent cup of tea? And can someone please kill someone in this city? I really need a good case.
Okay, so let me tell you what happened between us. Of course, this is my take.
Excerpted with permission from One Arranged Murder, Chetan Bhagat, Westland.