Red Soil and the Presence of Iron
“I told you a bit about Ekta aunty who moved in the bungalow opposite our house a few months ago?” Nitin asked.
“Every Thursday she steps out of the house very early in the morning,” Nitin said. “She literally tip-toes to her car, then looks to see if anyone’s watching, gets into her car and drives off. She only comes back home around sunset. Where does she go?”
“We’ll try and find out,” said Eeshan.
On Thursday after school, when they came back to Nitin’s house, Ekta aunty had not returned home. They waited together in his room.
Shortly after six-thirty, her car finally came back in. Eeshan looked at her go inside the house through his binoculars. After an hour or so, when it was sufficiently dark outside, Eeshan and Nitin crept into her front yard.
Eeshan slowly crawled to her front doorstep and observed the shoes she’d worn that day, which she’d left just outside the door. He nodded to Nitin, a signal that it was time to go back. At Nitin’s house, Eeshan spent a few minutes accessing the Internet through his friend’s computer.
“I know where Ekta aunty goes,” Eeshan said. “Her shoe soles had very deep red soil on them.”
“What does red soil have to do with this?” Nitin asked.
“Remember when we learnt in geography class that red soil indicates presence of iron?” Eeshan said. “The soil on her shoes was a very dark, rich red. It could only have come from an area extremely rich in iron. Within a 60 km radius of this place, there is a place with many iron ore mines.”
“Yelakad!” Nitin said.
“Yes,” Eeshan said. “When I looked through the binoculars, I saw a little blue stamp on her wrist. This suggests that she went to some institute with a great deal of security. In Yelakad, there is only one such place.”
He paused. “A mental health institution. Obviously, she goes there every week to visit a loved one, maybe one of her parents or grandparents. She tiptoes because she doesn’t want people to find out about it.”
“Now I understand, Eeshan,” Nitin said. “Meddling in other people’s affairs is a very bad habit.”
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