Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Govind Mellachervu, a.k.a Detective GovindaM, is an alumnus of the National Institute of Private Investigations, often consulted for crime investigations. His observation skills and presence of mind have helped numerous victims.
“Detective GovindaM” by V. K. Telkepalli is a collection of six cases between 2001 to 2015 called The Master Copy, Axe Slayer, A Suspicious Husband, The Inner Man, Red Wallet & Curious Case of Mr Eknath. They showcase how Govind grew up hunting criminals and facing the harsh reality of life over the years.
The Master Copy
A professor is missing along with the master copy of a question paper for an upcoming exam. Though uninvited, Govind is fascinated to get involved and help as much as possible for personal reasons & for his colleagues too.
“The Master Copy” is the first case of Detective Govindam that shows the bond between Ankitha, Govindam & Sharma while revealing how the young detective wasn’t always successful in concluding the cases.
8th March 2001
“Pfft… the Professor feels my hypothesis is non-existent. How can he decide that? In the question, he asked about my opinion and not what would happen,” said Govind after reading the answer sheet while we were at the University garden analysing our papers.
It was exam season. Everyone was immersed in books. The photocopy shop had long queues. The pressure on each student could be felt in the whole college. The atmosphere was dense and in the middle of all this pressure was Govind giving the exam, maybe, for the fourth time. He was way past the point of exam pressure and was reviewing a paper he had given two years back. I don’t know how but I feel he has figured it all out. I am sure that by the end of this semester, he will clear all the subjects. That is what his confidence and face said to me.
For years, Govind told everyone he wrote realistic solutions for his questionnaires, but the university was concerned more about the theoretical write-up than anything else, especially the evaluators. Often, I told him, “Well, you need to write a hypothesis that could be a reality, not jot down your wildest fantasies.”
“Yeah… everybody, please listen to this topper beside me! The answer I wrote is the reality and not what this law book in our hand says,” he replied, this time mocking an announcement scenario.
“First of all, you have been completing your third year since the last two years in this institution. So, I think it’s better if you stick to the reality that the professors expect. Next, I bet I can tell you where you are going wrong in your cases yet to come. Wanna bet, Govindam?”
Although everyone calls him Govind, I got used to calling him Govindam. And he likes it too. We have this thing where he always tries to introduce himself as Detective Govindam. And I add a tag, “Cases yet to come.”
Meanwhile, a peon of our faculty was walking by & I wished, “A very good morning Bhai… would you like some tea?” & he gave him a warm smile.
Raju was one of the oldest peons in our college, and almost everyone respected him more than the principal. Govind was fond of him because he rented Raju’s place for the time being. Raju knew Govind was a rusty detective, but he believed in him because of Govind’s walk-the-talk attitude.
"I have no time, Ankitha. Professor Upadhyay is missing, and the master copy of his exam paper is nowhere to be seen. We have informed the Police already, but it’s huge chaos up there,” he said in an anxious tone.
“Raju Bhai, why didn’t you come to me when you realised the papers went missing? This is the kind of case I have been looking for until now. Let’s go to his cabin and understand what has happened.” exclaimed Govind.
“I think it is too risky for you to get involved in Govindam,” I said.
“Raju Bhai, don’t listen to her. This is my chance to rise and shine. Let’s go anyway; if I solve this case, Ankitha will be bearing my expenses for the next month according to our bet,” said Govind.
Raju Bhai considered the proposal for a few moments before saying, “Okay, let’s go; I think I can sneak you in. But you have less time to do whatever you want as the Police will be here anytime soon.”
“Ankitha… Sometimes, this educational establishment needs my help in developing the future of bright students like you,” Govindam mused, dusting off the dirt from his pants and his bag.
“The management suspects that the Professor has leaked the papers. But he is missing. We have called his family, and they have no clue where he is. Before the Police arrive for the investigation, I would like you to have a look at the office and try to find something. This will help us all & most importantly, the college.” said Raju while they were ascending the stairs to the administrative building.
“Get ready to treat me at the Cafe, Ankitha. The case is exciting,” said Govindam, to which I just smiled. “But Bhai, if the papers were leaked, I would have knowledge about it. How come no one told me? Damn! I missed the chance of topping the exams.”
“No... wait... I never said the papers were circulated. The master copy is missing, but the photocopy which the thief planned to distribute is still out there.” said Raju.
Unlocking the Professor’s office, Raju let us in & immediately closed the door behind us. He warned, “No one should know about it.”
“That’s strange. Why does no one have a copy of the leaked paper?” I asked, catching my breath.
“No idea. We have already checked the CCTV footage, and as expected, last night’s recordings were tampered with,” replied Raju.
My heartbeat raced as he said that. But Govind was going around the cabin as calm as a Buddhist monk. After a brief pause, he said, “Okay, lots of puzzles to solve. Let’s start with a demo of the sequence of what might have happened.”
Glancing at the entrance, he continued, “If I were the Professor, I would have entered through the door since I must have the keys, and since it’s exam time, even the watchmen would have allowed me in… Bhai, did you ask the night watchman as to what might have happened? I am sure he must have seen something and the CCTV office is just near the security cabin, so how could anyone tamper with it?”
Raju Bhai could only nod, indicating no and said nothing else.
Pointing his hand now towards me, Govind continued, “Please make a point that we need to talk to the night watchman later... Then the Professor entered the room, opened the drawer, reached for the master copy, and might have started printing photocopies from the machine.”
Going towards the copy machine, Govinda picked up the photocopies before saying, “He was sweating but did not stop. Was it too hot here? No, the AC is always on, and it didn’t rain yesterday. Does that mean… he was afraid? Or…”
I interrupted him to ask, “Wait… wait… wait… how do you know he might be afraid?”
He explained, “The top papers have dried water stains, and the spots are a bit yellow, making them dirt marks. And since the Professor is borderline ethical, he must have been threatened. Note this point as well, Ankitha.”
Annoyed by his commanding tone, I demanded, “Mr So-called detective! I am not your assistant! So, stop giving me orders.”