Gumshoe #10
February 10, 2017

Gumshoe #11: Searching For the Light

“I can’t even say he knows he was adopted, much less that he has a brother. He was collected at the hospital when he was two days old. Apparently they were also brown, so he’d never have the reason to ask.” My new client, Sam Jaipaulsingh was born in Toronto to a fifteen-year old Trinidadian girl thirty-six years ago, but she managed to get pregnant again three years later, and simply couldn’t afford two children when she was still one herself.

“And what do we know of that family? Anything?” I asked.

“ The Grewals. They were fairly recent immigrants from India. Maybe 4 or 5 years here? I had to forge mum’s signature to get the report from St. Mike’s, but it shows that ‘the Jaipaulsingh male child, born 31 December 1982, was successfully removed from the hospital on 02 January 1983, by Gurmeet and Saanvi Grewal of redacted, redacted, North York. Child now carries the name Navaj Singh Grewal.’ I’m in IT for Telus, and I can tell you that no one by the name of Navaj Grewal has a cellphone, unless it’s a pay-as-you-go. I just want to shake this fella’s hand one time. My wife’s carrying our first little girl, and I can’t lie to her if she asks me one day if she has an aunt or an uncle.’’

Sarge approached me with a Creemore and two shots of the Famous Grouse as I sat at my regular barstool at the Badge and Billyclub. “It’s been, what, a week Shamus?” he pointed out as we tapped our glasses.

“Tis the season, Sarge. No shortage of frauds or missing persons. Gotta admit, person-locates are a nice change. I actually have a chance to close a file wih a smiling client.” I opened my laptop to do some preliminary web searches on the new target, and found a hit almost immediately. There was a 2009 article from the Kitchener Record about an ‘unrepresented Navaj Grewal, 27, from Toronto, struck another motor vehicle, and uninsured and a suspended licence, left the elderly couple destitute. Grewal received 14 months in custody.’ One call to the local courthouse both confirmed his date of birth and address at the time. As it just rounded three o’clock, I had time to finish my pint, and head to 33 Division.

I parked Dirty Gerty in the one open guest spot near 119 Village Greenway, and continued on foot to find 123.

“Jeez, this has been easier than Dwayne Johnson getting free drinks at a gay bar”, I thought. I drew a deep breath and looked around me for several seconds. Village Greenway was a mature, cautiously manicured townhome community, so it didn’t pass the sniff test for a young scofflaw, with as I learned, 15 convictions, including four robberies and resisting arrest. I also discovered that the street’s numbering somehow jumped from 119 to 125, so not only could he not be at that address, he’d have to have been here at least once to know that, to give it as a ‘last or usual’ to an out-of-town police department. After experiencing the same jilting at two more addresses I learned from 42 Division, and the local probation office, I began to think this nogoodnik was evading someone he couldn’t even know was looking for him, so I thought about his family. There was only one Saanvi Grewal in Toronto who was originally from India. She was also mentioned in an article from 1999 describing that ‘Saanvi and her son Navaj escaped a violent house fire that claimed the lives of her husband Gurmeet, 50, and her daughter Riya, 12.’ Navaj would have been 17. It was suddenly clear why every time he was allowed to call a lawyer, he called his mother. They had clearly cultivated a bond unique to co-survivors of a major catastrophy.

I found her place of work, and decided on an unannounced visit. First, I had to learn if Navaj had ever been told he was adopted, as I wasn’t a fan of one-blow knockouts. I was greeted quite cordially at the rear door of the warehouse, and when I gave the name of the lady I was there to see, I was escorted directly to her desk without question. She looked up with a genuine smile, and a simple ‘’Hello.’’

“Shamus Fitspuzzel. I’m a Private Investigator here in Toronto,” I put my card on her desk, obliquely telling her she could avoid standing. “and I have a few questions regarding your son Navaj.” She suddenly became very serious. “Don’t worry.” I comforted her. “Neither of you are in any trouble. At the risk of being indelicate, however. I would like to know if you’ve ever shared with him how he came to be a Grewal?”

“His mother wants to meet him?” Her eyes moistened almost instantly.

I paused a moment and just smiled, realising she might indeed be totally unaware of Sam. “Actually it’s his older brother.’’

“Is there a problem here?” Came the baritone voice of concern from my right. I was taken a bit off-guard when Saanvi responded to him in Punjabi, but he said in English, “Of course I remember. But I guess I filed it away after we lost Dad and Riya. Why?” He reeled in my direction and said, “I’m not interested in meeting my biological mother. THIS is my mother!”

“Actually Navaj, my client is your older brother, whom your biolgical mother delivered when she was only 15 years old. He would like to meet you, but only if you wish.”

He stared at me as if I spoke in ones and zeros, and then after a few seconds, his face melted into inconsolable weeping. He told me he had been dreaming of a mythical brother since the early 90’s but was frightened to share the idea. The tension was akin to an elephant looking to lie down, so I just exhaled and left the room, asking Navaj to call me when he was ready and I’d share all the details.  

When I mentioned to my client that his younger brother had enjoyed a chequered history, he recoiled like burning cellophane and wished an about-face on the handshake issue, before I reminded him that had Navaj grown up with an older brother, perhaps there would have been enough childhood ass-kickings to have prevented the criminal history. He let out 50 psi, and after a moment acknowledged, “How d’you suppose he’ll be around baby girls?”  

“Whaddya say I let you tell him he’s a brother and a new uncle in the same sentence?”

I took up a stool at The Badge and Billyclub and ordered a Creemore. Instead, Sarge positioned what was clearly a large gift-wrapped bottle in front of me with an attached envelope. I removed the card, and read silently. “The good stuff, Shamus. I wanted to say thanks again for giving Navaj back to me, not to mention two new mothers. One more thing, my friend. We named our new little girl after you. ‘Shameera’ comes from the Indian word that means ‘the light’. What you spend your days searching for. Regards, Sam.”

“Save the world again Shamus?” Sarge asked as my pint of amber dew arrived. I was wearing a smile that would likely survive the weekend.

“Let’s just say I created a new one.”

……..the life of a flatfoot.