Our own Miss Marple

Looking for clues Yasmin in her office Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

Looking for clues Yasmin in her office Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

A magnifying glass, newspaper cuttings, books neatly arranged in a shelf… So, this is how a detective’s room looks, I think. I have seen detectives only in films. I am going to meet a real-life one for the first time.

On the table is an open book called Yes, I am Yasmin . I am already intimidated, and am expecting someone secretive and not very friendly. Then, the wooden door swings open, and in comes Yasmin, wearing formal pants and high heels, and with her hair let loose. She gives me a warm smile, asks her assistant to get me juice, and asks about the ride to her office.

But, once we begin to talk about business, she straightens up and, with a no-nonsense look, talks about what it takes to be a lady detective.

As a child, she was always fascinated by law and had an endless love for thrillers. All this evolved into an interest in detection when she grew up. She boarded the train to Chennai to work as an apprentice with a well-known detective, who was her mentor.

“For my first assignment, I was disguised as a sales girl to find out details about a family. The complaint was filed by the parents of a girl who was to be married into the family. They found the relationship between the mother and father quite odd. I found out that the husband and wife had compatibility issues, and the couple was living separately.”

Contrary to popular image of a detective, prowling in the night, looking blood stains and cuffing serial killers, Yasmin’s profile is more of a friendly neighbour in whom you can confide. Her clients include doubtful husbands, scowling mother-in-laws and anxious parents of college kids who come to report about marital discords, infidelity or children going astray.

“Wives who do not trust their husbands ask us to find out if their husbands are having affairs. If the doubts are baseless, we try to counsel them. This also happens with old people who come to complain about insensitive children or partners.”

ISY Verification Services, her agency, is a one-man army. However, she has enthusiastic freelance detectives across the city who help her in cracking cases. If she has a case in a college, her sources — both students and professors — tip her on her target’s movements.

Lovestruck adolescents who turn into rebels, college boys who get caught in drug cases and petty fights, depression and lack of interest in studies, online relationships that backfire are some of the common cases from colleges. “Mentoring children at a young age can solve the long term crimes in our society. Each school and college must have a counselling centre. If you see an ill-tempered boy, find out where that anger stems from and try to channellise it for creative things.”

A good detective should be bold, but not be impulsive, she says. “You should know to talk and socialise. People should be able to confide in you. I have had to mentor really difficult clients like a girl who was in love with a boy who she met over Facebook. She was just 18 and wanted to marry him. It took a lot of days’ counselling to change her mind.”

Yasmin has used different disguises to crack cases — a flower seller, a vegetable vendor, and a sales girl. There is no one identity for a detective, she says. “She should be discreet and subtle.”

This field is mainly about human relationships. “I maintain a friendly relation with my clients even after I solve the case. Many old women come here to vent their frustration against their daughter-in-laws. I don’t have the heart to tell them they are in the wrong place. At times, what they need is a sympathetic hearing. I don’t see everything as mere business.”

Yasmin feels gender should not be a barrier for women to come into this field. “I have often felt it was an advantage, being a woman in this field. People open up more, especially women who talk about relationship issues.”

When she is not working, she loves to cook, bond with her two children and catch up on sleep. Yasmin is now pursuing her childhood ambition of being a lawyer, by going to SBRTM Law College, Kadappa, in Andhra Pradesh! Her children are not aware of this.

Like in her professional life, she has ways for a perfect cover-up. “I put them to sleep the night before, and leave early morning. My husband will send me pictures of their outfits when they go to school and tuition classes. I call them up and compliment them about how pretty their dress looks. They think I am calling them from my office in Thudiyalur, when I am actually in a different state!”

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 5:05:47 am |