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Saturday, 11 April 2020

Caught in the Juggernaut

Read the previous part here

'Nisha do you think, Sulabha knew that Vinay was in the hotel?' Vinay asked. Nisha didn't answer. So Vinay said, 'I think that they had pre-planned the meeting. Sulabha doesn't like leaving the house. It was me alone who stepped out of the house for any task. She accompanying us, we going to the hotel, he being there for a meeting – all this cannot be coincidence.' Vinay tapped his feet. They were sitting on the terrace of their home, while Sulabha was sleeping. 'But why would she meet him in our presence? Had her motive been ulterior, she would have chosen to meet him in private, perhaps clandestinely.' Vinay said on second thoughts.

'Vinay, Di was always different from me.' Nisha took a deep breath and continued, 'Very different from me. Sometimes I feel that even after so many years, I hardly know her.'

'Who do you think the mystery woman is? What she has to do with us?'
'Vinay, you say that you felt her presence at the hotel. But honestly speaking, I didn't feel anything. I saw her just once. Never did she appear again. I have no any enmity towards her. I even doubt if I saw her that day. I think I was hallucinating
'Nisha, is that you saying that? The girl who still believes she saw a ghost in the mango grove, and you weren't the only one who saw the lady in white holding the chandelier. So was I hallucinating too? Can two persons hallucinate at the same time?'

'Well the answer is yes? Haven't you heard of magicians like Sarcar who make Taj Mahal vanish in front of an audience of thousands? Someone is tricking us, giving us false clues.'
'And what about Mauli? We had been to him to ask about the mystery woman and he told us...'
'Where did we listen to him properly Vinay. You got enraged and we had to cut short the conversation, rather leave it midway. Let us go again to him.'
'I knew you would come again.' Mauli said. His neck slightly slanting towards the left.
'I beg pardon for my past behaviour.' This time Vinay spoke and he narrated all the incidents to Mauli.
'I am a seeker and not someone who can exorcise spirits.' Mauli said.
'We came to you with great hope Mauli ji. If you disown us, where will we go.' Nisha pleaded.
'There is more than the eyes see.' Mauli said. 'Investigate facts from all possible angles. Maybe you will find your answers.'
In that case, why did you plant the poisonous seed of suspicion in my mind in the first place, Vinay wanted to ask.
Reading his thoughts, Mauli said, 'I just told what the charts said.'
Vinay was stunned to hear this.
'Nisha do you remember what Satish had said? He said that the house changed couple of hands before we bought it. Maybe we should meet the previous owners to understand as to why did they sell the house? I know Mrs. Mehta from whom we purchased the house. We can get the details of previous owners from her.'
'Where is Mrs. Mehta now?' Nisha asked.
'She lives at Mumbai.'
Vinay stood in the sea facing apartment of Mrs. Mehta at Juhu admiring the expensive abstract paintings that adorned the walls of the hallway. This was for the first time he was visiting Mrs. Mehta's house. She had come to Ajara to complete the sales formalities and he hadn't seen her after that. A servant wheeled in Mrs. Mehta into the drawing room.

'I am sorry Vinay if I have kept you waiting. I am not keeping well these days. I have to use wheel chair even in the house. Did Suketu offer you anything or not?' She darted a glance towards the servant.
'He had. But I declined.' Vinay said.
'You have come for the first time to our house. I won't let you go like that. Suketu please lay breakfast for us.' She said and Suketu went to the kitchen.

'So what brings you here Vinay? What was it that we couldn't speak over the phone?'
'Mrs. Mehta I don't know from where to begin. Some strange things are happening in the house, which are difficult to explain. It is not that I believe in such stuff, but wanted to know if you ever encountered any such things.'

'Vinay, that house was purchased by my late husband as an investment. When he was alive he was so engrossed in his business that we never had time to go and stay there, and after his demise how could I stay there alone. Believe me, I didn't even stay for a night in that house. I am sorry I am of no help to you.'
Disappointment was apparent on Vinay's face.
'Thank you Mrs. Mehta.' He said and rose to leave.
'The breakfast is ready.'
'Some other time Mrs. Mehta.' Vinay said and walked to the door. On an instinct he turned around and asked, 'Do you know from whom you had purchased the house Mrs. Mehta?'
'Where is Ram Madhwani now?' Vinay asked as he took a piece of papaya on the table. The breakfast comprised of hot, piping upma and fruits.
'Vinay, the only pious thing about Ram was his name. Everything else about him was shady. Some said he was into smuggling, some said he ran a gambling den. He ran high end escort services and got knows what. But then one day he suddenly disappeared.'
'No one knows where he went, if he is dead or alive. No one has heard of him.'
'What about his family?'
'Family? Do such people have any family. But he had a long time companion.'
'Where is she?'
'She too vanished like him. Some say Ram had murdered her.'
'How did she look like?'
'Vinay, I am a woman, who didn't even step out of the house while her husband was alive. How could I have seen her? I know all this chequered history for once Ram had visited our house in the absence of Mr. Mehta. I had served him breakfast on this very table.' Mrs. Mehta thumped the table, took a pause and continued, 'And then my husband came. He was livid on seeing Ram at the table. I had never seen him so angry in my entire life. 'I am a businessman I have to deal with all sorts of people. But you don't have to muddle into all this. Don't ever take that scoundrel into the house again.' He had roared and narrated his history to me. That is why I know. But I can give you a clue.'
Read the next part here

Read my short read My Spiritual Journey 

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