Monday, February 12, 2007

Deal Unto Death – Part VI

It was well past 1oclock in the afternoon when Ravi woke up. For a few minutes he was just sitting there, rubbing his eyes as his numb mind was finding its way back to reality. Then he frantically looked for his watch which he had placed on the table. He got up with a jerk as he realized he needed to get ready to meet Vilas’ family. He quickly got into the shower and dressed himself before venturing out into the hot sun. He reached the railway station and took a ticket to Mulund. He had never been on an electric train before and was excited as he was waiting for the train. After a while there was noise of the train coming with a loud horn and he leaned a bit and peered at the direction from where the train was supposed to come, only to be startled by the vibration and sound of the train entering the station on the other end. He smiled at his silliness and watched as the people converged to get in to the train. As he was watching it there was a gush of air and the train in his platform rushed in to stop gradually. Soon people were rushing towards the entrance with a strange mix of orderly chaos. He followed the crowd and pushed himself into the compartment just as everybody else. As he stood in the cramped space he listened to the rhythmic beat of the electric train and bent down to take a peek at the city of Mumbai through the windows.

At every station he tried hard to catch the name board speeding past through the window to ascertain the place. As he was moving up and down at each station trying to catch a glimpse,the guy standing next to him asked.

“Where do you want to go..???”


“huh???”,the guy couldn’t hear as his voice was washed away by the noise of the train.

“I said MULUND”

“two more stops away,will let you when it arrives”

“Oh!! Ok thanks” he thanked the guy and started breathing easy.

Then he looked around at the people from different walks of life waiting patiently for their stations to arrive. After a few minutes the guy next to him intimated that the next station is going to be Mulund.He thanked that guy and got down the train

He stepped out of the station and breathed in the fresh leash of air. He looked into the address which he had written in a piece of paper and started finding the place. He reached the place after roaming around for some fifteen minutes. He looked at his watch and was happy to know that he wasn’t late. It was a 3 storied apartment complex and in the ground floor there was a board indicating the door number of each of the tenant. He located Mr.Rahul Achrekar in the board and climbed up the stairs to reach the second floor.

After confirming that he had reached the right home ,he knocked at the door. After a couple of seconds ,the door opened and a young gal in her early twenties stood on the other side of the door. She looked very pale and weak and was not wearing any bindi. There was unmistakable grief but that didn’t diminish the confidence and strength displayed in her plain face. Her beauty was an odd mix of fragility and reassurance which left the person in front of her to forget what they wanted to say when they saw her first.She was wearing a pale churidhar and was wearing spectacles.

Ravi couldn’t speak for a couple seconds before he gathered himself to say

“Hi,this is Ravi…You are Pooja I suppose.We talked today morning”

“Oh ya… please come in” she released the door chain and let him in.

It was a fairly old home with the paint fading away and a strange dark layer forming over the walls taking away the sheen and brightness of the rooms.As he was looking around the place he heard Pooja saying

“Please be seated,I will be back.”

Ravi smiled and sat on the sofa as he started looking around the hall and the various showpieces kept on the showcase.After a while she returned with an old man who looked like he was in his late fifties. His walk was not very steady and he looked as if he was very strongly hit by something.Ravi stood as the old man neared the sofa. Mr.Rahul joined his hands for a traditional namasthe and asked him to be seated. Pooja sat in the adjacent sofa .

“You had any problems finding the place” Rahul enquired.His words were slow and calm.Ravi realized where his daughter had got the talking style from.

“not much of a problem Sir,took a couple of wrong turns but not much of a problem”Ravi replied.

“What would you like to have ?? tea,coffee……..?”

“No Sir..Iam fine”

“how abt a juice?? Pooja can you get some juice for Mr.Ravi??”

Pooja simply nodded her head and went in to the kitchen.

“Really,you don’t have to strain yourself so much”Ravi refused for formality, though deep within he wanted a drink.

“No strain at all” the old man replied and looked back at the direction of the kitchen and then he continued “Pooja’s mom is sleeping.She has been badly hit by the grief of losing her son and has spent several sleepless nights crying. We are a pretty closely knit family and the loss has been unbearable for all of us.So I decided not to disturb her”

“That’s fine Sir.I understand “ Ravi said and was wondering how to start asking the questions.

“We never thought something like this could happen. Our beta was the apple of our eye and we were hoping that he would carry on the legacy of Achrekar family. He was very brilliant and studies and all. I sometimes cannot understand what is God’s plans” suddenly his voice went low and he was trying hard to control his tears. Still a few tears lingered on to his eyes. He wiped them off and asked”You got any leads about his death?? What is the police saying??”

“hmm …not much sir…..we are still working on it and I just wanted meet you so that I can hear whatever you have to say??

“What is there to say now??? We had high hopes on him!!Expected him to take on the family burden and relieve me from my duties.Thought he would get our beti married to some nice man in a really grand fashion” he pointed on to Pooja as she entered the room with a glass of juice on a plate.His voice grew soft as he spoke the last words showing how deeply he was missing his son.

“Uff papa ….how many times have I told you not to worry about me” Pooja chided as she handed over the juice to Ravi.

“I can understand how big a loss it is for your family Sir” Ravi said as he sipped the juice.”Can you think of anything unusual in his behaviour in recent times?? Anything out of the ordinary?”

“Well!!! he was pretty tensed and angry most of the times in the last few months. It all started ever since he had that fight…..”the old man stopped abruptly and looked at Pooja,realizing that he might have said something which he probably shouldn’t have said.

“what happened ….”Ravi looked at Pooja and then at Rahul “listen!! you can feel free to say everything, what you say might help me find the reason behind your son’s death and i can assure you that iam not going to use it for any other purpose”

Pooja let out a deep breath and said “Bhaiya had a bit of a fight with my boy friend”

“You have a boy friend???” Ravi exclaimed.

“Yes…!!!” Pooja stared at Ravi as if she wanted to turn him into ashes.

Ravi was a bit startled by her stare. He knew he had touched upon a topic which was not exactly a favourite for Pooja. He also knew he had got an interesting lead in the case.

………….to be continued.

Deal Unto Death - Part VII