Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Scribbler's Orchard: Part 8

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6    Part 7



At the Orchard, Tara sat disconsolate near the window, her unseeing eyes staring ahead – a shadow of her former self. She ran her fingers through her disheveled hair and realized that it had been hours since she had any food. She wondered if Roohi had eaten. It had been over a week that her precious daughter had gone missing. Kidnapped, she corrected herself. Kidnapped because of her husband Shekhar’s obstinacy. 

“I blame you, Shekhar,” she whispered to herself. “I blame you alone for Roohi.”


Shekhar was sitting hunched up at his writing table in the adjacent room, his fingers clutching his phone, willing it to ring. Arjun should have called up by now with news of Roohi and the terrorists’ conspiracy. A sense of guilt washed over him as he pondered over his actions, leading to Roohi’s abduction. Somewhere, he was aware of Tara’s accusing glances. Maybe she was right, after all..


As he worried over his only child, another thought made itself felt gently, almost embarrassing him.


Jennifer.

“I hope she is alright, too,” he found himself pleading for her safety. Despite her apparent flamboyance, Jennifer had seemed like a vulnerable creature to Shekhar. A child-woman. A faint semblance to Tara of yesteryears tinkled in his mind.


The last time he had spoken to Jennifer was when she had called him for help and he had directed her to Tara. Tara, in turn, had helped her to act as a member of the media entourage covering the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities, the epicenter of the conspiracy as unraveled by Cyrus. 


“It’s okay,” Jennifer had told Shekhar, sensing his anxiety over the perils of her plan. “I can take care of myself. I am used to living dangerously.”


Perhaps it was not the right time to tell him of those other times, she had thought wistfully as she signed off.


…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


Jennifer was only 6 years old when her parents got divorced. Her father was a staunch believer of naturalism, advocating the belief that only laws of nature and forces operate in the world and that nothing exists beyond the natural world. He was also a prominent wildlife crusader-cum-conservationist, fighting for those ‘who had no voice’. Jennifer’s mother, on the other hand, was a devout Christian, attributing most events in her life to the ‘will of God’.


It was a wonder to Jennifer as to how two such diverse people could cross paths, fall in love and get married. Maybe the laws of attraction had something to do with it. But whatever the laws did, the marriage did not last long. Or rather, the love failed. By the time Jennifer could decipher that the people with whom she lived with were her parents they were ready to split up.


Jennifer remembered most of her childhood spent divided between the homes of her parents. Two separate lives, distinct as chalk and cheese. And yet, she felt unwanted in both the homes, as if she was someone that reminded them of their unsavory past. A feeling of revolt had taken seed during those times, which sowed the path for her present life. At least she gained her father’s love of photography and she had turned out quite good at it, too.


…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


A huge applause from the crowd jolted Jennifer out of her reverie. Arjun had left her side sometime back to check on the VIP convoy that had arrived. She let out a sigh of relief watching Arjun retreat. Safe for now, she thought.


Back stage, Arjun stood dumbfounded as the Chief Minister of the state alighted from the car. He was not aware of the minister’s plan to visit the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. As he stood in attention, his mind was in a whirl. According to Cyrus’s information, it was the Prime Minister who was supposed to join the festivities. He was the prime target of the terrorists. 


Then, why was the Chief Minister here instead of the Prime Minister? 


More significantly, where was the Prime Minister?


Just then a stupendous noise caught Arjun’s ear.






Read about the next part here



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