The Scribbler's Orchard: Part 22
Team name: Scribbler's Orchard
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part9 Part 10
There was an eerie silence in The Orchard, a pall of gloom hanging thick over its residents. The AC hummed despondently, cutting through the humid Mumbai air, as Tara, Shekhar, Jennifer and Arjun lay inert on the sofas, each lost in one’s own thoughts. The occurring of the past hour where they had glimpsed upon Roohi only to lose her again had taken shaken them to the core.
They were so near to rescuing Roohi, and yet so far…
Tara excused herself and retreated to the bedroom, breaking down into uncontrollable tears as she flopped down on the bed.
Arjun took the chance of an awkward silence to venture outdoors for a smoke. Perhaps a drag or two would help him to dismantle some of the cobwebs of his mind.
Shekhar was still thinking about what Jennifer had told him about Ahuja being present at the same premises where the high profile political murder had taken place in Kochi. Maybe she was right after all, that Ahuja was the mastermind behind the Kochi murder, the Ganesh Chaturthi bombings and the abduction of Roohi.
He stole a glance at Jennifer – she seemed to be struggling with demons of her own.
Jennifer was peering at the monitor of her camera with a puzzled expression on her face.
“Shekhar,” she called out hesitantly. “Remember the pictures that I had taken of the people at the melee in Ahuja’s residence?”
“Yes, the pictures that you took of the fleeing goons, you mean?”
Shekhar could not hide the disgust in his voice.
“There is someone who seems to be so familiar in the frame…,” said Jennifer. “Someone whom I might have known or seen previously. But the image is too hazy to make him out.”
She handed the camera to Shekhar so that he could have a look.
“See that figure in white robe at the right hand corner?” she pointed towards it. “Doesn’t he remind you of someone?”
Little did they know that the vague figure of the man they were looking at perplexedly was none other than the Acharya himself.
Tara raised herself up on her elbow and wiped off her tear stained face. She felt much better after venting out her misery.
“Time to think straight,” she told herself.
Tara knew there were very few options left to her, to gain back Roohi. She weighed out each route, going back and forth, in order to avoid the one option she knew might actually lead her to Roohi. The option she dreaded the most.
And yet, there was no escape from it.
Finally, Tara accepted her defeat and entered the living room where Shekhar and Jennifer sat discussing the photographs. Arjun had just joined them, too, his mind still in a twizzle. The dots had simply refused to connect.
“We need to go to Delhi,” Tara announced resolutely.
Everyone looked up at her, a bit startled.
“Why, Tara?” Shekhar ventured, wondering what had compelled his wife to take that decision.
“Because,” Tara took a deep breath. “I need to speak with my father.”
The camera slipped out of Shekhar’s hand and landed with a muffled thud on the carpeted floor.
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