Friday, September 26, 2014

Entangled Lives – Chapter 19 - #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging

We are Team #PotliwaleBaba who are playing the #GameOfBlogs initiated by to #CelebrateBlogging

Links to all previous chapters (read them if you haven’t read them already)
Chapters #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18  

Now you can move on to Chapter 19 … link to Chapter 20 at the end of the chapter below.


A lot of gray-matter scratching and stretching had been done and now it was time for some muscle stretching. His teams had gone around and done a background check on all of his suspects. Unlike in the movies and detective TV serials, solving a real crime involved a lot of physical legwork which included boring stake-outs, talking to a lot of people, asking a lot of questions, connecting a plethora of random dots and eventually praying that hopefully the criminal made some mistake and somewhere the random dots make some sense and the murderer emerges out of it.

He had already obtained the search warrants for Cyrus and Jenny’s current residence on account of their being present at the scene of crime at the time of crime; but did not want to barge into their homes without any substantial reason.

Now it was time for Java to exercise his own muscles. Java wanted to check out the stories related by both, Cyrus and Jennifer, on how they had landed up at the Dutta residence. He decided to start with Cyrus’ story first – the kitten, the tree, the doctor. In all these, he would have to find someone who could vouch for the kitten and the tree, probably the watchman could give him some insights unless he was like all the watchmen’s of the world who decide to take a leak right before something critical is to happen.

He took 2 constables with him and went straight to the watchman’s cabin. The watchman was already nervous and Java decided to use it to get the info faster. “Oye, we do it the easy way or the hard way. You decide. I ask, you tell the truth and the complete truth with all details – easy way. I ask, you hesitate or forget to tell me something, then I take you to the police station and give you the time of your life – the hard way”

The already nervous watchman readily agreed to the ‘easy way’ and offered Java the only chair in the cabin. Java came straight to the point and asked him about the kitten-in-the-tree story. Java did not have to interrupt him or ask any further questions since he took ‘easy way’ quite literally and filled his monologues with all possible details. Details, that Java might not even have asked himself. After all, watchmen are ubiquitous and ‘invisible’ to people. They observe everything and know everyone in the societies. They know almost everything about everyone in the society and hence serve as a wealth of information at times. That is … if you have a smart watchman rather than the sleepy lethargic one. This one seemed like the smart type.

“Saab-ji, it is true. Roohi baby was bringing the kitten down from the tree and when she screamed, Cyrus babu helped her. But strangely, Cyrus babu did not help her before she screamed. He was there all the time, even before Roohi baby climbed the tree.

If you are wondering, why I did not help her, let me tell you saab-ji that this was not the first time Roohi baby was helping the kitten. That kitten has been up on the tree several times in the past 2 weeks and Roohi baby has brought her down safely every-time. They both have had good practice of tree climbing now … heheehe. Sorry. So this is why I did not go. And Cyrus babu was anyway there, so what was my need.

By the way Saab-ji, Cyrus babu has been there at all the earlier kitten-rescue missions by Roohi baby. He usually sits around the same tree which the kitten always climbs.

And he is a generous man saab. He gives me 50 bucks every time I allow him to sit below the tree where he reads and I have also seen him give money to cleaner of the society. Probably for keeping that patch of grass clean for him.”

By this time, Java’s internal alarm bell was ringing very loudly and he immediately asked the watchman to call the cleaner. The cleaner came to the cabin and as soon as he saw Java, he started his own monologue of how he was honest and had done nothing wrong. Java stopped him in mid-sentence and repeated his ‘easy-way-hard-way’ philosophy and then he simply added, “Cyrus giving you money has something to do with that tree under which he sits. Explain”

Java could see the color drain from the cleaner’s face. He was now positively trembling.

“Saheb. Believe me, I have not done anything wrong. I was just helping Cyrus babu teach Roohi tree climbing. Cyrus babu told me that he was Roohi’s teacher and wanted her to learn the virtue of helping others, whether people or animals. And in the process also learn to climb a tree. He gave me money so that I could put the kitten on the tree.

This started 2 weeks ago and every time, Cyrus babu would ask me to put the kitten a little higher. This way roohi baby would learn to help the kitten and also tree climbing, step-by-step. I swear on goddess kali that I was just trying to help the teacher teach the kid. I have nothing else to do with Cyrus babu or Roohi baby or the murder in that house. Believe me Saheb”.

Java was already up on his feet and out of the cabin before the cleaner could say anything else. His mental machinery was whirring and clicking and he could see clearly that Cyrus being in the Dutta household was not a coincidence at all. “It was a well planned move, something that had taken 2 weeks to yield. Cyrus had used Roohi to enter the Dutta house. He had been planning this for a while. This gives a new dimension to the whole story – it just moved into the realm of ‘planned murder’ rather than an impulsive one. It is time to put the search warrant to use.”

Java immediately headed to Cyrus apartment block and found him getting out of the elevator. He stopped him from coming out, joined him in the elevator and ordered him to lead back to his apartment. Cyrus was left with no choice but to comply. In his own head, he was wondering what all could Java see in his living room that could create trouble for him.

When Cyrus opened the door to his apartment, Java held his arm and placed the search warrant in his hand. For a second time in the day, Java could see the color drain from a face. Cyrus tried to protest but Java gave him an angry look and simply said, ”I know how the kitten got into the tree”, and walked into the house, signaling Cyrus to stay put at the door and not enter the house till he was finished and asked him to. He also instructed one of his hawaldars to stand behind Cyrus, lest he attempt to run away.

Java was very hopeful of finding something explosive in Cyrus’ temporary accommodation but was surprised to find it with minimal furniture. A few things lying around and a large travel bag with his belongings. Java was having a feeling that he might have to get the search warrant for his permanent residence too. After all, he seemed to have been occupying this temporary one for only a couple of weeks.

While the hawaldar was rummaging through the travel bag, Java spotted Cyrus’ shoulder bag and started going through it with one eye on Cyrus. He saw the sudden change in his expression and was taken back to the conversation he had with Cyrus at the Dutta residence. 

The devil inside his head began their conversation yet again. “Yeah yeah, notice that change in expression. As if he is going to be caught now. There is something in this bag that he does not wasn’t us to see. And this change of expressions reminds of the earlier interrogation we had with Mr Virus. Even during that conversation I did notice a slight smile and smirk which almost seemed like satisfaction when Cyrus mentioned the discovery of Mrs. Dutta's dead body and the almost invisible sigh when u mentioned the discovery of her being alive. You almost relished talking about Mr. and Mrs. Dutta and their sorry state. Are you simply a sadist would-be-lawyer or are you a sadist specifically for the Dutta's?”

And right at this point, the other devil popped in “Naah, not a mere sadist. There has to be some connection, some history. But, what is connection to the Dutta's and why were you trying to get into their house using Roohi and the kitten? And why would you kill their maid?"

As he went through the sparse belongings of the shoulder-bag, he found an envelope with a letter inside. He pulled it out and read it. As he read the letter, the devils began once again - “WOAH !! This Virus is more complicated than it appeared. So he has come to Mumbai in search of the father who abandoned him and his mother. But who is the father?”

Java did not have to hold that question for too long. Turning around the envelop to check for postage marks, he saw the name and address staring at him in the face. He simply could not believe his eyes.

Right there, on the envelope, just above the Mumbai address, was the name he himself loathed – Shekhar Dutta !!


Chapter #20

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”


Our Team for the #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging with is called "Potliwale Baba" and I got to team up with a superb set of very enthusiastic and diversely talented bloggers - Deepak NareHemantkumar JainNirav ThakkerRitu PandeyShameem RizwanaShoumik DeSneha BhattacharjeeSrilakshmi Indrasenan,  Tushar - in simple alphabetic order

Enjoying our nail-biting thriller? Share our blogs through FB or Twitter with #CelebrateBlogging #TeamPotliwaleBaba tags

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Entangled Lives – Chapter 14 - #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging


We are Team #PotliwaleBaba who are playing the #GameOfBlogs initiated by to #CelebrateBlogging

Links to all previous chapters (read them if you haven’t read them already)

Chapters #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13

Now you can move on to Chapter 14 … link to Chapter 15 at the end of the chapter below. 



“Keep an open mind”, he had learnt all his life, “Never get into an interrogation with pre-conceived notions in the mind. Especially when they have been ‘planted’ in your mind by others. Especially when the one who has planted them is a suspect. Especially when you personally hate one of the suspects and would love to see them charged for murder”.
Java knew all these perfectly well but reminded himself none the less. He had to calm himself. It was unlike him to get agitated by a suspect interrogation but the conversation with Shekhar had irritated him. Yes, he was biased here and really wanted an opportunity to get back to Shekhar for that demeaning article. But, he had a reputation and personal integrity, both of which prevented him for victimizing Shekhar.
He could not deny the ‘woman of the house’ angle which Shekhar had provided him. “Had that become the reason, the ‘motive’ for Naina’s murder? And how come the maid was wearing expensive footwear and jacket which seemed incongruous to her simple saree? Did someone force her to wear those before killing her? Did Shekhar make her do those things … to see his wife in her?? Was Naina a willing participant or a victim?”
“No. No. No. You are getting ahead of yourself Java. Nothing suggests such a thing.”
“But, look at it man. Shekhar gave you the clue himself.”
The conversation inside Java’s head was not between the devil and the angel. It was almost always between two devils and this constant chatter in his head was often responsible for cracking open the cases he has handled so far. Trouble was, while he was interrogating Shekhar, both the devils had been silent. It was only after Shekhar had dropped the Naina-Tara bomb, that the devils inside has begun the bickering.
Java had to not only overcome the temptation to interview Tara immediately, to avoid interrogating her with a bias planted in his head by Shekhar but he also wanted to irritate Shekhar who expected him to follow his lead and interview Tara next. He did not want to give that man the satisfaction of having manipulated Super Cop Java. With this dual thought in mind, he called out to his next suspect who wasn’t really a suspect for him yet.
“Hey Virus. The neighbor who is not really a neighbor.”, he called out with sarcasm loaded in his voice,  “Yes ... You.  Come in quick. You are next.”   
Java’s first devil said that Cyrus was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time - a mere coincidence placing him in the house during the murder. The other devil, in contrast as usual, reminded him that in murder investigations, there were no coincidences. As Java reclined into the same seat again, he observed the confident unperturbed gait of Cyrus as he came in. As expected, the first thing that Cyrus said when he came in was “Look here Inspector, my name is Cyrus. Not Virus”
It was what he said next, that was unexpected. “I am a law student and I know what all you are going to ask me. So let me cut the chase and arrive directly at the finishing line”.
“I have already told you that I am a neighbor and I came here today because of Roohi’s fall from the tree. Let me add that I don’t really know the members of the Dutta family, including the maid, and this is the first time I have actually come to this house. That’s it. I don’t think there is anything more to add”
Contrary to popular notion that police and lawyers are on the same side of law and would be friends with each other, the reality is that often they are actually at loggerheads trying to prove their own supremacy over the other. The police does kittench the criminals, doing all the investigations and legwork, but it is the lawyers who finally bring them to justice in the court of law. So the argument for supremacy is always there. Also, the police are more often than not, pissed off at lawyers, for letting criminals go scot-free after all the hard-work the police has put in for bringing them to the court-room. The lawyers on the other hand, blame it on the careless and incomplete work by police and are often appalled by their high-handedness. The mutual hatred is a constant and comes out often.
Moreover, Java never liked when the conversation was being dominated and driven by someone else. He was used to being in charge. He sensed the defiance in the would-be-lawyer’s voice and it irked him. First Shekhar and now Cyrus – both were getting on his nerves by not being nervous when interrogated by Super Cop Java.
What he had thought would be an easy short inconsequential conversation; suddenly seemed nothing like it. The devil inside reminded him that ‘offence is the best defense’ and right now, Cyrus seemed to be in an ‘offense mode’. The other devil simply questioned - ‘Why?’
“I like it”, said Java with a mischievous smile coupled with contempt on his face, “Straight to the point. No wasting time. I like it. So let me also jump straight to the finishing line and ask you – Did you kill Naina?”
Momentarily taken aback by Java’s direct question, Cyrus fumbled with his thought process. All the preparation he had made while walking in came to grounding halt. “What? No. Of course not. Why would I? How could I?”
Even before he completed the sentence, Cyrus kicked himself in his head, with the realization of what Java had done. He immediately reclaimed his calm and confident demeanor and looked straight into Java’s eyes. “No Inspector. It wasn’t me. And anyway, it is your job to find out who did it … isn’t it?”
The staring match continued for a few moments with neither of them ready to blink. Java’s mental machinery was whirring and clicking trying to slot and kittenegorize Cyrus into personality types and suspect types. He decided to get back to the usual questions.
“Where were you at the exact time of the murder?”
“I was very much in the house and seated in the living room. The power cut caused some disorientation but I was right there with the other girl who came in with Mrs. Dutta. Incidentally, Inspector, as Mrs. Dutta had told you earlier, that girl is also like me.” Java raised his eyebrows and Cyrus continued, taking the chance to strike out Jenny from Java’s suspect list, “She met Mrs. Dutta quite by accident at the café and drove her home and was here just by chance when the murder happened. She also has nothing to do with the members of this house. Just like me. This should make you job pretty simple Inspector. You now have only 2 people on your suspect list – Mr. and Mrs. Dutta.”
Java did not like it when someone else was doing the thinking for him and right now, Cyrus was not only doing precisely that but also taking decisions for him about his suspect list. This was unacceptable. Also, he found it coincidentally strange that two strangers at the murder-scene were alone, with each other only, around the time of murder. Perfect alibi !!!
“Mr. Virus Neighbor. You don’t have to worry about my suspect list and this investigation. No one is off the list at this stage, not even you. I don’t believe in coincidences and it is hell of a coincidence to have 2 total strangers come to the crime-scene at the same time. That girl stays on the suspect list and I would recommend that you answer only what you are asked and not play ‘lawyer-detective’ here. Now, describe the sequence of events to me”
Cyrus began his monologue again starting from the point where he had heard Roohi’s scream from the tree. He was conscious of java’s eyes boring into him but also knew that the inspector had nothing to connect him to the murder or the household.
Cyrus came to the point where he and Jenny were seated alone and took the story further. “We were both in the room alone while Mr. Dutta went to the washroom and Mrs. Dutta was in the bedroom with Roohi. Then there was a power-cut and it became dark. I called out to Mr. Dutta and Mrs. Dutta. Just then, I heard Roohi scream and this was when Mr. Dutta came back from the washroom and turned on the emergency lights. We saw Roohi and her blood-covered feet. Then Roohi said something like “Mumma” and went into the room. We followed inside and saw the dead body lying the pool of blood.”
Java decided to move from facts to feelings at this stage and intervened, “So what was your reaction on seeing the dead body? How did you feel? And what did you do next?”
Cyrus, who had been standing near the window gazing outside, turned and looked at Java. With almost no change in expressions, he continued, “We were all shocked when we saw the dead body. Looking at her clothes and the pumps on her feet, we thought it was Mrs. Dutta since she was wearing those just a few minutes back when she came. Roohi thought the same and was very scared. I took Roohi to a side, away from the scene while Mr. Dutta and the other girl stayed. Just then we heard a scream from the door of the room and turned around to see Mrs. Dutta. This is when we realized that the person who had died was the maid and not Mrs. Dutta. Everyone went through the shock and relief and then surprise on the maid’s murder. I took Roohi out of the room to wash her blood stained feet. While going out, I advised everyone to not touch anything in the room and immediately move out. I also advised Mr. Dutta to call the police. Since then I have been with Roohi and Mr. Dutta. That’s about it.”
Java was only half-listening to Cyrus. Something was not quite right. He knew most of these facts already. It was not the facts or the sequence of events that was making him uneasy. It was Cyrus. In spite of Cyrus’ attempt to keep emotions off his face, Java was sharp enough to notice the fine changes in his facial expressions and in his voice.
Java’s train of thoughts while Cyrus was speaking was something like a truck driven by a drunken driver speeding and swinging along the higway.
“Mr. Virus. Your law studies give you confidence but it is your calm composure and narration that is unnerving. A murder has happened in your vicinity and you are narrating it as if it is something you talk about often. Not a shred of nervousness. And a forced attempt at hiding your emotions. What is it that you are hiding Mr. Virus?
 “And why would anybody want to kill a maid. Maids are so insignificant. Did it have anything to do with the clothes and sandals she was wearing? What did the report mention – yeah … red pumps. Why would they call that thing ‘pumps’ – isn’t shoes or sandals good enough. How ridiculous it would sound in court to say that they thought the dead body was Mr. Dutta because of the shoes and pumps!! And then I will have to explain what are ‘pumps’!!”
“But ... could it happen that the maid mistaken for Mrs. Dutta and knifed. Was Mrs. Dutta the real target? If yes, then she cannot be the killer and that would mean one less suspect to think about. That girl had accidently met Mrs. Dutta today itself so she can hardly have a motive and I don’t see a connection between this Virus and Mrs. Dutta … so we are back to one and only one suspect. Mr. Dutta, here I come for you.”
That is precisely when Cyrus completed his monologue and the other devil inside Java’s head roared, “Seriously Java. You must be kidding. This is how a naïve investigator hops, skips and jumps to conclusion. How can a super cop like you do that? You don’t start with the murderer and then work backwards fitting in logic, motive and force-fitting the different pieces of the puzzle together. You work like your gurus Sherlock Holmes,  Byomkesh Bakshi and Feluda … and even something like Karamchand. You keep all your suspects on the list till you find the killer.”
Java was shaking his head while Cyrus watched him with surprise. Cyrus thought, “He doesn’t believe me. Why? Why would he doubt my story? There is no way he can connect me to this murder so why?”
Shaking himself out of the dual-devil-battle, Java looked up at Cyrus and literally barked, “I am done with you for now. Get out but don’t leave the house. And yes, send that girl in.”
Cyrus was in two minds to say something that will put Jenny further away from the suspect list but thought it was better to leave it for now. Java was irked and it might be counter-productive to mention Jenny now. Also, java might begin to suspect connection between them which he wanted to avoid at all costs. He couldn’t afford Jenny getting into trouble because of him. He loved her … it was only his search for the father who had abandoned his mother and him that made break-up with her.
With these thoughts, he left the room, leaving behind Java and his muddled thoughts and the constant bickering of the devils inside.


Next Chapter #15
“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”
Our Team for the #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging with is called "Potliwale Baba" and I got to team up with a superb set of very enthusiastic and diversely talented bloggers - Deepak NareHemantkumar JainNirav ThakkerRitu PandeyShameem RizwanaShoumik DeSneha BhattacharjeeSrilakshmi Indrasenan,  Tushar - in simple alphabetic order
Enjoying our nail-biting thriller? Share our blogs through FB or Twitter with #CelebrateBlogging #TeamPotliwaleBaba tags


Monday, September 15, 2014

Entangled Lives – Chapter 8 - #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging

Entangled Lives – Chapter 8 - #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging

We are Team #PotliwaleBaba who are playing the #GameOfBlogs initiated by to #CelebrateBlogging


Before you read chapter 8 of the story, let me share with you the links to all the previous chapters. There have been 7 chapters – mine is the 8th – and a grand finale chapter, whose link will be added at the bottom of this post (8th chapter) once it is published tomorrow. If you have come straight to this post, I suggest you read the first 7 chapters 'in order' and then read this post. If you have come from the 7th Chapter … WELCOME to Team Potliwale Baba's story – Entangled Lives !!


Entangled Lives – Chapter 8
"Why would you do that again?
Didn't I tell you the last time around that this is dangerous and you could hurt yourself? 
Climbing trees is not for little ones. You should just play in the park … ON THE GROUND."

Each line was said with slow deliberation and there was an extra emphasis on those last 3 words which were said very slowly and loudly. An attempt was also made to show anger through the eyes, which was pretty difficult when you were looking at someone so small and so cute.
Cyrus, who was sitting under the shade of the tree with a book, was pretty surprised when he heard these words. He wouldn't have been surprised if those words had been said by a father to a little child.

He was surprised because these words were being said by Roohi who was looking straight up into the tree and she was addressing the little kitten who seemed to have perched herself up there. Cyrus couldn't help the smile from appearing on his face but stopped himself midway and chided himself for being childish and soft. He steeled his heart and reminded himself that he had come to Mumbai with a purpose and he should not get distracted.
Roohi was completely focused on the little kitten who was looking back intently at her. She had the feeling that if she broke the eye contact, the kitten would just start looking somewhere else and might even climb higher. She was wondering how the little kitten even got up there on the tree. She was so so so little. But then, the little one had practice. In the past two week, Roohi had 'rescued' the kitten several times, with the kitten managing a new height record each time.
"The way you are learning to climb, soon you will climb out of my reach and we will have to call a fire brigade to bring you down … you naughty little one," said Roohi wondering if the fire brigade would actually come for a little kitten.

Cyrus continued to watch Roohi with fascination from behind the tree as she continued to talk to the kitten. He was intrigued and there was even an urge to go and help her but he checked himself, reminding himself to focus on his own work and and not get carried away.
Roohi was half-way up the distance to the kitten when a gush of wind blew some low hanging light branches towards her and she yelped while simultaneously tightening her grip on the tree trunk. She looked down and her tiny pink shoes on the ground seemed too far away. She began wondering if it was already time to consider the big red truck and the men in black uniform but as she turned around and looked at those innocent eyes of the kitten, her resolve to do it herself simply became stronger, and she began to feel for the next branch to hold and climb up.

 Cyrus heard the yelp and thought it was time he had to intervene but with no sounds following the yelp, he realized that Roohi was safe-n-sound and he could continue watching her.
In almost a minute, which seemed like ages, Roohi reached the kitten. This time around Roohi was careful, reminded of the scratches from last meeting with kitten darling. The kitten on the other hand was just glad to see the now familiar Roohi and casually walked over to her on the branch and nestled her head in her outstretched hand.

Roohi felt on top of the world and looked down only to realize that she was indeed on 'top of the world'  and the climb down seemed like an even greater challenge. As she began to climb down, it became more and more difficult and awkward considering she had to hold the kitten also and fight gravity which was trying to speed up her descent.

"All is Well, All is Well" – Roohi murmured into the kitten's ears – saying it more for herself than for the kitten. She was completely terrified now realizing how far the ground actually was and any slip or fall would be 'cat'astrophic. (how ironical)

Distracted by this thought, Roohi lost her footing and slipped. She screamed and wildly flapped her hands on the tree and managed to get a grip but not without badly bruising her feet and arms on the rough tree bark. The kitten slipped from her and hand and plummeted towards the ground.

The scream got his attention and as he turned to look up, the only thing Cyrus actually saw was a kitten flying straight at his face getting 'bigger' every moment. He managed to catch the kitten in time and placing it on the ground, he looked up to find Roohi dangling from the tree trunk.
He didn't really have to climb. He was tall and she was just about 8 feet off the ground. He extended his arms, called out to her. Roohi turned her head to see the hands. With relief, she tried to smile and just hopped into the arms of the smiling man.

That's when Cyrus noticed the blood oozing from Roohi's forehead. A pang of guilt drilled his heart. He should have acted earlier. He managed to retain his smile as he took Roohi in his arms. The girl was holding him in a tight embrace which made him uncomfortable. He gently placed her down on the ground and then noticed the numerous scrapes on her arms and legs.

Cyrus asked, "What is name?", to which Roohi politely replied 'Roohi. Thank you, Uncle' and began walking towards her building but Cyrus could clearly see that she was having difficulty in walking. He reached out and held her hand and walked along with her, and gently asked if she wanted to go home first or visit the doctor whose clinic was right next door outside the society. Roohi asked for her father but Cyrus showed her the blood which was on his hands (from Roohi's forehead) and the expression on Roohi's face said it all. Cyrus offered to carry her and after a slight hesitation, Roohi agreed.  

With the same awkwardness which Cyrus felt earlier, he lifted her gently and took her to the doctor. To her credit, Roohi did not cry though Cyrus felt her shaking, still reeling from the shock of the apparent fall.

The Doctor was a young lady who saw Roohi and the blood on her forehead and asked them to jump the queue. The other patients in the waiting room saw the sweet Roohi and did not mind. In her own jovial way of talking, the doctor changed the mood and within minutes, Roohi was all bandaged up and smiling once again, feeling much better. Cyrus thanked the doc and paid the assistant on the way out, carrying Roohi.

At the gate, Roohi suddenly turned her face to him, put a peck on his cheek and said "Thank you, Uncle. You are sweet and saved my life and saved my kitten's life too. You are very good. Come to my home with me and meet my dad. Now I am fine and I can walk"

Cyrus couldn't help but smile. She was back to being herself. The cheerful bundle of energy.
When Shekhar opened the door and was greeted with enthusiasm by a bandaged Roohi, he was shocked to say the least and he immediately shot a barrage of questions ranging from what happened and how and when …

Roohi just laughed and looked at Cyrus motioning with her hands, asking him to come in. Roohi continued to giggle at her father's reaction while Cyrus told Shekhar what had happened. Shekhar thanked him and called out to their maid, "Naina, get some tea for us and haldi-wala-garam-doodh (hot milk with turmeric) for Roohi"

Roohi made faces at the mention of 'haldi' and insisted on chocolate drink. Cyrus gently told her that yellow milk is better than brown milk to get all that lost blood back in the body. To Shekhar's surprise, Roohi agreed.

Shekhar asked Cyrus to have a seat and it was then that he recognized him. They had met earlier, just a few days ago and all Shekhar could remember now was his own rude behavior towards this gentleman.

"I am sorry for that day's behavior," he began, "I was kind of stressed for some reason and did not even realize that I was being rude," Shekhar thought quickly and fired the excuse. "Let me just make a quick phone call to my wife while the tea arrives"

Shekhar dialed Tara hoping she would pick up and not be in one of meetings. She picked up the phone and before she could say 'I am busy, I will call you later' which usually happened; Shekhar simply and very quickly said "Roohi is badly hurt. All bandaged. A stranger has brought her home. Come soon". He knew that would get her attention and that much is all he had to say.

Naina got the tea and the hot milk. Cyrus looked at the glass of milk and then at Roohi and winked. Roohi smiled and came over to pick the glass and sat in Cyrus' lap. Shekhar just looked on with surprise at his little girl's bonding with this stranger and remembered that psychology as well as Hollywood movies taught us that accidents bring people closer.

They sat down and began sipping on to their tea. A few minutes later, Shekhar saw the empty glass of milk slip from Roohi's hand who was now sleeping calmly with her head on Cyrus' shoulder and legs in his own lap.

For what seemed like another 10 minutes but in reality was only one, Shekhar just looked at his daughter with a serene smile on his face. Cyrus did not utter a single word and watched at Shekhar looking at his daughter … mesmerized. He was reminded of the absence of his father from his life and imagined himself lying in his father's lap, calmly dreaming of distant lands and chocolate houses. This thought brought a smile on his face but bitterness in his heart.

The serene calm of the house was only broken when the doorbell rang which woke up Roohi too.

Chapter 9

Chapter 10 - End of Round 1  


Me and my team 'Potliwale Baba' are participating in 'Game Of Blogs' at #CelebrateBlogging with us … Wish us luck !! 

Our Team for the #GameOfBlogs to #CelebrateBlogging with is named "Potliwale Baba" and it has the following superb set of very enthusiastic and diversely talented bloggers - Deepak NareHemantkumar JainNirav ThakkerRitu PandeyShameem RizwanaShoumik DeSindhu Priyadharsini SankarSneha BhattacharjeeSrilakshmi Indrasenan,  Tushar - in simple alphabetic order J  - you see the dominance of 'S' named people – half the team :)