Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Scribbler's Orchard: Part 23

Team Name: Scribblers' Orchard

Read the previous part of the story here

Shekhar, Tara and Jennifer were on the airport, waiting for the boarding call for a flight to Delhi.

Shekhar dreaded asking her, but could not stop himself from asking, after he heard the word ‘PM’ during the call that Tara made to Delhi, ’Tara, where exactly are we going in Delhi?’
‘To meet my father,’
‘You just called the PM’s residence.’
‘To meet my father, the PM.’

Startled, Jennifer and Shekhar both looked at each other and then at Tara. Shekhar shifted nervously in his seat. Tara had never talked to him about her father. He never pushed her too much, sensing her discomfort at this question. He did not like prying much into her past as long as they were happy in present.

‘Don’t you think it is a good idea to bring someone along to such a dangerous meeting?’ Shekhar asked Tara when they were on their way to meet PM. Tara had called and informed his personal secretary already. Other than that call, she had been quiet through the entire Mumbai-to-Delhi flight. Now as she was due to meet him in a matter of minutes, she refused to take Shekhar or Jennifer along.

‘For God’s sake Tara, don’t be so secretive. You have to talk at some point. We are coming with you.’ Shekhar put forth this thought emphatically. Tara kept quiet.


At the doorstep of PM’s home office, Tara paused. They were standing in the wide driveway of the PM’s residence. There was an outhouse in front of them, which bore a fancy brass plate stating ‘Office’. Plush furniture pieces with rich tapestry were visible through huge glass panes of the ornate ebony door. 

Tara opened her mouth as if with great effort,’ I would really appreciate if you two please wait here.’ Shekhar took a step forward in protest but Jennifer held him by the hand. Shekhar glanced back at Jennifer and saw her pointing at her camera. He understood and held himself back. Tara pushed the heavy wooden door and stepped inside.

PM was sitting on his chair with a smug smile across his face.
‘I knew you would come to me eventually.’ His smile grew wider. ‘Those two are waiting outside?’
Tara nodded. PM pressed a button on intercom and said in a smooth voice,’They are here. Get to work.’


As soon as Tara vanished behind the door, Jennifer pulled Shekhar aside,’We should use this opportunity to look around and see if we could find something useful.’ Shekhar nodded in agreement,’So where should we start?’

‘How about going around the outhouse and see if we could enter his private chamber or even peek through a window? ’

‘Jennifer, I think it is a foolish idea’, Shekhar said half-heartedly trying to convince Jennifer. Tara’s shady behavior was still bothering him. But Jennifer was not listening. She was nothing if not adventurous. She almost pushed Shekhar to turn a corner around the outhouse and they were in front of the main door after crossing a lush bougainvillea. Shekhar was about to ring the doorbell, when Jennifer hissed, stopping him, ’Shh…what are you doing Mr. Dutta?’ Then she put a finger on her lips and motioned Shekhar to push the door open quietly.

Shekhar pushed the door with one finger. It readily opened as it was unlatched. He put one foot inside and sliding in, motioned Jennifer to enter. In the same instant, someone put a hand on Jennifer’s mouth grabbing her from behind. She was immediately bound and gagged; her camera snatched away, the glass beads of her multi-stranded bohemian necklace falling on the marble floor noisily. Shekhar turned back but it was too late. 
He too was tied up in no time.

They were now loaded on a tempo, like luggage, running on Delhi roads, towards Humayun’s Tomb.

Arjun was trying all the three numbers desperately. He knew that the three of them had left Mumbai to meet Tara’s father in Delhi. What they did not know was that Arjun had left for Delhi soon after them, on a tipoff about Roohi been shifted to Delhi.

Shekhar’s and Jennifer’s phones were switched off. Tara’s phone rang twice but it was disconnected soon after. Arjun thought she will call him back and waited for her call. But alas! Now even Tara’s phone was off. He was surprised at his own stupidity. He should have talked to them in Mumbai itself and should have made a concrete plan. . Now he could not find or talk to any of them. He had only one way of finding though and he tried that. The police electronic surveillance had just told him that Tara’s phone was last active near Humayun’s Tomb. 

Read the next part of the story here.

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