Namrata settled in her hotel room in Pune after a hectic preparation on Friday evening.
They had barely reached Pune when they had to scramble around with the allotted staff for the event preparation. A political scion was launching his son. Their company was one of the three event management companies hired to do the job for the launch event which was spread over the weekend. Namrata’s company was signed the food and logistics. Namrata and James got busy with the former while Jatin and the other subordinates were immersed in the latter.
By the time the preparations were half way through, it was 1AM. Jatin asked them to retire for the night as they had to be up and bright with the remaining preparations before the event started by 10AM on Saturday morning.
Namrata freshened up and changed into her nightgown. Before crashing out she checked her messages. Her mother had sent pictures from where she was visiting. Her brother had also reached the location safely. But there was no message from him…. He had looked extremely tired and worn out last night… was he alright? She was getting increasingly concerned as the time went by. Sleep eluded her because of worry…
She called him but his phone was unavailable…She started getting paranoid about what must be happening to him….. She just hated the uncertainty. He was still a closed book to her…a mystery. He was a Giant eagle who had her in his talons…she already felt ripped apart… her emotions were all over the floor…
The next couple of days went in a total blur. Namrata was physically present but mentally she was a wreck. There was no message from him. She had messaged him couple more times but there was no reply. She couldn’t even make out if he had read her messages. She was worried sick. They had to stay back Sunday night because it was too late at 2AM for them to drive back. She couldn’t sleep and kept pacing her room…
The formalities took a while in the morning and by the time they left it was 11AM. Something or the other kept coming up and they were getting delayed.
Namrata was extremely uneasy. Something was troubling her at the back of her mind. It was as if he was still a stranger… an enigma… as if she never knew him at all. Then what was all that about proclamation of love? Was he so busy that he couldn’t even message her? Was she only a means to satisfy his physical craving? Her heart was breaking with every such thought. Before she realised tears fell down her cheeks. She quickly wiped them away before James or anyone else could see her. She decided to have a talk with him… give him an ultimatum that she couldn’t continue like this… him going off the radar every time… and she under perennial turmoil waiting for him.
They faced heavy traffic snarl on their way back and it was 9PM in the evening when she reached home. She was a bundle of nerves and before she got in and locked the door, she was sobbing. She was so depressed and for the first time in over six years she had nothing to do… She felt extremely lonely. She decided to watch TV… it was 11PM and sleep was still miles away.
As she switched channels, she stopped on a business news channel because she thought she saw him. Yes… It was him. She unmuted the volume and heard the news.
…. Scion of RM industries Ranvijay Mehrotra has stepped down as the director….
……following heavy losses incurred…… mortgaged….. May have to file for bankruptcy…
…shareholders in panic…. You can see the crowds outside RM Tech park….. police bandobast….
…PC infotech takes over the functioning from today…
Namrata had turned a statue with the remote in her hands as she saw the news unfold. The visuals were from daytime which meant this was hours ago… She had overheard him talk about the tender opening today… he had said something about things being at stake…
Her phone rang jarring her out of her thoughts. It was her mom. She didn’t want to take it but her mother would get worried or in case there was an emergency… she answered it.
“Namu did you see the news today?”
Why was her mother asking about the news…?
“Yes ma… why what is it?”
“Did you hear about RM industries…? Namu that was Ranvijay….” Her mother sounded anxious.
Namrata was puzzled. How did her mother know him?
“Ma… do you know him?”
“Namu he is the client for whom your father had free-lanced that last investment project… The one which caused…. Everything…” Her mother said frantically.
Namrata stood paralysed with the phone in her hand.
“Namu… are you there? “
Ye..yes ma… so he is the c…c…cause of our troubles….?”
“It’s not that simple Namu… I will explain when I get back… network bad….” And her call was disconnected.
Namrata had totally blanked out what her mother spoke last. Ranvijay was connected to her father?
Suddenly her doorbell rang and along with that someone was banging her door. She rushed to open the door before her neighbours gathered.
As soon as she opened a little, he pushed the door along with her and barged in. He kicked the door shut behind him. She was thrown behind with the impact and fell flat on the floor.
He looked furious. She saw him looking down at her with fire in his eyes… he looked like a raging bull. His beard was grown, his eyes bloodshot. His shirt was dirty… he looked horrible and unkept. His hair was a mess showing he had drawn his hand through it many times….
Suddenly he was out of his apparent daze… He held her arms and drew her up against his. She had to keep her palm on his chest to steady herself… She tried to push him away. But he held the back of her head and held her hair in his hand. Pulling her head behind he spoke through clenched teeth, “you knew … all this while you knew…” He was breathing heavily on her face. She closed her eyes as she cried… he released her hair as if woken from a trance and moved back dropping his hands by his sides… he looked defeated. “Just… Just tell me one thing Namrata…” He didn’t call her his little sparrow “…Why… WHY DID YOU DO IT?”
Her head was reeling. What the hell was he talking about? She wiped her eyes and when her vision cleared she saw he had tears in his eyes as well… he looked totally shattered. She understood that but…
He continued his tirade. “Was this all about money? How much… how much did they give you?”
She couldn’t follow anything that was going on. First her mother, and now him. She sobbed, “What are you talking about?”
“Stop the farce Namrata… it doesn’t suit you… the innocent looks…. They don’t match your conniving self. So tell me… how much you traded me off for…” He looked away and mocked laughter. “… Here I thought I was a trader but you my dear, you have surpassed me… congratulations…” He looked back at her and raised his voice. “… why Namrata…?WHY?… all this to avenge your father? You don’t even know the truth Goddamnit…”
Namrata kept crying… not knowing what was going on… why was he behaving like that? Why was he being so hurtful?
She tried to speak with her clogged throat, “Why are you talking about… my father? Why get him into all… this? What truth…? I have no clue… Wait… I saw the news … you…lo…lost…the tender…” she added the last part softly.
Meanwhile few kilometres away…
The old man and his protégé were playing bluff… as always he won. He always won except that one time years ago. But now he got everything that was his. The eagle was destroyed… almost… and if his protégé was to be believed the rest of the plan was also in place. As his beautiful late wife had always said, ‘Do or die was getting old… do before you die was the new concept’
He was doing it now… before he died. His daughter…his protégé had to have the legacy…
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