Kajal put the final touches on her salwar kameez and the subtle make-up. She didn’t need to, but the anxiety was getting the better of her. They were to meet ex-ACP Pradhan tomorrow. What would they find out?
They had reached Mumbai yesterday. But, given the span of events in Mahabaleshwar, the production house took a break yesterday; she met Ganpat kaka outside Chintamani temple.
Watching a flummoxed KB, she told Kaka briefly about her connection with KB and how their pasts were linked. Ganpat kaka had been silent for a while and then spoken.
“Kajal, my child, every time I am told about that man… I mean your… KB’s father, I am reminded of that scene before my eyes. I had witnessed your mother… well, I don’t know what to say now. I know he is your husband…” kaka had looked sheepishly at KB, who had looked away.
Kajal knew it was probably eating him up to hear all this. After all, he had loved his father somehow and had also been fond of her mother.
“But kaka, KB is innocent in this, and he resents his father for whatever he has done. KB was a teenager for crying out aloud….”
“Kajal… I think Pradhan Saheb will be able to throw more light on all this. He was investigating the case of your mother’s disappearance. So I think he will clear things.”
“Kaka, you must not forget baba had spiked the drinks that night… somehow I feel guilty too and… you had provided baba with the drug….” She said softly. Somehow she had the fierce need to defend KB in all respects.
Ganpat kaka had a forlorn look on his face. He sighed and said. “KB… I am sorry for what happened that night but we aren’t responsible….”
“…But kaka…” Kajal interrupted, but kaka held up his hand to silence her.
“Its true that your baba wanted to spike his drink to make a show before the media that late Ranjit Batra’s son was a druggie. Your baba wasn’t in the right frame of mind after your aai had left. He couldn’t see Batra’s progeny having the time of his life while his children suffered. He had asked me for the drug, too, because I had contacts in the NCB. But Kajal… I didn’t give him the ‘drugs’.”
“What? But kaka, you told me the other day…”
“…yes… I gave him sugar powder. It wasn’t drugs. I didn’t want to antagonize your father, given his precarious mental state. He had been drinking too much and had already come under the supervisor’s notice. So… your baba didn’t truly drug the boys.”
There was a moment of silence… For Kajal, the world had stopped, and tears fell freely as relief set in. Her baba hadn’t drugged KB.She saw KB blink back tears, hands in his pocket and she knew he was holding on by a fragile thread. She only wanted to hug the guy. He had been through so much by association.
“Kaka… can you tell us something about that case baba and your team was handling… since we are now linked directly. KB was attacked thrice already…”
Ganpat kaka nodded. After thinking for a while he sighed.
“Kajal, I was only a constable, so I didn’t delve much into the case. I was mostly assigned mundane work like moving files or running errands. But your baba who was given the charge of the case had been working tirelessly for over a year and he shared some things with me in moments of melancholy. But, trust me child, it was tough for your father. There was lot of pressure on him from both sides… the higher-ups wanted the case closed ASAP while the criminal syndicate was sending across bribes to look the other way. But your father couldn’t do it… his conscious didn’t permit him….”
“…I wish he had shared with aai… she would have helped him cope up.” Kajal reminisced.
“No Beta… your aai knew it all. She was against your father working on the case given its dangers. But your baba was hell-bent on taking the case to its logical end because that would give him a huge career boost.”
“kaka, was this the trafficking case? Where women were brought from emerging countries and sold here to the highest bidders…?”
Kaka nodded. “Yes, child. But it’s more profound than you think. Your father unearthed a huge nexus… where there was an insider mole then. But, unfortunately, he couldn’t find out who it was. So every time the perps would know about our raids in advance, and we would face flack. Also, seeing the prime accused in tandem with your aai… it broke him.”
“Kaka its very difficult for me to believe aai would do something like this…” She choked and KB held her close. She thanked God for his strong presence.
“I never believed it till I saw her that day with that… man.”
They stood silently for a while, watching the devotees throng the temple unmindful of the storm in her heart.
“Kajal, tomorrow morning, we are meeting Pradhan Saheb. He would help us out… tell him all you remember. Maybe something might come out of it after all.”
Kajal and KB returned home in time for lunch, and they didn’t speak a word. After lunch, she joined him in the drawing-room on the couch.
“Krish, can you bring that ledger and receipts you mentioned that were found in the basement in your old house?”
KB nodded pensively and walked to their bedroom. Yes, she had moved into his room, and KB had only requested her once tentatively. He had been thrilled, and their lovemaking last night had crossed all boundaries. She clenched her thighs, thinking about how she had come on his mouth as she had welcomed the dawn. She was yet to see the special room and wanted to let KB take his time.
KB walked in with a bundle of papers and spread them on the center table.
“Krish, why didn’t you want to reveal this stuff to Ganpat kaka? He would have probably known something….”
“Kajal, I am sorry, but I don’t trust anyone here. If this is what the goons were after, it must contain something that would incriminate the prime accused. Wouldn’t it put Ganpat kaka in danger as well?”
Kajal nodded. KB spread each tattered paper from the folder.
“This is a ledger. Can you see these entries? My father made these, and it appears they are payouts. I have no clue, but the amounts are obscene… I recognize my father’s handwriting. This bank account looks strange. All my dad’s accounts had me as a nominee, and of course, I barely got anything after he passed because I had to pay back everything to clear dues. My grandfather didn’t want me to have any links with my dad and shut down everything. But this account… we didn’t know.” KB rubbed his face.
Kajal looked at the numbers ranging from a minimum of one lakh to 25 lakhs INR… gosh, what kind of beasts were they. Trading women and little girls. Were they still in the picture, and did her baba struggle to put them behind bars? Why did her aai do what she did… did she know KB’s father was involved in this crap? That part still didn’t make sense.
Suddenly something caught her eye.
“Krish… do you see these funny names? Probably the pseudo names of people who received the ill-gotten wealth, This says, ‘king of lords plaza’. This one here says ‘self-manifestation rest’ but this one name is consistent… it says ‘spectral chief.’ What do you think?”
“I have no clue Kajal. I have tried going through them. Here see these receipts… I got these hotels checked… especially this one hotel, Indra plaza and this one Hotel Swayambhu, and hotel Giridhar plaza… That investigator I hired unearthed some shady information from their past but he feels few are still active. These guys all have the Swastika tattoo on their arms and are dangerous…that investigator was killed,” KB rubbed his face yet again.
Kajal shuddered and tried to figure it out. She had that feeling like when giving a complex examination, the answer to the question would be right in front of her, but it wouldn’t strike her. She looked up at the muted TV playing some mythological serial which neither of them was watching.
Suddenly she looked at the names again.
“Krish… what did you say the names of the hotel were?”
“Indra plaza… Swayambhu, Giridhar plaza…”
“Wait…Krish, listen to me…” She spoke as excitement surged through her. “… Indra means kind of God… i.e.?” She pointed at the ledger entry.
“Oh gosh… its King of lords plaza…” KB spoke, stunned.
“Bingo and Swayambhu means self- existed or…”
“…Self-manifested… FUCK…Kajal…you are a genius…” He hugged her, and they both tried to figure out the rest of the list.
After an hour, they got the list of about ten hotels that existed in the past, when the payouts were made.
Only one name didn’t make sense, and they let it be as Kajal laid her head against his chest, her favorite place in the world, as she heard his accelerating heartbeat. He rubbed her hand, placing his chin on her head. They were both lost in thought.
Chief if translated like the others, could mean many words. What was the meaning of ‘spectral.? KB’s father had taken efforts to hide the names and the proof for his back up but couldn’t use them.
They both hoped tomorrow’s meet with the Ex-ACP would yield something productive.
“Let’s not reveal our cards tomorrow as well. Instead, let’s see what he has to offer and then think after getting back home… deal?”
“Deal… I agree.”
The expositions converging towards the parabolic zenith
Would it give the breakthrough or crush them underneath?