Soul of a Star
Shekhar ran through the never ending by-lanes of Bandra, screaming Tara and Roohi’s name. He could hear them calling back but they were nowhere to be seen.He frantically searched for them. He kept walking – swiftly and breathlessly. Unconsciously his hand moved to wipe the sweat off his face. But as he looked at his hands it was covered in blood.
With that he woke up... his shirt was soaking wet and he actually felt breathless as if he was running from the last couple of hours. He missed Tara and Roohi. He had never stayed away from them for so long.He wondered if they were alright and even 'alive'.
As he was engrossed in his thoughts, a policeman called his name. He was soon escorted to a near-by room. The room was dark and dingy. The smell of dampness was too strong for anybody. It was nothing like they showed in the movies. After a few minutes a constable offered him a glass of water, Shekhar took a sip but the water too had a peculiar taste. Shekhar noticed there were no windows. The only source of air was a sad excuse of a fan.
After waiting endlessly Inspector Kabir showed up. He sat opposite Shekhar and smiled.
“Is this your first time in a jail?
“Ye..ss..,” Shekhar replied.
“Before I forget I need to tell you that I am a huge fan of your articles and I have seen couple of your films too. You are an awesome writer.”Inspector Kabir said making sure he gave nothing away.
Shekhar looked at him for a long time, wondering why Inspector Kabir was indulging in a casual conversation. He somehow managed to give a meek smile.
“So tell me did Tara and you fought, maybe even a small argument, before she disappeared? Kabir looked at him without even blinking once.
“No, she said she was working on a very important project, so she left early that day.” Shekhar said nodding his head.
“Did she say what project?” Kabir asked.
Shekhar looked at Inspector Kabir and murmured “Tara had made a rule that we would never discuss work with each other.”
“Since you are a story writer, you must have already thought of a good flawless story to support your innocence.”Inspector Kabir said the entire accusation so casually that it took minutes for Shekhar to understand it.
“I have not kidnapped my wife or my kid. What possible joy would I get by doing that? I love them more than myself. Please Inspector, understand I have nothing to do with it. I am extremely confused and worried about my family. I might lose them because you want to waste your time on me and not look for my family or let me do that. I am getting a feeling that’s telling me that something is not right.” Shekhar almost pleaded.
“Sirji, I have become your fan. You are even a good actor. You almost convinced me.” Inspector Kabir said followed by a sarcastic smile. “So tell me, is it true you were jealous of your wife’s success and you even believed she was having an affair with her colleague.”
“No, that’s not true.” Shekhar noticed the inspector gave him a piercing look. “Okay, I was jealous of her success because it pricked my male ego. These things are common amongst married couples. But I swear I would never do anything to hurt her or my daughter. I love them too much.” With that Shekhar started crying. He was not crying because he was in a jail but because of the hopelessness of the situation. He was not able to search for his wife and daughter because he was stuck here and there was no way he could convince the policemen that he was not the kidnapper.
Cyrus was sitting in Jennifer’s room as the WiFi signal was better in her room. He was trying to search a little more about Aryan Ahuja from the internet. His instincts told him that there’s more to him than that meets the eye. Aryan Ahuja wasn’t exactly the prince charming, there was evil lurking somewhere in him.
The door bell rang, Cyrus knew it was Aryan. Jennifer had told him Aryan would be coming to pick her up. As Cyrus opened the door he was amazed to see the man standing in front of him. Aryan Ahuja looked even better looking in person. No wonder his aunt was going all gaga over him.
“Hey, I am Cyrus. I am Jennifer’s nephew.” Cyrus murmured.
“Hey Cyrus, I have heard a lot about you. She loves you a lot.” Aryan said.
“I know that.” with that Cyrus cut him short.
“Do you want to drink water? Sorry, that’s all I have in the room right now.” Cyrus shrugged his shoulder as he said.
“No thanks, so what time is Jennifer expected to be back from work?” Aryan asked casually.
“Any time now,” Cyrus looked up and suddenly he thought it would be nice to hear his side of the story “So I heard how two of you met. Tara hooked you guys up.” He said casually.
“Yeah, Tara is a darling. It’s really sad to hear about Tara and Roohi gone missing.” Aryan’s face was unreadable.
“Everything happened so fast with you and Jenny, one day she is single and the next day she is dating you. So do you really like her or is it just a time pass? Aunt Jennifer may look cool but she tends to get emotionally attached.” Cyrus sounded concerned.
“You sound too mature for your age. Well to be honest the same thought is killing me. I like Jenny a lot, but I am not too sure if she is serious or taking it as a time pass. I would hate to see my heart stomped on.” Aryan said nervously.
Cyrus looked at him amused “Do you feel this way because she is independent, successful and have tattoos?”
“No, because she is pretty modern and extremely unorthodox compared to all the women I know” Aryan tried to clarify.
“So how’s work?” Cyrus asked; let’s get to business he thought to himself.
“Work’s good.” Aryan murmured.
“Your company has been in news lately and that too for all the wrong reasons. How did you cope with that?” Cyrus bent forward and looked inquisitively at Aryan.
For a few seconds Aryan looked irritated and then he looked at Cyrus and smiled. “I see somebody has done a lot of research. Okay tell me what wrong reasons?”
Cyrus looked into his laptop and repeated what was written on a website “That your company has been unethically conducting clinical trials on monkeys. Few articles also claim that in the raid conducted by an animal right activist organisation, some supervisors of the company were also found to have participated in these clinical trials as a ‘subject’ against an extra payment. Out of which, four people had complained of deteriorating health.”
Aryan laughed “Cyrus, c’mon be serious. You don’t really believe whatever is written in the media. This is a time of paid journalism. The more you succeed, more people are going to talk ill about you. Your competitors are going to spend lots of money to see you fall by creating such baseless rumours. You can let such claims affect you or you could just move on and do your work. I chose to move on.”
Cyrus wanted to ask more, but Jennifer entered the room. Her face lit up as soon as she saw Aryan. They both hugged and they left for dinner.
Inspector Kabir looks out of the window lost in his thoughts...Shekhar either was a very good actor or he was innocent. He no way sounded like a person who could plot a kidnap of his wife and child. Moreover there was no sufficient evidence against him. He had to let Shekhar go. Maybe he could keep an eye on Shekhar and see where he goes, whom he meets...
He called the constable and asked him to release Shekhar. As Shekhar stepped out of the jail he was even more determined to search for his wife and child.
Read Chapter 20 - Realization
Read Chapter 20 - Realization