The Mysterious incident at Akashdeep estates - 7

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Life at Akashdeep estate 

Saturdays and Sundays were eagerly looked forward to, by the estate workers and other staff alike. Saturday was their pay day since the workers worked half day after which they were paid their weekly wages . They would leave soon after with their families to watch  a movie at the tent cinema or probably eat out at one of the restaurants . Sunday was a day of rest and everything went on at a slow pace. Geeta and Nanjappa had their day off after breakfast . So, I and Rohini aunt cooked some rice and heated up the leftovers for lunch that Sunday.. Arvind never appeared until after lunch and Shalini came down for lunch, looked at the leftovers and left in a huff..I saw her later walking out of the estate gates while Mahesh anna was taking a nap. I too had found a favorite spot and I waked towards it hoping that I might come across Rohit , but no such luck !

The next day was Monday and it was my father's birthday. I woke up early and lay in bed thinking about him and my own interactions with him while he was alive. He would talk to us children on various subjects and encouraged us to discuss and ask questions. I missed him a lot and decided to call my mother . She too was missing him , I could tell by her tone. However, I felt much better after I spoke to her. After brushing and washing I decided to wear a silk hand loom saree that was gifted to me by papa . It had floral patterns  in shades of pink, cream and light green and I loved wearing it.

When I came down, Rohini aunt smiled at me and said... " Wow , what a lovely saree , the color suits you perfectly " 

Geeta too complimented me and so did Mahesh anna who came in from the office after having locked up the roll call register. We had breakfast and Mahesh anna went on some errand . Shalini had just come down wearing a crumpled night dress and it looked as if her alter ego had taken over , because she sat on the sofa fidgeting around without saying anything nor responding to either Geeta who asked her  if she wanted coffee nor Rohini aunt, generally ignoring everyone . Mahesh anna came in right then and addressed me..

“ Anita , I am taking you to town with me , dont want you to get the feeling , I am all dressed up but I have nowhere to go …” I laughed heartily at that but  felt very pleased with his offer, which I readily agreed to. Rohini aunt too said that it was a good idea to take me as she handed over a  list to Mahesh anna. Since many varieties of vegetables , fruits and even spices were grown within the estate all that we needed to buy were stuff like rice, wheat ,.sugar and other essentials.

“ If you had told me earlier I too would have come “ this was from Shalini in a loud , clear voice and we all looked at her with surprise , more so because of her mercurial change of mood.

But Mahesh anna said that since he was in a hurry and could not wait until she got dressed , he would take her to town some other day which I felt was unfair but later realised why he had refused to take her with us.

Meeting Rohit

Anyway we set off , with Nanjappa driving the jeep and Mahesh anna sitting in the front with him and I sat at the back enjoying the drive through narrow winding roads that led to the town center which was located at a distance of about 4 kms. I was told  it was  where they had three banks and most of the estate transactions took place there. Mahesh anna was going to one of the banks to enquire about a loan he had applied for and Arvind who had gone  earlier to the post office would meet us at the bank. 

We had driven for about a kilometer  in the same direction that I normally went for a walk and to my favorite spot , when I happened to see a pleasant looking lady standing by a gate beyond which I could see a small cottage but no coffee estate surrounding it . Both Mahesh anna and Nanjappa waved and smiled at her. She in turn smiled at them lifting her hand. Neighbors are far and apart in the coffee country so you get to know anyone and everyone who lives even a  few kms down the road ..

We reached the town and Mahesh anna handed over the list at a largish grocery shop and requested them to pack the stuff to be collected on our way back. And then we proceeded to the bank. I sat at the reception area and waited while Mahesh anna tried to locate the manager. After a few minutes I saw him come out of the Manager’s cabin along with someone who had his back to me since he was talking to one of the staff. When he turned I saw that it was Rohit wearing a striped shirt, and trousers which made him look different , dignified and even more handsome. At last I knew who he was ! ..They came towards me and Mahesh anna introduced him. I was tongue tied in his presence. Then we had to leave since Arvind came and we had to collect the grocery and Mahesh anna had a hundred other jobs.

When we drove back , Arvind and I sat at the back and he seemed to be in one of his friendly moods . As we drove close to the cottage where we had seen the pleasant looking lady, Arvind pointed out and said that, that was where Rohit lived . I told him about the lady we had seen near the gate when we drove to the town in the morning.

“ That is Vidyakka, Rohit’s elder sister. She visits Rohit often . She lost her husband last year  “

To this Mahesh anna added  “ She and her two children live with their parents in Mysore  “

Soon we were home and Mahesh anna gave an account of the days happening to Rohini aunt while I sat and istened and so did Shalini , with a keen interest in everything , so unlike her. When Mahesh anna mentioned about vidyakka , Rohini aunt smiled and said that she would take me to visit her one of these days.I got the feeling that Rohini aunt liked Vidyakka , but what about Rohit ? what did she think of him? 

My day was complete and I felt that it was my father's blessing to me ..I did not want to dwell on Rohit or my confused feelings about him because there were too many whys, ifs and buts about him that disturbed me. I decided to take each day as it came without worrying about what the future held for me.

 ( to be continued )


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