The Mysterious Incident at Akashdeep Estates – 12
The Mysterious Incident at Akashdeep Estates – 12
Meeting Vidyakka again
The next day was usual and after lunch Mahesh anna went up for his usual afternoon nap and Shalini too went up to her room and so did Geeta. Rohini aunt was around and I stretched my legs and sat on the most comfortable sofa in the living room and must have dozed off. I came awake suddenly hearing the sound of voices. I realised it was Rohini aunt and Arvind having a serious argument and she was extremely angry with him so much so that she was unable to control her voice . I was not sure whether to remain there or leave, felt that it was better that I go up to my room. As I climbed the stairs I could hear snatches of their conversation ..
Rohini aunt “ Have you any idea what this means , have you lost your senses ? “ and Arvind protesting and saying that he would take care of everything. I was curious and wondered whether it had anything to do with the money transfers or was it just my imagination ? It could be any of their personal issues that I was not aware of. However, now that I had remembered the issue of money transfers I decided to look up the file and get more details.
I felt restless and decided to go for a walk . As I waked out of the gate and turned into the main road , I saw Vidyakka walking towards me. When she saw me she waited for me and both of us walked up to my spot. We sat there and Vidyakka seemed worried about something. She asked me whether Rohit had told me anything about Shalini and I in turn repeated what he had told me about her. All of which she seemed to know. She was thoughtful and I sat quietly waiting fpr her to speak…finally she asked me “ What do you think of Mahesh ? Is he capable of being violent ? “
I knew that she had a reason for asking this. I told her that under the normal circumstances he is a very calm and balanced person but he does lose his temper when he is stressed, generally with the estate workers and the writer, and rarely against Arvind ! I also told her that I had the greatest respect and regard for Mahesh anna no matter what !
“ How about Shalini ? How does he treat her ?“
I told her that it was totally impossible to imagine that Mahesh anna could ever be violent with Shalini. Vidyakka nodded her head but never offered any explanation . As we walked down , she told me that Rohit would be busy for a few days with some work and with a seminar organised by the bank in the nearby town .
The calm before the storm
As I reached home I saw that things were calm with Arvind sipping coffee on the veranda with Mahesh anna and Rohini aunt and , I held my breath as I saw Shalini too come out and join them. They all smiled and greeted me. Mahesh anna seemed preoccupied most of the time. After he drove away with Nanjappa for his daily estate rounds, Shalini came and sat next to me. I sincerely hoped she wouldn’t come up with some more distressing disclosures . She spoke about her parents and I could see that she was missing them. When I suggested that she could always visit them, she said it was not possible now … giving me a knowing smile. I let that pass …
But I felt compelled to ask her something that had been bothering me all along ... " Shalini " I began
" When I came here , I was given to understand that you were depressed and in a delicate state of mind, but looking at you ..." Thats all I could say , bcause she came straight at me like a shot!
" What did you expect ? To find a mentally deranged mad woman ? Is that what Mahesh told you ? "
" No Shalini, of course not and Mahesh anna would never say anything like that about you to me or to anyone else "
I was now sorry that I had even brought up the matter before her, I should have known better !
She wandered off singing to herself and I could only watch! She was either plain stupid, a very clever manipulator or beyond comprehension .
The next few days were filled with great anxiety for me because I had no idea how I stood with Rohit and although we exchanged messages , they were on day today matters and not personal. Meeting Vidyakka had given me some kind of solace . I had other worries too that were far more concrete. I had gone through the files on my laptop and came to know that, three months ago huge amounts of money had been transferred from the estate account on 5 occasions to 2 different bank accounts within a span of two weeks. I had already been here for nearly two months , which meant that the money transfers had taken place before I came here. A total sum of 5 crore rupees had been transferred , which was a staggering amount.
What steps had Mahes anna taken to recover the amount if it was ill legal transfer? he had not discussed the issue with me even after i brought it up which means the issue is worrying him or there is some mystery behind it.
Mahesh anna must have applied for the loan after he came to know about it since the account books were now in deficit . Rohit had said that the loan had been rejected. I presumed that Mahesh anna went to Bangalore to apply for a fresh loan or to finalise the loan. Did Arvind have any role in the money transfers ? If so Mahesh anna must be aware of it ! But they seem friendly without there being any tension between them. The more I thought of things the more uneasy I felt because I was indirectly connected now and since I was looking into the accounts I felt it was partly my responsibility to see that it was managed properly.
That night Rohit called me while he was traveling back to his house and said that he would be going to Bangalore for two days on work related to the bank and asked about my own day. I told him about meeting Vidyakka and he seemed happy about it. The connection was bad so we could not speak much but I was happy that he had thought of me in spite of his busy schedule and called me. I would miss him a lot when he was away, that being a fact I decided to keep myself occupied with other things.
Visit to the coffee estates
The next day, I requested Mahesh anna to take me round the estate since I had never had an opportunity to do so. Mahesh anna agreed and asked me to get ready with sensible clothes and footwear. I had an idea that we could cover the estate on foot but realised that it was impossible to do so , not having realised how vast it was. I was told that it covered 650 acres. So we went by jeep on rough roads and I had to hold on to the side of the jeep most of the time. I realised that it was not an easy job to do , that too twice a day , which is what Mahesh anna and Nanjappa did every single day. Some of the days the two of them would go on a motor bike and that must be even tougher.
However, it was an enthralling experience to see the vast coffee estate lined with trees , workers tending to the coffee plants , trimming them and clearing the paths. The pants were beginning to bloom and the entire slope looked beautiful beyond words. We also visited the cardamom patch and for the first time I saw a cinnamon tree. There were several of them around the estate. I was glad I went through this experience and thanked Mahesh anna. He told me that I could go with them anytime I felt like it. Now when I think back on those times my eyes fill with tears because to me those days were very precious to be treasured forever. I guess we don't recognise the really important moments in our life until it is too late
We came home in time for lunch and the day ended with heavy rains again .. I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night because I had heard some sounds. I went out of my room and looked down the stairs , saw a light in the office room..I was not sure if it was right for me to go down, if in case Mahesh anna or Arvind were working on something. I went back to my room and tried to sleep although I could not help recollecting some words ... All events leading towards the Zero hour !
( to be continued)
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