The Mysterious Incident At Akashdeep estates - Part 8

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New beginnings?

One morning while we were having breakfast Mahesh anna announced that he would be away for 3 days, also asked Shalini whether she would like to go with him since he was visiting Bangalore where her parents lived. Shalini was probably caught by surprise with this sudden announcement, so she fiddled around and said something about not having enough time to pack and get ready …Mahesh anna who seemed preoccupied, did not press her but went on with his breakfast and spoke of other things with Rohini aunt and Arvind.

After breakfast, Mahesh anna called me and Arvind to the office and instructed us as to what needed to be done during his absence since he was leaving early the next morning. I was kept busy in the office until lunch time helping out Mahesh anna in getting together some files and documents that he wanted to take with him. Arvind too helped for a while but later had to go to the town on other errands. I decided to go for a walk after lunch since Mahesh anna would anyway be resting. It was a bit chilly that day and I wrapped my stole around the shoulders, walking briskly through the winding road, taking the diversion which led to my favorite spot which was on top of a small hill. There was a crude wooden bench under the lone tree and I could see the valley below surrounded by coffee plantation and greenery everywhere. The place held a special attraction for me now,  after I was shown the little cottage where Rohit lived since I could see it clearly from this spot.

I climbed up to the spot and sat on the bench feeling as if I was on top of the world. I sat there thinking about everything that had happened since I came to the estate and must have dozed off because the next thing I knew was my name being called softly by someone and when I opened my eyes, there he was ! When I saw Rohit smiling at me, my heart skipped a beat. He stood there looking down at me with a gentle look and amused smile.

All I could say was “Sorry, I must have fallen asleep”

“No, no, in fact I should be sorry to have invaded your privacy, you looked so peaceful …”

Saying that he came and sat on the other end of the bench. We sat there watching the glory of nature that spread before us..

I remembered something and asked him “Don’t you have to work today?”

He said, “Of course, I do... I have come home for lunch and have to be back before 4 pm and then we work until 7 pm except on Saturdays…”

Something disturbed me and I asked him “Do you come home every day for lunch?”

“Only after my sister Vidya has come, by the way, she said she saw you the other day.“

“How did she know who I was ?“

He laughed and said “ she guessed it was you since I had mentioned about your coming here. Shalini had mentioned about your coming “

It came as a surprise and a  bit of shock to me, the casual and to a certain extent , the intimate manner in which he mentioned her name. Since he himself had mentioned her name I decided to ask him “Have you known Shalini and Maheshanna for a long time ?”

“No, not for long.. I have been here only for 3 months now, but I have known Shalini since our college days. I was her senior by two years.”

As an afterthought he added "I guess everyone knew about Shalini the beauty in our college."

I was not sure what to ask next since his statement left a lot unanswered, like, for example, Shalini’s outburst the other day when she had seen me waving back at him! She sounded so possessive of him!

It was time for me to go and I stood up, he too did the same and we walked down the slope together until we came to the main road from where we took the opposite directions after saying goodbye. He gave me a quizzical look and smiled just before turning away because I had become quiet, but my brain was working overtime trying to piece together the various bits of information.

All that looks..

As I began  walking towards Akashdeep on the winding road, I could see Shalini coming up another sloping road in the opposite direction and I waved and waited for her to catch up with me. Being Shalini the high and mighty, she pretended not to have seen me and took her time to slowly come towards me. I noticed that she was in a bad mood and decided not to make any conversation with her. She was walking with a bent head, thinking about something  and suddenly asked me "did you walk all the way down the road?"

I said "No, I normally take the  diversion and go up the hill? It is very beautiful up there, have you been there any time?"

"Of course I have been there many times."

Now I began to wonder whether Rohit had come up there to meet her? I was almost convinced of that fact!

We hurried back home since there were dark clouds gathering and it looked as if it would rain heavily and it did rain heavily within a few minutes after we reached home.

Mahesh anna leaves

Next morning when I came down, I saw that Mahesh anna was getting ready to leave. Nanjappa was loading his suitacase on to the Jeep, taking him to the bus station located in the town from where he would take one of the Deluxe buses going to Bangalore. Rohini aunt, Geeta and Arvind were there to see him off but Shalini was not to be seen. She came down fully dressed after he had gone and when we had had our breakfast and requested Arvind to take her to town along with him when he went there to collect the post and go to the bank since it was Saturday and the workers had to be paid.

Arvind looked doubtful and turned around questioningly at his mother who looked undecided. Shalini, of course, had already decided that she would go, so she went up to get her bag. Rohini aunt looked at me and asked whether I too would like to go and when I agreed readily she turned to Arvind and asked him to take both me and Shalini to the town along with him. He seemed relieved at this..I went up quickly, freshened up  and ran down, not wanting to be left out. I need not have worried since Shalini was yet to come down. In the mean time Rohini aunty quickly came to me and Arvind who had just come out of his room dressed and ready to leave, requesting us to keep an eye on Shalini since it was our combined responsibility to look after her. I sincerely promised to do so and so did Arvind,  wondering how on earth we could do that?

 She came down a little later fully made up and looking very beautiful. However, when she heard that I was to accompany them she scowled and openly showed her displeasure and I was not sure what to do next. But, Rohini aunt saved the situation by asking us to hurry, handing over a list to me requesting me to purchase the items mentioned at the only Chemist's shop situated next to the bank. Shalini sat in the front with Arvind and I was only too happy to be left alone. When we passed in front of Rohit's house we again saw Vidyakka in the garden although she could not see us. Shalini suddenly asked Arvind as to what he thought of Vidyakka? Arvind showed his appreciation and approval of Vidyakka, by smiling and nodding his head and said she was a very nice lady... 

I wondered what Shalini herself thought of Vidyakka ? And more importantly what did Vidyakka think of Shalini? 

( To be continued )

 


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