|Dolls created by Jayashree Karthik|
Ramsingh was not only a diligent employee, but also a discreet one. It was not by chance that he had mentioned Jaswantpura. He had deliberately spoken about Ranveer’s trip there to encourage the Maheshwari brothers to confide in him the purpose of their visit.
And it was not Ramsingh’s curiosity that was making him behave the way he was. He genuinely liked and respected Ranveer and considered him a friend more than an employer. He also thought that Ranveer had had a raw deal in life and had still managed to land on all four. He could not but admire the young man for his tenacity. And he so wanted to help him, in any way he could. It was obvious that Ranveer was in love with Chanda and Ramsingh had decided that he would do what he could to help the young couple. From what he had heard from Ranveer, it looked like Chanda had encouraged his feelings and that suggested that she was interested in him too. And now her brothers were here looking for Ranveer. Surely there was a connection?
In reply to Ram’s question, Ramsingh replied, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I said. Do you know the place? I heard it’s a village in Rajasthan.”
Ram replied, “I’ve heard of it. We have some distant relatives who live there. But of course, I’ve never been there personally.” He felt a little foolish now. Ranveer had gone to Jaswantpura. That could mean just about anything. He did not quite understand what had shaken him up about that little piece of news. Picking up his cup of tea, Ram began sipping it.
The two men got up after that to shake hands with Ramsingh. They thanked him before leaving the office, quite disappointed at not meeting Ranveer. They decided to go back to their hotel before deciding their next course of action.
Ramsingh felt quite bad that his shot in the dark had missed. The Maheshwaris had not confided in him despite his offering them the extra information about Ranveer’s trip.
SAMRAT HAD MADE A NOTE OF THE ADDRESS of RS Software, the company where Chanda was working as a temp. He decided to check out that office before going to the other floors. It was best to begin at the point closest to her.
He walked into the reception. Ruma greeted him with a polite “Good Evening!” It was 4.30 pm. Samrat gave her his card and told her that he would like to meet the person in charge as he had some investigations to conduct.
“Could you please take a seat, Mr. Samrat?” suggested Ruma before calling Ramsingh on his extension. Ramsingh was surprised to hear that a private detective was there to check out something at RS Software Pvt. Ltd. Thinking that today seemed to be a very strange day, Ramsingh told Ruma to send Mr. Samrat over to his office.
The office boy led Samrat to Ramsingh’s cabin. Ram got up to shake hands with the slim, dark man and requested him to sit down. “How can I help you, Mr. Samrat?” he asked.
“Well, it’s like this actually. I’m conducting an investigation on behalf of Mr. Maheshwari.” Samrat’s eyebrows shot up when he heard Ramsingh’s exclamation. “Were you saying something, Mr. Ramsingh?” he asked politely.
Ramsingh shook his head vigorously and said, “No, no. Please go on.”
Samrat continued, “I believe that Chanda Maheshwari works here in this company as a temporary assistant.” He waited for Ramsingh to confirm it before going further, “The case it rather strange. I’m looking for someone who’s been associated with Ms. Chanda in her childhood. This person must be about 27 years old. And…”
Ramsingh interrupted the detective to ask, “Would that be a male or a female?” He was quite confused. If Samrat was looking for someone who had been associated with Chanda in her childhood, it seemed rather wild that he was looking for that person here at her place of work.
“Male,” replied Samrat firmly. “It’s actually a delicate issue.” He wondered how much he could take Ramsingh into confidence. Samrat studied the man in front of him who appeared to be scrutinizing the detective with equal fervor. Samrat noticed the intelligence as well as the honesty in Ramsingh’s keen gaze and decided to tell him some more.
“Well, I’m looking for someone who is called Veerendra Choudhry. But of course, the chances are very high that he is under an alias.”
“Is he a fraud? I mean, has he harmed Chanda in any way?” asked Ramsingh, a mite worried that some danger had befallen Chanda and that’s why she had not come to work. If that was the case, then he had better contact his boss immediately.
“Ms. Chanda is totally safe, to my knowledge. There is no problem as to that. I’m looking for someone associated with her childhood, Mr. Ramsingh,” he stressed, waiting for the information to sink in.
Ramsingh breathed a sigh of relief. Just now, Chanda was okay it seemed. Samrat was looking for someone from her past. He nodded his head, indicating that Samrat should go on with his story.
“This person – Veerendra – ran away from home while young. He never got in touch with his family for fourteen years. No one has a clue to how he looks. And…”
Samrat’s story sounded good. But Ram just could not understand what the detective hoped to achieve by making enquiries at Chanda’s work place. It all sounded so bizarre. It never struck Ramsingh that he had not allowed the detective to complete his story. His mind was working so fast that he kept interrupting him so often without letting him finish what he had to say.
Samrat did not want to be rude nor did he suspect Ramsingh of a dearth of intelligence. But why can’t the man let him give all the details before asking his questions? He looked at Ram quite sternly and the latter was startled to see the ordinary face come alive in front of him. When Samrat had introduced himself, Ram had believed that he was meeting an ordinary guy who was playing at being a detective. Looking at the unyielding expression on the man’s face, Ram changed his mind. He was looking at an intelligent man who knew his business, it seemed. Ram decided to keep quiet and let him have his say. As that was exactly what Samrat had wanted to establish, he continued his story uninterrupted.
Samrat did not want to mention that Chanda had been married to Veerendra Choudhry. After all, this was her place of work and it would not be a good idea to mention that to one of her colleagues. It might lead to gossip. He had to be quite careful with what he said.
“I’m looking for this Veerendra Choudhry. I have a childhood photograph of his and I’m working on a clue that he’s probably in Delhi. Of course, you must be aware that detective work is quite boring as we keep checking a lot of details before arriving at the correct answer. There is indication that Mr. Choudhry is probably working in the same area as Chanda is. I don’t think I need to ask you whether someone by that name is working here, of course. You don’t find the name familiar,” he declared, quite confident with his conclusion. But then there was the very big chance that Choudhry went by an alias.
Ramsingh looked at Samrat with a big frown on his handsome face as he digested this information. He could not but wonder at what Chanda’s role was in the whole scene. Why would her family want to trace a man from her childhood? As far as he knew, Chanda was interested in Ranveer. She had gone home suddenly on a family emergency. Her brothers – no less than two – were making enquiries about Ranveer during her absence, that too when she had stayed back in her hometown to handle some urgent situation. Now, a detective was here at her office making enquiries about a Veerendra Choudhry from her childhood. Why the hell would Samrat come to check at her place of work if the man had disappeared fourteen years earlier? This was getting too weird for words.
He looked at Samrat and asked him directly, “Are you telling me all there is to say?”
Samrat eyed Ramsingh. Why would he give the man all the information? What if he turned out to be a gossip and told everyone that Chanda had been married as a kid? Samrat thought on his feet. Well, the Maheshwaris had trusted him – Samrat – with that information. So why not one more person, even if he was Chanda’s office colleague? What in case he could help him? If nothing, Ramsingh had given him a lot of time, listening to his tale. Samrat decided to tell him some more.
“I hope I can trust you with a top secret,” he said.
Ramsingh wondered what he had to say. It looked like he had become a confidant lately, what with Ranveer telling him his life story and now Samrat wanting to tell him about Chanda’s, probably. He just nodded.
“The information I’m giving you cannot go beyond these four walls. I hope you understand. Otherwise, I’ll be compromising my client.” Ramsingh nodded once again.
“Well, actually, Chanda had been married as a kid. She was eight when she got married to Veerendra Choudhry. Only, the bridegroom ran away immediately after the wedding ceremony.”
“What makes you think that you might find the errant bridegroom at RS Software?” asked Ramsingh, not having caught on the mine of information that was being imparted to him. He had failed to add two and two together.
“I know this might sound odd, but then the whole situation is extremely peculiar. I don’t know whether you have heard of Vidyasagar, the famous astrologer in Jaipur. Well, he has predicted that Chanda would get back together with her missing husband. The clue he has given to Veerendra Choudhry’s whereabouts is that the man should be living or working around in the same area as she is.”
“Wait a minute here. You are a detective, right? Are you telling me that you’re going about your investigation based on the words of an astrologer?” asked Ramsingh, mild sarcasm tingeing his words. He just could not believe this foolishness. He, for one, did not believe in astrology. He thought that it was something that was followed by people who did not want to take responsibility for their lives. Such people would rather run their lives based on an astrologer’s predictions and wait around for things to happen. That would never suit someone who believed in action like Ramsingh did.
“To be truthful, I do believe in astrology for one thing. Again, there is nothing else to go on in this case,” replied Samrat quietly.
“I suppose you need to make a living too,” said Ram, the mockery quite evident now.
Samrat was not one to be easily shaken by anything. He shrugged before saying, “Well, Mr. Ramsingh, I’d like to know if anyone you know would fit the description that I’m giving you. But of course, I don’t know how many guys in this office would have been married in his teenage. It’s a tall order. But…”
A sudden excitement shot through Ramsingh as he absorbed what Samrat was telling him. The detective was looking for a man who had been married as a kid. And only yesterday Ranveer had confided that he had been married at thirteen. Ranveer had not even been able to recall his child bride’s name. Could that be Chanda?
Samrat saw Ramsingh’s face light up and waited for him to tell him what he knew. It looked like he had finally reached the end of his investigation. He did not rush Ramsingh. He had all the time in the world.