Avanti entered the penthouse with Keshav in tow and he held her hand taking her to the drawing room. She was a nervous wreck as she looked at him with tear-filled eyes, clutching the envelope to her chest. He made her sit on the couch and got two cups of tea from the installed machine. Though it tasted like dirt, it helped to calm her nerves.
“Avanti… read it…I will be right here in the other room…just holler if you need me…” Keshav stood up to leave.
Avanti grabbed his hand as if grasping at straws. “…no…no… please Keshav… don’t go anywhere… though it’s my name on it…I am sure baba wanted both of us to read it… So sit…sit here with me please…” Keshav nodded and sat next to her holding her close to him by her shoulder as she opened the envelope with trembling hands.
Her baba loved to write rather than type, even now she was chocked with emotions just to see his beautiful handwriting blurring every time her eyes filled.
If you are reading this … it means I am no longer with you in person… but I am sure my other favourite child Keshav is there by your side to hold your hand as you face various turmoil thrown at you. I know you like each other and have seen to it that you come together… I have complete faith in that boy!!!
I also know that…you getting this letter also means the formula is not obtained as yet. Due to the security risks I can’t tell you the exact location of the black bound book… so shall we go back to your school days and play treasure hunt…? One last time…?
When in despair, my girl
Don’t you dare scare…
While I watch over you from up there
All isn’t a straight affair…
Life has thrown a curveball mean
Its time to wipe the forehead sheen
Pull up your socks and get into the groove
For you know that’s what I approve…
I know you need a sign tell-tale
My girl…dare I let you fail…
You know my words behind the veil,
Listen with your heart what will now prevail…
Feel the need to open out your soul
To the universal power at the crack of dawn
Keep marching till you reach your goal
Look into your soul for the mosaic making you fawn…
Stick to your zealous conviction
Bring about the ploy in motion
All world is a performance stage
Go across to the mirror image
The finale to the cringing grind
Is the day I was happiest in life
I pray you handle the find
May happiness befall you in abundance rife…
-with love and blessings
Avanti wailed even before she read the last line and Keshav held her close as she sobbed into his chest. How she missed her father… Keshav took the letter out of her hands and spread it on the table even as he held her rubbing her back. Avanti cried for the next few minutes remembering many wonderful moments with her father… what she wouldn’t do to have a little more time with him. He would have known the solution for all the troubles plaguing all of them. But she knew her father definitely planned everything he did and now it was her duty as a daughter and wife to fathom the letter… for now she had to put a lid on her emotions.
She sat erect and wiped her eyes, inhaling deeply. “Keshav…?” she looked at her waiting husband. He had been so patient with her all this while and she knew he was desperate to get to the crux of the riddle in the letter. “…can you get a paper and pen…lets…lets solve this…”
“…solve…? You mean there really is something in here…?” Keshav looked bewildered.
“…Yes, Keshav I am sure there is… lets go through it again calmly… baba tried to tell us something… mostly about that black book and its location…”
Keshav rushed to their bedroom and was back immediately with a notepad and a pen. They both sat together spreading the letter on the centre table beside them as they tried to analyse what was hidden behind the verses.
“Keshav… let me read it aloud… maybe it would be clearer…” Avanti offered and Keshav nodded in agreement. “…here the first verse…it says… he is blessing us from up there…” She chocked again on her words but Keshav held her hand as she continued. “…in the second verse he is en…encouraging me to face the odds…” She gripped Keshav’s hand and said. “…in the third, he says…he is giving me the signs… the clues…” She looked into Keshav’s eyes. “…that was our favourite game in my childhood… he loved to give me practical riddles and I loved solving them…”
“…Avanti… your father was a brilliant man… and now there is no doubt about it…” Keshav nudged her to move ahead.
“…Ok… now… here it is…in the fourth verse he has highlighted the word soul… now I wonder what he meant…”
“…Avanti… is it some kind of a metaphor… did he intend to call something by this… this name…?”
“…Wait… according to my baba… he always called a Veena… as containing a soul…he loved the veena melody and had even bought me a specially commissioned one… did…did he mean anything by that…?”
“…Wait… Avanti… a specially commissioned Veena…? When did he get it…?”
Avanti told him about her father’s trip to Germany and the stone studded instrument he had got back for her…Keshav immediately sat upright. “…Avanti… that was the same time he was deeply in works for the formula… in fact his visit to Germany was also for the sole purpose… have you checked that veena…did it have any chamber or something…?”
“…I have checked that Veena entirely…it’s at our home in my room now…I wanted to string it completely so had looked at each and every nook and crevice… there is no hidden box or anything of the kind…” her heart broke to see his excited face fall. “…Let’s see the next line…Universal power…? What is it…?”
Keshav suddenly stood up. “…Avanti in our field…those of us inclined towards nature like your father and me, believe that the Sun is the universal power…so… dawn means the Sunrays at dawn… what do you think…?”
“…Oh…ok it means something now…” Avanti made a note on the paper. “…now the third line says to keep moving …but where…? And the next line says look into the soul…does it mean look into the veena…? And the mosaic… means there is…there is a puzzle of some sort…?” She looked at Keshav who was lost in thought. “…Keshav…does it make sense…?”
“Avanti… your father loved puzzles isn’t it…that means to solve them you have to join the dots…why don’t we connect the two… look into the veena…in the sunlight…? Wait… you said the Veena is stone studded… do think… there is puzzle means…there is…”
“…A pattern…?” she completed his statement. “…which can be seen in the early morning sunlight… that means the clue is not in the Veena it is…”
“…ON it…” Keshav said and she was thrilled to see his face brighten up. “…Avanti, we have to rush back home now… and hopefully by dawn tomorrow…”
“…we can check the Veena… come on Keshav lets rush…we can figure out the rest of the poem later…”
In the next half an hour they were on their way back to Mumbai on a private cab and as Avanti lay her head on Keshav’s chest on the passenger seat, he pulled her close to him. She could feel his heart thundering aloud announcing the impending arrival of good news. She hoped and prayed tomorrow’s dawn brought with it a new beginning for both of them…
The man threw the steel box against the wall with all his might and it crashed open strewing his instruments all over the floor. He was agitated. He felt duped and humiliated… yet again by that son of a bitch, Keshav. He had been so careful during his numerous trips in and out of that house… and it had been so dangerous but he had managed to lay his hands on the folder but that turned out to be crap. The biochemist from Italy whom he had paid through his nose for consultation, with a promise in the cut for the breakthrough drug, laughed aloud on the conference call and said it wasn’t any kind of formula at all… it was just some crappy derivations… the idiot had broken the partnership agreement as well. Did the westerners think they were superior…? Not at all…he would show them…
He was at the end of his tethers… That senile Dnyaneshwar Rane had to have documented his formula somewhere. But then Keshav too hadn’t got hold of it…else he wouldn’t have made such cheap duplicates. He now needed time to formulate a new plan all over and that needed money. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much remaining and his new relationship too wasn’t yielding results. He had watered that stupid human plant but there was no yield from it. He tried some old contacts from the media to sway Dnyaneshwar Rane’s stupid older daughter… but it was just a shot in the dark. The woman was an idiot…only beauty and no brains. No wonder Dnyaneshwar Rane didn’t trust her with decisions. His younger daughter was smart and intelligent… he would have admired her if not for his situation. So, did he hit the dead end…?
No…NO… he couldn’t afford that… his life was done with… He couldn’t go back to prison to that hellhole… and last time it was only espionage this time it was bloody murder. No…he couldn’t… afford anymore errors or the slightest of distractions. But what could he do now… A sense of desperation engulfed him as he collapsed on the cold tiled floor of his abode. His knees which at one time were his pride, screamed in agony as they hit the hard ground. He hunched his back and roared in rage… “…KESHAV…. I AM NOT DONE… I AM NOT…DONE…”
He had to do something… and right then he had the brainwave and he chuckled. No wonder he was the smartest of the four brothers. His father never recognised his special talent…what was his mistake…? All he wanted was to make a quick buck for the family owned company and …. himself. His father had discarded him totally like a piece of thrash when all hell had broken lose. His father chose his friendship with Dnyaneshwar Rane over his youngest son… How dare he…? The old fart died a couple of years ago when he was still behind bars and those good for nothing brothers of his were now ruling the business. No… no longer…he was going to get his rightful due. This wonder drug would be the key to unlock his fortunes.
But then he needed someone to make a little sacrifice… and Avanti Rane-Goyal was just that, a pawn in his larger frame of things. He smiled and stood on shaky legs…. He needed a couple of days to recover form his low sugar bout he had this morning and the knee pain, he had to be in his best physical form for what he had planned. He now had to play his final card… he had been on the defense so far… and now it was the time to attack….
And dear Keshav… you will now have no choice but to hand over the true findings…
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