Chapter 3

Anshuman parked his rental close to the lit-up area outside the new nightclub. He didn’t want to be conspicuous and just wanted to observe everyone around. He was fiercely uncomfortable in the complete black-colored outfit fitting him like a second skin. He thought it was enough camouflage. He walked across the road to where a whole new world awaited him. He took in a deep breath and relished the salty sea breeze bring along with it traces of humans busy littering the shore and also the nicotine puffed up by the youth gathered. The club building was lit up throughout and the crowd was swelling by the minute. Most of them were young locals out for a free inaugural drink. He made his way towards the entrance where the bouncer was checking the ids of a group of young guys for their age. It was obvious they had just made the threshold as they screamed and hooted as soon as the burly man stamped their wrists. Anshuman closely followed them as he entered a dark new cosmos booming with the latest hit numbers.

The evening was lively with the booze flowing all around and it was a far cry from the lousy nightclub he had seen in Mumbai. Whoever had done this one had left no expense to layer up the interiors or if the bar was any indication. If he had been depressed then the atmosphere here infused a little spirit trickling back into him. He took the drink offered and moved to the corner from where he could observe the proceedings. The mixed scents of everyone, cocktailed with the air freshener was intoxicating in itself. He got it why people came to claustrophobic places like these… The revolving colored strobe lights took turns to focus on every patron who was dancing or chatting in oblivion. Though he wondered if anyone could hear themselves in the ear-splitting DJ noise. Anshuman didn’t even know what he was looking for but his gut that was nature ordained, told him something was in store for him…

Almost an hour into the place Anshuman’s ears went dead with the blaring music and vision was precariously on the verge of collapsing if he remained more in the now oppressive insides. He was hungry since he had skipped lunch so he walked outside to their outdoor units lined along the shore where one could enjoy the food and booze along with the warm evening breeze. He settled in a corner shack and placed his order for some local delicacy that the server recommended. He loved Goan cuisine and the limited times that he had ventured out during the time he was here, he had enjoyed the food. He didn’t even know the names of the dishes but none of them was something he could complain about. Tonight he feasted on Goan fish curry which was a coconut-based dish flavored with red chilies and fresh fish served with fluffy rice. He was also served the Sol Kadi.  This he had tried everywhere. It was a  popular and soothing digestive drink made from dried kokum fruit and coconut milk. The food calmed his insides and he felt good after ages. Was it because this was Baga, where his sister passed…?

He felt as if her soul was calling out to him. He was looking around for a pretty woman with curly hair and a cleft in the chin with a tiny birthmark on her forehead and someone who drew and painted well. Yes, his Meera was an artist in the true sense of the world. She had made countless paintings which at one time adorned their proud walls in their Haveli back in Hissar. But after she had escaped to Pune to enroll in the famous art school of her choice all hell had broken loose in his stereotypically set household. The archaic standards didn’t allow for such frivolous pursuits by young girls and Meera was a free bird not willing to be caged.  Nonetheless, his father had burnt away all her canvases and all Anshuman was left was her sketchbook that he had managed to salvage hiding from the family. He had helped her with the funds to pursue her dream and was in regular touch irrespective of his booming real estate business. Should he have paid more attention to his sister? Was she so lonely that she had to run into the arms of a terrorist…? This is what he was told by the Crime branch last month. Could he have saved her if he had known she was in murky waters and finally that last phone call…where she had been scared out of her wits? She had suspected her now-dead husband and had witnessed something she shouldn’t have. The call was made from a local payphone right in Baga. The number no longer existed just like other traces of his beloved sister.

He felt the cold on his cheeks as he stared towards the dark horizon. No matter how far one went, one couldn’t reach the narrowing vistas… Was his quest to find out about Meera just that…? A lost cause…? He realized he had been crying and wiped the moisture away. Just as he was about to get up a tall dark good-looking man probably in his 40s walked up to him.

“Hello there… I am Kader Shah the owner of Passion… I have been watching you for a while now… I hope you liked the food and the ambiance… is there anything that you are upset about…? Can I help…?”

Anshuman looked at the bearded man adorned with superior quality of the chequered suit and matching trousers. The man knew about fashion because the outfit suited him. Anshuman shook hands with him. “…I am Anshuman and I have recently moved to Goa….”

Kader gestured him to take his seat while he sat across and ordered a drink for them. “…So what can I do to help you…? I am not imposing I hope… I have been here for ages and it’s a part of my job to observe people around… and today you caught my attention… So if there is anything you need help with… I am at your service…”

Anshuman smiled despite everything. The guy had stayed away from his guests just to check out on one upset person and that spoke a lot about his credibility. Being a businessman himself Anshuman couldn’t help but admire the quality in the guy. “…So Kader, can you help me find some old-timer in this place… someone who can give me information about…uh… a decade ago…?”

Kader sipped the wine placed by the server minutes ago and thought for a moment before he replied. “…Well Anshuman, there are many but it depends on what you are looking for…accordingly people will warm up to you… if you know what I mean…”

Anshuman nodded. “…a decade ago, my sister’s… body…was washed ashore right in this place… I didn’t even get her remains… I have no information other than the fact that she died here and was cremated…”

“…I won’t get your hopes high Anshuman, but ten years is a long long time… Also I am sorry but bodies get washed often here… but I promise I will find what I can… why don’t you give me your contact number…?”

They exchanged numbers and chatted about business in general. Anshuman promised to visit the club again and shook hands with Kader as he left the happening place. He was not wrong after all.

A little hope had been rekindled deep in his heart…

 ©priyagole. No part of the story can be copied or shared anywhere without the consent of the writer.

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