It was 3AM when they reached their complex gates and Avanti ad Keshav wasted no time in rushing to their penthouse. Avanti ran to her room and opened the cupboard to bring out the Veena case. Keshav hurried to the terrace to prepare the location where the sunrays would first fall. He later got back to Avanti and helped her carry the case up to the terrace and they held hands as they waited for the new dawn… both for the day and for the rest of their lives.
Avanti had already removed the Veena from the casing and held it in the direction Keshav had told her the first rays of the sun would land. “…You know Avanti…? I have spent umpteen days and moments waiting for the dawn right here… after anxiety ridden sleepless nights…that I have lost count. But the beauty of the first morning rays surpassed everything…. It always gave me hope… like your father said, the universal power… it gave me energy as well…to face the next day or whatever curveball life threw at me… I am hoping Avanti… that today as well we…we will get that energy…I ….” He rubbed his face and Avanti realised he was chocking as he spoke. As the breeze ruffled her hair, she held his hands in hers and looked into his eyes, shining with unshed tears even as he furiously tried to blink them away.
“…Keshav…I trust my baba… he was always a man of his word. Today I am sure there is a positive outcome form all this…And whatever it is…just remember, no matter where you land up…no matter what you decide, when you look back you will always find me waiting for you… to come back to me. I will always be holding you hand…” tears flew down her cheeks as she felt the chill on them with the breeze drying it.
Right then Keshav looked up. “…its… its…time Avanti… get ready…”
Avanti rushed to the Veena and held the stone studded front of it towards where Keshav pointed, for the sunrays to first fall. And slowly as the dawn broke, the surrounding filling with the cacophony of the birds competing with each other to call out and replace the solitude, the dark sky gave way to the crimson morning. The Sunrays penetrated through the skies around them and as Avanti looked spellbound, the Veena dazzled in all its divinity shining radiantly in its divine splendor. No wonder her father had mentioned connecting with the soul… the sparkling beauty of the instrument touched her soul like never before. She soon got out of reverie… she had a task at hand. Keshav had kept the recorder focussed on them but still Avanti kept looking at the Veena turning it around… she couldn’t make out anything… was she missing something…? She opened up her father’s letter and went back to the fourth verse.
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…
Avanti re read the third line… she kept turning the Veena. She barely had few minutes before the sunrise would complete and the dawn break would end. Heart thudding, she asked Keshav to hold the Veena and moved back from it, from there, she then began walking slowly towards the instrument and squinted her eyes as the flash of the stones reflecting the sunlight hit her hard. She shut her eyes and opened them and stood still in her place… narrowing and widening her eyes even as a puzzled Keshav looked on.
“…oh…my God… Keshav….” She held her cheeks, excitement surging through her veins as the pattern began to unfold before her eyes. Right before her on the Veena was highlighted a glowing form of Lord Muruga seated on his Vahana…the Peacock. Her father was a staunch devotee of the Lord… Oh God this was sheer bliss to watch. She quickly took a couple of clicks and by then the sun rose further even as the illuminating brilliance disappeared.
Avanti ran to Keshav and hugged him as the adrenaline-rush she felt moments before subsided. She stared at the instrument wiping happy tears as she celebrated her father for the detailed incandescent display she just witnessed.
“uh… Avanti… care to explain…?” Keshav asked her softly.
Avanti nodded and they packed the Veena back in the case and went downstairs to the living room. Avanti spread her father’s letter and her notepad on the centre table and an eager Keshav joined her on the couch.
“…Look Keshav…” Avanti showed him a blurred picture she managed to click just before the display disappeared. “…This is the image of Lord Muruga…My father was a devotee of His and if you remember there is a gold studded tiny deity in the inner office in Vedshastra as well…”
“…oh ok… wow… this is something surreal… but then Avanti… how is linked to our…I mean…solution…?”
“…Wait a minute Keshav now let’s get back to the letter… The fourth line of that verse was true… the mosaic did make me fawn… so what was baba trying to tell me…?”
Avanti paced the living room for the next ten minutes but drew a blank.
“Avanti… I think we have to read and follow the next verse as well now…”
Avanti nodded and got back on the couch next to him, gripping his hand for every ounce of energy she could derive from him. She read the fifth verse…
Stick to your zealous conviction
Bring about the ploy in motion
All world is a performance stage
Go across to the mirror image
She had to bring the ploy in motion, that was fine but how and where…? In fact, she still didn’t understand what her father meant so far. her heart fell as she wondered about the huge disappointment; she was to Keshav…just because she couldn’t fathom the cryptic clues. Keshav must have read her face. “Hey Avanti… don’t sweat over it OK…? You did well so far… now let’s take a break and get back later…Lets rest for a while before Mrs. Sinha comes….” He held her hand and pulled her along as she went reluctantly. Avanti wondered how she could sleep with the chaos in her mind but the moment she her head hit the pillow she was a goner.
She woke up a while later to see Keshav staring outside the bedroom window lost to the world. She walked behind him and hugged him tightly. “…Don’t worry Keshav…we will figure it out… together…” She felt his taut muscles relax beneath her hands as he turned towards her.
He held her face in his hands. “Avanti… was there any specific place your father visited…for prayers…I mean there has to be some temple or such a place which he would visit considering…there is nothing in the office so…”
“…the Subramanium temple in Chembur… he frequented the place…I have been there too…many times…” Avanti said excitedly. And then as if she was hit by a stun gun, she stared at him wide eyed. “…oh God… why couldn’t I think of this before… Keshav come with me…”
They rushed to the drawing room which was now filled with the aroma of parathas prepared by Mrs. Sinha in their kitchen as they heard the gentle clanging of the utensils. Avanti showed him the fifth verse. “…Keshav…world…a performing stage means…auditorium…a special one… My father visited this temple and…and very close to it is The Natrang Fine Arts society….I…I have performed there so many times…oh God how could I forget… baba often quoted Shakespeare’s famous line…all world is a stage… whenever we were there…”
Keshav made a note of whatever she said. “…ok So Natrang Fine Arts society… the next line…? What about…the mirror image…? What does that mean…?”
Avanti stood up and started pacing again… the adrenaline rush too high now for her to be seated. She turned around and her eyes fell onto the decorative mirror on the showcase which showed her the image of the gym door right opposite to it…and then bingo…
“…Keshav …. I… I got it… please check with Google images… what is bang opposite Natrang Fine Arts society…? Is there any specific landmark…? It isn’t striking me now…”
Keshav scrolled on his cell phone. “…Ok…it says…State bank of Travancore…. That’s it… nothing else…it’s a residential area…Oh My God… the bank…?” He looked up at Avanti. For a few moments they both stared at each other while the world faded away, Mrs. Sinha gave up calling them for breakfast and left shaking her head… but nothing mattered… they were so close to solving the puzzle that had eluded them for long.
Avanti’s eyes filled. So, her baba had kept the black book probably in the bank locker and he had gone through so much to hide the location details. He knew how precious it was for Keshav and her. She took out the letter again and saw the last verse. “Keshav… this has to be the information on the locker details…” She sniffled her tears away and tried to figure out the last bit of the clue.
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…
“Keshav… finale… it means the last part here… and the happiest day for my baba as he always said was the day, I was born… my birthday… oh God that’s the locker code… 3rd February 1996…i.e. 321996…looks like it…that bank must be having digital locker codes…Keshav we need to check it out…”
“…Avanti…that’s amazing…really but why will they allow us access to a locker which doesn’t have your name on it…?”
“…Now that I remember…it does Keshav…I am a joint holder with baba… he had opened the account somewhere over a year ago…I remember signing the papers and…Keshav…I had actually objected to his clause of choosing Either /Survivor option for operating the locker… Baba had just smiled and I had found it strange then… even Aai wasn’t aware of what he was doing and he had forbidden me to tell her…Keshav…I think it’s the same account…”
“Oh…ok then its sorted Avanti… get the account number details, passbook or whatever it is you find…and I will arrange to visit there today morning… you think you can do it….?”
“…Yes…I have a couple of my folders here which include my bank information and I have this one too…” Avanti smiled as Keshav pulled her to a hug.
Finally, they had decrypted her father’s clues and though there still was the unknown enemy they had to tackle, she hoped what they had discovered were indeed the answers. Above all that, at the end of their ordeal, she just hoped the questions didn’t change…
He smiled looking at his cracked reflection in the wall mounted mirror that he had broken just a couple of days ago in a fit of rage. Just like he had glued the pieces together, his life too was now nothing but a perpetual piecing together of broken bits. He had been shattered very often but he had always stood up and made his comeback. Now too he would be back. This time his plan was good and doable.
The problem with the Avanti and Keshav and Dnyaneshwar Rane was they were the good people who thought twice if they had to take an alternate path towards achieving their goal… but he… He was an asshole of the highest order who didn’t refrain at all from taking any course to chart his path. One such course now was going to make him reach his destination. He mentally apologised to Avanti. ‘no hard feelings dear… nothing very personal…you are a good girl but I love money and power over everything… and your late father’s formula is going to give me just that….so sorry’
He was with a war against himself unfortunately she had to be the collateral damage here…there was another collateral damage too but that idiot deserved it for trusting him. He loved desperate and rich women…they were easy targets. Even in his younger days, he was a hunk and these women ate at his fingers. He had his own share of older wealthy and bored women. Just a round of fun filled sex making them feel desirable was enough to charge them a bomb… His immediate older brother once caught him and ratted him out calling him a gigolo…his furious father disowned him right at that instant. He had punished that brother… his racing bike had been hit by a mini van the very next day and he was grievously injured.
The man chuckled…his few pennies could only arrange a mini van and not a truck…the work would have been done completely. But nonetheless, the brag got his lesson. If not then he was making a grand comeback soon to complete the job.
All those women in his past needed, was a shoulder to cry and they emptied their pockets but this one now was a tough cookie and she clung to him like second skin…not that he didn’t have fun but it was time to pull up his pant literally. She was used to being treated like crap anyway… Keshav was way too cautious and smarter than he though he was.
He laughed out loud even as the sound of his laughter boomed withing the confines of his home… he would soon move to his family owned house… his own room twice this size. His brothers will have to concede given the revenue he would get and the shareholders would agree as well…Afterall money talked. He would soon be the CEO of his family owned company… and it would be solely owned by him eventually…
He forgave rarely and almost never forgot. He didn’t forgive Dnyaneshwar Rane and made him pay dearly. He would make that Keshav Goyal pay as well. He wasn’t someone who stumbled by being forgetful. Vengeful…that he was for sure. He would make his brothers beg for every penny…just like they had done him. It was time for pay-back, with the interest.
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