FINAL CHAPTER: The Circle of Deceit
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The door to Room Number 202 opened and Tara entered. Shekhar’s face reflected an emotion that Jennifer could not comprehend. There was a sense of suspense with the silence in the room then. No one spoke. Everyone waited for a response from the other, expecting something unexpected. It was the same room where Aryan questioned Cyrus. It was the same room where Shekhar had heard that heart-breaking truth about Roohi’s kidnapper. Aryan’s job was to take care of the man who had done too much to that family. Once he took him out to the same abandoned house in Mud Island, where Krishna had found Roohi for further questing.
“Stay where you are!” Shekhar said. His voice came out as a shout. It startled Tara. She stopped. Shekhar walked towards her. “Why?” he growled.
“I don’t understand what you mean, Shekhar…,” Tara was upset too. Her voice trembled. Her eyes became wet in a silent agony. Jennifer, who was watching Shekhar move forward, alarmed at his behavior, tried to cross him before he could reach Tara.
Shekhar’s face glowed in anger and frustration. He advanced towards Tara. His right hand was raised as if to strike her hard.
“NO!” Someone said.
The door opened again and Mr. Gupta came inside. “No,” he said.
“Shekhar…are you mad?” Mr. Gupta asked.
“Perhaps…,” Shekhar said coldly.
“You have no idea what we heard…,” Jennifer intervened. “The person who kidnapped Roohi is none other than…this…this…,” she was shivering in apparent shock from the new turn of events. “I haven’t seen such a hopeless scene in my entire life,” She said.
“Do you want to tell me what’s going on? I am a mother; I need to know where my daughter is…” Tara fumbled for words. Her lips were shivering.
“Hey, wait a second…,” Shekhar sneered at her. “I didn’t know that you were such a fantastic actor, my dear wife.”
Mr. Gupta was getting restless. No one noticed that, though. Is it time yet? He thought to himself. Perhaps, it’s not.
“Who in the world would have thought a mother herself could arrange for kidnapping her daughter?” Shekhar completed, his words all fire and amber.
There was silence from the other end. Tara, the desperate mother, did not say a word in return. Her face showed no emotion. It was as if she was suddenly transformed into a plastic doll. Lifeless and motionless.
“Why? Why did you do that?” Shekhar was almost on the verge of breaking down.
“She did it so that you will suffer, Shekhar,” Mr. Gupta said. “Do you realize something?” Gupta continued. “There is something else that manifested between you both. A spark of what you were even ready to die for, when you were college sweet hearts. I still remember the day when you came to ask for her hand, Shekhar. I had seen the spark of love in your eyes. Where have you both lost it? Here is a chance for both of you to regain it. I have seen it in your eyes a few days back, when you were heartbroken to lose the most important part of your soul, Roohi.”
Mr. Gupta was making no sense at first. Then, a clear picture emerged. One that neither the husband nor the wife had expected. Jennifer stood there aghast, turning her eyebrows upward, as if preparing to take a good shot of the unveiling scene in the chapter of life.
“Yes, Tara planned to kidnap Roohi and she was almost close to success.” Mr. Gupta said. “But fate had something else in its pages. I realized that something wrong was happening between the two of you from Roohi’s words, whenever she visited me. You know what? I loved you both…and your small life….I respected you for the bold decisions you took in life. But I could not see your life breaking apart. So I put one of my men, Krishna, on the duty of quietly observing Roohi. He would bring news if anything goes wrong in your house or with my little Roohi. Our little angel was with that Cyrus when Krishna found her.” Mr. Gupta stopped.
“Shekhar, I have something for you. Listen, I didn’t tell Tara. I wanted to tell you first. I wanted you to see her first, your Roohi. My man Krishna is on his way here.” Then he took his cell phone to his ear. “Yes,” Mr. Gupta said into the phone.
A few moments later, a face emerged at the door. It was Roohi. A stream of tears started down her cheeks. “Mamma…Pappa… we played the kidnapping to bring you two together…. I am sorry mamma….” The little girl mumbled and her tears muffled her voice.
Shekhar leapt towards her and grabbed Roohi in his arms. Tara slowly sat down on the floor, with a sigh. Then she wept too. It was not the tears of a journalist, who was betraying her husband; it was the tears of a wounded mother.
“What shall we do with Cyrus, who did more than his share?” asked Mr. Gupta.
“Well, hang him…,” said Jennifer and walked towards Roohi and Shekhar. She kissed Roohi on her forehead. “I have to move on now. Wow! What a ride I had…Anyway…thank you for keeping the girl safe…,” she said to Mr. Gupta.
“Where do you go now?” Mr. Gupta enquired.
“My place…South…. I am a photographer by passion. I will go see more scenes and take more pictures…I will see more life…” Jennifer said.
“Call me if you need something like a job or something…,” Mr. Gupta handed her his card.
All the while, no one noticed Tara. Mr. Gupta put his hand on Roohi’s head, in an act of blessing her. Shekhar was weeping and kissing his little girl. Those tears no longer were of sorrow.
“Is Tara madam alright?” Krishna enquired from behind Mr. Gupta. He was the one who brought Roohi to the doorstep.
That was when Mr. Gupta and Shekhar noticed her. She was lying on the floor now, motionless.
“Tara… Tara…,” Mr. Gupta called her. He shook her and then with a glass of water, which Krishna gave him, he splattered on her face.
When Tara woke up, she found only Shekhar around. She was lying on a familiar bed in a familiar room…their home.
“Gupta ji enquires what to do with that scoundrel Cyrus…,” Shekhar said with a smile in the corner of his lips.
“I am sorry…,” Tara’s eyes flooded. Words came out reluctant and with a wrapper of guilt over them.
“Did I ask you anything about that? Tell me about that Cyrus,” Shekhar reprimanded his wife playfully. Tara saw that instead of the man she had started disliking, the person who now stood in front of her was the same old college boy whom she was even ready to die for.