Day 1, 09:10 am
Asheeta was lying on her bed face up. She was staring at the ceiling point blank. But her mind was else where. She thought about her childhood days and how life had changed now. She was the only child to her parents. She got all the benefits of what a single would get. She was treated like a princess. Her father was very strict with her mom. But when it came to Asheeta, he just melted. And Asheeta never took advantage of his love. She had a close bond with her father until she attained puberty. Even then, her love for him did not reduce a bit. But she started moving more close with her mother. Her mother was a great inspiration for her. She was Asheeta's best friend. They went out a lot, passed comments on guys they came across, talked about everything under the Sun. All was well.
She shook herself. 'No! I should not think about the past' she told herself. To deviate her mind, she recalled the lunch meeting she had yesterday with someone. She had started looking for prospective matches for herself through matrimonial sites. There was this guy whose profile was very impressive. She decided to meet him for lunch in a restaurant.
She was 5'6" tall. Daily exercise kept her slim and fit. She wore a white knee length kurta and a white leggins. She wore matching accessories, all white. The white dress complimented her fair skin very well. She looked like an angel. She went to the restaurant and reserved one more chair for the guy. He came 10 minutes late.
"Hi." she said
"Hi. I have to tell, you look absolutely stunning" he smiled
'Wow! Flirting at the first opportunity. Negative one' she thought.
"Umm...my mom asked me to meet you, so...you know..." he blushed.
"Mama's boy, Red alert one'
"Oh, so sweet of her. Ummm...what do you like to have?"
"I have heard mutton biriyani and crab fry is very good here. Let us try it" he said and without waiting for her consent, he called the waiter to place the order.
"Great, he does not have the courtesy to ask me if I like. Negative two'
"Err...no thanks. I prefer chicken"
"Oh, no problem"
He placed the order and turned towards her.
"So, what do you do?"
She told him about her job.
"And what do you do?" she asked
"I worked in Java platform. Now I am doing my MBA and planning to switch to administration. You know, development sucks big time"
'Definitive career objective. Positive one'
"Oh yeah, that is great. Good luck!"
"Hey thanks! Ummm...what are your hobbies?"
"Me… I love singing, dancing and reading. At times you can see me sitting with one big fat book even in the middle of the night"
"Wow! That is cool. Even I am an avid reader"
'Similar tastes. Positive two'
"Great! Which is your favorite book?"
"A lot to mention. But none can beat the book 'Java made easy'. That was the first book I ever read"
'??????????!!!!!!!!!!! Positive one, Negative three'
"What is your favorite?"
"Da Vinci Code" she said in a low voice. As hard as she tried to sound enthusiastic, she found it difficult.
"Oh...you read story books too? "
'Story books??????? Oh God, what am I still doing here?'
"Yeah...Umm...You know, I think I should start. It is getting late"
"Oh sure! So, what do I tell my mom?"
'Oh no, Red Alert 2. I can't even give him a second thought'
"I have this uncle who takes care of me. I will consult with him and get back to you. It was nice talking with you"
Asheeta laughed her heart out thinking how she almost ran away from the restaurant, when she was interrupted by her phone. She looked at it startled for a moment. She never gave her home number to anyone. All her friends and relatives had only her mobile number. Infact she never used her landline number except for internet connection. Confused, she answered the call.
"May I speak to Ms. Kannama"
"Kannama...Oh yeah...speaking. May I know who this is?"
"I am calling from WonderWomen. You must be knowing me. I am one of the administrators of the site. My name is Yamuna"
"Oh, yeah…of course, I know you. It is a pleasure talking to you mam. But..."
"Please listen to me. Half an hour back we got a call from the police department. They asked our network team to trace your address for an enquiry. They refused to let us know the details. Being a long time active member, I thought of informing you"
Asheeta was dumbstruck for a second. She was completely lost. 'This is a prank call', she thought.
"Hello...Ms.Kannama. Are you with me?"
"Yeah...Yes mam. I...I did not do anything"
"Neither did I say you did something. They said this was something about your story. So you need not worry"
"Oh...ok mam. Thanks for taking the time to call me"
"Any time. Bye"
Asheeta disconnected the call and sat on the sofa.
"Did someone sue me for writing some rubbish in the name of stories?"
"Or did I write something controversial?"
"Or worst, did someone steal my story and is suing me for copyright issues?"
She thought of all kind of possible reasons and each reason scared her more than the previous. But not in her wildest imagination was she prepared for what was about to come.
Sagar alighted from his car and locked it. He opened the gate of the house. He stood still at the majesty of the house. 'This is a palace' he thought.
He knocked the door. A minute later, the door opened and some school girl came out.
"Umm...Are there any elders inside honey?"
Asheeta stared at him for a second. No one had insulted her like that.
"I don't care if I don't look like an elder to you. Who are you?" she demanded.
Now it was Sagar's turn to stare. He recovered quickly.
"Err...sorry mam" he stressed the word Mam more than he intended.
"I am from the police department, ACP. I would like to meet Ms.Kannama" he flashed his id card.
Asheeta's cheeks turned bright scarlet. She quickly turned around and prompted him to come inside.
"Sorry Sir, I...I hate it when people don't treat me like an elder"
"That's fine. I can understand. And you can't blame me entirely. You look so young. And by your name Kannama, I was expecting an aunty to open the door"
"That is my pen name. My real name is Asheeta"
"Thank you. BTW, coffee?"
"No thanks. This is just a formal enquiry. You have been writing a serial story in this site WonderWomen right?"
"Yes sir" she said. Her stomach was churning, and she felt nauseated. She knew something bad was coming, but she was not sure what.
"Hmmm...Take a look at this first" he said and handed over a piece of paper to her.
With trembling hands she picked the paper from him. She read it soon and looked up at him confused.
"You remember writing this?" he asked
"Of course yes. This came in the yesterday's episode of my serial story"
"Correct! But what you are holding is not a printout from your story. I received this as a mail from some unknown sender"
"I was expecting you would answer that question"
"What do you mean?" she said, beginning to lose her patience.
"You know what I mean"
"This is...this is just crazy. Do you think I would send such a mail?"
Sagar stared at Asheeta for one long minute.
"Can you tell me what is the nature of your job?" he asked
"Yeah...I work in IT. I develop network applications"
"Ummm...So it is possible that you know how to block an email id while sending, isn't it?"
Asheeta glared at Sagar for a while. She was fuming inside. She hated him for what he was doing to her.
"Alright, you sound convinced that I was the one who sent you the mail. And you must be having an idea about my motive too. Care to explain?" she said with a clear mark of sarcasm.
"Who knows? May be you wanted to know how a real police officer would react to such a mail"
"Wow! That is one good reason. So what are you waiting for? Are you going arrest me?"
"No! Because I know it was not you"
"Are you playing some kind of mind games with me?"
"I initially suspected you. But now I am convinced it was not you"
"Oh great! And how did you find it now?"
"Your eyes, they are in sync with your words. When we lie, our eyes do not cooperate, you know"
"Oh, then thank God you knew that" she replied without an attempt to conceal her anger.
"Now, can you think of anyone who would send such a mail?"
"No, you don’t have to answer that so fast. Take your time. Think of anything unusual that has been happening lately. Anything that does not happen in your normal routine, but you may have noticed recently. Any phone calls, messages, mail, you get the point?"
Asheeta closed her eyes and thought for a while. She was murmuring few words that did not make any sense to Sagar.
"Ummm...could it be something that is happening for a while" she asked.
"For a while...like?
"Yeah, tell me. Let us not ignore anything"
"For the past two years, I have been receiving flowers on the 2nd of every month. Does it matter?"
"Who is sending it?"
"I don’t know. There is no sender name or address."
"And you did not think it was worth a police report?"
"I...I thought it was someone who knows me" she almost whispered.
"Two years Asheeta...how could you be so naive?"
She looked away and mumbled something which Sagar did not hear.
"Alright, why 2nd? Does your birthday fall on the 2nd"
Asheeta remembered that day very well. She was in a project meeting when she received a call from her dad. She disconnected the call few times. But when she received it the 4th time, her project manager asked her to go ahead with the call. She answered the call and was about to yell at her father when she heard some unknown voice. She remembered only bits and pieces of what the voice said. "Accident...Bus...Hospital...". Everything was vague. She never knew who took her to the hospital, what the doctor said, when she reached home. Her mind was totally blank. It was like a sleep walk. But she did not shed a tear. She just kept staring at her parent's bodies.
She heard Sagar's voice and came back to the reality.
"Sorry, It was...my parents died on the 2nd" she managed to complete.
"Oh...I am terribly sorry" he said with real concern.
"Yeah, me too" she said and turned her face away from him.
Sagar knew she did not want him to see her cry. He suddenly felt the urge to hold her tight and assure that everything would be fine. His hands almost moved, but he constrained himself. He waited till she regained her composure. A minute later, she turned back at him and smiled. It was not a forced smile. It was a true genuine one. Sagar was deeply touched.
"This may not be the right time to ask you, but..."
"Oh no please go ahead. I am fine" she waved her hands.
"Well, I still can’t believe you did not take any measure to find who sent you the flowers"
"My father's friends circle is very big. So I really did not think it was something to be alarmed of. I actually felt good, and these days I expect the flowers on the 2nd of every month" she smiled.
"Alright, I will try to trace the sender. Any other unusual activities?"
"Well, thanks for your time. Can I have some water please?"
She went inside her kitchen and returned in a minute. He drank and started to leave. Before going out, he turned towards her.
"If at all you remember anything else, feel free to give me a call" he said and handed over his card to her. She thanked him and waved him goodbye.
She checked through the window if he left. After she made sure that he was gone, she quickly took her cell phone and dialed some number from the contact list. After a few rings, a male voice answered the call.
"Hey listen...We are in serious trouble. Come to the besant nagar beach now. I will be waiting for you and no excuses" she said and without waiting for his reply disconnected the call.