Duplicity – Chapter 2

Team : Writers’ Express


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Image courtesy – Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli

Read the previous part of the story (Chapter1) here

It was 10 in the morning. The slightly ajar window let the sunrays in. It directly hit his eyes. Last night was really long. He was reading a suspense thriller and couldn’t afford to keep it pending midway. He didn’t want to get up so early but he had work to be completed. Last night Shailesh bhaiya has confirmed to him about his Mumbai stay. He was happy to know the Duttas didn’t object to his staying in their flat in Mumbai.

Ever since Cyrus got to know that in this new assignment he had to travel to Mumbai he was worried about his accommodation there. It was the kind of assignment that would keep him busy travelling, but also expose him to a whole new world.

Mumbai  a very costly place for students like him to get any accommodation within their budget. When he took up legal career as profession, his parents objected to it, but he was stubborn. He knew that legal profession in India was very promising, especially with so many marriages being on rocks, with crime rate skyrocketing and with new laws being introduced or amended every now and then, the laws had gone beyond the understanding of common Indians. So there would be no dearth of business for lawyers in India in the near future.

He had booked his tickets online the previous night. He was travelling to Mumbai the next day but he needed to pack his luggage. Nothing was in order and he needed to buy a few essential things to take with him to Mumbai. He prepared a quick lunch and set out for his shopping.

It was a long day’s search for the right stuff, but he finally got what he wanted. After his purchase he went to meet Shailesh to thank him for arranging his accommodation in Mumbai.

He returned to his flat late in the night. He had to dine outside as he didn’t want to cook just one day before travelling.

The flight landed in Mumbai at 7 pm. Cyrus had his lunch  before boarding the flight.

He called up Shekhar after coming out of the terminal. Shekhar was at home waiting for Cyrus. He gave him final directions to reach his house and asked him to call back if needed.

He took a rickshaw from airport to Shekhar’s house. The distance was not much. Shekhar lived in a Hill Road residence complex in Bandra. He thought that it should not take more than  45 minutes for him to reach there in evening traffic.

The rickshaw dropped him in front of a large apartment complex. The name of the complex was carved on the outside walls in large font Hill Road Residency. He knew the flat number and told  that to the security personnel. They called up the Duttas on intercom and upon their permission allowed him to enter the complex. He was asked to enter his details in a register.

Overlooking the security desk, a CCTV camera captured his entry silently.

Cyrus was wearing his usual big black specs and blue denim. His black specs normally went well with his extremely fair complexion. He kept a little stubble too. Girls liked his stubble and that suited his complexion too. Some thought it gave him a  laid-back look. His curly hair made him look a little boyish.

The main door of Shekhar’s flat was wide open. Probably they were waiting for Cyrus. Still he didn’t want to enter. He rang the doorbell.

Shekhar came out of the kitchen. He was holding a small packet in his right hand. Probably he was busy working in kitchen.

Cyrus was about to introduce himself but before that Shekhar spoke out,“You must be Cyrus. Come in, young man. I have kept the door open for you.”

“Oh, ok, hello sir.”

“Hey brother, welcome. Come. Feel free. Be comfortable here,” Shekhar tried to make him comfortable.

“Sir, others… I mean bhabhiji and Roohi”.

“Call me bhaiya, my friend. Shekhar bhaiya. They have just gone to a neighbour’s house. Actually, Roohi couldn’t go to school for the last two days as she had some fever. So they went to her friend’s house to know what was covered in the last two days. They should be back anytime.

“Oh ok…”

“In the meantime, why don’t you freshen up. Rest room is that way. “

“Sure bhaiya…,”Cyrus chuckled.

Roohi and Tara came back after half an hour. Cyrus had already freshened himself up in the meantime and was watching TV. Cyrus stood up as he saw them coming in.

“Hello bhabhi,” Cyrus wanted to break the ice first.

Tara regarded the stranger in her home. She considered not replying to him, but she didn’t want to anger Shekhar. “Hi. I hope you didn’t have any trouble locating our house,” she said politely.

“No bhabhi not at all. Shekhar bhaiya gave me proper direction.”

Roohi was surprised to see this new person in their house. She was down with fever for last two days so was not in her original self. She went closer to her mother and was staring at their new guest. Shekhar realized that she was not comfortable with Cyrus and wanted to break the ice between Cyrus and Roohi.

“Come here beta. He is your new uncle. His name is Cyrus uncle. He will stay with us for a few days,” Shekhar said in a loving tone to Roohi.

“Hello Cyrus uncle,” Roohi said in a sweet voice from a distance. Staring straight at Cyrus.

“Hello beta… take this. This is for you.”

Cyrus gave her a big chocolate bar. He had bought it before coming to their house. He knew that the first step to be acceptable to any family is to be close to their children and pets. Being associated with the legal profession, he was also taking lessons on psychology. He had to study human behaviour too for his profession.

“Thank you, uncle,” Roohi said in a cute and loving tone while she accepted the gift.

“You are welcome, beta,”  Cyrus gave her a loving smile back. He knew she was suffering from fever, so didn’t try to get too close to the child. The family might not have taken that well.

“So Cyrus, other than your legal studies what else do you do?,” Tara wanted to know the stranger better.

“Actually bhabhi, I love reading books. Mainly psychology books as this gives us an edge in our profession. You know, we need to understand the psychology of our clients, criminals and judges, too.” He giggled.

Everyone giggled back.

“Yes psychology is so important for everyone’s success but many of us do not even understand that,” Tara said.

“So other than reading psychology books what else do you do.”

“I like suspense thrillers. Actually, you know writers like Ashwin Sanghi or James Patterson show us new ways of looking into crime. They teach us a lot of lessons. In fact just two days back I was reading his new thriller — Private India.”

“Oh did you read it? I have heard about it. Didn’t get a chance to read it. How is it?,” Shekhar asked eagerly.

“Awesome. It is about an investigative agency, and how they will find their own men involved in a crime. You need to read it and know more.” He smiled.

“Good to know that. So you must also like crime series on TV then?” Shekhar inquired.

“Yes, I do. In fact I like all Indian crime series,” Cyrus said with a smile. It was evident from his expression that he wanted to know more about crime.

“Hmm… actually we don’t get a chance to watch them as we normally go to bed by 11 pm. You know we need to get up early in the morning.” Tara had to pitch in.

“Oh, ok. No problem bhabhi. I can sleep here on the sofa. I want to watch those crime serials.

“No no… how is this possible? That doesn’t look good Cyrus. You are our guest. and what will I tell Shailesh?” Shekhar wanted to protest. It was evident from his voice that he wanted to hide embarrassment.

“Oh yes, we can have Roohi sleep with us and you can use her room instead,” Tara added. “But her room is not that big; you will have to adjust.”

“No bhabhi, I will be fine here. Actually I need to watch those crime shows at night. It gives me more knowledge about crimes in India and investigation process. Probably you will appreciate how important it is for us to keep ourselves updated.” He smiled.

“Ok, no problem. But for keeping your clothes etc., you can use that closet. We will clean it up this evening once our maid arrives. Hope that is okay with you,” Shekhar said in a brotherly tone.

“Sure Shekhar bhaiya…you are like my elder brother,” Cyrus said with a smile.

***

Read the next part of the story here

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