Duplicity – Chapter 10

Team : Writers’ Express (Round 2)

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Logo courtesy – Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli

Read the previous part of the story (Chapter1) here

There was such an absolute silence in the room that you could have heard a pin drop. The mistrust was evident on everyone’s face. Even though Cyrus had presented his side of story to the Duttas, no one was ready to believe his words..

A silent storm engulfed the occupants of the flat for some time. Everyone was getting their thoughts together and was busy eliminating the odds out. Shekhar was in a great dilemma as he was the one who had brought Cyrus in and possibly put his family in danger. His family came above all else. The last thing he would want was to get even remotely involved with criminals. Tara was fuming inside as she did not want to compromise on their security at all.

Cyrus was not sure what else he could have done to convince Duttas. Staying in Mumbai for some more days was very important for him. But his understanding of human psychology was telling him that it was getting tougher for him. His reputation as well as that of Shailesh was at stake. He made a last attempt to convince the Duttas. He finally broke the silence

“Well, I understand that you both are shocked to see those photographs,” he said. “It is natural for a common person to get scared. Probably my parents would have done the same thing. But I can call the photographer who took those snaps and you can directly talk to her, I mean, if that helps.”

Both Tara and Shekhar were relieved to some extent, even though they didn’t know the photographer personally.

Tara didn’t want to take any chances, she said, “Well, I am not sure if that would help because we don’t know her but we can still try talking to her”.

“Even I think we can talk to her even though that doesn’t guarantee anything,” Shekhar said calmly.

Cyrus dialled Jennifer’s number from his cell and put the phone on speaker.

“Hi Jenny, this is Cyrus…”

“Hey Cyrus, how are you doing? Have you reached Mumbai?” A woman replied in plain voice.

“Yes Jenny, I am with the Duttas in Mumbai and they want to speak with you regarding Maya. I have put you on speaker so that everyone can hear you at the same time.” Cyrus narrated the whole story short.

“Oh… Okay. No problem, Cyrus. How is everyone there?” She asked.

“We are fine, Jennifer, thank you. How are you doing?” Tara asked politely.

“Is that Tara? I mean… I am not sure who is speaking.” Jennifer replied.

“Oh yes, it’s Tara. My husband Shekhar is also present here. I hope you know him,” Tara said calmly.

“Hello Jennifer, Shekhar this side,”Shekhar introduced himself.

“Hi. Hello everyone. Yes I know you all. Cyrus told me about your family. He was telling me about your daughter too. Is she there?”It was evident that Jennifer was undergoing huge mental trauma but she was trying to sound normal over the phone.

“No, Jennifer. Roohi is not here. She went to her friend and didn’t want to come back. So I left her there for tonight.”  Tara Said.

“Okay. I heard she is very cute. Give my blessings to her,” Jennifer said.

Shekhar inquired, “Thanks Jennifer… Do you have five minutes? We have a few questions for you.”

“Oh ya. Tell me,” Jennifer replied. There was no enthusiasm in her voice.

“See, we are really sorry to hear what happened to your friend Maya. Is there any new information on that?”

“No. Nothing. Everyday I wait for the phone to ring… for any update from the police. I tried calling the investigating officer as well, but in vain. I still can’t believe that she’s no more. It  feels as if she is still around.” Jennifer held back the tears and tried to be brave, but her voice betrayed her pain.

“Jennifer, Tara here. We all hope that you get some news soon. We can’t change the past, but there is always hope.. Have patience, dear. Everything will be alright.”

“Thank you.” Jennifer could not stop herself from sobbing anymore.

An uneasy silence prevailed in the house. Women’s tears can win anyone’s heart and even prevail over the minds of beasts. Tara was a woman too. She had no reason not to be sympathetic to Jennifer and believe in her story.

“Listen, dear. We know what situation you are undergoing presently. But as you know we are a reputed family here and we can’t endanger our lives in any such controversy, so we just wanted to clarify a few points with you. Don’t get us wrong, please,” Tara said, trying to  be compassionate.

“I understand.”

“We are just trying to understand how you and Cyrus, who are from completely different cities, know each other so well that he was concerned about your friend Maya and travelled on such a short notice to Delhi.  Will you be able to tell us more about the whole incident?” Tara asked  in an empathetic tone.

“Sure. I am a professional photographer. Photography is my passion. I shoot in functions.  Mostly for money and sometimes even without any money…”

“Okay.” Tara listened intently.

“Maya and I were from same school. Even our parents were close.”

“Okay” Tara kept her engaged in conversation so that she felt easy and poured her heart out.

“We were staying together in a hotel at Rajouri Garden. When Maya didn’t return after a certain point, I was scared and had to call Cyrus for help since he belonged to the same place.”

“You probably did the right thing Jennifer,” Shekhar said,“but I am still wondering, why did you call Cyrus? I mean you only met him at a wedding and you guys hardly knew each other, right?”

“Actually, I did not know anyone else in Delhi. After we met in  a wedding in Kochi, Cyrus called me a few times and we started knowing each other better. I couldn’t think of anyone else at that point in time.”

“Hmm..so Cyrus agreed to come to Delhi immediately leaving behind his work in

Mumbai?” Tara replied as if she still did not believe in her story.

“Yes. It was very nice of him to  travel back to Delhi for me and on such a short notice. I am really thankful to him for that.”

“So did you file any police complaint after discussing with Cyrus?” Shekhar asked.

“No. I didn’t want to go to the police immediately. I was not comfortable going to the police alone. They would have put the blame on my friend instead. I thought it was too early to do anything. So we decided to wait.”

It seemed to everyone that Jennifer was telling the truth but the  Duttas didn’t want to take chances either. The last thing they wanted was the police coming to their  house investigating a murder. They knew even accomplices get equal punishment. Jennifer was not sure whether she could  clear the air  of all confusions.  The Duttas were thinking hard and deciding fast. A thousand things were storming in their heads.

An uncomfortable silence gripped everyone. Nothing was heard from  either side. Everyone was busy gathering their thoughts together, when Jennifer broke the silence.

“Hello…are you all still there?”

***

Read the next part of the story here

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