Note: This is the twenty fourth chapter of 'Memory Intrigues', a collaborative novel being etched out by a group of ten bloggers.
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Read the previous part of the story here.
The story so far:
Shekhar decides to continue “Listen Jen, I need the password to that memory card… that alone can save my daughter and restore my family happiness, if that means anything to you and if you really love me as much as you claim.”
Jennifer laughs “Family… haha you made your life, got a family, what about me Shekhar… What about me ?… you shattered my dreams… broke your promises…didn’t even bother to help me when I was in need of you… you are a bloody traitor Shekhar… a bloody hypocrite! And now you have the gall to request me to help you? Who do you think you are?”
With tears running down her cheeks, Jennifer storms out of Shekhar’s flat… she doesn’t leave quietly… She looks back at Shekhar and continues shouting “You are a traitor Shekhar… you are a bloody traitor”…….
It is now almost 2 pm. Jennifer opens the taxi door and gets in, tears streaming down her face. She instructs the driver to move.
“Kidhar jaane ka Madam?” (Where do you want to go, Madam?)
“Pata nahin, kahin bhi chalo.” (I don’t know, go anywhere).
The driver looks at her strangely.
“Dekh kya rahe ho? Chalo bola na?” (What are you staring at? I told you to move on, didn’t I?)
Jennifer is totally distraught. The taxi driver starts moving, all the while giving the lady in the back seat worried looks. He is scared to make conversation with her. She seems so upset, she might snap at him if he so much as even tries.
“I was such a fool! I have spent 10 good years of my life in the hope I might be able to get Shekhar back! How could he do this to me? What a stupid excuse to dump me! ‘His parents would not accept our marriage!’ Didn’t he know this when he started going out with me? How could he use me like this and then dump me so heartlessly? I was such a fool to have trusted him. Such a spineless creep! And then when I told him I wanted to break off completely, how much he begged and pleaded that we should keep in touch? What was it he said? Oh yes! ‘Let us be good friends’. How convenient! It was always only about him and what he wanted. The rest of the world could go to hell.
What an ace idiot I was! I had pinned my hopes on the event that this ‘good friendship’ would some day bring him back to me! Now he has moved on and is happy living with his family and I am left all alone. Oh, men! Just you wait, Mr. Dutta, just you wait! This is just the beginning of the game.”
That brings her back to thoughts about Ahuja. “Where on earth has this Ahuja disappeared? Just when I was gloating over the fact that everything was falling in place! Fat Ahuja! Don’t I know a thing or two about you! Look at you! Fat, podgy fellow that you are! What do women see in you to fall for you? Seriously, are women blind or are their tastes so bad? Or are they just so plain desperate that even you are able to charm them off their feet? What a rogue you are! Haven’t I seen those pictures of you with all those fat, middle aged, rich ‘sisoti’ (sic: society) women’ as the Punjus put it? How much money you must have made blackmailing them with those photographs you used to take surreptitiously, God alone knows! Oh, I know too, though I might not know the exact figure! I thought you could help me by seducing Tara and then blackmailing her for money too. And I could have brought some pictures to Shekhar’s notice? Too late now! You are no use to me anymore. But hold on! Where are you? You are missing. Roohi is missing too! 2+2=4. Well, at least you could of some use to me. I am sure Roohi is with you.”
Jennifer's thoughts are running faster than the taxi in which she is travelling. They are driving along Marine drive. Somewhere through the haze of her thoughts, she registers the sea on one side and the heavy traffic moving in the opposite direction on the other. The cool breeze touches her face. Her eyes are feeling heavy and tired with all the crying.
How and where can she find Ahuja? Suddenly she thinks of a college mate who now runs a successful detective agency in Mumbai. It is a matter of a few seconds before she is on line with him:
“Hi Shibu, Jennifer Joseph here. Do you remember me?”
“How can I ever forget Jennifer Joseph? The girl with attitude who kept all the guys in college at a distance. All those poor guys who were willing to wipe the ground you trod on with their kurtas! Tell me now, what are you doing? Where are you calling from? What do I owe the honour of this call to?”
“Stop bull-shitting me Shibu Cherian! Look, I am in Bombay for some urgent matter. I need your help. Are you willing to help me?”
“Anything for you Madam! ‘Jaan haazir hai’ (I’ll give up my life for you), as they say in these parts of the world.”
Jennifer smiles through her tears at the drama Shibu is putting on for her benefit. He was always such a flirt! She gives Shibu all the details about Ahuja and asks him to find him at any cost.
“I need to find him very urgently. It is a matter of life and death.”
“Consider it done. Give me just 2 days. I cannot allow Jennifer Joseph to die so easily!”
Jennifer sighs. Every minute weighs heavily on her. “If only I can find that Ahuja soon enough, I am sure I will find Roohi too. What condition would Roohi be in? I am sure she will be frightened and missing her parents. She looks so much like Tara! How nice it will be to see her miserable, whining and crying for her parents! It was good to see Shekhar and Tara despairing over her and this will just complete the picture! If nothing else, I will at least feel some sense of peace.”
Jennifer has been driving around now for almost 2 hours. They are driving along Linking Road, Bandra. She suddenly realizes how hungry she is and decides to stop at a restaurant for a cup of coffee. She sits down and orders a cappuccino and a club sandwich. Just then her mobile rings. It is from Shibu. She picks up the phone and notes down the information that Shibu gives her.
“Thanks Shibu. That was really quick. You are a real life saver. I owe you one!”
She quickly gulps down her coffee, pays the bill and leaves immediately. She needs to move quickly.
You can read the next chapter here