Saturday, November 5, 2016

Vine: Chapter 4: The Meeting

[Previously: Year 2001, Rohit Verma and Neha Gupta (Raj Gupta’s wife) meets a fatal accident on Pune - Mumbai highway. The same day Rohit’s wife Sohini Bose commits suicide in their mumbai residence. Raghav Bose Verma (son of Rohit and Sohini) is left to the care of Sohini’s brother Pradip Bose and his wife Piyana Bose. Present day: Raghav who was settled in US with his maternal uncle, decides to come to India for selling his parental home. Right before he is leaving, he gets a call from Raj Gupta, claiming he knows the truth about his parent’s death, and luring him to meet him in Pune. Raghav decides to go meet him]
Raghav didn't know what to expect as he walked out of the airport. Last 20 hours had been a non stop movie marathon to stop the other non stop marathon in his head. He thought he had grown over that day his parents died- that single day which turned his life upside down, but he realized he was wrong. He felt quite tired from the long flight, change in time zones, and everything in between. He saw a man standing with a sign carrying his name. Soon he was in an Innova heading out of the airport, as the sun set in. In the last 20 hours he had considered several possible scenarios, one of which was that all this was an elaborate attempt to kidnap him. The only thing which he had ever done in his life g as elaborate as a kidnap attempt would be his short stint in NSA during college. Apart from writing some serious amount of code, which he still doesn't know whether it is being used, he had made couple of good friends. Post passing out of college, while he had an option to join their research and analytics division, he ended up choosing the corporate life instead. While his mind kept playing up scenarios, his gut told him that it was something else all together.
The car stopped at the turn of a park. The driver turned around and said, “Hi Raghav, I am Raj. We spoke on the phone. Glad you decided to come. Follow me”
As Raghav gathered his senses, and was about to ask some questions, he saw Raj quickly get out and get inside an old 4 storey building. He eventually followed him into an apartment at the top floor and got into the flat of certain Mr and Mrs Gupta. As he entered, his recently acquainted companion turned around and said, “As you would have guessed, I am Raj Gupta and this is where I used to live with my wife. Now of course I live alone. My wife died 15 years back. I promised to tell you the truth about your parent’s death, so why don't you have a seat and we can get started.”
Raghav was keenly observing this old man. He was nearing 60 probably, but certainly looked much older than he was. His sharp features gave away once a good looking man but the deep lines told a story of weathering and pain. He didn't know what the old man was going to tell him, but he could sense the morose in his voice. He settled down in his chair on the other side of the room.
“Before we begin, Raghav, do you have any questions?”
“Just one: why such a role play about being a diver?”
“Well I wasn't sure what to expect, and what I wanted to do. I needed to keep my options open.”
Raghav considered it for a moment. He didn't fully understand, but decided to listen.
Seeing that Raghav had no follow up questions, Raj started:
“Raghav, where you are sitting now is my temple, and you can be rest assured that whatever I am saying is absolutely true. This is the first place I built as a young man madly in love with his wife, intending to spend his life with her, and while things didn't pan out as planned, this is my haven of peace and all that is sane in my life. I met Neha almost 20 years back at a friend’s party. We instantly connected like in those movies you watch and in books you read. It was not long before we decided to get married and move in here. We had some of our best years here (gesturing at the wall full of photographs). However even like the best of us Neha had a past and it was with your father Rohit Verma. They had a short courtship period in college, which didn't last long once they passed out. While Neha moved on in life, Rohit was persistent about keeping their friendship alive. The thing about people unhappy in their own lives is that seeing happiness is difficult for them. Your father kept on finding faults in our relationship and influencing Neha’s mind about our marriage.”
Raghav was becoming more and more agitated with the accusations. Sensing this Raj threw a bunch of letters at him and continued.
“You obviously don't believe me and I don't blame you for it. Read these letters at your leisure. You will see what I am talking about. You must remember how your father moved to Pune, don’t you? You were old enough. Do you think it was just because of work. Absolutely not. He lured away my wife. He meticulously ended our marriage.”
At that point, Raghav decided that he had heard enough and stood up to leave.
“Raghav, before you leave wouldn’t you want to know who killed your mother?”
“What nonsense! My mother committed suicide. She …” Raghav gritted through his teeth. He found himself to be at a loss of words.
“Give me five minutes and you shall see the whole truth with proof.”
Raghav slumped back in his chair, but now he was feeling seriously ill at ease.
“Your father moved here in the year 2000 for some work, and started seeing my wife on a regular basis. What I mistook for old friendship, grew much more. I started noticing how Neha would be unhappy with the smallest of things in our lives. Can you believe that my wife of 10 years, would one day just stop caring about me? I don’t know Raghav, if you have been in a relationship ever, but the feeling of losing your love is just unbearable. But do you know what was more unbearable - feeling of being betrayed. My wife cheated on me, and when they found out that she was pregnant, they both eloped from Pune. As irony would have it, your father died in that car accident on the highway, the very same day.”
He passed on the autopsy report. He also passed on a consultation report for his wife from a hospital in Pune, where Rohit’s name was filled in the husband’s name section. Raghav was devastated.
“Raghav, it was your dad who killed your mother. Yes, he didn't kill her literally but he drove her to it. These are the telephone records (handing over another piece of paper to Raghav) from my land line on that day. Notice the two Mumbai coded numbers- they are your mother’s office and your residence numbers. Rohit told her of his debauchery and in her grief your mother took her own life. I can't blame her, I was very close to taking my own life myself.”
Raj paused as he swallowed his grief. It was a lot for Raghav to absorb. Raghav looked at the papers in his hands then looked at Raj and the photos on the wall. He didn’t know what to believe. Once someone passes away, they cease to have any faults. They rise above human flaws and attain the status of a hero. For Raghav, his father was his hero. For him to find out anything otherwise challenged his entire life.
For the next ten minutes and what seemed like eons, Raj showed him several more proofs of how his father had destroyed two happy families. Raghav looked at Raj’s eyes and saw the years of pain and suffering pouring out in one big release. He almost seemed to be smiling to himself, like someone who has been relieved of a huge burden of secret for the first time in many years. A man who has got justice after 15 years. Raghav interrupted, mumbled an apology and left in a hurry. He called a cab and went directly to his hotel. Tomorrow he will go to Mumbai. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to probe this any further. He was afraid of what was left to be uncovered. But that was for another day, right now he needed to sleep. He gulped down his medication and forced himself to sleep, before he lost his mind.

To be continued….

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