Esther Antai 1 year ago

I Was So Surprised To See Him.😊 (continuation.)

“Where is my house?” She asked looking around. Rohan and Raina stood at the small bylane near the sea shore.

"It was an independent house, right? This is Mumbai. Maybe they razed it, and this white building was built in place of it." "Damn!" Rohan saw a small iron press fellow going about with his business right under a big tree opposite the building. "What's your name?" Rohan asked, going near him. "Pramod." "Pramod, how long have you been here?" "Too long. My father set up this stall way back in the 80s. Why?" "Nothing. Do you know what happened to the Kiran niwas?" Raina came and stood beside him. "That two-story house?" "Yes!" Raina replied. "That was razed 6-7 years ago. The owner sold the land to these Lanka builders. You know what price they got?" "Never mind. What about the other independent houses?" "Same thing. Other builders purchased it." "I see." "Looking for someone?" "Yes. Some people who lived in those houses."

"Some of the people got duplex flats in the building that was going to be built on their plot. I don't know if they lived in it, but you can ask. What if you are lucky?" "Thanks, man!" Rohan repeated the whole scenario to the security guard and asked if he knew any of the names he mentioned. He took the case file images from his cellphone and read out the names of the neighbors who had talked to the officer back then. "Mr and Ms furniturewala, yes. They live in this building and have been here for a long time. Quite aged too. They might be the same people. They live in the penthouse. On the 22nd floor." "Thank you!" Shruti had just gotten out of the restaurant when she received a call. "Hello?" "Listen, I just came to know Nalini's husband has been settled here for the past two years now. If you are free, we could go and talk to him." Sameer blurted out. "Good job. But I need to change. You send me the address, and I will be there." "What's the need to change? We don't have to be too formal because he is an ex-army guy? Where are you anyway?" "It's not that. I was on a date. My dress is according to that.." "You are with Shivam?" "Yes."

"I am sorry." He said hung up the call. He kicked the side table and walked out of the room.

"Colonel Nirav Rai?" Shruti asked as she stood with Sameer outside a brightly lit house on the outskirts of the city. Sameer saw Shruti being dropped by Shivam in his white Mercedes, which made his blood boil. A few minutes later, they stood outside the given address. "Yes?" A man in his late 50s opened the door with a smile on his face. "I am officer Shruti Ravindran, and he is officer Sameer Agarkar. We are here in connection with your wife's missing case?" "What?" "Can we come in?" He reluctantly called them in and offered them a seat. "I can't believe you guys are still investigating that case! It's been 20 years." "22. To be precise." Shruti said and took a seat with Sameer.

"Yes. Whatever. It doesn't matter. She ran away. I told the other officer the same thing. She is happy, raising a family in some other part of the country, and you guys are still playing hide and seek."

"I wish I could tell you how right you are," Shruti said as she took a photograph from Sameer's hand and gave it to Nirav. "A guy found this in his deceased father's camera that he must have clicked before he passed away. No one knew that camera had such a groundbreaking photo until his son decided to revive old memories." Nirav glanced at the picture and sat back in shock. His shoulders drooped, and he closed his eyes and looked away. Tears glistened on his face as he sat speechlessly. "All this time, I cursed her for living happily somewhere, and I have stuck her in such an emotional mess. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought she… she..." "I believe you told officer Roy that you suspected your wife of infidelity?" "Yes. We were married for five years before I broke all ties and went separate ways. She was just 18 when she got married to me. I was about to be 24. But I never made her feel I wasn't there for her, and what did she do in return? She cheated with other men behind my back."

"Did you catch her red-handed?" "No. But I had evidence. I had trusted people who told me what was going on when I went outstation on official trips." "Did she admit to it?" "She didn't need to. I knew it." "That means you never knew for sure that she was cheating on you. Circumstances can be misleading. Maybe things weren't as it seems they were." "Highly unlikely. Anyway, she eventually went to live with her father and never came back. She had this small tailor shop..."

"Boutique." Sameer corrected. "Yes, whatever. A boutique that she had started working on when we were together. I told her I wanted a simple housewife, but she wouldn't listen. Ultimately things got too bad, and I left her. A small part of me wanted to make amends and call her. I... I loved her, you see." "You never spoke to her after you both got separated?" "Hardly ever. She called up on my birthday the following year. I called up on her birthday. Then I received a call from her, my operator said, but she denied calling me. That's when I stopped all calls to her. She didn't care about me. Why should I care about her?" "I see."

"Did you have any kids before she? I mean, you left her?" Sameer asked. "No. We did not have any kids." "Maybe she was pregnant when..." "She wasn't pregnant. Why are you asking?" Shruti looked at Sameer and back at him. "Nalini had a baby girl who is 28 years old now. She is an officer in the same police station that we are coming from." Shruti broke the news. "That's not possible. I don't have a daughter." "You do. In fact, she was the one who recognized her mother in the photo that you have in hand." Nirav Rai looked at the photograph and back at them. "Then what I said was correct. Nalini had some extramarital affair that made her a mother. Because if it were mine, why wouldn't she tell me? What reasons would she have for not telling me such big news? We could have raised the baby separately or together. What woman chooses to have a baby and not tell the father unless that baby is born out of her infidelity?"

Shruti bit her lip and looked at Sameer. Nirav took a deep breath and calmed himself. "Nalini never mentioned any kid. If this girl is 28 years old, she should have been born around The time we separated when we were still in contact. Why didn't she tell me? I don't know what that girl told you, but as far as I know, Nalini had no daughter." "Mr furniturewala?" An elderly man had opened the door when Rohan looked at him and had smilingly asked. "Yes. What do you want?" He asked curtly. "Did you own Rosa villa, which was located in the same place where this building stands now?" "Yes. Why? Is that illegal?" "No. Absolutely not. We just wanted some information." "Who are you both?" "Police. Just a few questions." He looked at them from head to toe. Rohan and Raina looked at each other. "Yes, ask. Fast. Am about to eat." "Sure. Did you know any Nalini Raghuvanshi who lived in Kiran Niwas right adjacent to your house?" "Oh, God! Is that investigation still going on? When will it end?" "I am sure if you help us, it will end sooner than you think." "My wife had already told everything we knew to the officer who was investigating it for years." "I am sure. But just one last time." "Okay. What is it?" "Were you good friends with Nalini?" "I am 92! Nalini was my granddaughter's age. We just had a formal relationship. She helped in designing the clothes for my grandniece's wedding once. She was close to my wife more." "Sid, she lives alone or with her daughter?" "Daughter?" "Yes." "Well…" "Nalini had no daughter." An elderly woman had walked up behind him and replied to Rohan. "I knew Nalini and her father very well. Nalini didn't have any kid." Shruti sat with her head in her hands. Sitting on her comfortable office chair, she was in deep thought. "Do you think we should tell Raina what officer Roy told us..." Sameer asked, standing near her. "Do you really think that lover boy wouldn't have told her?" "Aah, of course." Rohan came in just then. "Ma'am, we have the old employees of Malhotra's company here." "Send them in."

"What happened to you? You look like a mess." Sameer asked Rohan. "I... I told Raina about the developments." Shruti looked at Sameer and raised her eyebrow in succession. Sameer nodded his head in disbelief. "And how did she react?" "She showed me her documents and other certificates, which show her mother's name." "What about her father's name?" "Her mother didn't want her to have a father's name, especially when he had nothing to do with her life. But since that wasn't possible and it was mandatory to write a father's name. Nalini had used the south Indian way of having initials for Raina. So Raina became Raina N. N standing for Nalini. Nalini's father supported her, and it became her identity. In some documents, her name is Raina Raghuvanshi." "Did you meet her father?" "He claims he isn't the father." "We went to her old place where she lived to corroborate from the neighbors if Nalini had a daughter." "And?" "Same thing. The Aged Parsi couple was very insistent on the no-daughter part. Raina was overwhelmed with everything. I advised her to go home."

"Good job. Make sure she doesn't come to the station for the next few days. It's going to be an emotional rollercoaster." Shruti said. "Right." "But this makes no sense!" Sameer said. "Let's take one thing at a time. Call the Malhotra fellows." Shruti instructed Rohan. "What's your name, and what time period did you work for Mr. Malhotra?" Shruti asked the lanky guy in the middle. "I am Rishi Kumar. I had been working for five years when he passed away, and his son Shivansh took the reign in his hands." "And how would you describe Mr. Malhotra?" Sameer asked. "Strict, strong-headed, and generous." "Generous?" "Yes. Mathur's daughter was detected with cancer. Sir paid for the whole treatment with nothing in return." He said, pointing to the man sitting beside him on the left side. "Is that true?" Sameer asked him. "Yes. My daughter was just 4. It was devastating. Sir can into our lives like an angel. I am an Arjun Mathur by the way.” "What about you?"

"Vikas Singh. I had been with him since he started the company. I was an employee of the old firm he worked with before starting his own. I have known him the most. I was there when he got married when he had kids. When his wife died." "So were you with him on the night he was supposed to have this meeting when he passed away in the accident?" "Uhm, yes." "I see." "Ever seen this woman?" Shruti asked, laying down the photo of Nalini in front of them. All three of them looked at a smiling photograph of Nalini Raghuvanshi. "No. I haven't." Pat came to the reply from Vikas Singh. "Me neither," Mathur said. "Wait. I think I did." Rishi said, taking a closer look. "Where?" "In sir's office..." "How come you remember her so clearly even after so many years?" Vikas asked him, and Shruti shot him a look. "Because I caught them in a compromising position. They were entangled in one another late in the night, and I saw things that I shouldn't have. Now you don't see that every day, do you?" Shruti looked at Sameer and Rohan and closed her eyes.

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