Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fort Vengeance Part 3

                    Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

                  Sardesai tossed and turned  on his bed. He had been unable to sleep ever since the killings at the fort. The case had made him impatient. It wasn't that often that a case like that happened in Raiji. In his career he had never seen a crime like this. The weapon did not match any of the conservative weapons used. Who was this mastermind? How did a simple town like Raiji give birth to such a criminal?

                   He felt his wife's hand over his chest. She caressed him lightly. He turned towards Sadhna, his wife. 
                   "What is it that keeps you occupied these days?"
                   "Nothing" he lied to his wife as he ran his hand into her long hair.
                   "I heard about the fort."
                   "From whom?" he asked her, at once alarmed.
                   "I have my sources too" she giggled.
                   "Sadhna, please tell me, who told you?" His tone scared her. 
                   "Dilip, the locals know all about it. They talk in hushed tones about the murders because no one knows for sure. There are rumors that there is a ghost in the fort."
                   "What rubbish" Sardesai dismissed his wife's news. But it bothered him that the news was out in the public. Did that mean that there was someone who was letting out the secret? His investigation had not progressed much but whatever he had come across in the last 2 days had been shocking. If given a free hand, he could have openly investigated the matter but Patil had tied his hands. He now knew only too well what happened to people who went against Patil. 

                   "When we were young, Prabhakar Kaka would sometimes visit us and tell us about the history of the fort. He loved to teach us. He took us to each and every corner of the fort. Did you know there is a hidden passage in the fort?" Sadhna mumbled, staring at the ceiling. 
                   "What did you just say? A hidden passage?" Sardesai sat up. 
                    Sadhna raised herself and leaned against the pillows. 
                   "Sadhna you never told anything about Prabhakar Kaka. How was he related to you?"
                   "There isn't much that I know of Prabhakar Kaka. We were only kids that time. He was my father's cousin. He used to visit us in Nagpur once in a year or two. It was only after I shifted to Raiji for studies that I came to know how popular he was."
                    "What do you know about the secret passage?" he interrogated. 
                     "I have never seen it. He never showed us the passage. He said it was the best kept secret of the fort. I doubt if even he knew where it was. But he did tell that one cannot stumble upon it if one looked too hard for it. It always intrigued me, the secret passage."
                                                                     ***

                     She sang about the winter nights. About the fire. About the love that keeps the heart warm. About the ice daggers that cuts the soul. When she sang, her melody carried pain. Her eyes closed, she was lost in her past. A past that had so much happiness and so much deceit. 

                     It numbed him every time she sat like that. He had goosebumps all over. For him, she was his world. He could do anything to make her happy. Yet, on days when tears rolled down her cheeks, he watched helplessly. He never interrupted her. He knew it was her only release. Her history made his blood boil. With a strengthened resolve, he set on his task.  
                                                                      ***
                    Mukta was nervous about her father's visit. Her father had never expressed any love for her or her brother. She was always conscious in his presence. As a child, she always hid in her room when her father was in the house. He too never bothered to interact with her. The only time he had been proud of her was when she had topped her class 10 exams. He had kept a grand party at their bungalow and distributed sweets in his constituency. It was the only time when she had felt like his daughter. She had thought that this would change her relationship with her father. She had been brave enough to tell her father that she aspired to be a doctor. Her father had been indifferent. The very next day, Dinkar kaka had told her that her father was sending her to Raiji to pursue an Arts degree. Mukta was heartbroken. She had not even been consulted on this major decision of her life. She was sure that her father had no plans of investing on her future and would find an alliance for her that would benefit his political career. He was the most selfish man she knew. She began hating her father with a new vigor. The only good thing about Raiji was that her brother was already there. Sharad had met a similar fate when he had desired to be a writer. He was promptly packed to Raiji and enrolled in commerce. Patil wanted him to complete a management degree so he could carry on his businesses under Sharad's name. 

                 She had told Samarth that her father had ways of knowing her activities and if he found out about campusdiaries he would expel Samarth. Samarth had simply laughed off her worries. She remembered Sharad's words. No, she would not be careless. She had messaged Samarth that she won't be coming online. He had simply said ok. Just ok? Why did she have to tell that to him? Unlike her, he had other people to chat to. Why would it matter she was online or not? Her father would reach late at night. She could have still chatted with him. Now she regretted tell him she won't come online. She was already missing him. Was she falling in love with him? Did she have the right to?
                                                                     ***
               
                  Early in the morning, Sardesai decided to meet Dr Raghuvanshi. He was a 90 year old man who had lived in Raiji all his life. He was a historian. Sardesai's mind had been racing ever since he came to know about the secret passage. After talking to Sadhna, he was sure that there was something about the fort that he needed to know to solve this murder mystery. 

                 Dr Raghuvanshi lived in his old ancestral house. The house had been renovated but had maintained its old world charm. They called it wada in Marathi. A very few houses in Raiji had remained in the wada structure. It was a single storied wada with rooms arranged around a courtyard. Dr Raghuvanshi often entertained people in his courtyard which had huge swing and small seatings surrounding it. 
                      
                A maid opened the door. Dr Raghuvanshi did not keep too well and seldom went out. Age was taking a toll on him. The old man hunched. He walked slowly into the courtyard and directed Sardesai to take a seat on the swing. The maid helped Dr Raghuvanshi on the swing and went about doing her daily chores. Dr. Raghuvashi coughed repeatedly as Sardesai introduced himself. Sardesai wondered if the nanogenarian could be of any help. 

               Dr Raghuvanshi adjusted his spectacles and spoke, "I have never seen a policeman at my doorstep. Researchers and students often come to me for guidance. This is the first time a policeman is seeking my help. I am flattered!"
               Sardesai was getting impatient. 
               "Is it true that there is a secret passage in the fort?" he asked straightaway
               "Only a secret keeper would know" Dr Raghuvanshi smiled. 

To be continued

3 comments:

Keirthana said...

Getting better with each part, post the subsequent parts sooner na, it's very difficult to remember the characters and the story at such long intervals.. :(

maithili said...

You are right Keirthana.. Even I had to read the first 2 parts again to pick where I left. I had to put my life back on track to start all over with blogging. I hope to post the next parts back to back :)
Thank you for keeping up with the series

sandhosh said...


Thank you for this great article which conveyed a good information.keep more updates.
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