A New Twist
A New Twist
Charu’s spirits peaked up when she saw the remark on the blue print that the proposal to have a sub-level parking was abandoned due to caving in possibilities. Her mind started thinking. The first question which struck her was why anyone would want a mountain to be named after their family. Why, why? constantly echoed in her ears. The more she thought about it, the more curious was she to find a solution to the series of weird events that she came face to face with in the recent past.
Suddenly her eyes sparkled. Could it be? She immediately started a search on the precious stones or minerals that could be found in the range of mountains close to Cochin. Yes indeed, her search revealed that several gemstones including sapphire, moonstone, iolite, aquamarine, garnet sunstone and corundum were found in the Kadavoor hill region. Her mind started thinking on various lines. She felt that she was on the right track of solving the mystery. She waited impatiently to hear from Yuvaan. She could not understand why Yuvaan had not contacted her but had merely left the blue print.
Charu felt almost certain that the clue to the mystery was the abandoned proposal of the parking lot. She tried Yuvaan’s number once more but was again disappointed that she could not get through to him. Charu could not wait any longer, She just had to rush to the Mall and scout for some more clues.
Yuvaan had left his sister’s scooty for Charu’s use during her stay. She put on a helmet and dashed off to the Mall. It was a Sunday and the Mall was vibrant with weekend movie goers and shoppers. She parked the scooty in the basement level 4. There were a couple of security guards and barring a few two wheelers the parking lot was full with SUVs and hatchbacks. It suited Charu who wove her way behind the parked vehicles and went in search of column K. Charu had surmised that this column should be the last one and technically just in front of the compound wall of the Mall to justify the theory of probable landslides.
She crossed all the columns numbered K one by one till she reached K09. What she saw appeared too good to be true! Her gut feeling told her that she was closing in on the mystery. Sure enough at K09, there was a big hoarding carrying the picture of the local corporator – Yuvaan’s father! Outwardly nothing seemed unusual – but Charu felt that there was something to it. She went around the column twice and spotted some movement behind the hoarding.
Was it a hallucination? She now placed her ear against the hoarding and strained to hear voices and she was surprised to hear Yuvaan’s voice too! The basement was suffocating and hearing Yuvaan was not only mysterious but was also scary. The other voices seemed like ruffians discussing their plan of action and she had caught a few words such as police, gems etc. Charu was in a dilemma. Had she done the right thing in confiding in Yuvaan and seeking his help? Was he on her side at all and helping her unravel the mysterious puzzle? At the same time she felt a chill down her spine and sensed that she would be coming to some harm. Just when she was deciding to forge the whole episode as a dream and return to New York, she felt as if an apparition was pleading with her – “Please Charu: you must do this for muttassi and achan – you can’t let them down.”
Intrigued, baffled, Charu felt as if some force magically gave her strength and without a thought she just pushed the hoarding aside to reveal a passage. Yuvaan was right in front of her and with him were half a dozen henchmen! Yuvaan came up to her saying, “there you are Charu! I was myself trying to get in touch with you.” He made some kind of a sign which made the men disappear. Charu tried to control her emotions and waited for Yuvaan to say something. He motioned her not to speak but simply follow him. As if in a trance, she blindly followed him and climbed the stairs. It seemed a long flight of stairs but when she reached the end of the stairs, she found herself on the second floor of the Mall, Even in her tension, fright and excitement her mind was still alert and she quickly deciphered that this was what MV02FK09 meant: MV – Mount Verghese (Mall); 02F – Second Floor and K09 – Parking lot K09.
Her surprise did not end there – though the Mall had six other floors, these stairs ended at the second floor and led to an opening of a tunnel. Charu saw another set of uniformed henchmen, who seemed to know Yuvaan. They greeted him respectfully and he asked one of them to get him a vehicle. Soon a sedan stopped to pick them up. They had hardly driven for half an hour when the scene underwent a world of a change. They were out in the open, on a mountainous road with a rocky surface on one side and a deep valley on the other. Though it was picturesque, Yuvaan had not yet told her anything. Charu thought that he did not want to share any information with her in the presence of the driver.
Soon they reached a dead end but to her surprise, there stood the Villa she had seen in the Polaroid photograph, with a very decorative name plate reading “HOME”.
Charu was dumbstruck. So this was the mystery she was trying to unravel, but there were still some loose threads. Once they reached the Home, they got off the car and started walking down the path. When they had walked a bit, Yuvaan sat on the green grass and asked Charu too to sit with him. Containing her curiosity no longer, she demanded Yuvaan to explain everything.
Yuvaan first expressed his regret and apologised on behalf of his father. He assured Charu that he had no role to play whatsoever in all that had transpired. His grandfather Barnard and Sheryl’s husband, Anthony Delsworth had stumbled upon the fact that the hilly region behind the Mall was rich in gemstones, including sapphire, moonstone, iolite, aquamarine, garnet, sunstone and corundum. Barnard teamed up with Anthony and together they started the Hotel AB which flourished very quickly. Now that they had become business partners, they sought to exploit the rich reserves of the hilly region and set to work about it.
Anthony had an Egyptian contact who was more than willing to convert the precious gems into cash. Together both of them started illicit trading of the gemstones and came into a lot of money. Sheryl was oblivious of her husband’s business as she spent most of the time looking after her son. One day Sheryl caught Anthony red-handed while he was trading the gemstones into cash. She was horrified and when he came to know that Sheryl would not go with him but complain to the police, he ruthlessly pulled out the sword which adorned the wall of the Home and cut off her neck. The poor child also was a tragic victim to the sword.
After Barnard passed away his son, Benjamin, the present Corporator, wielding his power continued the flourishing trade and also saw to it that the secret route from the Mall to the Home was not tampered with. Anthony too suffered a severe heart attack and Benjamin had a free hand in the business. Yuvaan felt ashamed that his father and grandfather were into this unholy business but swore that he would expose his father and get him punished.
When Charu who resembled Sheryl greatly, appeared from nowhere on the scene, Benjamin got cautious thinking that she may probably be some offspring of Sheryl’s family and lay claims to the fortune and planned to get her away from the scene.