Chapter 7: Anabelle Again
Chapter 7: Anabelle Again6 mins 78 6 mins 78
This was my second visit to Mataji’s ashram in Mehrauli. My heart, strangely, was beating loudly as if there was danger ahead. If Anabelle was really who I suspected her to be and had eliminated Seema, then she was a dangerous person. Maybe my wife was right; maybe I should leave this private investigation of mine and go back to my normal life. Why should I put my family’s future at stake for nothing that involved me except that I had met Swamiji and liked him? Anabelle would surely be aware of the developments in the case and had a Plan B and C which could include eliminating those who could lead the authorities to her. What if I confronted her and got killed in the bargain? I was being dumb and foolhardy.
But Anabelle too had impressed me during my meeting with her. She did not appear to be the cold-blooded Mrs A. Mrs A could be just a coincidence. She had spoken to me freely about what she thought of Swamiji and how she had felt bad for Mataji but did not harbour any hateful thoughts or emotions.
The lady I encountered at the ashram told me that Anabelle was out and would return only after 3 pm. Well, this is it. Anabelle was not here, and it was possible that she was at the airport not very far away from Mehrauli. But there would be no flights to Stockholm at this hour. Most international flights to European countries leave at midnight and after. She could be in the lounge waiting for her flight. What do I do now? Wait for her and confirm her guilt if she does not turn up or leave and return another day?
My determination and stubbornness surprised me. I no more cared for my life or my family. I had transformed into the true seeker of truth, whatever that may be. I had to, for reasons unknown, find out the truth about the sting and blackmail. Not that I really cared for Swamiji but for myself.
I hung out in the ashram and at 2 pm saw Anabelle driving into the ashram gates in an Uber. I heaved a sigh of relief. She had not fled, but that alone was not reason enough to acquit her.
It surprised Anabelle to see me again, but she hid her suspicions under her broad smile.
“Well, well, Mr Rajesh. What brings you to the ashram?”
“Nothing really. Was passing by and thought I may as well meet you.”
“That’s so cute of you. Come, let’s have some tea.”
We sipped tea, and I gratefully accepted the snacks that came with it. It was well past lunchtime and my stomach was rumbling.
“Are you reading the papers about the case?” I asked her casually.
“Yes, I am. It’s quite a muddle is it not? HN has sex for a year with this girl and then gets arrested only to claim that he is being blackmailed. The girl sleeps with the sadhu for a year and then claims he forced her into it! Now it turns out that there is a gang operating to extract money from the Sadhu! Wow, something like Ripley’s believe it or not, is it not?”
I could not help laughing. Yes, it looks like sleazy fiction.
“Did you read about the mystery lady, Mrs A?” I dropped it as casually as I can.
“My, my. Yes, I read that part. Mrs A mastermind, but anonymous. Who could it be?” There was not a flicker in her eyes, nor a change of colour on her face. Not a single twitch of a muscle. She looked normal to me.
“Seems Swamiji bore her a big grudge. Now the victim Seema has disappeared, who knows where?”
“Surely looks like a complicated situation to me. Hope HN gets out of jail unscathed.”
It surprised me that Anabelle felt HN had ruined Mataji and left her to die heartbroken and yet she wished that he comes out of all this unscathed?
“Are you surprised, Rajesh? Look, what happens to anyone is not my Karma, so why should I think ill of anyone or wish them bad? Who am I to judge HN? Best leave it to law and god.”
“Anabelle, I feel ashamed that I had suspicions about you being Mrs A.” This was the best I could do to confess my guilt. This girl could never be Mrs A.
“What? You really thought I was involved? That I am doing this to avenge what he did to Mataji? Mrs A? Oh, God. A for Anabelle. Rajesh, I have nothing to do with HN. I would never even dream of revenge. God, Rajesh, how could you?”
“I am sorry Anabelle, but this case somehow has got into me and I am stuck with it for reasons I cannot yet understand. Even the police do not know who this Mrs A is and they are hunting for Seema to seek answers for her. It seems Seema was engaged by this mystery woman. I thought whoever she was, the lady must have been close to Swamiji. Maybe he hurt her, maybe he exploited her sexually. If not her, maybe someone close to her. I suspect that this was not the first time Swamiji had such relations with women.”
“There you are! It’s true.HN had some very unsavoury experiences here too. Mataji knew about it and she spoke to him too. I did not tell you this because there was no reason for me to tell you. HN had forced one of Mataji’s young disciples to have sex with him. Mataji warned him she will tolerate anything but this kind of behaviour. In fact, she had asked him to leave the ashram or she would report the matter. HN was peaking in popularity and was arrogant. He told Mataji that she was no more the force behind the ashram and that he would ensure that she suffered more than losing her disciples if she went to the police. He had influence, and Mataji knew that. HN was also planning to get into politics, which Mataji did not like. They had a big conversation and there was a mutual agreement between them that HN would quit the ashram and Mataji would not go to the police.
But Mataji was not happy in her heart that she had let a child suffer and let off a criminal. She was also worried for HN who was married with two likeable children. Mataji sent Pyare Mohan to the village where HN had sent his wife and children. She thought telling his wife about HN would have some salutary influence on him. His wife would act firmly and discipline him. But nothing came out of the visit. Pyare Mohan returned and told Mataji that HN’s wife was wild at him for accusing her husband. Mataji left the matter at that.”
“And Pyare Mohan? He is now handling the treasury at Swamiji’s ashram!”
“Yes, Pyare Mohan left with HN when the crunch time came. Who can blame him? We knew that Mataji was down and out for good and this ashram had no future.”
“Anabelle, I am sorry that I suspected you.”
“Don’t even think about it.”