I walked into the cafe. The light was pretty dim. A couple at the corner table caught my attention. Suddenly the woman turned around & I saw it was my wife!! Somehow, I managed to avert the eye contact & left the place in a great rush. The waiter, ready to serve the black coffee, was staring in utter bafflement.
Hello, I am Rajiv Roy, 35 years old, Area Sales Manager in Lords, Statesman & Co. I was leading quite a happy life with my beautiful wife-Ranu & 7-year-old daughter- Khushi. We used to stay in a 2 BHK flat in Aradhana Society in South Kolkata.
As Rajiv was driving the lanes of Sector-V to visit one of his clients, his mind was relentlessly trying to figure out the strange behavior of Ranu for the last 2 weeks, precisely.
“Baba, Baba I want the new Barbie,” Khushi told her father when he entered the flat in the evening.
“Khushi you already have 2 Barbies. Why do you want a third one?”-Rajiv said caressing his cute little daughter. “Pragya told me today in school that new Barbie has curly & colored hair & comes with a new set of dresses. Please I want that Baba.”- Khushi. “Oh, my little angel, if you score more than 95% in your coming Unit Test, you will have that. Now, call your mother” Rajiv replied with a smile. “Maa, Baba has come.”- Khushi. “Oh Rajiv, I need to go out now to attend an urgent call. Will be back by an hour & then will have dinner together. Khushi, be a nice girl & don’t disturb Baba”.
Ranu just moved out in a whisker throwing these words leaving Rajiv speechless. In the night when Rajiv tried to get cosy, Ranu was least interested. He went outside in the balcony & lit up a cigarette. He was brooding for the bygone days, reminiscing the days when he & Ranu used to wander freely in his old bike through the streets of Kolkata, painting the city red. Those days were really wonderful. Then they got married, Khushi was born. He bought this flat, got chance in a good MNC. His parents died a couple of years back. First his father & then mother within a gap of 4 months. Ranu’s parents also died just after their marriage in a road accident.
“Hello, hello just hold for a second.” These words of Ranu brought him back to reality. It was already 12:30 am. From his 5th storey flat, the whole city seemed to be in deep slumber as if a demon had cast its spell & it would end as the day dawned.
“Rajiv, what about the sales in House Detergent & Industrial Cleaning segments? Stocks are piling up. There is hardly any movement in these sectors this month. We are facing huge pressure from the Head Quarters. You know that already six months had passed & we are way behind the target. What are you doing, my boy?” retorted Mr. Bakshi, Regional Manager. “Sir, I am trying hard to push sales. By today evening, we are expecting some movement. I have coordinated with all the dealers & potential pockets also. I will be updating you late in the evening.”-Rajiv signed off.
As he came out of RM’s den; his mind got crowded with thoughts of Ranu. That old migraine was catching up. “Ranu, have you seen Khushi’s Unit Test Report Card, she had fared poorly in all the subjects. Aren’t you paying enough attention to our daughter? -Rajiv uttered in unprecedented dismay, that evening in his flat.
“How much time do you spare for me & Khushi? Have you ever tried to figure out how your daughter is faring in studies? It’s very easy to point than to act.” Ranu replied in high octane. They both found Khushi staring at her parents with tears in her eyes.
“Dada, what happened? I am marking you for the last 4/5 days. You can confide to me”- Deepak said to Rajiv, the next day. Deepak is Rajiv’s junior & Rajiv is a role model to him. Deepak & Rajiv were in a cafe. As they were sipping coffee, Rajiv narrated the whole story to Deepak & told him that he was extremely perturbed due to the unprecedented development.
Deepak: “Dada, before jumping to any conclusion, let me investigate. Give me a week’s time. I will present the true story to you”. Deepak took a day off. The next day, he was following Ranu from a well-guarded distance. Ranu after leaving Khushi at school took a taxi & entered into a CCD counter at Park Street. Deepak parked his car beside Bangur sweets, lit a cigarette. He was just thinking, why & how the relation between Rajiv & Ranu soured. They were so much in love. He was feeling very sad for Rajiv who had stood like a pillar for him during all adversities. It was high time to repay. He should bring out the truth behind Ranu’s strange demeanor. Deepak rang up a number, talked for some time. After nearly an hour & half, Ranu came out with a guy. Deepak snapped both of them, thanks to the smartphone. “Smart! Have people become really smart or inconsiderate?” Deepak was thinking; again, he felt very bad for Rajiv, mostly for Khushi. Before leaving, Deepak had called Tapan, an old mate, updated him about the work/necessity/timeline as it wouldn’t be possible for him to take off for seven days & find out Ranu’s everyday chore like a sleuth.
After 5 days, Tapan & Deepak met at a bar. As they were enjoying whiskey, Tapan handed over the photos to Deepak. Deepak gave him ₹4000 for the job. As Deepak was gazing through the pictures, he found that Ranu had met that guy, whom he saw on the first day of his investigation, most of the time. In one of the photos, Ranu was seen in front of a medical clinic. He was astonished when he saw the last photograph.
On the 8th day,
“Dada, where are you? Can you please come to St. Cathedral Orphanage, Elgin road?” Deepak called Rajiv. “Yeah, coming “came the reply. As they were waiting outside the orphanage, keeping a safe distance; to his utter surprise found Ranu coming out of the orphanage with a Nun.
That evening, “Ranu, I need to discuss something grossly serious. It is directly related to our relationship. Please come”-Rajiv. “Yeah, tell me, what you want to convey?”-Ranu. “See these photos. Who is this man? I had earlier seen both of you in a cafe in Salt Lake, sector-V. You were attending some ghost calls at midnight. Why are you keeping everything clandestine?”-Rajiv asked.
“Rajiv, can you take an off tomorrow & spend some time with me. I will take you somewhere.’’Ranu told.
The very next morning after dropping Khushi at school, they both went to St. Cathedral orphanage. “Mam, this is my husband Rajiv. We have come to meet Angel. You are requested to complete the legal formalities. We want to take her home as soon as possible.” Ranu told to Head Nun. Rajiv was looking at Ranu in utter bewilderment.
Ranu said to Rajiv as they advanced to Angel’s room; “Rajiv do you remember Manju who was your best friend in your village? “Rajiv was shocked. “Manju!? Who told you about her?”
“Rajiv, you were inquiring about the guy with whom I had met. He is actually Manju’s brother Ravi. One day I got a call from him, went to meet him in the cafe at Sector-V.” -Ranu.
Rajiv: “Accidentally I was there. Many of my clients have their offices in that area. I dropped to relax with a cup of coffee. Seeing you with an unknown person, I rushed out.”
“Rajiv, Angel is your & Manju’s daughter.”-Ranu
Rajiv: “What? Are you mad?”
Ranu: “I also behaved in the same way when Ravi told me that. He showed me some old photographs of both of you & the two families were very close.”
Rajiv: “But how that confirms that girl is my daughter. “
Ranu:” I went to Dr. Khurana’s clinic where I know your blood sample is present as you visited there to check your BP/sugar. You visited their clinic last week to give blood. Here is the DNA report, it is matching with that of Angel.” Rajiv was experiencing the shock of his life. He broke down into tears. “Where is Manju now?” Please, tell me.” - Rajiv entreated. Ranu: “She is no more, she died while giving birth to Angel. I have decided to adopt her. She will be living with Khushi.”
As they entered the room, it seemed Manju was standing in front of him. Suddenly he went to his teens & found he & Manju roaming through the orchards, gardens of their village.
“Come, Angel, we have come to take you home.” - Rajiv.