The Trail Behind
The Trail Behind10 mins 187 10 mins 187
Yuvaan with his lazy remark on the blueprint of Fort Kochi map had stirred hornet's nest. The trails of the hunt so far, made Charu's thirsty soul look for more such revelation. The more she was into the quicksand of analysis , the more she was unto the swirl of distraught. Premonitions followed by wild guesses and guesses needing support of facts-was like opening a can of worms. Having come this far and after foraying into the enigma, Charu was confident of solving it before going abroad.
"Why didn't Yuvaan hand these over to me in person? Is he consciously avoiding me since I have spoiled his peace of mind by constant nagging or, has something urgent to attend to?It is strange too, that he has not picked up his phone despite these many number of calls. It is so very unbecoming of him. "-Charu muttered. Yet, a flicker of smile adorned her pink lips when she closely watched the blueprint. A meandering hope in the silhouette of obscurity clung to tall mountains of belief.
“I am missing something somewhere. Let me put the bits and pieces of the puzzle and rearrange them as per date of occurrence of events” . . . Charu took stock of the information and spanned out. ”
“ Sheryl Verghese wanted a mountain to be named after her, that ended up in the construction of a hotel-’Mount Verghese’, currently the ‘city mall’. The second clue is the sword that Anthony wields in one of the pictures in the book, she found in the museum. It has MV02FK09 engraved on it. The strange part is-the make of the sword has egyptian features. How uncle Vincent is connected to Egypt and why did he clandestinely travel?What was the purpose and why he left in a hurry? Is the sword the crux of the matter and he has been hiding the truth and himself?Martha knew Sheryl as a friend or, theirs was more than friendship?Her roleplay in the entire gamut of events cannot be ignored. Was there a ruthless season or some uncanny and unfamiliar turn of events, and Sheryl and Anthony were trapped… their hushes settled with dust? Or, they met the ultimate in a natural manner?”
All these angles are pertinent and need to be looked into thoroughly.
And finally. . . the pathway leading to ‘Home’.
O my Gosh!This complicated plot needs a team effort it seems, to be unfolded. Wish Yuvaan was here to put some calm to my distressed soul. Let me keep fingers crossed for tomorrow. ”
As the deep dark night opened up to a fresh morning kissing and caressing Fort Kochi, Charu got up to a new start with her favorite brew.
“Pour me some more please . . . I miss the flavor always. In the states, one gets to sip so many varieties and variants, but nothing can beat the exquisiteness of the blend. Simply awesome it is. ”
The maid poured some more pampering to her indulgence.
Charu flung herself on her cozy couch with her gaze fixed on the phone. Google services could not meet her needs. Detailed history of Fort Kochi did not come up in the search machine.
The doorbell was the one thing she was pining to listen to since morning. She answered immediately when it rang. Yuvaan was there with a wide grin.
“Sorry Charu. I accompanied my dad to the meetings for the ensuing poll. I was dog tired and so…”
“Nice explanation Yuvi. Thanks for the details of the blueprint with your astute comments. I have gone through them several times, yet I need someone to assist me . . . to wield the oar when my analysis moves away from shore. You know, soon I have to return and before that, I want to dig it up. . . get it done and dusted, else I would be languishing in suffocation, carrying this haunting melody. The lingering sense would spook me forever. ”
“Yes, Charu. That is why I am here. We carry on here or should we leave for the chosen hangout place?The choice is yours mam. ”-Yuvaan chuckled.
“Just two minutes, I'll inform granny’s nurse and come. ”
“I am outside the gate. I have brought dad’s fancy bike. You will love the ride. ”
“You are a genius Charu. I am amazed. . . the way you have analyzed threadbare each plot and subplot, examining subtleties of their relevance. ”-Sipping his chocolate drink Yuuvan said.
“Could you guess -why the proposed site for the parking area named UG4 in the map was discarded?The architects and engineers did not find it feasible due to weak plinth, right? Did they act under someone’s influence or just tried to prevent some dark secret from oozing out?The more I go deep Yuvaan, the more I tend to come crashing down to this point. ”
“You know, who I dreamt of last night? Sheryl. She was dressed like the queen of Egypt, adorning aqua marine blue stone ornaments like the lake water that you told me about. She was wielding a short sword, a replica of the one I saw in the museum. She looked much like me but had a big black mole near her chin that added to her beauty. My nagging thoughts don't let me breathe easy and I am virtually living the life of a person who existed a few decades ago since I trodden into this. ”
“I know, anyone who finds me talking like this will think I am mad or in a state of delirium.
Uncle Vincent I guess, must be knowing about details of Sheryl’s royal lineage and gone to Egypt to tell about the sword that I discussed with him, about my uncanny resemblance to Sheryl. Apart from the precious sword, her expensive ornaments she must have hid in the mountain . . . I mean somewhere near the hotel. Some close allies and their descendants must be having idea about it. If that be so, then the fortune will go to govt’s coffer since no family member of theirs is alive, or people here know of. If this does not fit the bill , then, what could have been the exact purpose of uncle Vincent’s abrupt sojourn?”
“What made you go so strong with presumptions, ahoy!Far from the madding crowd we came here, to discuss and act level headed. But, it seems we are lost in the wilderness. The cues instead of guiding us further, leading us to black and grey contours of the fading horizon. The skirmishes mirror a larger saga perhaps and we have only touched the tip of the iceberg Charu!”
“Don't leave me disheartened, my dear friend. You are my only reliable source, my confidant and partner in crime. We are almost there as you can see. May be a few steps more and we will be joint holders of the eureka moment. ”
Charu’s eyes were gleaming with tears and lips had stolen the freshness of the bloom surrounding the lounge area of the cafe.
“What a juxtaposition to behold!”Yuvaan exclaimed.
“Charu! Your tears add so much swag to your effervescence. . . esp your eyes exude a remarkable aura with the glitter and the sparkle. I am impressed. Buddy!”
“Hey!Relax. I am joking. Please don't frighten me with your stern look…. You look like the oldie Varghese and not like my friend Charu, the cool stuff. ”
To this -Charu burst into a peal of laughter.
“That is the spirit-ought to be. ”-Yuvaan went on teasing her.
“Let us unscramble this way. Be attentive Yuvaan. We cannot afford to waste time. ”
“When I told uncle Vincent about my findings, he was very excited. When I named the hotel, his eyes were startled, his lips parted and jaw dropping silence ensued. Almost in a whisper he inquired about details I had gathered so far. He ascertained too whether I have discussed with anyone other than him. ”
“With each word that I uttered, he turned paler and eventually went inside in the pretext of some urgency. When I told that I shall be coming tomorrow again for his help. . . he nodded and gave his consent. Now, I have a strong hunch that some valuable must be hidden underneath the hotel and he knew about it. Don't you think, as conscious and duty bound citizens we should unearth the fortune and the mystery?”
“You are absolutely right Charu. Your narration makes sense. We have to take Martha aunt's son into confidence so that he divulges. He must have come across facts regarding the Verghese family, as he has been here all along. One more thing Charu, my gut feeling says , Anthony perhaps hails from Egypt. He must have come to Kerala on some business trip, may be for the spices. Remember, we read in history book about Kerala being termed as ‘spice capital’ of India and Fort Kochi must be the port then. He must have met Sheryl, fell in love and settled here. He must have gifted the sword to her. As per Egyptian tradition and culture, the lady of the house rules. Their civilization always bowed to woman power. ”
“It seems we are approaching the moment of truth. Thank you so much Yuvi. You are simply superb at survey and scanning. I have always underestimated your credentials. Now,
atone for my mistakes. A big sorry and a huge thanks to you again. ”
“One final jab before we proceed for Ruth’s house. The mention of UG4 in the blueprint, that was discarded on the grounds of viability, could be due to the presence of the mysterious lake, where I have taken dip so many times to experience the cool dark ink water’s rummage albeit in my dreams. ”
“Somewhere near the mall, we shall be able to find a connecting road to “Home”i. e to the museum. It cannot be a thoroughfare, otherwise people would have been using the same. ”
“Yes Charu! You have hit that perfect note. ”
“Oh God!Please help lift fetters from this dark winding alley!It has spread tentacles to ensnare our peace of mind. ”His voice trailed off into quiet as he stared musingly at the smoky contours of Charu’s intoxicating eyes . . . getting lost in their impalpable depth.
“From doom’s day to a joy ride . . . when it shall be!”-Yuuvi muttered involuntarily.
“Did you say anything?”
“No Charu, I was humming an old number. ”He patched up with deft strokes.
Taking the less traversed route, they reach the backside of the mall. It was no less than a dumping yard. Stench of filth filled the atmosphere. A few stray cows, dogs were feasting on left overs and a few crows were keeping a tab on their activities. The sky was crammed with squawks and feathers settled on the waste land.
“Why are we here Charu?How to go about in this clumsy terrain?I am choking with the foul smell. Does it not bother you?”
Charu was going strong with her conviction and was examining the surrounding by heavily tapping on the ground like an archeologist. Listening with rapt attention to the murmurs of the history that still remained unearthed.
“You look exactly like a nomadic, as if under a spell of hypnosis. . . a long lost tribe Charu, with your gaze fixed elsewhere, your golden mane flying haywire. ”
“Let me cling to lesser peaks Yuvi. . . if tall mountains remain out of reach. I have this hunch, clouds must have whispered to the cerulean water of the lake here. Unfortunately, it is lost to avarice of mankind. For a few lakhs or even for a few crore of rupees this sublime gift of nature was bequeathed. ”
“How poetically put Charu!”
“Put your feet on the ground now! We have to go back home, have food and a nap then resume in the afternoon. Your delay will be questioned. Mine too. On our way, we shall visit Martha's aunt and her son. Let us carry a cake and some goodies so that, they would not mind our unsolicited visit. Let us keep our fingers crossed. ”