The Vixen - Chapter 4
The Vixen - Chapter 410 mins 1.0K 10 mins 1.0K
Half an hour later, Nandini and the entire clan had spread out inside the Pantaloons showroom at R-mall. Nandini and Gargi strolled through the aisles stacked with traditional kurti, while Shalini aunty and Nandini’s mom took Anupam to the men’s traditional section to try out festive wear. Shalini aunty was not her usual self around Anupam as she usually was, Nandini noticed. Tanya seemed to be constantly hovering around him, and Shalini aunty seemed annoyed by the same. But they all carried on.
Nandini and Gargi picked a lot of stuff for themselves, including some cosmetics, matching stone studded necklaces, and matching clutches to go with their attires.
It was almost two hours later as finally the bill was paid and all of them started walking out of the store, when everyone was startled by a sudden alarm that went off. All stood frozen, as two security guards came rushing along, ushering the group back inside the store.
“What is the problem? We have paid for everything we brought,” Anupam said, sounding flustered.
“Sir, the alarm indicates that there is some item which is still carrying the tag. We are sorry but we need to check the bags,” the guard replied.
Anupam seemed utterly offended.
“What do you mean by check the bags? Check your bloody system! I just paid over 25000 bucks and you want to check our bags?” he said.
The manager of the store came over, hearing the commotion.
“Sir, I understand your problem. But we all are paid employees of this store and we must abide by the rules. It will take just a minute, if by mistake some unpurchased item has accidently landed in one of the bags, we can just take it out,” he requested.
Shalini aunty and Nandini’s mom sighed and got seated on a side couch. This was going to take time.
Defeated, Anupam handed over all the bags to the guards who began emptying every item.
Nandini watched as Anupam fumed in a corner, while Tanya spoke to him in a hushed manner, hopefully pacifying him.
“No unbilled item in the shopping bags sir,” one of the guards said to the manager.
The manager cleared his throat.
“Sir, we will need to check the handbags of the ladies,” he said to Anupam.
“What? Isn’t there any other way for you to humiliate your customers? Call your owner down here. I want to meet him,” Anupam thundered.
“Anupam, its okay, let them check the bags, they are just doing their job. Anyway we don’t have anything to hide,” Tanya pleaded with Anupam.
For the first time, Nandini agreed with Tanya.
Even Shalini aunty got up, and all the ladies handed over their purses to the guards, as Anupam began pacing the entrance. A few onlookers had gathered around, shamelessly watching, and that was irking Anupam further.
“Sir,” one of the guards said, handing over an unbilled item – an expensive looking bottle of perfume to the manager.
Shell shocked, everyone watched as the manager asked who the purse belonged to. It was Shalini aunty’s.
“What? I never took this thing! I don’t know how it landed there,” she said.
“Must be by mistake, madam. Don’t worr…”
“What mistake? I didn’t take it. How will it land in my purse? Shalini aunty seemed fuzzled.
Anupam came over and took the bottle of perfume in his hand. Confused, he looked at Shalini aunty.
“Did you, by mistake, put it in your bag mom?” he asked.
“No. I didn’t. I never took it,” she replied, scandalized.
“But aunty, you tried this one on,” Tanya chipped in.
“I may have, but why would I try to steal it? I have enough money to buy it,” Shalini aunty retorted, her cheeks growing red.
“Of course, you would never steal it aunty. But just by mistake, maybe you put it in your purse absent-mindedly? It happens to the best of us, right?” Tanya persisted.
“Maybe you do such things, but I don’t,” Shalini aunty said, her face growing red by the minute.
“Mom, no need to get so worked up. What she is suggesting is right. Maybe you didn’t realize you accidently kept it in your purse. What other explanation can you think of?” Anupam asked.
“Maybe she put it there,” Shalini aunty thundered.
The next few moments, there was pin drop silence, as Anupam and Shalini aunty glared at each other, fire burning in both’s eyes.
Then, Anupam took Tanya by her hand and stormed out of the store.
Nandini, Gargi, Nandini’s mom and Anupriti stood flabbergasted as the drama unfolded within fractions of second. Anupriti then ran after Anupam, while Nandini, Gargi and Mandira began pacifying Shalini aunty who now sat on the side couch, sobbing.
“It’s okay Shalini. Let’s go home,” Mandira was saying.
“Did you hear what she said? I would never mind if one of you suggested that I had put the bottle in my purse absentmindedly. But how dare she? After everything that has happened, she has the nerve to insult me like this? And she has Anupam wrapped around her little finger, I can’t recognize my son anymore!”
“Shalini, we all know you would never do such a thing. But right now, not for her, not even for Anupam, but for Gargi’s sake, you need to calm down,” Mandira said.
Meanwhile, Nandini and Gargi returned everything they had purchased and recovered their bill, because Shalini aunty swore she didn’t want a single item from this shop. The manager gave them a wry smile as Nandini and Gargi collected the money coupons and they all retraced their steps.
In the car, no one spoke. Anupriti had spoken to Anupam, it seemed, and even though he hadn’t disappeared like the day before, he still neither spoke nor made eye contact with anyone.
Later, as Nandini and Gargi sat in the later’s room, moods on the low just like the day before, Gargi spoke.
“I didn’t tell you what happened yesterday, did I? For Anupam to storm off?”
“No, neither did Anupam tell me, in fact,” Nandini said.
“Anupam broke another bomb yesterday,” Gargi said.
Not really surprising, considering everything that was happening, Nandini thought.
“What’s that?” She asked.
Gargi clucked loudly.
“I told you right, that there was another showdown, after which Anupam left in a huff?” Gargi asked, finally sitting on the bed next to Nandini.“That was the bone of contention. Yesterday evening, when we thought the morning storm had passed, we all sat together to have evening coffee. No one broached the topic of breakfast, and the conversation was purposefully light. But then, mom asked Tanya about her family. And then, everything went down a spiral,” Gargi said.
“But what’s wrong with that? Any mother would want to know the family background of her son’s fiancé!” Nandini said, wondering how that simple question could trigger something that would lead Anupam to leave the house in a rage.
“Initially, they both tried to evade the question. But you know how mom is. She persisted. That was when Tanya revealed that she was an orphan, and had grown up with different foster homes, at least three different ones. And her name is Tanya Andrews,” Gargi said.
Nandini sat listening, feeling numb. Every time she thought she had had enough shocking information about Tanya, there was always more.
“Hearing this, mom just asked Anupam if he had met her parents, or the latest foster parents anyway. Because she is worried, obviously, as to what type of upbringing she has had. To which, Tanya replied that she has had problems with all of the foster parents, and that she is in contact with none.”
Nandini couldn’t imagine how shocked Puri uncle and aunty must have been after hearing this.
“There was no point in speaking to Tanya. Mom just asked Anupam if he was aware of all of this. Aware of what he was getting into. And suddenly he flew into a fit of rage, quite unlike him. And just stormed off. Tanya left her half-drunk tea and noisily padded back to their bedroom,” Gargi said, sighing.
“I just don’t know what to do!” she exclaimed further.
“That is terrible, and really worrisome,” Nandini exclaimed. Where did Anupam even meet such person? She wondered.
“I don’t know how you pacified Anupam yesterday, but I thought he was trying to bring normalcy back. No doubt it was his idea that Tanya was decently dressed today,” Gargi exclaimed.
Nandini began pacing the room. Something was really very wrong with Tanya, and however close Anupam might be with his parents or sister or even with Nandini, Tanya seemed to have hypnotized him in a way she could not decipher. They had to do something to open his eyes and see Tanya for what she was.
“Get your laptop,” she suddenly said to Gargi.
“What? Why?” Gargi asked, confused.
“Because knowledge is power. Let us find out the janam-kundli of Tanya,” she said.
Together, they opened the laptop. They logged into Nandini’s Facebook profile. Then Nandini typed ‘Tanya Andrews’ in search.
There were a few profiles, but they could recognize Tanya’s profile instantly. Her display picture showed her standing in front of a pub, wearing a skimpy dress that hardly left anything to imagination, a bottle of beer in one hand.
“Great!” Gargi exclaimed.
Nandini tried to scroll down the timeline, but the profile was locked.
Nandini sighed. “What do we do now?” she asked.
She sent a friend request, but she wasn’t sure if Tanya would accept it.
“I have an idea,” Gargi said.
She took out her cell phone and dialled a number. She put the phone on speaker. Nandini listened as a male voice replied.
“Hey Ashish. I need your help,” she said.
“Anything for you. Tell me,” Ashish replied.
“Can you hack a Facebook profile for me?” she asked.
“Want to find out secrets about your would be?” he asked.
“No, no. I trust him completely,” Gargi said, laughing. “It’s someone else, I would better not say who. But its important,” she told him.
“Okay. Just give me a day,” he said.
“Sure. I will WhatsApp you her name and screenshot of her Facebook profile,” she replied.
“You have a hacker friend?” Nandini asked her in awe, after Gargi had disconnected the call.
“Yes. I have all sources we can get to figure out who this woman is,” Gargi said.
Both were silent for some time. Nandini began pacing the room again.
“You remember the lesson we had in our English textbook in fifth grade? The vixen?”she asked Gargi. “It was the story of a vixen, meaning a female fox, who covers herself in sheep skin to take the disguise of a sheep so that she can mix with a herd of sheep. And since none of the sheep is watchful enough to figure out who the fake sheep really is, she begins isolating the sheep one by one and feasting on them, till one of the intelligent sheeps realizes her true nature, and plans a ploy to get rid of her with the help of the others, by trapping her in her own trap.”
“Yes. I remember. But why are you recalling this now?” Gargi asked, confused.
“Because Tanya reminds me of her. The Vixen.”