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ketaki patwardhan

Drama Romance Thriller


ketaki patwardhan

Drama Romance Thriller

The Vixen - Chapter 8

The Vixen - Chapter 8

11 mins 981 11 mins 981

 An hour later, Gargi and Nandini went to Gargi’s bedroom, to discuss what each one had found out.

“First of all, let me tell you, I just experienced the worst bonding-over-spa day!” Gargi announced.

Nandini laughed.

“Were you really thinking you would bond with Tanya?” she asked.

“No, but I had expected her to behave! She had absolutely no interest in talking to me, and she made that crystal clear,” Gargi said.

“From the moment we were out of earshot of Anupam, all she did was furiously tapping away at her mobile. She didn’t even respond to what I was saying! All she puts up in front of Anupam is pretence. I don’t know what she wants, but she is not who she claims to be, Nandini, that much I am very sure of. She is not even interested in marrying Anupam, I think. But she is just using him as a means to an end. Whatever that is!”

Gargi seemed pretty worked up, having spent an hour with Tanya and tolerating her antics.

“Did you even talk?” Nandini asked, as Gargi put the AC on full blast and collapsed on a bean bag.

“Right in the car, she told me she had no interest in spending time with anyone other than Anupam, and that she was doing it just to satisfy him. That I should mind my business henceforth,” Gargi fumed.

“That’s so rude!” Nandini agreed. Why wasn’t she even pretending to be good? Why was her pretence only limited to Anupam? That was something that was beyond Nandini.

“What did you do for an hour then?” she asked Gargi.

“Went in separate cabins for a back massage and returned, not speaking a word to each other,” Gargi replied.

“How did it go with Anupam? Did he tell you anything?” Gargi asked.

“It went well. Anupam told me everything he knows, I think. But the fact is, even he hardly knows anything about her and her past. but I have learnt a few things based on which we can probably try to do some sleuthing,” Nandini said.

She then narrated her conversation with Anupam, as Gargi listened in rapt attention.

As Nandini finished telling her account, Gargi got up and got a pen and a paper.

“Let’s write down what we know,” she said and began writing down the points.

‘One, she met Anupam in a pub. Two, she was in a facility after stealing from her last foster home. There, she stayed for three years. Then, she was working as a waitress, when she met a guy called Abhay and moved in with him. This guy abused her, and she had to run to save her life. After that, she met Anupam. Third thing, there was a waitress at the Grand Indian restaurant in California where an Indian waitress worked, who called her Anjali and claimed they were together in the orphanage as well as for their first waitressing job,” Gargi spoke, jotting away furiously as she spoke.

‘If any of this is true, that is,” Nandini said. She had no idea how much truth was there to whatever Tanya had fed an unsuspecting Anupam.

“You know something about lying? It is always better to stay as closer to the truth as possible even when you lie,” Gargi said.

‘What do you mean?” Nandini questioned.

“See, to cover up one lie, you have to lie more. To provide consistency, you have to remember each and every lie. So the best thing is to lie, but keep the rest of the things as close to the truth as possible,” Gargi pondered.

Nandini considered what Gargi was saying.

“So you mean to say, even if Tanya is lying, there has to be some truth somewhere,” she said.

“Yes, and that is what we have to find out. I have an idea. I have a number of a few of Anupam’s batchmates and colleagues. Two of them, Anish and Poorna, are close to Anupam, and I have spoken to them once or twice. The distance and time zones won't allow us to do anything from here. But they will help[ us with our predicament,” Gargi said.

“Good idea. But we need to first narrow down what exactly we need. Let’s start with that restaurant, I suggest. Whatever else she may have lied about, that waitress, if we can trace her, will tell us the truth,” Nandini suggested.

“Yes. Let’s see,” Gargi replied, sitting on the bed next to Nandini and grabbing her laptop. She googled the name of the restaurant and the city, and sure enough, was directed to their website.

Gargi and Nandini scrolled through the website.

“It is difficult to find a waitress from the restaurant. We don’t know her name. And we don’t even know if she works there anymore,” Nandini said, feeling slightly frustrated.

“Patience,” Gargi said, as she continued searching the website.

Soon, she found the photo gallery. As she skimmed through the pictures, she found one of the entire staff of the restaurant, a banner behind which read the twentieth anniversary of the restaurant.

“Look. Now we have to find Indian women amongst these,” Gargi said, as she downloaded the picture, and then zoomed in on it. With zooming, the picture became slightly blur, but they could still make out the features of the staff.

“Okay, so I can see two women who look Asian, hopefully, India. Let's check their names,” she said and scrolled beneath the photo to the small font that declared the names of the staff from left to right, in different rows from above downwards.

Matching the correct row and number from the left, Gargi found their names.

“Vishakha Sindhu, and Fatima Mulla,” she wrote down the names on the paper she had jotted down the points about Tanya.

“Let's check out with both of them,” Nandini said, finally feeling slightly hopeful.

Gargi nodded and opened Facebook.

A loud ringing cell phone caused both of them to jump.

It was Gargi’s mobile phone. Rishabh was calling.

“Sorry, have to take this,” she said and received the call.

Nandini continued to search for Vishakha Sindhu on Facebook as Gargi walked to the balcony to speak.

There were many profiles named Vishakha Sindhu. Nandini narrowed down the search by filtering to California. There were still many profiles, and she began clicking on each one.

The photo Gargi had downloaded was open in another window, and Nandini began matching the profile pictures with the photo from the anniversary picture.

Finally, she heaved a sigh of relief when she found the right one. Vishakha Sindhu looked their age, and her display picture showed her smiling in front of Niagara Falls.

Gargi walked inside.

“Found her,” Nandini said, excited.

Gargi seemed a bit distracted.

“What happened?” Nandini asked, worried.

“Rishabh and his family are coming in the evening. He called to tell me that he is bringing a friend of his along. The friend has returned from the US and is in town only tonight. They wanted to spend time together but this dinner was already planned. So his mom has already told my mom that she is bringing a guest, but Rishabh wanted to confirm that you were coming too, as he thinks…”

“Oh, come on, give me a break. It's enough that Shalini aunty is hell-bent on getting me married. Now you two please don’t start,” Nandini said. She couldn’t imagine another Anupam – Mohit kind of interaction ruining tonight’s dinner as well.

“Come on Nandini, just meet him. No one is forcing you to marry. Just see the options. But that is not what I am worried about,” Gargi said, deep in thought.

‘Then what is it?” Nandini asked.

“Rishabh said Rishi won't be accompanying them tonight. His mom felt uncomfortable yesterday with the way Tanya got drunk and was hanging out with Rishi the entire time. They felt she was behaving indecently, not taking into consideration the fact that Rishi is underage, and he is the younger brother of my would-be husband. In short, they would have cancelled this dinner if Ahuja aunty had her way, so furious was she with Tanya’s behaviour. But since they have given their word, they will be coming without him,” Gargi explained.

Nandini had noticed Tanya laughing carelessly with Rishi, a drink in her hands, the other night.

“I dare not say anything in front of Anupam though. He might just go ahead and ask the Ahuja family to go to hell, for Tanya’s sake,” Gargi added bitterly.

Nandini felt bad for Gargi. She was so close to her brother. But in no time Tanya had successfully put a wedge in their relationship.

“Anyway, did you find either of those women?” Gargi asked, checking out the page open on the laptop.

“Yes, this one seems to be Vishakha,” Nandini said, showing her the photo opened next to the Facebook page.

“Great. Let’s message her,” Gargi said, opening the messenger.

She began typing.

Hi Vishakha. This is Gargi. I wanted to ask you about a girl you might know, Anjali alias Tanya, surname probably Andrews. Please be assured, it is very important that we speak about her in case you know anything about her at all. It’s a matter of life and death.

“I hope she responds,” Gargi exclaimed.

“Let’s also talk to those friends of Anupam, the ones you mentioned,” Nandini said.

“Yes, right. Anish and Poorna. I will message them right away. Hopefully, they will reply once they wake up,” Gargi said, as she took her mobile phone and punched out the messages.

It was 7 in the evening when Nandini’s family and the Ahuja family arrived at the Puri house at the same time.

Nandini and Gargi were still holed up in Gargi’s bedroom trying to find out if they could find anything else about Tanya when Shalini aunty summoned them downstairs.

As they alighted the stairs, Nandini caught sight of the handsome man in a light grey tee shirt and stonewashed jeans, sitting next to Rishabh on the giant living room sofa. Rishabh stood up to greet them, as the guy followed him.

“Nandini, meet my friend Anoop. Anoop, Nandini,” Rishabh made the introductions.

“Hi,” Anoop said, holding his hand out for Nandini.

‘Hi,” Nandini said, as she received a firm handshake. 

“You younger generation can go out in the garden while we oldies chitchat here,” Puri uncle declared.

Gargi, Rishabh, Nandini, Nimish and Anoop headed towards the garden.

"Where is Anupriti and family?" Rishabh enquired.

"They have gone for shopping, should be back in some time," Gargi said.

Nandini and Anoop walked in silence after Nimish.

They all got seated on the garden cane chairs, surrounding the outdoor cane and glass table.

Anoop seemed to be pleasant company. He didn’t ask Nandini any personal, uncomfortable or awkward questions and in no time, they were all laughing and chatting, while sipping on cocktails and munching fried items.

Half an hour later, Anupam entered the garden, with Tanya in toe.

Nandini watched Tanya as her eyes scanned the crowd, and landed on Anoop. She saw the way Tanya’s eyes travelled down his body, and as they joined the group, Tanya created a place for herself next to Anoop.

If anyone found that weird, no one showed it.

Anupam dutifully handed Tanya a bottle of beer, which she shamelessly accepted 

“So Anoop, this is my brother Anupam, and this is Tanya, his fiancée,” Gargi said, pointedly mentioning that Tanya was the fiancée. She too had probably noticed the way Tanya was looking at Anoop, Nandini thought.

“Nice to meet you both,” Anoop said, getting up and shaking first Anupam’s hand, and then Tanya’s. The handshake with Tanya lasted just a moment too long, and Nandini thought she knew who hadn’t let go.

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