Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Celebrate Blogging Contest @ BlogAdda - Chapter 12

Team: Alphabet Soup
Read the previous part of the story here

Chapter 12

“A fake idol!”
Shekhar stood there with his eyes aghast.
“Where is the original idol? Where is our Amma Mahamaaya?”, someone piped in.
“What is the use to ask this dim witted viduan? He can’t even do a proper theft. Even now, look at his face.” It is Sudheeran Varma, his face flushed with these unprecedented events. Clearly this festival too has no plans to go unnoticed from the media eyes.
The wise mad man saved Shekhar from the trouble of replying, “Only the chosen child can take the idol out of the temple. Anyone else attempting that will become the victim of Devi’s wrath”.
“What! What if I have gotten Devi’s wrath? Why did you make me do it?”, Dutta screamed.
“It was my karma, and you are safe. The idol is fake”.
He turned to the police, “He will be fine. But be quick in finding the idol before doom falls on the entire Vajrakshipuram.” Saying so he walked away, brandishing that heavy stick of his against evil spirits.
Shekhar sighed heavily. This is going to be a very long day.
                                      *****
Inside the temple office Sudheeran Varma paces restlessly as the High Priest looks on. Years of experience have taught Memana Namboori of the fury of his patrons and he dared not step in.
“We can’t afford a media exposure now. It will only delay the investigation”, it’s the Inspector. They all know what such news can do with the already restless devotees – riots and blood bath. Bloody hell! He is not in a situation to meet an agitation now. His hands are full enough.
“And you need to address the crowd, Mr. Varma”
"And what do I tell them?", Sudheeran sounded confused.
"If I may suggest, there are no auspicious hours this month. You could tell them that the idol has been found and the procession will have to be postponed", it is Memana Namboori.
“Hmph”, Sudheeran too seems at a loss for words.
“But we can’t let the crew leave the place.”
“That won’t be necessary. We are not leaving anyway, that is without getting an answer”, says Tara bombarding the meeting with her calm, cool demeanor.
“Well! Well! What’ve we got here? A journalist spy in our midst! Mrs. Dutta, do you have any problem reading that ‘no entry’ sign in front of the door?”, clearly the Inspector doesn’t welcome the addition to the audience.
“Only when it concerns my daughter Roohi, and the reputation of my husband”.
“And we are partaking in this investigation”, she added as an afterthought.
                                      *****
          Her media training has equipped Tara well for situations like these. She just needs to play the correct cards and this will produce an exclusive for the channel. As expected the Inspector is suspicious of her intentions, but the temple authority is devoid of alternatives. Alienating the press won’t be a bright idea at this juncture; it required only a slight probing from her part for Mr. Sudheeran to put the seal of approval.
“Mamma”, Roohi’s voice took her back to the present.
“Oh, my darling. I am so glad to see you safe”
“See, see, look at the pictures I took with Jenny Aunty”
“You both seem to be in nice terms already”, she welcomed Jennifer with a warm smile.
“She is a dear. No one can resist loving her”
Tara updated Jennifer with the latest turn outs.
“Sounds interesting. Count me in”
                                                *****
Cyrus has come to a dead end; if he needs to further this case there should be a lead, an invisible link to connect the scattered dots. He has gone through the files again and again. Nothing. Except a mere gut feeling that something is definitely fishy.
He may get some answers from the procession. But it seems the plans are to be changed for one month. That silly writer has spoiled everything with his stupid theft. Yet, something is not exactly right. If the idol is found, then why the heavy guard inside the temple? Only one way to know.
Just before the ring goes to voice mail, Jennifer’s deep voice cuts in.
“Cyrus, can we talk later?”
“This is urgent. Can we meet?”
“I am busy right now. You know of my assignment with N9”
“You won’t regret it”, he sounded desperate even to himself.
“Let’s take a walk. Meet me near the street light. Five minutes.”

It seems the police or the assurance of Sudheeran has failed to pacify the devotees. Anxious faces lurk around; there won’t be any peace till the procession and festival happens. The Bhagawati has to be satiated to bring prosperity to the land.
In spite of her visible tiredness, Jennifer has retained the sharpness in her eyes.
“What’s it all about?”, as usual there is no time for pleasantries.
“Heard about the commotion inside. I was worried. About you.”
“Seriously Cyrus, is that all? Then I am fine, as you can very well see.”
“Sure”, Cyrus smiled wryly. This is not going as expected. “So it seems they are postponing the procession”
“Mm”
“I was curious. Why do they want to do that if the idol is found?”
“Let’s cut this crap.” Jennifer narrowed her eyes, “What about you telling me the real intention of your visit?”
He doesn’t know her. Not enough. But the odds are against him. It is either packing the bags for Delhi or having to trust someone.
Cyrus took a deep breath. His moustache glistened with sweat under the afternoon sun.
“This happened fourteen years back during the last procession. The child who carried the deity was found dead. The priest who accompanied her was unconscious and half paralyzed. They carried out one investigation, but the postmortem report sounded convincing enough for them to close the case. The child drowned to death. The priest just remembers slipping and falling, nothing after that. I came upon this case for my project work. This all sounded too unconvincing and I thought this year’s procession may show some light to it. That’s why I’m here. I know there is more to the theft that happened today. But only you can help me in that.”
He can see Jennifer is not convinced. He opened his back pack and showed her the case files, his hunches, notes and related reports.
“I was intending to publish this in my blog but thought better of it. It might cause many controversies and open up Pandora's box. Not that I have many followers!”
‘Alright.’ She tells him what happened inside.
‘Yes! I knew it. Last time when the child died, the priest also collapsed. I felt this was too mysterious. This might have some connection to it.’
‘Wow! Cool down man. Don’t make any conclusions now. And one important thing. You should investigate on your own. If the culprit is around, he’ll soon know that we are working on the case. He’ll keep an eye on us. But when you work aloof, he wouldn’t know. We won’t meet anymore. Our conversations should be discreet. Is that clear?”
Sounds weird to him. Can he trust her? Is she here for photography or is there something hiding behind that foxy, watchful eyes? 
He pushed those thoughts aside. All the same, he needs her.
He will have to trust her. At whatever cost that may be.

You can find the next part here

"Me and  my team, Alphabet Soup, are participating in Game of Blogs at BlogAdda.com. # Celebrate blogging with us."

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Celebrate Blogging Contest @ BlogAdda - Chapter 7

Team: Alphabet Soup
Read the previous part of the story here:
Chapter 6 on Aashish's Blog 

Chapter 7

Cyrus weighed the pros and cons of taking up a hotel near the airport or head straight to Vajrakshipuram. The last flight out of Delhi to Cochin didn’t leave him with many options. After giving it much thought, he decided to start for Vajrakshipuram immediately.

The sheer impulsiveness of his decision had rendered him with stranded. Taxis were pre-booked and the ones which weren’t refused to ply. Cyrus followed the advice which a helpful cabbie offered.
‘No taxi going tonight. TomorrowTomorrow! All sleeping. All drunk. Highway, ask lift. Give lift’

Cyrus heard the rumble in his tummy. Chancing upon a roadside eatery on the periphery of the road leading to the airport, he stopped to answer the grumbling in his empty stomach.

Having been directed by cabbies to try his luck on the main road he flagged down a truck. The truck driver was on his way to Trichur & offered to drop Cyrus off at a point where he could get to Vajrakshipuram on his own. 


Jennifer had a late start to her journey. However, stubbornness was one of the many traits she had acquired from her parents, and so, once she had decided to do something, she wanted it done immediately. And so, she started for Vajrakshipuram in her car.


After an hour long drive, she decided to take a break at the highway petrol station. It was all by chance that Jenny and Cyrus were in the same shop and were queued before each other for payment. The truck driver had dropped off Cyrus near the petrol station. Realisation dawned upon her as she scouted her bag to pay for the food she had purchased. In her rush to leave for Vajrakshipuram, she had forgotten to withdraw money.With no cash in her bag, she looked embarrassed, and was about to return the goods she had bought when Cyrus offered to help her by paying for them.


His eyes fell upon her noticably innumerable tattoos & weird piercings. She saw him noticing them and smiled. He started forming a character assessment of her in his mind.She seemed innocent at the same time, there was a fire in her eyes. As their eyes met, he was breathless for a moment before snapping out of his law school mindset.

Over a small thank you conversation, she told him she was on her way to the temple. Cyrus asked, "Oh great! I am headed towards the temple too. A truck driver dropped me off here. Can I join you? ".

Jennifer nodded her head in confirmation and extended her hands, 
'Jennifer Joseph'. She introduced herself to the good Samaritan.

'Cyrus Daruwala.' 

'So, what is a pretty lady with don't-know-how-many tattoos and piercings doing in a temple, may I ask?'

'I am a professional photographer. I work on a few freelance projects. Currently working on a project on temple architecture as well as a bit of prying and prodding of my own.' She winked.
You don’t seem to be from this part of the country, what has brought you here?'


' Umm... I am a law student at The National Law University, Delhi. I have heard a lot about this festival. This festival intrigued me and I wanted to visit and take a look for myself.'

‘So it is true, lawyers are liars! Try another excuse, and this time be creative.'


Cyrus was impressed at Jennifer's sharpness. But he didn't want to let anyone know of his reason for being in Vajrakshipuram.

'Suprising as it may be Madam,that is the truth. My dad was a history researcher and I have read his papers regarding this temple, its myths and traditions. Got me curious and here I am.'

After carrying on with some small talk, Jennifer dropped Cyrus outside a hotel. She had however done her own research and had pre-booked a room at Hotel Devikrupa. All she needed now was a quick nap, change of clothes and get prepped with her camera for the festivities.

Cyrus managed to coax the manager of the hotel to get him a room at last minute notice. Jenny, however, still played on his mind and he repented for not having taken her mobile number. But soon, he began to think about the purpose of his visit. He had to focus on that now. Being a law student, he couldn't afford to have any sort of distractions in his work. 

                                      ***
It was mid-afternoon. Jennifer decided to wear her only traditional dress to ensure an unrestricted entry to the temple, without any problems. The outfit managed to cover most of her visible tattoos.
Since the deity is visible only on the day of the procession, not many people visit the temple interiors. She began clicking the pictures of the domes, the pillars and the tiny chambers. Without her knowledge, she was moving into the restricted area of the temple. 
'What are you doing Kutty? Don't you know this is a restricted area?' An angry male voice boomed.

She had forgotten to switch off her camera flash and the light had caught the attention of one of the priests passing by.  
'Sorry! I - I didn't know that.' Jennifer hadn't noticed the sign as she was immersed in her work.


‘Devi maa, why are all these bad omens occurring now?’ the priest muttered.
  
‘Child! A sign is put up right there. Don't tell me you did not see that!?' Before she could offer him an explanation, he called out to the other priests. 

                                        
                                          ***
Escorted by a milieu of priests and temple authorities, she saw a motley group of few men, and a woman carrying a child already laying await outside the temple office. 


'What happened?' A fat guy in the office asked.
'Caught this one, clicking pictures in the restricted area.'
'Who are you?' the fat guy questioned Jennifer.
Jennifer thought for a while. She knew all hell would break loose if they knew that she was a Christian, 'I am Jaya Lakhshmi.'

'You are a Hindu. Don't you know there are restricted areas in temples and that there might be a reason for us to make it restricted?'
'Yes, can someone give me a chance to speak?' Jennifer was getting restless with all the accusation.
'Tell me.'


'I came to learn about the temple architecture. I am a professional photographer. I was awed by the sculptures and wandered a bit too much. I didn't notice the sign. Please forgive me.'

'Alright. We will let you go this time. But listen carefully. Photography is restricted in the temple premises. You need the authorities' permission even if you have to cover the processions. Keep this in mind. You may leave now.'

The priest who caught her enquired, 'Are you letting her go? For all we know, she might be someone indulging in black magic. Look at all the paintings on her. Shiva! Shiva!'

'Namboothirippadey!. She is speaking the truth. Let her go.'

Jennifer left hurriedly from the room, before they decided to change their mind. On her way out, she winked at the little girl who smiled back at her.
                                     ***
Read the next part here.

"Me and my team, The Alphabet Soup are participating in Game of Blogs at BlogAdda.com. #Celebrate blogging with us."
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