A Talk With (X)avier D’Cruz

A Talk With (X)avier D’Cruz

Aravankolom was a small village and Gayatri and Varun did not have to travel far to reach their destination. The auto-rickshaw soon stopped by the side of a bungalow. There was a security guard sitting in front of an Iron gate. They paid the auto driver and walked up to the security guard. Varun told the guard the same story of being historians doing some research. The guard picked up an intercom and spoke to someone at the other end. Finally, he nodded at Varun and said, ‘You may go in.’

Soon Gayatri and Varun rang the front doorbell and a servant dressed immaculately led them into a sparsely furnished living room. After some time, a nurse came in wheeling a very old and big man in a wheelchair. The man must have been well over ninety, but his eyes were still shrewd and sparkling. The nurse said, ‘Please be quick. He tires quite easily though he loves to talk.’

The man looked at her indignantly and said, ‘That is a big lie, Radha, and you know it. I am still hale and hearty. I can talk for hours without tiring.’

The nurse smiled at him and left the room. ‘Women! They make a fuss about everything. Does she behave the same way with you?’ The man said pointing a finger at Gayatri. His eyes were full of mischief.

Gayatri blushed but Varun said quickly, ‘She is my sister-in-law, not my wife.’

The man said briskly, ‘Oh! I am sorry… Anyway, let us get down to business. I was told you were historians working on a project on Tamil Nadu’s villages and that Aravankolom figures in your list.’

‘Yes, that is true. We have already spoken to Udayashree Patti and she has given us most of the details about the village. And she also told us that you were the inspector in charge of the Aravankolom police station when that girl Akhila disappeared. We wondered if you may be able to give us some more information regarding that. It would be helpful to us.’

The man thought for some time. Then he said rather abruptly, ‘That woman, I mean Akhila’s mother, she was like a raging tornado. When she walked into my station to report Akhila’s disappearance, she was hysterical. I had to admit her to the hospital in Tirunelveli. After she was discharged, she came back a broken woman. You know they were a tribe of Shamans, and they worshipped the Vanara God. They were a spiritually powerful tribe. When she found that there was no way to get justice for her daughter, she hired a tantric and performed some rituals which were meant to plant a curse on the zamindar and his descendants.’

The old man was rambling on now. He became quiet after some time, lost in thoughts of events that had occurred nearly sixty years back. Events that were powerful enough to affect him even now. Varun said gently, ‘What about your own investigations? What did they reveal?’

The man looked at Varun and Gayatri. He said in a morose tone, ‘I wish I had been more thorough in my investigations. I wanted to dredge the waters near that place where those four fellows were found dead or at least send a diver in to investigate. But my superiors clamped down on me severely. I think that was the zamindar’s influence. It was probably important for my superiors to keep him happy. The next day he sent his son abroad. I could do nothing. The zamindar committed suicide… And I was transferred immediately…’

‘Do you think some supernatural power was involved in all this?’

‘Well, that boy Rama Vedan never came back. What I am about to say might be surprising to you coming from a policeman’s mouth, but yes, I do believe there is something supernatural involved in all this… Sometimes I still see Akhila’s mother’s red eyes in my dreams…’

                                                                                             To Be Continued...

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter X

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