The next morning Varun woke up at 8.30 AM. He had fallen asleep the previous night only at 2 AM. He went down and had a cup of coffee at the hospital canteen. He made his way to Anandi’s room. As soon as he entered, the nurse put her fingers on her lips indicating that he was not to make a noise. He could see that the pustules now covered Anandi’s neck fully. The nurse walked up to him and whispered, ‘We had to sedate her heavily to get her to sleep. Dr Peter is on leave today. He will be coming around 4 PM for evening rounds. You can meet him then.’
Varun made his way out of the hospital. He went to the hotel where Gayatri was staying and went up to her room. He pressed the calling bell and Gayatri opened the door. She stood framed in the doorway. She was wearing a night dress that showed off her figure and Varun was suddenly aware of a palpable sexual tension between them. Gayatri smiled at him, and he suddenly realized how homely and loving her smile was.
She looked up at Varun and said, ‘Come in, you look like you have not slept well.’
He said, ‘I have thought of a plan of action. I wanted to discuss it with you. What with one thing and another I could not get much sleep last night.’
Gayatri came up to him, raised her arms and gripped his shoulders. Their faces were very close to each other. He bent down and she raised her lips to his hungrily. They stood for a moment, with their lips locked in a warm and tender kiss. Then with a start Varun realised what was happening and pushed her away gently.
‘I am sorry Gayatri. I let myself go out of control.’ He spoke.
Gayatri took his hand in hers and said, ‘I know you will never leave Anandi. You are a man of high moral rectitude, which is one of the reasons I love you so much. I don’t expect anything from you. You wanted to discuss a plan with me. By the way did you read today morning’s paper?’
Gayatri handed over the paper to him and said, ‘Look at page 3. It is not big news here. But the minute news reaches Tamil Nadu, we will have a crowd outside the hospital.’
Varun took the paper from her hands and looked at page 3. The news about Anandi was at the top but it was brief.
Actress Taken Ill
Anandi Bhairav, the famed south Indian diva who was on a vacation to Goa with her stuntman husband Varun Bhairav is believed to be very ill. Our correspondent has been able to ascertain that the actress was at the Calangute beach when she was attacked by a wild monkey. We have been able to ascertain only a few facts, but the rumour mills are already working full speed. It looks like the actress’ face has been disfigured beyond recognition. She has been admitted to the Damodar hospital.
‘Oh hell!’ Varun lamented. ‘Now we will have scores of journalists making a beeline to the hospital.’
‘Don’t worry too much about it, Varun. This was bound to happen sooner or later. You said something about a plan. I want to hear it.’
‘Well, this might be difficult for you to believe but I have come to the conclusion that there is something about Anandi’s illness and the whole sequence of events that led up to it which are mysterious. Now I have no idea what it is, but I want to investigate things. I want you to be by my side when I do this. This might just be a wild goose chase. I want to try anyway. For this, the first step is to rope in one of Anandi’s close friends and get her to come here and take care of Anandi while we unravel the mystery.’
‘That is easy enough.’ Gayatri said. ‘There is Kalyani. We can tell her to stay in this hospital and look after Anandi. They are close friends to this day. They went to school and college together. I will put through a call to her.’
Gayatri picked up the phone and dialled the reception. She opened her phone book and looked up Kalyani’s number and gave it to the receptionist asking her to connect. Soon Kalyani was on the line. Gayatri explained the whole situation to her and asked her to come over to Goa immediately. She gave Kalyani her hotel address. It took Gayatri nearly twenty minutes to explain the situation.
Finally, she kept the phone down and said to Varun, ‘She is right now in Hyderabad. She will be here in three hours. We have time on our hands. What do we do now?’
Varun looked at his watch. It was 11.30 AM. ‘Why not go and have lunch?’ He asked.
Gayatri said, ‘It is a bit early. Anyway, let us go.’
They made their way to one of the best restaurants in the beach and gorged on excellently prepared Goan seafood and other delicacies. Gayatri was an exceedingly pleasant, charming and witty companion and Varun found himself relaxing after the high nervous tension of the past few days. After lunch, Gayatri went to her hotel room to receive Kalyani.
Varun made his way back to the hospital. He was just entering the gates when six men with cameras came running up to him.
They spoke in unison and thrust their mikes at his face.
‘What is the matter with Anandi mam, sir?’
‘How is she now?’
‘When will she get back to shooting again?’
Varun raised his hands and said, ‘Gentlemen. Nothing serious has happened to my wife. She was attacked by a monkey and there was some risk of Monkeypox but there is nothing to worry anymore. She was immediately vaccinated, and she will be back soon. That will be all gentlemen.’
After saying this Varun strode through the hospital gates and fortunately the reporters were not allowed inside. Varun waited in Anandi’s room. At 4 PM Dr Peter strode in. His face was grim though he tried to look cheerful in front of Varun. He examined Anandi and told the nurse to remove the bandage. Anandi’s face and neck were looking worse than before. Dr Peter checked Anandi’s vitals, and everything was normal. He left after telling Varun that the full report from Mumbai will come in the next day.
At 6 PM Gayatri arrived at the hospital with Kalyani. Varun knew Kalyani from his courtship days with Anandi. Just like the others there was no love lost between them. Kalyani told him straight away, ‘I am doing this only because Anandi is like a sister to me. I will stay here as long as it takes for her to get better. I want to have nothing to do with you… Gayatri seems to be sold on some supernatural nonsense you are peddling as the cause for Anandi’s illness…’
When she said this a voice came from the bed on which Anandi was lying down. It was a mere croak. ‘Kalyani, you here! How are you?’ Is it really you?’
‘Yes, Anandi. It is me…’ Kalyani said in a gentle voice.
‘Nice of you to come…’ Anandi’s voice did not seem to come from her throat. It seemed to come from somewhere deep down in her belly. To Varun it did not sound human…
To Be Continued...
This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023
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