Monday, December 27, 2004

and further....

As Kaya got up to leave, he said, “But, there is one thing you have to be very careful about”
“What?”
“That you do not interact with any more strangers”, the stress on the anymore was deliberate and there was no doubt that he referred to Kajri.
“Any particular reason for that advice?”, her tone was icy.
“No logical reason. Just caution. Caution arising from the fact that the death of all your family members was a potential murder”
To this Kaya had no answer. Even she had admitted the possibility of this being true. And even though Kajri was from her village, she knew nothing about her or her parents.
“I’ll be careful”
“And what do you plan to do about her?”
“Well, she wants to go to Benaras to learn music from Charulata Bhandari. I want to help her reach there.”
“Very well, I shall make the arrangements for her journey, and get in touch with Mrs Bhandari. You stay in the hotel. Don’t go about trying to make arrangements for her”, his tone was reprimanding.
“Am I supposed to be under house arrest?”
“Its for your own safety Kaya, that you remain low profile. In addition to your unseen enemy, there is also the wrath of the villages to consider”
“The wrath of the villagers?”
“Yes, they are bound to react when they learn that you will sell this place”
And it suddenly hit her. Something that she had not considered. If she were to sell the village, and a spa was to be built on the land, the villagers would be forced to move. They would have to leave their homes. The situation could turn messy. She now understood Kailash Pradhan’s intention in moving her out of Veena in such hurry, as well as his advice for a low profile. The man was only trying to shield her. It was at this moment that Kaya decided to place her complete trust in Kailash Pradhan, and do exactly as he said. But try as she might, she could not suppress the sensation in her stomach, which rose to a crescendo at this moment. Her head told her one thing, her instinct, the exact opposite.

Kaya reached her floor in a state of absolute confusion. As she approached her room, she heard voices inside. The manager of the hotel was present, along with another staff member. They were apparently talking to Kajri, who seemed hysterical. The party fell silent as Kaya entered. Kajri ran to her and declared the manager was trying to throw her out of the hotel. Kaya turned to the manager who explained that Kailash Pradhan had arranged for a separate room for Kajri. They were merely escorting her to her room. It was after ten whole minutes of coaxing that Kaya managed to convince Kajri to move to a separate room.
There was a nip in the October air, which turned into a chill as the evening came. Kaya looked out of her window and saw the streets shining with all the diyas and the sounds of prayers seemed to be emanating from every nook and corner of the holy city. The realization of her being all alone in the world hit her harder than ever, and she felt stifled. Suddenly, the room felt too small to hold her and her emotions. Kaya walked out of the room, and decided to go for a stroll in the garden. As soon as she stepped into the garden, the chilly air struck her, and she hugged herself. Living in Mumbai, she hadn’t needed any warm clothes. She only had a light travel jacket and a shawl that she had been wearing over her jeans since yesterday. During her walk, her thoughts ran to Kajri and she realized that Kajri had no warm clothes either. She was still wearing the light Salwar Kameez that Kaya had seen her in earlier that day. If the evening continued to grow colder, Kaya was sure she would fall ill. She abandoned her walk, went up to Kajri’s room and announced that they would go shopping. They had no warm clothes, and Kajri would need some decent everyday clothes as well if she were to go meet Charulata Bhandari. Kaya went to her room, collected her handbag, and they left for the market.