Joined: 06 August 2012
Joined: 04 July 2005
Joined: 09 June 2004
It was the night before Shiv's first appearance in court in the famous "Rasika case", as it was being commonly referred to. Shiv was walking in the garden. His mind was befuddled. Not only was he charged with sexual molestation of his now ex-PA, but he was also charged with abetting her husband's suicide. It was ludicrous. The more he thought of it, he had this sudden urge to giggle at the ridiculousness of his situation.
Coming to a bench he sat down with a slouch and buried his head in his hands.
How could he have allowed this to happen. He could not even feel sorry for himself since he blamed himself for all of it. No, not all! His thoughts turned to Anandi. And he clenched his fists. Somewhere deep down he was very angry with her. He felt she was also equally responsible for his condition today. Since his marriage, he had started believing all women to be as straightforward and transparent as his beloved wife. In her company, he could no longer see people for what they really were. All he could see was the potential goodness in them.
He shook his head as better sense prevailed. He was being silly. Why was he blaming Anandi for clouding his vision. He was an IAS officer and reading people was part of his training and job. Did this mean that he had become incompetent in his profession. Should he resign. But if he did resign, what would he do. He was too sure Anandi would give him a job comforting people at Bhaili. She now knew he was very good at it, he grimaced.
He sighed and looked up!!! Sight of the full moon held him mesmerised.
It was in this position that Anandi found Shiv. He tended to curl into a shell when personally stressed. She had therefore been worried. She had hunted the whole house, called his mobile, checked if any cars were missing. Finally she came out to the garden in search.
Reflected light of the moon was shining bright on Shiv's face softening its edges and giving it an ethereal glow. He was looking lost and innocent. For a moment Anandi wanted to envelope him in her arms and shield him from all ills of the world. But that would not help him at this point would it. If she allowed him to wallow in any more self-pity, his chin that was touching his chest, would soon be kissing his knees. No, she needed to shake him out of his lethargy.
Shiv was an honest and intelligent officer. What he had done was out of the goodness of his heart. But somewhere along the line he had over empathised with his staff and circumstances had spiralled out of control. Now he was in a deep mess. He had to start thinking of ways of getting out of this muck. She would help him in any way she could, but he had to make a start.
She silently went forward and sat next to him. Shiv sensed her presence but did not react. He did not know what to say or do.
After a minute of sitting in silence, Anandi put out her hand and shook Shiv. "Shiv, you have a hearing tomorrow. What are you doing here? Don't you think we should talk about the case? You have hardly spoken to your lawyer, he too needs your inputs to get you out of this mess".
Shiv came out of his stupor and looked at Anandi. "What do you expect me to do or say. I have been so stupid. I deserve to go to prison. Not because I have done anything wrong but because of my own foolishness. I must be punished".
Anandi looked at him increduously. She now decided enough was enough. The guy needed shock treatment very badly along with a shave. He was almost looking like a caveman.
"Shiv, sit straight and look at me, now", she said sternly. The no-nonsense tone in Anandi's voice penetrated Shiv's mind he straightened up like an obedient boy.
(Laura, following paras as per your selection...)
"Shiv, let us now discuss your stupidity and foolishness in detail. Yes, you were stupid enough to believe your PA and console her. You probably thought she was like Sanchi. And you felt her pain like you did Sanchi's.
You have indeed been gullible to be misled by the likes of this PA. I know her beauty and lack of clothes meant nothing to you, but it was her sob stories that touched your soft heart. And she did it all because she desired you. Now who would not, dear husband. You must not blame yourself for that.
Not only have you been stupid and gullible, you were nearly arrested and will also have to face trial because of this. How gross is that, especially when you have already decided you are guilty."
(End of consoling)
"I never said I was guilty", said Shiv in his defence.
"You might as well be", said Anandi. "Instead of thinking about ways to counter the false charges, you are sitting here under the stars like a starcrossed Romeo. Shiv, you have all the smarts. You know the system and how it functions. You know everything that happened. If there are any loopholes we should investigate, you will have to come up with them. On my own, I can do only so much".
"Do you know I went to meet Brijesh Sanghvi today?", she further added.
This was probably the trigger Shiv needed. The fog lifted from his mind. He stood up suddenly and pulled Anandi up along with him. He held her arms tightly.
"Anandi, that was a crazy thing to do. The guy preys on beautiful women. Did he... Coz if he said or did anything wrong, I will...", said Shiv with fire in his eyes. Anandi shook her head.
Shiv cooled down a bit. With his brain functioning again, Rasika's drama suddenly flashed before his eyes. He could see every detail clearly. Rasika's overtures, Narendra's fire engulfed body, scene at the hospital and later the dead body drama at his house. He could see areas that absolutely needed looking into. He had indeed been so stupid.
He looked down at Anandi. "A hug, before we get started on the case?" Anandi again shook her head. Shiv smiled wryly. She was predictable. He had not expected her to agree. But a man who does not try does not succeed.
"You are right. Time enough for hugs and much more later. Must get to work now. We cannot let that woman get away with murder. I will not let my image of an honest, hard-working officer be tarnished by filth. Would you happen to know the whereabouts of my razor?"
With steel determination in his eyes he caught her hand, turned abruptly and started walking towards the house.
Anandi's hand, held too tight by Shiv, was hurting as she struggled to keep up with his long strides. She did not mind. There were unshed tears of happiness in her eyes and a broad smile on her lips. This pain was nothing compared to the joy in her heart at seeing her husband his determined self again.
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