AQAAB - 4 in English Detective stories by Prabodh Kumar Govil books and stories PDF | AQAAB - 4

AQAAB - 4

AQAAB

Four

That large bungalow which was built on the corner of a deserted lane on the outskirts of Texas City looked desolate. But it did not mean that there was nobody inside. The people who lived there were inside and the bungalow’s garden was full of activity. Only the two little kids had gone to their respective schools and it was about time they came back. Three cars were parked there one behind the other and a sports car was there as well parked adjacent to a tall, skinny tree. Nobody could have guessed seeing its colour that this was a vehicle for kids. Indeed, it was a vehicle for kids only. The sober slaty colour was evidence of the royal choice and style of the kids who were its owners whereas the other three cars were coloured dark red, dark blue and dark green.

The bungalow had no boundary wall and its boundary was made up of light coloured small bushes. Three or four little rabbits were playing with those large ducks which were quacking while strolling on the lawn. The other residents of the avenue had no interest in the bungalow and most of them did not even know that who lived here! The residents of the bungalow had not put up any nameplate outside so that the passersby could know about their personalities. And what personalities did they possess? The owner of the bungalow went to his office, which was situated 25 kilometres away, every morning in his car. Then that man, who was utmost busy, did not even remember the date or the name of the day it was. Only the hostess of the bungalow remained home and because of her living there, the bungalow was eventful. It looked as if the trees and plants of the bungalow did not thrive on water, but her presence. Any chemical or perfume had no effect on the air there. They smelled only when she was home.

When it would snow during the winters at temperatures below zero degrees, the snow wouldn’t cover the bungalow. The heat of the hostess’ breath would melt the snow. But the bungalow’s sadness still wouldn’t go away, as its life was thousands of miles away in a village, just like the parrot of the folklore. In a huge village. Where her parents’ home was.

For the world-famous producer of Dublin, John Altamash, this bungalow was an incomprehensible puzzle because the well-known singer, actress, beauty queen Selina Nanda had called him here at this bungalow for that evening’s meeting. Because in New York both of them would have been very busy. They couldn’t have sat down and concentrate. So John Altamash had to come to Texas straight from Dublin. But even after coming to Texas at this deserted bungalow, they were not getting a lot of time together, as they had a return flight after around fifty-five minutes. They did not have even one hour to spend. Moreover, he was to be introduced to the bungalow’s owner as Selina herself was a guest here. The bungalow was not Selina’s. Selina was to come here only for a very short time.

It was a relief that two of their tasks were about to get managed after Altamash’s arrival here. A meeting and agreement were planned with Selina and also, they were hoping to get a documentary project which was to be shown at a museum of Washington, D.C. They had to go there from Texas where they had a dinner planned with the museum’s director.

When John Altamash’s helicopter landed at the avenue entrance near the highway, John remembered Shannon where you could not see even a single bird. It was a kingdom of colours, airs and silences. The red coloured taxi helicopter of John Altamash felt that the surroundings were its own.

But after moving a few steps ahead, John became part of the festivity. The breaths were thumping in an assemblage where all of the world’s lovely waves were bumping into. Even Altamash’s plump, pink neck was dancing. In the front yard of the bungalow, opposite which he had stopped, Selina was sitting on her knees and a rabbit was eating soft green leaves from a branch she was holding. When a duck quacked near her and informed her of someone’s presence, Selina picked up the rabbit in her hand to kiss it, kept it on the grass and stood up. The palms which were stroking the rabbit’s soft and tender fur a few moments ago, were now encountering a dark pink and rough hand. Palm was in hand’s grasp now and its fingers were unknowingly dancing and patting Selina’s hand.

While drinking coffee in the guest room of the bungalow, Altamash came to know the reason behind Selina meeting him here. Actually, this bungalow belonged to a famous Indian actress who had rocked Bollywood for years and was now living a retired life here with her family.

"Oh, so a queen of the film world is guest of another queen." Altamash laughed heartily after saying this. Selina, who was sitting across him, smiled in such a way that John could not decide whether its cause was hesitation or pride.

Looking at the host actress, John said, "Actually I don't take into account the word retirement. I call it a break and not retirement because in the latter, the whole of the past life of that person disappears in front of everybody’s eyes and he is known by his clothes only, but in your case, your past life has started coming in front of the public even more strongly. They remember you, they remember your talks, they hope for your return, they wait for your re-entry…"

"Eh-eh...stop-stop...you are here to sign me or..." Selina laughed at her own joke after saying this. But this laugh composed more of jealousy than that of guilelessness. This was not an innocent joke. Thi also composed of a challenge to catch Altamash’s attention.

Altamash checked the time alarmingly and moved his little golden laptop towards Selina who started reading it with her intoxicating eyes. The host actress had gone inside now.

The fees that Selina was offered for one day’s recording was at the third place on the list of fees that any artist in the whole world had received for a single day of recording and John Altamash had given this information to the Time magazine.

After Altamash had gone and Selina had seen his helicopter flying, she came inside but till then her host and friend had gone in her room to sleep. Selina had to leave as well after her friend’s husband’s arrival and dinner. She went to the guest room.

The weather was getting colder and by the speed at which temperature was going down, it looked as if snowfall was near. The mood of the snowfall differed according to the people’s status. Somewhere people went out to take part in various snow games and somewhere...from some countries news of roads getting blocked, people getting killed-buried or life coming to a halt would come.

In New York’s Central Park, every year a huge event of snow sports was organized. Players from many countries participated in these games. With the skills of their ankles, wrists or hands, even unknown players became stars here. When the temperature would go below zero degrees, watching these players playing nude games in extreme cold, cycling or swimming without clothes was a rarity beyond belief and was famous worldwide.

The tradition of nude games was almost one century old. Actually, these started because of players’ high ambitions or their yearning to get instant fame in media. When some young players would see that in sports news and broadcasts, only the same famous players got prominence, they would do such actions to attract some attention. Sometimes a player would get naked there only while playing and sometimes a company would make such clothes for players that more than their playing abilities, their bodies would get noticed. Such players would get instant recognition by the media and the audience would watch them with excitement. They would be all over the newspapers and magazines. Getting inspired by this, some sports companies or organizations had started giving chances to play nude to the willing players and these games were getting popular. Though these were also criticized, the mentality to consider criticism as publicity was dominating here. So two-three parts of the body made up of hundreds of parts would get success in spreading sensation. The civilizations and cultures had discovered this way to describe a relationship with mother nature. Wherein some undeveloped or little developed countries, tribals and forest dwellers would wear nothing due to poverty, in the well-off nations such actions were taken for hobby or sensation. Though these had a benefit, which was that these tendencies gave a chance to the people to be close to nature. It was a challenge to the civilization that nudity mustn’t be allowed to be a compulsion anymore but if it was someone’s inner desire or hobby despite prosperity, then it must not be considered bad. These actions of pushing abhorrence, disgust and ghast to the margins of life remained harmless for humanity, this was the objective of the modern society. If you were happy or satiated by watching a woman’s vagina or breasts, or a man’s penis, then what was the objection in their display if proper safety was provided and emotions and desires were respected? Even nature chose these to be the tools to make and run this world, the need to bind these in some traditions, customs and rituals and give them an esteemed place was to be there only till the world survived. Only a few years ago at an avenue corner of 56th Street of Manhattan, the heart of New York, started hustle and bustle. Many specialists from various countries used to come and go there. A magnificent spa was taking shape there, in which facilities for getting therapies of diverse types and methods were available. The employees were being trained. Latest machines and resources were being assembled for service.

Experts from an art institute of California were busy in decoration here, many guests were staying in a hotel near the United Nations Secretariat Building. They were specially invited there. At the place where so many heads of state had lived in diplomatic security cover, these famous experts of their fields were getting the same kind of treatment, because the owners of that salon had planned to serve famous people. To get a job at this state of the art salon was a matter of respect because this company was about to emerge as the best employer when it came to paychecks. People who knew about the therapies recognized by Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and all the other religions and sects were checking the facilities of the salon by their own ways and the owners were spending huge amounts of money on their suggestions.

It was an opinion around the world that the U.S. keeps a close eye on all the people coming to the country because of security reasons and the regulations of U.S. visa were considered to be the toughest among all the three hundred countries. By whatever reason one was entering in the U.S., he would get its permission only after going through a strict and long process. But it was a surprise that the more it was considered to be so tough to come here, the more people belonging to different fields from around the world wanted to do the same. The most successful people belonging to any country and field considered themselves lucky if they could connect themselves to the U.S. in some way. As if only this greatest country on earth could permit someone to be called the best. The longer and tougher the process was, higher was the number of fields with possibilities and dreams. The chain never stopped.

Even the rest of the world’s recognized articles of clothing and principles which were like bone and tissue for people at their home, were tested here. Some religion’s turban, some sect’s cap, some race’s dress stopped at least once here. All the ‘isms’ of the world used to come here to play games. In this country of endless oceans, one could see vessels filled with a palmful of water and also, the ardour of the performers in the circus of techniques and languages. As if those who felt disgusted, harboured jealousy and criticized also felt comfortable here. Those who loved this country and those who did not love this country, both the people were in love with this country. And this made it a great country.

Sometimes the dialogue gap between people turns into trenches, many times feelings of people are called feelings of nations, many times flams and guiles of people are known as flams of a nation. Selina Nanda did not know that the same recording for which she was getting the third-largest amount any star had received for a single day, was full of complexities.

Though John Altamash had offered Selina a huge amount and had given her a big amount in advance, the contract said that if Selina could not be available for the recording, or if she was not able to give the same performance for which she was signed, then she was to pay back three times the amount which was to be spent on her. While registering the contract, John Altamash had to submit the voice that he recorded on his phone for which he was giving this huge sum of money to the actress. Now Selina had to present the same voice and it was to be added in the upcoming music album. This was a crispy sound of an intoxicating laugh from which John Altamash had every hope of creating hysteria. Such voice was enough to arouse a man.

It was exactly like an offer proposed to an international tennis player to play a match without undergarments, by a media channel a few years ago. Though it was later cancelled due to interference of a sports governing body. The channel had purchased the rights to broadcast the match.

John Altamash had insured this deal for a huge amount of money and had to pay a large sum. The Time magazine had commented on this deal which spread in the world media in various forms.

The salon which was under construction at 56th Street had many partners. Sheikh Alsultania Manzoor of Doha, Qatar was a major shareholder in it. His long black Limousine could be seen in the street every now and then.

One evening, while strolling in the Battery Park near Hudson, when Tanishk told Uncle that the golden yacht parked near the Port Authority office belonged to this Sheikh from Doha, Uncle did not pay attention to it. Uncle anyway was not interested in the rumours on the street. He was a man who was always busy at work. But when Tanishk told him that during his trip to Boston, he got a chance to sit in that yacht, Uncle started taking interest in his talks. But Tanishk did not tell him much, except the fact that he travelled in it. When Tanishk used to see the Sheikh’s Limousine, he remembered that black horse at the farmhouse in his Japanese village which was cared for by his father. Now Tanishk could see the Sheikh’s Limousine many times.

From the time when Tanishk arrived in the U.S. along with Uncle, he had never dreamt big or harboured high hopes. Sometimes he remembered the village but even then he did not feel any sadness. He believed that his mother must have started living together with that stranger who came to visit her in front of Tanishk. Tanishk also felt that the stranger must have given birth to a third person in his mother’s home. Tanishk could not imagine how would he treat that 'third' if he went back to his country and village. Whether the stranger would let him enter his home or not? But why would he even go there? When his mother’s heart had turned into a milk pot for some other child, Tanishk had nothing to do there.

Anyway, Uncle never caused any trouble for Tanishk. He never scolded or beat him. Uncle used to do all the daily chores. If Tanishk wanted to do something as per his wish, then he did it but otherwise, Uncle used to do everything without telling Tanishk to do something. Sometimes Tanishk felt that what does Uncle get in return of caring for him, why is he always happy seeing him? What is the relation between them? Tanishk never thought about it. He turned into a teenager and them a young man. The people nearby considered them to be father and son and never enquired about them. Because both of them were Japanese, their faces looked very much alike. There was one difference though, which was Tanishk being fair and handsome and Uncle being little dark and average looking. Because their knowledge of English was limited, both of them did not talk much to anybody else. But everybody wanted to talk or come closer to Tanishk. Sometimes someone would give him something to eat and someone would want to go on a walk with him. Because of this, Tanishk did not feel loneliness after Uncle went to work.

But since last few days, something was growing in Tanishk’s mind. Since the day he had travelled with the Sheikh on his yacht, he had started watching life in a different way. Now sometimes he wanted to have nice clothes, nice shoes, nice mobile. He also wanted to meet the Sheikh again. He had befriended that old caretaker of the Sheikh’s ship. He started meeting him, sitting with him, even talking to him with the help of gestures and broken language. Sometimes both of them drank tea or coffee together, but he could never tell the old man that he wanted to meet the Sheikh. He feared that the old man might stop meeting him or start doubting him. Old people always have a fear of their work getting snatched away by the young. And what was the old man’s fault, if he thought that? This is a never-ending circle. Taiwanese Tasi snatched his father away from his mother, the stranger snatched away his mother from him...but it’s not always loss...he met Uncle, he met the old man...the old man introduced him to the Sheikh. Remembering the Sheikh, some hope arose in Tanishk’s mind, his face started glowing.

And one day, Tanishk fulfilled his hopes regarding the Sheikh. He was pleased with him. The Sheikh passed Tanishk. He got work in the salon being constructed on the corner of 56th Street. He was being sent on training with other employees. Soon his temperament and appearance changed. He now boasted off designer clothes of the latest fashion. Expensive and comfortable shoes. Heavy goggles in little sunlight. He was being taught manners to speak and behave. Amongst the employees, he was considered close to the Sheikh and likewise, his reputation and dominance increased. This tender Japanese young man quickly became a favourite of the reputed customers of the salon and his lifestyle started getting exorbitant. His meetings with the Sheikh every now and then also made him a reputed and important person in his colleagues’ eyes. Not only this but now whenever the Sheikh went outside the city or the country, Tanishk went along with him as a caretaker. The old man of the yacht and the chauffeur of the Limousine now saluted him and their conversations were limited to good mornings and evenings. Now Tanishk did not remember that black horse of his village’s farmhouse but now he had now learnt to ride a young black horse.

These changes in his appearance did startle Uncle, but he never asked him anything. Tanishk had told him that he had got a job at a great company. Other than that, neither Tanishk told him nor Uncle asked that how, when and why it all happened. Now Uncle started getting depressed sometimes. He was wary of something every time. He thought that either Tanishk would soon leave Uncle or he himself was about to get caught in some trouble. But there was nothing about which he could question Tanishk. Only on the matter of getting a good job and wearing nice clothes, he could not have blamed him. Sill something was worrying Uncle.

One night, Tanishk saw that Uncle was crying heavily with his face buried in a pillow and tears trickling down. Tanishk was astonished. He could not comprehend the reason for which Uncle would cry. He came to him and asked again and again...but Uncle could not tell him the reason for which he was crying. Tanishk asked about everything...whether he was out of the job or if somebody had said something to him or if he had received some bad news from home...whether somebody had left the world...what had happened after all?

Nothing...the same reply and Uncle’s sobbing turned into hiccups. Tanishk slept alongside Uncle that night, nestling him in his arms...he remained an elder and Uncle remained a kid...Who knew that what sign had nature given to them through this.

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