She was awake for a while and was trying to adjust her eyes to the dim light coming through the draped windows… she had a faint idea it was early morning but where was Raghav.
Taking a few minutes to freshen up she walked out of their room to his study but the gate was closed from the outside; he was not there. The clock in the hall told her it was ten minutes to 6, a little late than her normal morning but the staff downstairs were fully awake and if she could sense they were running as if they were in a hurry or … of course, it made sense.
Raghav had to leave for another trip and that is why the house was in such a hustle this early in the morning.
She skidded past the steps in hurry. He just came last evening and was already leaving… again. and here she was sleeping like she had not in ages.
“Vahini, Anna is leaving for Mangalore…” Harish came to her. after Farhad, this was the second man in line. “he said you have to visit some boutique shop today, so I’ll be ready whenever you say,” Harish told her.
“i think we should leave after 1, I’ll ring you and
“Gorilla… wait.” Raghav’s voice boomed in the hall.
“Anna… I am sorry I had put it to… Harish shivered to see Raghav.
“what have I told everyone working here?” Raghav turned to everyone who had gathered around him hearing his voice.
“kya Hua Anna?” Farhad came behind him in a weak attempt to stop whatever was about to happen.
Pallavi was still standing on the last step of stairs unable to get why he was angry all of a sudden.
“hmmm, to chal bol Harish, phone charge karne ka time kab hai?” he asked him as he cornered him.
“Sorry Anna, I didn’t see when did the battery die…” Harish pleaded to him.
“tujhe kyu dikhega battery kab gaya, Farhad iska phone khol…” Raghav ordered Farhad and he came in front of Harish in no time.
Everyone was watching the scene with no words, afraid it could be their court marshal if they utter a thing.
“chhod do Anna, phones these days, cant be trusted.” Farhad tried to save Harish.
“Farhad phone khol aur line se bata, battery kaha khatam ho rahi…” Raghav instructed him as he grabbed one of the dining chairs and sat crossing his leg.
Pallavi walked to him when he held out his arm to not interfere in his matters. She kept shut and eyed the poor guy getting troubled for god knows what mistake.
Harish pleaded Farhad to save him and Farhad rolled his eyes seeing the gaming apps on his phone.
“Farhad , time nahi hai mere pas… jaldi list suna.” and somewhere over the clouds, Gods heard Harish and Pallavi’s plea.
One, two, three, and in a row four sneezes jolted them all.
“you are sick…” Pallavi rushed to his side and patted his back in an attempt to soothe his body.
“Farhad…” he eyed Farhad just before another set of sneezes started.
“let me help you… check up on him later, Abhi Chalo mere sath.” she tried to nudge him but he didn’t move and eyed Farhad.
“Anna, this should be his last mistake… Vahini is right, let’s get you something..and you Harish, next time your phone is not picked I’ll make sure to throw you along with this phone.” Farhad told Harish with an eye expression to leave before the Raghav Rao is back in form.
The last night was amazing but the rains didn’t spare her husband and now he was down with cold and fever.
Now it made sense why his side of bed seemed almost made this morning, he didn’t sleep there and didn’t even wake her up.
He might have been doing okay if didn’t take a shower that early in the morning but his schedules needed him ready asap.
She had told him to take a rest for a day and then continue the trips and meetings but he had brushed off her concerns and here she was packing the neatly folded shirts and his belongings for the trip.
“are you sure you’ll manage?” she asked him concerned about his temperature but his stubbornness.
“main do sal ka bachha nahi hai, Pallavi… i can manage.” he brushed away her worries.
“I told you to wait for a couple of hours but The Raghav Rao waiting for something !…huh.” her anger was justified.
“see, I have lived alone all these years and there is no need to overreact on this.” he was getting irritated.
“bilkul, mujhe kya , jahan jana hai jao.” she slapped the jip of the bag in annoyance and left from there.
“Vahini, Anna ready?” Farhad appeared on their door.
“tumhare Anna to superman hain, he is always ready.” throwing an angry glance over her shoulder she left the room.
“kya hua Anna?” still watching Pallavi’s quick and angry steps towards the stairs Farhad enquired him.
“kuchh nahi, ye habit hai Iska har bat me overreact Karne ka.” Raghav collected the remaining files he didn’t need and pushed them inside the bedside drawer grabbing his kerchief to cover his nose.
“you two fought again?” he asked him suspiciously.
“nahi Farh…”Raghav started to answer. “ab tum bhi mera amma ban ne laga…” his strict stair prompted Farhad to look away.
“but Vahini is right Anna, your condition doesn’t look good and then we have to travel for quite some hours.” Farhad tried to reason.
“Farhad, hum log Aaj tak koi meeting miss kiya?” he straightened up and fixed his collar.
“nahi anna par aaj aap…”Farhad was cut.
“ye sab aise hi nahi aaya Farhad aur tu janta hai…ab koi bakwas nahi, Ardham ainda?” he made his point clear and another sneeze made its way.
She didn’t like fighting with him but this man made her so angry at times, like if he could take rest for a day or two then what could have gone wrong in his business.
She was sure if it was her who was sick he had called the top medical officers of Hyderabad.
Muttering to herself she entered the boutique and saw the girl not more than her own age sitting behind the sewing machine.
“excuse me … Mrs reddy told me to come by 2.” she smiled at the girl and introduced herself.
“oh, she is upstairs, I’ll take you to her…” the girl smiled back and stood from her chair to help her find the way.
“Mrs. Pallavi, if you don’t mind can we leave your guard on the door.” she requested politely.
Pallavi looked from her face to Harish and Harish denied seeing strict instructions from his boss to not leave Pallaiv alone.
“actually there are all ladies upstairs and don’t want to make them uncomfortable…” the girl smiled apologetically.
“its okay. Harish, aap yahi wait karo, I’ll be back in a few moments,” she told him.
“par Vahini… Anna.” Harish was fearful of what his boss would do knowing about it.
“don’t worry Harish, even I have managed everything all alone all this time.” she smiled and assured him she would be alright.
“lead the way, Rohini.” she followed the girl to another door that supposedly led to the stairs.
The moment his car stopped at a traffic light, someone pressed a paper down his window and he shouted at the atrocity of the person.
“isko pakad Farhad, abhi batata hai mai isko.” Raghav started buttoning his jacket to catch the crazy man.
“chhodo na Anna, we don’t have to stop for such morons.” Farhad turned the key as soon as he saw the lights in the next lane turning green.
Seething in anger he grabbed his inhaler and sniffed it to get some relief. After taking a few breaths to calm him he looked down and that is when his eyes fell to the paper.
“Farhad, side le…” he told him as he picked the paper and opened it.
“tune bola tha tere pas khone ko bahut hai,
Teri ma aur bahan to chal mere bhi ma aur behan hai
Par ye nayi cheej me mere ko interest hai ,Raghav Rao.”
In a broken Telugu script, the words were clear on the paper.
“kya Hua Anna?” Farhad managed to free himself from his seat belt in no moment as he saw Raghav making calls to someone and he looked trouble.
“Haan Harish, Pallavi kidhar hai?” he asked troubled by every kind of thought.
“Vahini is inside with the lady, Anna..” Harish said calmly.
“aur tu kaha hai, ped par?” Raghav lost his calm. “andar dekh Pallavi theek hai ya nahi?”
“Par Anna, the lady said Men are not allowed or something.” Harish was hesitant to enter inside.
“farhad ye kise pakad laya hai tu, sun gorrila jaldi andar dekh varna tu aaj gaya.” he seethed in the phone.
“Haan Anna..” Harish said immediately and the next moments were filled with some hustles and voices he could not hear properly.
“Anna, Vahini is not here…” a terror and grief-struck voice of Harish replied and he knew some big trouble had chosen his life again.
Precap – they arrived at the location Harish has given them but he was nowhere in sight, the car’s front dashboard was open, perhaps Harish needed the revolver but he was nowhere in sight.
dread and fear started gripping Raghav and he could see two lifeless bodies in front of his eyes, his body was burning with fever but he could not afford to hallucinate or fall when she was in danger.
How are all of you? Thank you so much for being amazing readers and finding this story worth your time…means a lot to me.
Now COVID has turned deadly, please follow the guidelines, wear masks properly, don’t go out unnecessarily, and most importantly get your elderly people vaccinated.
Stay safe and healthy.
p.s. – how can I forget to add this beautiful gesture and support between neighboring countries in tough times like these, like most of you I am a simple girl who doesn’t like drama and fights for no reason at all.
i believe the hatred is spread for the sake of a few people and for the advantage of a few people, the day people across the borders would understand this simple logic, we’ll all be happy and content and no more bloodshed will be there.