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Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel
That June evening, the crimson sun gave in to the dark monsoon clouds to let them end its long summer reign over the Deccan skies. What with the thickening clouds thundering in triumph, Dhruva woke up from his siesta, and by the time he moved into the portico of his palatial bungalow at 9, Castle Hills, the skies had opened up to shower its sprawling lawns. It was as if the eagerness of the rainfall matched the longing of the parched soil to receive its fertile mate in an aroma of embrace, and in the ensuing echoes of that seasonal union, the roots of the garden plants devoured every raindrop, that is, even as their leaves shed the overburden to accommodate the new arrivals.
Dhruva, impelled by all that, stood engrossed, and Raju, the housekeeper, fetched him a plateful of hot pakodas, which, facing the spatter, he began to savour, and before he had finished with the snack, Raju returned with a mug of steaming Darjeeling tea for him. Soon, the refreshed sun resurged to warm up the leaves, even as the satiated roots let the bounty go down the drain. Done with the beverage, Dhruva picked up the sachet of lanka pogaku, to roll a cigar, and finishing that as he reached for the cigar lighter, the rainbow, in its resplendent colors, unfolded in the misty skies. However, when he began puffing away at the cigar, as if dispelled by its strong scent, the dissipated clouds began disappearing from the horizon.
Watched by Dicey, the Alsatian, Dhruva savored the cigar to the last puff, but as he stubbed the butt, and stepped out onto the lush green lawn, the pet followed him to leave its footprints on the damp canvas in its master’s tracks. Even as the clouds began regrouping in the skies, he covered the garden to caress every croton and coleus as he would Dicey. But when it portended downpour, Raju led Dicey into the portico and Dhruva headed towards the study to pick up the half-read Crimes Digest of the month. However, as it rained again, he reached the first-floor French window, standing by which he thought that it was akin to the urge of the assassin to revisit the scene of the crime, for a review of the same. Amused by his analogy, he thought as if the rain was obliterating its earlier footprints, but when it ceased raining and the skies turned murky, seemingly mourning the loss of their resplendence, he too immersed himself in the dark world of crime the Digest pictured.
Meanwhile, Raju let Dicey do the patrolling, and soon it began barking at the gate inducing Dhruva to reach to the window, through which he saw a sensuous woman, tentative at the half-open Iron Gate of his mansion. Enamoured of her attractive face and desirous of her middle-aged frame, as he stood rooted, the pet sprang up to the gate, forcing the tantalizing trespasser to beat a hasty retreat. No less affected by her sensual gait in her retreat, Dhruva lost his eyes to her, until she went out of his sight, but readily alive to her loss, he cursed himself for not sticking to the portico. Inexplicably obsessed with her, he rushed to the gate only to see her turning the bend even as Inspector Shakeel came into view on his Bajaj Pulsar.
When Shakeel greeted Dhruva, feeling lost, he forced himself to hug him, just as Dicey leapt up to the visitor in welcome, and as Raju took away the pet, Dhruva led the cop into the portico, wondering aloud what made him scarce, for nearly three months then. When Shakeel began to detail how he had reached the dead-end of the investigation of a double murder he was handling, the detective closed his eyes, as if to avoid reading the script from the cop’s body language.
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