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Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel
Waking up early in the morning and quickly finishing his chores, Dhruva stood in the portico; staring at the gate incessantly, he was at loss to comprehend his obsession for an unknown woman, possibly a murderess. But weary of a long vigil and wiser to the hopeless wait, as he retreated into his study, he was lost in fine-tuning the Operation Checkmate of Kavya’s captors. When Raju appeared at the lunch-time, Dhruva wanted to be served in the study itself; and after his siesta, grabbing the mail that Raju brought, he found the expected one from Kavya and an unexpected one from one Radha Rani, C/o Begumpet post office.
‘How ingeniously inviting; is she the alleged murderess?’ he thought, having read Radha’s letter. ‘But then Shakeel was referring to her as Radha and not as Radha Rani; maybe he gave a damn to the superfluous Rani, akin to the vainglorious Devi suffixed to many a name. Sans the suffix, can Radha be the real one or her namesake? Isn’t the duality of the possibility intriguing? Whoever it may be, can she be as good as Mithya where it matters? What would come of it if she were to be a willing plain thing? Surely she would spare me the perils of attraction in the portals of proximity for the serene company of an un-alluring dame is good for the peace of mind than the flirting tryst with an evasive temptress. But then, without the tumult of the heart, can there be life in the life; oh, how the absence of woman is killing!’
Given her eagerness for the job, Dhruva felt that Radha might be right up there at the post office waiting for his interview call, and so he penned a call-letter post-haste and hurried Raju on the errand wondering what the future had in store for him. However, seeing Raju’s back, as he readily picked up Kavya’s letter, he was amused at his fickle mindedness for having given precedence to an unknown woman over someone he himself had fancied.
‘Added to the stream of boldness, isn’t there a strain of rashness to Kavya’s persona?’ he thought folding her letter. ‘If not for the fiasco, wouldn’t she have filled the gap that Mithya’s death had created in his professional life? Why foreclose the option, as all it takes is to see that my interview call greets her on her return to Spandan, and who knows, after the dust settles down, she may not be averse for a positive response. But Ranjit should be cautioned not to let her know about my involvement in the Operation Checkmate. Even if I were to click with Radha, nay Rani, why shouldn’t Kavya provide the second string to my investigative bow? What if I fall in love with her as well? So what, that would be the second one to the Cupid’s thing, what a welcome prospect that would be; why place the cart before the horse, when life would take its own course anyway.’
When the clock struck four, Dhruva, attired in black trousers and a white shirt (he wanted to dress like Ranjit, and be present nearby the Tanesha statue every day till the D-day to let Kavya’s captors take him to be a regular) stepped out of his abode to step into an auto. Reaching the Tank Bund shortly thereafter, he got down from it at the Nannaya statue and walked up to the nearby Siddhendrayogi’s; finding Ranjit at the Tanesha’s, he himself settled on the lush green lawns where with a book in hand, and seemingly engrossed in it, he kept a hawk’s eye on the traffic and the passers-by alike.
Around five, a white Maruti Zen, driven by a twenty-something guy, slowed down as it neared the Tanesha from the Ranigunj side. Before it was six, as that car of Karnataka registration made two more rounds in like fashion, Dhruva thought the one at the wheel could be the driving force behind Kavya’s kidnap. As he came alone to pick up Ranjit’s signal, Dhruva had reasoned that at least two persons could be involved in the kidnap, and that the other, possibly the woman who penned the ransom note, may be holding Kavya captive. Though Dhruva suspected that the Zen could be a stolen one, yet he called up Shakeel to pass on the vehicle number, after which he left the scene leaving Ranjit alone.
Back home, as Dhruva awaited Rani’s anticipated arrival, Shakeel called him to seek his helping hand to close in on an inter-state counterfeit-note racket that came to the fore. Though he was disinclined to leave home lest he should miss out on Rani, if she were to show up, yet his proclivity to face professional challenges got the better of his need for courting the woman he enamored; so, briefing Raju as to how to deal with the expected visitor, in case she turned up, Dhruva left for the Saifabad police station.
After Shakeel had detailed him about the conflicting leads to the evasive racketeers, burning a lot of midnight oil, Dhruva developed a blueprint of the Operation Moolah for Shakeel to act upon. Having left Shakeel to fine-tune the logistics of the operation, when Dhruva reached home fearing that he might have missed the date with Rani, Raju told him that none came to see him.
‘How I hoped that this Rani would fill the void caused by Mithya’s death,’ he thought. ‘Am I flattered to be deceived?’
What with his obsession for Rani that accentuated the pain of his yearlong loneliness occasioned by Mithya’s death growing by the hour; he became pensive thinking that she might have developed second thoughts about joining him. Soon, as his thoughts insensibly turned to Kavya, he felt that had Oscar Wilde espied her, he would have paraphrased his smoking quote as an ode to her - the perfect example of a perfect beauty - and wondered what would have happened had she, instead of being kidnapped, made it to 9, Castle Hills.
Dhruva began to imagine the possibilities and that kept him awake for long until his tiredness induced him to sleep.
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