“Aunty, I’m so sorry to hear about this. All this mess, it must be so scary.” It wasn’t a question and Jeremy didn’t get an answer.
“You won’t know anything about all this, would you? I mean, any ideas or… but of course, you would never have called for any of this…” Jeremy observed her reactions. Would she give something away, about Ankur? All he got was a low, “No, no dear. I’m afraid I’m completely clueless.” The two policemen were alert.
Jeremy took the stalling conversation as his cue to warn her of his ‘identity’. She was playing along, for the same unknown reason she did yesterday, and he was hoping she would understand.
“Oh, Mrs. Virmani I am so shocked by there events… You were always so cautious… something this horrid happening to you! I remember vividly those days when you would be scolding us, warning us, ‘Jay! Do NOT cycle down the stairs!’ but we won’t listen and roll down anyway. Me-”
And then he played his magic card;
” – and Ankur.”
Mrs. Virmani looked up. Without revealing the emotions behind her own eyes, she searched into Jeremy’s, what did he know? What did he mean?
“And I still laugh at the part when you would stand with my mother and say- ‘Anu, I think both our sons are going to be either dacoits or army-men.”
Mrs. Virmani smiled. One moment of tension and she was back to her original sense of mysterious calm. “I remember you too, Jay.”
Ok, so that’s how she is going to play, huh? Jeremy’s thoughts of her as a mother-figure he had to protect were diminishing by the second. This lady was obviously very clever. Possibly even hideously sly.
“Where is Ankur these days, Aunty? I mean, I AM a little surprised he isn’t here with you right now.”
“So am I. But the last I heard of him was last Friday… he said he was going to a party.. some club he said… I forget the name.”
Jeremy was horrified. She knew. She knew her son had died, she knew he was the body found under the ITO Bridge. But why wouldn’t she tell? Why wouldn’t she own up to it, why wouldn’t she identify the body? And the surnames- Ankur Jain, and Mrs. Virmani?! AND that mysterious man who came to see Sunny at the parlour that day- is he even real?
Horrid, horrid lady.
“Well in that case, could you give me his cell number? I really need to talk to him about this. How could he be missing right now?” Jeremy put extra stress on Ankur’s fateful condition, hoping that either of the two parties listening would get the message- the police or Mrs. Virmani.
The old woman certainly did. “I am not sure if he is really missing Jay… you know how he gets so busy sometimes he forgets even to eat…” Jeremy saw the policemen getting agitated. They were having no fun listening to old reminiscences, and they could feel alright that something they weren’t privy to was happening. So Jeremy decided to appease some hunger, give another hint. Lord, if they missed this one, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from strangling them!
“It’s strange Mrs. Virmani… The news is, these days. Dead bodies dropping all over town-”
He flashed a quick look at the two officers. They were eager.
” -that terrorist firing at a club. That woman who committed suicide in her own house. That body they found.. wasn’t that under the ITO Bridge?…. Then this attack- I’m concerned. And I can’t say I am not scared! Gosh… all these loose ends…. all these bizarre deaths, one after the other, almost seems like there is an order to them , but of course, we can see no connection.”
The policemen were frowning. Mrs. Virmani was still smiling, but Jem knew she was frightened now. She didn’t like the confidence with which Jem could depart so much information. And something about that was troubling her. He had finally got her.
Jem sat for another two minutes, making pretty small talk, most of which was farewell. As he got up to leave, Mrs. Virmani said, “She was really a nice girl Jer- Jay. Tell Karan; a nice girl, so nice she would never turn down an old lady’s request… she never refused to eat with me, to take me- but well, how does it matter now? Too bad… too bad what hap-”
Jeremy stared at her. She knew everything. She probably even knew why Sunny fainted. And she was playing them… What could she possible want with this?
Jeremy went out quickly. Once outside her scrutiny, her hammer, he breathed heavily, and rushed away. Karan had to know this, now.
On the balcony of the same house, a policeman telephoned his senior officer, to report the meeting as he had been instructed.
“Yes?” boomed Officer Yadav’s tired voice.
“The usual, Sir. Just the boy concerned about her safety…. and her son hasn’t been to see her…” the constable replied wondering if he would please his senior.
“Ignorant boy. These youngsters care less by the minute, I tell you. Next they will start forgetting theyhaveparents if the parents don’t remind them. What did the lady say to that?”
“Something about him not having called since Friday… when he went to a club…. youngsters partying, Sir.” said the constable disappointed.
“Friday- a club party. Hmmm…. Just get his name and picture, maybe he was at that Jevenia Club… and keep me informed.” With that, Officer Yadav replaced the receiver.