This is the VIII chapter of a mystery series in the “Game of Blogs”. Our team “Kalakaar Colony” is a part of #CelebrateBlogging campaign by Blogadda. You can read the previous chapter here.
Shekar had taken a shortcut from his home to reach his father-in-law’s house when they saw an accident that had occurred by the roadside. A few people had gathered around an injured young woman, but none had come forward to help her.
Shekar hit the brakes immediately as he heard Tara shriek “Stop the car”. A few feet away lay a young woman, her face bruised and bloody and her legs bent at an awkward angle. Shekar and Tara jumped out of the car and ran towards the woman who was clutching a camera in one hand.
“Hey are you all right?” Shekar asked offering a bottle of water.
Jennifer gratefully gulped the water down her parched throat.
Tara, now aware that the accident was not a major one, wanted to hurry to her father’s place. She was aware of the fact that time was precious and valuable minutes were ticking by as they attended to this woman on the roadside.
She tried to gesture impatiently to Shekar to hasten but he was busy in calming the harried woman.
“You have to help me. Please alert the police. The little girl, the little girl… I think she was kidnapped. Oh, I knew when the man was following us that something was wrong. Why was I not more careful?” Jennifer cried with tears streaking her blood-smeared face.
Shekar’s heart was thudding with apprehension and fear and he was not completely sure that he wanted to hear everything that would come up next. But he had to calm the woman, so that she would speak more coherently.
“Please , I need you to tell me what happened exactly”.
Jennifer took a deep breath and started explaining all the events that happened on that ill-fated morning.
“My name is Jennifer and I work as a photographer. I was having a Barista coffee today morning when I came across this young girl. She looked a little nervous, yet her eyes had a rebellious streak in them. I went up to her and we chatted for a while. And I knew that my hunch was right.
The girl had run away from her parents but she was hesitant to give any details about them. I talked to her in a kindly and friendly manner so that she would open up to me. I noticed her school badge and saw that she lived in Rainbow Apartments. So I made up my mind to trick her into climbing my bike and then taking her back to her parents”.
Shekar and Tara could not believe their ears. This had to be Roohi that Jennifer was talking about.
“Was the girl’s name Roohi?” asked Tara incredulously.
“Yes, but how do you know…?”, Jennifer’s voice trailed as realization hit her finally.
“Are you her parents?”, she asked and as Shekar and Tara nodded their heads, Jennifer buried her face in her hands with frustration. ‘If only I had been more careful when riding my bike’, she chided herself.
“So where is Roohi now? What happened to her”, Shekar asked unable to hide the slight quivering in his voice.
“I lost her. Roohi said she wanted to go to Walkeshwar to her grandfather’s house. But instead I brought her to your house. We were just a few minutes away from reaching, when my bike skidded. We were both thrown off from the bike and I fell unconscious. When I came to, my leg was hurting badly. But what I saw next horrified me. A man in a bike lifted Roohi on to his lap and sped away even before I could raise my voice for help.”
“What?”, shouted both Shekar and Tara. Their hopes had grown when Jennifer mentioned that she had Roohi safely with her. But now the feeling of despair and misery returned to gnaw at their heart.
“Do you remember anything of the man who whisked Roohi on his bike? Did you notice the registration number?, asked Shekar optimistically.
“No, I’m sorry. I was really dazed and I had a hard time trying not to faint again. I just remember that he was tall and he wore a black jacket with yellow and white stripes running down the back.”
|Source- Stock images.|
Tara pulled Shekar to the side of the road and she had an agitated look on her face. “Shekar, do you think there is a chance that Roohi would have gone to Papa’s house. You know, she is very clever for her age. She may have escaped from the man who kidnapped her.” Love, fear, horror and a feeble light of hope all shone on Tara’s face and it broke Shekar’s heart to see the normally composed Tara in so much distress.
Shekar knew he had to decide quickly. Time was running out on them and they had to act deftly.
“Tara, can you take a cab and check in your father’s house? I have to take Jennifer to hospital. Her leg seems to be badly hurt. We cannot leave her here; she helped Roohi when she was alone and in danger. Maybe I can talk to her and try to get her to remember more about the man.”
Tara hesitated for few minutes and agreed to the plan.
As Tara climbed into the taxi and sped away to her father’s house, Shekar helped Jennifer into the passenger seat of his car. He urged her to think back to the events, wishing that she would recall something about the kidnapper that she may have forgotten to divulge.
A million questions ran amok in Shekar’s mind. Who was this man who had taken Roohi? Was Roohi really kidnapped? Was Roohi safe or was she tormented and in trouble? He willed his mind not to ponder over the disturbing news that were splashed everyday in the front page of newspapers about young girls being kidnapped and sold into prostitution rackets.
Shekar was not an extremely religious man but that day, driving through the dreary Mumbai traffic, he prayed fervently to God, that his daughter be alive and unharmed.
Read the next part of the story here