Amar sighed and slowly got up from the bed. Throwing the empty syringe in the dustbin nearby, he was about to leave the room when he saw Shekher and Girija entering the room followed by Radha and his father.
The moment he saw his father, he gestured him to follow. He saw Radha watching him intently and he just smiled trying to reassure her.
As he stepped out on the balcony, he felt his father’s presence behind him. Although he wanted to say a lot of things to him he couldn’t. Not able to help himself, he hung his head and tried his best to collect his thoughts and make his mind sane.
“We are all with him, Amar,” he heard his father say.
“I know Baba. But there is no way we can control his mind. And believe me, it’s going to make him walk through each and everything that happened that night.”
Pravin sighed heavily knowing his son was right.
“I don’t want him to go down memory lane. I don’t want him to become that 14-year old boy again,” Amar said shaking his head in dejection.
Radha sat down next to Rudra and touched his forehead. It was a little hot than usual but she knew it was normal for him under the present circumstances. She was about to remove her hand when suddenly Rudra’s head twisted sideways, face concocted with pain.
“Viman!” she called out in a whisper and instantly Viman was beside her.
“Move away, Radha,” Viman said to her and then dragged her away.
Viman looked at Ram and he rushed out to call Amar. Even though the tranquiliser had taken effect but still Rudra’s mind was active and right now it was a ticking bomb.
In his mind’s eye, Rudra saw himself running in full speed through the paths of the forest. Just as he reached the beginnings of the haveli, he saw the dejected and sad 14-year old boy look back at the path he had come. And then the boy’s eyes deflected at him and they beckoned him.
Rudra stood there willing himself not to trudge on the paths where there was nothing but darkness. But his feet didn’t listen to him. Compelled by his inner demons, he walked to the boy. And the moment he reached him, Rudra felt himself merging with the boy.
Veera climbed the tree and slipped inside his room as silently as possible. He didn’t want anyone to know he had gone to meet her. As he was going to the washroom to wash up, he could hear his mother telling a story to Gera. His sister’s mumbled voice clearly indicated that she had food in her mouth but that didn’t deter her from asking questions.
Smiling he shook his head and stepped inside the washroom. 30 minutes later, he stepped out and threw the towel on the bed. He was about to pick up his bag from the bed when suddenly he heard something. Letting his bag go, he neared his closed door and opened it.
And the moment he did that an intoxicating smell engulfed his senses. Even though the smell was not that strong to render him motionless, still he felt certain kind of heaviness in his head. Without thinking twice, he rushed down the stairs to the corridor and looked here and there. Although it was dark in the corridor, he could still make out that the door connecting the corridor to the baithak khana (sitting room) was closed, which was not something strange as at this hour it should be.
But the smell was still lingering in the air.
Veera slowly crept through the dark corridor and reached out to his left to switch on the lights.
At first, he didn’t suspect anything foul but the moment his eyes fell on the trace of blood going outside through the side door, his senses suddenly became alert. He rushed outside and looked here and there for Chandrapal but he was nowhere to be seen. As he turned towards the stables, he saw a faint shadow and then realised there was somebody lying on the ground.
He rushed to it but the moment he reached the area his eyes dilated with shock.
Chandrapal was lying face down on the ground in a pool of blood.
“Chandrapal Kaka?” Veera whispered as he shook him.
But he did not get an answer. Panicking, he shook him again and this time Chandrapal moved a little.
“Ve…Veera?” he heard Chandrapal whisper weakly.
He wanted to ask him what had happened but before he could Chandrapal pointed towards the house and then collapsed. Something in his gesture alarmed Veera and he rushed towards the house. On the way he saw their guards and henchmen lying on the ground; some of them groaning with pain while others completely still.
It didn’t take him long to understand that they had been ambushed and that too one by one. His heart was pounding with dread as he climbed the stairs of the haveli. On the porch, there were traces of blood on the floor and something or someone had been dragged inside through the door as the blood trail suggested. Panic started to rise in his body but he still held on his nerve.
Just as he reached the door, he placed his ear on it but didn’t hear anything. Anxiety and dread bombarded his brain as he heard a faint animal whimper suddenly. Without thinking, he pushed the door and entered.
But there was nothing in the room. He looked closely on the floor and found the blood trail leading towards one of the doors opening to the courtyard.
By this time Veera’s eyes had completely adjusted to the darkness around. He could make out that furniture was all at their place and even if they had been moved nobody from the upper bedrooms would be able to hear it with the corridor doors closed.
That’s how his father had re-modelled this place.
His palms were getting clammy the more he approached the twin doors in front. The moment he reached them he stopped and looked down. There was a whole lot of blood in front of the door.
Fear of the unknown started to grip his mind but he brushed it off.
This is not the first time you are seeing blood, he reminded himself.
Tightening his resolve, he twisted the twin handles and pushed the door open.
And stopped dead.