Continued from “Shakeel’s Fixation”
As Dhruva stepped into the anteroom, he came face to face with a handsome man with an anxious face that bore the apprehensions of one who feared for the life and limb of a dear one. When the visitor introduced himself as Ranjit, the owner of the Oasis Builders, assessing the middle-aged man as self-assured, Dhruva gave him a questioning look. But as Ranjit said that he came to seek his help in freeing Kavya, his thirty-six-year-old wife, kidnapped that very afternoon, Dhruva said in jest that he was not in cohorts with the kidnappers. Hiding his irritation, as Ranjit told him that his ad for a ‘lady sleuth’ had led him to the Castle Hills, Dhruva in wonder led him into the study, where Raju fetched them some steaming tea.
Ranjit said that he lives with his childless spouse in the Spandan, their bungalow in Jubilee Hills; while he is an engineer, she has a L.L.B. added to M.A. in English, and yet at his behest, she remained a homemaker for he was averse to a working wife. Of late though, having become a bored housewife, as she was keen on becoming a criminal lawyer, he didn’t stall her from enrolling at the Bar, and yesterday, as she chanced to see Dhruva’s ad for a ‘lady sleuth’, she felt that a short stint as his ‘assistant’ could come in handy in her career pursuit as a criminal lawyer. Aware though he was about the hazards such an occupation posed, as there was no way of stopping her for once she makes up her mind, there was no going back for her, damn the consequences. So, on the way to his office, he posted her application for the post that very morning, of course, without visualizing that by the evening, he would be seeking the advertiser’s help in rescuing the applicant from her kidnappers! But as Ranjit said that he was unable to fathom the vicissitudes of fate, the unexpected development made Dhruva ponder over the imponderables of life.
As for the details, Ranjit said that as Kavya’s Alto was in the garage, she telephoned him after lunch to know if he could spare his Audi for her to reach her friend’s place by three-thirty; but given his own hopping schedule of the day, he asked her to be on her own by hiring an auto. Nevertheless, when it started raining heavily by three, he thought it fit to send her his car, so he tried to reach her over phone but as he failed to connect with the land line as well as her mobile, he called up her friend, who told him that she hasn’t reached there yet. When he realized that Kavya didn’t make it there even at four, he rushed to Spandan, only to find a ransom note slipped in through the main door, which warned him not to approach the cops. However, saying that as Dhruva was fresh in his mind, he came to seek his help regardless, Ranjit handed over the missive to him, which read:
Ranjitji, ensure your presence tomorrow evening at the Tanesha statue on the Tank Bund from four to six in dark trousers and a white shirt to convey your consent to pay three-crore rupees in thousand denominations (less luggage, more comfort, for us all) to reclaim your wife. Thereafter, you have only four days to exchange your black money with your bright wife; so whenever you are ready with the money for the barter before the deadline that is, be present at the Tanesha between five and eight in the evening (mind the dress code) to take further instructions. But beware of involving the khakis as that would only fetch you your wife’s body bag; it’s no empty threat as you have her testimony hereunder. Also be warned, if you carry any mobile phone with you, we will take the booty as well as your wife over your dead body.
Your wife’s captor
When Ranjit confirmed that it was Kavya’s signature in that otherwise unsigned note, as Dhruva secured it and said that they may better alert the cops, Ranjit said sarcastically that for that instead of coming to the Castle Hills, he could have directly gone to the Jubilee Hills Police Station. But as Dhruva sternly retorted that he saw a case to apprehend him as the prime suspect in his wife’s kidnap, Ranjit lost his cool and demanded an explanation for the accusation. By way of response, the detective said nonchalantly that since there was no way for Ranjit to receive the ransom note with his wife’s signature on it, within an hour or so after her alleged kidnap, he should be put under the scanner above all else. Unnerved though by the proposition but appreciating Dhruva’s mental acumen and eye for detail, Ranjit confessed that preoccupied with his official chores, he not only failed to track Kavya’s whereabouts after his call to her friend at four but also reached home late in the evening, and added that he just tried to test the waters before he entrusted the case to him.
As though to outsmart Ranjit, Dhruva turned naughty and said that since Kavya’s signature was genuine, it indeed was a good news; but as Ranjit seemed lost at the comment, lest he should take him for a cynic, Dhruva explained that if it were a forgery, it would have meant that the captors were out to barter her body for the booty. Then Ranjit, who remained apprehensive, said what if Kavya was bumped off after having obtained her signature, Dhruva had assured him that the kidnappers were no morons to harm her as he wouldn’t part with a farthing until he had ensured that she was kicking and alive. However, as Ranjit expressed his fears about his wife’s possible molestation in captivity, Dhruva assured him that when a man kidnaps a woman for ransom, his lure for money would act as her chastity belt; moreover, as the handwriting in the missive betrayed a feminine slant, the captor was either a woman or a male with a female accomplice, possibly a lover; if the kidnapper were to be a woman, then there may be no violation but for a lesbian aberration, and were it to be a man-woman enterprise, then any male enthusiasm for Kavya’s possession would have to contend with the female proclivity of his accomplice to stall the same; whatever, the idea of kidnap could be to collect ransom from the man and not to molest his wife.
When Dhruva wanted to know Ranjit’s financial position to pay the ransom, just in case its inevitable, he said that he came to seek his help as he did not have so much money to cough up, and that prompted Dhruva to say in jest that he was no moneylender; but as Ranjit offered to pay him half a million to bust the kidnappers, Dhruva said that it might come in handy as and when he handled the cases of the ‘hand to mouths’. At that as Ranjit offered to take Dhruva to the Spandan, but in an auto for he made it to the Castle Hills by changing into a couple of them via a circuitous route, patting him for his presence of mind, Dhruva led him to his Esteem, and on their way to the Jubilee Hills in the snarling traffic, Ranjit narrated his life and times with his wife.
Continued to “Rags to Riches”