Continued from “Foul on Pravar”
Next day, when Ranjit reached 9, Castle Hills, Dhruva was playing shuttle badminton with Rani in its backyard, and as Raju announced his arrival, Dhruva playfully told Rani that he would like to flaunt her before the visitor. Turning coquettish, she told him that she had no eyes for any other man, and not to be outdone, he said that had she been there on the Tank Bund the other day, Ranjit would have lost his eyes for her, thereby putting Pravar in a fix. She said joyously that though she was flattered, she was eager to know how Kavya could have spent the time with her captors, and he told her that she better eavesdrop as he closeted with her man. Chiding him for wanting to spoil her morals, she got into the swimming pool, and he went into the study to meet the visitor.
Dismissing his apologies for having kept him waiting, Ranjit lost no time in blaming him for the fake-notes mess he had created for him, though falling short of demanding compensation for the damage caused. Turning apologetic for not having taken him into confidence, the culprit explained to the aggrieved that had he been privy to the plan, he would have probably fumbled in handling Pravar, and that would have put his wife’s life at risk. However, Ranjit bemoaned that Kavya was cut up with him for playing foul with Pravar for he treated her fairly in her captivity.
At length, cajoled by Dhruva that all that would come to a pass, Ranjit placed the Kavya-cards on the table - in the pouring rain, around three that day, she stepped out of the Spandan wondering how to hire an auto; what a hassle it was in Hyderabad as the auto-wallahs tended to veto the savaaris. So, when a youth drove his auto straight up to her, thinking it was a Godsend, she got into it, and to spare herself the spatter, she gratefully accepted his offer to unwind the Rexene windshields. Not long after they turned the bend, as a well-drenched young woman was beckoning for an auto, he asked her if she would like to accommodate the hapless lass, out of humanitarian consideration, she consented to his proposition.
However, the next thing that she could recall was that she woke up in an alien place with the pair around, who, after introducing themselves as Pravar and Natya, began to press her to disclose her man’s monitory worth. Though she kept mum initially but as he warned her that she better revealed that before he forced her to tell about her man’s manly worth as well, she retorted that it was unbecoming of a man to trick a woman on the sly. But when he asked Natya to leave him alone to enable him to assess her womanly worth, afraid of rape, she agreed to cooperate. When he thought of a ransom of five-crore rupees, she told him that he might forget about it; and even as he scaled it down to three-crores, yet as she protested, but he told her that she might count her days if her man was not prepared to cough up even that much.
While confining her in the guestroom of at desolated house on the outskirts, and having warned her against any misadventure, they took turns to guard her, lest she should give them a slip. Though Pravar was younger to her by twelve years, but whenever she was alone with him, she was ever in fright that he might turn eager for her; and during the nights, though he was fast asleep on the floor, holding the rope that tied both her hands, keeping an eye on him, lying on the cot, she used to keep awake all night. However, he always tried to win her sympathy by picturing his wayward life, and Natya too went out of her way to earn her goodwill by catering to her every need. So, when she told him that once freed, she might practice law, he said jocularly that if only she took his briefs, he would ensure that her wallet bulged like a pregnant womb. Well, his semantics only helped aggravate her lurking fear of rape that was at the back of her mind all the while - that was the long and short of Kavya’s ordeal of a kidnap.
Asked about his rendezvous on the Tank Bund, Ranjit said that after verifying the ransom money and ensuring that there were no khakis around in the mufti; Pravar let him talk to Kavya on the mobile phone. Later, followed by Pravar, as Ranjit was half way down the staircase, he saw Natya leading Kavya up the steps, and after the operation exchange, as Natya ascended the stairs; Pravar descended the vault with the booty. Moved by his concern for her, though his wife thanked him all the way to the Spandan, but seeing Shakeel implicate Pravar in the fake-note case in that TV presser, she became so furious that she wanted an explanation from him. When he told her that he had no inkling about it at all, she saw it as a dirty trick of the police to serve their own ends, and he tried to pacify her by saying that, in either case, Pravar had to serve the sentence. However, maintaining that it was no justification for such falsification, she said that Pravar used to joke about her carrying his briefs and wondered aloud what if she took up his case.
While Ranjit lamented that he was at a loss to understand Kavya’s inexplicable behavior, cautioning him not to let her ever get wiser to the nuances of her rescue act, Dhruva counseled him to keep his cool while she got over her nerves. But harping on how the misadventure had upset his mate, Ranjit wondered of what avail it all was, and thus having put her rescuer on the back foot, he extricated himself from his commitment by handing the latter a cheque for a paltry twenty-thousand. Measuring Ranjit’s meanness in that meager amount, yet the detective told him to call on him if he ever needed any help, and as an after-thought enquired about the fate of his call letter to his wife. Glad for being saved from playing the blame game, Ranjit said that having read it, without a comment, his wife had tucked it in her handbag.
Seeing Ranjit’s back, as Dhruva turned pensive, Rani, failing to enliven him with her coquetry, nevertheless, managed to cajole him into breaking his silence; he said that he was worried that the foisted case on Pravar might end up hurting Kavya in wayward ways; and urged by Rani to elaborate his conjecture, he elucidated the intriguing aspects of the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.
“It’s a psychic state in which the kidnapped turn sympathetic to their captors after they are freed,” he said. “It is said that the survival instinct activates the defensive mechanism in the captives to let them identify themselves with the captors to ward off possible violence against them. In that state of emotional stress and physical duress, accentuated by a sense of helplessness dominated by fear, the captives magnify small acts of kindness by their captors. Wonder how I failed to factor that!”
“What an irony is that!” said Rani.
“Courtesy those four days in Pravar’s captivity, apparently her latent sympathies for the underdogs resurged,” he said pensively. “Maybe, she came to identify herself more with her depraved captor rather than with her mean man, who came to enjoy her father’s bequeath by default.”
“I’ve heard of a story, fact, or fiction I can’t say,” said Rani. “Seeing a murderer being paraded to the gallows, it was love at first sight for a girl, and what’s more, she wanted to marry him before he was hanged, and so begged the king to spare his life; my memory fails me at that.”
“Dear, it’s all about the perplexities of human psychology,” said Dhruva. “Coming back to Kavya, it is possible that in Ranjit’s move to deny Pravar the ransom, she could have seen the propensity of the rich to deprive the poor. Now that Pravar was falsely implicated, her sympathy for him would have acquired weird emotional wings as well; and given Ranjit’s presumed deceitfulness towards Pravar, she might begin to lean towards her ex-captor even more. What is more, where it all might lead her to, her fate only would know; how I wish she wouldn’t become another Patty Hearst; you may know that Hearst even became an accomplice of her captors to assist them, of all things, in bank robberies. May God forbid that to Kavya, but the silver-lining is that Hearst could come out of her psychic aberration to disown her gory association. Maybe, as I created the mess, I may have to clear it up as well.”
Continued to “An Aborted Affair”