Monday, 6 October 2014

Missing (Chapter-17)

This is the seventeenth part of the short story that I am writing in collaboration with nine other bloggers on Blogadda. Our team is 'Tete-a-ten'. Read the previous parts here: onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen.

Ballard Estate, Mumbai
03:15 hours

Sub Inspector Prashanth Bhambore slammed the brakes of his Police jeep as the tires crushed the dry leaves strewn about the abandoned patch of wasteland. He was not surprised to see half a dozen people already gathered outside the otherwise deserted warehouse. The case of the missing nine year old girl had kept quite a few uniformed men busy. He saluted Inspector P.K. Kamble who was busy barking orders to his subordinates, "Bring that scoundrel to me!"

"Ek minute, Saheb. Thamba! (Hold on a minute, Sir!)" Dr. Sneha Phadnis rushed out of the jeep, Fanus Mistry in tow. "Yes, that's him! He was missing!" she almost cried in relief as she spotted Cyrus at the centre of the commotion. Fanus was more concerned about Cyrus' condition. He noticed how the fair complexion of his love-interest had paled, his clothes had soiled and he lay motionless, surrounded by strangers and policemen.

"Are you two with him? You plotted the kidnap of my daughter?" Shekhar yelled at Dr. Sneha, shock and pain evident in his tone. "Calm down, mister! We have come all the way from Delhi in search of our Cyrus. He has been missing from home for the past two days", the forty-one year old doctor tried to reason with the spectacled angry man. "Inspector, please arrest Cyrus!" Shekhar ignored the lean, middle-aged woman's explanation and remained steadfast on his decision.

Helpless, Dr. Phadnis turned to SI Bhambore, her almond-shaped eyes pleading for his help, "I assure you, he is innocent! Please don't let Cyrus be arrested. He has been under my treatment for many months now. I can vouch for his character. Believe me, this was not a kidnap attempt." She looked at Tara now, "Let me check if Roohi has any signs of injury. I'm certain Cyrus did nothing to harm her."

Tara furrowed her forehead, but nodded in agreement. Tara and Sneha took Roohi out of the men's view. "Baby, Doctor-aunty wants to check if that man hurt you. Please show her all your wounds", Tara spoke to her child. Tired little Roohi first pointed at her knees. "I fell outside the school in the afternoon. I waited so long for Daddy to pick me up, but he didn't!" she stared at the long, black bindi and explained the bruise to the kind-looking lady.

"Roohi, were you with Cyrus when you fell?" Dr. Phadnis softly asked the girl who was still in her school-uniform. "No, aunty. Cyrus helped me after I started crying. He is really nice. He let me eat ice-cream!" This information disturbed Tara. Could it be that my little angel was sedated? She shuddered at the thought. "Baby, let Mummy see if you have more wounds." Tara helped Roohi out of her school-frock and carefully scanned for any cuts. Dr. Sneha frowned at what she saw and enquired, "What is this scar on your stomach, Roohi?"

"That one is from an operation many years ago", Tara spoke, her tension disappearing, as she dressed Roohi back into her uniform. She was relieved to learn her daughter was safe. "Roohi had to undergo a surgery when she was only three days old. They removed the double bubble from her intestines to keep her food channel unobstructed." Tara still couldn't forgive herself for letting that happen to her only child. Everyone had told her it was not the mother's fault. Nobody can control genes or their mutation. But Tara kept blaming herself... she shouldn't have worked so much during  her pregnancy... she should've avoided papaya... she should've...

"That's Duodenal Atresia", Dr. Phadnis snapped Tara out of her mental self-flagellation. "The parents of most patients have perfectly normal genes", she stated, sensing Tara's emotions. Her vast experience in clinical psychology had taught her how to read body language and calm her subjects. "Doesn't Roohi have Down's Syndrome? Quite a lot of cases I've read about develop Trisomy-21", she said with a look of concern coming over her peach-toned face. "Ma Durga has been kind on her. And how can I forget Dr. Aryan Ahuja! He was a blessing sent from above", Tara looked up at the starry sky and silently offered a prayer of gratitude to the heavens that had kept her baby safe and sound when she was most sensitive.

Aryan Ahuja. A flood of memories gushed before Sneha Phadnis' glazed eyes... She crushed the end of her black dupatta and controlled her emotions. She must not lose her composure. 

*  *  *

Read Chapter-18 here.

My team and I are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us!

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