He came back to his cabin and his phone rang. He looked at the screen and picked up the phone.
“Yes Mr. Mishra..?” he said. He listened hard and then said,
“Ok! Meet me in half an hour! I will keep myself free!” he cut the phone and gazed at the still empty cubical.
******** ***** *******
“As per your suggestion, I recorded everything sir!” Mishra was in the meeting room with ASR. ASR has kept it confidential and had warned Mishra too. Both of them knew the gravity of the problem and the crucial information they were about to assimilate.
Mishra had visited Prashant’s house three times in these days. First he went there to inform that the formalities were complete and his Gratuity and Provident Fund will be released soon. Prashant’s father was overwhelmed. He knew, pending inquiry against Prashant, the company would have withhold his dues. But to his surprise, the company had released the dues. Mishra talked to Prashan’t wife and father in detail about the conditions and kids. Prashant had two small school going kids.
“I am uneducated. I don’t understand anything in this. That Lawyer used to manage everything, for Prashant. Saab! I don’t know anything about his bank balance. He never talked about his finances with me. But he used to earn to meet his ends…” Prashant’s father had said.
“I don’t know anything.. Woh… Vakil Saab Bulatain The Naa? Unkay Saath Kuch Chalata Thaa! The lawyer used to advice him. I don’t know where he has disappeared!” Prashant’s wife had said skeptically.
The next visit was with the papers to be signed by the wife where in she would get the amount deposited in her bank account in her name. The family members were more relaxed this time and had opened up.
“Woh… Vakil Saab used to get money for him. And They used to talk for hours together on phone. Whenever my husband used to visit that lawyer, he used to get lot of money. I don’t know the name of the lawyer! I never met him. But my husband used to refer him as vakil saab and they used to talk about… someone from Kanpur! He used to call my husband. I don’t know what wrong my husband had done… but if he had done something, its because of this Kanpur wale saab and Vakil Saab! When he used to visit vakil Saab, he used to drink and celebrate. My husband used to give me some money that day and would to tell me to enjoy…! I didn’t know from where he used to get the money.” Prashant’s wife disclosed.
“Was there anything strange happened?” Mishra asked. Prashant’s father answered.
“Yeah, I remember, my son used to make calls to someone… and talk to him in panic. He also threatened the other person, I heard it! When I asked him, his said its office matter and I need not bother… then that day he said he was going out to meet someone … and … never returned …!” His father broke into tears. His wife’s condition was pathetic. Mishra felt sorry for the family.
Mishra’s third visit was a brief one. He gave the cheques and said.. “Please, be careful. This is in your name Bhabhi ji. Please invest them well and take care of your children.” Mishra couldn’t continue as she broke into tears and said
“Saab ji.. I don’t know anything! But I don’t want to go to that lawyer again. I am not confident about him. You help us!” Prashan’t father nodded in acceptance. Mishra assured them a help and came out.
“What do you think..?” asked ASR Mishra’s opinion. Mishra gaped at him first and then said,
“I think, Prashant was involved in the pilferage… but was a pawn… the real money went to someone else… Someone outsider..! Prashant was used in this and made a scapegoat!” Mishra waited for ASR’s reaction. “Their condition is now pathetic. He has not left much for the family!” ASR nodded. His doubts were confirmed. Someone else was pulling the strings…!
Mishra had recorded all the conversations with Prashan’s family. He gave the SD card to ASR after narrating his three visits to Prashant’s family. ASR thanked him and the meeting was over. Somewhere the growl in his head became irritatingly louder. ASR sighed. “I know, I have to ask Jijaji!” He came back to his cabin to find Khushi working on her system putting her head down.
By evening almost everyone got the personal invitation cards and received their gift hampers. There seemed to be festivity everywhere. People were discussing excitedly. Khushi was busy with her work and was shunting between Lavanya’s cabin and her cubical. ASR was watching his office gravely, lost in thoughts! He, though had a faint idea, who might be behind all this, had no solid proof of who was it! It was confirmed that, though the case is recorded as accident, it was a murder… and Prashant had lost his life in this … and ASR shuddered with the thought that who else will be put to danger if he tried to dig it further…!
“I think, I should take help of Jijaji. He will be able to throw some light on this whole scam and advice me correctly on this issue..!” he felt better, that at least someone was there who could help.
********* ******* *********
“Jijaji..!” Arnav called.
“Haan.. Saale Saab, coming..!” Sham smiled slyly. Arnav went ahead to his room. Jijaji entered after some time smiling.
“Jijaji… did you?” Arnav opened the topic directly. Sham stared at his BIL for a second and nodded sitting next to Arnav.
“Saale Saab… I had visited their house. Had an informal talk with the family. They are devastated with the loss. Poor fellow, he has small children..! I felt bad for them. The family members do not know anything!” Sham started off and ASR started to cross check the facts…!
“Hmm.. Saale Saab… I had known very little of the family… His father spoke his heart. Prashant was his only son… his wife is so young.. I don’t know what this young widowed lady will do with two small children.. !” The introduction was taking more time…!
“What do you know about their financial status?” ASR had no patience to listen to other description. Sham hesitated for a second then touching his nose, fidgeting in his seat opened his mouth to explain carefully.
“What does saale saab know about the family?” he was not sure.
“I am coming to that point, Saale Saab! Have you visited his house? If you have, then you will know!” Sham stared at Arnav. Arnav shook his head saying “No! I am not directly involved in this. He was employee in warehouse!” Sham got first hint.
“Exactly…! That’s what I mean to say! You haven’t visited his house.. Its difficult to find out someone’s financial condition…!” Sham was very cautious. Arnav was alert. He gazed at his Jijaji.
“So you couldn’t find out anything!” ASR concluded and Sham flared up!
“There is nothing, I cannot find out!” he said clenching his fist.
“Tell me!” ASR was not ready to wait. He looked at his Jijaji.
Sham did not answer. ASR waited. Both of them gauging each other.. Sham opened his mouth to respond.
“Ummm.. Saale Saab.. Apparently the family looks ordinary… but when I talked to them for a long time, they opened up..!” Sham was not ready to give out anything, unless he knew what ASR knew about Prashant.
“Come to the point, Jijaji..!” ASR sensed some hesitation.
“Umm saale saab… the case ends here… he has done it and swallowed everything!” Sham concluded. Arnav gaped at him.
“Are you sure?” he asked. Sham again hesitated but nodded. There was a silence for a while. Something was amiss. Somewhere the facts did not tally.
“Umm.. what should I do now?” Arnav asked. Sham had a faint smile on his face.
“If you ask me, I think the case ends here..!” sham said opening his palms.
“Hummm!” ASR was deep in thoughts.
“Let it go! We will be more careful and tighten the security..!” Sham consoled Arnav. Arnav nodded. He took out a gift and handed it over to his Jijaji..! Sham wore a questionmark.
“This is for you, a small gift from me!” Arnav said getting up. Sham took it but his eyes flashed disgruntle.
“So this is the fee for my work..!” he understood and looked at Arnav who was in deep thoughts.
“Chaliye Saale Saab! Let us have dinner!” he patted on Arnav’s back.
******* ***** ******
“Khushi… Sun Naa!” Payal pulled her hand.
“Jiji..Hum Soch Main Dubey Hain! I am in deep thoughts…!” Khushi said staring unfocused.
“Chal Naa, Khushi…! I want to show you something…!” Payal again pulled her. Khushi went in reluctantly.
“Dekh… Naa! See this! You told me you have some celebration in the office. Look what I made for you!” Payal showed her the dress and Khushi’s eyes lit up in excitement.
“Kitana Sundar Hain…! How beautiful..! Sach Main! Tumhare Haath Main Jaadoo Hain, jiti! You have a magic, Jiji! ” Khushi hugged her jiji. But then left her and sat on the bed sadly.
“Its of no use, Jiji!” she said puffing her cheeks. Payal looked confused.
“Why you didn’t like it? You have some other plans?” she asked Khushi.
“No Jiji.. this is the best dress!” she ran her fingers on the dress dreamily. “But..!” she paused sulkily.
“Jiji.. I am not invited…!”she finally told her jiji, about her hurt. Payal gaped.
“Not invited? But its your office, why do you need invitation?” Payal asked bewildered.
“No, Jiji.. you do not know anything… This office is different. Every one got personal invitation…except me!” Khushi said with fallen face.
“Why? Why are you not invited?” Payal asked suspiciously. Khushi shrugged pouting her lower lip. Payal stared at her.
“Khushi, tell me, what did you do?” Payal held her hand. Khushi paused to decide whether to tell her jiji or not!
“Woh… actually…” she started off to tell about he messaging.
“Khushi… Tum Pungaa Kyun Leti Ho?” Payal looked shocked hearing Khushi’s antics.
“Hmm… !” Khushi went into loop, thinking hard on the incidents. Her cheek grew pink remembering his proximity.
“Huhf…!” she came back twisting her nose. “I don’t care. I am not interested in that so call celebrations of Mr. ASR!” she declared. And then said..
“But, I feel bad about this dress..! you have done such a fabulous work.. and this poor dress won’t be able to show off!” she bent down and kissed the dress.
“Don’t worry my dear dress… I will find out an occasion for you!” she hugged the dress. Payal smiled at Khushi shaking her head.
******* ******* ********
“Hello hi bye bye! Aree, Damaad Ji.. Aap Ko Inbhitashon Milaa Ki Nahi?” Mami asked loudly at the dinner table. Sham looked away. His insides burning, he clenched his left fist, the right being busy eating.
The entire Raizada family was the host… but not Damaad Ji! He was given an invitation. He was Damaad ji… not a family member? His eyes emitted loathing for a moment and then he smiled slyly.
“Aree Mami ji.. Hum Toh Ghar Ke Hi Hain..! Aree, I am a family!” he hinted.
“Aree, Aisan Kaisan..? How is that possible..? You are Son in Law of this family.. ! Aap Ka Audha Sub Sain Upar Hain! Your status is above all!” Mamaji said respectfully. Sham smiled. Nani ji nodded.
They had gathered in sitting area when Mamaji got up and held out an invitation card. Sham took it with left hand.
“Damaad Ji.. you are guest of honor!” he said joining his hands. Sham nodded. But then turning to his wife said..
“But Raani Saheba.. I need to go out for some urgent work, and I will be back only next weekend.” He put his hand around his wife.
“Damaad Ji.. your work can wait!” Nani said.
“No Naniji! I am sorry, but its urgent and I need to represent a complicated case!” Sham said politely.
“Jijaji… we would have loved to welcome you at the foundation day celebrations..!” Aakash said looking at his Jijaji..!
“Hello hi bye bye! Damaad ji.. you always avoid to come to the celebrations… ! Why Damaadji? Don’t you feel this is your family?” Mamiji asked staring at Sham. He smiled at her.
“Raani Saheba… I should be going. I have to get up early, tomorrow morning..!” He said getting up.
“Jijaji..! Thank you for all your help..!” Arnav got up in his honour! Sham stared and turned his back on all of them…!
“One day I will be the host of this empire… And… I am not sure whether I will invite you all!” he smirked.