Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Necklace - Part 2

This is part of an ongoing story, you can read Part 1 here.

Anand stood with his battered suitcase in hand at the enormous entrance gate, looking within at the white mansion in front of him. 

“This could put the White House to shame” he thought as he walked along the pathway that led to the front door. 

His limp was hurting him bad; the walk from the bus stop had been long. All the while he was acutely aware that he was probably the only relative who would be ‘walking’ to the house. He had thought quite a bit about accepting the invitation; he knew he wasn't invited out of love; the Bajpais just enjoyed inviting all relatives, especially the ones who were not as well off as them, to show off their riches. There was no love lost between him and his Jijaji but each time he thought of tearing the invitation into two, thoughts of his sister Geeta and nephew Manav had come to mind. He loved Manav like the son he never had. That feeling had also made him arrive two days early. He hadn't met him for over a year now and this he thought would be a good opportunity to see him. With that in mind, he entered the house, making a resolve to be as inconspicuous as he could be till he left two days later.

Preparing himself to meet and greet, he stepped into the living room, only to realize that he needn't have bothered. He knew the other guests would arrive only by Thursday morning so he hadn't been expecting much of a crowd. But the living room was full of activity. Champa, Geeta and Devendra were seated around their family jeweler, examining the jewelry sets he had brought to show them. Geeta was silent while Champa was continuously talking to the jeweler. Ajeet was standing at the door that led to the interiors of the house and was on the phone as usual. Hovering behind them was Bela, Champa’s younger sister. Bhaanu, the household help was scurrying around with lime juice for everyone.

Before anyone noticed him standing at the door staring at them, he thought it would be best to announce his arrival. Just as he decided to speak up he noticed a loving glance being exchanged between Devendra and Bela. Almost losing his balance, but quickly gaining composure, he called out
Namaste! How is everyone!” and walked towards those seated. He could tell from everyone but his sister’s reactions that he was anything but welcome. Remembering his resolve, he went up and greeted everyone.

“Please don’t let me interrupt what you’ll were doing, please continue” he said and sat down, thankfully accepting the glass of lime juice that Bhaanu offered him.

The shopping for the jewelry resumed with the jeweler displaying one exquisite piece after another. While small pieces were picked up here and there, Champa wanted something bigger and surprisingly so did Devendra. Anand could see the shy smile betray his sister's silence beneath her ghunghat. He was glad to see her happy, but he still hadn't forgotten the glance he had seen get exchanged just a while before…

“Oh that is the most beautiful piece I have ever seen!” Champa was suddenly jumping out of her seat. He turned around to see what had caught her attention so much. What he saw was the most beautiful piece of jewelry he had ever seen, a gold necklace studded with diamond and rubies with a peacock shaped pendant at the center. It was a masterpiece.

“How much is that!” he heard Devendra sounding all excited as he looked on at the piece. Bela was also stealing envious looks at the glittering beauty.

“Saheb, it is Rs 50 Lakhs” the jeweler looked uncertainly from Champa to Devendra, not knowing who the buyer would be.

Before Champa could react, Devendra whipped out his wallet and extracted a wad of bills.

“Here, take this as a token payment. The rest of the money will reach your shop by evening” Devendra picked up the jewelry box and walked away.

Champa was fuming to say the least. Ajeet had just finished his call and finally come back to the room. She turned around and pounced

“Where were you? I so wanted that necklace and now Devendra has bought it….for her!”  She spat in Geeta’s direction and walked away.

Just an hour into the house and Anand’s detective mind was already reeling.

“There is so much underlying current among them all…” he thought.
“But I am here to see my nephew, that’s all that matters to me. Let me not bother myself with the rest” once again reminding himself of the resolve he had made he looked around to see where Manav was.

“Where is he?” Anand wondered, now looking out of the window into the rambling garden at the back.
“Anand Mama! When did you arrive???” squealed Manav from behind.

Taken aback, Anand turned around. Wasn't it just a few seconds since he had turned towards the garden? How had Manav appeared so fast?? He wondered. Just as he was about to ask his nephew, Manav ran up and gave him a hug; dispelling all thoughts Anand had in his mind.

“How are you beta? its been so long since we met. How have your studies been going? What have you been doing through the holidays?”
“One question at a time Mama” laughed Manav
I see that nobody has shown you to your room yet. Come, let me take you there” saying that Manav picked up his luggage and led him to the guest room on the ground floor.  

Within minutes Geeta joined them and sent Manav to get fresh linen.
“Bhaiyya, how are you doing? I am sorry I couldn't meet you or show you to your room earlier. I had to attend to a few things, its just that-“
“I understand Geeta, you don’t need to explain.” Anand knew his sister meant well but was too weak to stand up to her husband and his family.
“How are you‘ll doing now? Did you manage to get the funds for Jyoti’s education?” Geeta wanted to know.
“Not yet, but I am trying to work something out” Anand knew that he would only upset his sister if he told her how bad it had been for them off late.
“I am sorry Bhaiyya, I asked him but-“
“Its ok Geeta, I know Devendra has bigger worries, you needn't feel bad about it” Once again, the glance he had seen Devendra and Bela exchange crossed his mind.
“We will have it worked-“Anand stopped in mid-sentence as he saw Manav enter the room with the linen. He signaled Geeta who understood and did not continue the topic further.

Once he had showered and rested, Anand spent his time reading until Manav came over to play Scrabble, their favourite game. It had already grown dark outside and the crickets had begun to chirp in the garden. It was time for dinner. Together they went to the dining room to find everyone seated at the long table. From the looks on everyone’s faces, Anand could tell that they had interrupted a serious conversation.

“So Devendra, Champa tells me you bought the necklace she wanted. Can I see it?” said Ajeet, quickly adding “Don’t worry, I just want to take a look, I wouldn't steal it you know” and then he burst out laughing.

“Yeah sure Bhai Saab, I’ll bring it over” said Devendra nervously and walked out. Everyone had resumed their meal and the familiar clatter of the crockery had filled the air when it was brought to a stand still by the sound of hurrying footsteps.

Devendra burst into the dining room and exclaimed “It’s gone! The necklace is not there! It’s gone!”


The room had gone silent. Anand looked around to see how everyone had taken the news. Devendra looked distraught while Ajeet had a shocked look plastered all over his face. He couldn't tell how Geeta felt; her ghunghat was hanging lower than usual. Bela looked angry while Champa had started wailing. The only person other than the kids who looked normal in the room was Daadiji; having been fast asleep when the jeweler had visited.

“What necklace? What is stolen? Did something happen?” she inquired.
“Something happen? Hey bhagwan, such a beautiful piece is lost, gone forever! Now only if I had bought it, I wouldn't have been careless about it like Geeta!” wailed Champa.

Geeta? But-“Devendra cut himself and looked around to see if anyone had noticed his surprise.

“But Bhabiji-“started Geeta

Oh stop it! How irresponsible you are! You don’t deserve such ornaments. You should only wear those fake pieces they sell on the roads!” And Champa stormed out of the room, closely followed by Ajeet and Bela. Though Anand couldn't help but notice the reluctance in Bela’s step as she walked out.

Geeta burst into tears and ran out of the room. The twins not understanding what was going on were just happy that noone was asking them to finish their food. Quietly they got up and ran out to play. Bhaanu the maid, sensing the tension made Daadiji finish her meal and then helped her back to her room. Ajeet had asked Manav to leave as well.

Anand was wondering whether he should keep silent or speak up when Ajeet entered the room.

“I have quietened Champa for now. But what is all this? If the necklace is really stolen, should we be calling the police?”

“No!” exclaimed Devendra. “Do you realize what that would mean to our reputation? There has been no break in, it is an inside job. Do you understand what that means?”

“What do we do then? How do we find out? It is already Tuesday night, the function is now just about a a day away, relatives will be flocking the house on Thursday. We will not be able to do much then” said Ajeet.

“If it’s ok, can I help?” Anand had finally spoken.

“Oh you are a retired detective aren't you?” said Ajeet before Devendra could even open his mouth.

“Yes. I understand the sensitivity of the matter. If it goes out of this household, it would create unnecessary talk. Instead I could help, since I am anyways here till Thursday” replied Anand.

“Oh yes, why not. That would be great. I hope you can find it. But please be careful when you speak to everyone. We do not want to hurt our own family members” said Ajeet, once again not letting Devendra talk.

They all said good night and retired to their respective rooms. But Anand couldn't sleep. He was excited, feeling the adrenalin rush that he always felt when he took on a case. This would help him oil his rusting skills, he thought. To think, he hadn't looked forward to the trip!

Getting to business almost immediately, he took out his notepad and a pen and started making his notes. First he drew up a list of potential suspects.

“Everyone fits this list though, each and every adult in this house except Daadiji. She was fast asleep and wouldn’t have the strength to wobble towards Devendra’s room to steal this. But other than her Champa, Ajeet, Bela, Bhaanu and Geeta, all have to be included. Yes, even Geeta, though there is no reason for her to steal something that was hers” he thought.

Next against each name, he started writing down the motive. The strongest motive seemed to be with Champa and Ajeet. After all Champa had wanted the necklace and hadn't he seen how badly she treated Geeta? Greed and Jealousy were enough to drive the motive. He thought. And Ajeet? Well, weren't spouses known to support each other? Why would it be any different here? And then what about Bhaanu? She was there, serving lime water to everyone. She had seen the necklace and Devendra disappear with it to his room. How much ever he did not like to stereotype; greed influencing the poor was a common phenomenon. So yes, she was definitely someone he would have to speak to.

Devendra. His reluctance to call the police and later to have him look around had made Anand suspicious. Why was he hesitating so much? Could he have faked this robbery? No! Why would he do that? Unless… the necklace was really not for Geeta… but then who was it for? Bela? That would surely be a motive to fake the theft, thought Anand.

Then he considered Bela. If the look he had seen on her face earlier in the day was anything to go by, jealousy could very well be her motive. What if she thought the necklace was for Geeta? Wouldn't that have driven her mad? He now had five strong suspects, when the thought of Geeta crossed his mind. Could she have known about Bela? No, she was too naive to understand these things. Nevertheless he would have to speak to her. He thought, letting out a yawn.

Speaking of motive, he thought. Didn't he have it too? After all he was in dire need of money right now. A 50 lakh necklace would be the idea solution to all his problems.

Continue to Part 3

Correction: Ajeet and Champa have been referred to as Manav's Chacha and Chachi when in essence they should be referred to as his Tau and Tayi resp.. Despite the realization I have decided to leave the addressal as it was to ensure consistency and not confuse the reader. 


  1. what a perfect place to stop the suspense!!
    I'm loving it Seeta!

  2. This is really interesting Seeta ! Waiting for the next parts ..

    1. Thanks Aarthy, tomorrow will be the next one!

  3. Okay I'm hooked now... waiting to see what happens next..

  4. Ok cliffhanger type ending. Waiting for the next part. Did I say that I love the visuals you create with your word? Could totally see that necklace.

    1. Thank you so much....I have tried to keep this one rather simple..

  5. Nice, loved how you explicitly mentioned that Anand considered his own motives as well for stealing the necklace. Lots of red herrings in the story to keep us guessing for the next part.

    1. Yes, I thought I should mention him as well.. after all he does have a motive doesn't he? So do you have any guesses?? :D

  6. Whodunits, now? This has been an interesting ride so far

    1. Thanks Suresh.. this one will be rather simple... but we get back to the whodunits don't we? :P

  7. I hate waiting :). All suspects though I have some very strong guesses in this one.

  8. And we have another "cliffhanger" ending :) See I told you it would work!

    1. Yep, you know I was worried about the length but on your word that the ending will help and lo and behold it was true! Always trust Sid, that's the lesson I have learnt today :)

  9. wow..this is getting so interesting, Seeta and you know the perfect freeze points in your stories :-)

    1. Thank you Uma.. i tam trying to keep the tempo going :)

  10. Just read both the parts. After reading the first part I was expecting more of a family drama but this part changes the direction of the story rather nicely :) Looking forward to how the mystery is unfolded next! Good one, Seeta!

    1. Glad you liked the change in direction.. part 3 is out now :)

  11. you know I read part 1 yesterday but for some reason the comment section wud not work , and I am glad I got to read part 2 BUTTTTTTTTTT now that has left me hanging :) why oh why ..

    but one thing is good the story from part 1 has gone to another scenario , if you know what i mean .. which is good

    the post is long but I did not feel bored which is good because I have no patience .. but i read it all so yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy :) good one


    1. Yeah part 2 was long and that had me worried but I am glad it kept you hooked :) Part 3 is out as well

  12. Oh I am hooked! What a place to stop!

  13. I am waiting eagerly for the next part !

  14. Wonderful narration and waiting to read more. First a horror and then a whodunnit. You are just getting better and better :)

    1. Thanks Prasanna, but this one is rather simple unlike Lady in Black...


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