Please check under label “Cat Series”, for the first two Cat Chronicles.
Third Chronicle…Continued from Part 1
Third Chronicle…Continued from Part 1
She looked at the clock. It was six in the morning. Her nightmare did not seem to have roused her husband from his sleep, as he slept peacefully under the blanket. She did not awaken him. He need not be told of the danger as yet. Perhaps this dream would not come true like her previous ones. She poured herself a glass of juice and went out into the balcony. The newspaper boy had been prompt and the Calcutta Chronicle was lying there. She picked it up and began to read. It had been three days since her marriage, and the honeymoon plans had been made. They were to leave for London that night, and her colleagues had written her a happy journey note in the editorial page of the paper. She smiled, forgetting her dream.
Chinmayee Aditya Tripathy, known better as Cat, was a respected journalist, working for the Calcutta Chronicle. It was a small newspaper, but she enjoyed working there and she was second in line of power, after Vipin Shukla. The editor-in-chief and proprietor of the Chronicle was a soft spoken man, who rarely ventured out in field work. An amputated leg, from a bullet wound, was the reason for that, and Cat felt responsible in a way. Her last escapade a month back left her loved ones hurt. Neel, a chef, her very good friend was another who had been hurt for her cause. She had been devastated when that happened. But as her husband said, she had a nose for trouble.
“What are you dreaming about? Like Vipin would have said, your face looks like his dog’s when it sees a poodle”, said a voice behind her. She turned around to see he had awakened and made himself a glass of tea. He had been her confidante since long, shared in her adventures so far, and three days before, stared on a new adventure with her. Atul Mehra, her husband stood at the door, holding a Bengali newspaper and smiling at her. She went to his side, gave him a good morning hug, and moved toward the kitchen. He caught her hand, and kissed her.
“Tell me what you were dreaming about now. You are so restless to get to London, is it?” he chided her, making her turn pink. She had not shown the restlessness before, but she was waiting to go there. Composing herself and keeping her nightmare to a side, she replied,” No, not really. We don’t have to go to London. Paris, Vienna, Hawaii… anywhere will do, as long as you are there with me.”
“You were talking in your sleep last night. Do you do that often? You were smiling in your sleep. You asked me my name. I didn’t wake you, and went back to sleep.”
“Oh is it? How can I know if I’m talking in my sleep Atul? I’m sleeping. I can’t wake up and check that. Silly sweetheart”, she said, trying to hide her anxiety. Only she knew who that question was asked to.
“Hmm. Good point. I don’t think straight when I’m with you. Your beauty leaves me stunned, and I don’t know what to speak”, said he, recovering quickly from her chiding reply.
Cat laughed. He always knew how to make her laugh. It was a quality in him that she liked the most. She entered the kitchen, but found someone already there, making breakfast. He smiled at her. She turned back to face Atul, who said,” Oh, Neel came last night. I did not feel the need to wake you.” She frowned at him, and turned to Neel. He took her hand and said,” Oh come on Maya, you don’t need to frown. I came to clean up. You’ll be leaving soon and the house can’t be left empty. I’m staying over.”
She smiled, and left the kitchen. He’d take care of that, she knew very well. An hour later, Atul and she were at the table, eating breakfast and arranging the luggage bags. There were four of them, two for each one, and Neel was tagging them with their names and address. After breakfast, he’d leave them to the airport. Their flight was at noon, and they would reach by 9 in the evening, half past 4 in London.
It was half past ten, when they reached the airport. Neel had dropped them, and hugged Cat goodbye. “Maya, I can feel you are anxious. It is not for the trip. Perhaps you better tell Atul. He’ll be able to put your mind at ease. Don’t worry”, he said, whispering so Atul did not hear.
Cat whispered back,” I’m fine Neel. I just can’t wait to get to London. It’ll be the best time I’ve had.” Neel knew better than to argue. He hugged Atul goodbye, and went his way. Cat could feel her heart beating fast as at noon, the flight finally took off.
It was 5pm when the flight touched at Heathrow Airport. After collecting their luggage and clearing some formalities, they made their way outside. A small pop sound nearby caught Cat’s attention… she turned anxiously, but smiled when she saw it was only a child bursting a paper bag. She used to do that when she was a kid herself. She held on to Atul’s arm, and walked out of the airport.
Unseen by her, and any other person at the airport however, a small object had hit a brass pot nearby. It lay there unseen, trampled by the many feet of the people walking by. A bullet…
(to be continued… next monday.)