Please check under label “Cat Series” for the first two Cat Chronicles.
Third chronicle, continued from Part3
When she opened her eyes again, she saw the white ceiling of the room. The air smelt of toast, eggs and juice, so she thought it was early morning, time for breakfast. She sat up and took her surroundings in. To her surprise, she was back in her hotel room. She wondered how she had got there, because the last thing she remembered was hearing the splash as Atul fell overboard from the ferry. She called out, “Hello? Anyone there?”
No one answered her question immediately, but she heard the sound of water falling nearby. Someone was taking a shower. She began to panic, thinking that one of her nemesis must have captured her and brought her back to her own hotel room, and holding her there. She tried to stand up, and immediately sat back down. She looked down and saw a bandage on her foot. She had no idea how she got hurt. She heard the bolt of the bathroom door, and she decided to make a run for it. She took a couple of steps, and fell to the couch, grimacing in agony. She shut her eyes and nearly fainted. She opened them to see him sitting near her, worry on his face.
“Maya, are you crazy? You’re hurt and still you are trying to run away?”
She couldn’t believe her eyes. When did he get here? What day was it? Was she dreaming? Questions began to pop into her head. She leaned over and gave him a sharp pinch on his forearm. He shouted out. “Ouch. Why did you do that? Pinch yourself if you want to test whether this is a dream, you silly woman!”
She smiled. It was him alright. She reached out and hugged him tightly. “Neel, when did you get here? What day is it? Is Atul okay?…”, her barrage of questions was stopped by him with a wave of his hand. He smiled. “Take it easy. One at a time… I’m not that attentive to hear a hundred questions at once you know.” She took a breath and asked him about Atul.
“Atul is okay. He’s in the hospital. He fell into the water that day. You know he’s not that good a swimmer, he nearly drowned. Some deckhand on that ferry jumped in and managed to rescue him. They took him to the hospital. They told he was okay, but he has drifted in and out of consciousness. Other than few small cuts and bruises, he is not hurt. Doctors think he’s still in shock, and perhaps he will recover soon. You tried to move about when your head started to spin, and scraped a knife with your foot, or so the captain fellow tells me. They called Vipin in Kolkata using the emergency number in the register. He and I came as soon as we could. I’m here with you, Vipin is in the hospital”, explained Neel patiently.
“How many days have I been unconscious?” asked Cat.
“Oh, you’ve been like him. Perfect match, the two of you… you’ve been in and out of consciousness too. You were okay the first day, so we brought you back to the hotel. Then afterward, you started it too. Doctor says nothing much to worry about, you’re just anxious apparently.”
The telephone rung, and Neel answered it. He spoke for a few minutes and then turned to Cat again, “That was Vipin. He says Atul is fine now. Doctor recommends you return to India with us as soon as possible. What do you think? Shall I pack all your stuff? Vipin can take care of the work at the hospital and he says we can get tickets on the evening flight today itself.”
Cat nodded and smiled, “Yes, please. Let’s go back. I’ll feel much better back in Kolkata.”
Neel spoke with Vipin and then kept the phone down. While Cat had toast and eggs, he did all the packing. The bags were ready to go, and the bellhop came up to take them to the lobby. Cat limped out, holding on to Neel’s shoulder. When she came down, Atul was there, standing next to Vipin. He looked different, with some stitches on his cheek and a bandage on his hand. He seemed relieved to be going back too. They took the cab back to Heathrow, talking as much as they could about what happened. Cat was sobbing into Atul’s shoulder while Neel patted her hand consoling her. Vipin watched on silently.
They finished checking in at the airport, tickets all set, and relieved to go back home. Unknown to them, hidden in a telephone booth, eyes watched them closely. As they got on the escalator and headed off toward departure, the man in the telephone booth whispered into the receiver, “They are headed back. Meet them in Kolkata and take care of business. She escapes our wrath in London.”
(To Be Continued…)