Please note that this story is purely a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, events and locales are either a product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictous manner. Any resemblance to any event and/or person living and/or dead is purely coincidental. We do not intend on offending any race, religion or community.
Ragini stood outside Ms. Anita’s room with a tray of food in her hands. She carefully placed it on an old wooden desk and knocked at the door.
“Come in,” came the reply followed by a few sneezes.
Ragini walked in holding the tray in her hands and placed it on round glass table towards the end of the room. Mrs. Anita was cuddled in her quilt busy writing something in her old diary.
“What took you so long?” she yelled without raising her eyes.
“Ms. Manya ate up all the rice,” said Ragini arranging the food items on the table,” I had to cook some for you again. Our tenants were pretty generous even when they saw Ms. Manya gobble up their share of rice. I offered them some bread then. Mam must have been quite hungry I presume. She works so hard for a living.”
“That I know,” said Ms. Anita,”she works so hard and with great honesty. My lovely cousin!”
“Mam,” she said,” I shall take your leave now. Enjoy your meal.”
Ragini slowly walked towards the kitchen. The housemaids were doing the dishes. She walked in and drank some water.
“Vividha must have had her dinner,” she thought,” its been a while now. Lets see whats in that envelope.”
Ragini carefully placed the envelope on the desk while Vividha was making the bed.
“I wonder,” said Ragini,” if this holds any significance in my life.”
“Who knows,” said Vividha arranging the pillows,” lets open it quick.”
For some unknown reasons, Ragini did not feel good about it. She didnt want to open it, yet she did. Inside it, lay an old letter written on handmade paper which read,”Dear Manya, I hope you are well. I am so blessed to have a faithful employee like you. Thank you so much for trying so hard to sell my paintings. I know you tried your best. But alas! They couldnt sell. I am a florist now in Mussoorie. I no longer paint now.”
“Mrs. Narayani!” said Ragini,”now I know why that name sounded so familiar. She was the manager at the Rose Petal’s art gallery two years ago. I never knew she painted as well. I visited that place once with Mrs. Bhaskar. It is breathtakingly beautiful!”
“Ragini,” said Vividha taking the letter from her hands,”I am sensing foul play here.”
“I know what it is,” said Ragini getting up,” those paintings in the hallway. Maybe they are Mrs. Narayani’s creations which Ms. Manya never sold.”
“I dont think so,” said Vividha,”that would have been quite stupid. She must have sold them at a great price and kept all the money to herself. Wicked she is!”
“No,” said Ragini,” she couldnt have sold them. I remember speaking to Mrs. Narayani. She is a very wise woman. She has plenty of contacts here and would have surely found out had anyone bought her paintings.”
“My dear cousin,” said Ms. Anita drinking her soup,” can have my share of rice but she cannot have my share of money. Two years ago, she promised to give me those paintings in return of my loyalty for having hidden all her dark secrets. She cannot escape her fate now. I shall have it all.”
“But,” said Vividha drinking some lukewarm water,”why would anyone keep those paintings in their house? Whats the use?”
“I never told you Vividha but she isnt the owner of this house. She tricked the real owners into entrusting this house to her care. She lives on the maintenance money and pretends to be a really busy woman. The ladies at the tailor’s shop warned me that she visits several houses during the daytime each day only to find out whom she can attack and rob next. I have a strong feeling that she somehow got to know that Mrs. Narayani’s paintings are worth quite a lot of money and is waiting for the right time to sell them. She does have some hidden motives here.”
“Were you working at her house two years ago as well?” asked Vividha politely.
“No,” replied Ragini,”In those days, I was working at the bakery shop. I enjoyed baking the cookies and icing the cakes. During that time, I was living with my parents. God knows why they chose to rob Mr. Kunal’s house. He is a great man, caught them red-handed but never called in the police. Both of them left that very night hoping that I would accompany them. I did not. I intuitively sensed that they had not learnt their lesson and were planning to rob someone again. I dont know why they chose the path of darkness when love and light was ready to welcome them. We had a roof over our heads, fresh food on the table and enough savings to pay for our health expenses. I guess they might have done it before, who knows. I considered it best to stay away from them.”
“Great decision,” said Vividha feeling emotional,”dreamers never steal, they create. And Goddesses need not stoop so low for the abundance they can wilfully create.”