He was neither handsome nor young, in his mid fifties and wore a pair of frame-less glasses with golden temples. He read a lot and always had a look on his face as if he’s solving a calculus equation or probably calculating the density of Saturn rings. He was a mathematical mess.
Yuvavir Rana was a chairperson of a real estate giant called the Helium corp. He was also the promoter and stakeholder of Citron plaza hotel, a leading business hotel in Gurgaon. He was among the top 50 people in the HNI list.
Sometimes he closed his eyes in a deep thought process. Maybe that was his idea of meditation. He barely slept. His only break was when he pitched those overburdened shoulders in the backrest of an old fashioned brown leather chair.
He always suited up in greys and blacks and wore shoes with matching socks. He had loads of ties but never wore them. But he loved brooches. He pinned up a different one every day. Sometimes it was a dolphin, or a sun, or a deer. His favourite was the golden Saturn which was gifted by his wife, Kavya on his 54th birthday.
Kavya, a renowned surgeon was in her late 40s, was a delicately gorgeous woman. She mostly wore pastel coloured tunic dresses and suede heels. Her graceful walk and soothing smile were her most pleasing features. She was soft spoken and a confident lady.
They lived in a 9 bedroom villa at the Sirius road. They had a pet beagle, Uno who she was deeply fond of. He was her best friend and sole companion when Yuvavir was away for business. They never had kids as they had decided in their early 30s. But they had an interesting relationship. They respected each other’s work, time and space. They went out of dinner once in every fortnight. It was the only time when they caught up with each other. Over the years it had grown into a norm and a rather mechanical in nature. As much as it suited Yuvavir due to his growing business commitments, Kavya had begun to feel a void. She missed the yester years when they would be traveling and seeking different adventures. They would attend music festivals and ball games, or a wine tasting or horse race. Although her work kept her occupied but the vigour was lacking.
This November was going to be their 30th marriage anniversary. Kavya wanted this event to be special. She hoped this would boost the missing spark between them. It was 2 weeks to the day.
I worked closely with Mrs Rana who gave directions on the tiniest of the detailing. She was personally involved in most of the things, be it guest list, the catering, selecting the menu, the decor, the flowers and even the linen. She was really looking forward to this party.
Today, when she took Uno out for running, he was acting odd. He wouldn’t fetch the ball and seemed dull. She had an urgent surgery this morning so she requested Yuvavir if he would take Uno for a check up. He said he’ll take care of it. She thanked him. They exchanged a customary peck and she left for the hospital.
As she left, Yuvavir picked his phone, dialled a number and said, “You can come around 12 noon.”
As I entered the villa, I saw Uno coiled up miserably in a corner. I went to pet him but his response was disapproving as if asking me to mind my own business. I wasn’t a stranger to this villa or Uno. Not to mention my visits would take place mostly when Mrs Rana wasn’t around.
The couple had hired me a year back to manage their ‘personal schedules.’ My qualification was being 23 year old. That was enough. The old man would sometimes shag with me and I only had to pretend to like it. In return I had a job with a decent pay that helped me sustain in the big-ticket city and afford my college tuition.
“You have a special task today.” he said buttoning back his shirt.
“What is it?” I asked as I gathered my dress.
“Relax, I have to take that dog for a check up. I need you to come along.” He said tying his shoe laces
“Sure Sir. I will call the driver.” I got off the bed.
“Not required. I will drive.” He put his blazer on, finished his orange juice and left the room.
I quickly fixed my hair and makeup and went downstairs. Uno was seated in the backseat of the range rover.
He drove outside the society and within 5 minutes we were on NH 48A. Those were long wide roads with greenery on both sides. He looked back and saw Uno who gazed outside the window with wonder.
Mr Rana, slid down the windows deliberately as if wanting him to escape. As soon as the windows went down, Uno jumped out of the car.
“Uno! He has escaped sir!” I said alarmingly.
He didn’t reply, only coughed a little.
He stopped the car and adjusted the rear view mirror to spot Uno a few meters behind the car.
In a split second he set the vehicle in reverse and there was a squealing sound. He turned off the engine. It was eerily silent on that wide road occasionally filled by the swishing of fast cars passing by.
“Well, we needed an anniversary present anyway!” He smirked without looking at me.
I was in aghast and sat frozen on the seat.
He stepped out and brought back Uno’s collar belt. Wiped off the blood with a paper napkin, and handed it to me. “Get this gift wrapped and bring it to the house tonight. On what happened to Uno, he escaped from the moving car. Okay?” He cleared his coughing throat again.
“Yes Sir. Could you please drop me at the Metro mall?” I said handing him his cough syrup.
He distastefully gulped in the prescription and then dropped me off.
The party was magnificent. Guests came and congratulated Kavya who looked ravishing in a beige satin gown. Although she smiled but the warmth in her eyes was missing. Yuvavir was nowhere to be seen, perhaps was running late as usual. Kavya was tired of making excuses for his absence which is what she did most part the evening. She picked two whiskey glasses and reached on the terrace of the Citron Plaza Hotel. It was 18 floors high.
It was past 10 and guests had gradually started to leave the property. One of the catering boys told me that he saw Mrs Rana going upstairs. I took the lift and then the fire exit to reach up. She was standing leisurely with both hands on the wide fence and facing the city. The two old fashioned glasses and a bottle of Jack sat on the side. Yellow lights from the opposite buildings shone on her face as I moved towards her.
“Are you feeling alright, Ma’m?” I asked hesitantly.
There wasn’t any reply.
“There’s something Mr Rana wanted to give you” I said as I presented the gift to her.
She un-wrapped it and examined the collar. “This is Uno’s. What kind of a sick joke is this?”
“I’m sorry Mrs Rana. This is really sad. But Uno, that poor thing….” and I started weeping.
“Oh dear, don’t cry!” She gave me her handkerchief. “It’s alright, You did great! And I must congratulate on your skills. You’d make a fine actress.” She handed me a drink.
We both burst into laughter and clinked our glasses.
“To better days!” She said.
“To Independence! But where is he? He’s missing from his own party.”
“Oh dear, he will not make it to the party. Late Mr Rana, that allergic son of a bitch.”
“What! What happened to him?” I asked alarmingly.
“His real estate business had taken a huge hit after demonetization. To pay off the heavy bank debts and unsecured loans he used profits from our Hotel. When I noticed the depleting assets in the annual accounts I asked the General Manager. With some influence he revealed the situation and very reluctantly about his ludicrous activities at the Hotel. The owner himself was bringing young girls every week and the staff couldn’t object it. I had my suspicions when his business trips started extending beyond normal duration. But what he did now was unbearable. He was bringing girls to the hotel and even to our home. I couldn’t stand it anymore.”
“I am so sorry Kavya.”
“No reason you should be. I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference. All I can tell you is how he was murdered.” She took a sip and continued.
“Remember that Saturn brooch I gifted him last year.”
“Mr Rana’s favourite! Of course, but what is it got to do with..?” I was bewildered.
“I had slipped that brooch in his cough syrup. It had an internal cavity. Enough to store 50 mg of Trazodone, a sedative that can put you to deep sleep within a span of 25-30 minutes.”
“His prescription medicine?” I confirmed in shock.
“The very one, my dear. His throat is sensitive to citric juices. Thanks for unknowingly administering the medicine.” She smiled in approval.
“I called him to pick me up from my office which is a 30 minute drive from the mall where you were supposed to get off. I really hoped he’d collide in a loading truck, but he got off easy. The divider had him. They said the car toppled once or twice. I wish I had been there to witness the action.” She was high on adrenaline.
“Well, you’d have all the coverage in the news tomorrow- Millionaire had a closure, in the front seat of his Rover!”
(They both stormed into laughter)
“I only regret trusting him with Uno. I didn’t have the slightest idea he’d kill the poor animal.” She rued.
“At least he sent you back the collar.”I tried to lighten the tension.
“You are right. And the collar needs a new neck now. We need to go shopping!” She said mischievously.
“So what is it going be, a new pet or a new husband?” I teased her.
“Pets are loyal silly. But a cheating millionaire isn’t bad either!” She winked and held my hand.
She, Mr Jack and I, then continued the party in the honeymoon suite.