Kedar pulled his quilt over his head and tried hard to shoo away the dark shadow, ‘Why is it still haunting me?” he gasped for some breath. However tight he shut his eyelids, the scene of two dead bodies lying beneath a white shroud and a little boy of ten sitting beside and weeping kept surfacing. Behind the boy danced the shadow, the shadow of poverty.
It may have been two decades, but the day that saw his parents commit suicide under reeling debt, leaving him alone and subsequently pushing him to bilk, was still fresh in Kedar’s mind.
He was making good money, but the shadow continued to haunt him.
“Saab, this is my nephew, Vigu, I was talking about. He will work for you till I return from my village.” The baritone voice of Ramcharan jolted Kedar from his nightmare.
Unlike other domestic help that Kedar had before, Ramcharan, who had been working with him since two years, never pried into any of his matters. He would go about his duty, serve alcohol whenever Kedar asked, and meticulously make food and arrangements during the raucous parties that Kedar often hosted in his house.
Kedar’s friends envied him. “Lucky you to have a house help like Ramcharan. Most of them constantly following their masters, but all your transgressions pass Ramcharan’s eyes, unnoticed. Does he even know about your ‘business,’ and about the plethora of beautiful girls who adorn your bedroom?”
Their envious eyes cast an evil, probably. Ramcharan had to leave for his village urgently.
Like his uncle, Vigu too paid attention only to his work but was more agile than the forty-year-old Ramcharan. He was ever ready to serve his master with the extra peg, light his cigars as if it was a relay race. The parties were a grander affair under his auspices.
Kedar was almost contemplating on retaining him in place of Ramcharan.
Today was the day when Kedar had fortified his intention to drive away the shadow of his past by striking a huge deal that would carve a niche for him in the world of smuggling. A vintage painting with gold filigree and studded diamonds that the city police were frantically searching for had come to his hands, and he had struck a deal with an affluent person over lunch.
Wishing to finish the deal surreptitiously, Kedar asked Vigu to take the day off after finishing his morning work.
“Won’t you want me to lay the table for the guest, sir?” Vigu humbly asked. “I will take care of that,” Kedar said, shaking his head.
Half an hour after Vigu had left, Kedar arose with a thudding heart to welcome the guest, but when he answered the doorbell, in front of him stood two men in uniform. Their nameplates read as Ramcharan Tiwari, Inspector of police, and Vignesh Athreya Sub- Inspector of police.
The shadow of poverty haunted him all over again as the two shadow police lead him away.
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