Jennifer couldn’t control her
excitement. All that happened at the NCP was fresh in her mind. What she saw
there still had not sunk in. She hailed a cab and gave the driver the address
of the one place where she wished to be at that time.
At the Dutta Mansion Tara was
ready with dinner when the door bell rang.
“I’ll get it,” called out
He opened the door to find his
old friend at the other side.
“Jenny? What a surprise? You
never told me you were in Mumbai. When did you come?”
“Are you going to ask everything
here or will you let me come in?” asked Jenny with a smile.
Tara was happy to see Jennifer
after a long time. They had not met in years and had interacted briefly over
emails. Throughout the dinner Jennifer was thinking about some chance of
privacy with Shekhar. Shekhar noticed the restlessness in her but didn’t
understand what was making her impatient.
Roohi insisted on some story time
with Cyrus after dinner. Cyrus happily obliged to Roohi’s demand of story time.
Tara, Jennifer and Shekhar moved
out to their garden for a stroll, taking in the fresh cool sea breeze. Not
everyone in that crowded city was privileged to stay by the sea in his or her
own bungalow and enjoy the zephyr. They spoke for long catching up with
Jennifer’s life and projects but Shekhar noticed Jennifer was not her usual
“Let me go and check if Roohi is
asleep. Hope she is not troubling Cyrus,” said Tara, excusing herself into the
Jennifer was waiting just for that
moment of isolation.
“Shekhar I want to talk to you,
can we go to your study?” She asked.
Why is she sounding so excited suddenly?
In the study behind closed doors,
Jenny’s eyes twinkled with excitement. Shekhar didn’t remember the last time
she was that excited.
“Shekhar you know where I went
last evening?” she whispered.
“To the FOTA conference!!”
“What?? Was the FOTA conference
in Mumbai this time? And then?”
“You won’t believe what happened
there,” she said, grabbing his hand, sounding even more thrilled.
“What?” he asked. His voice was
thick with anticipation.
“I saw…. I saw him… he was right
in front of my eyes!” she said animatedly finding it hard to control her
“What exactly are you telling
me?” Shekhar asked skeptically.
“Shekhar they do exist and I saw one
with my own eyes!” she couldn’t control her exhilaration.
“Ohh My God!” Shekhar said, with
his eyes wide open. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Jennifer narrated everything that
happened at the conference animatedly. She hardly thought about the oath of
secrecy. Shekhar was stunned when she recounted how the speaker ended the
seminar with his dramatic exit.
Jenny was Shekhar’s childhood
friend and both of them had shared the enthusiasm for aliens for as long as he
could remember. That enthusiasm had stayed with them even when they grew up.
Jennifer spotting an actual alien
felt like an achievement for both of them. Shekhar was thrilled but also was
thinking of something. Jennifer noticed Shekhar went into some deliberation.
“What are you thinking Shekhar?”
“Jenny I have to tell you
something. Since the last few days, something weird is happening around the
house. I saw some strange blue glare a few nights ago. It vanished as swiftly
as it came. It was quite late in the night. I didn’t understand what it was.
“And what Shekhar?” she asked
“I am working on my next book and
every night my manuscripts are turning into ashes.”
“What?” asked Jenny loudly,
disbelieve clearly audible in her voice.
“Yes that’s what. I have tried locking
the manuscripts in the safe there, but nothing helps. Every morning I wake up
praying at least today someone will not burn my work, but it’s always the same
case. I know it’s strange, it’s weird but that is the reality,” explained
“Who all knows what the book is
about?” She asked.
“No one. Not even Tara”
“Then how is it…”
“Exactly… how is it possible?” Shekhar completed
before she could finish.
“Shekhar do me a favor, install a
camera in this room, you can monitor who comes in and goes out. You will get to
know what happens to the manuscripts at night.”
“Hmm…Sounds okay to me,” Shekhar
replied nodding his head.
“And why on earth are you still
using this old type writer? Why don’t you write in the laptop? You’ll not have
ashes at least.”
“It just feels good. But I think
you are right. I need to switch over to this little box of intelligence. Tara
had gifted me one that I rarely use. I’ll start writing in it. I hope the
laptop doesn’t turn to ashes one morning,” said Shekhar and they both broke
into a laughter.
“What are you writing on by the
way?” she asked.
“Ahh… You’ll know when my book is
published,” said Shekhar with hesitation. Jennifer noticed the sudden discomfort
in his voice.
At the study room window, a
shadow lurked listening to their conversation.