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Trishul sat on the outcrop staring out at the sea, watching the waves roll in - like so many lines of marching soldiers, ordered and disciplined - breaking against the golden beach before retreating as a new line moved in and took its place...
From the distance they looked like small ripples on the vast canvas of the ocean, but he knew the power of those seemingly gentle surf, could hear the roar... taste the salt in the air.
He sat listening to the wind and the distant rumble of the waves in the silence of the morning... listening to the cheerful call of the birds in the garden behind him, joyous as they greeted the new day. At peace with himself, in perfect union with nature.
It was a pleasant, clear winter's morning, and from his elevated position he could see the undulating country around him - make out the fishermen's hamlet over a mile of pristine coastline away to his left... about two dozen thatch-roofed cottages and huts huddled together beyond the palm grove; sleepy and silent at that hour of the day - the men already out at sea, the children still asleep.
To his right, a half mile away beyond the rolling fields began the woods where his property ended... miles and miles of brushwood and wild jungle growth.
The place was simply beautiful, frozen in timeless charm... serene and picture perfect. Trishul just loved it!
He almost let out a sigh as he closed his eyes, and immediately laughed out loud as he saw cousin Trishanu's grimacing face float before his closed eyes: 'You're becoming such a recluse, what are we supposed to do with you, little brother?!'
With a shake of his head he slowly rose and walked up the incline to the edge of the garden, and then followed the path under the huge trees, towards the house...
Trishul had inherited the property from his grandmother, and visited the place every weekend. Waiting expectantly to pack up each Friday evening and drive down - get away, be alone. Refusing to visit his city home, his relatives or the ancestral home. Only visiting them during family or festive occasions... or when duty called - board meetings!
The vast estate had once been a farmhouse, the sea-side retreat of his grandfather's family, the land to the east still lush with the fruit orchards. But the land to the south, once used for growing herbs and vegetables, of every kind, now largely windswept and overgrown (except for a few small patches used by the staff), while the land to the north, bordering the woods, once used for rice, now fallow, no longer cultivated.
As he cleared the trees and came out in the open, he saw the head-gardener trudge down the western lawn, headed for his grandfather's prised rose garden, tools and shear in hand. The man had been with his family for ages... now old and gnarled like the ancient trees dotting the expansive grounds and bordering the western edge towards the beach. Still as devoted to the plants and trees, spending the day, from dawn to dusk, working in the gardens... declining all help from the other two younger gardeners. Constantly grumbling about their lack of discipline, and dedication... fiercely possessive of the front and side lawns, and the rose garden. Refusing to allow them anywhere near his incredible sized, prize-winning dahlias and marigolds, his gladiolas and chrysanthemums.
Trishul loved it here, loved the seclusion... the quiet solitude; especially after the hectic week at work - the planning, the meetings, the travels...
As he walked up the gravel path towards the solarium, the old family retainer, now his man-Friday, walked out, "Your coffee is ready."
"Thank you, Ashu-kaka," smiled Trishul, walking in and sitting down.
"You should talk to Chhotu," Ashu said, placing the newspaper next to the coffee cup, "he really needs some talking to..."
"Oh, c'mon, Ashu-kaka," smiled Trishul unfolding the paper, "you're in-charge here, you decide, and you do the talking. Leave me out of all household matters - leaking taps or lazy and insubordinate houseboys! I already have enough of ego tussles to handle at work. If he refuses to listen then relieve him, he's free to go."
"His family has been here for three generations now..." Ashu quickly stated, slightly taken aback.
"Then send him over to the vineyard, I'm sure we can find some suitable work for him there."
"Thank you..." Ashu smiled, adding a quick, "sir," relieved to be rid of one headache that he could do without, and happy that the boy wouldn't be thrown out, arrogant though he was, and a damned lazy sod!
"Where's Dash," asked Trishul, "he wasn't there when I left for the beach this morning?"
"He was up half the night, whining away," Ashu replied, pouring another cup of coffee, "so I let him out early. Mohan took him to the woods."
"He's too old for those jaunts in the wood," Trishul observed, looking up, "there's enough place here for him to explore and investigate, within the estate!"
"Will tell Mohan," Ashu nodded. "Is anyone visiting us this weekend?" he asked as he withdrew.
"No, no one..." Trishul shook his head, going back to the paper.
A couple years after his grandmother's death, the year he turned twenty-one, he had traded in his holdings in the family business (the industrial empire that his great grandfather built) against all advise and protestations; retaining just a nominal stake in the parent, holding company and a select few of the other various companies, and had charted his own course...
He had already begun the process while still doing his full-time BS (Hons) in Viticulture & Oenology - travelling extensively across France, Spain, Austria and Germany during school breaks, acquiring suitable land while home on vacation, preparing and planting it with the vines he'd carried back - and by the time he had graduated, both his vineyard and his winery were ready and waiting. And though the course had required him to complete a vintage in a commercial winery, he had extended his stay after graduating to apprentice with one of Europe's finest vintner; before finally returning home with André, a world-renowned oenologue, in tow.
Immediately after the first harvest, he'd wasted no time in producing his first wine... experimenting with different varietals, persistently focussed on quality. And six years later, at twenty-seven, he was not only the youngest, but also the most reputed vintner in the country, his label offering some of the finest, exclusive premium wine. And though he hadn't exactly planned it that way, his wine soon began featuring on the wine lists of some of the world's finest hotels, restaurants, clubs and resorts, his product being extensively exported, never really giving him much chance to develop the domestic market for his label.
And as he worked on expanding cultivation and production to keep up with the demand, and feed the growing domestic market, offers from the best in the industry across Europe came pouring in - offers of tie-ups and stakes!
As Trishul put away the paper and stood up, he heard the excited bark in the distant, walking out to see Mohan peddling furiously up the road that cut across the fields right up to the woods, Dash in the basket, barking his head off...
Smiling, Trishul quickly walked down the side of the building towards the rear garden, ready to greet Dash... and as Mohan rounded the clump of trees just beyond the lawn, Trishul saw his creased brow, and the look of horror on his face.
"What happened?" he asked rushing forward, concerned.
The man fumbled and almost fell off the bicycle as he screeched to a halt a couple yards from Trishul, and then steadying himself lifted Dash and set him down, "A man... the... there's a man in the ditch beyond the fence, hur... hurt and bare... barely conscious..." he panted between gasps, eyes wide, gesticulating furiously, while Dash immediately rushed over, barking with a renewed vigour as he scampered around Trishul.
"A man?!" Trishul asked in wonder.
Mohan nodded vigorously, "Bleeding... and I thin... think a broken leg!"
"Get the jeep and we'll go and see," Trishul told the man before dropping down and picking up the absolutely crazed dachshund. "You naughty boy," he said cuddling him, "didn't come with me to the beach this morning, ran off with Mohan to explore the woods, huh? And you found a man, did you?"
The dog yelped, licking his face, the tail wagging furiously.
"Good boy," Trishul cooed, kissing him, "we'll go and bring him home..."
... to be continued
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