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Trishanu was still there when Trishul got back, waiting for him.
"So?" he asked, concerned.
"He didn't recognise me..." Trishul answered in a flat tone.
Trishanu gritted his teeth, "Fine, he doesn't know you, didn't recognise you, great! And now, we will find out why he was here, and what's his agenda!"
"What do you mean?" Trishul asked.
"I've already taken the liberty to ask Nirupam over for lunch, he'll be here soon and I'm going to ask him for a complete rundown on both father and son..."
"WHAT?!" Trishul exclaimed, shocked.
"Little brother," shrugged Trishanu, "we need to find out, we need to know. That bastard pulled a fast one on you, and we just can't allow him to get away with whatever he's planned. We need to be prepared and for that we need every information we can get, on him and his father!"
Trishul sat staring, open mouth.
"And now," Trishanu added, "you go and take another shower before Nirupam gets here, you look terrible!"
Fiercely loyal and a close confidant, Nirupam was more than just a mere employee... he was family.
He had been spotted by Trishul's grandfather outside one of the factory gate, over forty years back...
A tall, brawny teen, the youth was always outside the main gate whenever their grandfather visited the plant... respectfully courteous as the car passed by. Curious, he had finally asked the plant manager, and was informed that the boy lived in a nearby slum - a school drop-out. But despite his age, he was a sort of local troubleshooter and arbitrator; was bright, sensible and very patient... but also very free with his fists, when required. And hopeful of getting a job at the factory.
"I want to talk to him," their grandfather had said.
The meeting was brief - the man much impressed by the boy - promising to give him a job, but only if he went back to school. Nirupam agreed and both left for the city that same evening.
School by day, and afternoons filing papers at the office, Nirupam further impressed his master with not only his innate intelligence and amazing resourcefulness, but also his keen powers of observation, reasoning, and incredible memory!
After school, Trishul's grandfather put him into law school, and instead of having him file papers at the office, began taking him along wherever he went - factory visits, business meetings, conferences and conventions - Nirupam's brief being simple: OBSERVE.
After college he was given a small office in the basement of the corporate headquarters, a nondescript designation in the HR department, and personally trained by Trishul's grandfather in the finer corporate nuances... and active research.
An almost invisible entity in the massive corporate power structure - operating alone, without staff, assistants or secretaries, and reporting directly to the Chairman - Nirupam blossomed in his new role.
Unobtrusive and courteous, he was soon networking and interacting with all manner of people... and winning over some very powerful friends. Gathering every manner of information on policies, trends, competition and rivals, information not already in the public domain. Working on leads, hints, suggestions and rumours... digging a little deeper, and corroborating facts; separating the chaff from the grain and preparing meaningful reports for his master, providing him with invaluable information and insight.
After the terrible tragedy, Nirupam had, like the rest of the family, been devastated... desperate to find answers as he put in all his resources and ingenuity into finding them. Helpless as he watched his benefactor slowly waste away at his young son's death. Resolute as he stood firm by the side of his master's widow and two sons, fending off all predatory challenges as together they pulled back the empire from the brink.
"Good morning," greeted Nirupam as he was shown into the ground-floor den where the cousins sat waiting for him. "Nice to see you here," he smiled at Trishul.
"Please sit down," Trishul nodded, giving him a faint smile, "Would you like something... um, tea, coffee... or maybe, a beer?"
"Thank you," replied the man, taking the couch opposite Trishul. "I had a late breakfast, so nothing now..." and then slowly turning towards Trishanu, his eyes twinkling, asked, "is this a social meet, or... a proposed business lunch?"
"Um," Trishanu hesitated for a moment, "have you seen this article in today's paper?" he finally said, unfolding the paper and placing it on the coffee table.
"I never read the entertainment section of the papers," Nirupam smiled, looking down at the page, then murmuring, "Uberoi... Uberoi... Diamantaire..." as he studied the picture, suddenly asking, "Is he related to a certain Ranjeet Uberoi?"
"His son..." replied Trishanu, surprised.
Nirupam nodded, "And you want information on him?"
"Both him and his father..."
Nirupam looked up - first at Trishanu and then at Trishul, "The father shouldn't be of any interest to us... and as for the son, I don't know what he does, but Bollywood isn't exactly your area of interest either..."
"Well, what we want to know is what he does, his interests, you know, business interests... um, and what he was doing here..." Trishanu paused for a moment, "and, does he have any interest in wine..."
"And by 'we' do you mean Trishul?"
"I mean 'we' - both of us!"
Nirupam nodded, "Well, I had prepared a report on Ranjeet Uberoi, long back, may need to update it. As for the son... I'll need a couple of days."
"You have a file on Ranjeet Uberoi?" Trishanu asked, astonished.
"You said he should be of no interest to us, then why?"
Nirupam looked at him in silence, and then shrugged, "Your grandfather wanted to know certain things, and I too was keen..."
A dreadful thought had just occurred to Trishanu... suddenly the 'twenty-years-ago' in the article taking on a whole new, terrifying meaning, and he stuttered as he asked, "Nirupam, what happened twenty years ago?" his voice audibly shaking, "Did Ranjeet really visit the country?"
"He did, though not 'officially'..." Nirupam answered, his eyes keen as he studied the two cousins.
"Did he... did Ranjeet..." Trishanu began in a choked voice, but was unable to complete the sentence as he exclaimed, "Oh my God!" his heart slamming wildly.
He had been twelve then, but he remembered everything vividly - how that one single episode had nearly ripped the family apart... almost destroying everything... had finally killed his grandfather. And now, that man's son had entered their life again... had violated Trishul's trust...
Trishanu's question about Ranjeet's secret visit... his clearly strained voice, his unfinished question, and his abrupt exclamation, had triggered some terrifying thoughts...
The article's 'twenty-years'... and Ranjeet Uberoi's supposedly sudden and unexplained departure from the country following serious allegations...
His grandfather's interest in that man... twenty years ago...
The room began to spin around Trishul as terrible thoughts raced through his benumbed mind...
His parents' horrific death in the air crash... twenty years ago. An accident that was never conclusively resolved...
Everything was suddenly devastatingly frightening... and even worse... he, Trishul, had not only taken that man's son home... but had actually fallen in love... had actually slept with him - his parents' murderer's son?!!!
... to be continued
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