“Chandrachur Jamai Babu” he heard her faint whisper. “What?” Anirudh felt confused but before he could turn around, he was tugged really hard by the same gentle hand which had risen for his handshake. In a flash, Anirudh’s back hit a brick wall making him wince a little as both stood absolutely still, hiding behind it. “That is Chandrachur babu’s jeep coming this way. Let’s just stay hidden here till he passes otherwise we both, will be in serious trouble.” Bondita whisper yelled, while looking over his shoulder, completely unaware that the arm length distance between them was now reduced to just a few inches. She was still clueless, that her gentle breath on someone’s neck, had quickened the person’s heartbeat so much so that it could almost break out of his chest. “Bo..Bondita” Anirudh whispered back with difficulty, attempting to grab her attention, “Hmm” she unconsciously raised her head as her shiny black eyes met his deep dark brown ones, with her nose brushing against his chin. The time seemed to have frozen. Neither of them moved nor spoke, just stared deep into each other’s eyes, conveying a thousand unspoken emotions. A honk from the passing jeep brought them back to reality and they immediately parted “Sor..sorry” Bondita blurted out, flustered. “No no, thank god, you spotted him early otherwise it would have caused yet another scandal.” Anirudh breathed out with relief, with his gaze darting here and there, unable to look at her. She smiled faintly and left him with a “will call you later” as Anirudh turned back to the now rising moon to hide the colour which had risen to his face before setting back home.
“What was Chandrachur jamai babu doing there? Since, he has no relations or work in my old village, it is unlikely that he went there. Then, the next stop on that road is Dhaka. But why was he going there?” Bondita pondered as she got off the rickshaw in front of Das Bari. “Forget it, we have more important things to do, Bondita Das. Let’s go steal the address as quick as we can. Oh lord” Bondita said to herself as she sneakily made her way to Thakuma’s room, praying not to raise suspicion.
“Hmm, nope, not this one, not this one either. Augh” Bondita groaned as her eyes swept through Thakuma’s neat diary in a hurry. “None of these places sell kulfi. Wait, whose handwriting is this?” Bondita paused for a second as her eyes fell on unfamiliar shabby handwriting compared to Thakuma’s neat ones. “Nathuram kulfi, Dhaka. Bingo. But why all the way in Dhaka? Whatever let me copy it down” she murmured to herself before copying the address and ran out of Thakuma’s room as swiftly as she had entered it.
Meanwhile, Anirudh paced in his study while waiting for Bondita’s call replaying today’s events. Seeing the trees gently swaying in the wind, the feeling of Bondita’s breath on his neck swept through his body for hundredth time now, giving him the same goosebumps and blush creeping back into his cheeks for the umpteenth time. “Focus Anirudh” he scolded himself with a smile as the phone behind him suddenly rang.
“No problem, tomorrow afternoon we can meet at the same place as today and I can drive us to Dhaka from there. Great, Good night” Anirudh suggested after hearing Bondita elaborate discussion of the plan from the other end. “Dhaka” Anirudh muttered to himself “Are those incidents really connected?” he sighed as he slowly dragged his feet to his room to rest “Tomorrow is going to be a long, long day.”
“Stop!!” Bondita abruptly yelled making Anirudh stomp the breaks with a screech. “Bondita!!” he gasped. He almost felt his heart come to a stop hearing her sudden scream after being extremely silent since the last two hours drive to Dhaka. “Sorry sorry” Bondita repeated as her hands instinctively touched her ears “I didn’t mean to scare you but we have reached. That’s Nathuram Kulfi right there.” She reasoned as both hopped down the car. “Woah!! Hold on” Anirudh stopped Bondita before she could run over to the shop “How exactly are we going to go and ask if they remember selling kulfi to someone almost eight years ago without them kicking us out?” “Just watch and learn” Bondita said, covering her head with her dupatta and removing her gold earrings to drop them in her bag.
“Namaste Kaka” Bondita chirped, with a heavy accent, to grab the attention of the old shopkeeper. “I am Brinda, a servant working in the Krishnanagar haveli. Our Thakuma thinks that the haveli has missed paying for a huge order we received around half a month ago. Thakuma, convinced of your excellent customer service, assured that you will have all the purchase history of the haveli. So, she asked me to come to check it and make the payment.” Anirudh looked at her, amazed with slightly widened eyes. Talking someone into doing whatever she desired had always been Bondita’s field of expertise. She used just the perfect ratio of flattery to logic, earning her the well deserved title of “Mithi Churi”.
“Of course, we have a different register for such high-class people” the old man beamed as he checked the register “Hmm, nope there is no pending amount.” “Are you sure? Can I check?” Bondita persisted. “Sure go ahead, the payment for the order placed half month ago was paid on spot.” “The same shabby handwriting” Bondita thought, paying no heed to the shopkeeper as she checked the sign on the attached receipts.
The old man continued “But, why did Thakuma send you again today if she was confused? The man who orders and delivers kulfis on behalf of the haveli was here just yesterday for some work in that medicine shop there. She could have asked him to check.” “How did the man look like?” Anirudh inquired out of the blue making the shopkeeper’s eyebrows raise in doubt. “Actually, Thakuma mentioned nothing, that’s why we wanted to know who the other servant was?” Bondita spoke urgently, to clear the air. “Ah, that guy does not look like a servant though, he wore a gold chain around the neck and was wearing expensive clothes too. Judging by his attitude, I thought that the man was Thakuma’s son or something.” the shopkeeper replied, in confusion. “I know exactly who that is” Anirudh exclaimed as he breathed out looking at Bondita who responded with a faint “Me too”in utter disbelief.