Team : Alphabet Soup
Read previous part of the story here.
The Duttas and the crew checked into Hotel Devikrupa. They were tired after a long journey. They had their lunch and took a nap. In the evening, they decided to visit the country-side and also to get permission from the temple authorities to cover the procession. They reached the temple office and Tara gave their details.
A fat guy was seated behind the table, ‘N9 media? Hmm… You need Sudheeran’s signature on the permission letter. He has gone out. He will be here in a while. Please wait.’
‘When will be here? Can’t you sign it?’
‘He will be here in ten minutes. No. He is the head of the Royal family now. The temple belongs to the Royal family. Such things are under his control. There is nothing I can do about it.’
Meanwhile, they brought a tall, dark-toned woman holding a camera and a commotion followed. The crew witnessed the entire charade. Tara noticed the tattoos on the woman’s arms & neck. She couldn’t help but laugh, thinking about the conservative people’s version of tattoos.
The moment the woman left, Sudheeran Varma, a seemingly nice guy walked in. He smiled at Roohi, welcomed the crew and asked whether they were comfortable. He immediately, signed the form and said, ‘At any point of time, if you need anything, here is my number.’
He handed them a visiting card.
Tara asked, ‘When do all the activities begin? We have to prepare our equipments by then.’
‘We can’t give you the right time now. Tomorrow, the temple astrologer will fix the time for the commencement of the procession. That is, after he reveals the details of the child, who would carry the deity.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘It is an age old tradition. Wait until tomorrow and you will know what I mean. The entire village will be talking about it.’
‘Well then, we will get going.’
Jenny walked out of the temple premises without a backward glance. As she made her way through the crowd hurriedly, she bumped onto someone. Without any eye contact, she said a faint Sorry and moved ahead.
She turned around. It was Cyrus.
‘Sshhh! Don’t say my name.’ She whispered.
‘Oh Sorry! Didn’t think of that. You seem like you are in a hurry. What happened?’
‘I’ll tell you. I need a smoke, first thing now. Got any?’
‘Sure. But walk with me. I’ll give it to you.’
The family and the crew decided to take a look along the country side and get some catchy stories & myths.
Suddenly, a curly haired man walked towards them wearing a black mundu and holding a stalk. He was absent-mindedly chanting something in Sanskrit. He stopped abruptly as he saw the crowd.
‘Swagatam! Suswagatam! What have my eyes feasted upon?’
He was looking at Roohi delighted.
‘The Devi is coming back! The Devi is coming back.’
Tara looked at the translator. He whispered the meaning.
The mad man was jumping and running around the group.
He came close to Roohi and said, ‘This Devi is bringing that Devi back! Hahaha Hahaha’
Roohi was scared and she hid behind Tara.
The man folded his hands before Roohi and walked away laughing and saying,
‘Devi was gone.
Devi was gone.
But Devi is back.
To bring Devi back.
The crew looked at each other, half shocked, half relieved and amused.
‘Roohi are you alright?’ Shekhar was concerned.
‘Yes Papa. What happened to him?’
‘Don’t know beta. Don’t worry. You are safe with us.’
After some more country-side visits, they got back to their Hotel.
Tara’s phone had been ringing continuously. They had all left their phones in their room since they would anyway have to switch them off in the temple premises. She had 21 missed calls and 18 texts. They were all from their Head office.
She dialed the office number and was greeted with a bad news. The crew’s photographer’s wife met with an accident. She had to relieve him immediately. They were trying to replace him with someone else. But the photographers in the Kerala branch were all busy covering other projects. They ask Tara to look out for someone from her side too. The photographer left immediately and Tara began to dial a few numbers.
After about 3 to 4 hours of non-stop calls, she was upset.
‘Tara, don’t worry. Something will turn up. Trust me!’
‘Not at the last moment Shekhar.’
‘Did you try the freelancers?’
‘They wouldn’t be good enough. We need experienced photographers.’
‘ Just connect the wifi & search. You might find someone.’
Tara spent another couple of hours. But no luck. Upset, she put her head on the desk.
‘Hm? She had dozed off.’
‘Did you find someone to cover the function?’
‘I just thought of something. Do you remember the photographer woman at the temple.’
Tara looked at him uncomprehendingly. Suddenly, her eyes widened.
‘Ohh yes. She said something about temple architecture and stuff.’
She opened her laptop.
‘Also, her camera was a high graded one. What was her name?’
She tried searching for her. But no luck.
‘She must have given the wrong name.’
‘Why do you think so?’
‘I noticed she replied a bit late when they asked her name. Besides, she was in trouble Shekhar. Why would she give her real name?’
‘Hmm… In that case, tomorrow we will ask the temple authorities or people around if they saw her. She would definitely not go unnoticed. We will find her. Now come and have some food.’
They had their dinner and had a sound sleep.
Next morning, as they were about to leave for breakfast, Tara spotted Jennifer on the Hotel lobby.
‘Excuse me! Excuse me!’
Jennifer looked at Tara intently, ‘Uh- No. You might have made a mis-‘
‘No, we saw you at the temple office yesterday.’
‘Oh, Umm… that is not my name. I just faked it there.’
Tara was talking fast now. ‘Never mind! We need a photographer since our photographer had to leave immediately. We are from N9 media. Here to cover the procession. We have no other choice. Say yes. Say yes. Please!’
Jennifer looked at Tara amusingly, ‘No problem. I’m Jennifer Joseph. I work as a freelance photographer.’ She extended her hand.
‘I’m Tara, this is Shekhar -my husband and this is Roohi- our daughter.’
‘Hi Shekhar.’, He nodded in reply.
‘Hello Roohi! I already know that we are going to be good friends.’
‘Yes, because you are going to teach me photography!!!’ said Roohi happily.
She smiled, ‘Ofcourse baby.’
She looked at Tara, ‘You don’t seem to belong here.’
‘No. We are from Mumbai. Came to cover the festival. Jennifer, can you give me your number? I’ll get in touch with you soon.’
They exchanged their numbers and parted.
After the breakfast, they returned to their hotel. The receptionist informed that they had received a call from the temple office. Tara said, ‘It must be about the timings. I’ll call them right-away.’
‘No ma’am. You were asked to report to the temple office immediately. The entire family is wanted there.’
‘That is weird.’
They immediately headed towards the temple. They walk towards an area where there is a huge gathering. The priests & astrologers were all seated in the center doing a yagya.
Sudheeran Varma was standing next to the priests. He greeted the family with a warm smile. The head priest got up and walked towards the family and said, ‘From now on, you are the guests of the Goddess. Your daughter Roohi has been chosen by Amma Mahamaaya to take her idol in the procession’
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