{Collaborative Fiction} MISSING contd.

Our StoryThis is part 15 of a story that I am writing in collaboration with some very talented writers on Blogadda. Our team name is 'Tete-a-ten'

Please read the backstory here 

Mumbai, India
Mumbai Airport had changed. Dr. Sneha Phadnis hurried out of the airport, as she tried to keep pace with Fanus. As she quickened her steps to catch up with him, she saw that Fanus had already hailed a taxi . He said something to a pleasant-faced driver, and then looked around for Sneha, beckoning her.  Sneha thankfully slid into the car. Mumbai was expectedly hot, humid and crowded! And the short walk in the heat had momentarily transported her back to her last visit to Mumbai with her kids. But she pushed that sweet memory to the back of her mind. There was work to do. She turned to Fanus, “Do you think we should stop at the police station first, or directly head to Jalsa?” Fanus said,” Doctor, I have told the driver to go to Jalsa first. If we don’t find him there, we can go to the Juhu Police Station.” Sneha nodded.  She continued, “Honestly, I am worried for his health, Fanus.” She took a deep breath, looked him in the eye, and added, “His mental health”. 

Fanus closed his eyes in pain. He had tried not to think about what Cyrus must be going through, out there alone.  He had pushed away thoughts about Cyrus’ broken spirit, just so that he could focus all his thoughts and energy on finding him. But Dr. Phadnis’ words had pierced through his resolve. As he struggled to regain control and be brave, the taxi driver caught sight of his broken look in the rear view mirror. He looked around and with his mouth stuffed with pan, a few grains of red betelnut glistening on the corner of his upper lips, asked, “Aap log museebath main hain, madamji?”(Are you in trouble? Fanus was still in a daze, worried about Cyrus, and unable to think straight. He looked blankly ahead.  Sneha glanced at him and then spoke to the driver’s reflection in the rear view mirror, “Haann, bhaiyya,” (Yes) she said. Pulling out Cyrus’ photograph she told him that they were here to search for him. She also told him that she was his doctor, and that the boy could be mentally unstable. That’s why they were so worried. She explained his obsession with Amithabh Bachhan and Bollywood, and the taxi driver put two and two together quickly. “Accha, isliye aap log Bhachansaab ke ghar jaa rahen hain(I see, is that why you are headed for the Bhachan residence?). Sneha nodded. Then as if trying to do his bit to help, the taxi driver sped up and Sneha and Fanus were thrown off balance.

The taxi wove in and out of the dense Mumbai traffic. Further ahead, the road cleared a bit, and as the buildings whizzed past, Sneha caught sight of a board outside a large building. ‘Dr Balabhai Nanavati  Hospital’ it read. “Gosh, why didn’t we think about it before? Bhaiyya, jaldi gaadi rokhon!” she shouted, and the taxi suddenly braked, as the driver changed lanes and brought the car to a screeching halt.  Sneha said, “Oh no! We have overshot the front gate.” The taxi driver nodded, apparently catching on quicker than Fanus who was still lost in his pain. The driver said that the U-turn was a long way off. He would wait here, and one of them could go inside. Sneha nudged Fanus and said, “Fanus, hurry! Please rush in and show this picture of Cyrus to the people at the front desk and emergency”.  Fanus’ brain slowly tried to process what Sneha was saying. He saw the hospital boards, and in a trice he came back to reality. He quickly got out of the car, and ran into the hospital building. Sneha was relieved that Fanus had snapped out of his ‘saudade’. Despite the tension, she smiled, surprised that the Portuguese word had popped into her consciousness now. She remembered that time in Portugal. When they were studying for a paper on depression, Liz, who was her roommate there, had explained the meaning of the word – “it’s a deep longing for one’s love, and usually when one thinks they are never going to see that person again”. When she remembered Liz’s words, Sneha shook her head in determination. “No”, she vowed, “Fanus and Cyrus are going to be reunited, and we are going to find Cyrus come what may!”

As Fanus got into the car again, Sneha was relieved to see a look of steely determination back on his face. He briefed her quickly, and after a quick conference with the taxi driver, they decided to stop at every hospital on the way to Amithab Bhachan’s residence. 
Finally, after dropping off Cyrus’ photo and details at Daftari Clinic, the taxi driver told them that this was Vaikuntlal Mehta Rd, and he would now cruise slowly near Jalsa.  Cyrus quickly told him that they would like to get out. The driver, reluctant to leave them now, decided to wait for them on the New Indian Society Rd. nearby and gave them his cell phone number. There were a few Bhacchan fans loitering around near Jalsa, but Cyrus was not among them. They got out of the cab right near the main gate. A large, bougainvillea plant with hot pink flowers provided a bit of shade from the scorching sun, and Sneha and Fanus headed there. They keenly watched every face in the vicinity. An hour passed but there was no sign of Cyrus. Fanus decided to walk around, and check the side roads, while Sneha waited right there. Fanus came back after an hour with no luck or leads, and they decided to head to the police station.

Juhu Police Station,
Ville Parle West, Mumbai
The swivel chair creaked as Sub Inspector Prashanth Bhambore shifted in his chair, and looked at Fanus and Dr. Sneha suspiciously. He dealt with enough crazy people and he was not going to waste his time on another bunch of these. He observed the twenty year old sitting in front of him – tired, sweaty and talking as if it was a matter of life and death. “Agitated, sweaty…must be a marijuana user,” he thought, dismissing him.  SI Bhambore decided to stop trying to make sense of Fanus’ rambling, and concentrate on the woman. The lady next to him could be his older sister, or maybe his girlfriend . “One never knows these days,” he thought. “Age no bar ki jaamana aa gaya”. The lady looked tired too, but there was an air of elegance about her. “Sir, please, can you listen to us?” she sounded impatient, but her face continued to look calm. She pulled out a visiting card and gave it to him. When he read her name, his demeanor changed. He heard her out, and told her, “Dr. Madam, you have to lodge an FIR”. I will tell my duty officer to help you. He then picked up the photograph, and glanced through the details, not bothering to look at Cyrus’s face. As Sneha and Fanus were escorted to another desk to complete the FIR procedure, the phone on the inspector’s desk rang. As he took the call, his eyes rested on the photo once again. He automatically registered the features, the way his police brain was wired to. Suddenly his eyes widened. When he got off the call, he spent a few minutes re-examining the photo, and then it struck him. He had seen this boy’s photo somewhere else today. He quickly rummaged through the missing people folder, and his eyes rested on the one of Roohi and Cyrus that the Duttas’ friends had dropped off just minutes back!

“Dr.ji¸ek minute,” he called out to Sneha. He held out the picture of Roohi and Cyrus that Jennifer had clicked earlier that day.  When Sneha looked up, she knew the inspector had something important to say. She and Fanus hurried over to him, and stared dumbstruck at the picture of Cyrus eating an icecream. He was apparently with the little girl who was standing next to him, oblivious to everything else as she relished the strawberry ice-cream cone she was eating.

Dr. Phadnis suddenly noticed the date on the photograph. It was clicked today! She clutched Fanus’ hand and told the inspector, “Please, tell us where this was clicked. This is him!”  The inspector had already alerted the police to bring a jeep to the front of the station. “Come with me, we are going in search!” he told Dr. Phadnis and Fanus.

Ramada Hotel
It was already an hour since Jennifer had whatsapped Tara. She had done her part, she told herself. What more could she do? She was not very familiar with the Maximum City, though she had enjoyed every trip here. Yet, her thoughts refused to stray away from the picture of Roohi and Cyrus. “I am tired, I should be resting, or calling up my friends for a night out. Why am I still sitting here with this photo on my laptop?” she asked herself. “Okay, I’ll give myself one last crawl online, in case there is an update,” she decided.  She checks out the online news papers. Nothing there. She logs-in to Facebook. No updates. She tries Google search, but nothing comes up.  She looks at the Bing ‘search by photo’ ad that crops up on Google.  She decides to click on it and is amazed that one could actually submit a photograph, and the in-built face detection software would search the Internet and find a match. “Hi-tech, like the crime branches in movies,” she told herself with a smirk. On a whim, she crops the boy of the photo and uploads it.

In less than a second there were 2000 results!  Jennifer scanned the results, but some of the faces didn’t even closely resemble the boy. “I should have expected this,” she thought, but something prevented her from shutting the program down. She continued to closely examine the photos especially of two very possible matches – but they were of boys in Afghanistan and France! “This one is fair-complexioned, but decidedly Indian,” she thought. Further down the page, a very good match of the boy cropped up. It was associated with a blog ‘moviesRus’ by Cyrus. She clicks on it and finds herself on a movie blog. There was a page dedicated to Amitabh Bhachan. The last blog was posted just 2 days ago! Jennifer scans it quickly and quite enjoys the crisp, tongue-in-cheek review of ‘Finding Fanny’

She explored the other pages, and stared long and hard at the blogger’s picture. It was definitely him! Every feature matched – the unruly hair, the very same spectacle frame, the shape of his mouth, the fair complexion and the beard on his chin!  Jennifer was very excited. “It had to be him,” she decided!
Jennifer took a moment to calm herself down. “This is too much action,” she thought - “So I have a name to the face now – Cyrus Daruwala. She reads his About Me page – ‘I am a law student based in Delhi, but my heart is really in Mumbai, in Bollywood to be specific!’  

Jennifer quickly scans the rest of the page, but doesn’t find out too much more.

“Cyrus Daruwala – a law student - from Delhi – but has his heart in Mumbai….hmmm – is that why he is in Mumbai today? How does he know Roohi?” she wonders. She tries to look him up on Facebook, and even though there seven profiles show up, she finds him pretty quickly! Excitedly she scans his friends list, but sees neither of the Duttas’ names there. She goes back to Google search and tries to see if there is a connection with the Duttas’. None! Wait, what’s this? Almost every search result spoke about the same story.  The blurbs were all similar, so she clicks through one of them.

April 9, 2005 - A newborn baby in Mumbai has been diagnosed with a medical condition called Duodenal Atresia. This is a rare condition, and the incidence is thought to be around 1 in 10,000 births. There are very few known cases in India. In 25-40% of cases, the anomaly is encountered in an infant with trisomy 21 or Down's Syndrome. The little girl has been named Roohi. Roohi’s pediatrician Dr. Aryan Ahuja however has revealed that the initial tests show that Roohi is unlikely to have Down's Syndrome. Meanwhile Roohi’s parents Shekhar and Tara Dutta have decided to let the doctors extensively test her, hoping and praying that she will grow up to be a normal kid.”

There was a picture of the Duttas’ with the newborn with Dr.Aryan Ahuja by their side. “Interesting,” thought Jennifer. “Well obviously, little Roohi does not have Down's Syndrome at all, thank God!”  Jennifer had found out quite a bit. “Not bad, for just a half-hour of sleuthing,” she thinks, but her thoughts are still reluctant to stray away from Roohi – making it quite impossible for her to relax and enjoy the rest of her stay in Mumbai.


My team and I are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us!