Freedom – Geeta’s Journey – II

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Previously, we saw how Geeta had big dreams that led her to London and how life changed slowly, irrevocably for her and her eventual dash for freedom. Read on to know what happened next:

 

October 16th 2016

Geeta looked at her watch and then the clock on the wall. Right, focus. What is it that I need to do. The sick feeling in the pit of her stomach was refusing to go away. Her mind turned to George. What would he say? That their entire married life had been a lie? That he had never even known what her real name was? Just the thought made her wince. It had taken so long for George to get her to place her trust in him – and now, she would be breaking his.

 

She glanced at the door, half-expecting Dinesh to storm in at any moment. He must have got my email id from the sign in the shop window. The bastard! How did he find me?

 

Her mind shot back to the supermarket in Camden that fateful summer. She was still on the run and living on the streets. It might have been the bread aisle that she was standing in, when she turned and saw Dinesh at the till, just a few feet away from her, talking to the cashier. Geeta had ducked and run out as fast as she could, wild-eyed, with her heart pounding in her ears. Less than an hour later, she was sitting on a train to east London, clutching her bag and the stolen cash and jewelery within it.

But what am I going to do now?  Geeta looked at the email again. “I know where you live – don’t even think about running. Come to Café Nero in Greenwich Market at 11:00 on Friday. If you don’t, the police will be knocking on your door.”

It was 10:00 am on Wednesday. I’ve got to think of something!

 

“Hi, I have an appointment at 10:15 for a deep-cleanse facial?”

It was a customer. Irritated, Geeta called out to one of her shop assistants and excused herself. She left the shop in the able hands of her senior assistant and went home. George got back from work early that evening to find Geeta sitting on their bedroom rug, with the contents of their closets strewn helter-skelter on the floor around her.

 

“Hey, what’s going on, honey?”

 

“Nothing,” Geeta looked up and smiled. “Just looking for some paperwork for the renewal of the shop’s lease. You want some coffee?”

 

She kept looking and late that night, Geeta found it at last. One of the pair of Mrs. Kulkarni’s diamond earrings. She lay awake in bed, thoughtfully turning it around in her hand. When she had approached the fake passport makers at East India Docks, they had charged her only one of the earrings, despite being offered the pair. She had found that strange because they seemed to have a reputation for being quite unscrupulous – at least from the crime-based reality shows she had watched on daytime television. Maybe they pitied me after hearing my sob story, She thought wryly. Something occurred to her in that moment and she stayed awake, mulling her thoughts over.

 

The next morning, Geeta waited until George had left for work and then called her senior assistant to say she wouldn’t be going to the salon that day. She spent a few hours on the internet, before taking a bus to East India Docks. The gate of the old compound was rusty now, almost falling to bits – and the locality had changed completely. There were swish new apartments all around – at the same place where there used to be a long line of run-down warehouses earlier. Uncertain whether she would achieve anything meaningful, Geeta prised the gate open and went in.

 

He had a crinkled old face – but those eyes – those piercing eyes, she seemed to remember them clearly. He smiled as he turned the diamond earring over in his hand – and then, without a word, arose from his chair and disappeared into the back of his little office. Geeta looked around pensively. It was an accountant’s office. Probably the most inconspicuous front that they could come up with, she reflected. Business must be difficult now, with all the security measures and new technology.

 

He came back out shortly and Geeta gasped immediately. He had the other earring in his hand. He put it down on his desk in front of Geeta and sat down carefully in his chair. “I didn’t tell you at the time. I used to have a daughter by the name of Geeta. She died at a very young age in unfortunate circumstances. I couldn’t even bear to take that one earring from you.”

 

Geeta was taken aback. Ravi, as it turned out his name was, chatted with her for a long time about her life and all that had transpired since the time they had met. Before she got up, Geeta handed him a blue folder and they quickly said their goodbyes. After Geeta left, Ravi opened the folder. Inside it, was what looked like a dossier, seemingly hurriedly cobbled together by an amateur. It had a bundle of screenshots, the first of which, had Dinesh’s face on it, captured from his Facebook profile. After going through the dossier, Ravi reached out for his desk phone.

 

The next day, Geeta reached Greenwich Market at around ten o clock, an hour before time. The café was one that she had been to many times before, so she comfortably took a seat at one of the armchairs in the corner. It had the added benefit of giving her a clear view of the street outside – she could see Ravi had parked himself on a bench outside, pretending to read a tabloid.

 

It wasn’t far past 11:00 when she became aware of a figure that had stepped into the café and was looking around. Geeta looked up and their eyes met. It was Dinesh, all right. He was fat, balding and middle-aged now, but that smirk was unmistakable. An overpowering sense of loathing spread over her as he sauntered over to her table and pulled up a chair.

 

Ravi watched the two of them intently. Geeta’s face had turned into stone and she was speaking in a controlled manner. He couldn’t see Dinesh’s face, but the conversation seemed civil. Geeta brought out an envelope and pushed it forward. Dinesh picked it up and peered inside, before expressing his displeasure at the contents. He gradually became more and more animated, making a couple of the other customers turn around to look at them. That’s when Geeta looked straight at Ravi, through the window, with a panicked expression. Dinesh turned around, following her line of sight and saw her staring at an old man outside, who was gesturing to someone else in a phone booth. He froze and then in the next moment, lost it completely. He stood up, shouting at Geeta and pinned her up against the wall, with his gnarled hand wrapped around her throat. It took a few seconds for others in the café to realize what was happening, pounce on him and with a lot of difficulty, wrench him away. Geeta was left coughing and gasping for breath.

 

Dinesh angrily tried to free himself from everyone and ended up throwing a few punches. When he was finally stepping out of the café, two police cars with screaming sirens, screeched to a halt right outside. The officers jumped out and forced Dinesh to the ground, cuffing his hands behind his back. As he was driven off, Ravi remained seated on the bench, with Geeta standing in the café’s doorway. She just stood there, paralyzed, gazing at the diminishing size of the police cars as they sped away.

*******

“Honey, I’ve got sushi!”

It was about 6:00 in the evening and there was a sizzling sound coming from the kitchen. Geeta walked up to the front door and opened it.

“Ooh, hang on, that smells amazing.  Shall we put off the sushi till later? Please?” George grinned as he walked in. Geeta laughed, kissed him and walked back into the kitchen. The TV was on in the living room. A news reporter was talking about a human trafficking ring that had been busted that afternoon in Greenwich Market, based on an anonymous tip-off from a public phone booth.

“What’s that? Have you been shopping?”

The pair of diamond earrings was sitting on the window sill.

“And, what if I have, Mr Prescott?” grinned Geeta. “They’re just glass, honey. I found them in my things yesterday. Reminder of a past life.”

“Hmmm, mistress of past lives – Mrs. Ayesha Prescott!”  George laughed and pulled Geeta into his arms, planting a kiss on the back of her neck. Geeta sighed, turned around and put her arms around George. As she rested her head on George’s shoulder and looked at the earrings, she realized something deep within her had changed that day. At long last, she was free. Free from her tormentors, free from her past and most of all, free from her own fears. She was truly, utterly and completely – free!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

‘Addicted to life’ is how friends describe 37 year old Antara. Living in London with her husband and the cutest three year old in the world, she is a senior Talent and Change management consultant in a global multinational. She is also a keen DIY-er, improvised-toy-maker, Netflix watcher, kitchen dancer, outdoors singer, book lover, foodie and a serious plant addict (read gardener). She uses her degree in Architecture to justify her frequent weekend DIY projects. Juggling home, child and a full-time job, Antara is now taking time out to reconnect with her one true passion – writing.

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