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The Talon House

Satyamev Jayate


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This story is the property of the author and no part of this story may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior permission of the author or posted elsewhere without written permission . All characters and plot lines are fictiona and any resemblance is strictly coincidental. This story contains references of homosexual nature. If it is illegal for you to read this or you are not interested in this stuff, I recommend you to decide for yourself what you want to do- you're smart enough.

Author's Notes:

I'd like to thank my editors, Kitty and Talonrider and my Beta-Reader, Bondwriter for making this story comprehendible.

Satyamev Jayate

(Truth Alone Triumphs)

By: The BeaStKid

Anju!" Raj Singhania shouted to his wife as he entered his house. "O Anju! Where are you?"

Entering the drawing room, he plopped down on the sofa, putting his legs on the center table. "ANJU!!" he called out again to his wife.

Anju Singhania entered the drawing room with a plate in her hand. The plate contained materials used in puja (prayer) - incense sticks, rose petals, water from the holy Ganges, red-coloured powder for tilak and a small piece of laddoo. Her lips were moving in constant prayer, and she was waving her hand above the fumes rising from the sticks, trying to spread the holy fragrance in each and every direction.

Anju was dressed as a typical Indian woman – a saree covering her petite figure, a mangal sutra1 around her wrinkled neck and a bindi on her forehead. Even though she was touching her mid-forties, she had an air of someone much younger.

Raj, on the other hand, was anything but young. Unlike Anju, he refused to dye his greying hair. His face was partially covered by a moustache and his nose supported a pair of large spectacles that made his eyes look insanely large. His tall and stocky frame was dressed in a running suit, which indicated that he had just come back from his morning run. He held an envelope in his hands and hid it behind his back as soon as he noticed Anju enter.

Springing to his feet and with a mischievous lilt to his voice, he asked his wife, "Guess what?"

Anju gave one look towards her husband and continued with her prayers, moving around the room to spread the fragrance of the incense, with Raj close at her heels. After she had narrowly missed tripping over him for the third time, she let out an exasperated sigh. Rolling her eyes, she asked in a stern voice, "How many times do I have to tell you not to disturb me when I am praying? What is it now?"

Accustomed to her tirades and still not losing his excitement, Raj held up the envelope he was hiding and asked, "Guess who this is from? The post-man dropped it inside the garden instead of the mailbox yesterday."

Anju's eyes recognised the scrawling handwriting on the envelope at once, and her eyes darted to and fro from it to Raj's face, looking for confirmation. As if reading her thoughts, he nodded, and with a shrill yell, Anju set the plate on a nearby table and took the envelope in her hands. Her hands trembled as she opened the envelope to reveal a letter. Raj watched his wife in fascination as her eyes moved from left to right, frantically reading the letter. A look of pure elation filled Anju's face as she completed it and gazed into Raj's eyes, only to find the same expression on his face too.

"He's coming tomorrow?" she asked him, as though still not believing what she had read. "Oh my God, he is coming tomorrow!"

"Yes, he is. Our son is coming home tomorrow after three years," Raj replied, the happiness evident from each word that came out of his mouth.

"But … there is so much to do. I have to make his favourite biryani. Rasgullas too. And not to forget his favourite chutney. Couldn't he have informed us earlier?!"

"Darling, this was sent through the Indian post," Raj said, as though stating the obvious.

"Why are you standing there doing nothing, Mr Raj Singhania?" she said in a mock stern voice with her hands on her hips. "Go and make sure that his room is ready."

"All right," he replied, shaking his head while laughing.

"What time is his train tomorrow?" she asked.

"11.30 pm," he answered.

"That's late. Okay. Now hurry up and get working," she said, and then continued in a dreamy tone, "My dear baby! My Ajay. He is finally coming back."

Raj and Anju worked tirelessly for the entire day, preparing for Ajay's homecoming. The garden was mowed, the house cleaned and Ajay's room made up. Anju had made all his favourite dishes. "Hostel food would have thinned my poor boy. I need to fatten him up," she said.

The next day too passed in preparations. Soon it was time for Ajay's train to arrive. Anju was going mad with anxiety and kept looking at the wall-clock, counting down the minutes until Ajay's arrival. Precisely at 11 pm, she started pestering Raj to go and receive him at the station. Raj had asked her to stay at home as Ajay would be carrying a lot of luggage and the poor Hyundai Santro wouldn't be able to fit all of them. Anju saw Raj off to the garage and waved to him as he left for the station.

The town of Pathankot was a small one. Located at the junction of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, it was the gateway into Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab. The couple lived in Model Town, one of the posh colonies. Raj took a left entering Dhangu Road and drove down for about three kilometres. Taking a left at the lights, he entered the main market area and after crossing it, took another left into the station.

The train was, surprisingly, on time, and Raj struggled to locate Ajay amidst the crowd that had accumulated as a result of the arrival of the train. A tap on his shoulder from behind made him turn and before he knew it, he was engulfed in a hug. Raj hugged back as he thanked the Almighty for bringing his son to him safely. Breaking the hug, Ajay bent down to touch his father's feet. Raj blessed his son a long and healthy life as he looked into the latter's eyes and radiated his love for him.

Ajay had turned out a handsome young man and Raj was proud of his son. He was taller than his father, standing at around 6 feet and with a fine body, the result of years spent in sports and the gym. His brownish-black hair was cut short and spiked in the front, the latest trend for teenagers. Even though Ajay was not a teen, having celebrated his 20th birthday a month ago, the hairstyle suited him as it accentuated his light brown eyes.

"Is mom here?" Ajay asked his dad cautiously.

"Nope. With great difficulty, I had to persuade her to remain at home," Raj said with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Thanks. I couldn't deal with her seeing him right now," Ajay stated.

"But where is my future son-in-law?" Raj turned a full 360, looking for him.

"He's right there," Ajay said, pointing to a man in a red t-shirt and denim near a bookstand.

"Rohan, right?" Raj asked Ajay.

"Yes, Rohan Sharma. ROHAN!!" Ajay hollered out to him.

Rohan, upon hearing his name, turned towards the duo. Raj could see that the man was handsome and was happy with his son's choice in the looks department. Rohan stood a tad bit shorter than Ajay and had his hair ?a John Abraham. His tight-fitted t-shirt showed off his toned body, just as Ajay's did.

Raj had known that Ajay was gay even before the latter had. It had not been easy for him to accept the fact that his only child was something that the society disapproved of. But with the help of his neighbour, Ali D'Souza, a psychologist by profession, he had overcome his prejudices and had come to accept his son for who he was. Raj had been forever grateful to Ali for making him see the light of the situation.

Raj chuckled at the thought of his neighbour. Ali's comical name came from his lineage, his father being a Christian while his mother a staunch Muslim. They had eventually agreed on his name after a fight that lasted two weeks.

Ajay's nudge in his ribs broke Raj's reverie as he saw Rohan bow to touch his feet. Blessing him a long life, he looked into Rohan's eyes and with mischief evident in his voice said, "So, you are the man who stole my son's heart. About damn time too. I had begun to think that I'd have to start looking for grooms, and you know that is not an easy job here when all the potential grooms are looking for brides. Hmmm, on second thought, that wouldn't have been that difficult."

"Dad!!" Ajay said with a flush on his cheeks as he playfully punched his father's arm. Taking up a formal tone, he continued, "Dad, I would like you to meet my significant other, Rohan. Rohan, this is my unfortunate Dad who was fortunate enough to have me as his son."

"C'mon, let's get home before your mother brings the whole town to a standstill. She has called thrice already." The trio made their way towards the exit and left the station after loading the car with the luggage.

"So, how did the two of you meet?" Raj asked, keeping one eye on the road.

"Well, considering we went to the same college, attended the same classes and, not to mention, shared the same room, it was pretty hard not to miss this pretty boy," Ajay replied as he broke into a fit of giggles.

"Does he speak at all?" asked an amused Raj.

"Oh yeah, he does, he's just shy meeting his father-in-law. Aren't you, Rohan?" Ajay said, turning around to look at his blushing boyfriend.

"It is not that, sir. It's just that I wanted to give the father and son some time to themselves before I staked my claim on you. Besides, blabbermouth here doesn't give anyone a chance to speak," quipped Rohan as he struggled to keep a straight face.

Raj burst out laughing. "My oh my, I like this guy already. Just remember to keep your noses clean in front of your mother."

"Yes, father," the kids said in unison as Raj again dissolved into a fit of laughter.

They reached the house in record time, owing to the virtually deserted roads at that hour of the night. As soon as Raj put the car into park inside the garage, Anju had Ajay in her arms, clinging to him as if her life depended on it and making it hard for him to breathe.

"Mom! Air!" Ajay gasped but made no effort to free himself, instead hugging her back.

Letting go of Ajay, Anju gave him a look over. "Just as I had expected. I need to fill that scrawny figure of yours. Come, I've made all your favourite stuff. You must be starving."

It was at that moment she noticed Rohan standing near the car. An awkward silence descended over the family as Anju glanced from Ajay to Raj for introductions.

Ajay cleared his throat. "Um… Mom, this is Rohan. Rohan, my mother. Mom, Rohan was my roommate in college and is also my best friend." Ajay looked apologetically at Rohan as he blatantly lied about their relationship. The latter shrugged it off and bent down to touch Anju's feet. Blessing the boy a long life, she ushered the men inside the house, luggage in tow.

A lot of catching up was done over dinner as both Ajay and Rohan recalled their days at college. Having finished their meal and after bidding the parents a good night, Ajay took Rohan for a quick tour of the house. The house in which the Singhanias lived was quite spacious and was actually a bungalow. It had a garage, a well-kept lawn (Anju prided over it), and a large patio behind the building. Inside, it had a well-decorated and furnished drawing room, adjoining which, was Raj's study. After the drawing room came the kitchen to the left and the dining room to the right, with a small lobby in the middle. Further down the lobby, the master bedroom fell to the left and Ajay's room to the right. The bungalow was a single-storied structure and the jewel in the older couple's eyes. The tour complete, Rohan and Ajay retired to their respective rooms, the former sleeping in Raj's study, which had a bed as well.

The next day, Ajay was woken by the heavenly fragrance of aaloo-paranthas (rotis filled with potatoes) being cooked. His mouth watering and stomach rumbling, he made his way to the kitchen and wished his mother a good morning. He bent down to touch his mother's feet and received a blessing in return. But as he tried to take a healthy bite of the butter-full paranthas, he got a red spot on his hands from the red-hot tongs his mother held.

"Go freshen up first! And see if Rohan is awake or not. Don't you DARE try reaching for those paranthas, mister! Off you go!"

Chuckling to himself, Ajay made his way to Rohan's room, to find him lying on his side, sound asleep. Ajay kissed the back of his neck and snuggled up behind him, whispering sweet nothings into his ear. Rohan mumbled in his sleep as he sank back into Ajay's embrace.

"I love waking up like this," Rohan mumbled, still groggy.

"So do I, but we need to get your lazy a** off of the bed as Mom is ready with a sumptuous breakfast." Ajay kissed the back of Rohan's neck again. "You use the bathroom in this room while I freshen up in mine."

"Hmm…," Rohan replied.

"Hurry up or I'll finish all the aaloo-paranthas." That comment got Rohan up in a jiffy.

After the couple had made themselves presentable and Raj had returned from his morning run, the family sat down for breakfast. The leg pulling continued over the meal and Rohan found himself enjoying immensely being with the family.

The next few days were a blur for each member of the Singhania clan as well as for Rohan. Ajay showed the town to Rohan and also caught up with his childhood friends. The Singhanias had welcomed Rohan with open arms and Anju had practically adopted him as her second son.

Life settled down again but the only thing that troubled Ajay was the fact that his mother knew nothing about his relationship with Rohan. That problem too was gotten over with, when one day the issue of Ajay's marriage came up over tea with their neighbour, Ali.

Ali was an observant man, being a psychologist, and had guessed the truth about Ajay's and Rohan's relationship a long time back. He had tactfully steered the conversation in that direction as he felt that nothing positive would come from keeping Anju in the dark.

An awkward silence had descended in the drawing room when Anju had asked Ajay if he had a girl in mind. Ajay, his cheeks flushing, could only look between his father and Rohan, searching for a way out of the predicament he found himself in.

At that moment, Anju had burst out laughing; pointing to Ajay's confused face. "I wish… I wish I had a camera! You silly boy, I'm your mother. Think you ought to have learnt by now that you cannot keep anything from me! But no, you had to go scheming with your father to keep me in the dark. Too bad I'm too smart for the both of you," she had managed to gasp out between fits of laughter. Chuckling at the astonished look on the faces of the men sitting around her, she pointed towards Ajay and Rohan and said, "I know."

"You knew. And all that while we had to…," stumbled Rohan as everybody, including him, joined Anju in her laughter.

It had been two weeks since that evening and life couldn't be better for the younger couple, for now they could be themselves inside the Singhanias' home. Rohan wanted them to come out to Ajay's friends too, and the latter had agreed to do it when they went out to dinner with them at Hotel Venice.

Hotel Venice was a three-star hotel and the only one offering the ambience befitting a hotel in Pathankot. It was located on Dhangu Road and was a ten-minute drive from Model Town.

Dinner went extremely well, and Ajay received another shock when he came out to his friends, finding out that two of his other friends were a couple too. They all had a hearty laugh at his pathetic gaydar's expense and soon it was back to their usual leg pulling, just like old times.

Slowly and steadily, the group began to thin as it reached curfew times for the girls and the boys took them home, till only Ajay and Rohan were left. After clearing the bills, they exited the hotel. On his way out, Rohan went to the washroom and asked Ajay to get the car.

Ajay sauntered over to the deserted parking lot, humming to himself. There was only one other vehicle and it was parked next to his own, in the far end of the lot. Ajay could make out two figures near the cars as he approached them.

The unmistakable sound of an argument between a man and his girlfriend reached him and as he got within earshot, he heard the girl scream for help. Ajay saw her struggling under the man's grasp and he ran over to help her. With sheer horror, his eyes caught the glimpse of a gun in the man's hand and before he could do anything, a shot rang through the air. Ajay stood frozen in his place, just feet away from the fallen girl, as the man noticed his presence. Panicking, the man ran to his car, put it into reverse and stepped on the gas, the tires screaming their protest. Ajay had broken out of his trance and was running toward the lifeless body of the girl when the reversing car hit him with a force that threw him several feet into the air.

"AJAY!" Rohan's cry filled the parking lot as he saw his boyfriend's body fall to the ground like a rag-doll, with a resounding thump. He just stood there in shock while the car that hit his love, his life, escaped in front of him.

Ajay was cremated the following day after the post-mortem confirmed that the impact had killed him on the spot. Rohan's statement was taken and the owner of the car, Mohan Gupta, was arrested with the help of the licence number Rohan had provided. Mohan was a young man, in his early twenties, and the son of the local M.L.A (Member of Legislative Assembly), Madan Gupta.

Mohan pleaded not guilty in the court, and Madan used his contacts to give the incident an angle of a lover's quarrel between Ajay and the girl, which resulted in the latter's murder and the former committing suicide. Mohan was allowed to walk free since the key witness, Rohan, went missing and did not report to the court on time to testify against him. Rohan's statement in the FIR was altered and the case was announced as closed.

Raj and Anju were devastated. Not only had their only son been brutally murdered, Rohan was nowhere to be found. Add to that the fact that Ajay's name was tainted with the murder charge on him. Their neighbour, Ali, offered his support as the Singhania house mourned the loss of both its heir and its son-in-law. Ali somehow convinced Raj to fight the case in court. The defence lawyer, Suraj Mahajan, used the lack of evidence to his advantage and tilted the case in his client's favour.

Meanwhile, Madan Gupta left no stone unturned to make the lives of the Singhania couple a living hell. Their house was attacked and reduced to rubble by street goons, and both Raj and Anju were assaulted repeatedly when they dared to wander out onto the streets.

All efforts of the politician to break Raj and Anju into withdrawing the case were in vain. The couple fought back with vengeance and hatched a plan.

Raj stood outside Mohan Gupta's office in Patel Chowk with a determined look on his face. He walked to the door, climbing the small flight of stairs, and was stopped by the security guard.

"May I help you, sir?" the guard asked him tentatively.

"I need to see Mohan Gupta," Raj said to him, his voice devoid of any emotion. "Tell him Raj Singhania is here to meet him."

The guard had heard of Raj and his fight for justice on behalf of his son. It was public knowledge that Ajay's death was not a suicide, but the powerful position the Guptas held kept everybody's mouth shut.

The guard ushered Raj inside and asked the receptionist to inform Mohan of the unexpected visitor. Raj was called in moments later.

"Welcome, Mr. Singhania," Mohan said as Raj entered his office.

Mohan looked every bit the spoilt, rich brat he was. He wore a smug look on his face, convinced of the fact that the man in front of him could do nothing to harm him. He was still a bit unnerved, though, by the look of pure anger and contempt that Raj gave him. Gathering his nerves, he asked, "What would you like to have? Tea, coffee?"

"Nothing," Raj's icy voice replied.

"What happened that night has affected me as much it has affected you. I guess fate wanted events to play out that way. I'm really sorry about that episode."

"That episode you are referring to was my son's death," Raj said through clenched teeth. "How easily you apologize, thinking it will resolve everything."

"It was an accident. It really was," Mohan stated flatly. "That girl, Shivani, was out to ruin my family's reputation. That b**** got pregnant and was pestering me to marry her. What could I do? Your son saw everything, and yet instead of running away, he chose to help her. What did he want to prove? It was a personal matter between the two of us, and your son had no business interfering. I didn't want to kill him. It was his foolishness that got him killed." Mohan shrugged with the last statement.

"Look, Mohan, getting you sentenced to death for two murders won't bring my son back. I just want you to acknowledge that he was innocent and did not kill anyone, including himself."

"I never said he did those things," Mohan replied, relaxing back into his comfortable desk chair.

"Then tell this to everyone. Acknowledge it in public." Raj had a look of hope in his eyes.

"You know I can't do that," Mohan said, crushing that hope.

"All right then," Raj replied as he dug into his pockets and retrieved a pocket-recorder. "This will tell everybody that my son is innocent."

Mohan's eyes narrowed for a few seconds before he started laughing. "Do you really think that I'll let you walk out of here with that in your hand?" he asked.

"I don't 'think', Mohan, I know that I will walk out of here unharmed, and you will make sure that I do so." Raj took out a revolver and aimed it at Mohan. "You will sit there quietly while I leave."

Mohan did just that and more. Unnoticed by Raj, who had turned to leave, his hand slipped to the small alarm he had installed just for these occasions. As the security guard entered, Mohan sprang to his feet, screaming for him to shoot Raj.

Raj, expecting a bullet to hit him any moment, turned back towards Mohan, aiming his gun straight at the latter's heart. He closed his eyes and a single shot rang through the room. The guard looked in horror as his boss slumped in his chair, lifeless. Raj turned to look at the guard, the surprise on his face quickly turning into first realisation and then resignation. "You can shoot me now, if you want."

"If I shoot you, sir, with what face would I go back to my family?" the guard said as he hung his head.

The cassette was played in the court the next day and Ajay was cleared of the murder and suicide charges. No one came forward to testify against Raj; instead, each and every person who was present in the office that day testified that Mohan had been killed as an act of self-defence. Raj's victory against Mohan emboldened others to pursue corruption and embezzlement cases against the politician. Their house in Indira Colony was raided by Income Tax officials and all of their property and assets were frozen. Rohan was found in their house; bound, gagged and badly beaten up. This also joined the long list of felonies against the Guptas, who faced a sure life sentence.

As As Raj walked out of the court building, Anju beside him, journalists flanked him on either side, throwing out questions. One caught his attention.

"Mr. Raj, you and your wife were seriously injured, your house destroyed and finally you were accused of murder. At this age and stage, was it worth all this?"

Hugging his wife and with a voice that spoke volumes, Raj answered the journalist in a single sentence before walking away.

"My son was worth it."

This story is dedicated to all those who are denied justice at the hands of the corrupt Indian Judicial System.

1. A mangal sutra is an Indian symbol of Hindu marriage consisting of a gold ornament strung from a yellow thread, a string of black beads or a gold chain. It is comparable to a western wedding ring, and is worn by a married woman until her husband's death.

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