Team #Alphabet Soup
It was very late by the time
Jennifer finished reading all the files and reports. She looked at her watch.
02:35 AM. She had another 5 hours before her meeting with the team. She decided
to make maximum use of her time and crawled into her bed.
Her sleep was interrupted by the
phone call from Tara.
“Good Morning, Jennifer. Where are
you? We are waiting for you.”
“Is it morning already?” she spoke
into the phone yawning. “Don’t worry, I will be there in a while.”
“Alright, we’ll see you soon then.”
said Tara and disconnected the call.
Jennifer reached the temple office.
She apologized for her delay in reaching the meeting.
“I was doing some research
regarding our case. I was looking for the profiles of metal smiths who could
help us. I came across a couple of them. There is one Mr. Aryan Ahuja. Looks
like he could help us. He is the type of man we are looking for.”
Tara and Shekhar’s faces lit up with recognition. That was exactly what
Jennifer was looking for.
“We know an Aryan Ahuja back in
Mumbai.” Said Shekhar.
“Where is this Aryan you mentioned
from, Jen- Jayalakshmi?”
Jennifer gave a look of warning to
“Mumbai. He owns an antique store
at 3rd Avenue-”
“Yes, the very same. He is our
neighbour. It never crossed my mind till now that he could be of some use to
us. Thanks Jayalakshmi and if all of you agree, we can talk to him right away”,
“What else do you know about him?
Is he a religious person? Will he understand the importance of this case?” –
“He moved to our neighbourhood 2
years ago. He visits the Gurudwara every Sunday and on festivals. But that
isn’t all. He frequents temples, churches and mosques. I don’t know if it is
because of his inquisitiveness about the religions or because he believes in
all faiths. I have never really felt the need to enquire from him. But one
thing I’m sure of. He is very knowledgeable in this field. He has been in this
business for a long time. He is a very good friend of mine. I’m sure he will
not hesitate to help us.”
Sudheeran said, “Can this Aryan
come down here and do the tests?”
Tara and Shekhar looked at each
other, “We could ask him. But don’t you think it is difficult to explain all
this to an outsider over the phone?”
“So, I will have to go with the
idol to Mumbai.” Sudheeran said more to himself than to the team.
Tara interrupted him knowing that
he was not in the right frame of mind to deal with the situation at hand, “Mr.
Varma, I think it will be better if you stay here as it will only induce
suspicion in the devotee’s minds if you leave. It will hardly take 2-3 days in
Mumbai. I can take the idol along with Jennifer and Shekhar to get it tested
from Aryan. If you want to send someone as a representative from your side,
please feel free to do so.”
Jennifer expressed her interest in
the assignment. She had so many questions. She had to be there in person to
listen to what Aryan Ahuja had to reveal about the idol.
“I think it is my family temple and
idol we are talking about. I do not want outsiders telling me what to do and
what not to do. Whether you like it or not Mrs. Dutta, someone responsible
among us will definitely look into the testing of the idol. If that means I
have to go, I will.” Jennifer noticed that Sudheeran was finding it very
difficult to keep his calm.
The police officer reminded
Sudheeran that the procession was scheduled for the next month and it wouldn’t
look good if he left Vajrakshipuram. Besides, all the official sanctions
required his signature. The officer said that he would accompany the team. It
would only look like an official visit to Mumbai.
Finally, Sudheeran agreed, “But Mr.
Dutta and the child cannot step out of Vajrakshipuram. He is still a suspect
and the child is the chosen one.” He looked at Tara and Jennifer.
“The two of you can take the idol. You will be accompanied by Ravi as a
representative from here.”
Though Tara had stayed away from
Roohi for her official tours, this time she was finding it very difficult to
leave her and Shekhar in an unknown place among unknown people. She asked him
to keep Roohi close. The chosen team left the same day for Kochi and took the
evening flight to Mumbai.
On arriving in Mumbai, Tara called
up Aryan requesting him to spare some of his time for them. He said that they
could visit him early the next morning at his shop as he received his regular
customers only later in the day.
Aryan’s shop stood out among the
other stores lining the street. It looked like a place where the who’s who of
Mumbai would shop to decorate their homes. Bronze and copper statues adorned
the glass windows. The whole shop was air-conditioned and the counter was right
in the end where Aryan used to sit on his plush leather chair. The section
close to his counter contained all the precious metal antiques and silverware.
Aryan had an excellent security system in place and there was always a guard
and a store attendant standing near the gates to guide customers inside the
Tara spoke first, “Hi Aryan!”
“Hey Tara! So you’re back from
Kerala? Shekhar had mentioned that all of you would be visiting Kerala to see
“Well, actually the procession is
next month. We had gone there to cover the festival for N9. So, will have to
return again. These are my friends. I met them in Kerala. They are in a bit of
trouble. I thought you could help them.”
“Hi, I am Ravi”, the inspector
introduced himself holding his hand out for Aryan.
“These are my partners.” he pointed
towards Jennifer and the other police official accompanying the trio. “We own a
museum in Kerala. We were out of town for a week and had left our assistant in
charge of the place. By the time we got back, our assistant was tricked into
buying an idol. We have reason to believe that the idol is fake. Will it be
possible for you to confirm and tell us?”
“Ofcourse Ravi.It would be a
pleasure to help you out!” Aryan replied while returning the introductory
They handed him the idol. He looked at it closely and said.
“This is real gold. What caused the
“They told the boy that the nose
ring was diamond. He believed it. He doesn’t have much knowledge in the field.
So we had a feeling there might be...”
“Hmm... Fair enough.” He looked at
the idol for a while longer.
“We’ll clear your doubts right
away. Come with me.”
Saying so, he took them into a dark
room. There were a couple of men working. He walked into his office. He applied
a gel behind the idol and turned on an instrument. The instrument had a screen
and a probe light was attached to it using a thin cable. He placed the probe
light on one end of the idol and began moving it gradually to the other end. As
he progressed, he looked into the screen and his mouth curved with the promise
of a smile on it. He switched off the instrument. He passed the idol through
another instrument. After that, he placed it on the table.
“Well Mr. –”, he looked at the
“Ravi.” He obliged.
“Yes, Mr. Ravi. I just subjected
your idol to an ultrasound testing. I am really sorry to say that your hunch
was right. This idol has been cleverly crafted. It has been well coated with
gold. Other metals, whether steel or iron, are all a lot less dense than gold.
But the inner metal used here is almost similar in density to that of gold. The
metal used here is tungsten. That is not all. Each part of this idol has been
made separately & welded together using some excellent craftsmanship. For
some reason, he didn’t want the makers to know what they were making. Or he
didn’t want you all to know who made this. ”
Jennifer spoke for the first time,
“So do you mean to say that a person having a basic knowledge in welding could
have welded the pieces together?”
“Of course! That is possible.” He
picked up the idol and looked at it.
“The welding is good. Not perfect.
But good enough”
“What kind of setup is required to
weld this small idol”, asked Tara.
Aryan smiled and replied “With the
latest technology, we can buy Oxy-gas torches which can weld a lot of
materials. It won’t take much time to master the same. The technology has been
there all this while. The size & weight of the machines and welding rods is
reduced every year.”
Tara felt that someone who knew the
idol too well & was an absolute master mind was behind the forging of the
idol. He not only had a wide knowledge about metals, but he had also done his
homework very well. The maker either had direct access to the idol’s features.
Or someone from inside the temple helped him with the exact details of the
idol. She knew he was within her reach. But who was he?