Glass Curtain by Thaddeus Hutyra

chapter 22

 

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There was Princess Abu upon a time...

Author:Thaddeus Hutyra

 

Steven Mac Dantosch and Tadek Vangard found themselves in Bombay already on the second day after Carlos kidnapped Melissa Charleroi.They swore to themselves they have to find Melissa Charleroi and take her away from Carlos.They had to do it before the ultimatum of Carlos was expired.They did not dare to think what would happen if they were too late.They ,naturally,had no slightest an idea about the mysterious strategy Beehive.At one point,however,Steven Mac Dantosch did question his friend whether by some unthinkable possibility he might indeed have the strategy,knowing nothing about it.
-“Then take it away from me!”- Tadek Vangard answered then angrily and his eyes were scowling.Since then they did not question themselves about the strategy.The theme was simply vicious.They bought a used jeep and looked into every corner of the town,getting through the spectre of the still existing castes,from the areas of affluent neighbourhoods of Sikh and Hindu families to the slums of the disfortunate ones,the Pariahs, who were born by the twist of the fate to the lowest caste.They began their search,of course,from the Main Post Office and tried to get some information about the owner of the poste restante box under the name Carlos from the clerks who,however,were unable to supply them with a positive answer.They circled like crazy among many districts of the town,from Colaba through the so called Back Bay on the coast,along Marine Drive,Chowpathy Beach situated next to the botanic gardens named Hanging Gardens,to many other districts.They searched every hotel,from the five stars ones to the low budget ones which were designated for ordinary back packer tourists.Unsuccessfully…It was already well to the night and the sky was full of delicious stars when they had to stop their search,feeling exasperated.There were lovers in numerous parts of the town,holding each other,who listened to the thousand and one fables the brilliant sky stars narrated to them.Beggars and disfortunate ones were as numerous.Strange indeed was this world,at least in Bombay.They returned to their hotel,the Taj Mahal Hotel,which was built by the British already in the second half of the seventieth century,soon after the British troops took Bombay away from the Portugeese Army in 1661.They were seated on the terrace long till the deepness of the night and sweated terribly because of the dry and warm air mixed with their psychological discomfort.They counted on a sort of a miracle and tried to guess where Melissa Charleroi might be actually.They dreaded for her and felt as if they had double the fever above the allowance for them to live.They felt dying mentally.Melissa Charleroi was part of them.As if of one body she shared with them.At one point Tadek Vangard felt some sparkle appeared inside his mind.Was it the divine spark? Whatever was it,he felt himself better instantly and had an impression the hope he seemed to have lost reappeared in him with a new strength.
-“Steven…”- He turned himself to his friend who seemed to be immobilized by despair.
-“Steven…”- He reapeated. His friend brought his head up from above the table and looked at him with tremendously tired,dispirited and dying eyes in which there were no sparkles of life.
-“Steven…”- Tadek Vangard reapeated.
-“Shit!…What!…”- Steven Mac Dantosch yelled. A deep surprise sculptured itself on the Tadek Vangard’s face but only for a moment.He realised instantly his friend was not himself and his reaction was an expression of his frustration.
-“Oh,sorry,Tadek…I am not myself…”- Steven Mac Dantosch hurried to apologise for his outburst.
-“Never mind,Steven.I have an impression we might puzzle the labirynth and find Melissa…”
-“What?…What have you said?…”- The light blue eyes of Steven Mac Dantosch began to glisten instantly and he seemed to be filled with an energy which came to him from nowhere.Like if he had a power to charge himself from the stars.
-“I think I know someone who can help us.”- Tadek Vangard felt himself a bit victorious.
-“Who?…Say it for God’s sake…”
-“Wait.I think I must explain to you a bit this and that.”
-“Go ahead.”
-“Well,before I emigrated out of Poland,I was not only a student at the Jagiellonian University of Cracow and an activist of the Solidarity movement,but also part of one charity group which assisted the needed in India with practical help.We sent parcels with clothes and medicines to Lonavla,which is situated about fifty kilometres north of Bombay…”
-“I do not see any connection to Melissa in what you are saying,for Heaven’s sake…”- Steven Mac Dantosch interrupted.
-“Wait until I finish…Don’t be so impatient,O.K?”- Tadek Vangard gave a scowling look at his friend.
-“Sorry.”-His friend murmured.
-“…We sent the parcels to an orphanage in Lonavla.It was then when I made friends with a Polish nun,Maria,who is one of those who run the orphanage.We corresponded with each other.She,herself,had a tragic life.During the second world war her parents were sent by the Soviets to Siberia.You know what the temperatures are there...Reaching minus fifty Centigrade...She was only ten years old then.Her parents died soon afterwards and she managed to escape to China with a number of people.Only she stayed alive and finally managed to get to India,where she became a nun and sacrifieced her life to running the orphanage.India became her country,much the same way as for our American friend,doctor Jack Strauss.”
-“And you think she might help us.”
-“I think so.You wouldn’t believe it,but nuns sometimes know much more than an ordinary man of the street.” They both felt a miraculous energy was filling them fast and radiated within them.
-“Then…we go in the morning there.”-Steven Mac Dantosch decided and knew this was the decision of his friend as much.
-“We have only two hours sleep left.”- Tadek Vangard joked.He was not surprised he managed to joke actually.Hope was one of the stars on the canopy of heaven.He had an impression he heard a filharmonic concert of “Seven Gates of Jerozolima”,performed by the stars on the night sky and conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki,a worldwide renowned Polish composer as famous as Witold Lutoslawski and their predecessors,Jan Ignacy Paderewski and Fryderyk Chopin.The concert beamed at him even during the two hours sleep.When he woke up early in the morning he did not feel tired.Neither did Steven Mac Dantosch.The popular saying hope could do miracles seemed to be true. They travelled by a completely packed train,with passangers even on the roofs of the train carrages.Associated with this were unacceptable noises,stench of the sweat,hit of the tropical day and simply all the devils of overpopulated country as India was.Nevertheless,people were friendly and their curiosity was endless.It was still late morning by the time they got to Lonavla,a small town rather of up to twenty thousand inhabitants.The clocks did not show the noon yet when they appeared before the orphanage which the nun Maria ran with other catholic nuns.The orphanage itself was built of a white granite and had a large rather,square like courtyard surrounded by the buildings in which there were living quarters for the nuns and the orphans as well as the school.They were welcomed by about twenty nuns at once who seemed to run to them with open arms.Some of them were of European origin and some were Indian.Tadek Vangard did not waste time and introduced himself as first,saying his name and his country of origin.One of the nuns,about sixty years old,stepped then ahead of other nuns and welcomed him,letting him know she is the one he corresponded with.They kissed each other on their cheeks,something unprecedented taking into the account the nuns swore their affection only to God.They were brought to a flat designated only for eventual guests and used by the visiting priests so far.They,however,let know the nuns they needed to speak to them urgently and already in the early afternoon they were seated together with them around a large table in a conference room.Tadek Vangard had the Polish nun Maria on his right side and Steven Mac Dantosch sat next to nun Madeleine who ran the meeting.They felt here among the nuns like in the God’s House,and,trusting them,narrated their story about Melissa Charleroi and partially about themselves.The nuns were indignant at Carlos methods.The holy signs of the cross danced among them and seemed to be at a furious work to discover the truth on where Melissa Charleroi might be at present,because just this was actually on the minds of all of them.At one point nun Madeleine stood off the table,approached sister Maria,whispered something to her ear and both of them excused themselves for a moment.They left the conference room.Ten minutes later they returned and their faces beamed with triumph.
-“I think we have probably found a clue which will eventually bring you to that unfortunate child,Melissa…”- Sister Maria took voice and spoke directly to Tadek Vangard and Steven Mac Dantosch.They did not dare to interrupt her.It was still too early,in their minds,for expressing whatever triumph.
-“We have just called to our friends in Hindu temple,situated half the way on a mountain-side of a mysterious Mount Abu,which is next to a town which have the same name,Mount Abu.”- Sister Maria continued.-“Already for some time numerous murders had a place in the town Mount Abu,unresolved so far and on the mount itself there has been a strange traffic for some time to the top of the mount and back.Strangely,the traffic normally takes place at night.The strangest is the fact that nothing ever,not any object was found on the top of the mount and the temple of our Hindu friends is the only object on the mount.The mysterious strangers appear and disappear like ghosts every time they are there.However,our Hindu friends from the temple did noticed a jeep early in the morning two days ago and they are ready to swear they saw a shape of a girl seated next to a body builder like shaped driver…”
-“Hurrah!”-Tadek Vangard was carried away by his feelings.He beamed now with triumph like the nuns earlier when they brought the news.Steven Mac Dantosch was cool minded.His eyes,however,showed signs of emotions like if he,himself was a guitar played by some virtuoso.
-“Is it far to Mount Abu?”-He simply asked.
-“About six hours north by train.”- Sister Maria answered.
-“Is there any train going there within the nearest hours?”
-“Not really.The earliest one is a few minutes before midnight and if you go with this train you are around six a.m. in the town Mount Abu.There is not really far to the mount which bears the same name,from there.”The rest of the day and early evening they spent with sister Maria.The other nuns had their duties in bringing up the orphans and schooling them.They walked with her on the courtyard and observed the life within the orphanage.The children seemed to have here everything they needed.When they returned to the terrace just outside of their guest room,they sat down next to a wooden table and were sipping an Indian tea.Sister Maria narrated them some episodes from her dramatic childhood,under the Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union,earlier in the vicinity of Kiev,just close to the border with Poland and later in Siberia,and then in China when she was still a child brought up by one good Chinese family until the time she decided to go away and found herself in India.She was curious of their lives but any time they mentioned Melissa Charleroi she grimaced with pain.
-“The town and the mountain itself,Mount Abu,took the name from a girl who once lived there in the legendary times…”- She announced to them at one point.
-“According to the legend,a girl Abu escaped from Cannibals,bandits and violators who killed men and raped women and the nation.She took refuge on the mountain.When the Cannibals were close to finding her,inhabitants of the neighbourhoods stood up in her defence and soon afterwards there was an army formed with her as the one who was their princess.She was only ten years old and they have cherished her like a goddess.They triumphed over the Cannibals and people lived peacefully ever since then.In commemoration of the girl who united them against the Cannibals and let them from victory to victory over the Cannibals,they named the mountain where all this began as Mount Abu…”
-“Impressive,indeed.”- Tadek Vangard whispered.
-“And now this…The new episode with one more girl…”- Sister Maria seemed to be lost in her deep thoughts,perturbed by the fact of one more evil.
-“I am sure,the new Cannibals,whoever they are, will end in no less terrible way as the ancient ones…They have awoken the princess Abu…God bless both of you and Melissa Charleroi.”- She added,with her mind in a mode of preaching.Two hours before midnight they bid farewell to the nuns and at a midnight hour were already going by train to Mount Abu.They were sure princess Abu was awoken and waited for them…To be continued…Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail address:tadekhutyra@hotmail.com or:tthbe@yahoo.com