Destiny's Daughter - Chapter 12
by Eva Bell
Go back to Chapter I
Dr. Bhandari had called for Andrew that evening.
“Margaret, I’m taking the young man out for a drink. I know you’ve been only giving him insipid tender coconut water. I’ll show him a little bit of our town too.”
Now they sat across each other at the Karavalli Hotel. Andrew was facing the sea, and though in the darkness, the water wasn’t visible, the sound of the breakers lashing against the shore resonated in his mind.
“The old guy has brought me out for a reason. This is not just courtesy to Margaret’s guest,” he thought, as he sipped his drink.
“This feels good. I haven’t touched any strong drink since I left the Taj at Bombay. Looks like I’ve got to steady myself for whatever the doctor is going to ask.”
As he nibbled on the hors d’ oeuvres he heard the doctor ask,
“I heard you were Amy’s Consultant in the Midlands.”
“Would you by any chance know of a surgeon called Gopal Rai?”
He tensed, and the old man noticed.
“Bad news eh? Was he in love with Amy at any time?”
“Doctor, why don’t you ask Amy herself?”
“If she’s kept it a secret even from her mother, it must be something painful. Tell me all Andrew. Obviously they parted on a bad note, because the guy is here to stir up trouble. Margaret is surely in the dark and it is so unlike Amy to hide anything from her.”
Andrew felt trapped. If Ameesha had kept it a secret, who was he to tell anyone her story. But Dr. Bhandari was persistent.
“The trouble you witnessed this morning was stage managed. I got it from the horse’s mouth. My tenant had been plied with drinks and paid a bribe to embarrass Amy. It was all done by Gopal Rai, and he has sworn to bring about her downfall.”
It was Andrew’s turn to be surprised.
“Gopal is working in England. Besides, how would he know of Amy’s whereabouts? And would he travel down here to cause mischief?”
“Gopal happens to be my son-in-law, the husband of my dead daughter. He blames Amy for murdering his wife in cold blood. He didn’t know that Amy lived in this town until he came to bother me about another matter. Someone must have talked to him about the hospital, and it didn’t take him long to put two and two together. Now he wants revenge.”
“He’s a liar. Amy did not kill his wife.”
“Then tell me. Let me hear the truth. I never wanted Shailaja to marry that fellow though he is a relative from her mother’s side. But my headstrong daughter married him anyway. We knew about it only months after she was dead. He didn’t even have the decency of informing her parents of such a tragedy.”
“Good Heavens! What a man!”
“He married my daughter to spite Amy, but he never loved her. Of that I’m sure. He did not even clear his exams. Just wasted his time in England enjoying himself. I hear he is back in Bombay doing nothing except drink from morning till night. I guess his parents will look out for another rich bride.
Gopal came to me about a month ago, claiming his share of Shailaja’s property. Of course I showed him the door. But he’s been staying with other relatives. He cannot bear the thought that Amy has moved on with her life, and has made a name for herself in this area. He’s been plotting ways in which to hurt her.”
“Then you must know the truth,” Andrew said, “It was your daughter who spitefully broke up their engagement, and made Amy the laughing stock of the entire Indian fraternity. I can’t believe how educated people can be so narrow minded.”
Andrew poured out the whole story.
“Shailaja was always a difficult girl. She had her knife into Amy even from her school days. But no complaint reached me from either Margaret or Amy. I thought my daughter would have outgrown her mean nature. Anyway, I never doubted Amy’s integrity,” said Dr. Bhandari. “She takes after her mother who would never hurt a fly. But why did Amy keep this secret from us?”
“Shailaja was your daughter. How could she expect you to understand?”
“I’m glad I know the truth now. I’ll make sure that Gopal leaves this town within the next twenty four hours. He will never worry Amy again.”
Both Margaret and Ameesha were waiting for Andrew to return.
“Had a nice time with the doctor?” Margaret asked.
“Couldn’t have been better.”
They sat quietly on the verandah for a while. Then Andrew said,
“Now that I know that Ameesha is well settled and can hold her own under any circumstance, I can pack my bags and see the rest of the country.”
He didn’t say how much he wanted to stay back and become a part of her life.
There had been girls in his life, but surgery had been a possessive mistress, leaving very little time for serious commitment to any one woman. Besides, the experience with Jenna had been rather unpleasant. He had been attracted to Ameesha from the start. She was different from the English girls. Neither was she like the other Asian women. Who knows what might have happened if she had stayed on in England? They had always bonded well.
“So you’ll be traveling around India I guess,” said Margaret.
“That’s why I came. This was a deviation,” he bluffed.
“Why don’t you ask Amy to take a holiday too? I can still manage to hold the fort. The two junior doctors are hard working and responsible. She needs a break from the hospital, though you’ll never hear her say it. I know she’ll feel safe in your company.”
Andrew couldn’t believe his ears. But there was no comment from Ameesha. Was her silence assent?
“What an unexpected bonanza!” he thought, “I know this will give me some time with the dear girl. Anything can happen. People here believe in Fate. Perhaps this will be my rendezvous with my destiny. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed.”
He dared not get his hopes too high. He could make her the happiest girl in the world. But would she think so too?
Ameesha drove to Dr. Bhandari’s clinic the next day.
“I’m going on holiday,” she said, and the doctor’s eyebrows arched upwards.
“All of a sudden? When did you decide?”
“Last night. Mother put the idea in my head. I’m traveling with Andrew. He’d like to see something of India before he goes back. Will you keep an eye on Mother when I’m away?”
“Of course. Need you ask? And now I’ve got some good news for you. I want to do something in memory of Shailaja.”
Ameesha shivered. She could hardly breathe.
“He knows,” she thought, “He thinks I killed his daughter.”
“I want to add a state-of-the art Labour Suite to your hospital in her memory. You can call it the Shailaja Bhandari Memorial wing.”
“No,” Ameesha burst out, “You don’t know anything.”
She was weeping now, and the old man got up and put his arms around her.
“I know everything. I also know what a kind and generous person you are. You will measure up to my expectations. My daughter and Gopal messed up your life. Forgive them and you will be free. There’s a nice Greek word Katergeo – put away, render all those terrible feeling ineffective, so that they bother you no more. You can do it.”
Ameesha clung to him, weeping all over his shirt.
“Thank you,” she said, “Thank you for chasing my demons all away.”
“Destiny’s Daughter!” he said, as he planted a kiss on her forehead.End of the novel
Eva Bell's Novel “Destiny’s Daughter!” concludes here.