“It is lavender,” Aron told Sid, “This is what they were smelling of.” Sid had never seen lavender before in his life, but knew the name of the flower from books.
“They must have been carrying more of this,” Sid thought aloud to account for the smell, “In those huge backpacks.”
“That much lavender must cost a lot,” said Aron, “Hey, they even transported it without paying anything. They duped us with the singing.” He started laughing.
Sid was laughing too, “Don’t worry, they are going back with us, so you better take care not to become enthralled by her this time around.”
Aron was thinking, “Remember how they were in such a hurry to leave. They must be delivering a fresh crop of lavender.”
Soon however they put the couple away from their thoughts and got down to the business of unloading and arranging to transport the load to the buyer who would turn the grain to flour. It was a lot of work for the two friends, but in the end it went well. Their work was finished the same evening, so they had two nights to spend in the western big city. As they walked out of the grain merchant’s warehouse, they faced a street full of eateries of different shapes, sizes and aromas. They ordered pulao, biryani, and cheese paranthas; masala chaas and gulab jamun.
The flavors were spicy and the biryani seemed especially pungent to Sid, who was more used to eating food cooked by his mother at home in the village, or the simple fare that he himself could prepare at his place in the town. He found the chaas, which was only buttermilk with added flavors, to be a soothing drink.
After they paid for their meal, there was a commotion outside. Though the big city was always bustling, the buzz was unusual enough and the cashier at the eatery left his counter and went out to watch. Coming out Sid saw two stout policemen escorting a lean young man. It was more like they were dragging him along, with one of the cops firmly clasping the left arm of the unfortunate fellow while the other cop held the end of a thick rope which was tightly wound to the wrist of the man.
The three passed right outside the eatery. The prisoner looked at them and then away as he went. Sid gasped quietly as Aron put a heavy hand on his shoulder. Between the two policemen walked Dara who had traveled with them to the town. There was no sign of Maya.
To be continued…