Venkatesh was doing his Sandhya vandan when his mobile rang. He picked it with his left hand and spoke. His mother sitting near the entrance of the Altar room looked on disapprovingly. Sandhya Vandan was a very sacred ritual and she did not approve of her son’s behavior.
But then Venkatesh had always been like that. Always in a hurry to reach to the top. When his father had been alive and he had finished his PUC (12th board in Karnataka0, his father; a Purohit (Priest, poojari) had asked him to join as his assistant. But Venkatesh had refused. Though being trained in the rituals from childhood itself Venkatesh refused to take on the family profession and instead asked to be allowed to do B.Com and then later on CA. He believed that CA’s minted money. But later on he realized that it was too much hard work and then shifted to MBA but that too was not easy.
So he shifted his focus on doing some business. He and his friend set up a shop selling automobile spare parts. Business was slow and it was evident that hard work was needed. At that time his father was not keeping good health and his assistant was sick too.
That day he asked his son to occupy him for a ‘homa’. (yagna). Venkatesh did accompany his father. And he enjoyed that a lot, the influential people there, the food and the money. His father being of the righteous types distributed a good part of the dakshina (gift, offering by the host) to the others who took part in the ceremony. Venkatesh was irritated but he realized that being a priest was not a bad option.
From that day he trained under his father. His father though happy at his decision; knew his son well. He knew Venkatesh was doing all this just for the money and so he would take his assistant for all the important functions while for the routine stuff he would take his son.
As fate would have it, Venkatesh’s father slipped on the stairs while returning after his bath at the temple pond. He died then and there.
Venkatesh proclaimed himself to be the successor and sidelined the assistant. Such was his charisma and his connections that the assistant could not do anything but run away from the scene.
He married a timid girl from a poor family. She was so mesmerized by Venkatesh’s charm and wealth that she would comply to whatever he said. So he went on with his wily ways. In no time he had cars on rent, and what not. His mother would protest that he was going against ‘Dharma’ or the dictates of the scriptures. But who would listen to her.
She shifted to a tiny cottage at the back of their house. She led a simple life teaching the young women of the village.
Karuna, Venkatesh’s wife conceived after 5 years and the pregnancy was tough. They had a baby girl. Venkatesh wanted a second child, a son but the Doctor advised against it. It would mean risking Karuna’s life. All the love and the wealth was showered on Megha, their daughter.
Megha’s grandmother would look after her and would try to instil some values in her.
The town by then had grown and there were attractions galore. Megha had inherited her mother’s beauty and her father’s love for everything attractive. So she loved jewels, gadgets and travels, in no particular order.
By the time she was in her degree, she had a collection of jewels, and clothes. But desires; can they ever be fulfilled?
She looked at her rich friends, the daughters of industrialists and she felt that she needed to belong. What she had was not enough and she wanted more.
It was at that time she befriended Beena. Beena said she does part-time work. She sells beauty products going door-to-door and earned well too. Megha jumped at the idea and asked her parent’s permission. Though her grandmother protested saying what was the need, her parents agreed without even a proper inquiry.
It was when Megha was in the final year of her degree that one day she did not return home even though it was 9 p.m. The parents searched high and low while the grandmother sat in a corner brooding. Something was not right she knew. The dresses that Megha wore nowadays, her perfume, her demeanor had all changed. She had pointed it out but the parents had just ignored her.
At around 10.30 p.m they got a call from the police station asking them to report to the police station immediately.
The next day the headlines in the newspaper read ‘ Racket Busted. Purohit’s daughter involved‘