فصل 11

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فصل 11

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Chapter eleven

London: John Verghese

They met at the small Italian restaurant, La Perla, in Greek Street, Soho. di@k had contacted John Verghese at Barings Bank a few days previously. He had arranged the lunch by claiming to be the close friend of Keith Lennox, and by mentioning Jacko.

John was tall and athletic in a truly striking way. He moved with the grace and confidence of a wild animal, yet his smile was kind. He seemed like a really nice human being. di@k noted from his light-brown skin colour that there was no doubt of his Anglo-Indian parentage.

Over the ‘antipasto’ di@k tried to find out just how much John knew about his own origins.

‘Well, I’ve been so incredibly lucky,’ he said. ‘After my parents were killed, Keith and Barbara were really wonderful. In fact, I don’t remember my real parents at all. I was too young. It was Keith and Barbara who felt like my real parents. I think I spent every holiday with them or with their family. Jane - you know Jane, their daughter - well Jane and I were even thinking of getting married at one point - but Uncle Keith stepped in and stopped it. Maybe it’s best - and my uncle and auntie in India were also incredibly kind and helpful.’

‘Your uncle and auntie?’ di@k queried.

‘Yes. I’m sure you must have run into them in Madras. Auntie Molly and Uncle Vish. They always visit me whenever they come over to the UK.’

di@k felt that the pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall into place. By the time the meal was over, di@k was sure that he knew what lay behind the twenty-year-old story.

di@k spent the next month collecting documents as evidence. He obtained a copy of John’s birth certificate from St Catherine’s House in the Strand. He traced the private hospital where John had been born and got copies of the receipts, paid for by Lennox. He confirmed that John had attended a well-known Catholic public school - and obtained copies of the school bills, also paid by Keith Lennox.

He obtained, through Ramu, some interesting records concerning the Hosur factory project. The company had originally been offered the land at a special, cheap price but this offer had ‘disappeared’. Instead, the company had paid forty per cent more for the land for their new factory. Vish and Molly had collected twenty per cent of the difference from the sellers. And Lennox had known of this and done nothing. Ramus documents included a copy of the original offer!

He also heard from Ned again, sending him a yellowing photograph of Lennox and Molly. They were standing close, looking into each other’s eyes. He had his arm around her. It was a picture of young lovers. How Ned had got hold of it he had no idea - but it was just one more small piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

Slowly and carefully, di@k built up a file proving extensive corruption by the Visvanathans under the protection of Keith Lennox. The only possible motives for Lennox’s action were either financial gain for himself or to hide the scandal of Molly and the illegitimate child. (di@k recalled the public disgrace which Keith would have experienced if his relationship had become known. Things have changed now, but at the time, mixed-race affairs were highly disapproved of by both Europeans and Indians.) In either case, he would have been in deep trouble if it had ever been made public. di@k felt a rising sense of anger. Revenge would be sweet!

Ramu had hinted in his letter that Nagarajan knew even more. It was not difficult for di@k to make up his mind to return to India. The thought of Lakshmi alone was enough.

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