An excerpt from ‘A Bachelor in Goa’

Five days ago, Sheila Watson’s rejuvenating sojourn in Goa had come to an end.

“Oh, I wish I could stay for some more days, even though I am missing my daughter so much,” she had said to me when she was leaving for the airport around noon.

Few hours later, on way to Calangute I had stopped my bike at a grocery store, when a taxi, which had gone past, suddenly applied brakes and reversed to where I was standing.

Sheila’s head popped out, “Hi, Syed,” she exclaimed.

I was surprised, “What happened; you didn’t go?”

“I missed flight,” she replied with a big smile.

I couldn’t help asking, “Are you sure you missed the flight?”

She shook her head in amusement and said, “Come, we are going back to Fisherman.”

Then I followed her taxi all the way back to Fisherman. There I helped her to carry the luggage to the foyer and then looked around for Juliana to open the locked door of the cottage that Sheila had vacated a few hours back. But I couldn’t find her anywhere around; not until I had reached the slope that went down to the vale where I saw her daughters playing with their maid.

“Where is memsahib?” I called out to her.

She only shook her head. Sheila was waiting in the restaurant so I turned back.

“I guess we’ll have to wait for Juliana. She has probably gone out somewhere,” I told Sheila.

We had sat down for barely a minute when I heard scraping of footsteps from behind me. I turned around and saw Juliana coming in her slippers.

“Hello Sheila, so you have come back,” she said to Sheila in surprise.

Then Sheila went on to explain how she had missed her flight and I was left wondering from had Juliana emerged all of a sudden. One of the cottages was still occupied; the second one that had been vacated by Sheila was locked from outside, so that left only the third cottage which was still incomplete and without any fixtures. And as such, if she had come from there, then what had she been doing there?

I got my answer when Juliana had gone to her room to fetch the keys of the lock of the second cottage…

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