This is part 10 of the serial novel.
Ram was listening intently. “My dad warmed towards Krishnan later. He began to respect him for his scruples and his hard work. Krishnan did extremely well in his company: he became a senior project manager in a short time.”
“When did Krishnan join the family business, then?” Ram looked at Vasantha, who was tenderly caressing Rao’s photo in her lap.
“After he lost the job due to the recent recession. He was not particularly interested in joining dad’s business. But dad insisted Krishnan help him with managing the expanding business.”
Ashok was reading a newspaper in the balcony, ostensibly disinterested in the goings-on, but listening intently to every bit of conversation.
“Krishnan must have been waiting for this. After all, you don’t get good offers in this economy?”
“Not really. Garment was not the business he was interested in or knew much about. He has been in the IT for more than ten years. His pet dream was to start a big animation company. He merely agreed to manage dad’s business for a short while till he could secure a bank loan for his own venture.”
“Where’s your younger sister?”
“Shweta will come home anytime now. Since she’d be going to Hyderabad as per dad’s wish, she is busy handing over her responsibilities to others.”
“I’d like to speak to both the sons-in-law,” said Ram, casting a glance at Ashok. Ashok sauntered up, smiled and shook hands with Ram. “Krishnan has gone to make arrangements for the forthcoming religious functions. I am here at your service,” Ashok made a mock bow.
In the next few minutes, Ashok said how Rao trusted him on all matters relating to the business. “I was really fortunate to be Rao’s close confidante. He wanted me to take over, as he felt he couldn’t handle all the stress alone. He wanted me to take over the entire operation at Hyderabad. It’s really unfortunate…”
Ram broke in. “Do you think Rao had enemies in the family or in the business circles?” he said, addressing the question to no one in particular.
“Absolutely none,” chorused Mrs. Rao and Vasantha. Ram looked hard at Ashok, but he said nothing. His eyes said I’d tell you more if you speak to me alone.
* * *
Ram’s investigations at the head office at Commercial Street pointed to a belligerent Krishnan wading through the accounting quagmire. Right then, he looked quite shaken.
“Why did you meet Rao so urgently at home, when you had already spent several hours together at the office,” asked Ram.
“Rao wanted to discuss with me some big changes in business that he planned for the future.”
“Why was Ashok not present there? After all, he has worked longer years at the company?”
Krishnan thought through this question. “Ashok had already made his preference known. He had wanted to work for the Hyderabad branch; so Rao must have wanted to ascertain my interests.”
“So what were your interests? To take over all of the three Bangalore branches?”
The accusation hit Krishnan so hard that he simply gaped.
Ram continued to hammer him with questions.
“I have already spoken to your lawyer. What was the hurry about dividing the property or writing a will? And that too, in your presence without inviting Ashok? Were you twisting Rao’s hands in some way?”
Krishnan turned sharply to look at Vasantha. By shielding Ashok, were they jeopardizing their own safety?
As he turned to face Ram, he thought he caught a smirk on Ashok’s face. Or was it his imagination?
To be continued…
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