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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chapter 23 - The Virgin with Daisies

Two sleeping pills and a tall glass of warm milk later, Khushi attempted to sleep. ASR was furiously banging away on his keyboard seated next to her on the bed as she watched his worried face. A sudden surge of affection filled her when she realized she could count on him, no matter what. The rest of her world was in tatters.

Garima had tried calling her. News of Payal’s arrest reached them within minutes, sending Garima and Sasi into frenzied search for a good lawyer. Garima appealed to Khushi to let her know that she was safe and asked for forgiveness on Payal’s behalf. Khushi wanted to forget the episode had ever happened and if she could will it away, she would have. But the stark duplicity shocked her gentle nerves.

ASR pored through the email from Akash and Avni. The serial numbers from Sabres were not merely factory order numbers. Avni, the expert in WW2 cryptography, had deciphered the numbers using the Enigma cryptography made popular by Germans during the WW2 era. The numbers had translated themselves to a ditty that made no sense to ASR. He read the ditty many times over, but it did not manifest into anything he had ever heard or learned. 

“Khushi, do you know what this ditty could mean?” he asked.


He noted that she had finally managed to fall asleep. The decoding of the ditty will need to wait.

At that moment, the door bell rang, shaking ASR from his deep thoughts. Who could it be at this hour?


“NK! What are you doing here?”
“Can I come in, before I freeze to death?” NK’s apologetic eyes sought comfort.
“Come in.” ASR stepped aside letting him in.
“What brings you here?” ASR was curt and the tone of rudeness showed his bitterness of not being part of the crux of the Sabres case. 

“Look, I need to explain to you why you were not told about anything. But do you mind pouring me a drink first?” NK urged as he took off his winter jacket and gloves.
ASR brought two whiskey glasses with golden liquid and handed one to NK. Making light of the tension between them, NK joked, “Ah! I see you’ve graduated to Scotch. No more bourbon!”

“I don’t like masqueraders and fakers.” ASR’s blunt rebuttal cleared any delusions for NK.

“ASR, don’t make it more difficult than it already is. I was specifically told by Kevin not to involve you in any of this. We knew there was a mole. I suspected it was Gitu, but when I found out that she works for the CIA, we found ourselves in the midst of our bosses in both agencies embroiled in turf wars and power struggle. It took a lot of negotiations and back and forth before we could reach a working plan. Gitu and I were under a lot of pressure, we could not have shared anything.”

NK paused before continuing, “In any case, I am off the case and so is Gitu. We’ve both tendered our resignations.”
“Why? You don’t have to feel guilty for doing your jobs.”
“Its not guilt. We don’t want to live with uncertainty and our jobs looming over heads.”
ASR raised one eyebrow not quite comprehending where this was headed.
“We are in love, ASR. I proposed and she accepted.” NK clarified with a short smile.
“Wow! When were you planning to tell me?”
“You’re the first to know.”

“Wow! Congratulations. While the world burns all around you, you go on with your life like nothing happened. The master minds behind Sabres are still out there somewhere, Kevin is only too happy to close the case and my best friend and partner is getting married. I feel…I don’t know what I feel.” ASR stood up shaking his head.

“We have the Sabres, we have the guys who were after Khushi and we have the snitch. I think it’s a good day’s work ASR. We will never completely infiltrate the mafia or get to the root of the organization, they are just too many. You know they will lie low for a while now, leaving us no leads. This case is dormant at best for as long as I can see.” NK reasoned.

“Fuck! Dormant? Nothing’s dormant! Khushi’s life is still in danger and unless we find out what those Sabres meant to the mafia, she’s never safe.”

ASR debated whether he should talk about the decryption of serial numbers on Sabres, he decided against it.
He suddenly recalled the final missing piece of the puzzle - the Sabre tooth tiger and the serial number on it. He could not let NK know that he was still in hot pursuit of the case. He could not let anyone know. It was best to let the world think the case was over. It was safer for Khushi if the mafia thought the FBI had left them alone.

It was time to visit the Isaacson bungalow to fit the final piece of puzzle.


“Coffee?” Khushi offered as ASR trudged through the kitchen, the scotch from the previous still wreaking havoc on his temper.
“Thanks!” he leaned over and kissed her cheek. The domestic scene was so appealing he could almost feel it becoming part of his daily routine. He would welcome the day.
“What did NK have to say?” she asked over the steaming cup. Her eyes had sunk into hollows more than ever.
“He came to apologize on behalf of Gitu and him. They are quitting their jobs and getting married.”
“Hmm, that’s good. They are good together.” she noted, “I hope it’s not because of guilt. I mean, I am mad at Gitu for not telling me that she was undercover, but, it’s a job I guess. And I can understand that.”
“This is not over, Khushi. We still don’t know who master minded the operations. By the way, I have something for you.” He opened the drawer next to his laptop table and handed out a piece of paper to her.

“Does any of this make sense to you?”
She read the paper a few times and shook her head.
“It seems like a short ditty. Where is this from?”
“My cryptographer friends decrypted it from the serial numbers on the Sabres.” He offered.
Khushi read the poem out loud in an attempt to decipher the meaning

“Coveted by fair maidens for purity
Peeking from window sills dusted country
Curvy paths seer through crimson virginity
Count me daisies in ones, fours, and fives and twenty
Blue vases caress your plentiful bounty  
Ne’er shan’t we forget the ones in blue dainty
 Oh lovely virgin with daisies, thee of eternal beauty”

“A poem on daisies?” Khushi asked quizzically, “ I wish they didn’t write riddles. It would be infinitely more easy if they just told us what those dratted numbers meant!” she sounded exasperated as she threw herself on the sofa.

“Its some sort of code. A code to something. I wish we had the document on Saber Tooth tiger from Isaacson. I am sure the final clue lies in the sculpture.”

The two of them sat quietly, ruminating over their options as the silence in the room descended portending gloom. ASR began clearing days old newspapers from the coffee table to save his sanity when the nondescript file folder caught his attention.

He picked it from the pile and a yellow sticky on the cover drew his attention

“A parting gift from Gitu and me - NK”

Curious, he opened the file and almost shouted with joy.

“Hallelujah! Praise the lord!” he exulted with naked excitement. Khushi got up startled and rushed to his side.

The two of them peered into the file and neither could contain the rush of adrenalin.

ASR roughly swiped the coffee table off all papers and tchotchkes, and carefully laid the file on the table. Khushi crushed his arm unable to control her reaction. The two sat down and lifted the first piece of paper.

“Sabre Tooth Tiger – A 3D study”

A series of pictures followed and one caught their attention. The picture showed the bottom of the sculpture and the words engraved on it.”

“Schwab, Circa 1919, Wupperal, Germany” ASR read it emphasizing each word and repeated for effect. “Do you know what that means?”

“Schwab is my mother’s last name, so this must belong to her. But she wasn’t born in 1919, so it could be one of her…I mean, my ancestors. The year 1919 seems important. It could be the year of birth or some important event that happened in that year. Wupperal could be the place where Schwab family belonged to. All guesses.”

“Pretty good guesses. The name, year and place are definitely connected. We can do an internet search to see how.” He decided.

Khushi sprang to reach for the laptop and handed it to him. His fingers barely kept steady as he typed the words, Schwab, 1919 Wupperal, Germany, into the search window.

Khushi shut her eyes tight. She was afraid to find out what secrets would reveal with this final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

When ASR did not say anything ominous, she peeked into the laptop. He was reading through the search results and one item caught his attention. He clicked on it.

A page opened to the Kunsthaus Zurich, Museum. ASR browsed the site to open the links that led them to collections within the museum.

Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism and Modernism post World War 1
Featured Artists (in alphabetical order) 

ASR clicked on S and a name immediately caught his attention

Schwab, Circa 1919, The Virgin with Daisies (Jungfrau mit Gänseblümchen)

“Gänseblümchen?” Khushi rubbed her forehead.

“Isn’t that German for Daisies?” he asked.

“The Virgin with Daisies!! Just like the poem says, oh lovely virgin with daisies, of eternal beauty! I think we found the answer ASR!” she was ecstatic.

“But what does it mean? Virgin with Daisies, what does it really mean?”
He clicked on the name and an entire section with details of the painting opened with the following description.

Artist: Jakub Schwab (b.1893 – d.unknown) of Wupperal, Germany.

The painting is an abstract, in the most temporal representation of Cubist artistic movement of 1910s. The painting depicts the nude of a woman, purportedly the Virgin, with a blue vase painted in brusque strokes, resting on a nearby window sill. The vase is full of daisies painted in 3D blocks of white and yellow. Out of the window one can see a curvy path of red soil parting in the middle, two abstract fields of daisies, further allusion to the impending loss of virginity of the nude maiden. The painting was commissioned by his fiancé, Salome in 1919, in honor of their impending wedding. The virgin is believed to be in the likeness of his future bride. The painter is known for erotic expressions and symbolism with spectacular details and master brush work evoking different planar shadows when viewed from different positions.

Jakub was a scion of a local business family with means at his disposal. He painted as a hobby, heavily influenced by his peers of the era, the likes of Picasso, and Braque. Jakub’s paintings were featured prominently in Wupperal art museums. However, the family fell into hard times as the WWII approached. Their immense wealth and belongings were stolen or forcibly confiscated by the ruling party of Germany, The Nazis. Jakub’s rich cache of paintings were confiscated, auctioned or simply stolen by the influential members of the party. The family escaped Wupperal using the large underground network of sympathizers in 1939 and that was the last anyone had heard of them.

The Virgin with Daisies resurfaced in Zurich in 1960 when a private collector traced the provenance of the painting back to the Schwab family. The painting was donated to the museum that year and has stayed in our possession ever since. Many attempts were made to locate the heirs of the Schwab family but the museum has thus far failed to find the rightful owners. The museum considers the painting a generous loan until a time its rightful owner is found. The whereabouts of other Schwab paintings are unknown at this time. Jakub Schwab paintings are considered worth in the neighborhood of $500K to a million apiece.

Khushi was silent, unsure of what to say.

ASR finally broke the silence, “Wow! Khushi, your great great grand dad was one helluva rich guy!”

“And horny too!” she added poker faced.


  1. ok, now i understand the delay in the updates, and i am actually speechless.

    the kind of research you are doing and the kind of detailing and all..

    i am truly speechless.

  2. Am i going to be the first to comment? WOW that would be definitely a first and a moment to celebrate - Let me enjoy this moment ;)

    Now great chapter particularly the part about the painting and the description - its beautiful. But I loved Khushi's reaction more :D About NK and Gitu, I like them together and I hope ASR trusts them both to get them too involved in this. They are already helping :)

    I love the part that shows how comfortable Arhi are together and I hope everything is good till the end. The intrigue is killing me now :(

    Did ASR find out Isaacson is dead? If yes, he will know there is something there at his house right?

    1. No, R. ASR does not know Isaacson is dead because the day he and NK planned to pay guy a visit, Kevin took him off the case. And in the end, it doesn't matter, because NK had raided Isaacson's residence and brought over the file that Isaacson had planned to hand over to NK and ASR. That is the file ASR just got as a parting gift from NK.

    2. Thanks for the explanation dear. I am glad that he got the file anyway :).

      I'm not first but second - that's not bad either :D

  3. This chapter was brilliant..i cant begin to imagine how much thought goes into writing a story like this with suspense, clues, mystery..that too related to germany, world war, nazis and bringing it all back to india, druglords, and now FBI/CIA, or arnav and khushi.

    Keep at it! love reading all about it.

    also yay for NK & Gitu!! good thing she turned out to be an undercover, afterall!


  4. well... i'm thinking is it just ur pure imagination or this painting is somewhat existed...if not than.....Hatsoff to u,,,, riddle than explaination of painting.....
    gosh the story going so deep.....and full of mystry.....
    waing for the next update

    Neag (India-forums)

    1. The painting is my imagination, but i had lot of help from Pablo Picasso :))

  5. Beautiful update. Good one! Got lots of information. So NK and Gitu is getting married!


  6. Ooh a riddle and a million dollar painting...this story is greeting more interesting with each update...

  7. Welcome back SJ!!!
    Did you create that Painting for the update??? if yes then hats off to you.... the background, details, history... well put!!!
    Last two lines got me!! lol
    great chapter....
    NK and Gitu getting married?? hhhhmmmm.....

    with new revelation cant wait for next chapter...
    continue soon dear...

  8. Wow what a chapter I'm speechless Can only imagine how hard you must have worked on it.
    The description on the painting was beautiful. Loved this update,it is simply fabulous.
    Thanks so so so very much for the update
    KAVITA 1970

  9. Hats off to ur imagination............fab update.

  10. My God! You are a genius . What an imagination! To think of the poem and then the description of the painting is a stroke of genius. The painting becomes alive in front of one's eyes. You write so well, I wish you got your stories printed. I must have read your filigreed sun at least fifteen times and still read it every few days. Eagerly waiting for the next part.

  11. This update was absolutely fabulous. The poem was a stroke of genius. The painting is described so well that one can imagine it in front of one's eyes. Waiting eagerly for the next part.

  12. interestiing updatee
    wonder how khushi is all linkedd
    And the last line,,lol!=]

  13. SJ,
    Thanks for the update! It was totally worth the wait!
    The poem and painting was amazing! But I couldn't get one thing. Even if poem points to the said painting, whats the significance of it?
    Hope things will be clearer ahead.

  14. Woah. SO finally Arnav gets the file Issacson intended to give him. And that lead to the poem and the painting.

    I love the way you imagined the painting and the ditto. That was really creative! :)

    NK and Gitu are getting married.? Well, I hope they stay happy.

    So the poem directed these two to this painting. What is the connection to the sabres here? Well.....I'm waiting VERY IMPATIENTLY for the next update SJ!! :D :D

  15. A wonderful update...
    ASR trying to decipher the ditty and then stumbling upon it( thanks to Issacson's file)...brilliant...and those lines were beautifully penned, describing the painting with such detail..and, not letting NK know about the numbers...ingenious...

    NK-Gitu finally to tie the knot,and, Khushi does not harbor any ill feelings for glad, cuz, it would just add to her burdens..

    Khushi's interjection made me LOL..she just comes up with interesting ripostes despite the situation...I love her!!!

    The painting intrigues me...impatient for the next, now

  16. Glad to know that NK and Gitu cleared all the confusions and it was interesting to read about the painting!
    What made me laugh was the last line Khushi uttered! :-)

  17. You are such an amazing writer. I would seriously buy any book you publish. Incredibly well thought out.

  18. Wow - you can tell the extent of your research in the details you included. I could almost picture the painting as if it was real. I love the way their relationship is developing and deepening - I just hope he is not using her to avenge his first love's death. I think this will break her trust. I love the layers of complexity and duplicity in this story and eagerly awaits your updates.

  19. This is a very interesting story... Kinda reminds me of da Vinci code....
    Do your work well do more research and try to get it published... All the best..
    On side note I loved ur upgrade to scotch..

  20. I read the descripti0n 0f the painting at least 3times t0 paint it in my head...with the painting I have in my head...well, yea the great grandad must have been very very h0rny...I d0nt really want Gitu and NK anym0re, the less the better. With this piece 0f inf0, they surely have a leap with Sabres. Quick questi0n, did y0u pen d0wn the p0em y0urself?? I am n0t a great fan 0f p0ems except s0me very selected 0nes, in English and in my native language, and I actually like this 0ne

  21. I was painting the picture in my mind..
    Nk and Gitu resigning from the job well good on them but scared for the A and K...
    How K is so lucky to have ASR even they are not committed in their relationship but they are together in this journey...
    beautiful update SJ and hatts off to you for ur strength to write such story

  22. Hi SJ,

    Such an wonderful update....and hats off to the kind of research you have done....Lovely Work SJ...


  23. Hi SJ,

    Such an wonderful update....and hats off to the kind of research you have done....Lovely Work SJ...


  24. Wow! You can feel the hard work put to the story while reading it!
    Great update!
    Nk and gitu <3

  25. HAHAHAHA I hate fakers too. I am awed with the progress from bourbon to whisky and from Chicago to Germany.
    The path is never easy but who cares we have a virgin daisy.

    I fuckin love how detailed this is.
    The detail and depth of your research for this story makes me more than just a fan of your writing.
    Seriously I loved NK and Gitu's gift.. This alliance turned to be a blessing ASR, now loosen up your tight ass, make love and move onto your next STOP.

    Save the love.. <3

    SJ jaaneman I love you.

  26. Wow. sj,

    U blew my mind away. That chapter explains the delay in updating. Ur doing some serious research b4 creating a full fledged n justifiable Update.

    Totally loved the poem related to the picture n a million dollar picture indeed got a priceless description. U r amazingly talented. Conjuring up something like this n that too from a different era altogether is truly a genius talent. U shud honestly get ur stories published. They r not just interesting to read but very knowledgable n captivating read.

    Thrilled to be a part of Gitu n NKs union n hoping ASR will find his trust back in NK n Khushi in Gitu.

    The excitement for the next chapter is sky rocketed after reading this one so waiting eagerly for the next

    Avni .

  27. Sorry for the late comment ...
    You've got us hooked to the story ...
    gets even more interesting and intriguing ...
    So Gitu and NK are getting married :) ...
    Arnav has got his mind fixed on finding out all about the Sabres ...
    Loved the Poem as a code leading to the Painting ...

  28. lovely update SJ
    but need more
    i know that this kind of writing needs extensive research but now the chase for sabres should be full on. just like ur updates


  29. Excellent update. Thank you so much.

  30. OH! you are a poet too on top of being a Fantabulous writer...

  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  32. Hi,

    I was busy with studies, so couldn't message before. I read all the parts. I was sad and humiliated when I read about Geet cheating on Kushi more than Payal. But when you made her intentions clear I don't hate geet, but then I still feel bad for Kushi.

    Did geet and Nk's character end there? I hope not! But I didn't understand one thing. Is Nk and Geet working for the same firm? Arnav also?

    The painting is your imagination? Oh My, you are then simple great
    1 *wink* That was an audacious imagination. And the picture you provided? How did you get that picture if it was your imagination?

    Payal was so bad? What will be Shashi's and Garima's reaction?

    And is Shyam's character too over??? Or is there more to come?

    To be very frank SJ, I don't understand most investigation part of this story. I don't mean I don't enjoy it. But the jargon provided is a bit difficult to understand. I'm still not clear as to why Kevin and nk an all believe the case is over but Arnav does not!

    But I like the companionship Arnav and Kushi shares!!!

    One more doubt. Arnav's eagerness to find out about this mafia, is it only fueled by Lana's death and his duty or does he have more personal reasons?

  33. Fabulous update,SJ. I felt like I was reading a Dan Brown novel.The poem was really beautiful,so was the description of the painting.So Khushi is descended not just from royals, but also from some very prominent German family.Let's see what other mysteries these two unravel.At least Payal is in jail, that's one problem less for them.

  34. awesome update

    loved the poetry and details regarding the painting.
    wow Gitu and NK are getting married :)


  35. Liked the poetry...and nk and geetu getting

  36. Where in the world did you get the imagination of a painting that descriptive yet mysterious!?!??! Any particular artists influence your imagination. This is one helluva path the Sabres are taking the readers.

  37. brilliant!!! so sweet NK is <3

  38. Got to love kushi....fantastic work.....looking firward to read more.....


  39. Wow another amazing update, the ditty & the painting!!!

    I guess if all the sabre serial numbers added up to a ditty about this painting & how Khushi has a sculpture of a sabre toothed tiger rather than a sabre, it all points to her being the most important peace of the puzzle in linking the sabres together?!?

    I wonder what the puzzle is & why is this painting so important to the mystery?!?!

    Can't wait to find out more!!!

  40. Hi SJ,

    I'm a new reader and I was going to comment after I read all the chapters but I had to comment after I read this chapter. Beautiful poem and so is the description!! You are simply gifted with one hell of a creative mind. I'm really loving this thriller!! :-) I wish I came across this before!

    kclovearshi - (IF)