Hanumantha switched on the Russel Hobbs One cup coffee maker. Coming from Baba Budan Giri Hills, the birth place of Indian coffee, he always carried his own home-grown coffee along with the machine. Ironically, his net worth growth bloomed in a place known for Tea plantations, Munnar, where he was now, on a wet rainy morning.

A British lawyer couple who many times enjoyed Hanumantha’s grandfather’s hospitality in Chikamagalur had sold their Munnar High Range Villa to the latter, as they left Independent India for good. Mr. Prasad, Hanumantha’s father, an accountant with the Wodeyars of Mysore, had made this villa, his retirement home where he lived with his wife since the early 90s.

When Hanumantha returned to India decorated with a Hotel Management Degree from Geneva, he realized that Munnar had immense potential for growth in Hospitality sector. Munnar, with its lush green tea plantations, fragrant cardamom shrubs, picture post-card hamlets, misty valleys and easy access from both Kochi and from Tamil Nadu made this more preferred destination. This was the evolution of the Baba Budangiri Resorts in Munnar owned by Hanumantha group of companies. Aesthetic looking row villas sprung on the earth where not long before Camellia sinensis bloomed.

Sipping original Baba Budangiri Coffee from his resort office, he wondered where Ajit Kuriakose was. Hanumantha had planned to leave after breakfast. The escort lady had left in the morning during brief respite of the rains this morning. As she left, she advised him to leave early too, as landslides were reported in the ghat section and that would make his drive back difficult. There was a saying in his village, that whores and widows were accurate emissaries of prophesies. He did not have a good feeling about this.

Kuriakose was desperate to sell his high range estate overlooking the idyllic Banasura Sagar Dam. Hanumantha was desperate to build the first ever resort in this paradise. Hanumantha tried calling Kuriakose. The automated reply said, “Please check the number you have dialled”. He frowned. This was the same number Kuriakose himself called last night.

He drowned the rest of the coffee, in one gulp. He opened the diary to recheck the mobile number. The book mark in the diary opened always to his asset list. It was a ritual, a private moment he always cherished. Post this deal, he would rise to the Numero Uno position at Munnar. He beamed in pride.

The rains showed no respite. The rumbling noise seemed closer. And louder. Hanumantha sensed the floor shake, the sidewall along with the false ceiling collapsing on him like a pack of cards and his final vision was a wave of red soil with shale and sandstone that fell on him in a labyrinth.

The JCB driver clearing the landslide debris spotted the arm holding a diary and alerted the rescue supervisor. The face was beyond recognition. The coffee mug was blood stained but strangely survived the fury unleashed in vengeance by nature.


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