Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Deal Gone Bad

June 14, 2014

I kept checking the rear view mirror. Saw no one. But I knew they were coming after me. Or would be paying me a visit soon. I drove my Range Rover Sport at a reckless speed of 140 kmph. A couple of hours past midnight, the road from the Tamhini hills towards Pune seemed like a ghostly empty stretch.

I felt that my left shoulder was still bleeding with the bullet wound. The deal had gone bad. I had seen a cop shooting one of my accomplices in the head and the other accomplice getting seized. I was the only one who could escape.

It was not until I reached Chandani Chowk that I could catch some breath. I slowed down a bit as I entered the city. Though there was no heavy traffic whatsoever, Paud Road was far from empty even at that hour of the night. I pulled the car aside on the main road to check the wound. The caked-on blood had covered a small portion of my shoulder, but the bleeding had stopped. Fortunately the bullet had only scratched my shoulder with its venomous tongue, and hadn’t made its way through penetrating the skin.

 

 

I reached my apartment in Koregaon Park in about 20 minutes from there. Then slowly opened door with the key, careful not to wake Sharon up. But Sharon was a cautious sleeper. Eyes still shut, she murmured in sleep,

“What time is it, Raj?”

“Quite late baby”

“What took you so long?”

“Work.”

She dozed off again.

Sharon was an Italian woman in her mid thirties. Worked for some European NGO that focused on restoring dignity and pride amongst the lower social and economic strata of the society. Or something of that sort. I didn’t care much. I had met her about six months ago in one of those fancy upscale bars that dot North Main Road.  She had sat alone in the bar. I made eye contact with her. The shine in her eyes lit something up inside me. I offered to buy her a drink. Exchanged contact details. Like it usually happens, one thing led to another. She moved to my apartment within a couple of weeks.

Sharon had a clue that there was more to my line of work than just being a real estate broker and that it was quite dangerous, whatever it was. But I am quite old fashioned that way—I do not discuss money and work with women. Keeps me out of trouble.

I am a forty two year old man who grew up partly in Delhi and partly in London. Though I do not speak with any accent, there is something about my overall personality that makes people in India treat me like a white guy. With trust and more respect that is. It made me the right candidate for the position of a senior cocaine trader for one of the very large organized crime syndicates in the sector of drug dealing in India. And Pune has historically been their most premium territory, so obviously it was a busy and challenging job.

I ran my trade desk out of one of the commercial establishments in the plush Koregaon Park. The front was a real estate consultancy. Though it was my cover, it was also a very good money making business in itself. And I equally enjoyed that work as well. I facilitated land dealings and only up-market luxury real estate buying and selling transactions. I relished wearing expensive suits to work and making use of my negotiation skills, both in property and coke dealings.

 

I put some Betadine ointment on my wound. Then fixed myself a drink in the kitchen, switched off the lights, and tried to place together the chain of events that had taken place in the past 12 hours…

 

I was ending a meeting with one of the property developers when I had received a call from Bob’s office. Bob was the crime boss and looked after Mumbai and other regions in the western part of Maharashtra state. His manager was on the line who informed me that a deal was to take place later in the night, and asked me to come over to Bob’s office on M.G. Road to discuss the three places that had been chosen as possible sites for the deal.

Without much debate we all zeroed in on Tamhini. Out of the other two sites, one was too risky and the other was too far. We went over the map a few times again to ensure that we had got the spot right. It was decided that Shankar and Jerry would accompany me. Both were young and rookies in the drug dealing business, so it would be a good learning experience for them as well. Shankar was a sharp-shooter so his presence would provide additional layer of protection. Jerry was a plain dumbwit, but then he did not have much experience under his belt either.

 

 

It was a beautiful, if not an easy drive to the chosen site– an abandoned scrap-yard on one of those hills in Tamhini area. I imagined a view of waterfalls and greenery if one went there during daytime.

I was impressed by Shankar’s curiosity and intelligent questions during the journey. He seemed like someone with a high IQ and zeal to his work. Jerry spoke little and for most of the time was just playing with his phone. Kids these days.

Within minutes of our arrival we saw a Land Cruiser turn into the road ahead and pull into the junk-yard that we were watching. We briskly walked inside the yard. I held in my hand the briefcase containing marijuana worth rupees 80 lakh (8 million).

Ali, the buyer got out of the vehicle along with his entourage, consisting of four well dressed men. Ali’s dark blue eyes and full, immaculately trimmed beard completed the look of a powerful man– feared, liked, and respected by those who knew him.

He looked me in the eye, gave a full smile, extended his hand for a handshake and said,

“You must be Raj.”

His handshake had just the right amount of firmness you expect from a professional.

“That’s me. How do you do, Ali?”

“All good. Bob speaks very highly of you.”

“Oh does he?”

“Well he is Bob. You gotta read between the lines.”

We both laughed. Then in a business-like tone he asked me,

“Where’s Aunt Mary?”

“In here.”

I handed the briefcase over to him. He asked one of his staff to test the contents of the bag for authenticity.

“Just a formality, Raj. Part of the process. We trust Bob one hundred per cent.”

I just nodded. Every buyer’s right to test the sample.

The man came back in a couple of minutes and gave Ali a thumbs up. Ali then signaled another man to hand over the cash to me.

The briefcase containing cash was very heavy.

“Be careful with the dough, Raj. The denominations are as per the instructions received from Bob’s office. You can feel free to count the cash before leaving. We have no rush.”

But I knew I did not have to. This business works on the basis of trust as far as cash is concerned.

Just when Ali was shaking hands with me one last time, I heard a gunshot in the air.

And then all hell broke loose.

 

 

It seemed to me that although the junk yard had been closed for several months, it had not been cleared and still afforded the policemen quite a few hiding places. I saw at least 5 cops, and all of them held a gun.

Before our sharp shooter Shankar could pull his gun out completely, a cop shot him in the head. Point blank. I held the briefcase with money tightly in both the hands. I signaled Jerry to run, but it seemed like he did not appreciate the idea of running away. I gave him a very hard look. Since I was very senior to him and had been around more blocks, he probably decided he’d rather play cowboy another time, and started running to the door.

When I was out of the junk yard, I realized that Jerry was not with me. I turned back once and saw that a cop had seized Jerry tightly. The same cop then pulled a gun at me. I never felt the actual bullet strike, but my body reacted to the impact as I was flung forward hard against my own Range Rover. I brushed the thought of returning the fire off my mind. Sometimes there is no tit for tat. I just got into the driving seat with the cash. And drove off. Without looking back…

 

 

It appeared like everyone else connected with the drug deal had slithered back under their rocks. I received no calls or text messages from Bob’s office throughout the next day, encoded or otherwise. I did not try making any contact either. In such situations it always makes sense to wait till the dust settles. I kept surfing the news channels and internet editions of local and national newspapers in the anticipation to hear more about the drug bust. But the police had decided to keep it low key. There was no mention of last night’s police raid. It just made me more nervous.

 

 

Sharon came home from work at about six thirty. She was surprised to see me home. I had not told her about the wound yet, but had already cooked up a story in my mind about getting injured at some construction site.

She asked me in her thick Italian accent,

“Is everything OK, love?”

“Yep honey. Just a little headache. So took a day off.”

She seemed slightly surprised. Maybe it was the first time she had seen me taking an off because of any reason.

“I’ll get you some coffee.”

“Thanks, Sharon.”

Sharon made the best coffee in the world. No Starbucks or Gloria Jean’s came even close. Sharon would gulp dozens of cups of coffee in a day. Her breath always had the aroma of dark black coffee. And I loved every sniff of it.

The moment she went inside the kitchen the doorbell rang. I instinctively reached for my gun and walked to the hall. I braced myself against the door with my left hand and looked through the peephole. Standing in the hallway staring directly at me was a big man in a dark suit. I could see two other heads as well.

I put the gun inside my belt and opened the door. The man in the suit was Bob. Himself. He was joined by his manager on the left and bodyguard on his right.

Baburao “Bob” Gawade politely asked,

“May we come in?”

“Yes, of course. Please come in and have a seat.”

The men walked in and sat on the sofa chairs in the hall. I quickly ran to the kitchen, asked Sharon to make coffee and snacks for everyone and came out.

Bob asked me,

“How are you, Raj? How’s your shoulder now?”

I wondered how he got to know about the shoulder thingy. But then Bob was a resourceful man. No point in asking such childish questions to him.

 

 

There was a legend about how Bob got into this business. It’s been said that Baburao Gawade was a low ranking officer in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) when he started his working career. With his charming personality, professional work ethic and efficiency to get the work done in time, he quickly became a favorite amongst the top government officials and other city based builders and industrialists. Bob knew how to keep people happy and did not mind cutting corners. He also led a charity initiative within the government offices where he used to appeal to the government employees and the general public of Pune to donate academic books, comic books, notepads and all such stationery that they could to his charity desk in the PMC and promised that it would be donated to poor students studying in the municipal schools, orphanages etc.

Within a few months of this operation, some smart boys from the anti-corruption cell found out that Bob was actually using all those books and notepads as a raw material for the paper recycling plant he had set up in the industrial estate of Chakan. He used to export the recycled paper to a couple of large Mexican paper mills. With impressive tonnage of free raw material obtained through his charity, the recycling business made impressive profits. He had set up the company in the name of his brother in law and used to divert all the money through a Hong Kong offshore bank account. It all seemed quite perfect until the anti corruption officials uncovered the real face of his charity. Bob lost his job and was ordered to stop all his business activities immediately. Because Bob was in the good books of the top brass, they showed him some mercy and did not take the matter further to the court. The incident was never made public.

After months of unemployment, a helpless Bob wrote to one of his Mexican business contacts about his situation and asked for some help with business ideas that dealt with things other than paper recycling. The Mexican guy liked Bob very much, and also happened to be one of the notorious drug lords in Mexico.

The rest was history.

 

 

“The dough is safe in the trunk of the car.”

“Does it look like I am worried about the money?”

I lowered my glare. Bob closed billion dollar deals for breakfast. I should not be reassuring him about his money.

He then added,

“We anyway gotta return the cash to Ali. All the dope was seized by the cops. Ali managed to escape along with a couple of his men. The rest were killed.”

“What happened to Jerry?”

“He’s been nicked in the Narcotics Control Bureau headquarters in Mumbai.”

“That’s dangerous for us, ain’t it?”

He seemed to consider that for a brief moment. I always wondered how Bob could keep cool in any situation and hold himself with such calm and ease.

“Raj, Jerry might be just another 21 year old wannabe kid for you. But you don’t know certain things about him. A few months ago he was captured by the members of one of the rival gangs in Mumbai. For about 14 days he was subject to torture, physical assault, electric shock, and was being forced to give away details of our suppliers, middlemen and customers. But he didn’t say a word. When our boys finally found out where he was being held captive and went there to rescue him, he had the same careless attitude and grin on his face. Not a sign of any pain or torture that he had been through.”

I let that sink in for a moment as my jaw dropped a bit at what Bob had just said.

“We are sometimes very quick when it comes to dismissing people based on their age or external appearance. While you should listen to what your gut says, you should also not forget that everyone has a story to tell and is worth a chance or two. You are where you are because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a break and a helping hand – no matter how hard you worked – if you are truly honest with yourself – you did not get this far on your own.”

While it all made perfect sense to me, I was not sure where it was heading to. I decided to just nod along and see where Bob was going with this.

“Anyway, Jerry won’t sing. I can guarantee you that. And he will be out in a few weeks. I know which strings to pull.”

Which I knew he did.

“Bob, I honestly believed that this was a milk run. Never thought it would turn into such a bloody mess.”

“Well, things go wrong, deals go bad. That’s just life. And it’s no reflection on you– there was a leak. Cops had been on a stakeout.”

“Leak? You think we got a rat in the gang?”

Before Bob could answer, Sharon came out with the coffee and sandwiches. After she had served the food, she turned to leave for the kitchen.

Bob said he would like to speak with Sharon and requested her to join us for the coffee. It seemed a little strange to me, but before I could express anything, Bob had started the conversation with Sharon.

“So, do you like living in India?”

“Yes, I love it. The people are just so amazing!”

“That’s good to know. Most foreigners think very highly of the hospitality which people in India offer to them.”

Sharon just smiled. Bob took a gap to take a sip of coffee from his cup.

“The coffee is beautiful. Raj is a very lucky man.”

Sharon said a blushed thank you.

This was when I saw something changing in Bob’s eyes. The look on his face slowly turned from fresh and jovial to ruthless and frightening.

“Sharon, do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“I have an elder sister in Sicily.”

“And?”

“No that’s it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah…”

“Then who is this?”

He took out a photo from the pocket of his coat, and slowly flashed it in front of Sharon’s face. Sharon looked away.

“She is my younger sister, Tatiana. But why are you asking me all this? We no longer talk to each other. It’s a long story.”

“Then let’s cut it short. When was the last time you spoke with her?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Then let me refresh your memory. You spoke with her yesterday evening. You have been speaking with her since  last few weeks. I have pulled your call records from Vodafone.”

“I had a fight with her yesterday again. I do not wish to talk about it.”

“And may I ask why?”

I took this opportunity to interrupt.

“Bob, what is this about? Why are you interrogating her like this?”

He turned his head to me and said,

“She is a snitch.”

He said bitch, right?

“You heard me right, Raj. I said ‘snitch'”

“You gotta be kidding, Bob. She knows nothing.”

“She turned you in. She put all of us in trouble. She is responsible for Shankar’s death and Jerry’s arrest. You almost got shot….you’ve been sleeping with the enemy. Someone who has been spying on you. And our gang.”

This made absolutely no sense to me. Sharon had no clue about the other side of my profession, or the gang’s activities. It seemed to me that Bob was out of his mind and had not taken the deal’s failure so well.

I gathered my balls together and said,

“Bob, I’d like you to leave now. You have made some ghastly accusations against my girlfriend and I do not particularly appreciate it. I respect you as a person, boss and businessman. But that does not mean you cross a line like this.”

I was expecting a strong reply from Bob. But he kept his cool.

“Raj, love makes you blind. Let me open your eyes. Tatiana is Sharon’s younger sister who is married to one Ravikant Jadhav, a top official from Anti Narcotics Cell of the Crime Branch of Mumbai police.”

Sharon had never told me this. She had once said she did not like to talk about her sister. But I had no clue about who that sister was. Frankly, I never bothered. And I never asked. Why would I care?

I looked at Sharon to confirm if that was true. But she couldn’t look me in the eye. She asked Bob instead,

“But what has this got to do with my relationship with Raj? Does he have anything to do with drug dealing? Either way, I have no connection with Tatiana or her husband. Tatiana did make contact with me a few times in the previous weeks. But it did not work out. I have no love or affection left for her now after what she has done to me and my family.”

Bob gave her a “let’s cut the crap” kind of look. He turned his head to me again and started explaining,

“She has been keeping an eye on all your movements. And passing the information on to her sister and her husband. How do you think they found out about the exact site for the deal last night?”

“Her sister might be married to some narco copper. But that doesn’t prove anything. I have taken my precautions. Sharon has no access to my phone, or e-mail accounts. How the hell could she have known anything about our last night’s deal? It just doesn’t fit. The location was discussed in person at your office. There was no digital trace of it. Whatsoever. No, it doesn’t fit. She knows nothing. You should be looking somewhere else. Maybe in your own office.”

“You are insulting my intelligence by saying that.”

“I am sorry if it came out that way. But all I am saying is that you are barking up the wrong tree. She is not the one. She has no clue about any of this.”

“Let her answer this question of mine. Sharon, why did you call Supremo Electronics s.p.a. in Milan 3 times over the last two months?”

She seemed quite frightened by all this. Tears were rolling down her face now. She managed to say,

“My NGO needed to buy a couple of products that they manufacture.”

“Like this one?”

Bob’s brother in law and now his bodyguard Raju made some movement for the first time since arriving. He took out a pager-like device from briefcase and handed it over to Bob.

Bob showed it to both Sharon and me. Then moved his focus toward me and said,

“This is a GPS tracker manufactured by Supremo Electronics. One of our men found it hidden under your Range Rover this morning. All the movements of your car are being tracked, and the data is sent to the Anti Narcotics Cell of Mumbai police.”

Then he pointed at Sharon and said,

“This woman hid the bug under your car. You’ve been trapped real bad, Raj.”

Before any of us could get a chance to grasp this information and give a response, I saw Bob reaching for his gun. My hand immediately reached the gun in my belt but Bob was too fast to let anything stop him. Sharon arched backwards, her feet lifting from the ground as her chest exploded outwards in a shower of red…

 

 

Whatever I did to Bob and his people after that would never ever relieve me of the guilt for being responsible for the death of a lovely innocent woman. Sharon wasn’t the snitch. I was. Rajkumar Tandon, the undercover cop from Mumbai Police’s Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC)…

Flashback

April 10, 2010

Humid weather, crowded streets, noise pollution, smell of fish…. I was back in Mumbai! And it was a great feeling. I had missed this city like hell in my last two years of stay in the UK. Had missed this feeling of “being at home”.

It was six o’clock in the evening when I parked my car at the Kala Ghoda parking lot. My wife Komal had an appointment with a famous beautician having her spa near Watson’s Hotel.

“Sumeet, it will take me two hours at the spa. What will you do till then?”

“I will hang around at the Jehangir Art Gallery. Give me a call once you are done.”

“Will do.”

She kissed me on my cheek and got out of the car.

It has been eighteen years since we are married. She has put on some weight over the years and does not look as stunning as she used to. But she has been a great wife. And a great mother.

I studied my face in the side mirror. I simply look “handsome”. My friends call me Mr. Clooney because of my dimpled chin. My father also had a dimpled chin. Even his father did. It just adds a star to our handsome Punjabi looks.

I locked my car and walked down to the Jehangir Art Gallery. There was an Indonesian painting exhibition.

I was observing a Persian miniature when I saw her.

She looked at me at the same moment.

And the time was locked.

My mind wheeled back to around twenty years.

To the days when I was working as a sales guy for an FMCG company. I did not have a slightest idea at that time that I would move on to become a very successful businessman in future.

But she always knew that I was going to make it big in life. She was just too confident about it.

Her name was Anamika. Her friends called her “Anu”. I used to call her “Annu”.

She was a Maharashtrian girl from Pune. One year elder to me. Used to work for an accounting firm.

We had a common friend who introduced both of us. And it started from there and soon converted to an affair.

I was madly, truly, deeply in love. And so was she.

We used to meet at the Churchgate station every evening. We just loved being with each other.

It went on for almost two years. On one Sunday, she said to me,

“Sumeet, I am getting worried. It was supposed to come ten days ago.”

I thought over it. I knew she used to take some pill. And when we made out that month, it was “safe period” too.

So I reassured her,

“Don’t worry. It does get delayed sometimes, doesn’t it?”

“Hmmm… yes it does. But not for this long too.”

“You did take the pill, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did.”

“And if your calculations were correct, it was safe period as well!”

“I guess so…”

“Then we don’t have anything to worry about. Let’s wait for another 4-5 days.”

We did.

But it did not come.

I asked her to visit a gynecologist.

She did.

“The test was positive.”

“Positive means?”

“I am pregnant.”

“What? Are you sure?”

“See these reports.”

“Oh my god!”

That was the last thing I had expected.

Maybe I should not have been so careless.

I should have worn it.

But that was immaterial now.

“Sumeet, what do we do now?”

What kind of question was it?

“Of course, we get rid of it!”

“But why? Can’t we get married? I will talk to my dad today…”

“Don’t be stupid. Both of us don’t earn enough to get married and raise a child in Mumbai. I still stay in a rented house with my parents and 2 sisters. It is just not possible!”

“Please don’t take a temperamental decision. I know you will succeed fast and we will be rich soon. We will together make your dream of owning a steel plant come true. We will work hard.”

“Stop being foolish. Let’s consult an abortionist. “

She protested some more.

But finally gave up.

It was a Friday evening.

The abortionist had suggested a surgical abortion as it was too late to perform a medical one.

It was supposed to be done on Monday morning. Annu was needed to stay in the hospital for the whole of that day.

I called up at the office and informed them that I would not be coming on Saturday and Monday.

She did the same.

It was going to be a horrible weekend.

She never blamed me alone for the whole thing. She kept saying, “It was our fault… We should have been more careful… probably there is nothing called safe period as such… etc etc.”

But somewhere in my mind I was not convinced.

How was it possible?

We had been doing that since over a year. It never occurred before.

Safe Period + A Birth Control Pill = No Pregnancy.

No. Just not possible.

I actually said this to her,

“But we did take precautions, didn’t we? It was a safe period. You took the pill before. And after too. How can everything go wrong?”

“I am also wondering about the same thing Sumeet. But the fact is, something did go wrong. Let’s face it now.”

I was still not convinced.

I drank for the whole night.

I was so badly betrayed.

I trusted her more than myself. Always thought she was loyal to me.

It was my first ever affair. Had never even touched a girl in my life.

Put so many restrictions on myself. Never thought of another girl even in my dreams.

She also said it was her first affair.

But she did not bleed the first time, did she?

She said that not all the girls did. And I believed her.

Bloody characterless woman.

I should have known from the start… sometimes she used to behave mysteriously… used to make me wait at Churchgate station for hours… used to say she had a lot of pending work at the office…

But how would I know if she was telling the truth?

I did not know what she used to do after 8:30 in the night. I used to drop her at her place and we used to get to speak only the next day. What did she do the whole night?

Sometimes she used to talk so highly of her boss. His talent, personality and stuff.

She was an ambitious girl. Wanted to excel fast. Wanted to get promoted fast.

You never know about a girl’s character.

You never know.

She called me at our house phone number on Sunday. I said let’s directly meet at the abortion centre on Monday as I was very much disturbed.

She wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful. Wasn’t so smart either. I wondered what made me fall in love with such a girl. Probably because I thought she was good in character. But that wasn’t the case anymore.

She had taken advantage of my trust.

No, I could not fall victim for someone else’s fault.

No.

I sat down for drinking again in the night.

And found myself crying too.

Bloody I loved her through all my heart and soul.

And she did that to me.

With shaking hands, I took a pen and paper.

“Anamika (not Annu anymore), thank you for making me realize that I should not trust any woman in this world. That baby is not mine. I don’t know if the actual responsible person is your boss or anyone else from your big circle of male friends. And I don’t care too. I never put any restrictions on you and I let you hang out with anyone you wished. I did not use to quite appreciate your going for parties/dinners with a group full of boys. But I never objected to it as I trusted you. And I am paying the price. Please never ever try to contact me again. I don’t even wish to see your face. Get rid of that sin tomorrow. And be careful in future. Please avoid playing with someone’s feelings, if possible. Goodbye.”

I took an envelope, put that letter and some money into it, sealed it and drove down to her hostel. I left that envelope with the security guard and requested him to give it to Anamika, first thing in the morning.

And I never saw her again. She never ever tried to contact me.

She never contacted our common friend as well.

No one knew where she went after that.

And here she was. In front of me. Tears rolling down her face.

I wanted to say something but could not gather enough words. My hand was about to raise to touch her hair when a tall, handsome guy came to her and said,

“Mom, let’s leave now. I am getting bored!”

She turned to leave. Walked a few steps. Again turned around, looked at me for a long moment.

Then she left.

And the world around me started moving.

Not because I had seen her after so many years.

But because I had seen the dimpled chin of her son.

One Fine Day…

October 17, 2009

Shit happens Rahul… I explain once again to myself.

It is one of those days when everything has to go wrong, has to go against you…
It begins with an amazing adult SMS that explains a woman’s anatomy in a brutally funny manner. One of my colleagues sends it to me when I am asleep. I wake up at around 4:30 pm, read it with sleepy eyes, and accidentally forward it to Komal, one of my old friends from the school, and a very decent girl.

I realize that after having my tea. I immediately call Komal to explain that the SMS was an accident and was not meant for her… but she cuts the call. I send an SMS explaining it was an accident. She doesn’t reply. I try calling her after an hour.

She doesn’t answer again.

Yeah… shit happens.

I miss the gym as usual. Have a hot water bath. Eat my oatmeal. And start leaving for work at 6:00pm.

Mom stops me at the door,

“Rahul beta, wear your raincoat. It’s gonna rain outside.”

I tend to ignore it. It doesn’t rain in the 2nd week of October in Pune, does it?

Mom doesn’t back out. She runs to me with the raincoat and a cap in her hands. She makes me wear the raincoat. I refuse to wear the cap. It disturbs my spikes. She lets it go.

I am 20. Fresh out of college.

I stay at Chandani Chowk. Work at a remote place called Kharadi. Fucking too far from my place.

The company that I work for doesn’t provide me with any transport, though it requires me to work at odd hours.

I button-start my Karizma and hit Paud Road.

The traffic is already in a pretty fucked-up shape. I get stuck for 15 minutes at the Paud Phata signal. My head starts spinning as some assholes don’t stop continuous honking as if they are the only ones stuck.

And the fuck up happens again.

As I make my way through the traffic towards Gulmohar Path which connects Karve Road to Law College Road from SNDT, it starts raining.

And it is not the usual one that starts with a slow drizzling and then falls in an increasing order. It just starts so heavily it knocks the air out of me.

And I just hate rains. Just hate getting drenched. Especially when I am not on my way home. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. And I am not a macho man—I catch cold easily. And I don’t particularly enjoy it.

My raincoat doesn’t prove to be efficient enough to protect me from such a hard rain. I get drenched. Inside out. I stop for a shelter on Law College Road, on the footpath opposite HDFC Bank, and take a shelter below some bushes.

Not sufficient enough to protect me though.

There are other people like me. Most of them returning home from work, not so worried.

Some seem to be enjoying getting drenched. Balls to them.

I try lighting a cigarette, but the lighter gives up.

I spontaneously say “fuck!” and a lady gives me a look.

Bitch.

I am already pretty mindfucked because of the SMS incident. Not in a mood to behave myself in the public.

It starts raining even more heavily and I realize that the bushes are not helping at all. I keep my bike parked there, and run to the shutters of HDFC Bank. There are already many of them stranded.

I become one of them.

My phone starts vibrating. Office number. My fucking boss.

“Hello?”
“Rahul, where the fuck are you? It’s already 7:15!”
“Boss, hope you know it’s raining fucking too hard here in the city. I am stuck at Law College Road.”

“Oh… aren’t you wearing a raincoat?”

“I am. But it’s not enough, boss. I am drenched completely. I will be underestimating my situation if I say I’m totally fucked.”

His tone changes a bit.
“Okay Rahul, stop there till it stops. It’s okay if you come late.”
“Boss, do I have to come?”
“Yes, you have to come. Patricia has asked for you twice already.”

Patricia is our bitch of a client. Canadian.

I have a strong feeling that she is lesbian. Don’t know why. I had recently read about an American author named Patricia being lesbian. And this feeling just struck.

This is how my mind works. Too much going on at the same time. Sarcasm, dirty remarks, frustration… all taking a creative pervert shape most of the times.

Fifteen minutes pass by. It doesn’t seem to stop raining.

And I start feeling lonely…

I broke up with someone at Law College Road… 3 years ago… memories flash by…

I start to think about my disturbing childhood… eventful teenage… girls that I went out with… girls that I ditched… girls that dumped on me… crazy life… insane…

An around 45-50 year old man pushes me from behind and asks me to stand properly. Don’t know why. Must be one of those that just can’t stand the youth. Dickhead. And there are a lot like them around.

I just give him a weird look. Don’t say anything. You can’t fuck-up with random people in big cities. You never know who has connections in the higher. And importantly, in the lower. I just let it go.

There is a couple standing with us. Cute one. Trying their best not to display any affection towards each other in public. Brings a smile on my lips. Reminds me of my current stupid girlfriend.

I call her up.

“Hey Priya, wassup?”

She starts shouting,

“Where the fuck have you been? I have been trying to call you since 4:30? Why did you not answer my calls?”

The girl standing next to me gets to hear that. The girl is wearing a swine-flu mask. Has a hot figure. I imagine her face to be equally hotter. And feel embarrassed as Priya continues barking on the other side of the phone,

“Don’t you know how special today is for me? It’s Rocky’s birthday, he turned 4 today. I thought you would call up to wish…”

I hang up on her.

The thought of that monster doggie, Rocky, makes me feel sick in my stomach.

Am I supposed to remember that dog’s birthday too? Suck this!

Priya tries calling me back 3-4 times. I do not answer.

I start observing the girl with the mask and tight figure. I can figure out a smile behind that mask too.

Beauty is meant to be admired, isn’t it?

And someone’s cell phone rings. Pretty loud but a good ring tone.

It is another hottie. Wearing a revealing top with low waist Levi’s. She starts speaking in a childish yet seductive tone,

“Where are you dear? I got wet, you know-“

So she means she got “drenched”. Pervert mind, Rahul, not fair. Think straight. At least for a change.

Water drops make their way from her waist in her jeans and I try my best not to look at the procedure of getting wet… lol…

She speaks a different Hindi. Must be from North. Very fair and firm. Curvy.

Why don’t I get such a girlfriend? Why doesn’t my girlfriend speak with me the way this chick is speaking to her boyfriend?

Too bad this girl has a boyfriend. Otherwise I would have asked her out straightaway. Come on Rahul, what’s wrong with you?

The dickhead that pushed me also starts speaking on the phone,

“Why isn’t my Audi ready yet? I am getting wet!”

He is loud enough to make other poor people like me understand that he is not just one of us. He has an Audi and only because it is not “ready” yet he has to spend some time with the masses.

He is probably faking the call. But has managed to make a good impression. Most of the stranded ones will find his pushing me reasonable now. Understandable though.

And another fuck up. Not a serious one. But the tight figured girl removes her mask. Don’t know what makes her do that. And she is a fuckface. Totally opposite of what her figure is. Much older than what I thought she was.

She notices a clear disappointment in my eyes. Probably repents the action of removing the mask.

I can’t help it. I am yet to reach a stage where people respect the inner beauty and stuff. At the moment, inner beauty for me is beauty inside the clothes…. Pervert, I say to myself.

My phone starts vibrating. Boss again. From his cell phone this time. I cut the call.

He immediately sends a text message, “ Rahul, please try to come as soon as possible. We have a call with Patricia now.”

Motherfucker.

Sometimes I wonder if my boss ever has sex in his life. He is thirty-five. Married. No kids yet.

I have never seen him coming in the office, neither have I seen him leaving the office. He is just always there in the office. His eyes glued to his PC.

Pretty frustrated in life. Or workaholic, for that matter.

It’s a very good learning experience though. You hate your boss’s face. He hates yours. Still you work together on projects. Meet the deadlines. Somewhere down the line both of you start respecting each other. But yeah, you still hate each other’s face.

A BMW stops in front of the bank. The door opens. The girl that got “wet” shouts,

Bhaiyya, I am here!”

Starts running towards the car. So she was speaking to her brother! Not to some other guy! That does not necessarily mean she doesn’t have a boyfriend. But the hope is still there.

I wish the hottie turns back once before entering the car. Gives me a smile. Then writes her cell number on the steam of the window glass.

She doesn’t turn back. Neither does she write the number on the glass.

I again try to light a cigarette. But to no joy. Fuck it.

The rain seems to get softer now. A few people make a move.

I don’t want to go to work. I am completely “wet”. Don’t want to go to office and spend another 7 hours with drenched clothes. I will definitely get swine flu if I am forced to work like this.

Only if my boss understood. Fucker.

My phone vibrates again. Either Priya or my fucking boss. Surprisingly it’s Komal.
I hesitate for a moment. Feel like avoiding the awkward conversation. But I finally answer, in an intentional guilty-feeling tone, I say,

“Hello…”

“Hey hiiiii…. wassup?”

What is this? Is it actually Komal? Why is she speaking in such a lively tone?

Or did she not receive the SMS?

That wasn’t possible though, as I had received the delivery report. And Komal is one of those who check their cell phone for messages and missed calls every micro second.

“Hey Komal, hope you understand it was an accident….”

“I do understand it was an accident dude… but was a great one… I just loved that message… amazing… forwarded to some of my girl—friends too. They also loved it… thanks for that one… “

Was it actually happening? Komal wasn’t the ones that tend to be sarcastic at times.

Great… so I should have taken it lightly… fucking great…

“Komal, you know what, I was feeling very guilty and awkward… can’t tell you how disturbed I was…”

“Come on dude, I know you’re a decent guy. Happens. And I am not a child anymore. You can send me such messages… no one’s that innocent anymore…”

Yeah, true!

“Then why did you not answer my calls?”

“Arre, I was “trying” to study at that time, and mom was sitting in the same room. She gave me a hard look when my phone started ringing. So could not answer. Anyway, what’ up with Priya?”

The tension eases down a lot. I speak with her for some more time, making sure she is still the same, and the bonding that we share is still there.

The rain stops completely. I tell her I need to make a move. She wishes me a nice night at work.

I move towards my bike. And this fucking phone vibrates again.

Boss’s message.

I feel like not opening it and heading straight towards work, but I do otherwise.

Rahul, I understand it is raining very badly out there. It would be OK if you did not turn up today. Do make sure you come on time tomorrow though.

Fuck! Was it some prank or was it actually my boss?

It isn’t meant to be so fucked up day after all.

I start my bike, head towards my home at Chandani Chowk, wishing my boss’s wife gives him a mind blowing blow-job tonight…