4 days later, ETF
This was day when Monu have to appear in front of court to testify for the Bangalore Raid case. He till now kept his mouth shut, but thankfully he had enough record to keep him behind bars and his silence wont hamper the case in any way. both NIB and ETF offices were on high alert today, he have to reach court before 12 and security was maximum, not to forget those media camera which never left these two offices.
Both the team expected any attack to happen during this court journey and prepared fully for it, adding extra amount of security. NIB reahced ETF along with Monu, who was kept in NIB's custody in these days, and the teams had a quick chit chat regarding the last minutes security plans and schedules. Rathore was about to get up as he sealed the deal, when Riya caught his wrist, unexpected to everyone.
"I have an suggestion." She spoke to everyone, and NIB cheif looked curious at this.
After some 20 minutes later the media cameras zoomed in as ETF along with NIB and Monu came out of ETF head quarters and sat into the SUVs. One by one all 5 SUVs along with 3 other normal looking SUV filled with police drove away, and behind them Media too left the premises. Monu looked somewhat tensed at what is happening with him, but still he had faith that his boss will come to rescue him.
Inside with him there were Shree and chotu along with 5 other guards. According to plan they all have to head for the main road which straight leads to High court, but Monu was shocked to see only their SUV along with 2 other SUVs took another small deserted road some 10 minutes after they left ETF, and shree suddenly told the driver to stop SUV.
Monu looked horrified, maybe in mind thinking they will do his encounter here, to which Shree Chotu laughed.
"Chinta mat kar, tujhe maarne nahi wale." Chotu said to him, and Shree chuckled as he came out of SUV and went toward the backside, and then with expert hand changed the number plate of the SUV. the earlier one was fake, and this was real, and exactly the same number as another SUV which is now heading for court through main road. He came back inside and the SUV again started to move. Monu looked confused at this, to which Shree laughed.
"pakka tere gang wale ne kuch planning kar ke rakha hoga. Ab woh log jayenge dusre wale SUV ke piche, aur milega unhe. ." Shree trailed off as his eyes turned mischievous.
"Babaji ka thullu!" Chotu finished for him and both friends gave each other hi-five, and Monu looked visibly depressed.
On the other hand, Rathore did the same with the SUV where he himself, Rawte and Riya were sitting. He again started to drove, and turned to Riya.
"Hope your plan works." He murmured.
"Even if it doesn't. . . take it as a extra bit of precution." She answered, to which he nodded. Rawte in his mind said it was a nice plan and looked impressed, though he didnt say it aloud, of course.
they were some 10 km away from high court, when out of nowhere 3 Mhindra xylo blocked their way, and it seemed like Riya's plan just worked fine, the gang member of Monu paid extra heed to number plates and concluded he was going to be here, but too bad as ETF along with NIB were prepared for this. The Gang started to shoot even before their SUVs stopped, and all of them got out of the cars, taking position and shooting toward them.
After some 20 minutes of firing, much of the gang member were dead, and some NIB officers were injured but the police was on winning side. The gang member finally realised it was a trap amd Monu was not here, so they tried to get away, but police were not in a mood to let them go. The firing intensified from both sides and it continued to be like this for some more time.
Rawte, who was taking shelter on the right side of SUV behind the door, cursed as he noticed his bullets had emptied. Riya, who was on the left side, taking shelter behind the left door much similar to his, asked him what is it.
"My bullets just emptied." He replied irritated and shifted as some bullets went past him. Riya noticed she had some extra, and threw away it to him through under SUV. He got it, and tried to put it in his gun.
The small timing was enough for one gang member, who seeked the opportunity and aimed for him. Rathore, who was busy with some others, was horrified at this, but he could not do anything as he had his own life to save. Riya also saw this, and she must have got some inhuman power and courage as at the exact time, she got up from her sitting position, and without any care about protecting herself, shot at the man, once twice thrice, thus putting all the bullets inside him. The man fell with a thud, other member saw this and was horrified, bullet continued to fly around them but she didnt care, she just stood there, her whole body shaking as the adrenaline leaving, her eyes refused to leave the man's body.
Rawte, who noticed she suddenly freezed in her spot, cursed and ran toward her, pulling her to him and in the process, both fell on the cold concrete road. She snapped out of her freezing mode and stared at him, her stare too calm for the situation, while he stared at her confused by her behavior, for some minutes totally forgetting about the ongoing firing.
The firing stopped and Rawte was the first to snap out of it, getting back on feet, offered his hand for her to stand, but she refused and stood all by herself. There was minimal casualities on their part, and everyone sighed as Shree called Rathore, informing they had reached court safely and without any hindrance. The risk, it was worth it.
Later in the evening, all of them met in ETF office, including NIB cheif. the court sent Monu for 10 days custody until the next hearing and everyone sat to discuss the next course of action.
"The credit of this goes to you, Miss Mukherjee." The NIB chief looked at her, impressed, to which she merely nodded. Rawte frowned at it, suddenly thinking since the firing she was this much calm. But then snapped out of it as the team started to discuss the next course of action.
The media had no hint that the other team had to go through a gun fight while Monu was being taken to court. NIB chief suggested they should use this chance to break Monu.
"Let him know what his gang and his boss dont give a damn that he is going to jail. Once we break his confidence, he will start to open." He suggested, and it was a good plan. They decided to interrogate Monu from next day with renewed energy, and then NIB team left, again congratulating the ETF team.
Later in the night,
It was again one of those nights when Riya could not sleep, and it has nothing to do with the hectic exciting work schedules. Well, maybe partially, cause she just cant stop thinking about the man whom she shot so brutally, emptying her whole gun into him.
Why she did it? As a officer, before all the tragedies striked her, she was aggressive, but not like this that she will take someone's life and that too this much brutally. She had strict moral ethic to not to kill anyone, she was capable of handeling any criminal without any life threatening injury on their body, but today, all her ethics flushed into Arabian sea. Why she did that? One bullet would have been sufficient, she could have shot in his wrist or leg to disarm him, but she shot 5 times, emptying all bullets, that too on his head. Why she did that? Where her all ethic vanished in that time?
Part of her mind blamed the adrenaline which gave her courage to stood up, without thinking about her own life. Other part of her, which always says the bitter things but truth, pointed repeatedly that the person named Arjun rawte was the reason of her doing. Because of him she had to kill the man, and that she should not feel guilty, before she didnt kill one but save one instead.
No, she was not feeling guilty to kill, she knew as a police officer one day she had to kill someone, to save herself, or maybe to save others, but she was curious to know why she killed and that too that brutally, like that man was trying to hurt the most precious person of her life. This was one of the unsettling moment of her life, where she will question herself, where does that person fits into her life? What she should tag him as, a friend, a colleague, or just some unknwon unexplained relation. . . wait, is there any relation too?
She tried to shrug this feeling, telling herself that even if it was Sameer she would have done the same, but inside she knew she was wrong, yes, she could have killed the person if he had laid his eyes on Rathore, but she would not have killed him this brutally. The question remains same, why because of him and what was he to her?
This question had haunted her for so many days, months, years, when she used to suppress her tears, her guilty feeling that she herself broke the friendship with him. She used to question herself, what does that man mean to her that she is spilling tears over him or thinking over him? Man lives approximately 70 years on this earth and they have many relations, some ends badly, some bitterly. She tried to convince herself she just ended one of those, so she should move on from this and stop thinking about it, but till now, she just could not. Why that man evoke some alien feelings into her, why he bring out the animal of her, why the same person bring out the vulnerable side of her, why she just cant hold herself around him, why she is still hurting over that man, these questions are beyond her knowledge. Back in the mind, a voice tells her she already has these answers but she just not trying to read them, but she everytime mute that voice, effectively increasing the anxiety.
it was around 4 in the morning when she got a call from Shree, asking her to come to Mumbai port as the coastal guards found something there. She cut the call, for the time suppressing all the thoughts and concentrating on the job. she reached some 40 minutes later in Mumbai port, and saw already her team mates had arrived there, along with 2 officers of NIB.
Around 2.30 in morning, the coastal guard noticed some 7 small boats were coming toward coast. They initially thought its the fishermen, but then it crossed their mind, there was going to be a high tide in sea and the fishermen were prohibited to go. They all hurriedly ran toward it, but already the man had vanished sensing the danger. The boats were left there, and the guards found consignments of Arms and ammunitions inside, the 7 boats filled with them, approximately worth of. .
"80 lacs" Aisha informed as she finished checking the arms, "And the guns are all swidish, very costly and still not available in India."
The team gave each other a look, and then ordered others to send all these to NIB HQ and inform media about this. They cant miss this chance to add salt to Sikandar's already burning wound.
"He should be very pissed." Aisha adjusted her jacket as she shivered, the cold wind of sea side hitting them all, "from the look of it, I think we just get a bigger consignment than Bangalore raid."
"as police is all over airport and railway, he now taking the sea route." Rathore spoke to others, "I will order coastal guards to increase security."
"He should attack now." Rawte spoke, more to himself than others, "Come in front of us, Sikandar, enough of your hiding. We got you from all sides, what are you waiting for?"
None had the answer for this.
At the same time, Andheri east, some old warehouse
"Can you guys at least do one thing properly?" Sikandar rubbed his temple in a tiring way, his team mates giving each other a scared look, hoping their boss wont shoot them for the ongoing mishaps.
"Boss, we tried all our might to rescue Monu. . " One of them tried to say.
"of course it was not your best, or else, he would have been here." He replied calmly, leaning back on the cozy sofa, trying to come up with a plan, "also, doesnt look like he is of any our use. might have opened his little mouth, thats why nowadays there are so many arrests and now this. . ." he motioned toward the LCD where the news was showing about the big consignment the coastal guards found this morning.
"Now, what should we do?" One of them asked scaredly, "Do we have to. . . kill him?"
"why? is he your brother that you cant kill him?" Sikandar asked sarcastically, and then glared, "of course, you fool! We have to finish him off, so that we can survive, am i understood?"
everyone nodded meekly at this. Sikandar again rubbed his temple, like he is having a headache.
"Looks like our time in India is over." He stated calmly, while his men gave each other looks, "If Monu indeed opened his mouth, then we all are doomed. In no time police will be on our door steps, and business, I even dont want to think about."
"So what is now?" Asked the same man again. Sikandar got up from the sofa, pacing up and down.
"Transfer all money to middle east accounts. Start with low amount, so that police dont have any doubt. I am counting on low survellience on bank transfers, lets see. . . " he started giving orders, "Stop all dealings for some time, no import or export. I cant risk anymore raids or consignment bursting. Lets keep quiet for a while, and when the time will be good, we all have to get out of this country."
"and what about police? Monu? ETF?" Asked another man. Sikandar turned to him, his eyes slightly out of focus, and then, he smiled wickedly.
"I got some special ideas for them."
2 days later, ETF
The whole team gathered around Shree's desk, who was for some unknown reason summoned them all here, looking excited. He turned around his laptop to others and the team saw some figures on the screen.
"Specky, did you forget we are not tech genius like you?" Liza asked Shree, to which he narrowed his eyes, but then came straight to point.
"The figures, these are bank transaction figures from all over India. X axis is the city names, and Y axis is the amount."
"and now this. . ." Shree pressed another key and there was a new figure, "is Mumbai's bank transaction details. This figure include all banks in Mumbai, and the Y axis is this time the continents."
"as you can see, Mumbai's most money goes to Europe and USA, but from past 2 days, we can see a significant rise in the bank transactions for Middle east, that is, Dubai and Sharjah." Shree expected everyone's reaction to this, but seemed like none guessed it right.
"So you mean from past 2 days Mumbai all of a sudden started to pour money in middle east?" Asked Aisha uncertain. Shree nodded enthusiastically.
"Not Mumbai, Aisha." Rathore spoke, his eyes hardening suddenly.
"Its Him." Rawte spoke, and everyone gaped at him, stunned, while Shree nodded enthusisatically.
"I am hoping so. After the consignment we found in Coast, its the most logical way to deal with situation. He will lay low for a while, but slowly shift whole business to Middle east, as he already thinks Monu telling us everything about his gang."
"But he is not telling us anything." Chotu said.
"We need this communication gap only." Riya said, "So, what now? They will continue to pour money outside country and we will just see quietly?"
"We cant just stop the transactions too, right?" Aisha said, looking at everyone, "I mean how can we even possibly find out through which account they are doing this, from lacs of bank accounts?"
"What about the bank accounts?" Asked Rathore. Shree pulled the laptop toward him and typed something, adjusting his specks.
"I found some accounts and asked the banks to give details of them. They can be here anytime."
"Since when we needed green signal for all these?" Riya wondered, as everyone gave her weird looks, "I mean, higher authorities gave us all power we need, so why wait for a mere bank detail?"
"Riya?" Aisha stared at her, to which she gave her a confused look, then shrugged.
"What? I am serious. . . Shree, why cant you just hack into system and find out the infos?"
Everyone gave her shocked look, even Shree's mouth hung open hearing her. Riya started to feel little guilty to give this idea but to her relief, even Rawte agreed with her.
"She is right. Shree, hack into bank system." He ordered, maintaining his poker face. Everyone looked at him with shocked expression, but Rathore just roll his eyes. Here we go, back to old reckless self.
"But sir. . " Shree opened his mouth to argue.
"What?" Rawte looked as if he is challenging him. Shree looked at Rathore, who shrugged.
"Fine." He mumbled, and then engrossed himself in the world of hacking as his team mates looked at each other, quite surprised but amused at the same time. Riya gave Arjun a look of thanks, to which he nod his head slightly, inside feeling amused himself.
Some 5 minutes later they got all the details for the suspected bank accounts. Aisha chotu and some other officers from NIB went out to dig more into these accounts, to check if the ID proof for these accounts exist or not. Shree, who was quite shaken after this, was consoled by Liza.
"See to the brighter side, specky. Till now, no documents came from Bank, and you just saved the time." To which Shree gave her a half angry half exasperated look.
Like all of them had thought, the bank accounts were all fake, the ID proofs were fake and the so called account holders, they dont even exist. ETF sealed all these accounts and asked banks to keep an eye to the accounts who all of a sudden started to send money in Middle east, and verify if the account holders exist in real or not. They found some 20 fake accounts, and everyone praised Shree for his hacking, to which he finally shrugged his earlier guilt.
When the team finally called it for a day and was leaving the office around 7.30, a young officer entered ETF and asked the receptionist for someone. The receptionist, Neha, showed him the way toward Discussion room and he entered, after knocking.
"Yes?" Rathore asked to him, to which he gave him and Arjun two cards, each. He then turned to the rest of team and asked, "Who is Miss Mukherjee?"
"Me." Riya came forward, and the guy gave her the last card. All of them looked at each other, and then opened the card, and was surprised.
"Raghu sir sent these for you, and also ordered to come, even if you are busy." The officer delivered politely Raghu sir's order, and all were sure Raghu sir himself would not have been this polite if he was here. The trio gave each other look, and nodded, somewhat dumbly. The guy left, and the rest of team mates gave them curious look, what is in the card.
"Lets go, Riya?" Liza was the first to speak and nudged to Riya, who in response stared at her blankly for a while, and then nodded slowly. One by one all of them left office, even Arjun who had made this office his way to spend nights from past couple of months. They bid each other good night, and to Riya's surprise, the juniors dragged her for a drink, the first ever drink with them.
"is this because you guys are curious about the card?" Riya asked tentatively as she sipped her drink and others laugh.
"Nope." Shree laughed, answering, "and from the looks of it, We guess its from the academy, right?"
"You three were ex students of Raghu sir, and you were in same batch." Chotu piped in. Riya looked shocked, but chose not to ask anything about this.
"I wont even try to ask how you people know about this." She mumbled. others gave each other shocked look.
"Hope you are not too angry that we tresspassed in your private life." Aisha apologized. Riya shook her head, taking another sip.
"There is nothing tresspassing. Our names were registered in academy." To which others chuckled.
"So, what it is?" Liza asked, and she sighed. these juniors surely know how to get the answers.
"There is a reunion, and now, I cant even skip it. Raghu sir will roast me alive if I do, both literally and figuratively."
"Why you want to skip it?" Shree asked, surprised, "You will have lots of fun, trust me. Reunions are fun."
"Yes, they are fun, specially when someone like specky become the joke in it, right specky?" Liza spoke sarcastically, remembering their own college reunion, to which Shree glared. others laughed at them, shaking their head.
"I just dont want to go." Riya replied, trying to end this conversation. Aisha looked at her, intently.
"You are not a people's person, are you?"
"are you trying to say politely that I am boring? Then yes." Riya smiled, and others laughed at this. To her relief, they were soon out of this conversation, and were talking about anything but work, which they dreaded.
after some 3 rounds of drinks and some snacks, they were going more personal with subjects. They asked Riya about her life in Bangalore, and after some small talks, suddenly the atmosphere become tensed as Chotu asked a simple, innocent question.
"Why you three dont behave like friends in office? it is as if you dont even know each other."
Riya's breath stopped for a while, and others gave each other tensed look.
"Maybe because of Arjun sir. . ." Shree trailed off as Riya stared at him calmly. Everyone chose to keep quiet, its one thing to talk about their boss, but now they had Riya with them, and if she was best of friends with their bosses, it will be wise not to speak anything else.
"partially, yes." Riya spoke after a long time, and all looked at her, listening intently, "it was his fault that we are not close like we used to be. But we all were equally partner in crime. We all did some mistakes, some big, some bigger. . ." Riya sighed, suddenly feeling teary eyed, "it all brought us here, right now."
"And still you came here to help them." Aisha said. Riya nodded, smiling little.
"I always used to say one thing, and tried to stick to it, Friends for life. It doesn't matter that the relation is not the same anymore, that sentence still have the same value for me like it had." She continued, still smiling, "I had to come."
Others beamed at her, and suddenly the atmosphere was not the heavy like some moments earlier. Liza jumped into the talk.
"So, tell us, how were you guys in academy days?"
"How you become friends?" asked chotu.
"Was Rathore sir used to be this khadoos in those time?" Shree asked, to which others laughed. Riya shook her head, sighing.
"Those days were. . . different. You cant even imagine what we were in those time, seeing our personality today." She chuckled.
"Your rathore sir, he was mostly like he is today, always focused and perfect, but he was fun too."
"rathore sir and fun? as in same sentence?" Chotu gulped, and she laughed.
"yes chotu, same sentence." She paused, "Arjun sir, well he was the most dashing guy of batch, after whom girls used to drool. He was best student too, filled with attitude, but friendly, caring, standing up against wrong."
"And you?" Aisha asked. Riya stared at her, then sighed, shaking her head.
"If I start to tell you people about academy days, we all have to spend the night here." others laughed and saw disappointed as Riya stood up, wearing her jacket, "I have to go, totally tired. See you guys later, bye."
She walked away, and Liza shree chotu talked excitedly about what she said about their bosses, both fascinated and curious. Aisha conitnued to stare at her retreating back, for some reason sighed sadly.
2 days later, Pune police academy, evening 8 PM
Like Raghu sir wanted, all his batch members had arrived, even his favorite ex students Riya and Rawte, but not Rathore. he had a bad case of headache so he apologized for not coming, to which Raghu sir made a hard face but didnt press him more. right now, he was enjoying the company of the last batch he ever mentored in this very academy, reliving those past memories.
Arjun, to his much discomfort, found himself surrounded by female ex batch mates, they continued to stand beside him, flirt with him, and though he glared at them, it had no effect whatsoever. He was cursing his decision to come here, and thought how lucky Rathore is who skipped this party. He could not believe he used to enjoy the company of these. . . females years ago. He started to feel disgusted by his past choices.
Riya, on the other hand, settled herself near the drink section and looked around the party lazily. Everyone knew Mukherjee was a loner who dont like to be bothered so she didnt have any problem like Rawte having right now, but yes, the guys could not stop checking her out, and some brave heart even asked her for dance, to which she politely refused. She occassionally checked her watch, hoping to get out of here right now and get raghu sir's car so that she can reach Mumbai.
Arjun had enough now, so he just excused himself, giving a damn toward the sad faces of female admirers and headed for drink section. He saw her and the drink she was holding and snatched the glass, gulping it all at once.
"I will take it as your frustration." She commented quietly, surprised at his action. He nodded vigorously.
"I am very much frustrated. Those females. . ." he composed himself to stop saying something rude, "they wont just buzz off!"
"Looks like Rawte charm last even after 8 years." She chuckled, to which he glared. Before he can retort, his eyes fell on someone and he cursed aloud, making her stunned.
"Arjun! behave where are your. . . " she also stopped talking abruptly as he hold her arm and turned her so that she can also see the person.
"Oh dear." She said to herself, both of their face identical mask of horror and irritation as they continued to see the person who was now coming directly to them, Sonia Sanyal. (imagine mmc)
Sonia Sanyal, the honeybee who used to fly from one guy to another, sucking their money and energy. Beautiful with make up, without make up a total chudail (a nick name given by these three, the prankster of their time), she was a predator. Only the guy she used to date can say exactly what she used to do with them that they were so depressed after their break up, like their life had just ended. Her relations lasted only for 2 weeks, and her eyes were all set for either rathore or rawte in that time, unfortunately Academy was hot with the rumour of affair between Rathore and Mukherjee which lasted till the farewell day, and Rawte proposed Roshni on the V day. thus her heart broke 8 years ago. She was a total wanna be, with a bad accent and irritated voice. She just cant keep her hands off the guy who stands near her. They used to wonder how this girl can get entry in police academy!
Looks like Sonia Sanyal didnt change after all these years, and suddenly they both wished they can run, just run right now.
"Arjunnn'' ah that irritated voice. Riya tried to get down from stool, but to her bad luck Arjun's grip on her arm tighten.
"Where the hell are you going?" He asked through gritted teeth.
"Washroom." she mumbled, trying to get away.
"Stay right here. You cant possibly leave me with HER!" He threatened, and then both of them plastered a fake sweet smile as Sonia appeared infront of them, that flirtitous smile on her lips.
"Oh god Arjun!" She sighed loudly, and then hugged him tight, to which he visibly looked he is going to puke, and Riya giggled loudly. he glared at her, still it didnt have the desired effect. He loathed this person, Sonia Sanyal, and was always cautious he was not in the same room as her.
"How are you?" looks like she just got a fake and bad british accent, as she left arjun and looked at him, in mind already eating him. He rolled his eyes, but nevertheless mumbled fine.
"I was so excited to meet you!" She continued to chatter, and Riya continued to struggle so that Arjun leave her arm, but he didnt. She even glared at him, to which he glared even more. Sonia seemed like she had not noticed Riya all this time, but suddenly she stopped talking as she found her darling Arjun was looking at someone
"Oh god!" Sonia clutched her chest tight as if she was going to have a heart attack, "You!"
"err. . ." Riya didnt know how to behave. Now, Arjun left her arm, and she narrowed her eyes at him. jerk!
"You! Riya Mukherjee, You!" Sonia continued to exclaim as if she just saw a ghost.
"She was in the same batch like us, right? whats with the shock?" Arjun said sarcastically seeing her fake heart attack drama. Sonia took deep breath, and at last, removed her hand from chest.
"You!" Sonia spoke in breathless whisper, to which the latter nodded her head, not knowing what to do.
"I didnt expect you at all." She continued.
"I can say the same thing for you." Arjun and Riya spoke among themselves, irritated, in low voice, but Sonia didnt notice.
"Wow, long time, eh? Where had you vanished?" She asked, not that much enthusiastic to know, but yet pretended. Riya gave her a fake small smile.
"Yeah, long time."
"I really didnt expect you. . . I mean, you are not even in department now." Sonia carried on, and Riya's smile vanished, her face hardening, and besides her, Arjun frowned, not liking the way conversation is heading.
"She is, apparently." He jumped in, Riya looked relieved at this, while Sonia looked surprised, "She is part of ETF."
"ETF? AS in with you?" She asked, and he nodded, confirming it.
"That explain why you are together. Are you dating him as well?" Sonia asked to her. Arjun coughed, and Riya groaned inwardly, irritated.
"No, we are not!" She replied.
"What do you mean by as well?" Arjun asked. Sonia gave him a look like he just asked most stupidest question of decade.
"She was with rathore, rememeber? Oh, maybe thats why he didnt come, is not it? Poor guy still going through heart break?" Sonia continued sadly, Riya looked as if she can actually either lunge on her or just started to laugh, and Arjun looked full irritated and barely able to contain himself. Thankfully, the DJ asked everyone to come on dance floor and Sonia stopped talking.
"Arjun! Lets go to dance." She started to drag him, but he just didnt go. She then gave up and went with someone else, promising to see him later after dance.
"Like hell I am going to wait for her here." He mumbled to himself, and then gulped another drink which he just ordered, "Gosh, what a pain in the neck, same like she used to be, irritating and a chudail!"
It was so uncharacteristic for him to say something like this, Riya gaped at him for some seconds, and then started to laugh. He shot her a look.
"Dont laugh." He snapped. She continued to smile, getting down from the stool.
"Where are you going?" he asked. She took her purse from table.
"Home, where else?"
"This time? How?"
"I was thinking to ask Raghu sir to lend me a car. See you later." She started to move, but then he hold her wrist, effectively stopping her. She stopped, looking at him confusingly.
"Let me drop you home."
"you stay here, enjoy." She counter argued.
"not in a mood. Dancing and me. . . on top of that Hers!" He glared to Sonia who was giving him a look from across the dance floor.
"You used to dance, though." Riya said, shrugging. He turned to look at her, his look for a moment, intense.
"Yes, I used to. . . with the person I wanted the most." He spoke quietly. She didnt meet his eyes, staring hard at the floor and hoping to get out of this place.
it all happened in a fraction of second. He took one step toward her, took the purse from her grip and kept it on bar counter, and then dragged her all the way to dancefloor. his one hand found its way to her waist, like it used to and he pulled her close, while other hold her one palm securely. She kept her free palm on his shoulder and kept her chin slightly over it, suddenly feeling awkward.
After some moments of silence, he sighed loudly, making her frown and she looked into his eyes.
"what is it?"
"some things never changes."
"like?" She asked cautiously. He narrowed his eyes.
"You are still a bad dancer." To which she laughed, finally feeling relaxed.
"then why you are with me? Let me go." She answered playfully and tried to go, but he stopped her, pulling her more close to him. He breath hitched at the contact and suddenly, she just could not shift her gaze from his eyes.
"You are a bad dancer. . but not with me." He answered in husky voice. in response, several things happened at once, she felt thirsty all of a sudden, she felt the need to breath properly and, her heart beat increased. blood rushed to her cheek and she looked away, on the other people who were on dance floor. She chuckled as her eyes met with Sonia, who actually looked she can kill her by her eyes.
"Your lover dont like our dancing." She commented and signaled to her, to which Arjun rolled his eyes.
"yeah, like i care a damn."
"aww, dont be such a heart breaker." She teased, to which he narrowed his eyes, but nevertheless chuckled with her.
He spun her around, and then pulled her close by holding her palm. Her back hit him because of the pull, now his hand leaving her palm and trailing across her hand, lastly finding its way toward her waist, pulling her more close to him. Maybe it was all in her mind, maybe it was the song and atmosphere, but Riya just didnt like this. She didnt like how her heart was beating faster because of this close contact, she didnt like the nervousness that was filling her body, and she sure as hell, didnt like this song, which was playing in the BG, like it had played the first time they danced, 8 years ago, in the deserted ladies locker room when he was teaching her how to dance.
she stopped moving at once, and then distanced herself, still not meeting his eyes. He looked curious, and then stunned, as she all of a sudden left dance floor and ran toward the door, leaving him alone behind.
Riya stopped running as she finally came out, the cold breeze hitting her body. her senses calmed little bit, and now, she felt stupid to run away. she ran her fingers in hair, taking deep breath, and then cursed as she noticed she had not taken her purse.
"Great." She mumbled to herself and turned to go inside, when her heart beat stopped for a while, as she noticed Arjun was coming right at her, with her purse in hand.
"you forgot this." He handed them over, to which she nodded. He wanted to ask why she ran away, and she expected him to ask, but to both of them's relief he didnt.
"I am heading for home." She said and about to leave, when he spoke once again.
"Let me drop you home."
She didnt argue. After some 5 minutes, they both sat inside his car and headed for Mumbai, leaving all the past memories and academy behind them. Like always, they were in silence, and to decrease the awkwardness, Arjun turned on the radio. There was some non-hindi song going on, but he didnt change when he noticed Riya was listening to it intently.
"bengali song?" He asked, to which she nodded, smiling.
"one of, yes." She agreed, then busied herself to listein to it intently. He also tried to get used to the music, though he cant understand still he realised it must be a very heart touching song.
"What are the lyrics?"
She looked surprised at his odd request. He shrugged, "translate them."
"Let me try. . . " she frowned, and then started.
it could have been a story, could have read it by turning the pages, could have kept you secure beside me, I know, tomorrow again these random thoughts will come, and then they will go, leaving me all alone. . . He (or she) just doesn't understand my feelings, he (or she) just doesn't understand.
"I am bad at translating." She smiled embarrassed, to which he shook his head.
"Na, i think you did just fine."
"trust me, the song is very beautiful, I just could not do justice with the lyrics." She explained, and then both were quiet as they continued to hear to the rest of song.
the time passed, she dozed off to sleep and he continued to drive on the highway. it was nearly 1 in clock, when her phone buzzed, breaking her sleep. She requested him to stop the car and then she got out, taking the call.
It was Dev, who didnt make any sense but sounded grumpy for some unknown reason. He just asked where is she, and then bid goodbye without any other word.
"well, that was weird." Riya mumbled to herself as she got inside the car again, and found Arjun was staring at her in a weird way.
"Your friend, is he mannerless or a zombie? Its 1 and he is calling you." He asked and then started to drive again.
"Zombie? coming from a person who dont sleep himself." She replied sarcastically, to which he rolled his eyes. they continued to travel in silence and Riya turned on the radio once more, not feeling sleepy anymore.
"I do." He said after a while out of nowhere, to which she looked at him, confused.
"You asked that day if I trust you or not. . . I do." he clarified. She continued to frown, her eyes tightening suddenly.
"Is this because of the firing that day? My emptying all bullet on the man who tried to shoot you?" Her voice sounded distant, and he didnt know why it was, like everything about her.
"No. And dont ask me why. . ." he replied, frowning, "I just do. With my life."
She continued to stare at him, this time her eyes were not cold or distant but warm, pleased. He sensed it and smiled inwardly.
"What? My face became interesting in 2 minutes?" he asked in his usual khadoos tone, to which she smiled, but faked a angry glare.
"Nothing. . . jerk." she mumbled to herself and then looked out in the darkness, the pleased feeling giving her new strength.
''tell me one thing." Arjun spoke after a long time, they were near Mumbai, "why everyone keep asking if we are dating or not.''
"I do not. . . know." Riya answered, exasperated, "I can bet Sanyal need new glasses."
"Oh really? What about your BFF then?"
"For your kind information his eyesight is fine, thank you very much." She snapped, and he narrowed his eyes. it felt like the perfect timing to ask her about something.
"Can i ask you something?" He asked. She sighed, and then turned to look at him.
"Why I left police department, right?" She knew what he wanted to ask, and he nodded, confirming her suspicion. Some other time, she may have had a teary eyed conversation with him, she may have avoided his question, but tonight was different (or maybe its dawn?), so many things happened that it left her mood in high spirits, even talking about soft spots wont do that much damage like it does some other time.
"Well, you knew me," she laughed, "I was always aggressive, and maybe i was little bit of that to some criminal. He obviously didnt like it, so after he got out on bail, he placed bomb in the car which was alotted for me."
He gaped at her, stunned as he continued to hear her. She appeared so easy, relaxed about this, and it was so not right.
"And in some twisted game of fate, I myself sent my Maa and Brother in that same car. . . he wanted to buy that new Play station, and Maa wanted to accompany him. . ." her voice choked a little, but her face appeared perfectly fine. Arjun need not to be a god to know what happened next, he was already feeling low about this.
"I was expecting them in 2 hours max, so you can guess my shock when a colleague of mine called me and inform about the. . . mishap." her voice was low, and he just could not tear his gaze from her face. Thankfully it was dawn and the streets of Mumbai were empty, or surely there would have been a accident tonight.
"People bury their loved ones, I had to wash them away . . . " she carried on, trying not to cry and look as if she was perfectly alright, "I can never forget the blast sight, or Dad's face. I felt like whatever I did, it all leaded me to that moment. I may have made my father proud many times, but that moment, i was the biggest disappointment of his life. If i had not exist, he would not have to go through that."
She took deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to keep intact her calm, composed face. he tear away his gaze, he himself feeling suffocated after seeing her try so hard to appear fine. He was so engrossed in his own thoughts, that he didnt realise Riya's home had come finally, but he continued to drive past it, his mind and body both doing different works.
"My home has arrived." She said quietly, but still he didnt stop. he was in some own world of his. She continued to look at him intently.
"I said My home has arrived."
"Arjun." She spoke for the third time, and it finally snapped him out of his dizzy state. He pressed the break all of a sudden, making both of them jerk forward.
"I am sorry." He apologized, frowing, "I didnt. . . realise. Let me drive back."
"Leave it." Riya replied, getting out of car, "its just some feets away. Good night."
and she walked away from him. He continued to look at her through the mirror, and now noticed the small things that always used to go past him, for example her defeated shoulder, her deep breaths, her fast walking as if she just cant hold herself till she get inside her house, and finally, the way she had wrapped her arms around herself, holding herself.
Everyone is not what they pretend to be, who else can know this better than him?