Thank you everyone for the likes and comments. I know I am late to post this and haven't posted as promised but I was caught up with other works at IF.
I also know the start is a bit slow with little more background to the characters which will continue a little more but the pace will go higher once the characterization is set. Please bear with me for sometime.
So without any late here's the chapter.
You are never too empty to love someone. . . And sometimes you’ve loved so much that you aren’t left with anymore to give to anyone.
He didn’t know which category he fits in as he spared a last glance at the woman sitting beside him, hearing her slurry talks. That’s the first ever time he have seen this woman this out of control. Out of control by means, she’s drunk. Probably for the first time. What exactly got her to make her drink like this? He wondered. And then he thought, does he really wants to know? Maybe!
He should have been there at the site, seizing the cartoons of heroin they just nabbed from club. But here he was, taking this woman who couldn’t even handle 5 shots of devils spring. At first he questioned her presence here. She’d have been better in a desk, writing papers and doing her math. But she likes it practical. Hence, she had to enter the club dressed in a blue bodycon dress that ended just above her knees. She had to walk up to him swaying her perfectly curved body through the crowd, inviting enough onlookers on her way. And then she did something unexpected.
She had to snake her arms around him, freezing him at the counter and telling him in that sensual voice that she’s planning to be an eye candy for the night, while their comrades will do what’s done under the tables. What all she wanted was a little cooperation from his side. So he played along reluctantly, swaying his body along with her as she held onto him and danced like a crazy party goer. He couldn’t quite judge if that’s what she is for real, of course if he’d ignore her plain office shirts, bland outfit, obsession for hygienic and addiction for caffeine. She blended well here too.
He tried to get past their proximity, avoid her minty scent that was hitting his nostrils every time she moved her body and leaned closer to him to give him a tip off about some guy high with cocaine in the corner. She put up a great cover, while making him uncomfortable the whole time. Because today he was forced to see her differently. She looked fiercely attractive, as it was impossible for every single person in the club not to stare. He thought sadly that he was one of them too.
He let go of her, once the club was wiped clean of the druggies and she finally didn’t have to put up with the act anymore. She’d walk away without hesitation muttering a hasty thanks for his cooperation. Lately he realized her efforts to be comfortable around him or rather say make him comfortable around her. Whichever way that was going, she was succeeding with that. And he questioned himself, as to why he’s letting her do so? Maybe he wanted this too? He brushed aside those thoughts and kept looking at her as she grabbed the fourth glass of vodka and downed it in a single go. She placed the glass with a thud, nicely eyeing the bartender for a refill. The bartender shook his head not impressed with her puppy eyes maybe. He could already see her body stiffened and before she could come up with anything more for a reply, he had to step in and drag her away. He searched for their technical expert or rather say her best friend. With his failed attempt to locate him, he sighed at the slurpy blunder in his arm now as he convinced her alcohol dipped brain to just leave. But she’d just ask for more, and still wouldn’t be able to walk. She’d hold him tight for support, intensifying the whiff of mint around him but soon the stench of alcohol overpowered.
He got her heels, balancing her steps and neatly tucked her inside the SUV and securing her with the seatbelt.
He took one last look at her before starting the SUV. Taking her to that moderate class, and below average Ravi lodge is the only option he had at mind. So that’s where he’d take her. He decided and they drive towards his hotel.
He had to know what was coming on the way. She’s not sober today. And so she’d speak. She wouldn’t stop being a chatterbox when sober, and now that she was drunk he was expecting a life long speech from her. His expectations didn’t fail him though. However, he wasn’t expecting a straight confession out of her.
She said loving him hurts so much. He saw the pain, the fury and the struggle within a woman who never dared to look him in the eye for more than a few seconds. And she had to say that she knows. She knows something from his side has changed for her. She plainly asked him to accept her feelings. She contradicted him. He believed he could never get over Roshni. She put him in conflict. As much as his heart filled with this new enchantment of someone invoking the same feelings that once made him feel alive, he was enraged, for letting himself fall for her. He couldn’t let go of that past, or that bloodstained knife that stole all his peace. He held onto it for a purpose. And allowed himself to let go of the only person who dared to love him when he himself wasn’t sure he’s capable of loving again.
He was snapped out by a tick of finger and he looked at the person and frowned. He realised he was zoning out from life. All his thoughts have gathered around a certain ACP Mukherjee. And he couldn’t help thinking about her. Ever since she had left, he started believing that, she didn’t end a chapter, rather she started something which is now impossible for him to ignore.
“Ah! How did you realise you are getting old?” The girl in front of him tried to put on a face of astonishment but the sheepish smile forming on her lips didn’t help the act! She burst out laughing as he walked in.
“Is he available?” He asked ignoring her comments. His social life was long gone after fate played tragedy with him. He was detached from the most, always enraged, fury engraved in his soul. He was restless. . . But this family is the only one he was attached to for a long time. His Raghu sir’s family. Raghu sir trained him in his academy and more than a trainer, he was like a father figure to Arjun. Arjun looked up to him when he lost all hopes that his father will ever understand his dreams or aspirations. But his Raghu sir was someone who gave directions to his dreams.
“I don’t know about you but he’s growing old and he needs yoga more than he needs your company. And as far as you are concerned, why don’t you just hook up?” Sheen blabbed as she walked into the kitchen. He was used to her bizarre talks for quite sometimes now that it doesn’t affect him much. Having her around makes him feel like he still has something of himself from the past, his happy times.
“And I think you should just learn how to make a good cup of tea. I am not taking that. . .” he gave her an displeased look as he saw her pouring a full spoon of condensed milk to the coffee after adding three cubes of sugar!
“Gah! He’s in the garden.” He knew the only way to deal with his adamant sister is to tell her something she can’t do and that’s enough for keeping her flushed and occupied with herself for the whole day. He mentally said sorry to her and headed towards the garden.
Sitting over a yoga mat while truly enjoying the morning sunshine, retired DGP Shri Raghuram Yadav, indeed felt he’s zoning out from life. That’s when he noticed his favourite kid zooming into his sight. He must have said something to Sheen otherwise she’d have been towing behind her brother. Their antics. The old man sighed.
“was she serious!! You are catching up with ageing eh!” Arjun commented earning a glare from the old man.
“And you are not here to join me for Surya namaskar”! So he knows! The sharp edge in the old man’s voice assured that. Arjun thought, how wouldn’t he. He’s retired doesn’t mean his ears are shut. There are people who still feed him everything he wants to know. He has that power over the force. And Arjun knew, getting out would be as difficult as it was for getting in.
“I can gather, you know why I am here, so why don’t you just allow me.” Arjun spoke in a calm voice.
“I don’t understand your reasons son.” The old man was sceptical while saying that. He couldn’t just understand as to why after two years, out of nowhere ACP Arjun Rawte decided that he doesn’t anymore want to serve in the ETF.
“My reasons are over Sir.”
“But you continued even after. What changed now?” Seeing him not reply, the old man concluded himself.
“That woman. . .”
“ACP Riya Mukharjee. . .” Arjun completed surprised with the way his Raghu sir mentioned her. He wasn’t expecting him to be this upfront.
“ACP? Huh?” A small smile appeared on Arjun’s face as his eyes glistened with pride. He tried to suppress that in front of the old man. But nothing is amiss from the old man’s eyes.
“I know her history well enough to tell you that, going after her will be bad news Arjun. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.” He mentally laughed at the statement. “why do you want to dig up old graves?”
“You only saw what the media wanted you to see.” Arjun defended. “ and I am sure I can handle such ‘bad news'!” He saw determination in Arjun's eyes. The one that always made him a man of war. The one that’s always restless. And he knew ACP Arjun Rawte is not at peace even after the death of his culprit.
“What do you want?” finally the old man showed some compassion. Arjun took the cue and pulled out a paper that was nicely tucked in his shirt pocket. He placed the paper over the Yoga mat. Raghu took a look at the paper and shook his head in displeased manner however he nodded at Arjun.
“I don’t think Coleho will listen to me Arjun.”
“then make him.” Arjun said. It didn’t sound like an order nor did it sound like a request either. More or less it sounded like him asking something he deserved.
Making his farewell, Arjun left. He has to pack up to shift to his new flat.
Police Housing Colony,
She’d have been playing with her friends or rather say her gadgets but the nine year old Anjali was brooding over a kitchen counter as she saw her mother figure slowly putting the ice cubes inside the blender. The blender made a wheezing sound that further deepened her frown.
“Stop sulking. I said I will talk to him.”
“he doesn’t listen to you nowadays.”
“you keep telling him we are best friends and he will eh?” Riya sighed looking at the devil in front of her as she pulled out a glass and laced it with chocolate syrup. She knew, as long as she has chocolate in her treasure, this devil wont escape. But that doesn’t mean she wont sulk. Anshuman is still adamant about sending her boarding school and Riya just doesn’t approve. Not that she holds any rights but she knows, her opinions matters to him.
She met the ACP around some four years ago when she was being tested for her abilities of field assistance. Everything about their encounter was too shocking for her. He practically ran towards her calling her names she didn’t know or ever heard of.
That’s what he had called her.
His late wife. He lost his wife to an accident. And she found out that she looks exactly like her. At first she thought the man has gone erratic and causing some bigger blunder in her life by chasing her but she was proven wrong when one day he’d drag her in his SUV and take her to his home. And what she saw there took the living hell out of her. There were pictures of him and the woman, who looked exactly and unmistakably like hers.
Anshuman broke down after she said that she’s not his Lavanya. She’s not the mother of the five year old who’s standing in the hallway awestruck, with hope in her eyes as if someone will finally save her innocence.
That was also the day she saw Anjali for the first time as Anjali took tiny steps struggling with her crutches and held her hand asking her to stop her dad from crying. Riya was too torn in the situation that she didn’t understand what she should do and so she crouched down and hugged Anjali. “I am sorry little one. I am so sorry that I am not her. But I am here for you”. She patted her back and Anjali wrapped her tiny arms around Riya. And that was the day she promised herself that she wouldn’t let anything happen to Anjali. Because she saw a reflection of that neglected child in the hollowness of Anjali's tiny eyes.
Riya forgave Anshuman for his erratic behavior and they finally became friends after that awkward phase of their life. Slowly Anjali took a place in her heart that no one has ever taken. And that gave birth to a mother in her who’s excessively protective of her child.
“hey champ!” A cheerful voice interrupted the duo and Riya turned around from her kitchen to see Anshuman slowly getting inside with a gift packet.
Anjali frowned again hearing her father’s voice. For the time being she doesn’t want to be around him. “just how much you policemen bribe?” she asked with a sternness in her voice that almost made Riya chuckle.
“Your dad doesn’t bribe anyone”! Anshuman said as he placed the gift packet beside her and picked her up in his arms holding her sideways. “I have a good news for you.”
“What’s wrong with you Anshu, you never talk about good news.” Riya taunted him for causing the little one sad.
“That must be about my admission to boarding school right?” she asked maintaining her stern voice.
“Not really, I just wanted to tell you that Ajji’s back to home and she’ll never go back. But if you’re still interested for boarding school we can enrol the next day.” Anshuman said keeping his cool.
“Whaat?” Ajji's back?” Anjali squeaked happily and turned to Riya.
“See, I told you, you’re not going anywhere.” Riya winked at Anjali.
“So you are the one who called Ajji?” Anshusman inquires astonished.
“I just told her that Tasha is recovering and she will be home soon and we need her. I also told her you’re going to be so alone in life after Anjali departs for boarding. Ajji just couldn’t believe this so she came to check herself.” Riya explained earning a warning glare from Anshuman.
“I’d promised Anjali she wont go anywhere and even after you wanted to send her that’s your decision Anshu, who am I to say?” Riya made a face and walked out of the kitchen.
“Which daily soap pills are you both taking?” Anshuman exclaimed understanding the drama the two were putting up in front of him. Riya glared at Anshuman now who followed her outside.
“When is she coming back?” Riya asked once they were in the drawing room.
“Tomorrow. I have to fix things at home before that.”
“Cool, tell me if you need something”!
“I want Anjali to stay with you for some days.”
“Aye boss.” A huge grin appeared on her face as Anjali winked at Riya.
“When can I see Massi, dad?” Anjali asked excitedly.
“Soon baby girl.” He smiled as he put her on the sofa. Anjali busied herself with the gifts her father brought for her ignoring the elders in the room.
Riya noticed the hint of stress on Anshuman as he was deep in thought. “What now?”
“I asked Roy to make a request to the Navy, they wont allow us. There’s no proven link between the event that happened that night with Girish's murder.”
“Damn their authority.” Riya cursed gritting her teeth.
“I am afraid you’d have to go back again.”
“I hope it’s not one of Roy's ploys to get what he wants. I already said I am not going to ETF again.”
“I understand its awkward for you but you have to keep your personal and professional matters apart.” Riya huffed in anger and said, “nothing is awkward anymore.”
“Then why are you angry?” and that silenced her. Even though her mind has readily accepted that what happened six years ago shouldn’t matter anymore, her anger wouldn’t stop flaring with any mention of ETF.
“I am not angry, I am just. . .”
“Save that, you need answers for yourself Riya not me.” Anshuman said and hugged her sideways. Riya leaned in and kept her head over his shoulder.
“now that I’ve faced my past I thought I’d be at peace. I think I am at peace but I didn’t know it would be this void. Void has never bothered me before Anshu. Now it does. . .” she said in monotony and Anshuman couldn’t reply anymore apart from nodding to her words.
“you are missing a few dates in your life.” Anshuman said and she just laughed out loud. And then she remembered the date with Mohit. Well he called it a date. She wasn’t sure how it turned into her favour. Mohit took a promise that she will call him. Till now she hasn’t.
“I heard you were on a cruise for that! You didn’t update me. Anshuman asked.
“I think I should call him.” She said determined. “And hey what’s your scene with Tasha? How’s she holding up with you pampering her and all that?” she asked playfully. Anshuman looked uncomfortable. “Okay, ease up man. Take your time. I suggest you come with us to Paradise. Amit's treat. I was thinking about taking Anjali if you don’t mind.”
“It’s fine with me. I’ll go freshen up and pick you both.” Anshuman said and left her two BHK flat. His flat is just four blocks away from hers and Tasha lives with Reema, NIA's forensic head.
Emergency Task Force
Engrossed in his laptop he failed to notice the figure looming behind him for a long time.
“Enough Shree!” Someone exclaimed and finally he looked up and turned to see his girlfriend standing behind him with her arms folded closer to her chest.
“if you continue being this aloof, you wouldn’t even know if a serial killer is after you.” Liza tried to sound funny but she knew this isn’t working. She’s seeing him lost ever since ACP Mukherjee entered in ETF. And she’s smart enough to understand that they do have a history together. What surprised her the most was how Shree could never tell her about it. She respected his privacy and waited for him to open up to her but this has gone too far. The indifference he was showing to everyone is too much for her to grasp. Shree was anything but not this aloof before.
“What is wrong with you Shree?” Liza asked cautiously, still not wanting to invade his personal space.
She felt him relax and sigh after closing his laptop as he leaned back. She went closer and kept her hands on his shoulder.
“This time, I messed it up with her.” He said with despair.
“You want to tell me what happened?” she asked slowly.
“let’s go for coffee.” Shree asked suddenly and took her along with him towards the cafeteria.
In the conference room Aisha was still in front of his laptop. It was around 9. 00 PM and Sameer thought everyone must have left by then but this woman. He silently came into the conference room and took a seat beside her.
She had a frown on her face. “Did he receive your call?” she asked as soon as she felt him sitting beside her.
“He’s just being an idiot. Yes he did receive my call but he’s still adamant about his resignation.” Sameer explained to Aisha sadly.
“I don’t think he’s being an idiot. I think you should talk to him for what’s going on in his mind.”
“What do you mean?”
“See this!” Aisha said as she turned her laptop. Sameer noticed some modelling software running in the screen. He could recognize the spare parts of some weapon on the screen.
“I am trying to disassemble these parts and see how easily they’d be reassembled in real time." Sameer noticed the weapons model name as AR-15.
“Why now?” Sameer.
“NIA have requested to retrieve box, Mumbai branch is taking charge.”
“and you think Rawte wants to know about this?”
“Just a guess. I am not sure.” She said still thinking about the weapons they’ve found from the warehouse two weeks back.
“I will talk to him.” Sameer said. “Are you done here?” he asked later to which Aisha nodded in a yes. “Let’s go then.” They left from the office. Entirely missing that someone was still inside the office, who came and took the laptop, opened it and inserted a drive inside to copy some important information.
I know it's a very thanda chapter
Let me know what you felt after reading this!
PMs will be late.