Uma started the car. She'd barely stepped on the accelerator when the door behind her opened and snapped shut. And she'd barely begun to turn when she felt the cold muzzle on her neck.
"Drive, woman. Don't you dare look back."
She pulled out onto the main road. Calm now, she auto suggested. No point asking where he wanted her to go. And moreoever, she didn't want to feel like a cabbie. She sniffed. Her cold suddenly worsened, and she'd this urge to sneeze. It passed.
"Take a left here."
A thousand re-runs of a thousand bollywood/hollywood movies zipped in her mind. Well, not that she was an avid movie watcher in any case, but a part of her mind now chided her for not watching all those DVDs her husband rented. She drove on. They were on the ring road now; oh, they were going on a long drive alright. She spotted her cell lying in between the steering wheel and the odo.
Almost as if he'd read her mind, "Pass me your cell phone."
She could hear the clicking and snapping. The sim card was out of the window. Dumb move, she thought. Then he flashed his own cell out. She managed to look into the rear view mirror. She wanted to laugh out as she noticed what he realized.
"You could've used my phone, you know. Yours might be traced..."
"Shut up and drive."
She shrugged. She'd caught a glimpse of his face. Looked decent. Glasses. A light stubble. Hmm, not bad looking, actually. They rode in silence for a few minutes, the traffic outside the only sound. Suddenly she liked the sound of traffic.
"Drive out of town."
"Listen, we've to fill up..."
"Next bunk, on the right. And make it fast." he ducked.
At the bunk, he lay low.
"I've to go...you know...." She said.
"I'm watching you. And no tricks, ok? This isn't like the movies. Don't try to call the cops from the bunk."
She handed over the keys to the bunk assistant, instructing him to fill the tank up. When she returned, her passenger was still lying low in the back seat. She shook her head and got in. A few minutes later they were speeding out of the city. She looked at her watch. Some more driving in silence.
Before she could open her mouth, he spoke again.
"You don't look like you work."
Yeah right, I carry my ID around, she thought.
A white innova overtook them and blocked them, forcing the car to stop. Now what...
Four men stepped out.
"I'll handle this. You keep quiet."
She shrugged. He inched the muzzle closer to her neck.
One of the men pulled the rear door open, pointing at him what looked like an automatic.
"I'll...I'll kill her. Don't step forward. Who are you?"
He'd barely uttered the words, when without his own knowledge a howl of pain escaped his lips, and he felt his hand snap. The woman in front had used the distraction to pull his hand and break his wrist. The gun fell from his hand. Uma stepped out. The leader of the group stood in attention and saluted her.
As the perpetrator was handcuffed, she couldn't help but notice with amusement, the look in his face.
"Not your day, man." She smiled. He didn't know what to say.
"And oh, one more thing."
"Next time, make sure you get your basics right, hmm? Read the newspapers, it's a good habit. Guys like you should know who you're pitching against, shouldn't you? And last - never, never leave the victim out of your sight. ok?"