Tuesday, May 29, 2012

7th Heaven...?

From the Frankly Spooking outtakes

Meena looked up at the clear night sky and sighed. Ah, bliss. Sometimes power cuts came with their own incentives. When else could you hang up your boots, forget about the internet, TV, and come up here on the terrace to enjoy the pleasant night?

She took a deep breath and walked lazily in circles, just soaking in the dry night air. Pleasant. It was dark everywhere, but she could hear merry-making in a few houses. She smiled. Rajeev had called earlier on to say he’d be late. But they’d made a pact that if there weren’t any mosquitoes tonight, they’d cuddle up on the terrace and perhaps even sleep up here. She was in fact looking forward to it. So far no mosquito had feasted on her. Not yet. She was tempted to check her mails on her cell phone but resisted. No Meena, just enjoy this – it doesn’t happen often.  She went back to her childhood when the entire family slept  o the terrace during summer. Oh, what fun. They’d pull one another’s legs, play all sorts of fun games, eat dinner, sip on the cool juice her mother would make for everyone – the fun never ended.

She wished all of them were here with her now. She wished…

Shit, something moved. There, there. Behind the parapet. Was it a monkey?

There had been sightings lately, and residents had been warned to arm themselves with something when they ventured out on their rooftops. Meena regretted not having got anything with her. She just had her cell phone. Fancy throwing it at the monkey. She shuddered to even think about it.

There, it moved again.

The top of its rounded head was clearly visible. Must’ve climbed onto the sunshade.

What do I do?

“Shoo, monkey...” She said, waving her hand frantically. Nope. The damn primate’s head was still visible. It was slowly moving sideways now. Meena stood still. Maybe it’ll just move onto the neighbor’s terrace. A moment later, the head ducked and disappeared. She waited, her breath arrested.

Nothing. Great, it must’ve gone.

She walked toward the parapet slowly. Ok, you ape, where are…

With a whoop, the form huddled behind the parapet leaped into the air; a short scream escaped Meena’s lips.

Where’d it go, where’d it go? - she looked around frantically. She bent down. Had it jumped down? Couldn’t be, they were seven floors up. She didn’t see the monkey jump to a neighboring building even. Then…?

Thud. Behind her.

She turned slowly, her lips trembling. The thing had jumped up and landed behind her.

And it definitely wasn’t a monkey. Monkeys were short. This thing was at least six foot tall, with hands and legs grotesque and hairy. It had no face – but a huge mass of, God knows what – Meena was beyond thinking now. She just stood there shaking like a leaf, eyes half closed.

God, let it go, please, please, please.

And then the creature suddenly vaporized into a huge ball of dark smoke and shot out at her.

A few minutes later, Rajeev stomped up the stairs and walked through the terrace door.

“Meenu baby, I’m here,” he said.

Meena was standing near the parapet, with her back to him.

She turned and smiled, her eyes shining like pearls in the dark.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Believing is seeing...

“Yaar, I’m telling you, this house is haunted,” Vikram said, taking a swig from the beer can. He and his brother-in-law, Jithesh, were sitting in the living room.

Jithesh smiled. “Yeah? What made you say that – did you chat with a ghost last night? You don’t sleep before 1 am anyway.”

“Ha, that would’ve been better. At least we’d have been friends, and he…or she, don’t know what, would’ve stopped bothering me.”

“How does it bother you?”

“Well, you know when I wake up at say, 3 am, and go to the fridge for some cold water, I can somehow feel that someone’s standing beside the fridge, watching me take the bottle out.”

Jithesh leaned forward now. “You mean, you saw the ghost?”

Vikram shook his head. “I just feel the presence. I don’t see it.”

“Vikram, that’s your 5th can talking. Just gulp it down and hit the sack, man. ‘Feel’ the presence indeed. Ha.”

Vikram frowned. “You don’t believe me?”

Jithesh shrugged and looked at Vikram seriously.  “Well, I’d certainly believe if I saw it myself. Think you can manage an intro?”

He then sniggered. Vikram rose and swayed to the kitchen. “You bloody son-of-a…, I’ll give an intro to you. Just you wait until after we hit the sack.”

Jithesh was still laughing from the living room. “Have you told this to Anushka? She’ll pack her bags immediately, I guess.”

Vikram returned with another can.

Jithesh’s eyes grew wide. “Another?”

Vikram waved him away and sat down.

“Are you nuts? I won’t tell Anushka even if the ghost were to strangle me. Thank God she’s traveling.”

“Yeah, but she’ll come to know some day, don’t you think? That is,  if …there is a ghost here.” Jithesh’s smile returned. That wicked smile.

Vikram was thoughtful, in a drunk sort of way. “I don’t know yaar. You think I should tell her, when she returns?”

Jithesh nodded. “Tell me something,  hasn’t she experienced anything like this?”

It was Vikram’s turn to laugh now. “And not tell me about it? Where are you from, dude? If she experiences something like that, she’ll exorcise the ghost simply by screaming her lungs off. I feel that should happen sometime. The ghost had better not mess with her.”

Jithesh reclined on his cushion now. “Hey, be nice now. Don’t talk about my sister like that.”

Vikram chuckled. “Then what…you asked me, so I’m telling you what’ll happen.”

Jithesh smiled hazily and stretched his legs. He was snoring a few seconds later. Vikram sipped on his can and switched on the TV. It was close to 1 am.

“Vicky,” he heard Anushka’s voice from behind him. Hairs standing on end, he turned slowly.

Anushka stood  looking at him, sleepy eyed. “Sleep na, baby, you have that important meeting tomorrow, what’s wrong with you?”

Vikram stammered. “Hon..honey, you…you..how did you…”

“How did I what?” She was still sleepy.

Vikram then looked beside him. Jithesh wasn’t there.

“Where’s Jeethu?”

Anushka was awake now. “Jeethu? Here? Vicky…how many have you had?”

 She looked at all those cans strewn around Vikram. “Gosh…Vicky – just come to bed. Now. Enough of drinking.”

Vikram tried to focus, as he rose shakily and tried to steady himself. It all felt so real. Jithesh, their talk about ghosts.

He then looked at Anushka and laughed. “You won’t believe what just happened here.”

“Oh, I believe you,” Anushka said and burst into a peal of laughter that stunned Vikram.

She then turned into Jithesh, winked, and disappeared.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Be patient...

“I get these out-of-body experiences, doctor,” she said.

“As in…?” the psychiatrist asked.

“As in, I feel like I’m not me, but someone else.”

A while later...

The secretary knocked and peeped in.

“Doctor, I’m sorry but…”

She stopped and looked around, puzzled. “Where’s the patient?”

“What patient?” The doctor replied, in a female voice.


Friday, May 04, 2012

'Galti' se mistake (Concluding part)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3  / Part 4  /  Part 5  / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 

Never before was the sound of traffic so musical to her ears. As she sat blind-folded, gagged, and tied, she wanted to keep hearing that sound. Then after what seemed like an eternity, the sound started to fade, making her heart beat faster. She thought about Siddharth. Blue Nile.

Did the cops know they were meeting there? Why weren’t they watching this evening? Yes, of course.  Because they knew about her rendezvous. They knew it. They had tapped her cell phone, for sure. Shit. They might get to Siddharth. She couldn’t believe she still wanted him safe.

And then it came, like a bolt from the blue.

Who are these people, then?

She felt the van lurch sideways, followed by another eternally long bumpy ride. The men were surprisingly quiet. The van stopped after a while.

The front doors opened and shut. The door to her left slid open.

“Get her down,” someone said. She waded her arms in the air, trying to get down. Someone held her shoulder and she got down. Phew. That was quite a ride.

She was taken to someplace and made to sit. Then someone pulled the blindfold off her eyes. She squinted. It took her a while to adjust to the light. She looked around. There were three men in all. Two on either side of her. The main guy sat opposite her. He had a funny hairdo. Then she remembered. She’d seen him in that video.

He was Guru…no , what was that name again..damn.  Ah, yes – Babu.

She looked at him seriously.

He folded his hands. “Namaste, Priyankaji.”

He then motioned the other two to get out. Once they were gone, he looked at her and smiled again.

“How are you? I’m sorry I had to get you here, in this manner. You see, your friend Mr. Mallik..he’s a strange fellow. How do you know him?”

She looked him in the eye, trying to look and sound as fearless as possible. Never whimper in front of these bozos.

“I don’t know him.”

“Oh really? But then, you have written a two page essay about him, and what a wonderful time you had the other night, on the Bangalore-Mysore highway? Hmm?”

How on earth did this guy know all that? Is Vikram double-crossing me? Bloody cop.

“That..uh, yes, but not because I know him. I just happened to meet him. I..he, he was just dropping me someplace because my scooter was damaged.”

“Oh, I see. Ok, ok..good. He’s a good human being then.”

She didn’t know if he was being serious, or sarcastic. Good actor.

“What do you want from me?” She asked point-blank; made him laugh out.

“I like your boldness. You’re very frank.”

Straight-forward is the word, dodo.

He continued. “Ok, now, basically this guy – Siddharth Mallik. He’s a pest. And I want him to come to me. He’s been avoiding me, you see. After all, he has my money…” He looked at her and smiled. “I’m sure you remember? That bag?”

Priyanka didn’t reply.

“Yeah, that bag. Had money in it. Lots and lots. You know why?”

She shook her head.

“That was supari. For another person. But your friend – turned traitor, and killed my Guru instead. My Godfather, my mentor…” He actually became emotional.

“So..” he continued, “I want him to come to me, and give me back my money.”

“Is that all? You don’t want to take revenge, for killing your guru?” Priyanka said, wondering why she said that.

Babu was thrilled by her thinking. “That’s wonderful. You think I should do that?”

She shrugged – “Well, he’s killed your Godfather. He deserves something similar, right?”

Babu started clapping. “I like your frankness..I really do.”

Priyanka rolled her eyes. “But what, you’re using me as bait, or what?”

“Yes. Good that you understood.”

“But why’ll he bite the bait? It’s not like we’re lovers or anything, you know. Why’ll he melt for me? You should’ve just been a man, and gone shot him.”

“Don’t tell me what I should, or should not do, madam,” Babu said, his voice suddenly turning  hostile. “You know, I can right at this moment…” he stopped, fuming.

Priyanka was surprised at her own calmness.

Just then, someone knocked at the door. Three distinct knocks – like a code.

Babu walked over and opened it, only to fall back, a hole in his head.

Siddharth was standing at the door, gun in hand.

Priyanka felt the blood come back to her veins. But she was equally perplexed.

“How come you’re here so soon?”

Siddharth walked over to her. “Why? You were waiting for this creep to call me, do some drama about having captured you, etc?”

She didn’t want to, but she laughed. “Yeah.”

“Well, all that happens in the movies, I guess.”

“And what about his men?”

“My men have taken care of that. And we really need to talk. But not here. Let’s get out of here, first.” He unbound her.


They were sitting at Mallesh’s farm house, about 45 km out of the city.

Priyanka looked at Siddharth, who was sitting relaxed, in the couch opposite her. She had a glass of juice in her hand. He wasn’t having anything. She couldn’t believe he and his men had just put bullets into a little less than half a dozen men back there.

“We’re safe here, don’t worry.”

“But..what about all that killing back there? You guys behaved as if it was all a video game.”

Siddharth laughed. “In a way, it is.”

“But..won’t they..”

“Won’t they, who?”

“The cops..?”

“They’re waiting for me and you, at Blue Nile.”

Priyanka couldn’t help laughing. “I still don’t get it. Why did you call me to Blue Nile? And instead of sitting there, what are you doing here? Babu couldn’t have possibly told you before-hand that he was kidnapping me? That would’ve been stupid.”

“Yes,” Siddharth chuckled.


“Ok..I first realized that the cops were stalking you..or rather, keeping a watch, a few days ago. That’s when I decided to find out how they knew about you. I came to know that you’d gone to the cops…”

“How..how did you know..?”

“We have our sources, Priyanka. Informers work on both sides of the law – reasons are different. Mostly. Not always.” He smiled.

She waited for him to go on.

“So, I just wanted you to be safe from all this, and not get involved. Remember what I told you that night?”

“Yeah, but how was I supposed to even dream in my wildest of dreams, that you’re..you’re..”

“You can say it. Contract killer.”


Siddharth looked into her eyes. There was something that made it very hard for her to believe that he was indeed a contract killer.

“What?” She said, uncomfortable by his gaze.

“You think I’m a bad guy?”

“Umm..no, not like that – but killing people; it’s bad no, Siddharth? It could be anyone, even a criminal. But it’s human life.”

He nodded. “True.” He then pulled out something from his pockets and threw them on the table in front of her. “Look at these.”

For a minute she didn’t realize, it looked like a picture of a slaughter house. Then, it dawned on her, and she covered her mouth in disgust, gasping.

“That’s right. It’s not a butcher-house pic, Priyanka. Those pieces of meat you see there, are my brother’s.”

“Oh my God,” Priyanka said, nauseated by it all. Siddharth quickly put them back in his pocket.

“I’m so so sorry, Siddharth. When did this happen?”

“Two years ago. His name was Anurag. And he’d come to this city, to get a job with an IT company.”

“Then what happened?”

Siddharth shook his head. “I don’t know..how he joined the world of crime. But he did. It was then that Malleshwar..took him in and tried to reform him. But by then it was too late. Anurag had gotten his hands into something from which there was no escape. So…,” Siddharth said, patting his back pocket. “that was what he got as a reward.”

“Who did it?”

“Hegde, and his men.”

“So…you came here to..”

“Yes. Mallesh loved him like his brother. And he couldn’t take revenge outright, because there was too much at stake for him, politically.”

Priyanka didn’t know what to say.

“That’s when I came in. Even if Mallesh had told me that he wanted to take Hegde down, I won’t have allowed him to. Hegde was my prey.”

“God, Siddharth…”

Siddharth smiled sadly. “So, I came to the city, as a total stranger, known only to Mallesh, and a few of his trusted men. I made friends with Hegde and Babu, got to know a lot of their dealings, posed as a contract killer, and promised to take Mallesh out.”

“And then turned the tables on Hegde?”

Siddharth nodded. “Took me two years to do it. Yes.”

“And the money?”

“I’ve not used a single paisa from that. All of it has gone to charity. See, technically, it’s just money – I just acted as if I accepted it to kill Mallesh. But I didn’t. So, it’s not supari, according to me. And I’ve not taken any money to kill Hegde or Babu..so..”

“And the other night? It wasn’t just by chance that Chandrakanth got into the car, right?

“Yes, it wasn’t, but I don’t know why he turned on me instead. He was supposed to give me that money as supari.”

“Maybe his head turned seeing all that money.”

“Yes, that’s what Babu told when I questioned him.”

“How much was there in it, anyway?”

“How does it matter? Forget it..” Siddharth smiled.

Priyanka shrugged and nodded. “Ok.”

Siddharth looked at her. “I don’t know why I felt like dropping you to the circle that night, Priyanka. I really don’t know. I cursed myself a thousand times, once Chandrakanth turned hostile. Else I’d have dropped you to the circle, maybe even exchanged numbers with you later,” He laughed.

“Like I’d have given my number to you.”

“Oh really?”

They both laughed. Then she looked at him. “ But tell me, how did you know Babu was going to kidnap me?”

“I got a tip-off last night, that Babu was hatching a plan, so I had to make up that story and call you to Blue Nile. I knew the cops would’ve bugged your phone. And by openly announcing my plans, I knew they’d rather wait for me there, than keep a watch on you. It gave me time to follow you here.”

Priyanka shook her head in disbelief. “Are the cops that dumb?”

“No, they just trusted you and believed me easily. The gambit worked. I was ready with plan B, though.” He smiled.

“Unbelievable. You came to this city, just to kill these two people? And what happens now? The cops are crawling all over the place looking for you.”

“I’m going to have to just vanish. I’ll get help for that, don’t worry. Mallesh is there. Unless..”


“Unless you decide to turn me in.”

“Hmm. That’s a possibility,” Priyanka said, looking serious.  Then she burst out laughing. Siddharth laughed too.

Then she said, “I don’t know Siddharth. I was about to turn you in back there. I..I feel lousy about it now.”

“It’s ok, not your fault. You didn’t know me well enough to..I understand.”

“And you saved my life.”

He nodded. “ I had to.”

“What’s your real name? I’m sure none of it belongs to the real you. The car, your name, your address..none of it.”

“You’re right.”

“So? What’s it then?”

“Arjun. And I’m from Delhi.”

“So, you’re parents in London..all that..”

He shook his head.  “My parents died more than 10 years ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Priyanka said, softly.

“It’s ok.”

There was silence for a few moments. Priyanka pursed her lips, not knowing what to say next. She sure expected a lot of fireworks in the papers the coming days, and of course, Vikram would make her life hell, no doubts. She had to think of a reason for not having gone to the Nile.

Last minute change in plan, perhaps. And well, he could go looking for Siddharth Mallik for the rest of his life. She would make friends with Arjun, meanwhile. She smiled at her own little joke.

Arjun now looked at her. “Priyanka.”


“Do you hate me?”

“Huh? Hate..? no, why?..because you..”

He nodded.

She shook her head. “No.”

He looked into her eyes again. “I’m going to forget all this once I return. I just did it for my brother’s soul. I want to start a new life.”

“And the cops? Won’t they try to …”

He laughed. “For how long..2, 3, 4 years? Something more important will come their way in the next 6 months, you watch.”

They laughed again.

Then he asked. “Can we be in touch?”

Priyanka looked thoughtful and then said. “Yes. I’d love to be in touch with Arjun. Not Siddharth Mallik.”

The End

'Galti' se mistake (Part 9)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3  / Part 4  /  Part 5  / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8

Priyanka looked at the videos, her eyes wide. Vikram stood beside her, hand on his chin.

“Isn’t that how it happened, Ms. Priyanka?”

Priyanka nodded.

“Yes. That’s the car alright. But…”

“Looks like he knew he had to get into your car, right?” Vikram said.

Priyanka looked at him and nodded again. She swallowed hard, her face pale. Vikram smiled. “That’s because, he knew Babu and Chandrakanth.”


He didn’t allow her to speak. “Now..Ms. Priyanka, I want you to see something else.” He pulled out some pictures from another envelope and placed them in front of her.

She flipped through them, one by one. It was an under-construction site, taken at night, by some teenagers who seemed to be drinking there. They were having fun, evidently. She didn’t understand why the officer was showing her this.  She looked up at him.

Vikram stepped closed and pointed a finger at something else in the picture.

“See that?”

“What..?” She began, and then she saw. It was the same maruti 800.

“It’s Siddharth’s car. What’s he doing here? He’s not with these guys.”

“Yes, he’s not here. Because at that moment, he was up on the 9th floor of the same high-rise. The night Swaroop Hegde was shot dead. He used a telescopic rifle.”

Priyanka looked dazed.

“We chanced upon these pictures later, during investigation. Got it from one of the witnesses, who had some pictures of that building, and told us about the parked car. Of course, they wouldn’t know Siddharth was up there, right at that time. But my colleague, who’s working on this case, gave these to me. We believe, Siddharth is the same guy in both these places. Siddharth Mallik.”

Priyanka waited for it to come.

“We need your help to bring him in, Ms. Priyanka.”


Priyanka started living in a daze, not really believing what she had gotten herself into. But Vikram had assured her safety, and that his men were watching her, guarding her every moment.

She slowly realized that Vikram was right. There always seemed to be men, watching her house, watching her when she went to work; she’d see men take turns and appoint themselves across the street, in plain clothes of course. While it gave her a strange sense of security, it also made her sad within. She’d not expected Siddharth to turn out to be a killer, to say the least. And he’d definitely contact her. Suddenly, she feared. Everything seemed uncertain. But then this was the same guy who had dropped her home safely that night. He could’ve done anything with her. But he didn’t. She wondered what that was all about then, Chandrakanth barging into the car, and taking them both hostage. If Siddharth and he knew each other, why the drama? She cursed the evening when she bumped into his car. She should’ve just walked back home. She loved getting wet anyway. It would’ve been fun. Now see.


The beauty parlor was teeming with clients over the weekend. It was getting hotter, and Priyanka was the fourth in line. The air conditioner in the waiting room was of no use.  She picked up a magazine on the rack and flipped through the pages for the nth time. Just then her phone rang.


She recognized the voice immediately. The number was unknown – probably a pay phone.


“Priyanka, we need to talk. Can we meet?”

Priyanka looked around. Her heart was pounding. This was the moment Vikram had told her about.

“Where are you?”

“ Meet me at the Blue Nile pub at 7 pm sharp.”


“And, Priyanka. Please don't bring your ‘khakhi’ friends along.”

The line went dead. She stared at her phone. He knew about the cops. Shit.

Back at the SP’s office, Vikram took off the head-phones, and turned at his men.

“Blue Nile”, he said.


Around 5.45 in the evening, Priyanka rode out of her house, surprised that her ‘watch-men’ were missing in action. She was planning to shake their trail off anyway. She sighed and moved on. The Blue Nile was on the other end of town, literally – reaching there by 7 pm meant wading through traffic. She decided to take a short-cut; one that was less crowded. Around 6.20 she turned right at the Victoria layout junction and continued up. She didn’t notice the blue maruti van that overtook her, and slowed down in front of her.

What the…

The van stopped without any warning, pissing her off.

“Hey,” she started, braking hard. She was almost about to bump into the van.  Not again! Thank God, not much traffic here, else…

She thanked God too soon. Two masked men got out of the van and walked to her. One of them folded his hands.

“Namaste, Priyankaji.”

Before she could even realize what had happened, they gagged her and bundled her into the van. There were two other men waiting inside. They tied her up, closed the van door closed and sped away, the first guy trailing behind, on her scooter.

To be concluded...

'Galti' se mistake (Part8)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3  / Part 4  /  Part 5  / Part 6 / Part 7

Siddharth was sitting in one of Mallesh’s cars. The tinted windows up, he watched Priyanka alight from her scooter and walk into a super market. As he looked in his rear view mirror, he saw two men get down from a bike and cross the road towards a pan shop. They bought cigarettes and stood chatting.

Cops. He knew them, had seen them.

A half hour later, Priyanka came out of the super market and headed home. Siddharth saw the two men get on the bike and follow her.

Damn, the cops knew about her. But how? Did they know about him as well?

He had to get in touch with her. In person. Calling her would be suicide. He turned the car on the wide road and sped away. He didn’t notice the blue maruti van that followed the bike.

It was almost 11pm when Deepu called Babu. He was parked a cross road away from Priyanka’s house, head lights off.

“Boss, the cops are keeping a watch on her. 24/7. No, I don’t think she knows,” said Deepu.

He then gave Babu some more details of her movements. “No, she hasn’t met any guy today. She went to work, did some groceries and headed home. Yes.”

Babu gave him instructions about another job and asked him to return.


Vikram Shetty got home a little past midnight. He had a spare key. He entered the house and headed straight to the bedroom. His wife was asleep, and so was their 12 year old daughter, in the other room. He went to her, kissed her forehead and walked out silently. He heard her call out in her sleep, smile and turn over. He changed and walked to the dining table, and saw that the parcel had arrived.

He sat down and opened it. He’d asked Pratap to have it send over home since he was busy with other paperwork at office. He pulled out the two discs from the packet, and went to his study. He flipped open his laptop, and turned on the table lamp.

A few moments later, he was watching at the video grabs he had requested for.

Since it was raining, the video was grainy. The Brigade junction grab was virtually useless. He could barely make out the shapes of vehicles. Plus a couple of street lights had conked out, adding to his woes. He clucked in frustration, and pulled out the other disc – the residency road junction.

He watched for anything unusual. According to Priyanka, Chandrakanth had gotten inside their car a little after 7.30 pm. The video from this grab was slightly better, but still the rain played spoilsport. He kept watching and pausing the video wherever he felt he sensed something. Then he did sense something.

Yes. It was someone getting into a car. And it was a maruti 800. So Priyanka was right – God bless her. He replayed that part again. But then, as he moved the cursor a few seconds back, he noticed something else. Chandrakanth seemed to cross the road from the sidewalk, where a couple of men stood – and get into the car unhurried and relaxed, as if he knew that was the car he was supposed to get into. Didn’t look like he picked some random car, like she’d mentioned.

He played the entire video again, this time looking out for the sidewalks as well. Chandrakanth seemed to be talking to someone before crossing the street. He paused and moved the cursor back. He paused when he thought he could somewhat make out the other person he was talking to. The other guy seemed to be pointing Chandrakanth towards the car. Who was it? Damn.

He put on his glasses, and went to the settings. Did this player have a zoom? The video was awful as it is. He wondered why they couldn’t grab this in at least dvd quality.

Ah, it has zoom.

He zoomed the part a bit. Looked grainier but some details he could make out. That hair do was familiar. Unmistakable in fact.


“Son of a gun. Chandru ran away. My foot. Then, what are you doing here, my friend?” Vikram said, softly, so as to not wake up the girls.

He played the video normally a few more times. Yes, it was them alright. Babu stood there, pointing Chandrakanth to the car. Chandrakanth got into the car.

But according to Priyanka said, he car-jacked them.  Vikram was a bit confused now. Who was telling the truth? Certainly not Babu. Chandrakanth, God bless his soul, couldn’t answer him even if he wanted to. Priyanka…well, if she were involved in all this, she wouldn’t have come to him in the first place. Which meant she had no inkling about all this. So, did she or did she not know Siddharth? Probably not.

That left only Siddharth. Hmm. Who’s this character, and if he knew Chandrakanth and Babu, what was he doing with the gun and bag? What was in the bag?

It was late, but Vikram decided to take a chance. He dialed a number.

“Hello,” he said after a few rings.

“Subbu, sorry to bother you at this time. I need to know about a certain Siddharth. Heard of him? Especially his contacts with the Hegde family. Swaroop Hegde, yes. More so, what is his business with Babu.  Ok. Ok, fine..good.”

Subbu was an informer, who went way back with Vikram. He trusted him more than his own men.


Priyanka was woken up rudely by her mobile phone, the next day. She squinted her eyes; damn – it was seven already. She then looked at the number. It was Vikram Shetty, the cop. Oh good, maybe he had some information about Siddharth.

“Hello?” She tried to hide the coarseness of her ‘just-woke-up-now’ voice.

“Good morning, Ms. Priyanka. Vikram Shetty here.”

“Good morning, sir.” She went and closed the door of her bedroom. “Tell me , sir.”

“Did I disturb you…were you..?”

“Oh no, no, sir. I’m awake.”

“Ok. Now..I have some information, but you have to understand this is confidential. And ..of course, you’ll have to come down to my office in the morning. My men will be there to escort you.”

Why are his men escorting me? Am I the chief minister?

“No, it’s ok sir. I’ll come on my own. Please don’t take the trouble..”

“Not trouble, Ms. Priyanka. As security.”

What the…

“Why, sir, what has happened?”

“It’s about Siddharth.”

Her heart skipped a beat now. “Why, sir..what has happened to him?”

“No, no..nothing has happened to him. But Ms. Priyanka. You must be very very careful now.”

“Why, sir?”

Damn it, don’t behave like my public admin. Professor, spell it out, man. She felt like throwing her mobile phone at the cop.

“Siddharth is not what you thought he is, Ms. Priyanka.”

“Meaning? I haven’t thought anything about him, as yet.”

“He’s a contract killer. And his full name is Siddharth Mallik.”

She was already feeling a little woozy on an empty stomach, this morning. This piece of information made her sicker.

“He’s a...what?”

“Yes..you heard me right, Ms. Priyanka. I can’t give you more details on the phone. Please come to my office by about 9.30. I need you to see and verify something. Don't worry, my men will follow you.”

“Ok,” Priyanka said blankly, the mobile slipping away from her hand, and she sunk back on the bed.

Contract killer.

To be continued…

'Galti' se mistake (Part 7)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3  / Part 4  /  Part 5  / Part 6

Priyanka sat in the lobby and looked around. A constable arrived with a coffee cup in a tray. She smiled and declined.

“Have it madam, please,” he insisted. She took the cup from him hesitantly.

She’d never visited a police station, or the commissioner's office before. She sipped and waited. A few minutes later she was summoned to the superintendent’s chambers.

She parted the green curtain. “Sir, may I come in?”

She’d expected to see an elderly officer, but the person sitting in the room was not more than 45, she guessed.

“Please come, Ms. Priyanka..please sit. I’m Vikram Shetty, DoSP.” They shook hands. Priyanka sat opposite him gingerly.

“Just a minute,” he said and went over a few pages in a file. She nodded.

He closed the file after a few moments, took his glasses off and reclined, smiling warmly at her. But for his uniform, she’d have thought she was with her doctor.

“So, tell me ma’am. How do you know Chandrakanth?”

“Sir, actually, I don’t know him.”

She narrated the whole story, right from Siddharth’s car bumping into her scooter, to him dropping her back home.

Deafening silence for a few moments. Vikram’s face was serious. He was twisting his mouth in every possible way, trying to create a structure out of the sequence of events she just told him. He then looked at her.

“That’s it? After that, you haven’t met him?”

“No, sir.”

“You don’t even know his number or whereabouts?”

She shook her head.

“You’re a brave woman, Ms. Priyanka. He’s a total stranger, and you agreed to sit in his car, that too on a rainy evening? Why?”

She shrugged. “Sir, he was alone. And..moreover, he looked decent, and..well, I carry mace with me, so..it wasn’t like I didn’t try. No auto was ready to stop, or take me to corporation circle. He said, he was going the same direction. Traffic was dense. What could he have done?”

Vikram laughed and nodded. “Yes, yes. True, but..you should have been careful. See, now you have spoken to me. Of course, I’ll keep it confidential – the press or anybody else, won’t know about it, but..you never know, right? These are powerful people, ma’am.  We’re there to protect you, that’s there…”

“Sir…you’re scaring me now,” Priyanka laughed nervously. “I thought by coming clean, you could probably even protect Siddharth. I’m more worried about him. He has that bag and gun…”

“Ah, speaking of the bag. You're sure you didn’t open the bag there?”

“No, sir.”

“And Siddharth said he’d open the bag later.”

“Yeah. Actually he first wanted to drop me home, safe.”

“Hmmm,” Vikram said. “That was a wise thing to do, to keep you out of it.”

“And he also told me that if he found something really dangerous, he’d come to the police.”

“I’d have expected you both to come to us, irrespective of what was in the bag. See now, we will have to book him under charges of hiding things from us. Right?”

Priyanka looked worried. Vikram smiled. “See, it’s bailable. He needn’t worry, but he should’ve come to us no? You say he’s possessing a gun. That’s an offense. It doesn’t belong to him. But since you were honest, we can be a little lenient with him. Provided, he co-ooperates. Right?”

“But sir, we both were taken by surprise, the way Chandrakanth got into the car. He had the gun pointed at us all the time. And what happened on the highway was purely an accident. Siddharth only took it from him as self-defence. We were in fact about to return his bag and gun, when ...when the other car hit him.  So...there was no time to think at all. Maybe he couldn’t come to you because somebody already threatened him, or something. Maybe the bad guys got to him first? That's what worries me...”

Vikram laughed. “You watch a lot of movies, I think, Ms.  Priyanka. It doesn’t happen like that.”

Priyanka smiled sheepishly. She was now unsure if she did the right thing by coming here.

Boy, did I put that guy into trouble now?

“Hmm. Anyway, you don't worry, we'll take it from here, Ms. Priyanka,” Vikram said. “I'll let you know if I find Siddharth, or make any other progress. Meanwhile, if Siddharth contacts you, please inform us. Ask him to talk to us, please. I do appreciate your humaneness, yeah? Now, please give all the details in writing. The staff will help you.” He called out to a constable.

A moment later, she was escorted out, to another table. A constable handed her a pen and note pad. She thought for a minute, then started writing.


Babu was muttering something into his cell phone incoherently. Deviprasad, who'd walked up behind him just then, could only hear  “oh, is it? Is it?  Ok, ok. Oh, great. Ha ha. This is nice. When? Ok. Yeah, tail her. Get me details by evening.”

Babu hadn’t seen Devi Prasad coming, so he was a little surprised.  Devi Prasad chuckled. “What were you saying, tail her? Hmm? Who’s this new-found interest, Babu? Huh?” He ribbed him. Babu laughed and waved him away.

“Oh, nothing..just some small time actress. Our friend Deepu has fallen for her, I believe, so I was telling the boys to keep a watch on her.”

Both of them laughed.

They spoke for a while and then Devi Prasad left. In reality, Babu had received information about Priyanka’s visit to the SP’s office. Now he rose to get himself a drink. He took a sip and thought – “Mallik, you unfortunate son-of-a-bitch. I’ll bring you down to your knees now. Just you watch.”

To be continued...

'Galti' se mistake (Part 6)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3  / Part 4  /  Part 5

Vikram Shetty walked up the hospital steps and headed straight to Dr. Netra’s office. Too many things were happening too fast. He wondered if the accident and Hegde’s killing were connected in some way. Dinakar informed him that the commissioner was personally looking into the latter’s case and that he had already deployed a team of officers.

“I’d like to speak to Babu after I’m done talking to Deshpande, sir. Who’s working on Hegde’s case, sir?” he’d asked Dinakar earlier that day.

“Pradeep,” Dinakar had told him.

Pradeep was the assistant commissioner, and special investigating officer, crime – he was heading the team for the Hegde case.

“Ok. Because I want to see if Babu knows anything that can help me with this accident case. Maybe I’ll need to speak with Pradeep too.”

“Sure, but ensure you both work together on this one. Don’t rub him the wrong way.” Vikram Shetty had a history of violence, and Dinakar had to warn him.

Dr. Netra was stepping out of her office when she saw Vikram. She smiled at him. After the niceties, she sent word through an employee to check if Deshpande had come to.

“Doctor, what is his condition like?”

“He’s ok. Still in the ICU. We’re still monitoring him. Aside from that…a broken rib cage and two fractures. Bruises on his face. No internal injuries, thankfully. It’s a good thing he was wearing a seat belt, and of course his car too protected him.” She smiled that typical doctor’s smile.

Vikram nodded. “Yes, it was a big car, with all safety features and all…”

“What do you want to talk to Deshpande about, officer? He’s been sedated, and his speech might be slurred.”

“Oh, that’s ok. I just want to know if he remembers anything at all. It’s a little odd for a politician’s aide to come under a car on the highway,” Vikram said. “On a rainy night that too,” he added.

Netra nodded thoughtfully. “Hmm, yeah – understandable if it’s someone from the town by the road, or something.” Vikram nodded in agreement.

Someone peeped in and told Deshpande was awake. Vikram left Netra’s office and headed to the ICU.


Vikram called Dinakar an hour later, on his way to Bangalore.

“Sir, Deshpande says he faintly remembers a car parked on the side of the road, when he hit chandrakanth, though he is unsure. He says, it could have been a car or something. Everything happened fast. And it was raining.  Yeah. Yes. I know, I didn’t pressurize him a lot. Let him get better, maybe his memory will improve as well. Ok. Ok, sir. Yes. Yes, sir.  Ok, fine. Bye.”

He hung up, his brow furrowed. He then called his office.

“Pratap? Can you find out from the commissioner’s PR office, if they’ll be running any follow up story to the accident case on TV? If not, prepare a release and send it to them. I also need to talk to their producer. Yes.”

That evening, the Bangalore based TV news channels put out a request to viewers, asking them to help the police with any information they had about the Chandrakanth accident, anything unusual they saw in case they were at the spot that night. It ran as a ticker on the bottom of the screen, there was a helpline attached.

Priyanka was watching this. And she wondered if Siddharth was watching it too. It was a week since that night, and it was obvious he had not approached the police. She wondered if he was in some kind of trouble. She wondered why she was wondering about him, in the first place. But she didn’t have an explanation to that one. She knew he didn’t want her involved, but now her heart just won’t listen. Or maybe it was conscience. It was hard to tell.

For starters, she just had his name to go with. And she had noted down his car’s number. That’s it. Maybe the cops could help her reach him.

She saved the helpline number in her mobile and dialed a few minutes later.


Babu watched as Vikram Shetty walked out of the compound. Vikram had come asking about the accident. He’d made sure not to give away anything that could make the cop suspicious. The money was evidently not found by the police, so he didn’t mention about it. In case it came up later, he had an explanation. Right now he was agitated. Hegde had been like his Godfather, and had taken care of him like his own son. He had to avenge his death. He sighed and then looked at Devi Prasad.

“I’m sure it’s that bastard, Mallesh. 100%. And I’m now getting a nagging feeling; I’ve been double crossed by that snake, Siddharth Mallik.”

Devi Prasad nodded. “Hmm. But I don’t think we should do anything rash now, Babu. Wait for this whole thing to settle down. Let it fade from public memory. Then we’ll take care of Mallesh.”

Babu nodded. But he knew Deviprasad had a reason. After Hegde, he was the next in command, and wanted to make the most of it.

But Babu had other plans. He needed to get to Siddharth and take care of him first.


Malleshwar, aka Packet Mallesh, and Hegde's arch enemy, looked seriously at the TV screen. He then turned to Siddharth.

“Now they’ll have people calling the cops. You sure nobody saw you?” He knew about Siddharth’s escapade with Chandrakanth, but didn’t know about Priyanka. Siddharth hadn’t mentioned her to anyone.

Siddharth smiled. “I doubt if anybody saw me. My car perhaps. Not me. And trying to go after a Maruti 800 is like going after a needle.” And he knew nobody could’ve seen Priyanka as she was sitting on the other side. And even if they did, it’d be a while before the cops could zero in on them. He knew how to evade them.

Mallesh laughed. “Still…be careful.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”


Vikram was listening to the help-line calls screened and recorded by his office. Most of them were useless.

I saw a burst of lightning… He rolled his eyes.

There were four cars piled up…

I saw six dead bodies. One of them was wearing…. Vikram held his head. Aside from Chandrakanth, there weren’t any fatalities. Six dead bodies, indeed. He laughed. People did funny things to hog the lime light.

He discarded some more calls when he chanced upon one.  It was a female voice, and sounded rather genuine - I just want to say that…I was there when it happened. I..and another person, we  watched it happen. Chandrakanth was with us before the accident. I can provide… Vikram sat up and took off the head-set. He then called a constable inside.

“Tell Pratap to contact this number and ask the person to come meet me at my office tomorrow.” He scribbled Priyanka’s number and handed it to the constable.

To be continued…

Thursday, May 03, 2012

'Galti' se mistake (Part 5)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3  / Part 4 

Babu walked out of Hegde’s house and got into a car. As they drove out, he pulled out his mobile.

He had to wait a few rings. “Mallik. Where the fuck are you? Do you know what has just happened?”

He heard what Mallik had to say.

“Yes..I know, but Chandru double-crossed us. I…”

He grit his teeth, and then gripped the mobile tight. “Look man, you’ve got to believe me, I’m telling you. Chandru just got greedy. How was I supposed to know..?  Yes..yes. Very much. The deal is still on, I give you my personal guarantee. And I need to get that bag, else Hegde will not spare me. The parcel has to be delivered at the earliest. Do what you want. But do it quick.”

He disconnected and slapped his hand on the dashboard. “Bloody hell”.


Superintendent of highway police, Dinakar, spoke at a press conference and announced that DoSP Vikram Shetty would be handling the accident case, and that sufficient progress had been made in the case.

“Sir, there have been rumours that Chandrakanth did not die of an accident, but it was a set-up, made to look like an accident. Is it true?”

Dinakar cleared his throat. “See, we are investigating the cause behind the accident, and all the reports will be collected in due time. We cannot just go with hearsay. At this moment, I can only tell that.”

Another journalist raised her hand. Dinakar nodded and from then on went on to answer some more general questions.

Vikram Shetty was waiting outside when the police officers and journalists walked out of the conference.

He sat with Dinakar in his car, as it pulled out of the venue.

Dinakar took off his cap and relaxed. “So?” He smiled at the younger officer.

“Why this case, sir?” Vikram asked.

“Well, you know how it is – when I get a request from higher up, and they want a thorough investigation, I have no choice but to think of you.”


“I know, Vikram – you don’t like highway in the first place. But see, this is the time to prove it and get back to crime. Right?” The older officer spoke gently, like Vikram were his son. The two had developed a special rapport in the last two years, when Vikram had been transferred here. He knew Vikram’s potential, and a case like this was a good opportunity.

“You know how these politicians are, right? It never stops at one thing. So, you might open a Pandora’s box, who knows? It’s your time.” He smiled. Vikram smiled wryly too.


A couple of days later, Swaroop Hegde sat on the balcony with Babu and Devi Prasad. Hegde and Prasad were a little drunk already, but Babu hadn’t touched his glass. Hegde appeared sad.

“Bloody rat. I trusted him so much. I even gave him so many things in life. And this is how he repays me.” Hegde poured himself another one and looked at Devi Prasad.

“But, you know – it’s a good thing that accident happened. The son-of-a-bitch got what he deserved,” Deviprasad said.

Babu remained silent. Hegde sensed his discomfort and looked at him.

“Don’t worry, son. These things happen in this business. That money might be as good as gone. Who knows, some villager who arrived at the scene first might have taken it. But..Babu..I need Malleshwar’s head. At any cost. This time round, make sure things go right…” Hegde said, his voice slurring. He then straightened up to say something very important.

Thup. Thup. Two slugs entered Hegde, one on the chest, and one on his face, piercing his right eye and entering his skull.

Hegde’s head fell back and he slid off the reclining chair, a dark red stain spreading fast on his white kurtha. Devi Prasad and Babu looked on for a moment, not sure they saw what they did. Then Babu rose and shouted orders to his men outside. There was pandemonium.

Two crosses away, on top of a high rise that was still under construction, Siddharth made a phone call.

“The job’s done."

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

'Galti' se mistake (Part 4)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

Swaroop Hegde, ex-gangster, and now MLA from the Chamarajendra constituency, was at a party when the call came. He excused himself and stepped out into the lawn.

“Yes, Babu. Where’s the bastard? You found him?”

He grit his teeth and waited. Then he took off his glasses. “What? When?”

He called his man Friday and asked him to get the car out of the guest parking lot. He then called the host of the party, excused himself, and drove out of the party premise, a battery of vehicles following him.


Party workers, supporters, journalists…cops - it was mayhem outside Hegde’s house. When his convoy got in, Hegde got out of his car and quickly scurried inside, where only a few people were retained and the rest were asked to wait outside. A security guard closed the door.

Hegde started pacing up and down the hall.

“How the hell did you allow this to happen, Babu?”

Babu was Hegde’s  strong man, and personal body guard.

“I did send my men after him, anna, but he disappeared in the rain. And then we heard this…”

“Switch on the TV,” Hedge said absently.

There were covering the accident. Everybody in the room looked on dumbfounded. Hegde was the first to speak.

“What on earth is that? So many cars. One, two, three…there’s a fourth one there too. Huh, Babu? What’s this?”

Babu just shook his head.

“What was this guy doing on the highway, in the first place? I thought he was..”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to explain, anna. My men chased him till the General Kariappa building. He then somehow ran across just when the signal turned green, and then got lost in the crowd on Museum road. There was nothing we could do.”

“Ok, this happened inside the city. How did he land up on the highway?”

Babu didn’t have a reply.

“And the money? I’m sure he must’ve hidden it someplace before your people went after him.”

Babu looked up disappointed.

“What? Bark,” Hegde shouted.

“Anna, he had the bag with him. I saw it...”

“So? He must’ve hidden it…no wait. If he was planning to leave the city, he would obviously take it with him, why’d he leave it anyplace here, right?”

“But Swaroop, he could’ve hit the highway after hiding the money as well, right, maybe to come back for it later?”

It was Deviprasad, a close aide. He continued. “I mean..why’d he take that chance, unless..”

“Unless?” Hegde was impatient now.

“Unless he had someone waiting to drive him out of town.”

“Yes, but he’s been run over by that car there..which means he was not sitting inside one. Come on Devi, what are you saying?”

Everyone nodded.

“And moreover,” Hegde continued, “he couldn’t have pre-planned it. I believe Babu’s men caught him unawares, and he escaped somehow.”

Babu nodded. But Hegde glared at him. “I still can’t figure that one out, Babu. Your men are hulks…how did you allow him to run away. How could he just escape?”

“He..he had a gun pointed at us, Anna.”

That got everyone’s attention.


“Yes, anna. He had a gun.”

“Bloody idiot – where did he get a gun from? Ok…but when he took to his heels, what were you doing? Waiting for someone to shoot an air rifle at the starting point of a race? You should’ve just pumped all your bullets into him, Babu…” Hegde said, half in frustration. “In my time, I would’ve never allowed this to happen.”

“Anna, you had only told, not to attract attention. I belong to your party…everyone knows me..and..”

“Oh yes, yes..I forgot about that.” Hegde waved his hand away.

They sat silently for a while. Then Hegde turned to Deviprasad. “Devi, get the commissioner on line. Ask him to instruct highway police, that we want a thorough investigation on this one. Don’t mention the money. And in case they found the money, tell them it was part of our election funds, and that he was running away with it.”

Devi nodded.

“Two and a half crores is not a small amount to just…just lose, like marbles” Hegde said, looking at his men.


Priyanka sat glued to the TV. Her mom passed her by twice and raised her eyebrows. “What’s so important about that horrible accident? I’ve never seen you peel your eyes at a local news channel, of all the things..”

Priyanka wasn’t listening. She was swallowing hard, unable to stomach what she was hearing and seeing on the telly. The guy who’d car-jacked them was an accountant who worked in the private offices of MLA Swaroop Hegde. His name was Chandrakanth. He was run over by one Mr. Deshpande, who was on his way to Mysore. She craned her ears some more. Chandrakanth had died on the spot, and…Goodness – Deshpande had survived the accident, but critical. He had been admitted to some hospital in Mysore.

Priyanka clenched her teeth.  God, Siddharth…I hope you’re seeing this. What added to her frustration was that Siddharth had not even left a number. And she didn’t know enough about his whereabouts. In fact, she had no clue where he lived. Damn.

She then composed herself. Her mom was coming out of the kitchen again. Priyanka changed the channels and pretended to browse.

To be continued…

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

'Galti' se mistake (Part 3)

Read Part 1 / Part 2

Soon, minutes later, traffic approaching from the opposite direction started slowing down, and people started getting out of their vehicles. Some people were making calls to emergency numbers.

Siddharth watched them. He had switched off his head lights. From his rear view mirror, he could see cars slowing down behind him as well. He knew there was a dirt road that led to a village, a hundred meters or so behind him, to their left. He started the car and reversed the car slowly on the dirt sidewalk itself. Priyanka’s blank eyes still looked yonder at the pile-up. Before considerable traffic could pile up behind them, Siddharth made it to the turn and entered the dirt road.

It was a while before Priyanka realized they’d just left the scene, free from that pesky guy, forever. She wiped her cheeks and turned to Siddharth.

“Do you know the way back from here?”

“I have a fair idea…the rest we can ask around. But first, reach out for your mobile phone and call your folks. Tell them you’re safe, and that you’ll be back home, say in two hours or so.”

“What do I tell them?”

She realized her hands were still shaking.

“Cook up some story – but whatever you do, don’t ever, and I mean…ever, tell them about what happened here. Yeah? Things could get way too complicated. It’s best this way.”

Priyanka nodded, her mind still working furiously. She switched her mobile on and dialed.

“Hello ma..” was all she could manage before falling silent for a good minute or so. Siddharth presumed she was getting a mouthful.

“Yes..yes..listen, arre listen mama  -  yes, appa.”

Oh, daddy came online now. Great.

“Appa, I’m really sorry, I know..I....what? Amrish . Why did he go there..no, what rubbish. I know this guy. Yes..what..who do you want to believe – that stupid constable or me? I’ll come and explain everything, appa. My mobile just died on me, and it was an emergency…I’ll come and explain.”

She hung up and shook her head. “phew.”

“What ‘emergency’ are we going to tell?”

“I’ll think of something. I believe they went to the cops and those guys asked them to wait for a few hours before actually writing a report. Now they’re thankful they didn’t.”

Siddharth raised his eyebrows.

“They thought you’d kidnapped me, or something,” She said, after a pause.

Siddharth laughed.


“Ok, ok…” He turned serious.

“What next?”

Siddharth shrugged. “I don’t know. Seriously.”

“I think we should tell the cops. What do you say?”

“I’m thinking what’ll happen if we don’t.”

“You’re not joking, are you?”


“Oh, come on Siddharth, don’t be stupid. You think they’ll not trace it back to us?”

Siddharth remained silent, and replied after a minute or so.

“They might. Or, they might not.”

“How do you know they will not?”

“Just think, Priyanka…and these thoughts are coming to me only now. I too thought of going to the cops, but think about it. It gets too complicated if we do. But now, as things are, they might not be able to connect us to this person. Consider…”

“Oh yeah? You still have his gun and bag in your back seat, mister. Don’t forget that.”

Siddharth shrugged. “I’ll dispose it off. Both the things.”

Priyanka laughed. “I don’t believe this.”

“What, what is so..?”

“Siddharth. That man just got run over by a car on the highway. We were there, others have seen us...”

“Who has seen us? The guy who ran him over? I don’t think he’d have made that crash. Or even if he did, he’d be too busy trying to avoid our man…won’t have noticed us. We were just another car pulled off the road.  See?”

Priyanka hadn’t thought of that. She pursed her lips, and then, “What about other cars that slowed down behind us, after the accident? They saw us.”

“Well, they’d think we arrived after the accident, just like them – and that we were in a hurry, so we reversed and made off into the dirt road. Look..nobody cares, nobody notices, especially in times like this..”

“And our dead friend? What if he was connected with something sinister? Won’t they come looking..and yes, he said his life was in danger..right? What if he has something dangerous in his bag? Shouldn’t we check?”

“I’ll do that, at home. But right now, we need to get you home. That’s first. And I think you should be out of this. Don’t get involved. I don’t think it’s good for you, or your folks.”

Priyanka didn’t know what to say. Then she shifted a bit, reclining against the door, so she could see him straight.

“And you plan to get involved? Is it ok for you, or your folks?”

They looked at each other silently for a few seconds. Siddharth swallowed, and turned his eyes back on the road.

“I don’t have a family here, Priyanka.”


“Yeah. My parents stay abroad, with my brother. I’m single…and..” he stopped.


“And well, I don’t think they’ll know. Seriously. “

“And what if there’s something in the bag that you should report to the police about?”

Siddharth turned to her and smiled. “Then I will.”

To be continued…