6: The DVD

>> Tuesday, June 02, 2009

At around the same time that Sid was making the decision that would probably change his life, Neha sat along with Ishika in her posh Aundh bungalow thinking about the events that had unfolded in the past 12 hours.

The moment she had reached Pune, she had found a company car waiting for her at the bus stop. She was a little surprised to see the company car. Her father was very particular about keeping work and home as two different aspects of his life. Even though he owned the company, he would never use a company vehicle for personal use. The fact that he had sent a company car for Neha meant that her destination would not be home. It would be her dad's office. And the important thing was definitely related to his company. That's weird, thought Neha. How would she be involved in the company's matters? It wasn't as if she was a technical expert that her dad would call on to help with some problem they might be facing.

She called up her dad and told him she was on the way. He asked her to come to the main conference room in the main building. One more ominous sign. That room was always reserved for brainstorming sessions on big problems. Her heartbeats increased a little.

The car shortly pulled in through SecureSoft's massive gates. On reaching the conference room, she expected it to be brightly lit with a bunch of geeks with laptops in front of them discussing away some technical mumbo jumbo that she wouldn't understand. But she was surprised to find pin drop silence. The light was dim. And instead of a group of people, she found her dad at the far end of conference table, sitting alone. He got up as she came in. She quickly went to him and gave him a quick hug.

"How are you Pa?"

"Have seen better days, beta... Come have a seat. I am sorry I had to call you directly to office. I am sure you would have liked to relax a little at home first. But, this was a little too important..."

Neha sat down with a perplexed look on her face. She waited for her dad to continue.

"See beta. I don't know how to put this to you. You know I hate involving personal equations into company business. What I hate even more is getting into your personal business. I have always tried to let you make your own decisions and never doubted your judgment on people around you."

Neha still couldn't put a finger on where her dad was going with this. "Papa, what are you getting at? Come straight to the point na. I am getting a little confused here."

"I guess there's no use beating around the bush. I will come straight to it. Do you know this guy?"

He pressed a key on his laptop. What Neha saw in front of her took her so much by surprise that she couldn't speak for a while. Staring at her from the big conference room screen was an image of the same guy that she had tried so hard to forget for the last month or so. His hair color was a little brighter, his skin tone was a little lighter, but there was no mistaking him.

She just looked at her dad. Her mind was too numb to process anything right now.

"Well, we had this person visiting our office today. And there have been some problems and we have been trying to desperately locate him. It just so happened that Ramesh glanced at his picture while serving me tea here and he said that he had seen this guy in Mumbai once. With you!"

Ramesh was their trusted family help. He would be the one traveling to Mumbai to deliver anything that Neha might need from home. Neha remembered now the one time when Sid had come to drop her off at her place after a lunch date. And she had completely forgotten that Ramesh was supposed to come home with some of her stuff. He had met them downstairs and left.

"Is he a friend?" Her dad asked.

"Yes, I know him. Or rather, knew him." Neha replied. "What has happened dad? Please tell me." she urged.

"Ok. I will. But understand what I tell you is extremely confidential. This has to remain between us."

Neha nodded. This was turning out to be a little too surreal for her.

"My dear, you know that we build software for our country's defense forces. Well, unknown to anybody, we had undertaken a top secret project a year back, right around the time you left for Mumbai. It was also one of the reasons that I agreed to send you to Mumbai so that I could work long hours here overseeing the project without feeling guilty about you at home."

Neha nodded. That was all she could do at the moment.

"Well, the defense ministry recently purchased a huge number of specialized missiles from the Russians, capable of launching with pinpoint accuracy towards any target within a 400 km radius. What was so special about this deal was that India also got a centralized control system from the Russians.

The missiles are currently spread out along India's western border, many of them at crucially hidden locations to nullify the insurgency threat from our neighboring country. Even though the centralized control system could work to some extent, it's software had to be heavily modified according to India's strategic needs.

And that's where SecureSoft came in to the picture. We bagged the contract for doing these much-needed changes. However, the majority of the team does not know exactly what they are working on. It's just me and a couple of designers who know what this is meant for. Everything else has been modularized such that its only on a need to know basis."

Neha nodded. Again.

"Well, now that you have got a background of the work, let me tell you that in the last month or so the project was in its final stages. It was being tested extensively. And for field testing, the actual data that would be used later on was being used for testing of all the functionalities of the software. We also have a system of backing up data everyday for this highly sensitive data, and we had put a tight security system in place for securing that data as well."

"Today, this fellow", pointing at Sid's image on the screen, "had come in posing as an Israeli govt official checking out various security systems that we design. Ofcourse he was shown around the other smaller softwares that we use. But he somehow got one of our project leads to take him to the server room. And using a stomach upset ruse, he got away with the backup DVD containing all the actual data that we are using for the testing of this project."

For the second time in a matter of 15 minutes, Neha had been stunned. The only thing she could muster up was, "What is in that DVD?"

Her dad let out a sigh. "It contains exact locations and details of all the missiles that protect India and it's defended sovereignty..."


"You want some coffee?" Neha was nudged out of her reverie by Ishika. Neha shook her head. "Hey! What's up with you, sleepy head?" Ishika asked her. Neha just shook her head again. She was happy that Ishika was with her right now. But she was in no mood to talk. Ishika, sensing her mood, didn't probe further.

Neha's thoughts went back to last night. After it had sunk in that Sid had been involved in the theft of that DVD, Neha had been able to tell her dad about how she got to know him. She left out the romantic angle. But she knew her dad sensed it. Neha gave whatever details she could of Sid. And while she was trying to, she was surprised to realize that she actually didn't know much about him. The only tangible facts that she had about him was his cell number and the address of the flat he was supposedly living in. Her dad had them immediately checked out. The number was a duplicate SIM and not in use right now. By morning, they had found out that his flat had been rented out just for a month and no details were available. Both had been dead ends.

The day had passed in a daze for Neha. She couldn't make sense of it. Not only had she failed to judge Sid's character, she had failed so completely that she had now started doubting her judgment on everything.

Out of despondency, she had called up Ishika. She didn't want to be alone. And yet, even with Ishika sitting right besides her, she couldn't help but feel even more so. She toyed with her phone. She came up to Sid's number. And not knowing why, she just dialed it. Even though she knew it would not go through.

But suddenly, the display on her phone indicated that the call had connected! Neha didn't know what to do. She just kept staring at it! She could hear a faint voice answering from the other end as she held the cellphone in her hand. Without thinking, she put the phone to her ear. "Hello", she said.

"Neha? Is that you?" It was after a whole month that she heard Sid's voice.

And then she suddenly found her own. "Yes. Who are you, Sid? What else do you do? Kill people?"

"Neha! What are you talking about? Listen..."

"You listen. The DVD that you stole yesterday was from my dad's company. Do you have any idea what is in that DVD?!"

"Oh God! It's a small world! Neha, listen to me! I did not know what that DVD contained. Not until right now. And now that I know, I am not going to let it fall in the wrong hands... I may have broken all my other promises to you until now. But I promise you this. Tell your dad to meet me with the police at Bund Garden in.. Ahhhhhhhhhh!" Neha heard a huge thump and a big groan as the phone went dead.

"Hello? Sid?? Hello???" Neha yelled. No response.

Ishika had been sitting up in a state of major alarm for some time now. Neha looked at her. "We need to call dad! And we need to get to Bund Garden! Let's go! I will explain it to you on our way there!"

She literally dragged Ishika with one hand as she tried to call her dad with the other. Ishika just looked at her with her big eyes. Unknowingly, she too had gotten caught up in the hurricane that was Neha's life at the moment...

5 comments:

Marie 9:55 AM  

Interesting...
Never thought Sid, the bad guy would ever think right.. But after all he is the "Hero"!! :)
Nice twist!

amsko 10:17 AM  

Ok.... So that's the deal.

And now one more time u've left me at the edge of my seat. Sell this story to a producer....

Waiting for the next one... Well done.. :)

Amrita

Rucha 3:53 PM  

Next ??

Caught Offside! 6:51 PM  

@Marie: Hehe... I hope I break the stereotype...

@amrita: Thanks a lot! You have been a constant source of encouragement!

@Rucha: Sorry for the delay. Have been a little creatively spent for the last two weeks!

Yamini 5:51 PM  

ohh wow... now since i know the next part is already put up and i don;t have to wait to read it..but i would like to tell you my first reaction..
"what happened to sid?"

sorry for reading this thing late....

ok..me going to the next part now... tadaaa

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