8: The message

>> Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The steaming hot cup of coffee warmed her hands as Ishika held it. As she drank it, the steam fogged her glasses but the warmth spread from her hands to her jangling nerves. The blanket that she had pulled around her gave her a sense of calm. Through her fogged up glasses she looked at Neha sitting across her on the bed. They both needed that coffee after the evening's events.

The clock behind Neha struck two as Ishika thought about the last few hours. After the call, Neha had literally dragged her out into the car. Ishika was completely flummoxed. Here she was, at one moment sitting and chatting up with her friend, and in another moment she was holding onto her life as Neha shot the car precariously through Pune's bustling evening traffic! On the way Neha told her everything about Sid and his recent activities. Ishika just couldn't fathom it. It was straight out of a Hindi movie!

Neha's dad had meanwhile mobilized the state machinery. The Bund Garden police were on the lookout for Sid. They had positioned plainclothes policemen across the Bund Garden compound wall and on the bridge adjoining it. But they could find nothing suspicious. It was Saturday evening and there was a plethora of people milling around the various eateries and shopping places near the Garden.

Neha and Ishika reached Bund Garden at about the same time that Neha's dad did. He looked at Neha. Ishika sensed that he was about to scold her. But then, he held himself back. He must have understood. Maybe Neha wanted to get to the bottom of this as much as he did - though for completely different reasons. They waited at Bund Garden for quite a while. But there was no sign of Sid. As expected, his phone was again switched off. Ishika had calmed down by now. And she started thinking about the call. She asked Neha to describe it to her in detail again. The promise that Sid made to Neha, telling her to reach Bund Garden with her dad and the police and then the sudden groan at the end. It all pointed to the fact that maybe Sid had realized what was in the DVD and did not want to be a part of this theft anymore. And before he could do anything about it, he had been attacked. Or worse.

But wait. Sid had not called Neha. Neha had inadvertently called him. So, it could not be that Sid had planned to call Neha. The phone call and the subsequent directions to come to Bund Garden must have been spur of the moment actions. He must have already planned something else with the DVD. God knows he had a lot of time since last night to do anything he wanted to do with it. The fact that he was attacked while on the phone would mean that he had not delivered the DVD to whoever it was supposed to go. So, there was a high probability that the DVD had not fallen into the wrong hands as yet. Maybe all was not lost.

Ishika spoke with Neha and her dad. She put her hypothesis in front of him. Neha's dad smiled. "Well done Ishika. Infitech were fools to let you go! Now we just need to figure out what he could have done with the DVD. The best thing he could have done with it would have been to destroy it." Neha and Ishika looked at him. Ofcourse! That would be the simplest thing to do! "But often when you are under pressure, the obvious answer eludes you," said Neha's dad.

Just then, an aide came up to him and started speaking. Ishika looked around. It had gotten dark. The crowd was thinning out. Some of the shops were downing shutters, happily counting away the profit they had made on this busy Saturday. Neha's father spoke up, "We may finally know what Sid has done with the DVD. Apparently, we just got a mail at our office email id marked to me from Mr. Neel Siddique. That's the alias Sid had used when he had come here."

He paused. His aide gave him a printed piece of paper. Neha's dad read it aloud. Neha and Ishika could just look at him, mouths agape.

As Ishika finished her coffee, she looked at Neha and smiled. "You do have one hell of a choice in men!"

"The rat bastard!" Neha said aloud and then suddenly grinned. "When all this is over, I would sure like to meet him once!"

"And do what?"

Neha grinned again. She switched off the lights. That was some day, thought Ishika as exhaustion slowly took them into the deep recesses of sleep...


Yamini 2:49 PM  

leaving it to the readers' imagination???

You just know how to be jeffery archer at times... trust me...

I hated to love his writing... :D

neha 10:10 PM  

i do agree with yamini but feel that a little more detail or a little more insight into the characters might have heightened the curiosity some more

Caught Offside! 2:29 PM  

@Yamini: Thanks! I will take that as a compliment... But I guess, I will complete it :)

@Neha: Read the preceding 7 chapters, you idiot! The number '8' is there for a reason!! :D

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