Jeremy turned on his back and stretched his arms. Four long hours in that uncomfortable crouch, things were NOT looking good. At least he could shift and turn all he liked, for no-one with the least amount of purpose in life would go around looking in attic windows of long-locked houses. The people passed, without one glance at the dusty mansion they ‘saw’ every morning since as long back as they remembered. So Jeremy could move all he wanted without fear of drawing attention as long as he didn’t create much sound or, when the times to be really wary came, he didn’t send an unusual shadow on the road ahead, something the neighbours weren’t used to seeing on their tiresome lunch-break walk home.
That was some consolation. So much that Jeremy had stretched eleven times in the past hour, not just for need to exercise but more, for need to DO something lest his body go stiff if, in case the subject did come.
But Jeremy wasn’t complaining. At least his window was high to his belt when he sat on his knees…. He couldn’t for one moment be envious of Karan, who had taken the other important position on the street… beneath the center, main drain portal. As the positions were being decided, Jeremy had been very happy to note that Karan’s sudden picking of some kind of guilt made it necessary for him to invariably take up the tougher, and the muckier, jobs. Without looking at Jem, Karan had said, “I’ll take the drain, you okay with the house?” And bad as Jeremy felt for Karan, he politely said, “Yes.”
So there was Jeremy, shuffling and twitching in the narrow attic, of useless dimensions, wondering what could possibly take Karan through four hours in a city drain. And with Delhi, you never knew what you would find.
It was a pretty stupid mission. But as Jem had been convinced only too well, it was also very necessary so that Karan could play his last trump card properly.
Armed with a military-level pair of binoculars, Jeremy sat gazing at the house across the street, much too bored with the actual target, and hoping with every breath to find something interesting. Even a cat purring!
Then the phone buzzed. The device was on mute, but still Jeremy jumped, because only one man in the world would be calling at that number, and at that minute.
“You are not looking at the house.” Karan’s dry voice scrawled through the phone.
“Ya- sorry. Did I miss anything?” Jeremy asked only too sincerely, hoping hard that he hadn’t.
“The subject entered the house. Through the window.”
“Oh-okay… what?! Through the window?” Jeremy almost screamed when he realised. “Oh shit!”
And then, there was a loud bang that rang through the street, and echoed till it stung every ear. Sounded like a bullet being fired. And the silence that followed, sounded like Death.
“Good morning Delhi. In the terrorist attack at the Jevenia Club last night, several have been injured and two have been reported dead. The terrorist group has still not identified itself but they took the city by surprise, not taking any hostages the conventional way, or a bomb, but opening fire at the club from strategic positions outside. Jevenia was left filtered with heavy ammunition and shattered glass. The bar section took crossfire heavily and a pool of alcohol and liquids covers a major part of the Club floor. More updates will be reported as they come.”
The news correspondent signed off with that. Karan drummed his feet furiously under the coffee table. He was clutching a locket in his hand- like he just couldn’t afford taking his fingers away for even a second. Across him, Jeremy sat, still anxious of Karan’s next outburst.
“They could have saved her… They could. Where was all their medical advancement when she was- having an attack?” Karan had downed three cups of coffee already. “Bastards…. these terrorists.”
For a brief moment Karan smiled. “She fainted. Because she was on the floor, she was clear out of the range of fire.” Jeremy asked nervously, “But Karan, why did she faint?” He mustered all his courage, and asked very politely, “Did she- did she show any signs last week or- her health…?” You never knew with Karan, what might provoke him, and specially now.
He just lost the love of his life. And like that. Karan didn’t reply. And Jeremy couldn’t repeat the question.
“I think… it was the food. Remember I told you she had not been eating properly… it must have been serious…”
“Do you think the doctor visits mean anything….?”
Karan nodded calmly. “No…. I checked…”
Jeremy was relieved- Karan had at least retained his logic in the tragedy. Things just might fare alright after all. “What are we going to do now? Of course without Su- her, the plan can’t go on.” Every word was filled with caution. Karan rubbed the locket hard.
“Hm. New plan. Find the subject and deal with it. Directly. Without- Sunny.” Karan passed the locket in his hands. Finally, when his hands and the locket were moist with the sweat, with all the rubbing and clutching, he put it on the chain round his neck. It was Sunny’s locket. He thought of Sunny.
Sunny in her white dress, hanging loosely around her waist, defining her slim frame… Sunny with her brush of dark hair piled up in a mess… Sunny with no unnecessary glittery, just the locket- a ring of plain white metal.
How he had felt on finally meeting her- finally getting to talk to her after all those weeks, all those glimpses from behind bookshelves, all that shadowing… They had danced. And now she was gone.
Karan gulped down the fourth cup and walked off, out of the cafe in a sudden brisk. “C’mon. We have work to do.”