~ 8:00 pm.
The street light was piercing through the drizzle & it made the ambiance quite celestial, perhaps a little bit tricky also!! The month of December, the weather was chilling. Wealthy people in their comfy closures might be enjoying brandy/whiskey.
A stressed Vimal was gazing without any enthusiasm towards the street light.
He looked at his watch. Marked a few droplets on it. He was trying to take shelter under a battered shed.
Vimal was trying to call somebody. He was carrying an old shopping bag.
~ 8:45 pm.
As the rain weakened, he hurried towards his destination.
He was trying incessantly to get connected with a special one. The untimely downpour might have cast a spell & the connection got jammed.
‘’ Hello! Can you plz help me?’’- suddenly a voice called out.
He stopped & tried to locate it.
A shadow came forward. Vimal found that a lady mostly in the 30s was asking for help.
The blurry street lights, blowing cold wind, muted calmness transported Vimal to a separate zone.
He took some time to descend to reality.
‘’ Yes, sorry. Are you requesting me?’’- his voice trembled for a moment.
‘’Yes Dada, this side of the road is very deserted, hardly can see anybody. I will have to walk down to my apartment. Can you plz help? - the lady asked.
‘’ No issue Mam. In fact, I am also going in that direction. If you wish, you can accompany’’ - comforted Vimal.
Vimal got desperate, as he was not able to get connected to the desired person. He tried for another 3-4 times but of no avail.
It was a 5-6 minutes walk for both of them. Vimal found that they were in front of a 5 story complex.
Lady - ‘’ This is my apartment. Thanks a ton for your generosity. Would be really great if you come upstairs for a cup of coffee.’’
Vimal seemed a little bit distracted. He was busy with his mobile which was not reflecting any tower.
Lady - ‘’ Hello, dada?’’
Vimal-‘’ Ohh so sorry. Actually, I am trying to contact my younger brother for the last half an hour but of no avail. Seek apologies as I failed to reply to your words.
‘’ No issue. I can understand, you look fatigued & tired. Definitely this drizzle has created issues for all of us.’’- she replied quite sarcastically.
‘’ I am requesting you to come upstairs to have a cup of coffee with me if your time permits’’- Lady.
Vimal looked at his watch, it was showing fifteen minutes past nine. Here the mobile was not working. He was wondering how he would contact Lakshman.
‘’ Again Mam, sorry ah, actually you can understand the mobile is not working. it would be great to have coffee with you. Hopefully, the mobile connection will also resume by then.’’- Vimal.
~ 9:45 pm.
‘’ Plz make yourself comfortable, take this towel. By the way, I am Neela.’’
‘’Thanks, I am Vimal’’- Vimal replied.
Suddenly the tower resumed in Vimal’s mobile. He called.
‘’ Lakshman, sorry, I understand that you all might be worried as I was not calling, actually caught in the rain & the mobile connection nearly defeated me!!
‘’ No issue. Can understand the situation. Will be waiting’’ pat came the reply from the other end.
From the other room, Neela was talking in high octane over the phone -‘’ I don’t bother what you & Mantu think about me. After many days I saw care & kindness in somebody’s eyes.’’
‘’ To hell with your care & kindness, if you deny following our orders, you will have to face the consequences.’’- a hoarse voice tried to shut up Neela.
~ 10:15 pm.
When Neela came out, she found Vimal surfing a local magazine.
‘’ I am very sorry dada. It's already past 10, believe we should have dinner now & leave the coffee for another day’’- Neela.
‘’ Well …. no issue’’- Vimal obliged.
‘’ Just give me few minutes. Need to warm the food in the microwave oven.’’- Neela glided away.
Vimal witnessed benign happiness in her lovely face when he nodded to have dinner together.
~ 10:45 pm.
‘’ Neela Devi, thanks for the wonderful dinner. After many days, I relished on Hilsa fish. It will be ticking 11 soon. I must take leave now. Stay blessed.’’ – Vimal stood up.
‘’ No, no, you can’t, you shouldn’t’’- Neela was shouting. Her beautiful face had become pale & her eyes were petrified.
Her mobile was continuously ringing.
Vimal was trying to grasp the veracity of the situation. He was in utter confusion.
‘’ Try to understand, my brother is constantly calling me. I was not able to connect him because of the glitches. You requested me to have dinner, I was very hungry & I had it but now I will have to leave. Why are you not letting me leave?’’- Vimal.
‘’ Because Raju & Mantu are waiting with others in the street for you.’’ – Neela choked.
‘’ Raju, Mantu….. who are they? Why are they waiting for me? I don’t even know them.’’- Vimal asked surprisingly.
‘’ They are waiting to snatch your money & cause trouble to you.’’- Neela.
Vimal found that Neela was replying hysterically. Perhaps she was not in her senses. Neela continued,’’ I am part of a dreaded gang. Every night I use to lure people to my apartment. Have them drink coffee/tea laced with sedatives. Mantu & Raju then use to click photos of these hapless guys with me in compromising position & they are being blackmailed for money.’’
‘’ But you didn’t offer me any coffee & the dinner was also free from any sedative’’—Vimal.
‘’ Yeah, actually I don’t know the exact reason behind this. But for the very first time, I saw care, kindness in somebody’s eyes. Since childhood, I have always witnessed lust, hunger, desire, anger in the eyes of others but not love.’’—Neela.
Vimal’s mobile rang.
‘’ Yeah Lakshman, OK coming.’’ – Vimal.
‘’ Let’s go downstairs. Don’t worry. Everything is under control.’’- Vimal tried to comfort Neela.
~ 12:15 am
‘’ Sir, we have nabbed the two goons: Raju, Mantu along-with two other ruffians. A team from Lalbazaar had already left for Tiljala to catch their kingpin Maqbool Pathaan.- Lakshman, ASI Lalbazaar crime branch.
‘’ Good work Lakshman, really proud of you.’’- Vimal.
Neela was gawking everything in utter disbelief.
‘’Neela Devi, we are from the Lalbazaar crime branch. I am Inspector Vimal Chaurasia. This is an orchestrated planned raid. We have been following this case for quite some time.
A few days later
‘’ Neela Mukherjee, you have been bailed’’- constable spoke.
Neela was not believing her ears. She saw a lawyer seated in-front of the jailor.
‘’ Come, Ms Neela, I am your lawyer, you are out on bail. I will be fighting your case. Trust me. Soon you will be released.’’
As Neela came out of jail with the lawyer, suddenly a stout police officer appeared in front of her.
‘’ Neela Devi, this is your new address: Matangini Womens’ Hostel. All arrangements have been done. Rajeev, your lawyer, will take you there.’’ ---- Vimal.
Neela looked at him, her teary eyes caught Vimal’s attention.
Neela felt a rainbow of love, care, affection, tenderness in those bright eyes of Vimal just as she felt the day when they first met.
Vimal was watching as Neela got into the car & got driven away.
Suddenly it started to drizzle!!
The sun was shining brightly, it was really awkward!!