For Her22 mins 286 22 mins 286
"Shivani ma'am used to work here seven years ago, she got transferred. Now I have no idea where she is?!" Said the bank clerk.
"Which branch she was transferred to?" I asked with a little irritation.
"Sir, all the staff is new here, including the branch manager. You can obtain information about her from our zonal office."
"Thanks, by the way where is your zonal office?"
I'm presently posted at Sonipat branch as Branch Manager. Sid, where are you now a days? Sara's sweet voice echoed in my ears, when she called me last year after 15 years.
I came out of the bank premises. I took two days leave to come to Sonipat, a beautiful Haryana town in the union territory. I'd told my wife and daughter that I was going to Delhi to have a meeting with one of Will City Mall's owners over the issues of ownership of my restaurant, which was just a lie. I wanted to meet Shivani so I came to Delhi and from there to Sonipat.
I had no other business around here, but to see a longtime forgotten friend Shivani.
I'M IN A BIG TROUBLE, PLEASE HELP ME OUT OF IT, AS YOU'VE DONE IT SO MANY TIMES.
It was the long lost message which I found in my junk mail. Message was five months old. I decided to call her, though she had forbidden me to call her.
Sid you are a family man now, please look after your family and don't call me again.
I used to call her by the name Sara, because my elder sister's name was also Shivani so I had some hesitation to call her by this name.
Sidharth Kalra, you Punjabi people are very clever. Do call me Sara or whatever name you like. What's wrong if I call you Sid?
No problem Sara.
Do you know who Sid is?
You better tell me.
Sid is my dog's name.
If he has no problem, why should I have some?
What to do now. I had no idea. We had no common friends to whom I could obtain information on Sara's whereabouts. The phone number which she used to call me was terminated and now the bank people have denied about her, so was it the dead end of the long time dead relation between us?
Should I go to Chandigarh? What if people out there denied to give any information about her?
I drove slowly and came out on the highway. There were two ways, right one to go to New Delhi, and from there to my hometown Will City, where I live with my family. A little family consisted of my little daughter Ruhi and wife Vandana. I have always been on sweet, sour terms with my wife, she would often scream at me by saying.
Sidharth, you have always been a careless man. You never assumed any responsibilities towards me and Ruhi. You are getting older, when will you become a sincere man?
Vandana's harsh voice echoed somewhere far from here, but made me restless. I have told her about my relation with Shivani. She used to hate names Sara and Sid.
You just fooled around her, wasted your money. And when she kicked you out you married me to ruin my life. What if I also tell you about my past, have you enough courage to hear my love stories?
These words were part of our daily conversation. Sometimes I used to curse myself for telling Vandana about me and Sara. Vandana has always been a perfect wife and perfect mother for my lovely kid, but whenever I committed any foolishness or do anything wrong, she would roar like a tigress and tell me that my brain has become numb because of that witch Shivani.
To find Sara I'll have to go to her Chandigarh, zonal office. It's almost 200 km drive from here to Chandigarh. Should I go there or just leave this for this time, no I must continue my search.
I pondered over this matter for a while and then turn my car in the direction of Chandigarh.
Well, as an artist, I couldn't achieve much in my life, but turning to my family's catering business changed it all. Now I have one Indian Food Restaurant in Will City Mall and one fast food shop at Colonel Pass. Both the food junction are doing good and providing us a good life. Everything was going perfectly until I received a call from Sara.
"I used to think that you would have forgotten me and my voice." Said she after the initial conversation.
"I hardly forget anything in my life, you had been an integral part of my life, how could I forget you?" Said I.
"How is your wife?"
"Vandana has always been a good wife."
"One, a little girl."
"You love them both?"
"Yes, I love them to my life."
"Same old Sid! You used to say these magic words to me too."
"I've always been the same man. Whatever I said, I said from my heart. My words were as true as they are now."
I went on speaking, but she had dropped the call and long gone.
Hearing from someone who has parted from you fifteen years ago was surprising. Her voice was same, but her leaving in-between the conversation was surprising. I tried to call her back, but her mobile was out of coverage area.
"Why are you so silent today?" Asked Vandana over the dinner.
"I'm a bit tired today."
"Same story always. Grow up man, your little girl is growing."
I overheard her and went to sleep. Sleep was scarce that night. I went on thinking about Sara and how we met and parted.
She was in our college's athletics team. Her tall and slender body always used to help her winning in various races, jumps and pole vault. She used to win medals for college. Winning her over a number of boys was a tough job. I was tagged as a loser. Being a student of fine art, I couldn't achieve anything for me and my college. My college dean and head of the department used to scold me for doing nothing. My fellow students used to pass remarks on me, but they'd never do anything physically since I was taller and stronger for most of them.
I have seen Shivani several times but had no courage to talk to her. All alike other boys, I too had a strong desire to win her, but I kept this desire in my heart and stopped thinking about her.
One day I had to stay late in college. Our HOD wanted me to complete some long time pending projects. By the time I finished my work it was eight and it was dark and foggy December evening. I was driving my bike slowly, soon I was passing through the staff quarters block. I saw a staggering female figure on the foggy road. Just after a few moments a tall male figure emerged from the fog and leapt towards her.
"Shivani, just listen to me; it always goes this way. If you want something from someone you'll have to do something to get what you want."
"Just get away, I don't want anything from you."
"You'll never play for the state team."
"I'm tired of this sport thing, just leave me alone."
"I'll rusticate you from college and ruin your career."
"Do whatever you like, just go away."
"I'll not let you go so easily, girls die, to sleep with me and you are not letting me touch you." Said the man and took the girl in his embrace.
"Leave me alone." Screamed the girl.
"You bitch you bite me, I'll give it to you right now." Said the man shouting at her and he started dragging her towards a deserted alley. He was dragging her and slapping her. That was the moment when I stopped my bike and darted at the man.
I had never been in physical fights, but I went straight to the man and kicked him hard. The man fell on the ground with the girl. He left the girl alone and got up on his feet and jumped like a professional fighter and darted at me. We entwined each other and started throwing punches. The man was stronger than me, his punches were taking flesh from my face and other parts of my body. He threw a reverse kick in my face and I fell on the ground. He took a wooden log from the ground and raise it high to hit me. That very moment he screamed like a bull and fell on the ground, the girl emerged from behind him with a brick in her hand.
"Have I killed him?" asked she.
"I don't know, but you saved my life. Thanks."
"Who the hell are you to interfere in my matters? I could have handled it on my own." She said almost screaming at me.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have interfered, forget it, I'm going." Said I and started walking towards my bike.
"O fighter, listen. He is not moving, he is badly injured." Said she.
"You take care of him, I am going from here." Said I with remorse.
That man was going to rape you and you are worried about him.
"Stop, O fighter. Please take me from here."
I took her and drove fast to go away from the fight scene. Soon we were on the main road and there was little traffic and lots of fog.
After ten minutes of so she broke the silence and asked where I was going.
"Where do you want to go?"
"Okay, I'll drop you there."
Soon we were close to the central circle of Will City. Traffic was thin there, only a few passersby strolling here and there.
"Can't you offer me a coffee; I'm freezing." Said she with a shivering voice.
"Coffee is a good idea." Said I, and turned my bike towards the café coffee day.
Warmth of café brought some sense back to me. My face and body was aching but when I saw the beauty of Shivani I forgot everything.
She looked at me with interest and said, "You are looking like beaten paddy, go to the washroom and wash the dust from your face.
I went to the washroom. My face and clothes were all in a mess. I did a little dry cleaning and came out.
"Now I can recognize you. You are the artist." Said she with a smile.
"Yes, I'm. and you are the sports star of college."
"Don't talk about sports. My sports days are over. You need a mentor to rise high in this field and the mentor needs a lot from you. The man who tried to molest me was our sports coach Ravi Raj. He was pressing hard me to sleep with him. I refused him, today he asked me to come to his quarter for discussing about our strategy for coming national games. At his quarter, he tried hard me to fulfill his wishes, I refused him and came out and you know what happened afterwards." Said she, her eyes were moist.
"Don't lose heart, you'll get your chance."
"No, he'll finish me tomorrow."
By that time the waitress has put two mugs of hot coffee before us. I was looking at her face sheepishly.
"What's wrong, why are you looking at me. Is there some dust on my clothes too?" asked she with a faint smile.
I took my eyes off her and started looking at the entrance of the café.
"What is your name?"
"I'm Shivani by the way."
I already knew her name so I remained silent.
"Okay fighter, thanks for saving me from that hyena. Let's go now."
Next day as anticipated, Ravi Raj appeared in the college with his head injuries. He rusticated Shivani from the college for taking drugs during her state level sports meet. After doing that, he took a ten days leave from the college and disappeared from the city. Within a week he made sports authorities to ban Shivani from any sports event for five years. He has practically ruined Shivani's sports career. In between this all we met several times. I asked her to teach him a lesson. She refused by saying that she believed in karma and eventually he would meet his fate.
There was an invisible bond between us now, a bond of friendship, a bond of trust and perhaps a bond of flourishing love. There were no romantic words exchanged, but there was love an eternal love.
After one month, Ravi Raj somehow came to know that I was the one who kicked him that night. One sunny noon when I was working on a painting in our art section Ravi Raj came with our HOD Mr Mathur and questioned me, "Was that you, who was with that drug taking whore?"
His words went in my ears like melted lead. I snarled and said, "Yes, do you want me to kick you again?"
"You punk I'll teach you a lesson now." He said and walked towards me with his clenched fists. But instead of bashing me he threw a reverse kick on my face. His leather shoe cut my face skin and I fell with the easel. I was lying in between the legs of broken easel and my torn paining. My face was red with my own blood and Ravi Raj was planning his next move. Mathur was standing close to him smiling at me. He threw another kick at me, but I was ready this time, I dodged his kick and rolled over the floor, in between it I took the wooded leg of the easel. Before he could hit me again, I stood up and hit him with that wood. He staggered a little, but I didn't let him recoup. I went on hitting him. I broke his knee caps, I broke his elbow joints. I hit him everywhere, but his face and head. He was weeping like a woman and Mathur was screaming, "Help, help………he'll kill him."
I saw Ravi Raj was semi-unconscious and weeping bitterly, I spat on his face and run with the wood in my hand. I went straight to the canteen where the leaders of student union were sitting idle.
I entered the canteen and shouted, "Bhai, Ravi Raj beat me like an animal and he is looking for me to kill me."
Our union leader Sandhu stood up and told me to not worry, they would take care of him now.
My face wound and blood was enough to infuriate him. He gathered all the students and went straight to principal office where Ravi Raj was already present.
Sandhu shouted, "Principal if you want this college premises in one piece, hand over that rouge Ravi Raj to us, that Basterd has tried to kill one of our fellow students."
Principal, who was a coward man and always try to avoid any conflict between college professors and students came out and said, "Sandhu, you are wrong. Your fellow student has beaten him instead."
"I'm wrong," snarled Sandhu. "Take that coward out of your office otherwise we are going to burn your office."
Principal ran to his office and came out with injured Ravi Raj, his clothes were torn but there was no blood on his face."
"Kill that Basterd." Shouted all the students. But by that time Sandhu has understood that Ravi Raj has also been beaten."
"Raj, say sorry to this student otherwise we'll burn you alive here." Sandhu shouted.
Principal whispered in Ravi Raj's ear and after a few moments he came forward and said sorry to me.
All the gathered students started chanting slogans and scattered.
Sandhu came close to me and said, "Saale, you have beaten the hell out of him and want me to beat him again. Anyway, well done, we need student like you in our union."
Shivani met me in that evening she was ecstatic. She was scolding me mildly for entangling with that idiot Ravi Raj again. I told her about the union episode and she laughed.
"Didn't you do it all for me?" asked Shivani.
"Not at all, I was just saving me from him." Replied I.
This incidence strengthened the invisible bond between us and our nickname Sara and Sid came to existence on that day.
After six months courting on a fine evening I asked her, "Sara, can you spend the rest of your life with me."
"Is it a proposal?"
"Do you need an answer for this question. Sid there are words which could never be said, but they exist between us. If you really need an answer, I'll be the luckiest girl to share her life with such a fine man."
"Thanks Sara, your, yes has given a new life to me. Believe me, I'll do all to keep you happy all my life."
"I know Sid."
After that evening, I couldn't meet her. She disappeared from the town. I went to her family house. People told me that Shivani was living here with her widow mother, they were tenants here and they had gone.
Those were days of basic phones, none of us had newly launched mobile phones. I roamed here and there like a lunatic, but could never trace her, she had disappeared from the face of the earth to never to meet me again.
It took me almost one year to overcome this shock. My father started giving me new responsibilities and soon I was helping my father in our catering business.
New Bonds Over The Ashes Of Old Ones
I had been just like a dead man walking. I never knew love could be so ruthless. Meanwhile, my parents arranged my marriage with Vandna. We got married that winter, but I could not forget Shivani and it made my marriage a living hell. Soon Vandna came to know about my relation with Shivani and she started criticizing me for being a loser. Years passed and we learned to live our incomplete lives. When Ruhi came into our life, everything changed, I became a family man. But now I'm cheating my wife and kid for a woman who left me long ago for no reasons.
There were fast buses and slow cabs all over the highway. By the time I reached Chandigarh it was already night so I decided to go to the bank's zonal office, tomorrow.
"Tell us where is Shivani and the hacker?" shouted the Burley Sikh cop at me.
"I myself am looking for her. How can I tell you her whereabouts?" answered I.
"I know how to make walls talk, you are just a human being."
"Do whatever you like."
"Leave him alone, CBI people are coming to take him." Said another cop to him.
I was in a tough situation. I went to zonal office, the Zonal Manager told me that she has left the bank two years ago without resigning. He did tell his clerk to give me her Lucknow home address. I was about to leave when the police came in the office and arrested me. Now I was sitting in Punjab Police Headquarter at sector 9 in Chandigarh for a matter I knew nothing about.
After one hour or so two men in gray suits entered and after some paper work I was handed over to them. Soon they took me to their local office in sector 30A, where a group of interrogators was waiting for me.
"Please give your address proof." Said one of them and a three hour long hectic interrogation begun. The interrogation was about 500 million rupees amount, which was hacked from the bank account of a Amritsar Based businessman Amarjeet Singh. There were strong proofs that Shivani did it with the help of a professional hacker. She was missing after this incidence. The matter was so sensitive that the Punjab Government handed this case over to the CBI, immediately. But there was still no clue of the whereabouts of Shivani and her allies. After the interrogation when they realized that I had nothing to do with the hacking they let me go with a warning that if I ever got in contact with Shivani, I'll inform them immediately.
As soon as I came out of the CBI office my mobile phone buzzed, Vandana was on the other side.
"What is going on? Where are you? Police came here to inquire about you. What have you done? It must be all about that witch. I know you lied us and went to meet her. It's over Sidhath, it's over now. I'm leaving you immediately, I'm going to my parents home and send you divorce notice soon." She said it without stopping and dropped the call.
By the time I came out of the CBI office it was already dark and there were chilly gusts of winds freezing everything. After it all I was still concerned about Shivani, I wanted to meet her at least once. I decided to go to Lucknow to her home address. I had to get rid of my car first. I sought for a transporter and booked my car back to Will City and went to the railway station. Train to Lucknow was at 09:00 and I bought a general ticket to Lucknow. There was still some time before the departure of the train. I went to the station restaurant and had dinner without an appetite.
The train was almost empty I got a seat in AC III coach with the help of the conductor. The train left the platform at the scheduled departure time. I went on thinking about the things happening around me. My family life was in danger and I was still chasing the shadow named Shivani. I don't know when I slept, but when I got up it was daylight. The train was late and it could reach Lucknow at 10:30 in the morning. When I alighted from my coach, I saw two men were looking at me. I walked out of the station and took a cab to go to Burlington Squire, where I hired a hotel room and had a bath.
When I reached Indira Nagar's sector 18, in search of the given address, it was overcast and about to rain. House at the given address was a MIG, I push the doorbell. After three minutes or so an old stalwart woman came out, she was undoubtedly Shivani's mother. I greeted her and told her the purpose of my visit.
"Do you know CBI is looking for her in a matter of hacking?"
"Yes, I know they are still watching us and hearing us. This house is bugged all over."
"Can you tell me who could be with her in this matter."
"There is still one question still haunting me, why did you people leave Will City drastically?"
"There are reasons which couldn't be explained. She didn't want to marry anyone. She wanted to take care of me all her life"
And that was the end of our conversation.
I came back to my hotel and sought for trains which were either going to Delhi or Will City. There were several but only at the night time. I decided to take some rest, my doorbell buzzed, I opened the door. There was a stranger standing out there.
"Yes, what is it?" asked I.
"I have information, which could be interesting for you." He said.
"Give me rupees fifty thousand."
"Are you joking?" I said with a surprise.
"The information I have is worth it."
"Make it ten thousand."
"Not a penny less than thirty thousand."
All he gave me was a picture of a man with Shivani. I knew the man was Rachit Mehra, a computer nerd from Delhi.
Could he do such a big crime, I thought. He was just a scary punk.
Finding Rachit home at Nirman Vihar was not a tough job, as once I stayed in his house during our college days. His father didn't recognize me and he refused to tell me the whereabouts of Rachit. Luckily he gave me his own mobile number to talk to him sometimes.
When I came out of his home, I saw two strangers whom I met at the Lucknow railway station. I know they were CBI people. I had to get rid of them.
I walked towards the metro station. I went straight to the ticket window and bought a token to go to Dawarka. They came behind me and they flashed their badges to the security and rushed before me. By the time they entered the platform I have entered the train to Dwarka. I saw their hopeless faces. I alighted at the Luxmi Nagar station and ran towards the exit. I saw carefully everywhere, but there was none of them.
I threw away my mobile phone in a gutter and took a cab to Connoght Place where there were the offices of most of the mobile companies. Getting Rachit father's call details was not a tough task. There were calls made from +230. Someone was calling him from Mauritius. That someone might be Rachit, and there might be Shivani with him.
I went to a travel agency and asked if there was a seat available on any flight to Mauritius. There was one in Air Mauritius. I booked my ticket, luckily there is no visa required for an Indian nationalist to enter in Mauritius. The flight was at 11:30 PM, so I decided to buy another phone for me and dollars for rupees three lakh. I had lost all my contacts, but I had my wife's number feed in my brain so I called her up. Her phone was switched off.
Quatre Bornes, Mauritius
The flight left airport at the right time and reached at Port Louis early in the morning next day. I decided to stay in hotel Le Suffren. It took me three days to track the phone number it was booked with name Vinod Purohit. Living in Quatre Bornes.
That evening I took a hotel waiter in confidence and asked him if he could arrange a revolver for me. He demanded an outrageous sum for it and I gave it to him. Next day he brought a shining colt revolver for me. I placed it in my coat pocket and took a cab to Quarte Borness.
It was really a big house, a servant opened it.
I told him that I wanted to meet Vinod Purohit.
He took me inside and asked me to sit comfortably in the lounge. After two hours Rachit came out and looked at me with surprise.
"Should I call you Rachit Mehra or Vinod Purohit?" I asked.
"What do you want?"
"Where is Shivani?"
"I don't know, why are you asking about her from me?"
"Because you hacked the account of Amarjeet Singh and stole his money with her help." I bluffed.
"What the hell are you talking about? I'll call the police."
"Call them, I'll hand them over the fugitive hacker from India."
"I didn't do it. Amarjeet Singh forced me and Shivani to do it and transfer his money to an anonymous account. After that, he charged all the money from the bank."
"Where is Shivani?"
"I don't know, he wanted to kill us both, but I escaped somehow but Shivani couldn't. I don't know what happened to her?"
"How the trio of Amarjeet, Shivani and You was formed?"
"I was working in Amarjeet's company as a computer operator and Shivani was posted as Branch Manager at Amritsar's main branch. I met her several times at the bank. Once I show Amarjeet my hacking skill and he hatched the scam."
"Can you tell all this to CBI?"
"No, I'm living here out of the terror of Amarjeet. I cannot confess anything against him."
"There was nothing for me to do here. I requested Rachit just to record his confession to clear Shivani name from this scam. After a lot of requests he accepted my proposal.
Wolf In Sheep's Skin
White House Mension in outskirt of Amritsar was the palace of Amarjeet Singh. He looked at me with a surprise, I hand over him the tablet which was playing the confession of Rachit. After watching all the video he said, "What do you want?"
"Where is Shivani?"
"Do you want to meet her?"
"Come inside, I'll make an arrangement for you to meet her."
I followed him and. It was a long alley, suddenly he turned back and fired at me with a revolver in his hand. I dodged the bullet and darted at him. Before he could fire again I kicked the revolver out of his and subdued him.
"You Bastard, yes, I made the plan and forced Shivani and Rachit to hack my account, let me go otherwise I'll kill you." Shouted Amarjeet. And that very moment CBI people entered and arrested him who were waiting outside to act on my signal to nab him.
"Where is Shivani?" I asked him again."
"Guess? She is waiting for you up there." Said he indicating towards the sky.
I came out of his house and thought, what the hell have I been doing? Chasing a wild goose?
I was lost in my thoughts when my mobile buzzed, I saw there was a mail from Vandna. I opened the mail, it says.
Where have you lost Sid? I called you several times, but your phone is switched off. Are you all right? I'm tired of waiting for you, please come back for Ruhi, our child. You can live your life as you want, I'll not interfere, but please come back.
I had no courage to call her back. I just replied-
I'm coming back.