Shreya was frantic. Her head felt as if a tornado was on a rampage inside her brain cavity. She was like a lunatic who had just escaped from the asylum. Once she was running up-stairs to have a better view of the road, to see whether she could see anybody taking her son, Dhiraj, at gunpoint. Next moment she was running down to call her husband on the landline-phone, asking his advice as to what she should do. Dhiraj, a student of St. Xavier’s School was studying in Class two. He was just seven years old and was waiting downstairs for his friend Akash, to pick him up in his car. They had made an arrangement that one week Akash would pick him up, and Dhiraj the next. They were residing in Tollygunge, which was quite a distance from the school. As their locality was very safe, Dhiraj would play around in the garden all by himself, till his friend arrived. His mother, Shreya, would be in a hurry in the morning with the last-minute instructions, as to what to prepare for the afternoon lunch, for her daughter, and Dhiraj, when they came back from school. As she worked in an office in Salt Lake, she had to leave early, and dressing up also took a long time.
It was about eight in the morning. All of a sudden the shrill sound of the phone ringing, rent the two-storied building. Shreya did not expect to hear a gruff uncouth male voice, at the other end. The message was deliberate and clear. An anonymous voice was rattling off, “We have kidnapped your son Dhiraj. If you want him alive, you better not inform the police. We will be waiting in the Eco Park, at the Niranta Dhaba. Both of us will be wearing blue striped T-Shirts. You must come and sit at the same table, and hand over four lac rupees to us, which you should carry in a handbag. If we get the total amount, your son will join you in ten minutes, the time taken to count the money, but if not, you will get his dismembered body by the evening, in front of the Anderson Club, in a garbage bin, at Rabindra Sarovar. But mind you, if you inform the police, we will kidnap your daughter too. Next, she will be found in Bangladesh.” Then they gave the phone to Dhiraj. She heard him crying out, as if in pain, and then the stifled whimper, as if his mouth had been muffled. Her blood seemed to freeze, and a cold sweat drenched her body.
Frantically, and in desperation, with a lot of difficulties Shreya was able to collect the sum from two or three banks. She called her husband and requested him to accompany her when she went to deposit the money, which he was reluctant to do. According to him, the money should on no account be given to the rascals. The police should be informed, and they should let the professionals, who were experts in apprehending culprits, do their jobs, without any second thought. But Shreya thought otherwise. Even if there was the slightest risk of harm befalling their son, they should try to avoid it. Shreya was beside herself with mental tension.
She knew she had to act fast. Her husband and she were uselessly getting into a futile argument. Her boy’s voice went on resonating in her ears. What was she to do! She had to overcome a big impediment, for though she thought it best to hand over the money, her husband considered it to be foolhardy, and was dead against such a course. Shreya had a fertile mind and the protective instinct of a mother. Ideas surged into her head, one after the other. She sat down and contemplated her next move, then rushed out.
Shreya drove to her husband’s office. She said something confidentially to him in a low voice, and this time he did not seem to demur. Willingly he accompanied her. They went straight to Eco Park. They saw that there were many customers enjoying snacks and beverages. They took a table beside the decorated Eifel Tower.
The boys attending to the customers approached them with their menu cards. As Shreya was knotted up in nerves, she only ordered a cup of tea, whilst her husband, who had missed his lunch, ordered toast and butter. In the meantime, they looked out for the men in blue stripes.
All of a sudden they saw two men, perhaps middle-aged, looking furtively all around. They had muscular bodies and looked quite capable of wringing people’s necks. Their Chinese mustache, and thin cruel, downward lips, seemed just right for them and suited their degraded profession. As they entered, they were saying something to each other. On doing so, they exposed red-stained mouths and teeth, which made the “Scoundrels” look even more repellent. They had evidently done their homework. They recognized the two of them, as Dhiraj’s parents, and came and sat down at their table. The taller man seemed to be the boss of the short man. They told the boy, serving our table, that they wanted two glasses of Whisky, but were told that the restaurant did not serve liquor; instead, they could have soft beverages. At this, they banged the table with their fists and uttered a few uncouth expletives. The glasses and teacups rattled in consternation. Shreya’s cup of tea brimmed over with grief, and half the liquid spilled over.
Shreya picked up her loaded handbag, and with her hands shaking like a man with Parkinson’s syndrome, gave it to the man, who was taller than the two. Her throat had become so dry, that she felt it would crack, like parched fields, into blisters. Shreya’s husband watched in silent suspense, the drama enacted in front of him. The man knew that at last he had achieved his mission of extorting money, and his evil face became eviler, and his despicable teeth flashed in an ugly grin. He would disappear into the multitude of the swarming inhabitants of Kolkata, with his unearned booty. He smirked like a Cheshire cat and gulped down his drink hurriedly. The waiters came to remove the glasses, and wipe the tea, which had made a mess on the table.
As the Kidnappers started to walk away with alacrity, hugging the bloated leather bag, a grip of steel held them back. Startled, they realized that their captors were no other than the men who had been serving them, who informed them that they were Inspectors from the Police Department. Shreya had gone to them, and told them about the whole incident, and had also stressed the need for confidentiality. She had suggested that the police should dress up as waiters, so the Kidnappers would not suspect anything. The Police considered hers to be a good ploy. This they did, and the plan worked.
The Police asked the men peremptorily where they had kept the boy. First, they would not answer. Then after they had received a good thrashing, they showed them the car, in which the child was hidden with another of their accomplices.
As Dhiraj saw his parents, he started shouting “Mummy, Daddy! The story ended with the small child happy in his parents’ arms, and the Kidnappers having been taken into custody for their evil act.