Crime Drama Thriller
As I flipped the last page of Ajay’s diary, I noticed, it was 6:00 in the evening. I was so lost in the diary that I even forgot that I was tired from the tedious rail journey from Bangalore to Delhi. I had not even changed my clothes yet.
This diary has been written in the year 2008, that is two years back. I think by now this Ajay would be in college and would have completed his story on Rani too. He has collected some good content about her.
And what about his relationship with Aakansha? Did he progress further with her or not? Obviously, Ajay appeared to be in love with her. Was she also in love with him? What would have happened? Are they still together? And what about this daring lady Roshni and the electronics genius Ali?
Thinking about them, I put that diary back in my bag and went inside to change. I thought about taking a nap. Just as I was about to sleep, the doorbell rang.
Mom and my sister Shweta had come back. I hugged both of them. Shewta Didi was squealing like a child on seeing me after a long time.
I opened my bag and took out the gifts I got for them. I gave the sari to mom and iPod to my sister. Both of them were really happy to see that.
“That is from my first salary," I said proudly. Ma had tears in her eyes.
They had also bought a T-shirt for me.
After about an hour, dad also returned from his work. The family was together and we kept talking till close to midnight. I excused myself since I was very tired. Before going to sleep I had an urge to read the diary again. Ajay’s story was very intriguing. I opened my bag and took out that diary and read it for some time before sleep over took me.
Next morning, I remained at home but my thoughts kept returning to the curious story of Ajay. Somehow, there was an itch to read the second diary, if it existed, to know more about him.
This is not my diary. It belongs to this boy, Ajay. He has put so much effort to write this. I should go and give it to him.
Well, I decided that later in the day I would go to Pitampura and return the diary to its rightful owner.
It was around 4:00 p.m. when I reached Pitampura. I was quite excited to meet Ajay. And I was sure, he would be glad to see his diary too. Even though the weather was quite warm, I was feeling fresh and was eager to meet Ajay.
I got down from the bus and stepped on to the footpath. Having read the diary, all places appeared familiar as I entered the area. “Excuse me! Could you please tell me where Ajay lives?” I asked one of the two boys, who were passing by. The boys were having fun and seemed least bothered about the world around them.
The boys stopped and responded with a question. “Who Ajay?” asked the taller of the two boys.
“Ajay...Ajay Kashyap," I said.
The moment I said the full name, they became very apprehensive. Both of them looked each other.
“Who are you?” asked the shorter one this time.
“I am Tushar Gupta, I….”
As I was speaking a man yelled from behind me, “Shatanu, Samir! What are you doing there? Go back home and prepare for your exams.”
It was a middle-aged man on a scooter.
He must be their father, I thought.
Both the boys gave me a tentative look and the shorter one was about to say something when the man on the scooter yelled again. “Didn’t you hear me?” the man shouted.
Instantly, the two boys disappeared from the spot. I felt a bit confused.
That boy wanted to say something, but didn’t. Whatever, let’s move ahead. I said to myself.
I took out the diary to check the address.
“Swami Bagh, Pitampura," I read out aloud. “That’s right, I am in Swami Bagh.”
I remembered that his house number was there in one of his conversations with Aakansha. I flipped the pages quickly and found the house number. It was B-2/72. That is block B-2 and house number 72. I looked around and read the address of a house that was near to me. It was B-1/44.
Okay, so I am in block B-1 right now, I said to myself.
“Uncle, where is block B-2?” I asked an old man passing by.
“Go along this road, cross the park and turn left. That is block B-2.”
“Thank you uncle," I said and moved ahead.
After about five minutes I was in block B-2.
This is house no. 305, and I need 72, I said to myself.
For another few minutes, I traced the houses and was reading house numbers one by one.
House No 80, I read. 72 should be round the corner, I thought.
As I was nearing the house, I became a bit apprehensive. I don’t know why I was not feeling that good now. For no reason, I was getting some odd feelings. Somewhere from inside I felt like I should go back.
But no, I have no reason to go back. All I am feeling may be because I have traveled a lot today, I thought overcoming the pessimism of my mind.
After walking down the row, I was finally at House number 72.
I looked at that house.
‘KASHYAPS’, was written on a marble block embedded in the wall.
There was a lot of bushes and grass that had not been cut for some time it appeared. The house had a big, about six-feet high, iron gate at the entrance. It was covered sparsely with creepers. On one side of the gate, next to the nameplate was a call bell. I pressed the bell and took a step back, standing just like a salesman. There was no response, so I pressed the bell again. Once again there was no response.
I thought perhaps the bell is not working. This time, I rattled the iron door. Again, there was no response. Seems like nobody is home, I thought but decided to check again. I went forward and gripped the top of that iron gate and stood on my toes in an attempt to see over it.
As expected, no one was in sight.
While I was still peeping over the gate, I felt a sudden slap on my buttocks. A security guard had hit his baton on my behind with a good impact. I lost the grip suddenly.
“Aaaai… aaai… aaai… aaaai," I started yelling. I looked at the guard, while still rubbing my damaged part.
“Who are you? And what are you doing here, hanging yourself like a monkey?” the guard asked in his Haryanvi accent, with his baton still in the air, ready to hit me again.
I raised my hand to block his attack.
“I… I was looking… looking if someone is there at home or not," I said with my hand in the air and my full concentration on his baton, with which he was about to hit me again.
“This house has been vacant for over a year. What is that in your bag? Weapons?” the man asked menacingly.
“No sir, no such items," I said innocently.
“Show me that," the guard forced me to open my bag.
I opened my bag and showed him all that I had in it, along with a small lunch box I was carrying, a water bottle, a newspaper, a notepad and the most important thing, the diary of Ajay Kashyap.
“Show me what else is there in that bag?” the guard asked even after I took out everything.
“Nothing else is there, you can check my bag," I forwarded the bag to him.
He took the bag with a jerk and turned it down. Few pencils and my pen fell on the road.
“So many thieves roam around here, we have to take care of everything," the guard murmured while checking my bag.
“Hmm… okay," the guard said and returned the bag to me. “But what were you doing here at this house? Whom do you want to meet?” he asked; his temper had calmed down a bit.
“I wanted to meet Ajay Kashyap. Have they shifted somewhere else?” I asked.
“Oh! That boy! Well, he died quite some time back,” the guard said, as he cupped his face to light a cigarette.
What the hell is he saying?? Is he mad??
“WHAT? What did you just say?”
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? Now leave!!”
For a moment, I could not believe my ears. It was shocking! Really shocking. Here I was holding Ajay’s diary and he was no more. Many thoughts zoomed through my head. What could have happened? How did he die? Did he ever write the second diary? I heard guard asking something,
“By the way, who are you and why did you want to meet that boy? What is your relationship with him? How come you came after over a year of his death?”
The guard kept asking questions, whereas I was hardly paying any attention. My mind went blank for some time. I felt absolutely cold and detached from the surroundings.
“I cannot believe this. I just cannot believe this," I found myself murmuring while I was collecting all my stuff in a hurry.
Shaking my head, I picked up my bag and left. I still could not believe what that guard had just said. I walked away from the Kashyap residence as if in a trance. After walking for about hundred metres, I sat down on a culvert to gather myself. I could see the guard standing near the house and puffing away on his cigarette. He seemed to be looking in my direction. Somewhat composed now, I got up and took a right turn in to a lane, more to avoid the suspicious gaze of the guard than any other reason.
After taking the turn and walking for about 40–50 yards, I saw a narrow lane to my right. A simple calculation told me that this lane would be a service lane behind Ajay’s house. I looked around to make sure that no one was observing me and moved into the lane.
The lane was quite squalid. Since it was the rear of the houses, people had thrown a good amount of garbage there. I put my hanky to my nose and moved ahead. On the backside there was no nameplate or house number by which I could identify which one was Ajay’s house.
It will be difficult from here to locate which one is Ajay’s house, I thought as I started walking through that narrow lane.
I remembered, while searching for Ajay’s house earlier, the first house number in the row was 86. Okay, 86 minus 72 is 14, so 15th house should be Ajay’s house.
I started counting the houses. The foul smell was increasing with each step. With the hanky on my nose, I kept moving forward, furtively glancing around to see if anyone was following me. It was around 5:30 p.m. in the evening, the sun had not yet set. With houses on both sides, that narrow lane was quite shady. As expected, there was no trace of any human in that narrow lane except few sounds that were coming from the occupied houses. After walking past seven to eight houses, I came across a canine challenge. Two street dogs were rummaging through the garbage lying near the fence of one of the houses. I was still at a good distance from them. The moment I saw them, I stopped. The dogs too spotted me and growled at being disturbed from their feast. We made an eye contact. I was scared and I think the dogs were confused. I thought of turning back.
But if I would do so, these dogs would bark for sure, I thought and then came the thought of confronting the security guard again, which made me change my mind. Now I clearly understood what having a “Hobson’s Choice” means!
Before those dogs could take any action, I bent down as if to pick a stone. Apparently, the dogs were more scared than me for they scooted without a whimper. I felt relieved, and continued my journey. After crossing the garbage-filled narrow lane I located Ajay’s house. Though on the backside, I was again standing outside Ajay’s house, this time knowing the fact that the guy does not exist, not any more.
There was a small glass window and a wooden door at the rear of the house. A rusted iron lock was hanging at the door. I went to the window. It was locked from inside. I tried to peep through but the window glass was quite dirty and there was no light inside. I could not see anything. I could only see that there was a heavy iron grill behind that glass window. I moved towards the wooden door now. I took the hanging lock in my hand and shook it a bit. It had rusted due to rain, and was covered with dirt.
A voice in my head said, Why are you here Tushar? And what are you doing? Are you supposed to do all this? Is it really required? Is this correct? You don’t even know the guy; you did not even try to ask the guard what happened to him. Hope you are not inviting any trouble by taking this kind of step. You should go back home and think again before doing this.
It made sense to heed to the call of my conscience. With the lock still in my hand, I turned to go back. The moment I turned, I saw a figure entering the lane.
I froze, apprehending that it may be the security guard.
I immediately moved back and stuck to the door, with my back touching that dirty door and that lock still held in my hand. After a few minutes, I leaned forward a bit to check if the person was gone. There was no sign of any human now. I heaved a sigh of relief. While sticking to the door, I noticed that the lock I was holding was jerking. I gave it a sharp jerk. It creaked a bit but held fast. I looked around and picked up a brick and hit it on that lock, while taking a full care that it does not make much noise. The lock broke open up in the third attempt. I looked around again, nobody was there, the lane had become darker now. I looked at my wristwatch, the clock showed it was almost 6:00 p.m. I took the name of Lord Ram and gently pushed the door open. It was completely dark inside.
Holding the door handle, I had just moved two steps ahead when I felt something trying to grip on my leg. I jumped with a shock and was about to shout loudly, but the silence around me and fear to get caught stopped me. I came back running. I saw a mouse coming out as well. I felt a sign of relief as I saw that mouse.
It was just a mouse Tushar! Don’t get scared.
I took a deep breath and stepped in again, this time chanting Hanuman Chalisa. The little light coming from the lane was the only source with which I could see anything inside. On my third step, I released the door handle and moved ahead. I looked back as the door closed by itself, making a loud and slow creaky noise. That made inside completely dark. My heart had started beating faster, and my tongue was chanting Hanuman Chalisa, nonstop. I was feeling a bit frightened now. Still, somewhere from inside, something was forcing me to move ahead. I took out my mobile and switched on its flash light. I had never thought that flashlight would be so helpful to me. The first door on my right was open, it was a kitchen and next to it was I think a toilet or bathroom as there was a washbasin outside it. That door was shut and I didn’t try to open it. I moved ahead, flashing the light in dark to see my way.
I flashed the light in all directions. While moving ahead and flashing the light across, I saw a flight of stairs going up. I remembered that Ajay’s room was upstairs, as mentioned in his diary. The intensity of silence around increased as I climbed the stairs. Holding my flash light in one hand and clearing the spider webs with the other, I kept climbing the dark stairs. I could easily hear my steps, even the sniff of my breath and beats of my heart were audible to me.
When I reached the floor, I heard someone calling my name from behind, I paused there itself. The moment I turned back, somebody held my shoulder with a thump from behind. I shouted aloud in reflex. The weight went off from my shoulder and my mobile fell from my hand. My mobile would have broken into parts but the mobile cover saved its life. Most important, the flashlight was still on...
What happened next?? Was he able to get out safely? What actually had happened with Ajay? And what about Ajay’s other friends? Explore the complete story...