CHAPTER 1: THE PAYBACK.

The next few days were spent in visiting my relatives and other friends whom I really missed during my 6 month long training period at TCS. Meeting them all made me happy a lot!

Friday
27th December 2019:

As decided,Abhishek and I met at Adi’s place at Thane from where on we would proceed to PVR,Mulund.
Abhi was in a jolly mood since his training ended the day before and I was happy since….you know the reason…. Don 3! The much awaited and anticipated installment for the Don franchise and SRK fans.

But, Adi was silent. Depressed by something or someone to be precise.

“So..your Mom called you again,asking you to come back?”,I enquired,and my guess turned out to be correct. (like usual.)

“Umm…Yes bro.. you know what..she’s so stressed out man..from the day I left my house,my Dad stopped talking with anyone..even Mom!
And that breaks her more. And that! That breaks me yaar!”,Adi came and hugged me.

He couldn’t convey his emotions via words anymore.
He cried.
He was under too much of stress.
And we couldn’t stand seeing him so vulnerable.

“Some more hours of dedicated hard work and practice, and you’ll be the main wicketkeeper. Your family will accept you back with that same old respect.”,I tried motivating him.

“Everything will be fine Adi. We’re here now. Tension not! ”,Abhi joined in our “bro-hug”.

That sort of relieved him.

Chalo Chalo ab! 7 ka show hai.
We need to hurry up! You know the traffic nowadays. That too during peak hours. Too much!”,I remind them.

“Good that it’s Mulund. Not too far.”,Abhi joined.

That changed Aditya’s expression.

“But..but..!”,he stopped short and threw a pillow at me.

“What man? It was decided right?
Don 3. 7pm. PBR Mulund! What’s wrong in that now?”,I acted confused, although I knew the reason behind his irritation.

“Haha..really Sooraj! You don’t know the reason ha?”,another pillow landed on my head.

“Err..no yaar! ”,I say,my voice low.

“I had told you that day itself!
PBR Mulund was good during our college days. Not now. The management has changed now, and so is the level of maintenance and hygiene..the last time when..”

“..ya ya..you and your teammates went there, you had to battle a small squeaky rat and it swallowed you all,one by one. Right?”,I mocked him.

“Poor rat!”,Abhi made a sober face.

“Yeah! You guys still haven’t left that roast-anyone-if-you-get-a-chance behaviour behind.”,Adi waived his hands in despair.

We laughed sheepishly at his helpless condition.

“Come on now! We can’t be late! Dekh! It’s 6:40 already! If I miss his entry scene then remember Adi..I’ll chop you to death!”,I warn him.

“Whatever! I prefer Big Cinemas Bhandup over that rat ridden PBR!”,Aditya smirked.

Seeing the unwanted tension build between me and Adi,that too over a venue, Abhi chipped in with a coin.

“Heads- PBR
Tails- Big Cinemas ”,he declared.

“Ok fine.”,we agreed.

Heads it was!

“Yes! I won!”,I signalled him a thumbs down.

“Your wish anyways! Don’t say later that the rats are disturbing you..or anything like that.”

“Fine! Now hurry up! ”

I thanked Abhi for his
both-side-heads coin that made me win.

06:55 pm
PBR Mulund:

We reached minutes before time.
Good that we booked our seats online days ago. Nowadays,rarely people stand in a queue for the tickets.

Excitement was clearly on everyone’s face. The reviews- both critic as well as audience- were awesome. Adi took the corner seat and Abhishek sat between both of us. I hoped that a pretty girl occupies my adjacent seat,but those hopes were crushed as I saw a well built, bearded and capped Muslim guy in his late twenties sit besides me.

“Bad luck.”,I thought to myself.

The movie started.

10minutes later:

SRK’s over the top Don style entry also marked the beginning of  few creepy noices below my seat.

I looked at Abhi.
He too gave me the same look.

Rats!

We looked at Adi who was least interested in the movie, chatting on his
I phone 8s.

He signalled with his hands that he badly needed a smoke and went outside.

“I don’t understand how it helps someone-for keeping down stress levels! ”,I whisper in Abhi’s ears.

He too nodded in approval.

Few minutes later, the guy besides me poked me.

“Excuse me..can you keep an eye on my bag here? Actually,I wanted to use the loo..”

“Umm..ya fine. I’ll see.”

He was interrupting an interesting fight scene!

Man! Stop talking to me and go fast!

“Thank you!”

For the next 5 minutes or so,we were presented an intense dual between Don and his lady love Roma. It was when the fight scene ended that I remembered about the guy and his bag.

“Can you just check the loo Abhishek? He has not returned yet..something’s fishy.. ”

“Ohk fine..”

When he was gone,I slowly opened the bag.

I was gifted the worst shock of my life.

A timer bomb!

What the..

The timer indicated that it will explode in 3 minutes flat.

I had two options:
One– Shout out loud so that maximum people get out.
Two– Silently keep the bag away from the crowd.

The first option would be easier,but that would only lead to a stampede.
Hence, I chose the latter.

I took the bag and went near the door. That’s when Abhi returned,panting.

“No! He isn’t there!”

“We won’t let him go back without his Christmas present!”

“Give me that bag Sooraj. I’ll try my best to keep this bag away in an isolated place. You guys find that cruel inhuman brat!”,Abhi said in a voice full of confidence.

“..ohk fine..but remember! You just have 2 minutes now! Fast!”

“Sure!”

I ran towards the mall gate and spot Adi at the small makeshift Cigar shop at front of the mall, smoking passively, looking the world go by. Dissolved in his thoughts.

“There’s a bomb inside. The guy besides me planted it. Did you see a well built Muslim man in his late twenties going out from here?”,I ask in a single breath.

“What!? A bomb?”,he was shocked too.

“Tell me..”

“…ya..in that direction..run fast! We can surely catch him! ”

We ran in the direction as said by him.

One minute more….

Our legs stopped when we reached a diversion.
Two paths.

“You sure he might have walked till here? He might have well escaped on his bike or something!”,I spoke out finding it hard to breath.

“Still! There’s a chance! You go left. I’ll go right.”

“Fine.”

30 seconds….

I almost gave up on running when I spot that very guy at some distance.

I won’t leave you alive!

Picking up a stone, I flinged it him.

Headshot!

“Yesss!”

15 seconds….

In extreme pain, he looked backward in anger.

“You..?”
Quickly, without wasting any time, I was gifted a killer punch!

I fell down.
My glasses crashed against my face.

He leaned over me and kept punching me hard when we heard a loud blast at a distance.

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