THE NEXT DAY:
As I entered Adi’s place, he and Abhi stared at me with a puzzled expression. It seemed as if they were just having a high tense conversation regarding my ‘idea’ yesterday night when I stepped in.
“What?”,I asked them to break the awkward silence.
“Nothing much Sooraj.. have a seat please.”,Abhishek said politely.
“Why do I feel I’m treated like a psychic patient?”,I smirked at their over kind and awkward gesture.
“No, it’s nothing like that. At least have a seat first!”, Adi advised.
I kept my bag aside and sat on the chair, facing them. As I sat, I looked towards the cupboard.
“Still asleep.”, Adi said, referring to Junaid.
“Wake him up.”, I ordered.
“We’ll soon. But, first tell us what is your plan ahead. We can’t go ahead without any solid plan. And u know that as much as us.”, Abhishek decided to attack the topic directly.
“Yes I do have a plan. The only way we can put a full stop at this. But..I’m fully sure. You guys won’t approve.”,I said nervously.
“Be them? What did you exactly mean to say my friend?”, Abhi asked, his tone going up slowly.
“Ya..speak.”, Adi folded his hands in anticipation, waiting for me to explain.
I took a deep breath and started my explanation.
“See guys..if you look at our current situation, and think about our future moves , one practical way is handing this thug to the police authorities. It doesn’t matter if we manage or didn’t manage to churn out the needed info from him. That’s the only practical resort as I said. But then why did we keep him till now here when we..”
“Because you were an asshole that time Sooraj! I had already told you that this would be the dumbest mistake ever! Keeping a terrorist at home. That too alive! ”, Adi retorted in anger.
“Would you let me complete my statement angry young man?”,I waved my hands in despair.
“Ya..ya..speak out your another dumb idea! ”, Adi mocked.
I kept myself in check by not getting provoked by his behaviour.
“There’s no point handing him over to the police at this time guys. We’ll be held responsible too since it’s too late for this step.”
“So you mean that since this move may not work, we become terrorists? What a masterplan!”, Abhi clapped sarcastically.
“Fine. Hand him over to the police. And then we sit here with folded hands until his aides bomb another city demanding his release. ”,I made a point which silenced them for a moment.
“See..think deep. Think long term. We become a part of them, we get all the detailed info about their whereabouts, their training modules, how they get the money to carry out these operations, their mastermind and and….”,
“But that’s a really tough decision to make! You will lose everything that’s yours! Family, friends, job! Every damn thing! ”, Abhi got up from his chair in anger.
“I..I knew you would mention that point Abhishek. But, we can’t move ahead without sacrificing these things. Do you think it’s easy for me to say out this idea? As if I don’t have anything to lose? Well, you don’t know that feel when an idea so grand and terrible as this, gets into your head folks.”,I said my mind out, recalling that very horrendous feeling I always got when I thought about this.
“I understand that it might be pretty difficult for you..but we need some time to think about this idea of yours, which you say is the only way possible to move ahead. Our mind need some time to grasp and understand the repercussions of taking this life changing step Sooraj.”,Abhi said as he walked around the room restlessly.
“Better take your decision before this GPS enabled idiot’s friends come looking for him. But first,I have some questions for him.”, I said as I walked towards the cupboard.
Adi came and gently slapped out Junaid from his sleep.
“Huh..you guys..”,he struggled with the tight ropes around his hand.
“Don’t even try. The more you struggle the more tight it becomes.”,Abhi smiled.
“Damn!”,Junaid was surprised.
“Now tell me fast, how did you enter into JeM? There must be a pathway.”, I went straight to the point.
“You expect me to answer that without even having breakfast? That’s so heartless of you.”,he faked sobbing.
The next moment Adi handed me the bat. He got the cue and answered quickly.
“Who at Kalyan?”,Adi asked.
“There are many agents in Kalyan. One among them was Qureshi Saab. He was my gateway to JeM.”,he answered, staring at the bat in my hand.
“He just directly took you in? No questions, no procedures?”,I was surprised.
“I already said this thing. Connections with the right person does your job. And anyways, if he was to ask me anything, I would have answered them without breaking a sweat.”, he blabbered.
“And what if someone who doesn’t have the right connection goes there?”,Abhishek asked our obvious next question.
“And why exactly are you asking this? Don’t tell me you guys are thinking.. ”,he fell short of words.
“You better answer our queries Junaid. Fast.”,I waved the bat.
“Well,if you don’t have any connections, you must be very well verse with the JeM stats and the current ongoings of the terror world. But if you have someone’s recommendation,then it’ll be easy. ”,he revealed.
“We have Google. Plus, we have a recommendation from you,right Junaid?”,I smiled.
“What the heck?!”, Junaid was surprised.
“Don’t be surprised Junaid. Things might get more interesting soon. ”,I smiled.
“When will you guys leave me? I hope you didn’t forget the deal! ”, Junaid said.
“No. We remember it. We’ll leave you in a couple of days. We’ll let you know tonight.”,I informed as I took my bag and left for office.
Abhi joined me towards the railway station.
“Do you even realise how much impact this can have in our lives Sooraj? Don’t you fear that?”, Abhi was still unsure of my plans.
“I know my plans very well, and I know it can work if you guys support it whole heartedly.”, I tried calming him.
“Mind you. It’s not a Hollywood movie that you just go and bust the terrorists. It’s reality. ”, he said.
“I know. Be online. We have a few things to discuss before we meet Junaid again this evening.”,I said as we parted ways for our respective trains.
I opened our group chat as soon as I managed to get a seat inside.
Me: Guys, you need to take your decision asap. He’s already been with us since a few days now. And we can’t say if he has already informed his friends that he’s stuck with some cheap GPS tricks of his. We have to move fast. So do try to take this decision by evening before we meet. I know it’s gonna be very tough, but we have to.”
Me: And Adi, don’t let your habit of skipping long texts get you this time. Read the above one.
Abhi: Dammit. By this evening!? That’s too much to ask!
Me: Well, we have no other option. We have to speed up, whatever decision we make.
Me: You read the message right?
Adi: Ya! I’ll text you by noon. About my decision.
Me: Good then.
Abhishek got a much needed break which he deserved. His day had been fully confusing till now. He wasn’t able to focus on his job. After all, he had to think of a quick response to my plan. After having a quick lunch, he headed towards his cubicle. He was clearly unsure of my plan.
“It’s stupid.. But, are there any other options left?”,he asked himself.
“There must be some other way out!”,he wrecked his mind, finding a solution.
But that only resulted in more headache. More pain. More confusions.
Meanwhile, I checked for Adi’s message by 3 and was all smiles after reading it.
Adi: I have made my decision guys. I’m in. I thought about it for a while. But I realised that I have nothing to lose anyways. If we succeed in this mission and get back alive, it’ll be more than great! And I’m already bored of this life. Time for some thrill! Abhi, join us!
I just hoped Abhi does accept this plan. Inside, I was nervous about my own plan, but outside I managed to maintain a calm demeanour.
I and Adi were waiting patiently for Abhi to come back. He should’ve reached before me. I texted him to ask about his whereabouts, but didn’t get a reply. Junaid was awake, looking at us, unaware of what’s happening.
15 minutes later:
Abhi entered the room, visibly tense and upset.
“Where were you?”, I asked.
“Was stuck with some extra work..”
“See guys..the thing is.. ”,he started on a wobbly note.
“Calm down and then speak. We’ll not eat you up if you give a negative response!”,I said.
“I’m in.”,he said and smiled wryly.
The next moment, I and Adi went ahead and hugged him.
“A ‘3 dimensional hug’ after many days!”,I joked, referring to our group name.
“You’re a brave guy.”,Adi said to Abhi.
“Let’s do it guys. ”,he said calmly.
Behind, Junaid was still unclear what’s going on.
“Hey hey! What are you guys celebrating? You don’t even care to give me some evening snacks heartless people.”,he said rudely.
“You’re gonna be free very soon Junaid. We just have a very tiny condition ahead.”,I said.
“Godammmit! Why don’t you guys poison me and send me to hell? I’m pretty sure hell would be lot better than this freaking idiotic place!”,he shouted in anger.
“No need to poison you Junaid. You’re already dead inside.”,Abhi said.
“That’s what I call a stupid sentence friend.”,Junaid was miffed.
“See..all you have to do is help enter JeM via your Kalyan friend, who acts as the gateway. And we’ll leave you free. I promise!”,I said, hoping he’ll say a final ‘Yes’.
“And why should I believe you guys? You may ask me to fulfill another condition after this one. Won’t you?”,he felt something fishy.
“Well, do you want today’s dinner Junaid? I feel like you don’t.”,Adi smiled mischievously.
“I better starve to death instead of listening to your conditions. God knows how much conditions are left!”,he sighed.
“See Junaid..we’ll leave you as soon as you help us with this one. Please trust us. This isn’t any trick Junaid.”,I said as we left him to ponder alone.
5 minutes later:
“What exactly do you want me to do?”,Junaid asked in anticipation.