page no. 250

“Come in”, Commissioner Mathur answered the knock. Ajay entered the room but before he spoke anything was stopped by Mathur.

“I know the reason for your esteemed presence, Ajay”

“Sir”, Ajay spoke, ” I know you won’t approve of me for reopening the case, but trust me… we arrived too early to a conclusion in this case. Something is amiss!”

“So you mean to say that your premonition about that incident is of more importance than the court’s decision?” , Mathur was keenly observing Ajay’s reactions now.

“Sir, but the court’s decision was out of lack of proof against the incident. We cannot just go on naming random people as terrorists just because we have pressure from the ‘Higher Officials’, Ajay retorted back.

“That guy was a terrorist, who planned for a blast over the city but ended up blowing up himself. The truth won’t change because you are not able to accept it.”

“How many terrorists have you met Sir who ended up blowing up themselves, that too ‘by mistake’? Just because we are unable to find the real reason for that blast, we haven’t got hold of the real culprit, we cannot go on terming the victim as the assailant!”, Ajay was losing his nerve.

“If you are so willing to play the hero, you can proceed with your investigation but make sure you don’t drag our department in this. I don’t want any further headache related to this case. I am totally done dealing with it lately”, Mathur spoke irritated.

“Thank you for the consent”, Ajay spoke sternly and then added “Sir”, clicked his heels, saluted him and went away.

Ajay entered his dormitory as darkness engulfed him, but he was used to it now. The entire room was in sordid condition. Tiny bits of paper lying around the room. The bulletin board which once boasted of various cases solved by him was now empty except a few newspaper clippings here and there. He slouched towards the table and removed a book from his bag and was seated on his chair. It was less of a book and more of charred pages held together by a more burned black cover, its edges being consumed by fire. Ajay carefully held the book and opened it. The sides of the pages of the diary crumbled in his hand and are reduced to ashes.

“This diary belongs to Ved Khurana”

Carefully he turned out a few pages but it was illegible. Most of the pages of the diary were burnt. The top-right corners of the pages kept crumbling into charcoal. It was the sole proof of the magnitude of the blast. He tried not to imagine the condition of the hand that held that diary.

“I will bring you justice Ved, your soul will rest in peace soon!”

He had an altogether different feeling about this case. He was famous for his sixth sense regarding criminals but this time it was something different. Something which he wasn’t able to understand. He felt a sense of affection towards Ved.

Four months ago at the investigation site, Ajay found this diary buried in a corner. At first, he was sceptical about the owner of the diary but its condition strongly pointed towards the victim of the accident being the owner. But he never told anyone about the diary.  He turned more pages and arrived at a note. He had read the entire diary umpteen times, but he couldn’t stop himself from reading it again.

 

Page no. 09

I never understand the love of Mummy for Bhaiyya. I understand he is much smarter than me but that doesn’t mean my efforts do not count! I know I will not be able to top the high school exams like my brother, but I hope I get at least some marks to get into a decent college. Life isn’t fair. I never knew his achievements will over-shadow my efforts. I hope you understand my efforts – Diary. You are the sole reason I can exist in today’s competitive world. You are the one with whom I can always be honest. I hope you don’t judge me like others.

 

Ajay closed the diary and decided to take a quick nap before beginning the investigation again. This time with renewed energy and a sense of hope.

After entering the campus, Ajay collected all the necessary info he needed. First, he met with the Principal, Dr Sahni, and got the list of students in Ved’s class. He then met Ved’s class coordinator Mrs.Dimple and asked about Ved’s usual behaviour, to which she said: “He was quite a silent student in the class – neither among the first benchers nor the last. I had spotted him quite a few times in the college library after college hours. But, I never ever imagined that he can be a…”

“Thank you for your time.”, Ajay sighed and left the cabin. He murmured a few words to himself as he proceeded to the classroom, only to realise the lectures were going on. He decided to wait for their lunch break so that he can ask his classmates regarding Ved. Luckily for him, the break commenced as soon as the Professor left the class.

As he entered the classroom, he scanned the crowd of around sixty final year BSc. students who were busy in their own world of chaos and fun. Some of them were glued to their smartphones, a few frontbenchers were still engrossed in their books, whereas some were quick enough to take out their lunch boxes. Ajay’s entry wasn’t noticed by anyone until one of the students did, and then the next moment all the eyeballs were transfixed on him – as if an alien entity had invaded their world.

“Carry on with whatever you are doing. But only after I get some info from you guys.”, he cleared the tension in the air, fiddling with the duster lying on the table. He went ahead and sat on the first unoccupied desk in the row, giving them time to settle to an activity which very much defied their mundane routine lives.

Everyone was confused at Ajay’s statement. The sound of low controlled whispers filled the room before he asked the question everyone was waiting for.

“Tell me honestly, who was Ved’s best friend the time he was studying here?”, he stood up from the desk, reading everyone’s initial reactions. Most of the students looked towards their right to the window side, where two guys sat, looking at each other as if they’ve been captured helplessly.

“You two?”, Ajay asked sternly, as he casually threw away the duster back to the table.

“Yes, we were Ved’s friends. He used to hang out with us.”, one of them replied nervously.

“He was also our hostel roommate”, the other guy added.

“Come with me. I need to talk to you guys. Now.”, Ajay waved his hands, indicating them to follow him. Without any word, they followed him like sheep after a shepherd, while the rest of the class looked at them, sighing deep within that they weren’t among Ved’s friends when he was alive.

As they were about to leave the class, a group of five guys entered the class.

“Wrong timing for Jai Mehta and his minions”, he heard someone giggle from behind. They exchanged tough glances before Ajay left the room.

“So, Manish and Dhiraj.. tell me, whatever you know about your friend Ved.”, Ajay said as he sat down on the canteen bench, sipping tea. When they didn’t reply, he realised that they were uncomfortable talking about their friend who is no more. He felt bad for putting them in this situation, but he couldn’t help either.

“See, I know it’s tough for you guys to talk about this, but I hope you understand. The way the case ended, I think it was unfair, and I feel that you too feel the same. It’s all for him. Ved deserves justice, and this is just the initial phase we’re in.”, Ajay tried convincing them.

“Umm..we understand that Sir. But there’s lot to say about him, and we don’t have any idea where to begin with.”, Manish shrugged.

“Ok then. To make things easier for you, let me ask you a few questions. You just give me the answer. Sounds better?”, Ajay took out his notepad.

But before either Manish or Dhiraj replied, a girl answered his query.

“Yeah, sure!”

“Jhanvi! How come are you here? Let’s catch up sometimes later.”, Dhiraj politely asked her to excuse them.

“No. I heard about you guys being frisked out by someone, and that too related to Ved’s case. So I thought I can chip in with some information.”, she said as she sat beside Manish.

For a moment, Ajay couldn’t help but lose himself in her elegance and beauty. Her charisma and her deep brown eyes made him forget that Manish and Dhiraj were looking at him, waiting for his response. But he preferred to be silent instead.

“Is he the one who..”, Jhanvi paused looking at Ajay.

“Yes. I’m Ajay. CBI.”

“I’m Jhanvi, Ved’s close friend.”, she replied, her tone cold and painful as she said the word ‘close’.

“Close as in?”, Ajay prodded ahead.

“We used to hang out whenever we were free. Libraries, gardens, movie theatres..wherever our heart demanded, whenever we got time. He loved books and I like movies. So..”, she said in a low tone as she remembered all those moments with Ved. Moments which will never fade from her memory.

“So that means you all know him very well right?”

“Yes.”, they replied in unison.

“So tell me, did you guys ever feel that Ved is a terrorist? Did he give you any indication of his dark secret, or have you ever accidentally found something strange with him? Anything unusual or out of place?”, Ajay clicked his pen as he opened his notepad. “Be very frank. No need to worry. Just say it out.”, he added.

“I never felt he kept such a huge secret stashed away from us, Sir. It simply couldn’t be. I and Dhiraj have spent two years with him. Same room, same class, same bench. It still feels unreal that the case ended with him being framed as a terrorist. I still don’t believe he was one.”, Manish said.

“Same thoughts.”, Dhiraj agreed with him.

“And what about you Jhanvi? What do you think about Ved?”, Ajay said as he scribbled something in his notepad.

“The thing is that..”

“Yeah speak. We are listening.”,  Jay said, looking into her eyes.

“The thing is that I had noticed some stuff about Ved before that I actually didn’t share with anyone till date.”

“Why so?”, Dhiraj snatched the question that Ajay was about to ask.

“It was really tough for me to absorb the fact that he was into terrorism. Initially, I had just doubts regarding his mysterious behaviour at times. But slowly it dawned upon me that he is not exactly what he portrays as himself to the outside world.”, her throat formed a lump as she spoke.

Ajay kept silent, listening to her intuitively. He realised that she wouldn’t be comfortable talking about the things that she noticed during her hangouts with Ved in presence of others, and he was right.

“Can you guys please excuse us?”, she said looking at Manish and Dhiraj. They obliged without further ado.

“Thanks for your time guys. I will meet you in your hostel at 7.”, Ajay informed them as they left for their class.

After they left, Jhanvi continued, “I exactly remember those moments with him when I felt something is just not right, and I have no issues telling them to you. But this is not the right place to discuss that. Let’s go to Yamuna Park instead. That’s where I first felt things aren’t the way I supposed it to be.”

“As you say! But don’t you have lectures next?”, Ajay smiled, thinking about the next few hours he’ll spend with her, albeit discussing a dead guy.

“It’s fine. I have my attendance well above 75%. Sounds well enough to escape the defaulter’s list to me!”.she gleamed.

“Fine then. Let’s go!”

Yamuna Biodiversity Park was located at Main Jagatpur Road in Wazirabad about half an hour drive from Delhi University where Jhanvi studied. It was one among the many parks near the university that was quite popular among students and old people alike.

“I’ve gone to that park a few times before. Quite peaceful.”, Ajay mentioned as they both went towards the parking area of the college.

“Yup. Peace is the word.”, Jhanvi already sounded nostalgic.

As the journey commenced on Ajay’s bike, Jhanvi opened up a bit.

“I remember the time when I first went to this park for a morning jog during the vacations a year ago, with my hostel friends. While they were busy clicking selfies and playing pranks, I preferred spending time by the pond feeding the ducks. The second time I went there, it was with Ved.”

Ajay nodded, indicating that he is listening to her.

“By the way, Ved’s case was closed, right? Did they reopen it?”

“No, they won’t. The general public is unaware of the fact that there wasn’t much evidence on site. The police and the higher officials from CBI gave in to the pressure from the political heads in DU who asked for a faster probe, in the process framing him as a terrorist with some fake eyewitnesses and stupid proofs.”

“Oh..”, Jhanvi was surprised at this news.

“So you think he wasn’t a terrorist? Is this why you’re going ahead with this case, that too solo?”, she couldn’t help but ask this question.

“I don’t know if this guy was a terrorist or not. He might be. He might be not. But judging that on the basis of zero proofs goes against my morals. I met his parents when the case was in its initial phase and I can’t forget that day till date. It was too much for my mind to handle. I still feel guilt running through my veins that I work for the same corrupt organisation that framed Ved without any thought and wrecked his name.”

“In current times where power and corruption go side by side, some people say that I’m a tough nut to crack when it comes to honesty and justice. And I’m glad that it is this way and not the other way round. Being corrupt has become too mainstream right?”, Ajay smiled, to which Jhanvi chuckled.

After another fifteen minutes or so, they reached Yamuna park. The humid sun-scorched afternoon meant almost no visitors at the park that time.

As they entered via the main gate, Jhanvi pointed towards the small pond right at the centre of the park.

“That’s the pond I was talking about.”

“So many birds around it! I guess a few of them are the migratory ones “, Ajay was amazed.

“Yes, many of them come from Russia and other European nations.”

“That’s nice.”, he remarked at the beauty and the diversity he saw at the park.

“Come let’s go there then.”, Jhanvi started jogging towards the pond, “Catch me if you can!”, she chirped.

“Well then! “, Ajay followed and caught up with her in a matter of seconds. “So easy!”

But the next moment left him in splits as Jhanvi caught hold of his hand. Their fingers intertwined as they slowed down the jog. He was speechless and she smiled looking at his foxed reaction. He smiled back, getting the cue.

When they reached the pond, Ajay tried saying something but was cut in by Jhanvi.

“You know what? I really miss Ved. He was such a unique character in my life. I feel his absence each and every day.”, her eyes seemed as if she was searching for that moment when she had come here with him a few months ago.

“He never confessed, but I knew he loved me to the core. He used to say that one day he’ll show his writings that he had specially written for me. But that day never came.”, a lone tear escaped her eye. “I’m so sorry. I get emotional too soon.”

“Hey, it’s okay!”, Ajay assured her as he wiped off her tears.

After composing herself, she continued, “That day when we were sitting on this same bench, he had received a call from an unknown number. Most of the times, he used to pick it up and talk on the spot without caring whether I was around or not. But this time he walked away and picked the call. He mumbled something before disconnecting the call in a minute. When I asked him who the caller was, he said that it was Dhiraj who had bought a new SIM card. As obvious as it would sound, I sneaked into his phone when he was not noticing me and noted down the number, only to realise that the number was of someone named Khushwant Saini from Kanpur. My trust was broken for sure but to clarify the scene, I texted and asked Dhiraj if he had called Ved with his new SIM card, to which he said no.”

“That’s the first time I felt something wrong about Ved. He had never mentioned about Khushwant before. And why did he lie that it was Dhiraj when it was not? That made me more suspicious about him and his underlying baggage of secrets.”

Ajay kept silent, pondering over. “Let me think about this.”

“This is the first time since that day that I came here. Brings back all those distant memories.”, she sighed.

 

Page no. 170

‘Just as she walked past me, I felt the world come to a standstill, the birds stopped chirping, the wind stopped blowing and the sun stopped shining……It was only her, it was only me’

She looked beautiful, more beautiful than ever. Perhaps the day made it so special. I could not help but smile like an absolute idiot while she kept pondering over her phone. Just her presence made things so wonderful. The greenery of the park added to her beauty. We sat there for almost what felt like an eternity. I hoped the time would cease, but alas we had to go! I hope we could spend more time together.

 

Later that evening, Ajay went ahead to meet Manish and Dhiraj at their hostel. As he was taking down the info on his notepad, someone knocked the door. As Manish opened it, he was surprised seeing Jai and his group of five guys waiting in anticipation.

“What happ..”, he couldn’t even complete his sentence before Jai and his elite troop stormed the room.

Ajay stood up as he remembered them as the same guys he had noticed this afternoon.

“You are Ajay right? CBI?”, Jai asked, folding up his sleeves.

“Yes, and who are you? Did I call you here? I guess not.”, Ajay slowly walked towards Jai, intimidating him.

“What about Ved’s case? The entire hostel is abuzz about your arrival sire! Some of them say that you are reopening it.”, Jai said as he plonked on to the bed where Ved used to sleep when he lived in that room.

“None of your business. I don’t understand why you are interested in it. Go back to your room and study big mouth.”

“I’m interested because I have the right to know about it, you prick! Stop behaving as you are some top notch official okay? Shove that authority and power up your ass!”, Jai yelled as he got up from the bed, trying to punch Ajay straight In the face, only to be blocked easily by him. He grabbed his hand and turned it behind Jai as he wailed in pain.

“You don’t know who I am!”, Jai started laughing as Ajay strangled him even tighter. On the other hand, Manish and Dhiraj looked after their minions from going overboard.

“I know who you are dumbass. Heck, I even know who your father is, Jai Mehta.”, Ajay grinned as he let go of his hand and gifted him a tight slap straight on his cheeks which instantly turned red as a ripe tomato. Taken aback, Jai retreated hastily back to the safety of his own room, his minion gang helping their boss regain balance.

“Jai. He is such a nuisance”, Dhiraj retorted as he closed the door. “He thinks he is a big political leader. The shameless creature hasn’t even won an election till date. Always in the opposition.”

“Such characters always exist in colleges. I don’t know why. It’d be better if we ignore that idiot.”, Ajay said as he sat on the chair where he was sitting before all the furore broke out.

“Jai has always been a bully in hostel and the campus, Ved being one of his regular victims. Just super senior things!”, Manish said as he sorted out the room of all the ruckus Jai and his minions had created.

“Wait a minute! Ved was bullied by Jai all this while?”, Ajay was baffled.

“Yup. Jai took advantage of the fact that Ved didn’t protest much against him. The situation went from bad to worse slowly until a point came where Jai used to make Ved write all of his assignments and punishments.”, Manish sighed.

“Well then! That means he is definitely a character to look forward to!”, Ajay smiled as he scribbled down in his notepad.

 

Page no. 127

‘What do you do, when life tries to strangle you everyday in a way more gruesome than the previous?’

In my case.. I give up.
Yes, I give up and what else do you expect me to do diary?
Dhiraj says I am a coward to bear with Jai Mehta and his cronies but little does he understand, When I can’t stand up against my own family, how am I supposed to fight against outsiders?
But I believe future will be better.. better with her. She is my beacon of hope in this dark world and with this hope, I continue to live every day.

 

The next few days, Ajay spent some more time at the campus and hostel, not questioning anyone, but just observing people. Jhanvi met him a few times while he was on campus, sharing what all happened in the course of the day and even going for a quick bite at the Subway’s with him when she got some time off lectures. She tried to bunk a few of them but Ajay insisted that she attend them no matter what.

 

“Let’s go to a movie tomorrow. Take a chill pill dude!”, she suggested.

“Nah.”, he acted as if was the least interested in her plan.

“If you come, I will give you more info on Ved. Now?”

“Ok fine!”, he smiled.

“Accha! That means Ved is more important than me huh?”, she punched him playfully.

“For now, yeah!”, he smirked.

The next day they went to watch the latest instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean franchise at Satyam Cinemas in Patel Nagar. Ajay wasn’t much interested in the movie as Jhanvi was. All he looked forward was to spend some quality time with her and obviously, get some info on Ved.

“The real reason why I chose Satyam Cinema over Inox is that it’s here where Ved and I watched our last movie together. Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.”, she said, her voice evident of the sadness that came along when Ved’s memories flooded her mind.

“How was it then?”

“The movie was quite cool but I don’t know why Ved was on his phone most of the time. I peeped and saw him texting furiously to someone on WhatsApp. An unsaved contact again.”

“And then?”, Ajay asked as they entered the cinema hall.

“Things went more awry after we left the cinema hall, about which I will tell you during the interval. The movie is about to begin.”, Jhanvi said as she occupied her seat.

“Yep. Cool.”, Ajay smiled as he sat beside her, well knowing that even Johnny Depp can’t stop him thinking about what she’ll reveal during the interval.

As soon as the screen turned black in between a scene, Ajay turned to look at Jhanvi who was miffed. “Why did they stop at that scene? Forced intervals suck!”

“True that. Anyways it’s your turn to tell the tale. now”, he smiled.

“Oh ya! About that. I lied.”, she laughed.

“Seriously?”, Ajay was furious.

“Dude! Calm down! I will say.”, she said as she kept away the popcorn packet.”

“That night after going home, we were chatting on Whatsapp till late night. By 2, he said he’s sleepy and he went offline. I too went to bed. When I woke up, I had about 3-4 messages from Ved. When I read them, I was shocked for life. I cleared his chats after he passed away else I would have shown it on Whatsapp. I found myself reading our old chats and breaking down every night, which was literally getting on my nerve. I had to move on. But I think I have its screenshot saved in Drive. Let me check.”, she said as she opened the Google Drive app on her phone.

Ajay’s level of curiosity reached another level altogether as she searched her Drive for that elusive screenshot.

“Here it is.”, she handed over the phone to Ajay.

[11/19, 02:04 AM] Jhanvi: Good night then

[11/19, 02:04 AM] Ved: Good night Jhanvi, Take care.

[11/19, 04:23 AM] Ved: I have informed Maulavi about it. Khushwant will take care of the rest. Inform the other guys in Kanpur too. Sunday, the 20th then. This is gonna be huge. Reminds me of 26/11. 😂 Let’s hope everything goes according to plan now.

[11/19, 04:25 AM] Ved: Oh no, sorry. Wrong forward.

[11/19, 04:25 AM] Ved: Ignore it.

[11/19, 04:25 AM] Ved: My drunk friends are quite the pranksters.

Ajay was re-reading it again, noticing every timestamp and the dates mentioned when it struck his mind.

“20th November 2016 was the day when..”

“…a train in Pukhrayan, Kanpur was sabotaged. 150 civilians were killed, and the Government accused the ISIS of it.”, Jhanvi completed his sentence.

Ajay was left agape and uneasy as he didn’t even bother about what happened in the second half of the movie.

“So, how was the movie? It was an adequate sequel but didn’t live up to my expectations though”, Jhanvi asked as they left the cinema hall.

“Ya..same.”, Ajay spoke in a low tone.

“What happened? You alright?”, Jhanvi stopped him.

“Yeah, I am. It’s difficult to process in so much info that goes against your belief. I had a bit of hope that Ved was a normal guy. But slowly, it’s diminishing.”, he replied.

“See..”, Jhanvi held his hand, “I understand what’s going in your mind. I can relate since I have gone through the same phase once.”, she comforted him.

“Although everything is spiralling down, I won’t give up until I get some more solid proof against/for Ved.”

“Totally upon you Ajay. If your heart feels you should do it, then don’t look back until you are done.”, she gave a peck on his cheek.

 

Page no. 223

Nov 18, 2016

‘You are in love when the sound of that person makes your world go round, it is the only motivation to continue life. I am in love’

I will never forget this day, I cannot forget this day. This day defines me now. I cannot believe I asked her out for a movie and I am still wondering how she agreed? ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ it was, but it was she who looked more fantastic! (I know I can be cheesy at times) Perhaps, God wants us to be together. I wish she could understand my love for her. Her smile makes my day. It always does so.

 

“Bye then. It was a pleasure spending time with you Jhanvi.”, Ajay said as he dropped her back to the hostel.

“Don’t be so formal Ajay.”, she giggled as she came closer to him.

“Jhanvi..”

With each passing second, their heartbeats escalated and both of them felt a rush of adrenaline pumping through their veins. She looked into his eyes and then lowered them to his lips. He too followed the same trajectory, inching towards hers until they kissed, softly. He retreated a little and then came closer, looked at her and smiled. This time, he inched forward and kissed her. After a moment he parted with the taste of her lips still lingering on his lips.

As Ajay bade her adieu and drove off to his home, a wide array of thoughts crossed his mind, especially the revelation about Ved and his contacts with the IS. But his mind was enamoured by the kiss. His racing mind was put to a sudden halt as a car overtook his bike and interrupted him at a desolate Vasant Kunj Road. He was surprised as Jai came out of the sedan, with a rod in his hand. His minion gang accompanied him as usual.

“So you’re back huh? Bigmouth. I guess the slap wasn’t enough.”, Ajay was the least intimidated by their arrival.

“Yes. I’m back, to repay you what you gifted me that day.”, Jai smiled as he walked towards him. His gang followed him.

“I won’t say anything else, Ajay. This rod will do the talking for me.”, he grinned as he played with it.

“It doesn’t matter Jai, you won’t deter me from..”, Ajay couldn’t complete his sentence as the rod hit him straight on the knee.

He fell on the ground, as Jai struck multiple times on his arms.

“You won’t deter me from opening up this case Jai. I can put you in for bullying Ved throughout the years.”, Ajay winced in pain as he tried standing up, only to take another blow on his knee.

“I think you are in no position to arrest me, detective. You are no match for me.”, Jai laughed. His minions laughed along.

“Take care of this idiot. I don’t have time to deal with sincere assholes who are just plain boring.”, Jai commanded as he walked back to the sedan. The rest was taken care by his gang as they stomped Ajay, thrashing him to the ground.

As they left him gravely injured on a road where expecting help from anyone would be considered as too much generosity, he managed to dial up Dhiraj’s number for help.

Next day, Apollo Hospital

“Why did they do this to you, Ajay?”, Jhanvi cried.

“I think they don’t want me to continue on Ved’s case. Maybe he’s insecure thinking that I might arrest him. Anyways, no point thinking about it now, Jhanvi. Let go.”, Ajay said as he managed to sit up straight on the hospital bed.

Jhanvi felt bad seeing him in such a pitiable condition.

“One thing’s for sure. I won’t allow those guys to win. They can break my body, but not my mind!”, he guffawed.

“Such a committed idiot you’re!”, she smiled, pulling his cheeks,

“Well, it’d be better if I get some sleep now.”, Ajay yawned. “You may go back to your lectures. I have Manish for any support if needed. Dhiraj will come soon.”

“NO! Don’t even think I will leave your side when you are literally broken. I will be here until evening. Now sleep!”, she planted a kiss on his forehead.

A week later, Ajay got discharged from the hospital. He struggled with his knee but somehow managed to limp his way to the bike on which he found a note entitled to him.

“Continue with your case and that rod will hurt you again. Beware, Ajay. This is my last warning.”  – You know who.

He laughed reading the note as he folded it and kept it in his pocket.

Another week went by soon, with Ajay busy with Ved’s case and the other’s busy with their college lives. Jhanvi couldn’t resist calling up and meeting Ajay at least once a day. She realised that she’s madly in love with Ajay. She couldn’t help but notice how committed he was to his job, and how well maintained his physique was. Not to forget his sharp memory and deducing skills. Things were going quite smoothly between them; and then came the day – she realised it’s time.

She called up Ajay as her heart pounded with nervousness and anxiety.

“Hey, Ajay..”

“Hey, wassup Jhanvi?”

“umm..if you are free, can we meet today at 5? North Campus Road?”

“Oh..that’s the exact place where Ved..”

“Yes, I know. It’d be tough for me to go back to that place, but today we’ve to.”

“As you say! 5pm. North Campus Road.”

“Yes. Meet you there. Bye.”, she disconnected the call.

“Mentally prepare yourself for this girl. This is gonna be real tough.”,she mumbled to herself as she browsed through the gallery of their photos, rewinding back time and reliving all those happy-sad moments.

As the clock struck five, Ajay’s call woke her up. She didn’t even realise when she fell asleep.

“So sorry! I’ll reach there in 10 minutes plain. Ya..”, her mind went blank as she heard his voice over the phone.

“Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for Jhanvi. I know this will test you to your limits, but you know what you gonna say there.”, she murmured looking at the mirror. She glanced through her wardrobe and chose her favourite white tee and denim for the occasion, adding some style with a black overcoat and a cap.

“There comes the most beautiful girl in the world”, Ajay complimented as he saw her coming.

“C stands for cheesy compliments in Ajay’s dictionary I see.”, she went ahead and hugged him.

“New overcoat ha?”, he did notice her new addition to her wardrobe.

“Glad that you noticed it. Saw this in the recent Myntra sale and I couldn’t stop myself from buying it.”

“It really suits you.”

“Wanna try? I’m sure this will look cool on you too.”

“Okay I’ll, but let me hear you first.”

“Fine. But tell me don’t you have the faintest of any idea about what I’m gonna say next?”, Jhanvi teased him.

“Well, I exactly know what you are gonna say to me Jhanvi.”, Ajay said as he leant on his bike.

“Ohh.. then why don’t you let me know about it, sweetheart? Let me see how accurate you can go.”, she mocked.

“Sure! But today isn’t my day I feel. You proceed. I give up.”, he shrugged.

“Okay…Ajay, the thing is that..”

“Ya..?”

“I have actually spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it Ajay, and looking back to the gala time that I spent with you the last month, I can’t help but fall in love with the beautiful soul of yours. Handsome, well committed to his job, a physique any girl would die for, your unparalleled wit and sense of humour, and last but not the least, your sharp deducing skills. What else would a girl want in the man of her dreams, Ajay? During the last four weeks, I realised how it feels to be in love. How it feels to be complete and happy. I really don’t know how I managed to speak till now without fumbling, but I’m sure of one thing – that I love you to the core Ajay. Madly, purely, deeply.”, she went ahead and hugged him tightly.

“Hey hey! Jhanvi! Don’t cry, baby. Take a chill pill!”, Ajay made her relax.

After some moments, she felt relieved and waited for Ajay’s response. She was calm as Ajay was all smiles.

“Jhanvi. I love your acting. But you could’ve done a bit better I guess. 7/10.”, Ajay laughed like a maniac.

Needless to say, Jhanvi was shell-shocked at his impromptu and weird reaction.

“What the hell Ajay? You think this is a prank? How cheap of you!”, she was enraged.

“If this is cheap, then tell me how cheap was it for you to kill the boy who was madly in love with you Jhanvi? How cheap was it for you to kill a guy for whom you meant the world Jhanvi? Tell me now!”, Ajay yelled at the top of his voice, holding her arm, shaking in anger.

For a second Jhanvi was stunned. “Have you gone mad Ajay? Are you drunk or what? Stop this trick now ha! I won’t be fooled.”,she guffawed.

“This is not a trick bitch! This is the reality. Face it. All this while you thought that I’m falling into your goddamn trap, and here we are. The tables have turned Jhanvi. I know how cunning you are under all these kind words and your cute looks okay? It was quite evident from Ved’s diary that the sleeper cell girl was none other than the girl he loved. Too bad of him that he never mentioned the girl’s name that led me into thinking that there can be two girls in question. Too bad that his diary was almost charred to nothing, but the few pages which mattered remained. Too bad that his honest roommates still exist and helped me join the dots. Too bad that I haven’t even punched you for killing my younger brother bitch.”, he pushed her in anger.

“Yes. I’m Ajay Khurana. Ved’s elder brother.”, he rendered her speechless.

“Wha..What are you saying, Ajay? I don’t..”, she searched for words to come out, but failed miserably.

“Frankly speaking it was so lame of you to put Jai behind me. That lazy good for nothing douchebag. As if he wasn’t enough, his minion gang accompanied him every time which irritated me even more. But in a way, it was a good attempt though. You were shrewd enough to make me think that Jai was insecure since he had ragged Ved throughout these years and hence, him attacking me would be quite natural. But you failed to see the larger picture while you were busy playing these small internal games with me cutie pie.”

“Ajay..”

“You can’t escape this time!”, Ajay grinned as he locked one end of the handcuff on her right wrist.

“Don’t even try running. I won’t run.”, he said as he locked the other end of the handcuff on his.

“For God’s sake please believe me, Ajay. I love you..”, she was almost on the verge of breaking down looking at the unexpected turn of events.

“Don’t even dare say those words again! If you really loved me, you’d not have ordered Jai to beat me black and blue! How disgusting!”

And that was it. Jhanvi couldn’t hold on anymore.

“I had no other option Ajay..please try to understand what I’m trying to say! Let me complete..”, she wailed in guilty.

“Nope. I don’t want to hear a single word from you. I won’t trust you at any cost. I have been doing ground research all this while. And I know how big a mistake it can be of trusting you. Don’t you think it was cruel and heartless to blow off a guy who really loved you Jhanvi? Who would fill his diary about your pretty sweet interactions and moments? How mean it was of you to frame him and put false allegations against him, to such an extent that you faked a WhatsApp chat and even lied about him having connections with the ISIS! How cheap! How cruel! How did you manage to blow him up with a bomb?”, he said showing off the burnt diary that led him here.

Jhanvi kept silent, trying hard to believe that she has been exposed so ruthlessly by the guy whom she loved without any doubt. By the guy whose brother she had killed a few months ago.

“Speak! I want to know.”, his yell startled her.

“I never loved Ved the way he loved me. For me, he was just a jovial company and a classmate. It was way too easy for me to realise that he had a serious crush on me since the day we met. I too decided to play along. He was so innocent that he didn’t realise it was all nothing but fake. But things slowly started getting serious when we started getting closer, meeting and hanging out almost every day. He slowly started doubting me over my somewhat strange behaviour and privacy at times. And one day, he too managed to join the dots as he caught me unaware and overheard me talking to our leader. I managed to scrape it off as a prank call but he knew it wasn’t. So I had no other option but to call him here the next evening at the pretence of talking something ‘romantically important’ to which he agreed in an instant. I have the basic knowledge of creating a bomb which most suicide bombers use and put it in my overcoat as I came here to meet him. Upon arrival, I managed to put it on him and distance myself on the pretext of attending a call. And then as expected..”, she leant forward and kissed Ajay. “I loved you, Ajay. I still do.”

BOOM! A wild explosion shook a desolate North Campus Road for the second time in five months as Ajay and Jhanvi met their fate.

 

Page no. 250

‘At some point, you have to realise that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life.’

Every time life throws you a situation which you never imagined. How do you react when someone close to you ends up disappointing the most? It’s so hard to tell one’s intention towards you and it is these situations where you feel completely lost. Completely broken. I never in my dream can imagine the things which I saw today. I can never imagine that she can be a sleeper cell. After mingling in our lives like a normal person, how can she just ruin it all? How can she so easily delve into our lives and then simply ruin it with her so-called terrorist activities? I don’t know what her intentions are, but I must stop her. I must stop her going the wrong path. I cannot just let her slip away from all of us.

 

“And that’s..THE END!”, Abhishek said as I took another sip from my iced latte, listening eagerly.

“Well, this sounds cool! Some minor tweaks here and there and we can go ahead with this one. It’d be long but I guess it’ll be worth it.”, I said taking a look at the notepad where he had scribbled down some key points.

“I know. Let’s see how the reader’s respond to our collab once it releases. Can’t wait!”, he grinned.

“Same here bro! Same here.”


ABOUT THE COLLABORATOR:

Going with the normal flow how I introduce the collaborator, I met Abhishek for the first time when we were in the first year of engineering. The first semester our interactions weren’t that high but the second semester changed it all. The divisions changed and I, Aditya and Abhishek came together, and the rest is history plus lots of unforgettable moments. The #3Dimension was and is always by my side whenever it comes to taking important decisions related to the blog and sometimes, trekking :p

Talking about Abhishek, I have never met anyone who is as multi-talented as him till date. From writing stories, short articles and lyrics to singing, rapping, photography and even topping the University, he has done it all. No, I’m not exaggerating at all.

Check out his kaafi awesome blog at: abhigyanblog.wordpress.com

TRIVIA:
It’s visible that this one came out later than expected. Almost a week late, all thanks to me and all of a sudden writer’s block that came to meet me. And frankly speaking, I had already predicted that this would be the case. (Special round of applause to Abhishek’s Internet Service Provider who managed to screw up at the perfect time.)

For a casual writer like me who posts about twice a month, I knew things will go a bit overboard to post once a week, that too a collab. After each collab got released, I took a break of two days so that I can start afresh. This time the break went on longer than expected and then came the writer’s block phase that didn’t last that long much to my relief.

Meanwhile, the first two collabs have received an amazing response!
Thanks a lot for the support guys. You keep me going.

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9 thoughts on “page no. 250

  1. Hi, and thank you for the follow. I see you’re writing a mystery, but aren’t all stories a mystery? They’re just under different genres. Do you plan on having your book published? Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

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