8: 15 pm
Somewhere among the tall buildings of Hyderabad, a man sat drowning in fear.
“Hello” He whispered into the cell-phone receiver, the nervousness eminent in his voice. Wearing a black suit and shivering as he stood up from the wooden chair in his one-room studio, he tried to walk. The legs didn’t move. They just didn’t move up, no matter how much he tried. Sweat trickled from his forehead as he cursed, in his mind, the damn power cut that had darkened the entire home. But it didn’t matter anymore.
Standing on the floor of a small room on the 20th floor in a luxury apartment that now stayed silent, shining in the moonlight, Raghav Varma realized his life was going to end tonight. Helooked out of his window as he tried to speak, loosening the tie that was wrapped around his neck.
“I know where you are, scumbag. You wanted to cheat me of my money? Me?! No one does that!”. The voice roared from the speaker of Raghav’s phone. The voice of the biggest drug-lord in Hyderabad, Pathaabi Seth.
“I cheated you and your entire ‘Kingdom’, Seth. You have no way of finding me, even now.” Raghav spoke, sporting a fake laugh.
“Don’t play with me, Raghav. I am trying to find out where you are. You will die tonight, Raghav, you hear me?! Tonight !!”
Raghav went on talking, without stopping, as he teased Pathaabhi by telling him how he had spoilt the entire trafficking operation by becoming a police informant, thus costing a loss worth crores of rupees. Pathaabhi listened patiently.
“Now get lost, Pathaabhi! I am going away now, far from all this.” Raghav laughed, as he pulled the phone down from his ear, ready to cut the call.
“Anything is traceable, Raghav ” Don’t. The voice now got cut in the neck as Raghav pressed the END button and stared blankly at the screen. flashed on his nokia 5130 in bright colors. Raghav smashed the cell phone to the ground, frustrated.
The power had come back on.
The many lights in the small room hit his face as Raghav wiped his eyes, trying to get adjusted to the glare. Quickly grabbing a cloth travel-bag and throwing it on the one-berth bed, he filled it with clothes, certificates, travel documents and all that he needed. He was leaving the town tonight. Forever.
“Damn, it’s never easy to play a double game,” Raghav shouted, talking to himself. He had duped both the police and the underworld today by stealing a cut of the drugs that the police had discovered. 2 kgs of heroin is a lot of money, he thought and smiled.
Tying his shoe-laces and throwing the sling of the travel-bag around him, Raghav locked his doors swiftly and rushed down the stairs of his apartment. He jumped, hopped sometimes, 2 and 3 steps at a time, unmindful of the risks.
They can’t find me. There is no way. There is no chance at all. I haven’t left any clues or any hints, he thought as he ran out of the building. Walking in hurried steps, he pushed himself out of the gate and began hurrying down the footpath.
A street-light flickered above him as he kept on walking along the footpath. A clean, gravel road, lay calmly by his side. A road now empty since this was a private colony and seldom had many visitors.
It suddenly became dark again. The power was out again. Damn, can’t anything go right? Raghav thought, still rushing, trying to run occasionally. He wiped the sweat off his face as he laughed to himself, thinking of the money he would make once he reached Brazil. “Just another hour!”, he shouted as his voice echoed in the lane. A dog’s footsteps filled his ears as he realized there was no one around. It was all silent, except for some vague sounds of Telugu words that came from the houses in the lane.
Under the moonlight, Raghav’s dark-tanned face shone in horror as he suddenly stopped. He stood there, still, terrified, his eyes widening his fright.
How long does it take to trace a call? Two minutes, thirty seconds. How long has it been since I talked on the phone? Half an hour. Oh my God. Raghav realized.
Pathaabhi had been silent on the phone for a reason. He was trying to find Raghav. “Nothing is untraceable”, the words now came back, crashing, to Raghav’s soul who now dropped his travel-bag to the ground and just remained there.
I was played. Was I played? Raghav thought, trying to collect his thoughts as tears dropped down his bright-blue eyes. Tears of fright.
The very question Raghav had on his mind would be answered. A white ambassador raced down the lane from afar. Raghav, listening to the sound, turned behind and looked. The vague light that filled the entire area, coming down from the moon served him well, for he noticed the car slowing down as it approached him. Raghav still couldn’t move. He stood there, remembering that he had seen the car somewhere. It was Pathaabhi Seth’s car.
As he watched in sheer numbness, a gloved hand reached out from the right window of the backseat. The hand had a .45 revolver gripped in it’s palm. A small spark of fire ignited as a shot came out of the gun and went straight into Raghav’s head.
Somewhere among the soothing winds of Hyderabad, a faint gun-shot was heard.
Raghav Varma was dead.