Thursday, October 27, 2016

Singing in the Rain

Suhani was feeling miserable as she was looking at the buses coming and going in the rain. She was looking at the rain feeling distinctly miserable. As it was, her manager’s veiled criticism was enough to ruin her day and added on top of it had to be the rain. The wet, sloshy feeling which Suhani hated….
She was looking miserably as the group of kids on the other side of the road as they were screaming and laughing in the rain. Memories from her own carefree childhood, where she had run around in the rain jumping in every single puddle and had come back home feeling absolutely and blissfully happy, assaulted her.
It seemed impossibly hard for her to believe that she was that same person.
What had changed? She wondered looking at the rain. Now the steady downpour did nothing more than irritate her. All she could think about was that the roads were getting flooded and that her clothes never dried completely and she felt like she was stuck inside the house all the time…Suhani looked around and saw the others in the bus stop waiting the exact same way as her, miserable and unhappy, just waiting to get home and escape from the rain….
Is this what growing up does to you? Suhani wondered. You forget who you were, the things that you love and become this altogether different person who had no resemblance with the original. If so, then which was the real her? The present morose one or the past carefree one….
Responsibility! Suhani decided. That seemed to be the bane of existence. Once you get responsibilities, you just unmake everything you ever were and morph into a boring adult. So did that mean that responsibilities were bad, something to be avoided? Well the fact remained responsibilities could never be avoided and the more you tried to avoid them, the more they made your life miserable. So that was definitely not the way.
Suhani watched the steady drip-drip-drip of the rain drop.
Just because you have something to worry about, does not mean you have to be worried about it, all the time…The drops seemed to laugh at her, almost teasing her, answering her questions. Responsibilities are supposed to define who you are and show you how you want to lead your life. They are not supposed to make you forget what life is all about….. Agreed the rain makes you sit indoors. Aren’t there enough things you can do inside your house and still enjoy yourself. Suhani had an image of a portrait she had abandoned halfway and had dumped in the attic because she was sure she was never going to get the time to complete it.
Agreed your clothes don’t dry easy…But so what? Don’t you have enough of other options to try instead of trying the same boring clothes again and again? You love the shower when you take your bath and now when I provide one of the most beautiful showers you shy away from it! Why?....
Suhani let her hands out of the bus stop as the rain drops fell on her hands. It flowed from her hands down to the ground. Watching it was almost mesmerizing…..After a very long time she took a deep breath of the rain and the rain-washed parched lands from her village came as a sharp memory.
There in the village, the coming of the rain was almost a celebration... It reminded her of the tilling of the earth which her grandfather took her along to. Somehow watching her grandfather had made her so happy then. The coming of the rain, the smell of the earth, it marked the beginning of something new, something fresh...the coming of a full circle...
Some subconscious part of her mind probably registered that the others in the bus stop were looking at her weirdly. But then before she realized it, Suhani stepped into the rain.
The ferocity of the rain seemed to increase, almost as if it was welcoming her….welcoming her back.

Suhani went back home completely wet and absolutely happy, that day…..

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Steal

The street was dinghy, dirty and dark. Not many people liked to walk in this backdrop and they were right about their opinion. The place was in the oldest parts of the city and unless someone wanted to be mugged or robbed, not many even came through here.
And the place had a peculiar kind of silence. The one which said a lot but with no one to hear.
And right now the silence was broken by a sniffing from a young boy – a young Karan who was slightly less than ten years.
"You are not supposed to steal!" the usual round face of the honest shopkeeper, which always smiled was now looking stern and angry, as the man was standing in front of his small provision store which was now one of the important places in the locality.
The shopkeeper was honest, impeccably so and his products were good. Despite the locality, the man's shop ran well.
"I was hungry," the little Karan, to whom the man was speaking said sullenly as he was clutching the thick handbag in his hands. "I do not have money."
Karan was dressed in torn dirty clothes and looked every inch like one of the orphans on the road.
Karan's talk earned him a slap from the man. A sharp one – Just one to jar the boy back into his senses. Karan clutched his cheeks and looked at the man struggling, not to cry.
And after hitting the boy, the shopkeeper hugged Karan tightly as Karan howled even more.
"Stealing is not the way!" the man told Karan after Karan had calmed down a few seconds later and the shopkeeper was still looking slightly stern. "You work and you earn money and you buy food so that you do not feel hungry."
"Work?" Karan ask confused.
The shopkeeper nodded slowly. "You will work in my shop starting today!"
The shopkeeper pointed at the handbag in Karan's hands. "Give it to me and I will hand it over to the woman who is outside. The woman from whom you stole it!" The shopkeeper said angrily.
"S..S..She is here?" Karan asked looking terrified.
"She knows that I know things which happen around the place here. Which is why she came to me, telling me one of the urchins from here stole the money!" The man said looking disgusted at the word "urchins". "She wanted to go to the police. I just managed to convince her that I would get her money back and that there was no reason to involve the law in this!"
Karan handed over the handbag to the shopkeeper as he was looking terrified.
The shopkeeper smiled as he took the handbag. "That is a good boy!" The shopkeeper said kindly. "Stay here and I will be back."
Karan was still sniffing as he saw through the crack in the wall and he saw the shopkeeper talk to the stout, strong woman from whom Karan had "taken" the handbag. The woman was looking furiously angry as she looked at the shopkeeper who handed over the handbag to her.
From the back of the shop, Karan heard snatches of conversations and saw the pleading expression of the shopkeeper. Finally after ten minutes of yelling herself hoarse, the woman walked away from there with a huff, clutching the handbag tightly.
**********
It had been ages since Karan had walked through the street. After his fifteenth year he had not been here and things had normally moved on. He had pushed himself through college and was now running a cab service, which was already one of the most preferred one in the city.
And right now nothing much bothered Karan. There was a time when these very streets had seemed terrifying to him. But now, the same jostling people, the same running children...it almost brought a sense of deja vu in him.
Karan reached the provision store which still ran in the same place and the shop was still something that people still preferred to come to.
"I want a chocolate!" Karan said as he pointed at the most expensive one in the small shop, unable to hide a smile.
The wizened bushy eyebrows of the shopkeeper still looked calm and collected and the wavy hair of the shopkeeper was liberally dozed in gray. But as far as Karan was concerned, nothing changed with the shopkeeper.
"Which one....?" the shopkeeper asked and suddenly stopped as he saw Karan.
A beautiful smile came on the shopkeeper's face and the few people around the shop just could not understand why such a handsomely dressed customer suddenly fell at the feet of the shopkeeper only to be hugged tightly around the counter.
"For you, the chocolate is free!" the shopkeeper said as he handed over the goods to the other people as Karan waited patiently for his turn. Karan saw small boys inside the shop looking slightly happy as they were putting the goods together which the customers had asked.
"I have not taken anything for free for a really long time." Karan said honestly. "I was taught not to take anything belonging to others," Karan said feeling for his wallet as the shopkeeper laughed.
Karan frowned as he realized that his purse was missing. A frantic search six seconds, later led him to the inevitable conclusion. His wallet really was missing.
The shopkeeper handed over the chocolate to Karan. "As I said it is free!" the shopkeeper told Karan. "Probably you forgot your wallet at your home." The shopkeeper said a little carefully.
Karan did not take the chocolate as he got up.

"Probably!" Karan agreed wholeheartedly. "Just tell the kid to eat well," Karan told the shopkeeper with a smile as he walked away from the shop. 

How far can a book fair be?

               

I have been a book worm my whole life. And trust me, with all my frailties, I have never once regretted being a book worm. While the others I knew, were busy with their stuff, I would happily lose myself in any book. And I found great pleasure in it.

I never knew that I was going to regret it one day.

That morning started harmlessly enough. I was watching the advertisement in the newspaper and was almost over the moon about it. Probably my husband figured out that I was very close to exploding with excitement, as he dumped the bucket of water which he brought in after washing the car and sneaked in from behind trying to see what I was reading.

"I want to go to the book fair!" I said finally, when it got to a stage that I could not read the paper with his head blocking the entire view.

"Oh!"

The complete lack of enthusiasm from my husband was not only expected, it was even understandable. Considering the number of times I have burnt dishes, because I forgot all about cooking reading books, I am surprised that my husband even puts up with my voracious reading. And that is why I was shocked when I heard his reply.

"I will take you!" he said putting on his most winning smile.

The first thing I did do was try to remember whether it was my birthday. I mean, it was obvious that I had missed something. Otherwise this reaction was completely not even expected.

I drew a blank on that one. And I was a little more worried, wondering whether it was my wedding day. I was almost sure it was not, but then it was always better to check these things instead of just assuming something.

Luckily (?), it was neither and my husband was still making the offer and watching me expectantly. And I was very reluctant. The reason for my reluctance was fairly simple. I liked reading books all by myself. Having a watchman along, pointing at the watch and reminding me that I had to eat or something trivial like that, always annoyed me to no end.

What is the worst which can go wrong? I asked myself as I nodded my head.

I should have said no, like a smart girl. But I guess, we all make bad decisions.

"Evening, five!" was all my husband said.

Eight hours and back from office, promptly, at five, we left the apartment.

And as we got out of the apartment in our car, I figured something that I should have known a long time back. Our city is filled with people and it seems all of them have to get back to their homes at five in the evening. And the minute we came to the street with our car, I barely saw the tar road beneath us. All I did see were cars honking, trucks honking and (heaven forbid) a huge crane in the middle of the road. The last thing did confuse me for a few seconds, but then there was a part of me which was wondering how it would be if the crane honked, because the truck honking was already threatening to shatter my ear drums. (Ok! I get it! That is not what normal people think in these circumstances.)

I was sorely tempted to go to the front of the traffic lights and pick up a huge mike and yell at the people and tell them that honking was not going to get them home. Luckily, the fear that I would be trampled over by the vehicles kept my insane desire firmly in my head.

And we had crossed about a kilometer, when my husband had the next brilliant idea – a short cut. It would have been a brilliant idea had not at least a hundred drivers before us got the same idea. And so we turned towards the short cut, having absolutely no idea what was wrong there.

The only thing that did happen after we took the short cut was that I still saw more cars and bikes, with the important difference that this was a much smaller road.

The score now was half an hour and one kilometer away from our home. And I obviously did not tell you the most interesting part. A lot of people also had the brilliant idea of a short cut, after us. So in the end, we were jammed in a small road, with a hundred vehicles before us and ten behind us.

Nothing like music to sooth me down and I hunted up the CDs in the car dashboard and to my shock I found the CDs missing. Like completely missing. I looked at my husband in a near pleading look.

"Oh! I forgot to keep it back." He admitted. "I had taken the CDs out when I was washing the car." He should have kept his mouth shut with that. But obviously he had to try and ease my suffering. "Don't worry! I will sing for you."

That part of my memory is totally wiped out because of trauma. Imagine being a cramped vehicle unable to get out because there is no space and really wanting to get out because something terrible is happening inside the cramped vehicle. That was exactly how I felt then.

Luckily, two kilometers and half an hour later, my husband ran out of breath and I sighed in relief. The book fair was a distant dream. I was just hoping to make it back home, without my head exploding. My perceptive husband seemed to figure that out after his singing and that was when our car did a really weird thing.

The car shuddered for a few seconds and suddenly stopped. When I mean stopped, I actually mean stopped. The car refused to move. That would have been unnoticeable, because we were not moving anyway. The fact that my husband had stopped singing made my senses sharper as I realized that the car was not vibrating.

After a few seconds of cranking the key, my husband got out the car and was tinkering with the open bonnet.

"Probably the water entered the carburetor, when I was washing it." he told me.

For a second I was wondering whether I was supposed to understand that sentence, because other than washing and water, nothing else made sense from the sentence. I did have an incongruous image of a car being dried hanging from a clothes-clip and gave it up because it just made me laugh like a hyena. And considering that I was in a proper traffic jam with a broken down car, that seemed to be the wrong reaction.

A few good Samaritans who wanted to get on their way to home, helped us by getting our car to the side.

And I had reached that state, where I knew that nothing else could go wrong and I was ready to become completely philosophical about not going to the book fair (which honestly was the last thing on my head right then).

I was watching my husband work on the car engine, with occasional comments from the passerby who had to offer helpful tips of how to get the car working again. Half an hour later, my husband told me something which I knew long back.

"I can't get the car working today!" he announced.

The book fair was out and since I had not cooked, it seemed advisable that we have our dinner out. We entered the hotel outside which our car stopped and ordered for just some plain sandwich and noodles.

The reason for my choice was simple. These were the only two dishes where the number of things which could go wrong were minimum, and considering our luck today, it seemed pertinent to keep the number of things going wrong to a minimum.

The chef was obviously having a bad day. Probably his wife did not take him to the book fair (or his wife did take him to the book fair, who knew?). Because the food was bad. I could give you a long list of rants about the food alone, which included the sandwich being burnt and the noodles being oily and the vegetable not being properly cooked. Well it would have been a really long list and completely boring.

So anyway, after stuffing ourself with that, (On a principle, I am not calling that food.) we caught an auto and we were back home, an hour later. (The book fair was closed, in case you did not figure it out.)

And I went to bed for the very simple reason I was more than sure, that any attempts at conversation with my husband was going to be completely inadvisable today. I was actually worried that he would start apologizing to me and then I would completely lose it.

I woke up the next day, feeling astonishing fresh. The bad things of yesterday had completely washed itself away from my head and I looked at the clock and saw that I was overslept. A lot. And that was when I saw a book peaking out from near the alarm clock.

Hastily I pulled it and was almost trembling with joy. Because this book was the very reason I wanted to go to the fair.

And the best part of the book was not inside the cover. It was a hastily scribbled piece of paper outside the book. Because of paper had three of the most beautiful sentences I had read in a long time.

To the woman who burns my dishes, and stays with me through all the car breakdowns, my singing and my poor hotel choices.    

With Love...

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Journey for Todgil

HALT!”
The tall Enchanter Guard shouted, as he sensed an encroacher coming towards the Restricted Region. And the power of the Enchanter Guard was such that his voice was heard all around the perimeter of the Restricted Region.
No sooner than he had spoken, the Staff in the Guard’s hands glowed and the border of the Restricted Region behind him glowed brightly. The Guard could not understand who would venture inside the Restricted Region and that too today. But there was a part of the Guard which was thrilled. An Encroacher on the day of balance....Could this be the one....?
The Sentry ignored these thoughts as he armed his Staff and he put on a Defence Enchantment as he went towards the hooded encroacher. He sensed the powers of the encroacher and was in for another surprise. The raw, untamed power flowing from the encroacher was enormous. And the most surprising part was that the encroacher did absolutely nothing to stop him from sensing it.
The encroacher sensed the Guard as she pulled back her hood and the Guard saw the child for the first time.
I am Sahana, the daughter of Kragon.” the child said in her local language, watching the Guard. The expression on the face of the child almost made the Guard smile. He had seen this expression on another face, a long time back – It was an expression of fear mixed with a resoluteness to push through no matter what.
What brings you here, daughter of Kragon?” the Guard asked the child, in the language of the Ancients. Though the Guard was sure that the child was not here on a whim, he was entrusted with a very difficult job. He had to keep the secrets of the Restricted Region outside the reach of the undeserving. And the Ancient language was great help in that regard. People who heard the language were confused and backed away from the place. Such was the power of the language. The guard expected the same from the child now.
The Guard was in for another surprise.
I need to get inside the Restricted Region!”
There was no confusion in the mind of the Sahana, the daughter of Kragon. And the Guard was shocked because the child was able to reply to him in the Ancient language. Because though to the Guard, even the oldest head-woman of the village, was a child, this girl before him, was a child even by human standards. It looked like she had barely crossed eleven rainy seasons.
How can you speak this language, child?” the Guard asked unable to stop himself.
There was a sad expression in the face of the child. But the child controlled herself and watched him.
I was taught the language!” the child said without elaborating any further.
The Guard frowned as he realized that the child was in no mood for conversation. “Why do you wish to get inside the Restricted Region?” he finally asked.
I need to get herbs for my grandfather!” Sahana said quietly. “My grandfather has taken ill. From yesterday morning, he has been completely unresponsive to anything. The physicians can offer no hope!” the child looked terrified and the Guard could see that she was trying to beat back the fear and try to appear determined. The Guard felt an immense respect for the child but let nothing show in his face.
So, why do you wish to get inside the Restricted Region?” The Guard asked.
One of the new physicians who was passing through town said that my grandfather can be revived by Todgil. The Todgil herb, which is found only inside the Restricted Region.” Sahana said taking a deep breath.
And that was when the Guard saw the child clutching an ornately carved dagger in her belt.
The Guard’s powerful vision let him see the emblem carved on the dagger, though the child was far away. And what he saw, shocked the Guard.
Why does your father not come?” he asked.
My father has gone to another realm on the Queen’s command. He is not expected until another rainy season.” the child said.
And he thought you fit to have that dagger?” the Guard asked the child carefully.
He could see the confusion running through the child’s face as he saw her clutch the dagger more tightly. “My grandfather said I was worthy for it.” the child said finally. She really did not see any reason to explain to the Guard, what she had done for her grandfather to make that particular comment.
Was your grandfather the one who taught you the Ancient language, child?” the Guard asked gently.
The child looked even more worried as she nodded slowly. Right now, with her parents out of the village, Sahana had been living with her grandfather – Nori. He took her everywhere. Even when he was gathering herbs. Sometimes he even took her to far away places of snow. And right now, he was unwell. Terribly unwell. Which was why Sahana was completely willing to make this journey. Her friends had deterred her from the journey saying that the Restricted Region was a dangerous place. But Sahana was determined. She was the daughter of Kragon, the bravest man in the world and right now, Nori needed her to be brave.
Do you know that the Ancients speak of a path which will guide you through the quest of the Restricted Region?” The Guard asked. “It has been written in the Lore caves.”
Yes. I do!” the child said immediately with a ferocious expression. “That is the reason, I need to start on my journey immediately.”
Explain.” the Guard said, feeling shocked. He refused to even let himself think about this. He had waited for this for such a long time that he had all but given up hope.
The Lore Caves speak that the journey inside the Restricted Region can only be successful if it is started on the day of Balance.” The child looked at the Sentry almost desperately. “Today is that day.” she declared.
Why?” the Sentry said, his heart thudding painfully hard.
Our world is a sphere and the sun is in the centre.” the girl said. “Today is the day the sun passes through the centre of the world and the day and night are equal in time. The day of Balance! The path inside the Region would be illuminated today. If I see the path, I can get inside today, and I would be able to save my grandfather!” the child watched the rays of the setting sun almost desperately.
For that I need to let you inside.” the girl watched the Guard dismayed as he continued. “And I have made a promise that only the worthy shall enter the Region.”
The child looked at him stubbornly. “Please speak in haste! How should I prove my worth to you?”
The Guard was silent for a long time and then he spoke. “Inside you would find something which flies when it is born, lies when it is alive and runs when it is dead. I need you to tell me what it is!”
Sahana stared at the Guard dismayed. The question made no sense to her and she needed to get inside. Otherwise Nori had no hope. Nori, who had brought her up. Nori who loved her....Sahana blinked as she stared at the Guard, realizing why she was thinking all this.
A snowflake.” Sahana whispered looking shocked with herself. “When the snowflake is born, it comes flying down from the skies and it lies down after it falls on the earth as snow and when the snow flake is heated, it flows as water.”
The Guard was speechless. His work here was finally going to be over. He could feel it. And it all depended on this child with pure heart. One whom an Ancient had seen fit to give that dagger. The Guard wished from the bottom of his heart that the child was successful.
You may pass!” the Guard said without any further question. His staff glowed and the border behind him glowed.
Sahana watched the last rays of the Equinox sun fall inside the border. Sahana gasped, because suddenly inside the Restricted Region, she could see a path shining from the place she was standing. Everything was clear, like it was meant for her to see it.
What do you see?” the Guard asked eagerly.
A path from the fading light of the skies!” Sahana said with wonder.
Follow the path child and fulfill your destiny.” the Guard said gently with a smile.
Sahana nodded and was about to start as the Guard stopped her one last time. “I need to tell you one thing before you go. The Ancient Pact requires that once someone steps over the borders, I have to seal the border to prevent outside interference. You shall not be able to return unless you get what you shall seek.” the Guard said taking a deep breath.
I shall not return without the herbs.” Sahana said as her eyes glowed with pride. Her grandfather needed her and she was going to make her father and grandfather proud of her. Sahana took a last look as she stepped over the border as the path glowed brighter, almost welcoming her.
She smiled as the Guard bowed to her.
The Guard was filled with a joy he had never known in his mortal life as he sealed the borders for the last time. His work was about to get over and it all depended on that child. He was so lost in joy that he failed to see someone watching the entire event with a lens from far away.
The Guard turned and that was when Mystic appeared before him. The Guard immediately went on his guard, pulling out his Staff.
The Sentry fired as Mystic blocked the magic with her shield.
Relax old man!” Mystic said, as the Staff in her hand glowed a dark gray. “I am not here to fight!” she said with a smile.
What are you here for?” The Guard asked angrily.
If your punishment were to get over, it is because of me!” the Mystic said as her gray hair glinted in the setting rays of the sun.
I am doing my penance!” the Guard said angrily as Mystic snorted.
Call it by whatever name you want, old man!” The Mystic said as she watched the borders of the Restricted Region and smiled. “I am the one who sent the Unique of her journey. And I made sure that she started on the day of Balance.” Mystic said.
What do you mean?” The Guard asked looking shocked.
He turned back and realized that he could not call the child back, even if he wanted to. He had sealed the borders and that was powerful magic. One which could not be undone.
That was the pact. But now.....
What have you done?” the Guard asked as his heart thudding painfully.
I was the one who infected her grandfather, with my dark magic!” Mystic said laughing. “And do you know the person, whom the Unique thinks is her grandfather?” Mystic asked watching the Guard.
The Guard was sure he did not want to know the answer as Mystic continued.
It is Nori!” Mystic said laughing.


The Guard was horrified as Mystic continued, her eyes shining with anticipation. “After Nori was infected, I told the Unique to get Todgil, which would be available in the Restricted Region. I sensed her potential and I intend to channelize it.” was all Mystic said as she disappeared from there.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Don't fall for a girl who gets shot!"

"Is there a limit to how much mess you can get into in three hours?" Kiran demanded as he ducked and the shot from the gun missed him by few inches.
And Kiran with his tall six three height, and his intense black eyes and wiry strength was impressive. But right now he was just thinking about exactly how much trouble the girl standing next to him, who was nearly as tall as him, with bouncy wavy hair and the most cutest brown eyes could get into.
"This has nothing to do with me! Even I cannot get into so much trouble," Aarvi said in a strangled voice from beside him as the two of them were hiding from behind the pillar near the basement parking.
"Three hours, lady!" Kiran said fuming as he pulled out his gun and armed it. "No one was taking potshots at me when you and me were in Police Headquarters three hours back. I come all the way to meet you and when you come into the parking basement of your newspaper office, the damned parking lot is blazing with more guns than I have seen in my entire life!"
Aarvi was about to say something but there was a barrage of shots all around them as Kiran put a protective arm pulling her close to him, as he was trying to shield her from any stray bullets. Kiran knew that his move served no purpose. But then these were the few things that he could not explain why he did. He just did it.
There was a silence as Kiran heard some scampering movement around him as the people were moving towards them.
Kiran pointed to Aarvi to the car next to the pillar, nodding, not wanting to waste any time talking. Aarvi looked around scared and scampered towards the car.
Kiran shot blindly at his left.
There were two or three shots fired at the place that Kiran had shot, as Kiran saw that Aarvi was safe at the back of the car.
Kiran was focusing all his energies on hearing, as he armed his gun again. He could feel it. Someone on his right. Kiran fired a shot letting his hearing guide him.
Kiran heard a faint thump and saw the bad guy with dark glasses and Kiran even had time to see a piece of radio hanging down the person's ears as the person lurched and slumped down.
Kiran did not wait to check his ran behind the car where Aarvi was hiding.
And Kiran was glad that he did not waste anymore time behind the pillar, because the place where he was hiding just a second back was ablaze with shots, almost blinding him.
"Don't look at it," Kiran whispered as he bent down as Aarvi was hugging close to him as he could feel her heart hammering. "The splinters from the shots can blind you." Kiran whispered in her ears as she nodded.
"The damned idiots have trackers in their visors!" Kiran said pointing at Aarvi to move to the next car. "These visors can sense our heat signatures. We will be seen the minute we run anywhere without the cars as covers." Kiran said glumly as he stared at the gun in his hand.
He had at best just four more shots and from what Kiran could see there were at least seven people around him.
Kiran sighed realizing that he would have to disarm one of the bad guys. Kiran was looking around at the closest bad guy.
"Why didn't you say that before?" Aarvi demanded looking ferociously annoyed.
Kiran stared at Aarvi's annoyed face and nearly snarled. "We are being shot!" Kiran said trying is best not to yell. "What is there for me to tell you?" He demanded in a strangled whisper.
"You said they have visors with trackers in them which sense our heat signatures!" Aarvi said. "Trackers have computers!" Aarvi said pulling out her laptop from her backpack. "I tried making an energy call twelve minutes back. Because this is the basement, I do not think that I could contact anyone."
"What is the point of telling me all this now?" Kiran snarled again, sneaking a peek from behind the car to see whether he could see any more bad guys.
"Right now, I am not trying to contact anyone outside the parking lot," Aarvi said hunched on the ground typing furiously on the sleek laptop in her hand. "One guy on the right," Aarvi told Kiran staring at computer. "Ten meters." Aarvi said pointing right.
Kiran stared at Aarvi for a whole of two seconds and suddenly grinned as he pointed to the right, at the direction which Aarvi had pointed.
Kiran fired.
Kiran was genuinely shocked when he heard a faint thump.
When the shots from that side stopped, Kiran realized shocked that it was a bullseye.
"Woman! I really, really love you," Kiran said fervently, as he pointed her to move towards the direction he had shot. If Aarvi was navigating him, there was a chance...A huge chance. And he needed the weapon of the person whom he had just shot.
And suddenly Aarvi stopped walking, bending down watching her screen worried. "Right, two people!" Aarvi said.
As she spoke she fell down flat on the ground, her computer getting jarred and Kiran was sure the damned machine was broken.
Kiran skidded to a halt and would have tripped on Aarvi if he was not prepared. But then being with this woman for six months had taught him to always expect the unexpected.
And Kiran was hiding behind a pillar as he realized that the place just above Aarvi was riddled with shots.
Kiran saw the shots and guessing the trajectory of the shots and from where Aarvi had pointed, shot twice angrily. No one shot at his girlfriend...
Kiran did not miss as two people fell.
Obviously Kiran's luck ran out.
"Kir..."
Kiran felt his gun being brutally kicked away from his hands and heard Aarvi's scream a second before and even before conscious thought reached him, he turned and punched hard before he could even see who it was.
The bad guy with the dark glasses and the dangling radio did not even have a chance as he crumpled on the ground.
Kiran had not counted on two people being around him and groaned as something hit Kiran hard on the neck. Real hard.
Kiran slumped as he fell down hard, nearly hitting himself on the pillar, blinking back stars.
Someone swore as Kiran felt a sharp kick in his abdomen and nearly lost conscious and that was when he heard the same swearing someone pull him up hard.

"LET HIM GO!"
Honestly it was hearing that voice which really scared Kiran. Really, really bad.
Kiran squinted as he realized that it really was Aarvi with presumably the gun of the guy whom Kiran had shot and Kiran was now terrified.
He was so sure that Aarvi was going to pull the trigger and pushed himself back, falling straight back as three blind shots hit all around him.
The bad guy who had just used Kiran for punching practice scrammed faster than anything that Kiran could have done.
It was two more shots later that the firing stopped.
"Duck and Run!" Kiran yelled as he tried running towards Aarvi, trying to get his breath back.
Damn, damn damn, Kiran cursed himself. If there was one thing which was really dangerous – it was Aarvi with a gun. There was less than one percent chance she would actually hit what she was aiming at and she would hit everything else around her.
And now not only had Aarvi failed to hit anyone, those damned jackasses who were here knew where they were with all the racket that Aarvi had just made.
Kiran heard shots to his right and after a few seconds he heard nothing more.
Kiran got up and ran as fast as he could towards Aarvi and as he reached her, he brutally pulled the gun away from her. "How many times have I told you not to use these things?" Kiran asked in a strangled whisper.
"What else was I supposed to do?" Aarvi was whimpering and whispering in the same tone.
"RUN!" Kiran nearly yelled, almost forgetting that he had to be quiet. "That is what normal people would have done," Kiran said almost threatening to blow all his brain cells from pure anger.
"Then what would you do? All alone?" Aarvi asked with slight concern as there were shots around them and she was wincing, trying to duck.
Kiran groaned. Now, the woman had to be concerned about him. "I can take care of myself and usually when I shoot people, they stay down!" Kiran snarled whispering.
Suddenly both Aarvi and Kiran realized that there was silence all around them. Complete and total.
"Either that is very good or very bad!" Aarvi said very philosophically when she heard the silence.
"One of these days, I am going to spank you," Kiran fumed angrily at Aarvi.
"You lovebirds behind that pillar?"
Kiran sighed in relief, nearly falling on the pillar. Real glorious relief.
Kiran could barely find enough energy to stand up as Kiran yelled. "What took you so long?" Kiran demanded, leaning heavily on the pillar, almost all the fight draining out of him.
"I believe the words are "Thank you"," Aadit's jovial voice came from other side. "Got a faint emergency signal about twelve minutes back. I ran through three red lights and a series of other traffic police vehicles are following me here. I figured if you have gone to visit Aarvi, cops or not, we would need all the backup we can get."
Kiran peeked from behind the pillar and saw Aadit studying the damage to parking lot and was looking at the place where Aarvi had just shot just about everything other than him and the bad guy.
"With the bad guys all around here, what were you trying to shoot, man? A running cockroach?" Aadit demanded as he was studying the holes on the wall.

"One more word and I will kill you!" Kiran snarled coming out from behind the pillar. "And when you fall for a girl, make sure it is not someone who gets shot!" Kiran said in the same tone angrily walking away from the parking lot.