Chap 72 – Patel strikes lucky!
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“Adi! Yeh kya hai?” Growled Maan.
“Why have you arranged meetings for Geet? “
“Err M…..Maan sir …sh…she asked me to.”
Maan glanced at her through the glass his eyes stormy. Geet was in a head to head discussion with Pinky about something or the other. They had only come back this morning. He knew he had to step back into work, but she really had no business coming in. He wanted her at home and resting.
Growling at a flustered Adi he stormed out of his office into hers.
“Geet, I told you not to come in today!”
Shaking away the handsome, dynamic image he made, she looked up at him with confusion.
“Geet you are not to over work yourself.”
“Why? What happened?” Now she was even more confused, she had only been here a couple of hours.
Grabbing a bag of crisps, Pinky giggled and sat down watching the fireworks with a great deal of interest.
“You could be….!” he stopped suddenly glaring at Pinky’s obvious interest and annoying crunching.
Geet suddenly clicked at what he was saying. What!? Even if she was, which she highly doubted, why would that stop her from coming to work? She watched with a growing sense of frustration as he grabbed a nearby chair, pushing it towards her, he gently shoved her into it.
“Maan! Stop it! Even if…I was! This is ridiculous. Just leave me to finish my work!” Jumping up she pushed him back to the door.
“You are so incredibly stubborn and frustrating. Why don’t you listen to me for a change. I want you to stay at home and rest.” He growled and gave Pinky such a fierce look as she munched on a particularly crispy crunch, she gulped it down without chewing and went off into a fit of coughing.
“Don’t try and intimidate Pinky! And there is no way I am not coming to work.” Geet’s stormy face met his head on.
“I have cancelled your meetings.” hands on hips he was a formidable opponent.
“Then you will just have to rearrange them!”She folded her arms and gave him a look that would have shrivelled a grown man at ten paces.
Her saccharine sweet reply had him fuming but he was not in the least bit perturbed. Turning on his heel he was about to walk off, thinking he had his victory, no point arguing further and agitating her, when Adi came to attend the coughing Pinky, almost running into him but he had to turn as Geet said.
“Adi please rearrange my meetings.” her eyes were determined.
“Err I ..I h…haven’t got around to cancelling them yet.” Adi said edging away from Maan’s dark glare.
“Oh good!” Smiling sweetly, she waltzed out of the office picking up a pile of papers as she went.
“See you later Maan! Pinky I’m on the phone if you need me.” she said waving the phone in the air, deliberately in Maan’s face as she walked off.
Quietly he watched her walk away, eyeing her swaying gait with dark frustration. What he wanted to do to that behind right now he could see in glorious technicolour. He was doing this for her own good but would she listen? Simmering with frustration he decided he had to think of a better plan to get her to stay at home and rest a lot more.
Back in Rupnagar…
“Chandu are you ready? I am late for school already!”
“Didi! Hold on I am just getting my bag.” Chotu grumbled, quietly adding a few more snacks to his bag. Ever since Munna had come last night and told him that Uncle was looking for him and had the remote control helicopter he had been unable to contain his excitement.
They spilled out into the street. “err Didi can I go to Munna’s house after school?”
“I have a lot of homework to catch up on, Munna has promised to help. You know he came yesterday.”
Babli looked at him suspiciously, Chotu and homework in the same sentence? Reaching out she felt his forehead to see if he still had fever.
“What are u doing?” Chotu grumbled screwing up his face.
“Just checking! OK, you can go to Munna’s house and catch up on your homework but be back before dinner.”
“Yes didi! I promise, you’re the best didi in the whole world.” Excitement ran through him. He would finally get to see the helicopter, he had been waiting a long time for that. If he really liked it he could get Maanjiju to get him one next time. Maanjiju had said he could anything he wanted, when Geet didi hadn’t been looking.
“Ok bye, didi!” Chotu ran off to his class as they entered the school gates, joining his friends who were whooping with delight to see him.
Babli looked at him more suspiciously now. What was Chotu up to? Maybe after school she would hang around and make sure he was going where he said.
Patel grinned, finally Chotu was at school. Watching from a distance he saw brother and sister part and go to their respective classes. He had a few hours to make the preparations and then…then he would action his plan.
His phone rang as he thought about what to take to the ruins. It was Balram.
“Oi Khota, I asked you to ring me! Where have you been?”
“I have been busy!” Patel growled, Balram was just too much to take he was glad he would be out of here soon. “What do you want?”
“We have to get maal for that order I told you about. Tomorrow morning come early and we will go and get it, I am meeting the bakra at one.”
“Ok ..Ok,” grumbled Patel. He would make sure Chotu was Ok and then go with Balram to collect his share in the afternoon and then collect his jackpot by evening, hopefully and be out of this place before Pandey came. It was all coming together. He went into town and picked up some food and water for later. Hoping that he wouldn’t have to hide Chotu for too long, he was bad but not really as bad as Pandey who would think nothing of kidnapping and holding for ransom a little kid.
“Arre bhai, how come you are buying so much food? Are you having guests.”
Patel peered at the shop keeper, how come everybody was such a nosey busybody? “Err no I just felt a bit hungry any problem with that? I am paying you aren’t I? Don’t be so nosey!”
“Err sorry, sorry bhai I was just making conversation.” The shopkeeper eyed the children’s crisps and parle biscuits, the many bottles of water and shrugged his shoulders, what was with people nowadays, always ready to fight at the drop of a hat. And what did this guy want with children’s stuff, he had never seen him with any family.
Patel gathered up his stuff and walked off. It took him a while to get to the ruins. He had cleared out a space in one of the underground rooms that were still intact. Laying down a couple of blankets and the food he set about arranging candles so there would be light for Chotu. But how was he going to make sure Chotu didnt escape? There were no doors he could close. Finally he had an idea of securing him with a rope around a pillar. Happy with his plan he smiled and sat back with a satisfied smile, swearing suddenly as he saw the time. Jumping up he ran towards the school it was nearly home time.
Chotu ran out of school as soon as the bell rang dragging Munna with him. He looked hopefully towards the gate but there was no one there. “Where is he? Why isn’t uncle here?”
Munna tried to recollect, “Oh Chotu he said he would meet you near the end of your uncles road, he said you would know where.”
Grinning Chotu ran at full speed up the road towards the meeting point. Munna who was slower at running ran along behind.
Patel reached just in time to the meeting point and saw Chotu running towards him. Smiling he welcomed Chotu. He could see the other boy running behind was still some way off. He grabbed Chotu and dragged him along fast towards another road.
“Uncle wait..” Chotu breathed, “my friend is coming with us!”He was huffing and puffing from running so fast.
“Err beta we don’t want everyone to see it do we, its special just for you?” He dragged Chotu through another road
“Where is it uncle?” Chotu looked around he had come some way out from the nearest road without realising. He was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the situation.
“Uncle? Please I don’t want to go too far you know my sister will worry! I have to be home in time for dinner.”
“Haan beta its not to far now. I am sure your sister will be fine with this. I told her this afternoon that you would be with me.”
“Really?” Chotu looked up at him. Would didi really have said that? He wasn’t really that sure.
“Yes, yes, now come on not far now.” Patel said dragging Chotu faster and faster along the road to the ruins.
Munna stared at the place where he had seen Chotu and uncle turn, there was no one! Where did they go? That was so mean of Chotu to run off without him, and it was because of him that Chotu would now see the new toy, a real remote control helicopter! Disappointed and mad at Chotu he turned to walk back home, just as he turned towards his house he saw Babli.
“Munna where is Chotu?”
Munna glared at her, “what do I know?”
“But..but he said he was coming to your house after school.” Babli frowned.
“Well he is not with me is he!” Munna sloped off home towards his tea ignoring Babli’s look of concern.
“Munna? Please..tell me where he went!” Babli ran up to him grabbing his arm.
“I really don’t know, he went that way!” Munna pointed to the end of the road where he had seen Chotu go down. “And tell him when you find him that he isn’t my friend any more!” Shirking his hand away Munna stomped off.
“Munna…Munna!” But Munna was not even bothering to answer her as he walked off home.
Babli frowned where had that Chotu gone? Grumbling to herself, she followed the road and looked in the distance. There seemed to be a trail of toffee wrappers. Frowning she went up to them and took a closer look. Weren’t these the toffees that Munna had brought yesterday for Chotu? Peering into the distance she looked at the road. Looking down again at the road she saw two sets of footprints in the dirt, one small, and one much larger. Was Chotu with someone? Who? Didn’t this lead to out of town? To the old ruins? What was Chotu doing, going that way? Muttering curses at her younger sibling Babli pulled her school rucksack on her back tightly and followed the road.
“But uncle its getting dark! What are we doing here?” Chotu looked around at the ruins with trepidation. He really wanted to go home now. He couldn’t even eat any more toffees, he felt really sick.
“Chalo!” Patel growled as Chotu pulled at his hand.
“NO!” he had enough he was going home he yanked his hand out of Patels with force.
“Shut up! Or I will hit you so hard your teeth will fall out.” Patel growled at Chotu grabbing him and frightening him.
Chotu looked up at uncle, why was he scaring him? He didn’t seem so nice any more.
“No I want to go HOME!”
Patel let his hand fly slapping Chotu across the face. The little boy crumpled to the floor, crying. Picking him up Patel dragged him kicking and screaming down to the room he had made up for him.
“Leave me alone! I want to go home, you bad man!” Chotu kicked Patel’s shin landing a good blow.
“Shut up and stay still you little terror! Otherwise I am really going to beat you. Don’t make me do it!”
Roughly he tied Chotu with rope to the pillar, making a strong knot.
“You just wait! My didi is so going to get you!” Chotu shouted. “Helpppppppppp! Hellpppppppp!”
“You know what’s best about this place Chotu? No one can hear you! But just incase I am not going to take any chances.” Pulling out a hanky he gagged the kicking and struggling Chotu.
Pandey wearily trudged on. Damn that Patel! When he found him he was going so kill him for leading him a merry dance all over Salimnagar. He had barely two coins to rub together. People though he was a beggar and threw coins at him. How he would have loved to throw them back in their faces but needs were many.
“Fakirbaba..lo roti!” Someone called out. Looking up he saw what the man was giving him, it looked barely fit for human consumption but Pandey fell upon it ravenously. Damn that Maan Singh Khurana and his Geet! Damn that Patel. He had realised once he had spent a few days in Salimnagar that Patel had lied to him so badly.
“Saala kutta!” He growled. Finally remembering that Patel was actually in Rupnagar, well daar ke maare he had lied to him but it wasn’t that far, he had started on his journey as soon as he had realised. Once he got to Patel he would give him such a hiding he decided, he was very happy that Patel was still scared of him. It would be so much easier to manipulate him and make him do what he wanted.
The road had got darker, he could barely see where he was going. Deciding he would be better off finding a safe place to sleep Pandey looked around. A little way off was what looked liked some derelict buildings. He went off limping towards them The sores on his feet and the bullet wound still hadn’t healed properly. It was his thirst for revenge that filled his days now. He would get all of them one day soon!
The wind howled as Babli followed the trail of toffee wrappers. How many had Chotu eaten! She moaned, he was bound to be sick soon! The ruins were in sight now. The skies were darkening, she shivered but was not frightened. She had to find Chotu. She had promised Jiju and Didi that she would always look after him. And Chotu was her little brother she loved him. Striding forward she looked around wandering where to start, it was a big place then she heard a voice coming from behind a wall, hiding herself she listened in.
“Yes, I want to speak to Geet Khurana! Now! Its urgent its about her nephew, its serious.”
Pinky stared at the phone, about Chotu, the switchboard had transferred the call when the Man had asked to speak to Geet.
“Geet is in a meeting right now, can I take a message?”
“Meeting? Tell her its urgent! I want to speak to her now!”
Pinky groaned this man sounded strange, “Ok tell me what it is and I will pass the message on.”
Patel though about it and cut the phone. This time he rang the switchboard and put on a pleasant voice, asking for Geet Khurana’s number as he needed to leave a message for her. The switchboard gave him her number and he gleefully dialled it.
“Yes, who is this?”
“That’s not important.”
“Listen to me carefully, I have your little brother Chotu. If you don’t want anything horrible to happen to him I want 50 lakhs in small notes by tomorrow. I will tell you where and when tomorrow.” Patel walked down to where he was keeping Chotu. “And if you don’t believe me listen to this.
Babli who had been listening intently shook with fear. This man had Chotu and was demanding money. Stealthily she followed him looking around for some sort of weapon as went.
He ungagged Chotu who immediately started screaming.
“Chotu!” Geet gasped shocked to the core. “Ok Ok tell me, I..Ill do anything you say. Just don’t hurt Chotu!”
Back in the office Pinky stared at the phone with a frown.
“Pinky?” Adi asked, “what happened?”
“There was a man who called and asked for Geet. He said he had her brother. Sounded serious. Adi I am worried now, it just didnt sound right.”
Adi stared at Maan’s pacing profile through the glass. “Pinky call Geet now and speak to her.”
“No, better still I will call Babli and just ask her, I am sure she will say all is OK with Chotu.”
Pinky called up the number and rang it.
Babli who had been creeping up behind Patel with a huge stick was startled suddenly as her phone rang in her rucksack, she dropped the stick in fright.
Patel turned at the noise, seeing Babli he smirked and advanced towards her with a huge nasty grin on his face. Aaj tou usske lottery laag gayee, now he could get double the money!