Joined: 12 May 2009
Two years, three months, fourteen days, five hours and six minutes.
Not that she was counting.
She shut off her alarm as it burst into an insistent robotic cry. The initial feelings of loss had deadened with every setting sun, but they still throbbed beneath her skin, oozing out at every emotional gash ' when someone called him a traitor, when her parents asked about her marriage plans, or when ever she noticed the empty table opposite to her.
Two years ' and it was still empty.
The sun crept in through the slits of the curtained windows, throwing light on the pearls of sweat on her shoulders.
Finishing the last set of sit-ups, she got up, retying her curly black hair in a pink scrunchy. She splashed water on her face, devouring the respite. It trickled down her throat.
Brinda Sahawney looked into the mirror. Two years of courts and trials had taken their toll, but it had been a rewarding fight in the end. Anasri's entire network was under lock and key. Guided by superior media pressure and a honest judiciary specially commissioned from the very above of the beaurocracy, the entire netwok had collapsed. A few elements still lurked outside the prison wall, but they were powerless for the time being. And it gave NCB the perfect opportunity to launch their campaign and clean up the streets.
Ten days after NCB's biggest triumph of the decade, Usmaan, Bose and Rokde , Jugdale's senior began lobbying support for extermination of all charges on two officers who had been compromised in the Ansari Case.
Once reports had been submitted, journalists instigated and media caressed shamelessly, the situation began to turn around in their favour.
Who could after all refuse the people who had managed to haul in Ansari, Professor Moriatry of the present times?
Brinda began to let go of all inhibitions ' being in law enforcement meant you had to duck the law once or twice, and manipulate the media. It was something she hated to do, but became adept at, and hated herself again for it.
Jugdale had been bailed after six months, inqusitioned and tried, but the case was still pending in the court room and he now worked part time in a covert security firm in Malabar Hills.
Mahendra had been officially located and white washed in patriotism by the media. He was now a hero who had been close to sacrificing his life for his job. What was he doing in Mumbai, no one dared to ask ' it became something of a fixture till more lies were invented, now by the honchos of the department who wanted to make everything look fine.
Brinda glanced at her cell phone. Mahendra and she had not talked even once. Brinda had never attempted to contact him, knowing that it would be a red carpet to the intelligence agencies to get to Mahendra. And presumably for the same reason, neither had Mahendra called.
The last she had seen him, spoken to him was on that fateful night. Exactly Two years, three months, fourteen days, five hours and six minutes.
The phone rang, piercing the silent atmosphere of the house.
She tossed the napkin aside, and bent to retrieve it from her mess.
"Brinda, good news hain."
She perked up, wondering what had made Usmaan Sir call her at seven in the morning.
"The proposal passed through."
Usmaan cut the call silently. He pretended not to notice, but he recognized the embers in Brinda's eyes whenever they spoke of Mahendra or when Ashwini dropped by.
He knew it would take her time to let the message sink in, to come to terms that life could be wonderful again.
He frowned. He was not sure if Mahen was a good choice for Brinda, but then again, who was he to say, having no experience of his own.
Still, he decided to drop a word of caution to the girl.
Usmaan walked up the stairs to find someone waiting for him in the office.
She fidgeted slightly. Usmaan noted her discomfort with a smile. She grabbed her bag hastily and beat a retreat to her desk. Usmaan followed her silently.
"Aj itne jaldi?"
"Nahi Sir, bas aise hi."
"Theek hain, main chalta hoon. Mujhe kuch calls karne hain, Dubai."
Her eyes widened in hope and surprise.
"Why don't you go and meet Jugdale?" Usmaan suggested breezily.
Brinda slumped in her chair. Thinking better of the suggestion, she got up and grabbed her bag.
It would be nice to meet an old friend without any inhibitions and worries regarding the courts.
He was not sure if Mahen was a good choice for Brinda, but then again, who was he to say, having no experience of his own.Still, he decided to drop a word of caution to the girl.
Her eyes widened in hope and surprise.
@green Usman sir bhi na...
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Brinda stood outside the door, ringing the bell incessantly.
Finally the door clicked open to reveal an irate Jugdale.
"Kahaan the?" Brinda demanded, pushing past him into the house. Just like him, the house was in a state of an inexplicable neatness. The house was spick span, every surface gleamed. Brinda smiled at his obsessive cleanliness.
She flung her bag on a nearby chair and crashed on the sofa. Jugdale winced at the mess she had managed to make in a matter of minutes.
"You know what this means, don't you?" she asked his receding back.
There was no answer. She sighed and pulled out the newspaper from under the coffee table where it had been stacked neatly. There it was – a first page news. Below the fold, but a first page news definitely.
NCB and ANC officers cleared of charge: repercussions of Ansari case still dog the officers
Mumbai: The Supreme Court judged Umesh Jugdale (formely of ANC, Mumbai) and Mahendra Ranade (NCB, Mumbai) as not guilty, exterminating them of all charges pressed against them two years ago. Citing this as 'a faulty step' and 'ridicule and dishonour as the repecussions' of the actions of the two officers who had got involved mistakenly in a drug scandal with the unearthing of Wasim Ansari, bench spokesperson Mandira Raje said, 'It is now time to bring them back.' However, some fractions in the Intelligence Bureau and Anti-Corruption Cell voiced their concern over the verdict. 'This means that we can get to the criminal the wrong way if we want' said a senior IB official who did not wish to be named, 'what is the use of all laws?'
Usmaan Ali Malik, Superintendent, NCB Mumbai said, 'Jugdale and Ranade had been misinterpreted by the system. They got tangled into Ansari's web and due to the sensitive nature of the case, it became impossible for the two to get out. They chose to remain silent rather than say anything that might have triggered Ansari's escape.'
Activist Usha Falkire says, 'We have two brave officers here'…contd pg 5
Brinda looked up from the newspaper as Jugdale appeared with two cups of tea. He set them down on the table and sat in the chair opposite to Brinda.
"You have got quite a lot of space to yourself here. Look a photo!" Brinda said, pointing to a snapshot of Jugdale in the report.
"Aaj bahut hi khush ho Brinda," Jugdale said, picking up his cup. Brinda who was looking down at the newspaper did not respond. She was too busy looking at the snap next to Jugdale.
The two friends sat together in silence. Joined by a desire of accomplishment and prepared for every sacrifice, they had blazed their way into the world of law and crime. Even though Mahendra and Jugdale had been officially tainted, Brinda too had been viewed with the same look of disgust and surprise by the public and the system for months.
Brinda looked at the scar on Jugdale's cheek. The stay at the prison had been hard for him.
The doorbell rang. Jugdale got up to open it, but Brinda signaled him and got up to open the door herself.
She stood in the doorway for a minute or two till Jugdale finally called out, "Kaun hain Brinda?"
She silently moved away from the doorway. A drenched Ashwini walked in. dripping water on the dry floor.
Jugdale's tone was not harsh, but it contained a level of caution mixed with grudging respect. He knew what the man had did for Mahendra.
"Kaisi aana hua?"
Ashwini shook himself. Brinda winced, and got him a towel from the drawer in the bedroom. She knew the house pretty well by now.
Ashwini grumbled a 'thank you' at her and sat on the only empty chair. Brinda transferred her mug of tea to him. He accepted it.
The three sat in silence for sometime.
Ahswini cleared his throat. A sardonic smile appeared on his countenance,"Kabhi socha bhi nahi tha..Ki aaj yahaan honge."
Brinda and Jugdaled noted his use of 'honge'. He was referring to them as a team, inviting himself in the 'team' without much effort. Both of them did not mind. With the departure of Siddiqui Sahab to his old town early this year, they were in need of someone else.
But neither Brinda nor Jugdale knew how Mahen would take that news.
"Tum yahaan kaise-"
"Main tumahre office gaya that. Usmaan ne bataya."
Brinda did not say anything else.
After half an hour of comfortable silence and small talk, Brinda and Ashwini got up to go.
In the parking lot, Ashwini stood next ot Brinda as she opened the door of her car.
"Waise Usmaan ne tumhe kehne to kaha tha..tumhara dost agle hafte aa raha hain."
She looked up at Ashwini. In the past two years, they had grown closer to each other, and could now be called something more than 'accquaintances' and much less than 'friends'.
"Humara dost, Ashwini."
Ashwini shrugged. After a moment, a he got into his car, leaving Brinda by her car.
He straightened his mirror and whispered, "Kya khaak friend."
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tushe, sambag, -De.De-, mishti_17,
Joined: 07 November 2009
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The week passed in a blur of raids, paperwork and wait. The sun rose as usual, the newspaper arrived early in the morning, Mom reprimanded her, Usmaan Sir gave her a rare smile, they conducted a raid, she conversed with Shiven...but these mundane daily tasks glimmered with a secret pleasure. Brinda had yet to determine the exact reason for that smile on her face when she was alone, but knew it had to do something with the arrival of one particular person.
The wait. It was terrible, agonizing, but still, it gave her a clandestine delight every time she thought about it. That night, she stood in her window, she thought about the next week, what she could say, what she would say, how he will react…
Her breath caught in her throat. She had visited Raghav in the jail earlier in the day.
"Rahgav," she greeted him, closing the door behind her.
He got up from his chair in the room. The visiting room of the prison was dank and droughty. A cold wind blew in through one of the windows.
"Mahendra aa raha hain,"
"Pata nahi," she cut him off hastily, knowing that her answer would pain the man. She wanted it out of her mouth as soon as possible, rather like ripping off a band aid. It stung later, but the pain would be short lived.
His face fell. "Oh."
Then he managed a smile at her. He knew what it meant to her.
She picked up her bag hastily and said, "Agar mujhe kuch pata chala toh main tumhe khabar kar doongi."
She walked out of the door. She paused by the muster, signing herself out. The stipulated time of visit had been an hour, but the interview had taken less than five minutes.
She crossed the room and began to pick up her clothes. Tomorrow was going to be a new day.
And for her, it held a special meaning.
The next morning
Brinda was in the office promptly at eight. Usmaan smiled to himself at her punctuality.
"Shiven ko kaho airport jaana hain. Tum bhi aa rahi ho na?"
She nodded mutely and walked down the stairs. Both Usmaan and Shiven knew better than to talk to her the length of the journey. They talked among themselves, about work, family and again, work. Brinda fidgeted on the passenger seat and looked to her right. Usmaan was driving, his face unusually relaxed, but she could detect an undertone of worry. Suddenly her own feelings felt small and unimportant- there was much more at stake. For NCB, Usmaan Sir and Mahendra himself – his life now hung in the balance against the act he had committed, and every person he knew had championed for his release. Their efforts had finally paid off.
As they pulled in at the airport, she touched Usmaan Sir's elbow in a reassuring gesture and managed a weak smile. He looked a little surprised at her action, but was touched that she understood. He smiled back at her.
They alighted and walked towards the terminus. No one spoke. The flight had arrived and the passengers were going to enter the waiting area any minute.
She pulled out a pair of glares from her bag and put them on her eyes.
A minute passed. And then another. The minutes flew by rapidly and half an hour passed. Brinda was not tired. The wait of two years had extended for another half an hour. But now, there was assurance that there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
Neither Ashwini nor Jugdale were on the airport. Brinda had specifically asked them to keep away. The media glare would be enough as it is. If it was not complicated as it is, why add a policeman who had let the fugitive in question escape and a policeman who had been accused of taking bribes.
Her phone rang. She sighed wearily.
"Kya hain Ashwini?"
"Tumhara dost….Wo aa gaya?"
Ashwini got up from his desk and paced the length of his room.
"Nahi abhi nahi."
"Oh." He paused. "Accha jab aa jayega tab phone kar dena."
She suppressed a smile. "Tumhe itni chinta kyun ho rahi hain?"
"Brinda, I like seeing things to the end. And now, its just the beginning."
"Main phone karoongi."
Brinda disconnected the call and looked up.
To see Mahendra staring right back at her.
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