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The Revenge Plot - Part 1
Jagat was sitting in his Mumbai flat and seething. He had a free morning, and while deep down he knew that he ought to be studying, he had ended up trying to distract himself in all manner of ways - watching cricket reruns, eating yesterday's leftovers from the fridge, clearing out his cupboards. But it was all in vain - he simply could not get that one face out of his head.
It had been a while now since the incident in Jaipur, but the very name of Jaitsar's collector still made Jagat feel sick to his stomach. Who did he think he was, butting into incidents like that? Daring to have him, HIM, Jagat Singh, locked up for the night, and, adding insult to injury, to give him advice? He couldn't be that much older than Jagat himself, and yet had presented Jagat with his "words of wisdom" like he was his teacher or father. It was so demeaning. And the policemen had respected him and offered him snacks... his OWN FAMILY had sided with Shiv over him... and Jagat himself had been left to sit in a cell, slowly growing hungrier as the night progressed, the chicken curry he'd had for dinner having proven insufficiently filling. At some point he'd asked for food, but the policeman had laughed loudly, filling Jagat's face with onion breath, and asked if he thought he'd come to a five-star hotel. "Menu laoon kya tumhare liye?" he'd asked. "Bevda kahin ka. Subah tak khaali pet baith jao!".
The memory of how powerless he had felt sent his blood boiling all over again. Enough was enough. He had been brooding on the incident for far too long now. Even Gauri was tired of hearing about it now, and her initial sympathy was fast turning into snappiness. He'd done enough thinking and enough talking. It was time to take action. He had invented many vague revenge fantasies while resentfully reminiscing about the past.
Fifteen minutes later, having packed a bag with various items he thought would come in useful and scribbled a quick note to Gauri, he left.
The bus ride to was long and bumpy, and Jagat had plenty of time to formulate a plan. By the time he arrived in Jaipur, he had got most of the details worked out. He had a bit of a wait in Jaipur before the bus to Jaitsar, so went to the nearest off-licence and bought himself a big bottle of vodka. Then he went back to the bus stop and waited. After what seemed like an age, the rickety Jaipur to Jaitsar bus arrived, and he boarded it, eager to reach Jaitsar and carry out his plan.
His first step upon arrival would be to locate the collector's office. He glanced at the passenger seated next to him, an old man with a turban on his head who he figured was probably from Jaitsar. Perhaps he would be able to tell him where the collector's office was. He decided to engage him in conversation in order to try and find out.
"Ghani khama, kaka," he said. The old man glanced at him and smiled.
"Khama ghani, chhora!" he replied. "You seem to be from the city. I am surprised you know the traditional greeting."
"Actually, kaka, I grew up in... Sumedhghar," Jagat said, throwing out the first village that came to his mind. "I have never been to Jaitsar before. I am coming here to meet the collector."
"Ah, Sivraj Sekhar! Such a lovely boy. Do you have some work with him?"
"Actually, I'm a doctor in the city," Jagya said, his brain working fast to spin an effective lie. "I met him in Jaipur once. We were staying at the same hotel and got talking, and he told me I should come to Jaitsar at some point and... review the hospital there. I have... many contacts in the city who I could talk to about... donating equipment and resources to improve the quality of treatment there."
"Ah yes, our hospital! Lal Singh is doing a great job of running it at the moment, but I'm sure we could benefit from the expertise of doctors like you. That's a very good thing you're doing, beta. So many city dwellers do not give a single thought to the betterment of our villages. I hope to see our hospital grow through your efforts."
Jagat gave a nod and a crocodile smile, inwardly seething at the flow of praise the old man had had for the collector and Lal Singh.
"I was wondering if you could tell me where I can find the collector's office?" he asked. "Like I said, I've never been to Jaitsar before..."
"Oh, don't worry... it is very easy to find! You can easily get there from the bus stop on foot," the old man replied, and proceeded to give him directions.
"Let me know if you need anything while you're in Jaitsar. My family and I would be more than happy to provide hospitality to such a good man."
"Thank you, kaka, but I'll only be staying a night or so, and the collector has arranged everything for me."
The old man looked thoughtful. "I must say, I am very impressed at his dedication to his work. He must have so much to do already what with his marriage happening tomorrow evening! We are so lucky to have a collector like him. May God bless his soul."
Marriage? Jagat thought. Interesting... this would make his plan even more potent. Realising that the old man was expecting a reply, he quickly said, "Yes, I did tell him that he could postpone the meeting until after his marriage, but he insisted that the betterment of Jaitsar always comes first for him..."
"Kya baat hai," the old man said, obviously deeply impressed with Shiv. "How many other sarkari ahfficers do you know who would say such things?"
Just then, the bus came to a halt, and Jagat realised that they had reached Jaitsar. Together, they descended the bus steps along with the rest of the passengers and made their way towards the village en masse.
"Acchha, chhora... this is where we part. My home is that way," he said, pointing straight ahead. "You just have to turn left here and you will see the collector's office ahead of you within five minutes. Good luck with all your endeavours - I am sure you will receive full support from the people, the collector and the sarpanch of Jaitsar!"
Jagat thanked him and set off in the direction the man had told him. As he walked, he saw that there seemed to be a lot of flurry and decorations. Clearly the whole village was celebrating the collector's marriage. Well, he was going to add spice
Five minutes later, he came across a building that had a governmental look about it. This had to be it. He approached the building and found it to be unguarded. Ridiculous villagers, he thought. Don't even put guards outside their government buildings. Their dear sarpanch is too uneducated to think of such things, but I'd've expected better from "Mr. Perfect"...
Entering the office, he found it to be deserted except for a man with curly hair and thick glasses sitting near the door. Jagya cleared his throat, and the man looked up. "I'm here to see Mr. Shivraj Shekhar," he said.
"Oh... Sir's not in today," the man replied. "Woh kya hai na, uski shaadi ho rahi hai kal... to ussi ke tayaariyon me laga hua hai, aur do din chhuti le liya hai. Aakhir shaadi ke tayariyon ke waqt kaam karna koi khaane ki khichdi nahin hai, boss! Toh uske PA hone ke natir main hi in do din kaam ko sambhal raha hoon."
"Shaadi kahan par ho rahi hai?" Jagat asked.
"Woh jo badi waali haveli hai na... wahan. Kal shaam ko main bhi wahan jaunga Sir ki shaadi ko dekhne ke liye." the man answered. "Aur shayad wahan ko mil jaaye taaki main khud bachelor naa rahoon...!" he added sadly. "Abhi bhi akela hoon zindagi me... kitni buri baat hai naa? Mere workaholic Sir ko bhi koi mil gaya aur main khud..."
Jagat was only half-listening to the man's ramblings. Badi waali haveli? he thought wildly. Had his family made Shivraj Shekhar their son in place of him, their REAL ladesar? His anger at the collector surged even higher at the thought. "Acchha, thik hai, thik hai. Main wahan jaake unse milta hoon." Without waiting for a reply, he turned on his heel and walked out of the office.
He began his trek to the haveli, going through his plan in his head as he walked. It was still sketchy, and would depend on a lot of external factors, but he was sure he could make it work.
It was a hot day, and he was out of breath by the time he approached the haveli. He could see that it had been thoroughly decorated from the outside, with lights and flower garlands all over the place. The thought that his family were doing all this for Shiv left a thoroughly bitter taste in his mouth. From his vantage point, he saw Makhan enter the front door with a big basket of more flowers. It seemed that the decorations were still happening in full swing in the living room... he wouldn't be able to walk in that way without being seen.
He was trying to decide how he could surreptitiously enter the haveli without anyone realising when suddenly a girl came out of the haveli. She was tall, thin and fair and dressed in Western clothing. He was startled to see someone like that in Jaitsar. Was she Shiv's fiancee? That would make sense. He had wondered which girl in Jaitsar the collector could possibly be marrying. He decided to approach her and perhaps try and lure the collector out somehow.
"Excuse me!" he said. The girl turned around. "Ji?" she replied in a foreign accent.
"Ji, main collector sahab ki office se aaya hoon," he said, putting on his best 'village' accent. "Uski PA ne unko wahan urgently bula liya hai. Kuch urgent kaam aa gaya hai."
The girl wrinkled her nose. "Bheem Singh se kehna ke... aaj Shiv ki shaadi hai," she replied. "Aaj woh kaam ke liye... kahin nahin jaayega... samjhey?"
"Ma'am, kaam bohot hi zyada urgent hai. Aap please usse kehdijiye ke dus minute ke liye wahan aa jaaye."
The girl looked resigned. "Thik hai. Tum yehin ruko... main abhi usse... bula leti hoon."
As she retreated back towards the haveli, Jagya took a cricket bat out of his bag and lay in wait.
"I can't believe this! How can they ask him to work on his wedding day?" Ashi muttered to herself as she walked back into the haveli. The front room was a flurry of colour and activity. Dadisa was rushing around shouting instructions to anyone who would listen, her face glowing with both exertion and happiness. Basant and Bhairon were also hard at work, their wives in the kitchen preparing huge quantities of food for the evening and snacks to keep the rest of the family well-fed as they worked.
Her eyes searched the busy room for Shiv, and she spotted him in a corner talking to Makhan, pointing to various places in the room while Makhan nodded his understanding. He had the same happy glow on his face as Dadisa, and much as her heart ached that it was not her he was marrying, she could feel it bursting with positive emotion at seeing her best friend so wonderfully, blissfully content at his impending marriage to the girl of his dreams.
"Desi boy!" she called. Shiv looked up, smiled and waved her over.
"Desi boy, tumhare office ka koi banda... bahar khara hai. Tumhe thore der ke liye office bula rahe hai."
"Aaj ke din? Par aaj to meri shaadi hai!" Shiv said indignantly. "Maine Bheem Singh se pehle ki keh diya tha ke aaj main office nahin aaunga..."
"I know!" Ashi said. "Aur maine uss ladke ko bhi wahin bol diya. Par bohot hi insist kar raha tha. Keh raha tha ke kaam kaafi urgent hai. Toh maine usse bahar wait karaya."
Shiv sighed. "Apna naam bata diya usne kya?"
Ashi shook her head. "No... he just said... ke woh tumhare office se aaya hai."
Shiv nodded. "Main zara bahar jaake dekhta hoon." He headed towards the door. Ashi scanned the room, and finding that there didn't seem to be anywhere were her help would be needed, decided to go upstairs to keep Anandi company. She knew all the tayaariyan were making Anandi feel quite overwhelmed, and hoped she could make her laugh and help her feel a little less nervous.
Outside, Shiv walked towards the haveli gate, looking for the office worker Ashi had said had come to call him. He couldn't see anyone. Perhaps the man had gone back to the office, expecting him to follow by car...
He was just about to phone Bheem Singh to ask about the details of the urgent work that had come up when he heard a sudden flurry of movement behind him. He turned around and opened his mouth to speak when suddenly a wooden object flashed in front of his eyes. He heard a loud cracking noise and felt an excruciating pain in his head, and then he knew no more.
Jagya grinned triumphantly at seeing his arch-nemesis sprawled unconscious on the ground before him. "Who's the big man now, eh?" he asked, kicking Shiv's face and enjoying the latter's inability to respond. "Now just wait and see what I do to you..."
With some effort, he dragged Shiv's limp body and piled it into the back seat of Shiv's own jeep. Taking a T-shirt from his bag, he tied it around Shiv's head in order to absorb the blood so that the seat would not get stained and arouse any suspicion. Searching in Shiv's pockets, he pulled out the jeep's ignition key. He slammed the back door, got into the front seat himself, and started the car.
He drove for quite some distance, making sure to stick to the quieter routes to avoid being seen by any other villagers. Once they had reached the outskirts of the village, he carefully drove the car right up to a tree and stopped it. He then got out and hit the front of the jeep really hard a few times with his cricket bat. Satisfied with the damage, he opened the back door of the jeep and dragged the still unconscious Shiv out. Grinning, he removed the soiled T-shirt from Shiv's head, which hung limply backwards in his knocked-out state. He unzipped his backpack and took out the vodka, some water and a syringe. He carefully filled the syringe half with water and half with vodka, and pulled Shiv's sleeve back, searching for a vein in which to inject the potent mixture.
As he worked, he couldn't help but admire his own intelligence. He had wanted to hit Shiv where it would really hurt, and he had found exactly the right spot - Shiv's respect in the community. He would set up the situation so that Shiv would be found, a day before his wedding, in his jeep, unconscious and with alcohol running through his veins. Medical tests would show that he had been driving under the influence and crashed into a tree. His fiancee would probably be disgusted and refuse to marry him, and he would lose the respect of the villagers and, crucially, of Jagat's own family. It would be sweet, sweet revenge on the man who had thrown him in the lock-up and called him a bewda. Let Shiv feel what it was like to be thought of in that way by people. Finding a vein, he was about to push the needle in when he heard a voice behind him.
He spun around, startled, and saw the kaka from the bus standing behind him, looking horrified to see the collector unconscious and Jagat bent over him.
Jagat's brain was spinning. How to lie? He quickly stood up, blocking the blood-stained
"Woh, kaka... I went to collector sahab's office... woh wahan nahin tha... phir main haveli chala gaya... wahan bhi nahin mila... aur dhoondhte dhoondhte I found him here in this state! Main khud hairaan hoon! Luckily as a doctor, I always carry emergency supplies with me, so thought I would administer an injection before taking him to the hospital.
"Oh, thank goodness you were the one to find him!" the kaka said, distraught. "I can't believe it... what happened to our collector sahab? Just a day before his wedding, too..."
"Acchha, kaka, main injection laga deta hoon... phir usse haspital le jaunga. Maine gari ko check kiya... shukhar hai ke abhi bhi kaam kar rahi hai."
"Acchha, chhora. Khayal rakhna hamare collector sahab ka. Pata nahin yeh accident kaise ho gaya hoga..."
"Woh uske hosh aane par hi pata chal jaayega, kaka... Ab main jaldi se yeh injection laga deta hoon."
And with that, Jagat administered the deadly injection, smiling to himself as he did so. It wasn't enough alcohol to kill or seriously harm Shiv... but it was certainly enough to seriously harm his aadarsh image. He regretted not buying a mixer along with the vodka... he would certainly have enjoyed finishing the rest of the bottle to celebrate his enemy's downfall!
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