Note: I have added time and location in the prologue - I don't know why the idea didn't occur to me before but it is important that those bits of information are added. So before continuing to read this part, please head back and look over the time and location so that you have an idea of what comes before and after. Thanks! ;) (PM's being sent out to those who commented).
04th September 2012, 8:45am - ETF Headquarters, Delhi
The research specialist stood clad in a simple orange colored sari with the stole draped over her head hiding her crestfallen face from the other three officers. To say that they were shocked would be an understatement for they had always seen Riya paying utmost attention to the clothing she wore. Here, she stood looking like a traditional, poor housewife.
Her fake husband, Mr Chadda was a man of honor. He had a massive beard and mustache that covered his cheeks and mouth. The green turban on his head symbolized his religion and also gave him the perfect disguise of being unrecognizable. Yet, he was still a little slim for a traditional Sikh man, so he had stuffed himself with a little more clothing ignoring the sweat that ran down his back.
"I'm still a little unsure why you opted to be Mr. Chadda. Usually you pick up a fight whenever we have to go undercover and Chottu has the perfect body of a traditional Sikh man. So why, Rawte?" inquired the chief, sitting back down and eyeing the lumps here and there on Arjun's body. Yes, Rathore didn't mingle with the rest of the group as much but he was not unaware of the small fights between Rawte and Riya. It worried him how they would cope and also that both had the ability of bringing down the act with their silliness.
"Don't worry, Rathore. This undercover act is not for your benefit - it's for my own," Riya cringed at the selfishness of the entire situation. Shree and Chottu waited patiently for him to explain but Arjun didn't elaborate anymore. "If you are done with the pleasantries, the landlord is waiting for us. He explicitly said that there were many competitors for the room but since he is Sikh himself, he gave us the first 'take it or leave it' option."
Room? Riya glumly thought wondering how she was going to on days without her AC filled nights. How was she going to eat their daal and roti when she was so used to having the best Italian cuisine? And how was she to trust them that the food was cooked with perfect hygienic hands? The thought sickened her and she instinctively clutched her handkerchief more tightly.
But deep inside even Riya knew that this was all due to that one silly wish she had asked God almost a week ago. She wanted to break down the walls Arjun Sir had made around him and peer at a much different man. She only wanted to know him better for she was tired of seeing the act he put up. And also because her heart rate quickened at the mention of his name...
04th September 2012, 9:15am - Chandni Chowk, Delhi
"Oh ho! Look at this! What a couple."
"Mr and Mrs. Chadda? They came from Amritsar because of financial crisis. I think that wife of his must have done something - else, who would cover their face like that? Obviously, she's shameful..."
"Yet she's still shameful! She's walking beside her husband after putting him through such a hard time! Absolutely disgraceful!"
The comments and claims that both of them heard was making them intensely mad. The air around them was already thick with smoke from the Tandoori shops and then these lowlifes found an opportunity to talk rubbish. Riya stomped her feet in anger wanting to do crazy martial arts on them but when she felt him clutch her hand, she felt her knees go jelly. Was he reassuring her or warning her?
"Chadda Ji, I was this close to giving this room to Patel Sahib," the burly landowner placed his index and thumb together to express himself better. "But since you are from my land, I wanted to personally restrict this offer to you. Specially!" He dangled the room keys madly in front of him as if he was showing what a good offer this was. "The minimum rate I can give you is... Rs. 800 per month on top of this very tasty Tandoori shop! It's a very good offer - no wonder Patel Sahib was begging for this one... oh, you are a lucky one Chadda Ji!"
"I'll take it, Balwant Ji," Arjun took out his fake wallet which had his ID card and licence and a few crumpled notes. He pulled out two thousand notes and slammed it on the Balwant's eager palm. "This is an advance for next month. For the third month, I'll pay you Rs. 400 but I have to wait for my paycheck to roll in."
"Very well, Sahib Ji! Come in! Come in!" He unlocked the door and then opened the misty room which had a few rays of sunlight peeking in from the window. There was an oven in the adjoining kitchen, a sink and a fridge. Another room was to the right and thankfully it had a door which Balwant said was for the toilet. There were two mats laid on the floor and a pile of hay in the corner most likely used for a couch. Riya was shocked at the poverty of the room and wondered how she was ever going to survive this. Arjun, on the other hand didn't care and began to question the man of their neighbors.
"Sikander Ji is a nutcase! He picks up fights with everyone and never pays the rent on time." Arjun's hands clenched into a fist at the familiarity of the name and his sole reason for agreeing to this stupid undercover mission. It made the girl beside him frown deeper. "He is an old man so I let him off but it was a big mistake for he took advantage of it! I swear if that old man doesn't pay up this week, I am having Gurwinder kick him out!"
"Who's Gurwinder?" asked Arjun in his typical interrogating tone. The landowner was slightly perturbed by the familiarity of the voice but thought that it was his illusion. He eyed Mr. Chadda up and down and then shook his head inwardly at his own absurdity.
"Gurwinder is my boy - powerful and a loafer, to be quite honest!" Then he nodded and they talked a little bit more before he headed out. After locking down the door and pulling the curtains together, Arjun pealed off his beard and mustache. He turned to find Riya dressed in cotton bunny trousers and a pink shirt with bunnies and carrots everywhere. The next thing made him almost laugh out for she sat in her bunny bedtime slippers in the haystack writing furiously in her notepad.
"Sir, I've recorded everything Mr. Balwant said. Shree remembered to give me a Digital Voice Recorder - in fact, he's on the line right now..." Riya handed him Shree's spy gadget listening device from behind her ear. Arjun took it rashly and placed it on his own ear.
04th September 2012, 9:25am - ETF Headquarters, Delhi
Shree typed at a lightning speed and stopped at an overview of the streets where everyone went hustling and bustling. The vendors yelled at children to not play with their cabbages as basketballs, women stopped at almost every shoe shop while salesmen advertised their products from shop to shop. Behind him Rathore and Chottu tried to find any suspicious behavior but to no avail.
"Sir, I have an overview of Chandni Chowk in front of me. Before leaving, I had subtly placed my hidden cameras on the street walls but this will not help - you and Ree will have to try and befriend some people. Only then will we find something." His voice faltered when he heard Arjun Sir's loud voice barking orders at Riya to get back in her attire. "Okay sir," He took off his earpiece and handed it to Rathore Sir who bemusedly took it.
"Rawte," he acknowledged. "Hmm, well then shouldn't you have walked that Balwant home? And what was the need of giving him an advance? This only made you look as if you were a rich one. Rawte! Rawte, answer me! Dammit!" He pulled out the earpiece and slammed it on the table. Fuming, he commanded Chottu and Shree to prepare for Plan B and the two gleefully obeyed.
04th September 2012, 6:30pm - Chandni Chowk, Delhi
The fleshy man laughed with the confectioner while he pulled out another Jalebi from the massive wok. After shaking off the excess oil, he placed it in a newspaper with the other stack and handed it to the craving man. Balwant picked up the most recent one and bit into it, moaning and drooling from the succulent taste. The man that shadowed his small weight from behind went completely unnoticed by him.
"Well, what do I tell you Veer? I had five new occupants in one day! Two of them are husband and wife from Amritsar - the man is no where near as jolly funny as I am! And the other three are brothers - one of them has beaten my record of being the stout one in this lane! The other two were very short tempered, by God I tell you!"
The shadow instantly disappeared leaving an echo of Balwant's laughter in the now much quieter street.
04th September 2012, 6:45pm - Chandni Chowk, Delhi
The plates went showering down the table and broke into dozens of pieces creating ear piercing sounds. Rathore stared unperturbed by his sudden appearance or his violent attitude. He had seen this side of Rawte many times but Shree and Chottu only cringed while Riya jumped in slight fear.
"You make this mission sound like a joke, Rawte. Undercover from whom, huh? You clearly hinted from your attitude that you were not a traditional Sikh man who migrated from Amritsar due to financial crisis. Throwing off a few thousand notes doesn't really symbolize financial crisis, now does it Rawte?" Three lips twitched in laughter but quickly fell when they watched Arjun Sir slam another punch on the wooden table.
"And you don't, Rathore? This Balwant hasn't had a single tenant in the last six months and straight after the murder of Shalini Mathur, God suddenly bestows his miracles upon him and he gets five occupants! Don't you think that's the most odd thing rather than the rent which you seem to keep chanting about...sir?" He then eyed the similar attire of the three officers that stood before him and noticed the incredulity of the situation. "And another coincidence! All five occupants seem to be Sikh! Do you see the strangeness here or shall I explain it you...sir?"
The situation got slightly out of hand when both strode over to each other, fists raised and eyes narrowed down to slits. The trio gasped and then Shree and Chottu sprung forward separating their two senior officers. Panting angrily and glaring at each other, no one but Riya noticed an object in a distinct shape of a human fly down from the roof passing the window and letting out one last blood curdling scream. When they all rushed to the window, a different sight greeted them.
A boy lay in his own pool of blood but with his tongue clutched in his mutilated hand which was held by his intact one. The gash at his throat poured blood out in torrents which attracted the attention of bees and the remaining vendors and shoppers.
A woman came rushing and yelled in shock and then fainted there on the body leaving the five officers stunned. There was a sick killer going around here and he had struck again...
Note: This story is not just purely based on romance between Arjun and Riya - yes, there will be times but no story is ever interesting if it lacks of twists and turns. I've also read other bustling fan fictions in this forum and I must say that they were beyond amazing! I read every single one so those writers who commented earlier, please update your own fan fiction too! (Because I am going seriously crazy with suspense). Anyway, thanks for reading/commenting/criticizing/liking. Everything will be appreciated!