Monday, February 19, 2007

Deal Unto Death – Part XI

As he turned around thinking about the new addition to the list of people he had been meeting regarding this case, he hit a huge man who turned up from nowhere.

“heeey…….dont have eyes kya??....cant you see someone coming in front of you??”

He was a burly and big and was slightly bald even though he wasn’t all that old.

“oh…Iam sorry………I was just…..thinking about something…….didnt notice”

“If it were somebody else ,would have given you nicely………….open your eyes and look your path before you walk!! Understand??”

So saying he started walking.Ravi looked at the man walking away and wondered whether it really was his fault.The man turned back to look at him and then went on his way as he walked on.

Ravi shook his head and started moving towards the restaurant. After reaching the place he was thinking how to find out whether Sameer had arrived. As he looking around,he saw a young gentleman approaching him as if he was looking for someone.

Ravi ???”

“Ya” Ravi replied with a smile.

“Sameer!!”he introduced himself, and said ”Welcome to Mumbai” he stretched his hands for shake.

“Thanks”Ravi shook hands with him.

They entered the restaurant and found a table to sit.After ordering some light snacks, Sameer started to talk.

“So…Mr.Ravi…how is Mumbai?? You have been here before??”

“No..this is my first visit…haven’t got much of a chance to explore,have been pretty busy right from the minute I came here”

“Wanted to talk to you ever since I learnt you came here, finally got the chance now only!!”

Ravi merely smiled in reply.

“So you got any leads in the case??”

“The investigation is still on and I am learning more and more by the day”

“Good” He replied ,while it was abundantly clear that he wanted a lot more information from Ravi than what he had just heard.

“You and Vilas have been friends for a while??”

The glow on Sameer’s face darkened a little as he took some time to recollect himself from the grief of losing his friend.

“Me and Vilas have been friends for a long time!! I met him when I came to Mumbai after my tenth. I grew up in a small village and my parents sent me here so that I can get a better education. I can never tell you what was so special in him that drew me to him and vice versa .But we were thick friends right from the beginning. We studied together, roamed around together , watched movies together, checked out the girls together……….well you will never find us either of us alone….Luckily when we finished school we got admission in the same college, same class. College only made our friendship stronger.We studied,played and took part in all other activities together. We were the best buddies. Uh…..I understand that Pooja had told you about Keerthana??”

Ravi shook his head vertically to concur with Sammer

“He had told me about his love before anybody else and used to crib about his inability to propose to her. I was the one who pushed him to tell her about his love. I was overjoyed when I heard when she had agreed to his proposal and I used to motivate him whenever he used to be upset by the opposition to his love. I wished I could just stay with him and hang on until he is through with the situation. But the situation never improved. I seriously believed the change in location will help him forget about his pains and help him start a new page in his life. But……I never expected this”

“Hmmm” Ravi looked down as if he was assimilating the stuff told by Sameer and was trying to fit things together.Then he looked up to Sameer and asked.

“How about this Rishi?? Where does he fit in”

On hearing this Sameer heaved a sigh as if preparing himself to say something that he really didn’t want to say.

“Rishi………….Well……We had problems with Rishi…long before we knew he was connected to Pooja”

Ravi raised his left eyebrow as a sign of surprise and question.

“There is another face of Vilas which most people do not know,not even his parents and sister. Being a short tempered guy, he would get into misunderstandings with a lot of people which could end up with violent repercussions. He had been involved in various street fights with gangs from different colleges. The reason need not be anything special and any simple provocation can build up to something nasty. I know this because I had been with him during those violent encounters myself. Typically it would be a minor street fight spanning just a few minutes.An odd blow here and there,but never escalated to police cases or something. We gained the enemity of Rishi in one such unfortunate fight. He was part of another gang from another college and with every meeting our relationship with him went sour.”

“So you guys were part of a gangwar” Ravi interrupted.

“Gang war is probably a very strong term to be used for this. When you are in college ,your blood is always hot and you are constantly looking for something to break so that you can prove your strength.And one thing leads to another and.….. you know……” he shrugged his shoulders. “I know a lot of my friends and seniors who were in to this.But once they are out of college and into a job and all that , they somehow get removed from all this. I haven’t had any tussle with anyone ,for sometime now ever since I got out of college”

“So Vilas had a problem when Pooja introduced Rishi as her boy friend??”

“Obviously, Vilas tried his best to make peace. Since he himself had a experience of love he was more understanding to his sister’s cause.He tried to reason with Rishi and become friendly with him through phone calls when he was in Bangalore. But the conversation always used to turn sour due to some misunderstanding or the other.They just couldn’t bury the hatred and start from a clean slate. Vilas even came to Mumbai to have a meet with him. I was there with him during the meet,where the situation went so hopeless,that in the end they came to blows. Vilas walked away shouting that he would make sure Pooja does not marry Rishi as long as he is alive.After that he had been advising his sister to forget Rishi.”

“hmmmmmm”Ravi patiently collected the words into his mind and after a brief moment,spelt out the question that was building up in his heart.

“You think Rishi could have killed Vilas to get him away from his path??’

“cheezzze….That would be an overkill…I mean………I had never thought about it ……………Could he do that??...would he do such a thing” Sameer ended up replying with a question rather than an answer.

They talked to each other for a long time. After leaving the restaurant, Sameer took Ravi to marine drive where they talked for hours together. In the end when he bade him good bye and left for his hotel he felt as if he had found his first friend in Mumbai.

That nice feeling was rudely disturbed next morning when he got a call from the local police inspector.

……………to be continued.

Deal Unto Death – Part XII