The Pen Warriors- Post 16

11:06 AM Shetty Anirudh 0 Comments






The Pen Warriors
Read the PROLOGUE and Previous chapter of the story by clicking on the respective links.  

Too Late For Atonement – Chapter 15


“Platform kramank do par aanewaali local nau bajkar ek tees minute ki Mumbai Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus jaane waali dheemi local hai. Yaha local sabhee sthanakon par rukegi “
“The Train arriving at Platform number 2 is 9:31 slow local to  Mumbai Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. This local will halt at all stations.”
The incessant announcements were blaring in Thane railway station. Wearing his backpack in the front, a white Ruggers shirt and blue denims Shekhar made his way through the crowd on the stairs of the foot over bridge.
Among all the rules and guidelines known to every Mumbaikar about Local trains, this one was followed by all.
One must wear his backpack in the front to avoid it getting stuck when you board the overcrowded trains. It was also a prevention from theft.
Shekhar could feel a unusual tingle in his pants, he paused to take a look at what was it. Before he could look down, he was shoved forward by the crowd behind him. While he managed to regain his balance, his mind saw a possibility of pick pocketing. His worries diminished when hr felt the tingle again, followed by a ringtone too. He smiled at his idiocy, it was his Xperia vibrating. Once on the bridge, Shekhar scooped his phone out of his right pocket.
It was Tara
“Sheku, what time will you be home?”
“Am on my way, another crowded train and I will be with you” Shekhar told teasingly.
“Not me, Roohiiiii...you have to pick her up from her piano classes.”
“Yes, I know.”
Shekhar could now see the train which would take him home arriving at the platform below the bridge.
“Tara I will talk to you later, I have to get this train.....” Shekhar  disconnected the call and strode down from the bridge.
Once on the platform, Shekhar could feel another buzz. It was his backpack now. Shekhar paused and took out the Nokia C1 from the concealed zip pocket of his backpack and answered. He spoke in a low voice for some time.
“Where?” His voice now took a higher pitch
Shekhar made a mental note of everything he was told. From his expressions anyone could figure that it was pretty important.
“Yes...Yes I will get to it”
Now he couldn't get home soon. The information he got had initiated a thought flow which made it difficult to concentrate for him. He settled on a bench nearby,cracking his knuckles while he thought what was to be done.
First things first he said to himself as he entered Tara's number on the mobile, he pressed call option and stared at the graphics indicating the call was getting connected.
“Freaks!! “ he said as his fingers swiftly moved to the disconnect option.
“Phew!!!” He kept the Nokia C1 back in the concealed zip pocket of his backpack. This phone was supposed to be used only by Gambhir Gupte, his pseudonym. Gambhir Gupte would be tipped off by his informers, or he would  sometimes call his victims from this number. A number which he occasionally changed and acquired with fake ids.
I must be more careful, I can't let any of this effect my family. He could feel himself going stiff on the thought of his angels being harmed.
This reminded him of Roohi.
He took out his Xperia and made a call to Tara telling her how he would not be able to receive Roohi from her class.
Shekhar was soon at the ticket counter
“CST ek(one)”
“Second Class??” Shekhar was well dressed, the staff behind the counter made it obvious with this question.
Shekhar didn't mind traveling in Second class. He actually preferred that. It gave him a sense of disguise and he felt protected to be one among the crowd of common working class people. Yet, recent bumps in his bank account made him crave for a higher standard of living.
Being peak office hours, a train towards CST would assure of a full body massage. Except for those employed in a  8-9 hours job, no wise men preferred to travel at this time of the day. Still this journey was important.
While Shekhar was at the platform waiting for his train, he saw a newsstand nearby. Shekhar remembered Gambhi Gupte's next article was expected to come out in “Times in India”.
No one including Gambhir Gupte himself knew when the articles would be out.
He bought one to find his work highlighted on the third sheet of the newspaper . Shekhar didn't have time to savor the feeling of reading it. So he removed that particular sheet from the newspaper and kept it in his backpack.The rest of the newspaper was irrelevant to him, he tucked it inside the side bottle holder.
Shekhar could see the train approaching the platform. He got ready for another round of pushing, elbowing and cramming himself into the train.
Once inside, Shekhar got past all at the foot board and went inside to stand near the window. A regular yet he would not prefer to be suffocated between the perspiring men. Getting a seat was not a possibility. Seated near to the window was a really tall guy. With Shekhar's average height, all Shekhar could see was this guy's  curly hair and nerdy glasses. Mumbaikars never see the train to be fully crowded. More people got in at Ghatkopar station, thus pushing those already on board. Shekhar was pushed towards the window, and in this process he stamped the guy with the curly hair.
They guy lifted his head. His pale face turned from a frown to a smile. It was as if he recognized Shekhar. Shekhar felt uneasy, to add to it he offered Shekhar his seat. Now this was very unusual.
“I am getting down at Dadar anyhow” He said.
Suspicious though, the justification made sense. Shekhar took the seat.
“Is it Times in India?” the guy asked
“Ya it is.” Shekhar now understood the reason behind all the courtesy, he handed over the newspaper to the guy.
“Thanks.”
Fellow passengers now gave disapproving looks. While they hardly managed to stand  this guy was frantically searching for something in the newspaper.
“Bro, a sheet seems to be missing!”
Shekhar was now startled
“oh is it?, I did not notice”
“Ya see, this sheet usually contains Gambhir Gupte's article. But I am not sure anything came up this week.”
“It did. You are a fan?”
“Ya, big time! You know Gambhir Gupte. Didn't know he is so famous”
Shekhar controlled a smirk which was making way into this expressions and said
”Yes I have read few of his articles”
“By the way, I am Cyrus. I work at  Lex Juris”
Shekar was cautious as to not reveal much in excitement.
“I am Shekar. Freelancer
“Nice, by any chance you know more about Gambhir Gupte?”
“You seem to have special interest”
“Yes, I have some stories to share” Cyrus said with a grin.
"Stories huh?"
"Ya a much required expose, truth behind a success story"
"Hmmmm..."
Shekhar was getting curious but did not want it to be evident.
Cyrus bent down to have a look out of the window, anticipating where the train had reached. Train was nearing Dadar.
“This is me bro, nice speaking to you” saying so Cyrus handed the Newspaper back to Shekar.
Shekhar knew this guy could be of use for Gambhir gupte, and a guy from the Law background in contact would always be beneficial. He reached out and handed over his card to Cyrus. Once Cyrus got down, Shekhar felt awkward. It was like everyone in the compartment wanted to know more and was staring at him.
In a Mumbai local, one could not help but eavesdrop into other's conversations. This one between Shekhar and Cyrus seemed to piqued the interest of many.
“Nice more publicity for Gambhir Gupte” Shekhar thought.

"Bombay Hospital, a gurney is going to roll out a millionaire."
Gambhir Gupte in Shekar was now trying to deciper what his informant had told on phone earlier.

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