“A latte and chocolate cookies please.” Devayat politely placed his ordered and walked to his favourite table in the corner. It was his own little created cosmos. The world moved around but no one to disturb him.
Devayat, a professor, at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He used to deal with literature but his real passion was writing. Devayat was always engrossed in writing. He wanted to be a published author. Whenever he used to feel exhausted he used to gift himself a break and wrote short stories. Though not an established author, he used to burn the candle on both ends so that one day he is known by his pen.
His parents had already left him long back. All that he had was money and his talent to work upon. He was happy surrounded by his loneliness which he had accepted since the day he became his own family.
His introvert nature restricted his human interaction. He used to help many in need with no expectations of return. His books, his studies, his hobby and his pen were his best friends, he was pursuing his higher education so as to water his hobby, to help it grow where one day it would help him get his dream into existence.
Even in his thirties, Devayat was a heart throb, a dashing bachelor, a hot topic of discussion amongst girls. Girls used to wait for his entry into the coffee shop and to share a table with him but he like a prig used to distance himself. He loved his privacy and loneliness over any human company.
Devayat had many hi and hello friends with whom he shared just a smile. His entry used to be like a person carrying his own aura, his own identity. Like him, there were few other regular customers to the coffee shop. Majority of them didn’t know him but still waved at him and did exchange a smile occasionally. He never disclosed his identity to them, they knew him as an investor and a professor who worked on his own terms.
One evening while he was at his table enjoying his latte with cookies, there was a pop up about Antonio Montana, the biggest name in the world of drugs being hidden in the pigeonhole now was tracked and hunted down by US government. The news spread like wildfire.
Gossips about drugs was a hot topic and everyone had his or her opinion about drugs and its relevance in lives today. The cafe was full of gossips about how drugs are taking over the youth of our country and how these drug lords mint money at the stake of the future of the country. But Devayat was unaffected and was as usual busy in reading his novel. He never cared about what’s happening around, he was always bothered about his coffee and his books.
Days passed and Devayat just focused on finishing his first draft of his novel and was keen in getting it published on a large scale by one of the best publication houses of the country.
It was just few days after the news of Antonio had hit the television screens, another big news started hitting the news channels. One of the most wanted terrorist by the INTERPOL was hunted down in a joint operation by US soldiers and Britishers. This was really huge and gossip was growing bigger. But Devayat, as usual, undisturbed by all these and was seen with his laptop and his ears plugged with headphones playing his favourite numbers.
St. Xavier’s college a name in the world of literature with a name that attracted students, not by mere the name but the quality maintained. Alice, from France, was one of such students who came to India to work on her project on Indian literature. The principal of the college gladly welcomed her and Devayat was assigned to guide Alice in her work.
Initially, it did not match his comfort since he never liked to work with anyone. As time passed, he realized that Alice too, was an introvert, like him. And as it is said, ‘The two introverts get along easily and head for a long way.’ Same happened with Alice and Devayat. They both spend long hours in the library to get the work done and then Devayat used to leave for his evening time with his beloved coffee.
One day, Alice bumped with Devayat at the same coffee shop. Nothing to his rescue, Devayat invited Alice to join him. His table always had few novels and some writing material scattered with his laptop aside.
“You love reading fiction?” Alice asked as she glanced the titles of the books.
“Ya, it takes me out of this world, away into the world of fantasy.” Devayat sipped his coffee and was trying hard not to douse into the deep blue eyes of Alice.
“I too love that world, over this world of reality.” Alice smiled pushing the strand of her blond hair behind her ear. The glimmer in her eyes was breath taking for Devayat. They sipped coffee and got engrossed in their talks about their hobbies and various other interests along with their weird philosophies.
Six months passed and the bond between Alice and Devayat kept growing stronger. He was falling madly for Alice but kept his feeling in the bounds and never did let his eyes reveal a bit of it. Nobody on campus ever came to know the bond between them. They maintained a strictly professional relationship on the campus. Only coffee meets were closer and that too, nobody on campus ever knew about it.
Devayat was working on his laptop one night when someone knocked at the door not once nor twice but thrice. Devayat smiled and got up to welcome the guest he had been expecting. Mahavir stabbed his smoke under his shoes and walked in.
Mahavir was the only friend of Devayat that existed on this earth. A real friend on whom, Devayat counted at any situation of his life. They both walked to the sitting area on the terrace garden of Devayat’s penthouse and dropped on the cozy couches.
“You seem to be much occupied these days.” Mahavir lit his smoke and exhaled the clouds in air.
“Umm kinda.” Devayat replied with twitched lips, smelling the taunts of Mahavir. He took a deep breath and added.
“Don’t worry, the task would soon be materialized.” A smug smile on Devayat’s face gave the assurance that Mahavir needed. They sat for a while in silence, gazing at the night sky and then, Mahavir left just before the dawn broke.
Devayat realized that his attachment to Alice was slowing him down in his work. He started maintaining distance. His coffee meets started ending abruptly, Devayat now left in the middle of the conversations heading home to focus more on work. There were heaps of information he needed to process to accomplish his dream.
Alice was wondering what went wrong. Initially, she thought that Devayat is not well but it kept happening regularly and that made her think about it. She tried to talk about it many times, but every time, Devayat waved off the discussion. This attitude of Devayat kept hurting Alice but she never revealed it. Like him, she too had fallen madly in love with him.
Alice’s work was almost done and her tenure in India was also getting over in a week. Alice finally mustered all her courage and thought to talk with Devayat and pour out her feelings for him. Alice planned a dinner date for them and insisted Devayat to come. She was leaving India on the next day and it was her last dinner with him.
As planned, Devayat picked Alice from the gate of her hostel and they reached the venue already fixed by her. It was a rooftop lounge. Alice had booked the private table to avoid their privacy from getting bugged by other customers around. The view from their table was fabulous, the night sky glittering with stars and the busy view of the city.
They ordered some French wine and some munchies. It was all in accordance to the plan but no one knew the ado in the mind of, Devayat. The talks started shifting towards future and goals and dreams and life after that. Devayat had by now smelled a lot about the motive of this dinner.
“Alice, I know you have fallen for me.” He took her soft hands in his and paused as if he wanted to spill out the beans. Alice was blushing and her eyes reflected nothing but joy.
“Trust me, I am the luckiest guy on this earth for whom you had fallen for, but…” Devayat’s voice trailed off into silence, leaving his words to disappear. He withdrew his hand from her’s.
“But what dear? You know I love you a lot and I too know that you love me.” Alice leaned forward locking her sight with him.
“But there is no future. With whatever I am doing and whatever my plans are, I can’t see any future of ours dear.” Devayat replied with all the strength he was left within him after the battle between his heart and mind.
“I thought we might… But now, there is no way out of it.” Alice sighed and looking down at the glass of her wine. Her eyes turned moist with the pain. The pain, that she won’t be able to stay with the love of her life. Devayat placed his hand on hers with a lopsided smile. He turned his neck to hide the feelings that he felt his eyes might reveal. He also wanted to stay away from the moist eyes of Alice since it was difficult for him to push away the guilt.
Before Devayat could console her, there was something unexpected, men, masks, guns and zero clues. The guns pointing them made them all the more confused.
“What the hell is all this? Who are you?” The terror struck eyes of Devayat flickered to comprehend what was going on.
Before he could ask anything, the guy to the right, struck on Devayat’s head with the stock of his pistol. Before Devayat could get back to senses they blindfolded both of them. He took Devayat’s cell phone and switched it off.
Devayat opened his eyes. Everything still bleared. The light from the ceiling was hurting his eyes. He groaned in pain as his head was hurting badly. He flickered his eyes to figure out where he was. It was some kind of abandoned warehouse. He tried to move but he was tied to a metal chair with few men along with SMGs surrounding him.
“Who are you? And what the hell is this going on?” Devayat tried to free himself but it was all in vain.
None of the guys spoke and kept staring at him. Their fingers caressing the triggers of their weapon and eyes locked on Devayat. They looked like Russians. It struck to Devayat that Alice was with him and she was seen nowhere.
”Where is she?” Devayat asked furiously and trying harder to free himself. No one answered him again.
He then saw Alice, walking from the corner of the sole entrance. Her hands tied behind and her lips were shut with duct tape. A fifth man with his SMG pointed at her, pushed her ahead to walk towards Devayat.
“Leave her, she has nothing to do with all this?” Devayat screamed and tried more to loosen the ropes that were holding him to the chair.
“Sit tight before my itchy finger empties the mag of my SMG in her skull.” The fifth man spoke. The one, standing behind Devayat, hit the stock of his weapon on Devayat’s shoulder to hold him back to where he was.
Tears started rolling down his eyes as he saw the plight of Alice. Because of him, she too was dragged into all these. He had never thought that the only person he loved would be brought into such a miserable condition because of him.
Alice was now standing barely few feet away from him. The fifth man who was holding her at gunpoint untied the straps on her wrist.
“Ебать вас, это клейкая лента испортила мой блеск для губ.” (Fuck you, this duct tape spoiled my lip gloss ). Alice pulled out the duct tape with her hands and cursed in the foreign language to the fifth man with disgust on her face.
She then turned to look at startled Devayat. The smile on her face and the sparkle in her eyes left Devayat aghast. It took no time for him to understand what was going on.
“You should have let me make a proposal.” Alice walked close to him. Rolling her finger from temple to the jawline of Devayat, she added.
”Things would have been different and better then.”
Devayat closed his eyes and a sudden explosion occurred. A flashbang blinded everyone as the lights went off. It was followed with the gunshots. Devayat kept his eyes closed as more shots were being fired for next two mins. A smug smile appeared on Devayat’s face as he knew what was happening. Corpses were lying in the pool of blood everywhere.
Mahavir and Devayat were sitting in the garden of the huge bungalow with Jack in their hands. It was pleasant, cool night with occasional sounds of field crickets. Mahavir lit his smoke and releasing the cloud of smoke, spoke.
“Lucky you got chance to push the SOS on your cell.”
“Actually, I didn’t. One of the guys did it, by mistake. He would have never thought that in rush to switch off my cell, he is alarming you.” Devayat winked and took a sip of his drink.
Mahavir didn’t comment. He took a deep breath and divulged the story.
“Interpol was tracking her. Reports about her came to us, just an hour before your SOS alarm.” Mahavir gulped down his drink. He was still considering it lucky case, if Devayat’sSOS was not turned on, then they would have lost one of their assets.
“Government always takes care of their best HACKERS. And especially when you are working for the global agency like INTERPOL, people like me are always their priority who can track down the BAD GUYS.” Devayat too gulped down his drink and poured another one for both of them.
“Dad must be very proud of us.” Mahavir turned to look at Devayat and smiled.
“Indeed…” Devayat responded and raised a toast.
“To, late Major Shakti Raj Rana, the best soldier, and our loving Dad.”
“And now, I’ll need a new cover to continue the work.” Devayat added after bottoms up.
“It’s already set. You’ll be shifting to Goa and you’ll have your own beach shack.” Mahavir winked and gave high five to Devayat.
Written by: Hemang
Edited by: Pratishtha Shyam
Sketch: Paranj Sankdecha