Caught Under the Umbrella

Caught Under the Umbrella

The shrieking noise of gates reverberated in his ears. Raju had been in this condition for the last two days. Hands and legs tied. Dumped with his assistant in a caliginous room. A single window or only ray of light or the only hope of life. That only destiny would decide – maybe today itself or as close as the very next moment. 

****

An enthusiast journalist, Raju had many accolades to his name. Living in hustle-bustle of the city life, he found solace in life-endangering missions. His previous mission to expose medicine racket was a huge success. He was honoured at the state and national levels. 

His search for some new mission to satiate his detective and journalist cravings had not been satisfied for a year. Simple projects do not quench his thirst. Till there was some danger involved, he doesn’t feel escalated. 

Life was going smooth with regular hiccups and work. He and his merry umbrella battled life. Until one day, he found some white dust in his assistant’s bag.

‘Jiya, what is this? Why are you strolling around with this powder?’

‘Sir, it’s not any ordinary powder. Examine it closely and you will understand everything.’ said Jiya in an undertone. 

Raju understood. The drug which took the life of his brother is spreading its tentacles in his city at a very rapid rate.

***

‘Sir, we have to do something. We can’t be whiling away time like this. It’s been two days since we have been tied up. 

‘I know Jiya, but what can I do? They do not release us even for a moment. We have to think of some opportunity to procure the mobile when they come to give us food today, so that we can contact the police. It has to be today or never as their meeting is scheduled for the evening.’

‘That’s a nice idea. But it has to be done smartly.’

Í will try to fool them  citing nature’s call and you try to snatch the mobile.’

‘That sounds like a plan. But please be very careful. Now one more mistake and we are finished!!!’

‘Yes, all the best!!!’

During lunch hours, two negroes entered the storeroom. One of them opened up their hands and the other one kept an eye. 

Í need to visit the washroom,’ pleaded Jiya. 

‘We are aware of your smartness. You better don’t act over smart.’

Í am not being smart. But please understand. It’s genuine.’ she requested. 

‘We will allow you to go. But don’t try to fool us.’

‘No, no, I don’t intend to do anything of that sort.’

One of the negroes started to walk towards the washroom with Jiya and then waited.  Raju tried to strike a conversation with the other one. He confirmed the meeting timings and accidentally made his mobile fall on the floor. 

‘What are you doing?’ he shouted. 

‘Sorry bro, nothing. I was just trying to peep in the game. Don’t worry, give it to me I will repair it in a second.’ Raju pretended to repair the mobile and managed to dial a number. His emergency number, his last backup in the mission. 

When Jiya returned, both of them were tied back to the same pole.

As the negroes left, 

‘Did you manage to do anything?’ asked an excited Jiya.

‘Yes, have patience. Let them walk away from our audible zone.’

‘I have dialed a missed call from his number. If luck favors us, my well-wisher will be alerted and arrive with the police.’

The first part of the task was done. The meeting being today, arrival of police on time was crucial for the duo to accomplish their mission.

***

The call at 12 am from an unknown number increased his heartbeat. Familiar or unfamiliar, Raju had to pick up the call. 

‘Hello, who’s this calling at such odd hour?’

‘I have a very important tip for you. The person, police are trying to lay hands on, since months is finally coming to Mumbai. The top-secret meeting is scheduled at the Madh island bungalow.   If you catch him, it will be the biggest drug racket which would be exposed.’

‘Are you sure? I am following some peddlers for months.’

‘Forget about others. Just follow Mr. Pinto.’ 

‘But how will I get there? Do you think they will even allow me to loiter around the bungalow?’ 

‘You have to disguise as a drug peddler for the deal. The code is: Apna Sapna Money Money.’

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Raju started to work on the mission. He realized he won’t be able to do it single-handedly. 

Next day at the office, he shared the details with his assistant Jiya. He requested her to accompany him and make all the necessary preparations. Both of them worked hard not and didn’t leave even a single stone unturned. Jiya, who had accompanied him on several missions before, understood that it was a great opportunity but not without the risk involved in it. But the passion for journalism ousted the fear of life. 

Disguised, they arrived in the best of their suits to the location. But destiny had other things in mind. They failed to fool the guards of the bungalow and got trapped in their hands. Most of their belongings including the handbag and camera-pen were destroyed. Raju didn’t succeed in tug with negroes. Finally, his umbrella was also snatched and with a tight grip, both were dumped in the basement of the mansion. In the dark room with a small window, Raju felt his mission met  failure. 

***

The gates creaked again. Raju understood it was the time of the meeting. The fear and anxiety gripped them. It was the last chance to nab the mastermind. There were loud voices heard upstairs, but there seemed to be merriment and no hustle-bustle of  the police’s arrival. The meeting was in the main hall of the grand bungalow and they were tied at the basement. They could hear the voices and laughter of the people. The deal was discussed and finalized after few hours. 

‘Sir, the meeting is about to end. If we don’t catch them today, we will not get another chance again anytime. Please do something.’

‘We have to get out of this and reach the main hall somehow.’ 

‘But how?’ 

An idea clicked. They both argued. The verbal abuses could be heard till the main hall. Alerted by the commotion, the negroes rushed to the basement.  At the same time, the siren alerted everyone. Everyone started to run hither thither. But in vain. The police laid a siege around the bungalow. 

Somehow Raju and Jiya too succeeded to fool negroes to untie them and rushed to the main hall. 

Mr. Pinto, the name they heard only in papers and files, finally was in front of them. The tall giant, with a fair complexion, was in his best suites. A typical African underworld don, that was his stature though been Asiatic. But fear seemed to engulf him today for the first time!!!

 ‘You rascals, you couldn’t take care of one person. Why have you kept him alive till now?’ 

‘Sorry boss. We thought we would dump him somewhere on the highway after the deal is cracked’ 

‘See now what he has done? Who is going to pay for this?’

‘Mr. Pinto, we were looking for you for years. Finally, we successfully trap you,’ said an overjoyed inspector. 

‘You cannot do anything, inspector, as usual, you have no proof. I will leave clean-handed; if not from here, then definitely from your royal court proceedings.’

‘Mr. Raju, I hope you have proof against him.’

‘Sorry inspector, all our cameras were destroyed and so were the shreds of evidence.’  Jiya lamented. 

‘Ha ha ha ha…. You call these foolish people journalists? I am and will be a free bird. I will poison the youth’s life with my drugs. There will come a time where every youngster will be dependent on me. They will beg for life from me.’

‘Don’t worry Mr. Pinto, till I am alive.’ said Raju. 

Saying this, he proceeded towards the open window of the hall. The lone black umbrella still hanged there. Raju’s happiness knew no bounds when he saw it after as he ascended upstairs. 

‘What do you think this umbrella is doing over here? Basking in the sunlight or enjoying the rains?’ said a confident Raju. 

‘What do you mean?’ asked a nervous Mr. Pinto. 

Raju removed the hidden camera from the pole of the umbrella.  Everyone was dumbstruck. Jiya too was not aware of this last hope. During tug of war between negroes and duo, Raju had  managed to hang it over the window. He was just lucky the meeting took place in the same area and all the happenings could be recorded. 

‘My umbrella is my companion and savior every time.’

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