Chapter 1 : Enter Vijaya
Vijaya was in a hurry in the morning while she was rushing to her college. She met Meena madam a few blocks before her college.
She said “Good morning madam”.
Meena madam said, “I have been calling you to visit my home for so long. When will you visit us?” in mock anger.
Vijaya let out a shy smile and told her, “I will definitely visit you this evening on my way back to my home, madam”.
Meena madam said, “Fine, I will wait for you around 6 o’clock”.
Both of them went their ways.
In the evening Vijaya went to the building, in which Meena madam was living. It was past 5.30 pm by the time she reached the main gate of the high-rise building.
The watchman of the building asked her, “Whom do you want to meet?”
Vijaya said, “Meena madam”.
The watchman tried to figure out who she was, but could not. So he asked her, “Meena madam? What is the flat number?”
Vijaya said, “Flat No. 1002 on the 10th floor”.
The watchman checked the index of the residents and told her, “But that is Mr. Walawalkar’s flat No.”
Then after a few moments, he realised with his slow working brain that Vijaya wanted to meet Meena madam, who was the wife of Mr.Walawalkar.
Since Vijaya was a first time visitor to the building, the watchman contacted Meena madam on her intercom No.
After a short delay, she came on the line and the watchman said, “Madam, somebody named Vijaya wants to meet you. Shall I send her in?”
Meena madam confirmed to the watchman that Vijaya was known to her and so he could allow her inside the building, on hearing which, he told Vijaya to enter her name, the name of the person she wanted to visit, along with the flat No., the time etc on the register.
She entered her name and the time along with the other particulars in the register as required, after which the watchman told her that she could go in and pointed the way to the building’s lift.
Vijaya waited for a few minutes for the lift to come down from some upper storey. As soon as it reached the ground floor and the persons using it came out of it, she entered the lift, closed the doors and pressed the No. 10 button on the floor index panel. It was a 24 storey high-rise building, in which Meena madam was living on the 10th floor with her family.
When she came out of the lift on the 10th floor, Vijaya found Meena madam standing with 5 other ladies on the corridor of the floor. There were 4 flats on every floor.
There seemed to be an argument among the ladies who were obviously her neighbours and Meena madam was simply listening to their arguments without participating in them.
On seeing Vijaya coming out of the lift, Meena madam gestured her to go inside her flat and wait for her.
Vijaya went inside the flat and sat down on a luxurious sofa near a window facing the west side of the building. She took up a few magazines lying on a small table near her sofa and browsed through the pages without much interest.
After about 5 minutes or so she heard the voice of a man talking in the adjacent room.
She wondered “Is he talking on the phone?”
Initially, she could not understand what he was saying, but after a few moments, she could make out that he was pleading with someone not to do anything in a hurry and make a mess of the things.
She heard him saying “Hey, dekho, don’t do anything silly....”
There was a pause for a few seconds, then he continued, “....I will arrange for the cash immediately, don’t worry....”
Then again a pause for a few moments, after which he raised his voice with a bit of anger in his voice, “Arre bhai, I am telling you, I will send you Rs. 2 crores in a suitcase today itself. Don’t spoil the job. Do a neat job. Last time when I gave you the work, you messed it up horribly. This time, I will not tolerate any failure, understood?”
After another pause, he raised his voice further and said, “OK, OK, I will send another Rs. 3 crores tomorrow itself. Don’t worry about the cash. The job is very important. You should not fail under any circumstances, OK?”
She got up in alarm as she felt that the man talking on the phone was coming out of the adjacent room and would be entering the hall where she was sitting, any moment.
As she did not want to be seen by him, she ran to the entrance of the flat and came out into the corridor, where the ladies were still continuing with their arguments in high pitch with Meena madam also participating now in an effort to bring peace among them.
“What does Mr. Gupta think about himself, huh?” one lady was shouting.
She continued, “This is a ladies program and he is dictating the terms. What does he know about the matters concerning us?”
Meena madam said, “Krithikaji, calm down. We have to deal with the matter in a very diplomatic manner and should not ruffle feathers with Guptaji....”
Before she could continue, the other lady raised her voice and shouted at Meena madam to contradict her saying, “Diplomatic? He is a dictator. Dictators don’t understand diplomacy.....”
By then Meena madam saw Vijaya come out of the flat and asked her, “What is the matter? Why are you rushing out?”
Trying to appear normal with an effort and talking quickly she told Meena madam, “I am suddenly finding some problem in my stomach. There is a terrible pain, which I am not able to understand due to what reason. I am going to see my doctor. I will see you after a day or two, madam”.
Luckily, the lift stopped at the floor at that moment and somebody came out of it. Vijaya ran into it very quickly, shut the doors and pushed the ground floor button.
Since her attention was diverted by the endless arguments of her neighbours, Meena madam forgot about Vijaya for the time being and continued to listen and talk with them.
On reaching the ground floor and getting out of the lift, Vijaya quickly came to the watchman’s cabin, marked her out time and quickly went out of the building. The only thought occupying her mind at that time was to get an auto and run away to the safety of her house.
But what she did not know was that there was another man in the watchman’s cabin near a window of the cabin directly facing the lift door. He had received some instructions from somebody, based on which he pointed his mobile camera to the door of the lift as it opened to let out Vijaya a few moments ago.
He focused the lens of the mobile phone camera to have a good view of her face and clicked her image unknown to her as she hurried towards the cabin door encircling the wall containing the window, where this man was standing with his camera. He took two or three more shots of hers as she approached the cabin for getting more images of her.
After she left the building, the man told whoever had asked him to take her pictures, “Kaam ho gaya saab. I have taken the pictures of the lady you had mentioned. What should I do now?”
After a pause he said “OK saab. I will do that” , switched his mobile off and went out of the building with supreme confidence, whistling softly.
The time was 5-50 pm. Still it was a very bright evening as Vijaya got into an auto and started moving away.
The person with the mobile camera noted the number of the auto and checked which way it was going. He went quickly to his motorcycle parked outside the building, started it and started following the auto at a comfortable distance.
(To be continued)