• 20 Oct - 26 Oct, 2018
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

I knew this day will come but I had not imagined that it will come this soon.

It was like another ordinary day. I came to the office at 9 o’clock and had just concluded my morning meeting with the staff. I was planning to visit the factory site when my secretary informed me that there is an inspector from the special branch of police who wants to see me. My heart jumped into my throat. A glacial wave of current zapped through my spine. I started feeling tremors in my body. Although I had prepared myself physically for this day but mentally I was never ready to face this eventuality. Psychologically, I was in a state of repression.

Fifteen years ago, two of my friends and I had come to this city to earn our livelihood. We belonged to a small town with very limited job opportunities. Our parents were farmers and they did everything in their capacity to educate us. Even in the big city, we were handicapped. We were fresh graduates but had no skill or experience. We started off with odd labour jobs which kept increasing our frustration day by day. At one occasion, the city was shut down on a political party’s call for consecutive three days and we literally had nothing to eat or pay for the night rent at a dera hotel. So we did what hungry and desperate persons would do - we snatched. We were just roaming around at midnight when we found a lonely person on a deserted road. We mugged him and got hold of everything he had. We liked doing it as it required very little effort and in just few seconds we had earned eight hundred rupees, a watch and a cell phone. We spent rest of the night partying and never looked back.

From small street crimes, we went into bank robberies. We were having a good time until we landed into an encounter with police. Both my friends were shot and I got away with the loot. I did not return to our usual hide out. I trashed my cell phone, abandoned the getaway car, took three bags full of cash and went to a flat which I had already bought to cater for any such eventuality.

I learnt from news that a bank’s main branch was robbed and the amount of four crore were stolen. We had planned the robbery carefully and selected the salary day. In those days, most companies got cash from the banks and distributed the same to their employees. We had found out in our reconnaissance that there were only two security guards outside the bank. We went prepared and overcame those guards with a very little effort. The rest was easy. We, however, got greedy and spent more than required time in the bank which allowed the police to react and intercept us. We threw the bags into the getaway car and got into a gun fight. As both my friends were hiding behind the car and firing back at police, I got into the driving seat and drove away leaving them behind. In the rear-view mirror, I could see their stunned faces while standing in the open and then falling down after getting shot by the police.

I counted the money twice and it was just two crores, eighty five lacs and seventy one thousand only. I saluted the bank staff who had taken advantage of the robbery and had become part of it. Anyway, I spent next six months in that flat and only came out at nights for buying eatables. Then with my street smart skills, good contacts and useful market sense which I had acquired with the passage of time, I started establishing my own businesses. In the next ten years, I became a big fish in the sea. I got married and started living a happy life. Over the period of time, I kept a track of my friends who were shot and arrested by police. One of them later died in the hospital but the second one had survived and was still in jail serving his life sentence. I feared retaliation from him whenever he comes out of jail. Therefore, I had already hired a hit man to eliminate him. I was ensured that it will be done next month.

I was lost in my thoughts when my secretary reminded me again about the inspector from special branch waiting to meet me. My heart was beating fast but I asked her to send him in my office in a rather confident voice. He was a tall guy with a French beard and an inquisitive face. From his outlook, I could gather that he belonged to a law enforcement agency. He introduced himself and showed me his card. We shook hands and got seated. He started talking about street crimes in this area which were a great source of concern for all the businessmen here. He stressed on the need for business owners to implement good security mechanism. As he kept talking I felt relaxed. My anxiety level decreased and my heart started beating normal. We took light refreshments and had a decent discussion. Before leaving, he emphasised on installing better security cameras with higher resolutions as these help in solving the crimes. He then showed me some old pictures from a CCTV camera in which it was difficult to identify the criminals who were looting a bank. After he departed, I realised that he left a few pictures at the table. I picked those up and looked closely at them. As I read name of the bank which was quite visible in one of the pictures, my heart sank. I forgot to breathe for a few moments. Fifteen years old scenes of looting the bank by three of us started flashing in my mind. Our faces were not clear in the pictures but I knew with certainty that these were pictures of the same bank robbery that we had been involved in. I started feeling goosebumps all over my body and suddenly realised that the special branch inspector left these pictures here intentionally and that he will come back soon. •