“The denominations need to be small.
No large notes remember”, the gruff voice sounded even more menacing in its ice
She heard it and it registered it in
her brain. She knew she couldn’t afford to forget this one.
She came home and looked at her
husband. He was busy on his laptop trying to locate the origin of the call. “I
can’t seem to understand why it shows our store room. I’ve traced every inch of
it and there’s nothing or no one there. He must be using one hell of a software
to fool us”.
She looked at him confused. She
didn’t understand any of this computer business and was all at sea. She simply
nodded in meek affirmation when he said this looking at her.
Two weeks ago their life seemed
perfect. At least outwardly. Happily married for 5 years they were both
successful in their respective careers. He, as the Marketing Vice President of
a leading IT company and she a fast emerging author. They seemed to have it
He loved to take short naps in the
evening. He was snoring away on the couch when his phone bleeped a numerous
times waking him up from his peaceful slumber. What he saw then, woke him up
There were a number of pics of his
wife lying in bed in a strange hotel room with a man with a rose tattoo on his
exposed back lying on top of her. Of the 17 pictures he was sent each and
everyone had her face clearly visible whilst that of the guy remained
“Pay up 25crores or these pics go up
on social media to all your friends. And yes this time with the face you so
desperately want to see”, the message taunted.
He got up from his couch and walked
out of the door. She was in the lawn watering some plants. He thrust the mobile
in front of her face. “What the hell is this”, he demanded, in a tone that
really startled her.
She dropped the water tube and began
to see the pictures on his phone. Her expression changed from that of disbelief
and shock to that of being confused.
“I swear I swear I can’t remember
what this is. When this was or who this is. I swear Raghav I don’t know
anything about this”. She sounded very genuine indeed but the pictures didn’t
lie. “Are you sure these are not morphed”, she asked, almost echoing his doubts
He looked at the pictures closely
again. They definitely didn’t look morphed. “I will try and find out if they’ve
been photo-shopped”, he said wearily. His mind was totally confused. On one
hand he knew that she could never do something like this. And yet on the other,
the pictures !!!. Such strong evidence. He didn’t know how to react.
He came inside the living room and collapsed
on the sofa. She came and sat next to him too. She put her head on his
shoulders and started to weep. He instinctively put his arms around her pulling
her closer to him. But his mind was still racing away with a thousand thoughts.
Who? Why? How?
They spent the rest of the day in
silence. She didn’t do anything but just sat on the sofa, listless and
mindless. He kept on working on his computer attempting to figure out where the
call had originated from. For the life in him he could not prove that the
photos were morphed. They passed every test to prove they were authentic.
He kept asking her over and over
again the next couple of days but she had no different answer to give him. She
just could not remember any incident which would have even initiated such a
situation as the photographs suggested. It all seemed so unreal to her. At times
it felt like her worst nightmare coming true.
The call came again on the fourth
day. “So have you guys decided what you want to do? I am not going to wait
forever you know”.
“Just give us some time. We will pay
you. But it takes time to arrange for such a large amount”, Raghav tried to
reason with his blackmailer. “And what guarantee is there that you won’t put up
the photos once we give you the money”, he asked knowing very well the answer
he would get in return.
“Well there are no guarantees of
that you know”, he laughed. “Except for my word. And at this stage
unfortunately Mr Mehra you don’t have a better choice, do you”, he smirked just
before hanging up.
“We don’t have a choice Pooja. We
have to give him the money”, Raghav looked like a broken man as he spoke to his
wife. Pooja looked at him in utter disbelief.
“Are you saying there is nothing we
can do but to bow down before these threats for something that is totally false
and untrue? No fault of mine and we have to pay”? Her eyes filled with tears as
she spoke. She knew how hopeless the situation was for Raghav to agree to pay.
She had no strength to fight after seeing him like this.
“What about the flat”, she asked, as
her last shred of hope seemed to be tearing off.
“We have to sell it. We have to sell
everything and move to my company apartment. There is no other way of arranging
such a huge sum”, he sounded in a total surrender mode as he spoke. His voice
barely audible even though she was sitting next to him.
He begged his blackmailer to give
them two more days. “It takes time to arrange such amount. At least give me two
days”, he reasoned. The blackmailer agreed.
And then came Friday. The day the
money was to be delivered. He had the travel bag ready. It was to be dropped
off a bridge the blackmailer specified. He did as he was told and drove off
alone, empty and shattered, after dropping the bag off.
He drove a few kilometres away and
opened his laptop. The chip he’d placed in between the notes seemed to moving in
a direction towards the city. He slowly began to drive towards that direction.
He wasn’t going to let it all go so easily. He had spent his entire life
building his life up and he wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Following the red light he came up
to an apartment. He was shocked to see the location. It was Maaya’s. “How did
the blackmailer know Maaya”? He wondered as he raced up the stairs to reach her
Maaya, the beautiful sensuous new
trainee who had joined his organisation and for whom he’d started off as a
mentor. Neither of them realised when the mentor-disciple role transformed into
a full fledged affair. The passion he felt for Maaya, made him feel years
younger than what he actually was. She invigorated him, made him feel alive.
Maaya made him want to enjoy life again. A life that he had lost in the race of
the corporate world and numbing boredom of married life.
He had the keys to her apartment, so
he didn’t think twice before opening the door and entering the apartment. The
living room seemed fine. He was shocked when he went to the bedroom!
On the queen sized bed Maaya lay
lifeless. She had been strangled by a tie, which he recognised as being his
own. In fact it was gifted to him by her. As he looked at Maaya’s beautiful
eyes which were still open, his gaze turned to the small chip that was placed
next to the bed. There was hand written note next to it.
“You may think you’re very clever.
But know this…YOU ARE NOT” !!!
His eyes were blood shot with rage
as he read the note, his hands trembling as he held it. He felt kicked in the
guts socked in his teeth. His mobile flashed.
“I have brought this on to you. To us. I have unwittingly led you to this stage. I don’t think I have the will to carry on any more. Am ending my life. I am sorry for everything. Pooja”.
He could not believe what he was
reading. He read it a couple of times more before dialling her number. It was
unreachable. He drove like a maniac to reach his house hoping to stop her
before she took any drastic step.
As he approached his apartment he
saw a small crowd had gathered near the bridge close to his home. He
stopped there and asked what had happened.
“Some lady jumped off the bridge
just a few minutes ago”, a street vendor said. He kept looking down to see if
anything could be seen. He saw a blue dupatta stuck to the corner of the
bridge. He instantly recognised it !
He sat down at that moment, holding
the dupatta close to his face. He was now sobbing uncontrollably. From a
perfect life he had lost everything in a matter of seven days. His wife, his
money, his love. Everything was gone.
The man with the rose tattoo opened
the bag and smiled. “I don’t have to count this do I”, he winked as he looked
towards her. The lady had her back to him.
“Oh no darling you don’t have to.
Raghav is an honourable man”, Pooja winked as she turned around and hugged him.
“Our plan worked liked a dream honey”, she said just before she kissed him on
“He should have known before he
cheated on me with that trainee slut”, Pooja said as she zipped the bag filled
with cash once more. Their bags were packed and they were ready to leave.
“You cheated on him too didn’t you”,
“And look where it got me Manav”,
she winked at him.
“You drive first, I need to rest.
The last few days have been super hectic”, she smiled as she sat on the
passenger’s seat. She knew the drive to the private airspace was only a couple
of hours. A private jet ready to take them to a new destination. For a new start.
Manav sat in the driver’s seat and turned the ignition on. He looked at her and smiled. “Shall we”, he asked. She winked at him and went back to sleep.
Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar