Editor: Read Chapter XL here.
When Rajesh and Inspector Makarand reached Dadar Railway Station with Etayya, night had fallen and even more policemen had arrived. Rajesh had called Felix enroute and alerted him and so they were met by a team of policemen on arrival and taken to the platform where Teji was holed up. No words were spoken as Rajesh followed Felix and Etayya and Makarand followed Rajesh. Ashok and Guna brought up the rear.
Once they had reached the furthest point on the platform to which the police presence extended, they stopped. Rajesh handed Etayya a megaphone. ‘Please call out to her,’ he said.
‘Teji, Teji,’ Etayya called. Everyone was silent, waiting to see what would happen next. Etayya once again called out Teji’s name and started to speak in a language they could not follow.
‘Stop him. What’s he saying?’ a couple of nervous police officers asked Rajesh.
‘Just a minute Etayya,’ Rajesh stopped Etayya. ‘He is speaking to Teji in Madia,’ Rajesh informed Felix. ‘Teji is a Madia Gond.’
‘Rajesh, do you speak Madia?’ Felix asked.
‘No, but I can recognise both Madia and Gondi when it is spoken.’
‘Rajesh, ask him to speak in Hindi.’
‘Sir, this is unnecessary. There is no reason to…’
‘Just tell him for God’s sake. Ask him to speak in a language we all understand. How do we know he isn’t playing a trick on us all?’
‘Etayya, why don’t you speak in Hindi? That way, we will all understand what you are saying?’
‘You mean, you people don’t trust me even to that extent?’ Etayya was shell shocked. He slowly lowered the megaphone to the ground. A few seconds later as the shock wore off, he became angry. ‘Well then, here’s your microphone and please take me back to the jail.’ He shoved the megaphone back into Rajesh’s hand.
‘Rajesh, do you know what he said?’
‘I think he said he is Etayya and he is in jail here.’
‘The bastard. He should be saying that he has discovered the error of his ways and that she should do the same.’
‘He had just started to speak. That was by way of introduction.’
‘I don’t care. He isn’t going to speak to her in a language I don’t understand. Tell him that if he doesn’t do what we want him to do, we will charge that stall and kill the fucking bitch inside.’
‘Why don’t we compromise? Etayya will tell us in advance what he’s going to say and then he can speak in Madia. I know enough Madia to make sure that he isn’t cheating.’
‘That sounds okay to me. Does Etayya still want to save that Teji?’
Etayya nodded, seemingly happy with Rajesh’s proposal and held out his hand for the megaphone. ‘All I am going to say is that I am Etayya, I am here in jail and that I have come here to talk to her. That if she surrenders, she won’t be killed. Can I say that?’
‘Etayya, you are a star. Also, please ask her to come out with her hands held high and her pistol in her left hand. Rajesh, make sure he says nothing else.’ Felix was smiling once again. ‘Shoot him if he tries anything funny,’ Felix added in English between clenched teeth.
Etayya started to speak and everyone went silent once again. When Etayya finished, they waited to see what effect Etayya’s appeal had on Teji.
Teji was stunned to hear Etayya’s voice. She knew that Etayya was a prisoner, but to hear him address her in her current circumstances was totally unexpected. She was used to obeying Etayya but now that he was a prisoner, she knew that she wasn’t bound to do so.
‘Etayya, why don’t you repeat what you just said,’ Rajesh said. Etayya hesitated and then Madia words boomed out through the megaphone once again.
Teji didn’t want to surrender, but she also didn’t want to die needlessly. Surely, her conscience would be satisfied as long as she was following Etayya’s advice? Slowly, Teji came out with her hands held high and her pistol held up in her left hand, exactly as she had been directed.
‘She seems to be a good girl,’ Felix said.
‘Take care of Etayya,’ Rajesh told Makarand as he went forward along with Felix and two other officers to meet Teji. They took away her pistol and fastened handcuffs on her wrists. Teji was handed over to a policewoman who led her away, surrounded by a posse of policemen. The two hostages sat on the ground crying with relief.
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