Editor: Read Chapter XLII here.


The four policemen who raided Opesh’s bangle shop in Dadar did not believe in playing by the rules. For one, they came in an unmarked Tata Sumo. Instead of showing Opesh an arrest warrant, they merely told him, ‘You’ve been sheltering Maoists, haven’t you? Come with us.’

Opesh was so guilt-ridden that he immediately abandoned his shop and got into the rear of the Tata Sumo. As he was driven away, he told the policemen, ‘It was only for one night and only because they were Holambe’s friends. I couldn’t say no.’

‘You are a liar. Where is Holambe now?

‘I don’t know, Sir.’

‘Take us to your house. If Holambe is there, we’ll kill you. Are you sure he’s not there?’

‘No sir, definitely not.’

‘You know what, we have caught Ravi. He is in jail. Did you know that?’

‘No sir.’

‘Ravi has told us how you sheltered him and others, even though you knew that they were carrying guns.’ Opesh remained silent, cursing his younger brother for his madness.

They parked a short distance away from the chawl and waited. ‘If we find Holambe inside, you are dead,’ Tarun repeated to Opesh.

‘No sir, he is not there.’

Tarun and Umang waited in the Tata Sumo with Opesh, while the two policemen went inside Opesh’s kholi. ‘All clear,’ they informed Tarun.

Tarun, Umang and Opesh joined the two men inside the kholi. Opesh’s wife was flustered, but they ignored her.

‘When will he come back?’ Tarun asked Opesh.

‘I don’t know sir. I doubt if he will return anytime soon.’

Umang slapped Opesh in the privacy of his kholi, in front of his wife who winced. She always knew that nothing good would come out of Holambe.

‘Do you have Holambe’s mobile number?’

‘Yes Sir.’

Umang compared the number on Opesh’s phone with the one they had from Ravi’s phone. It tallied.

‘I want you to call Holambe and ask him where he is. If you help us capture him alive, we may spare his life,’ Tarun told Opesh.

Opesh called Holambe and after a few rings, his call was answered.

‘Holambe, this is Opesh.’

‘Yes Opesh?’

‘Holambe, is everything okay? Where are you?’

‘What’s up Opesh? Is everything okay with you?’

‘Yes, I’m fine. When will you come home?’

‘I don’t know Opesh. I will let you know.’

‘I am really worried. Where are you now?’

‘I am fine.’

‘Holambe, there is a problem. Your Bhabhi is ill and the doctor wants her to be admitted and get some tests done. I don’t have the money. Can you borrow some from your friends and lend me some?’ Opesh asked, as he read from the piece of paper kept in front of him.

‘Huh?’ this was the first time Opesh had asked him for money. Usually, it was the other way round.

‘Can you lend me twenty thousand rupees?’

‘I’ll call you back.’ Holambe hung up.

The policemen stood around for a bit. ‘Let’s go. Remember,’ Tarun said turning to Opesh. ‘Keep your mouth shut.’

As they left, Tarun told Umang, ‘that story was stupid. Now he’ll be on his guard.’

‘That’s the best we could come up with.’

‘Frankly, what can we do even if we find Holambe?’ Umang asked Tarun. ‘He’ll probably have his friends with him and they’ll most probably outnumber us. And they are most probably better at this stuff. We need to go on the defensive for a bit, I think. Lie low and…’

‘Shut up Umang!’ Tarun muttered, but he knew Umang was right.


Featured Image (Cover): Nisha Joseph

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