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Tuesday 8 August 2017

A Day Less Ordinary

His left hand knocked over the shrill ringing alarm clock and it fell down with a thump on the carpeted floor, continuing to ring with a muffled insistence. He'd fallen asleep at the desk. Stretching his body that had been awkwardly positioned for so long, he made his way to the bathroom. Things were not moving well with his second novel, one he'd already been commissioned to write by a leading publication. His first novel had been freakishly successful, considering he was a newbie in the writing world. 
As he lathered his face with the shaving cream he idly mused about his stuck novel; a crime thriller based on the underworld mafia. The plot was good, the characters strong, yet he felt it was missing something crucial...personal experience! He was pulling out characters and plots out of his hat but he was feeling at a loss describing situations that were beyond his imagination. He'd interviewed several shady characters for research purposes but still, he craved the authenticity that only a person having been in the place or situation could have. Shrugging off his unreal aspirations he headed out of the door. One could hardly expect a respectable college professor and one-time hit author to have field experience in crime!

It was his lunch break and Professor Haricharan Sharma walked to the bank, his mind preoccupied with thoughts about the novel. The bank was not too crowded at this time. He filled out the withdrawal slip and sat in the narrow bench waiting for his token number to come on the overhead display.

Three burly men with backpacks entered the bank in a sudden frenzy. One of the men struck and knocked down the old guard at the gate. The second one quickly pulled down the rolling shutter to the entrance and the inner collapsible grill. The third one pulled out an automatic from his backpack and pointed it at everyone. Both the bank staff and customers put up their hands, none willing to antagonize the attackers. The thugs shoved the customers into the Cashier's cubicle after emptying all the cash there. Next they rounded up the staff; isolating the manager, locked the others in the back room.

The customers had been locked in the cubicle for what seemed like a long time. Prof. Sharma couldn't believe his luck; he was witnessing a crime in action, a bank heist just like the one he'd been writing about. He wished he'd carried his mobile phone to record the whole scene. He fumbled in his pockets and retrieved an old notepad. He looked around for a pen and saw one lying on the Cashier's counter. As he darted to grab the pen, one of the thugs saw the sudden movement. He rushed into the cubicle, grasped the professor by his collar and dragged him outside with a gun digging into his side.

The bank manager was not being co-operative and refusing to reveal the code numbers to open the treasury vault. Now he could be cajoled to do that with this hostage.
The manager quickly mumbled the numbers and in reciprocation received a knock on his head with the back of the heavy gun. The professor watched in fascinated horror as the man fell down senseless, blood flowing freely from the wound on his head.

In fifteen minutes, the two gangsters returned, backpacks loaded. The professor was craning his neck eyeing the proceedings with great interest. The goon holding the gun to his side observed the professor's face looking more interested than scared. "You want to die?" he asked. "Oh, no, no, no! I am an author and this situation is just what I was thinking of writing in my new book," replied the professor.

"Hey boys, let's take this man with us....What's your name? I have seen you somewhere." "Sharma, Professor Sharma, I wrote a book, 'The Gulleys of Mumbai'," the professor replied nervously. This wasn't really turning out that well. "Haan, Sharmaji! I saw your photo in the book boss was reading. You come with us, boss will tell you all the stories you want to hear. He will even pay you if you write a good book on him."

The goons had locked all the staff in a back room and now swiftly started making their getaway. With their arms around the professor, they took him along with them.
A large black SUV with heavily tinted windows and a running engine  was waiting right outside. They shoved the heavy backpacks and guns in the rear and took off. Professor Sharma didn't know whether to scream or be ecstatic about the situation he was caught in. He didn't have to think further as a resounding whack on his head knocked him out cold. 

He woke to a pounding headache, lying on the floor of a dark room, hands tied behind his back. He struggled to get into a sitting position and looked around. Eyes getting used to the darkness, he made out that he was in some kind of a storage room with all kinds of junk.  It must be late evening, he thought as he could see a star from the half-open grimy window. 

Suddenly the door opened. He was roughly pulled up and led out into an air-conditioned room. Professor Sharma noted that it was quite a beautiful room with tasteful decor and understated opulence. In one corner of the large room, seated at a writing table was a young man in his early-thirties reading a book...his book. The man looked up and with a flick of his hand and glare of his eyes he motioned the thug who'd brought the professor in, to unshackle him and begone. He graciously invited the professor to join him on a plush leather sofa while a discreet attendant poured them tall glasses of some pink beverage. With surprise, the professor realized it was a rose flavored drink. The table in front of them was laid out with the most tantalizing array of delicate looking hors-d'oeuvres.

"So professor saheb is my abode all you imagined?" asked the young don. "No, no, it is nothing like I thought it would be. It is, it is...very elegant and you are too young and handsome to be a don," he blurted out. "Ha, ha, ha! You cliched writers and Bollywood film-makers have spoiled our image. My men told me you were very keen to get insights on our world."

The young don went on a monologue for a long time telling the professor all about his journey in the murky underworld. The professor eagerly soaked in everything. By the time the story ended, the sky outside had turned an inky blue. The don refilled the professor's glass himself, "I hope I have satisfied your curiosity. Now it is your turn to repay me" he said cryptically and left the room. 

"Repay him? Must be crazy," the professor said to himself as tucked into the nibbles laid out. He took a long swig of the rose drink. "Hmm, nice drink this is, must get it," was his last thought as he slid down the sofa onto the carpet.

He was back in his house on his bed. It was early morning. Wow! What an exciting day it had been! That last pink drink must have been spiked, he guessed. A monogrammed leather pad was lying on his bedside table. As he flipped through the leather pad, he saw transaction details, account numbers, names, passwords. On the last page a line in neat handwriting read, 'Time to repay'. Next to his bed was a large suitcase. He opened it and found it stuffed with legal-looking documents, bars of gold and bundles of cash.
'This is not good,' he thought to himself and hurried to get the newspaper, it would have reports of yesterday's bank robbery for sure. He was stunned to read the headline,

Mysterious Don's face uncovered. 
Famous author, Professor Haricharan Sharma is the Don.

His eyes quickly scanned the entire news with a photo of him holding his book. The report described how the professor was seen talking to the goons, how they had left the crime scene with their arms around his shoulders. He'd been missing from his residence since the robbery. His last book on the underworld had been a hit, simply because its sale figures had been manipulated, thanks to his nexus with the underworld. "What rubbish this is!" exclaimed the professor but the hands that held the paper were trembling.

There was a loud pounding at the door and a police siren wailing on the street below. Things were really getting out of hand.....

He tossed and turned and woke up with a jolt! He was safe and sound on his bed. The clock showed 6.30 a.m. Gosh! What a nightmare he'd cooked up...he was still shivering from its after effects. Prof. Sharma, and Haricharan, eww!! How did he dream up such a name?!! 'This is what happens when you read crime thrillers till late night,' surmised the 13 year old Vivek wisely.
Sighh....time to get ready for school.


Image source: Pixabay

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6, a week long blog marathon based on prompts, hosted by The Write Tribe. 
Today is Day #4 of the marathon and the prompt for the day is: Feature a day in your life or someone else's life.


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