THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK ( PART 11) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.
When Neeraj woke up the next morning, he felt discombobulated. He wasn’t sure whether he had actually met his father or it was a dream; a bad dream. His gut instinct, however, told him to trust his father and be alert always. Even though he had high regards for Inspector Subhash, he decided to listen to his father. He got ready, as usual, to go to school.
After a quick breakfast, he grabbed his school bag, kissed his mom and dashed downstairs to grab his bike. No sooner did he cross the gate, than he noticed Inspector Subhash sipping hot tea from the tea stall across the street. “It’s strange,” he thought, ” Inspector Subhash convinced me that we were safe and called off the security. But, what’s he doing here? Should I greet him or go to school or follow him?” Inspector Subhash was having a pleasant chat with some people near the tea stall. He didn’t see Neeraj observing him. The latter thought it was better to follow him without his knowledge rather than attending school for the day.
He pretended to move on and turned his bicycle to the adjacent road and come back to the same spot. When he returned, he noticed that the Inspector had finished paying for the tea and was about to start his bike. Neeraj remained unobtrusive and tried to cast a casual glance around. He was actually thrilled to do some spying work which he had read only in books. He felt like James Bond with a missing gun. Inspector Subhash left the area with Neeraj leaving enough gap to avoid being detected. He regretted his foolish decision because a bicycle was no match for a bike. He was actually panting and gasping for breath. The inspector led him on a fool’s errand by taking narrow lanes and coming back to the main road. “What the hell is he doing?” grumbled Neeraj. He stopped his bicycle for a moment only to wipe the sweat of his forehead with his handkerchief. This fraction of a second caused his quarry to surge ahead and disappear.
Neeraj was frustrated. He slapped his forehead with his palm and complained, ” Where did he go?” Suddenly, a hand tapped gently on his shoulders and Neeraj jumped in fright. When he turned, he was shocked to find Inspector Subhash smiling at him. ” Were you searching for me, Neeraj? Is there any problem that you followed me all the way for the past half an hour? I see. You have even skipped your school today.” Neeraj looked sheepish and was silent due to loss of words and more so, because he had been discovered. He couldn’t admit spying on him just because his dead father’s soul warned him to be careful around. “Well, ” The inspector tapped his foot and raising his eyebrow, ” You owe me an explanation, child. Are you thinking of a suitable lie to justify your actions? Because if I caught you lying, you would see a different Inspector.”
Neeraj gulped and then slowly answered, ” Sorry, Inspector. I should not have followed you. Last night, I read a detective novel and was so impressed that I wanted to experience following someone. In fact, when you saved my mom from the clutches of the kidnappers, I made up my mind to become an Inspector like you and catch the culprits to put them behind bars. You are so brave and intelligent, Sir. Would you kindly help me and teach me some tricks for becoming a detective?” Inspector Subhash appeared to be relaxed and grinned, “Well. I am very much flattered with your words of appreciation. But I don’t approve the manner of your seeking help. Anyway, I don’t mind because I too skipped my school for a day to watch a cricket match between India and Australia in Wankhede Stadium. I want you to promise me that you won’t venture out in such a dangerous task. I won’t tell your mother this time. You must be tired after that exhausting bicycle ride. There’s an ice cream parlor around the corner. Let’s chat over ice creams, alright? ” Neeraj couldn’t believe his luck. He thought Inspector Subhash would either slap him or arrest him and send him to a juvenile detention center. He smiled back and said, ” Gee, thanks. I learned a lesson today. There’s more to following a person than what I read in detective novels. This adventure was enough for me, I promise.” The inspector and Neeraj had an interesting conversation where Inspector Subhash taught him a few tips and also invited him home to show the spying gadgets that he had recently acquired.
Inspector Subhash said, ” You now have a whole day at your disposal. You can’t go back home for your mother will be suspicious. I will drop you at your school with a letter seeking permission for coming late. There’s no need to waste a productive day.” He always kept a notepad with him and wrote and signed the letter. The Inspector followed him to his school and spoke to the class teacher, handing over the note. She allowed him to attend the rest of the classes.
Neeraj wanted to yell at his father for misleading him and filling his head with wrong ideas when there was no problem at all. Inspector Subhash was a kind man and came to his rescue. He didn’t scold him. Neeraj snapped out of his reverie and paid attention to the Biology Teacher.
Meanwhile, Archana Khandve, Amit’s ex-wife, called upon Radhika. The latter was delighted to see her and hugged her. Archana said,” I am so sorry over what happened to you. I think this city is getting too dangerous for you. If you ask me, you should be in the witness protection program. It’s not your fault that you got involved with someone like Amit.” Radhika sipped her tea and nodded. She said, “It’s very kind of you to say so. But everyone I meet these days, seems to have two faces. The fake, good side to gain the trust of people and the real, hideous one to destroy your life and gloat about the fake victory. You never know, whom to trust.”
Archana almost choked on her tea. Radhika felt alarmed on seeing her reaction to a simple statement. She got up and went to the kitchen while Archana received a call. She grinned at the mysterious caller and said, “That idiot is still unaware of the danger lurking around her and her son. Yes, I have done exactly what you asked me to. At first, I thought she had caught on to us. I can’t wait to see her dead body floating in the lake or pond. And I want to reunite the son with his dead father.” Archana ended the call and turned around to find the shock of her life. She started sweating profusely, as it was not Radhika. Radhika was unconscious in the kitchen.
Archana screamed, ” No….. You can’t be here. You aren’t supposed to be here. The boss ordered you not to show up for some time until Amit’s death case turns cold.” The stranger gave an evil grin, pulling out a sharp shining blade.
Watch out for the next episode of The Special Notebook as the story takes another thrilling turn. Will Archana survive or die? Who’s the stranger? How did he get in?
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