My Precious Eda
(Image source: www.istockphoto.com)
It was getting dark in the cold evening and Hari was stuck in the traffic. Out of nowhere, two teenagers on bike overtook his car. One teenager got off the bike and walked towards Hari’s car. He approached and knocked at the side window.
Rolling the glass window down Hari asked, "what do you want?"
The biker through his helmet enquired, "are you Hari Rai?"
Perplexed that a random biker in the middle of the road had asked Hari for his identity, made him feel uneasy. Keeping an eye on the traffic lights Hari replied, "yes, what do you want?"
The biker looked at him through the window, leaned in and whispered to Hari, "take this phone and watch the video".
The traffic lights turned green and in a blink of an eye Hari lost the strange biker in the crowd. Impatient car honking forced Hari to put the phone away and move along to stop forming a traffic snarl on the grand arterial road of the city. After parking his car in the parking lot below his apartment building, Hari hastily made his way up to his apartment with his laptop bag and the strange mobile phone.
Hari was bursting with curiosity as he unlocked the door, quickly switched on the apartment lights and turned on the phone. He found that the phone had no saved phone numbers except for a video. Mustering courage Hari clicked the video to play mode.
The video showed a man speaking though his balaclava, "Hari, if you want to see your daughter alive then do as we say. Do not come to the Supreme court tomorrow for the hearing of the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. If you are seen in the court premises, there would be dire consequences. Do not forget your daughter is in our custody."
The menacing video stopped abruptly after charioting the imminent threat to Hari.
Watching the hair-raising video beads of perspiration began dotting his face. To the best of his knowledge, Hari’s daughter Eda was safely tucked away in a boarding school in Dehradun, shielded from the professional hazards of Hari’s reputation of 100% conviction rate in homicidal cases.
In desperation, Hari began dialling the phone number to the boarding school. Prancing the room in impatient long strides Hari waited for someone, anyone to pick up his call.
He looked at his watch and muttered to himself, "god damn, it is already 10 p.m. No one is picking up my call…who do I call next? How do I confirm that Eda is safe?" Harried, he fleeted his fingers through the contact list on his phone for someone he could call at the boarding school. Suddenly, his eyes fell on the one number he always refrained from calling.
Hari thought to himself, "desperate times leads to desperate measures" and reluctantly dialled the number.
His racing heart made a summersault when he heard, "are you sure you haven’t misdialled my number Mr Hari Rai?"
Finding his voice, he replied, "no I have not misdialled your number. I need your help. Eda is in trouble and we need to help her, Ms Aliya Khan."
There was dead silence on the other end of the line. "Aliya can you hear me. Are you still on the line?"
Hari could hear silent sobs and then Aliya asked, "what happened to Eda? You had assured me she would be safe in Dehradun."
Aliya struggled to regain her composure and quivered, "if anything happens to Eda, I will not spare you Hari. I will forget that you are my husband."
Hari brought Aliya up to speed, explaining to her the dire threat looming over himself and their precious Eda. By the time Hari had finished recounting the details of the situation, Aliya had donned her no-nonsense mantle of the Director Inspector General of Police and paged for a police team.In matter of minutes a swarm of officers in civilian clothes descended upon her house. She briefed and divided them into teams. Aliya led one team to safeguard Hari from any looming threat, the second team began coordinating with the Dehradun police to organise a manhunt to find Eda, and the third team comprising of forensic specialists began working to ascertain the veracity of the video.
Suddenly, Hari's phone began ringing and flashed ‘private number’. With trepidation Hari received the call to a baritone yell, "remember Hari, one misstep and you will loose your daughter." Simultaneously, he felt the sting of cold liquid on his face. He grappled to come to terms and struggled to orient himself.
He found Aliya’s anxious face inches away from his, yelling, ‘hurry up and wake up, or else you will be late for the hearing of the Ishrat Jahan case at the court.’
Petrified and perplexed Hari bolted from his bed only to find his 8-year old Eda playing quietly with her toys on the bedside rug.
Smiling radiantly at him, Eda said, "good morning Appa."
Scooping his precious Eda from the rug and tightly hugging her to his chest, Hari whispered, "thank god it was only a nightmare...my Eda is safe."