Literature & Fiction | 52 Chapters
Author: Subham Dubey
Every person in this world lives a life of his past. But, what drives an individual is the past which he is unaware of. This is a story of Anti-Crime & Terrorist Unit agent Vihaan who is unaware of his true identity. An identity, which was conferred to him even before his birth. His erratic sorrow life finds meaning when he meets Abhay after unforeseen turn of events while he was solving a murder case of a young writer Samyak. He is unveiled to ....
30 years later, Present day.
The atmosphere was very lively with people roaming around the place. D–park in sector 62 of Noida was filled with activity which was not uncommon. The place was in the heart of the sector providing a good escape to people having a rough day. This place provided lush green surrounding which now rarely existed in the common vicinity. The park was semi-circular in shape with a pond and fountain in it. There was a bridge over the pond which provided a dramatic effect to the entire place. Earlier the park had a scheduled time of operating but upon the requests of the residents, the place was open on all the days for complete 24 hours. People of all ages could be found here engaged in some recreational activities. Such has become time now that people had to make some time to breathe fresh air. Breathing fresh air was an event, some scheduling in the mornings while some in the evenings.
It was nine in the night. People swarmed into the park after their dinner. There were kids running around the place, teens exchanging glances, couples discussing their monthly expenses and old people complaining about the kids of the present generation. The only common thing was that they were them. They were expressing their thoughts and emotions unlike the rest of the day.
Kids were controlled by the teachers in the school and that prevented them to think beyond what was taught to them. The teens suffered pressure of various exams and challenges which was regularly audited by their relatives and neighbours. The couples were engrossed in their work, usually one trying to arrange for the finances while the other maintaining it. The old seniors of the house were trapped in the boundary of four walls. They hardly had a decent conversation with anyone. Their kids were grown to an extent that they were busy minting money every second. They couldn’t waste it spending on having a conversation with their parents. Their grandchildren think of their grandparents as technology and current world trend deficient. They couldn’t have conversation with people who lived in the era of letters.
So, this was time when everyone was being their own self. They had fun, sweet talks, arguments, agreements and disagreements. These few minutes gave them strength for the next day to be someone else. Such is the cycle of life for people in the cities. They are recognised for being someone else. There was however one among the crowd there who was different. He was seated on a stone bench, engrossed in deep thoughts.
Samyak was writer who had shifted to Noida sector 62 a week ago. He was born and brought up in Ladakh. Fascinated by the rich culture and traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism, he started to study and research on them. After his higher education, he decided to discontinue his education. He believed that knowledge couldn’t be measured by few numbers on a sheet of paper. He provided helping hands to his father by grazing sheep. But that didn’t stop him from studying about things which fascinated him. His parents never wished their son to become a millionaire. They just wanted him to be who he wanted to be. They always supported him in his decision. Years passed by and Samyak transformed into a self made scholar.
He started to write in order to pen down his thoughts on various practises of ancient time. He wrote a book titled “Ancient ways in India”. He didn’t find any publisher initially. Every publisher believed that people were not interested in ancient practices and epics. They wanted something which would lead the reader on a different high. People were interested in mythological fiction. There were hardly any readers of non-fiction. Or so they believed. After a few rejections, Samyak finally got a publisher who decided to publish his work. It was a great deal for someone who came from a small village in Ladakh. The publisher was on the verge of bankruptcy. This was a risk, he had to take. The risk was fruitful as in no time the book turned into a national best seller. Samyak, a young man from a small village in Ladakh was on every reader’s mind. It was his pure, unadulterated and dedicated work which paved way to his success.
The publisher had tasted success and the reason was Samyak. He wouldn’t let go Samyak with just one publication. He offered him a flat in Noida with all the necessary requirements. He didn’t want to leave his hometown but his parents convinced him otherwise. It is almost impossible for a known personality to stay away from city lights. Samyak was no different. He had shifted a week ago in Akansha apartment which was a ten minute walk from D-park. The publisher had promised Samyak a 3BHK flat in New Delhi when his next book would turn out to be a success. However, the plan for a new book was nowhere in Samyak’s mind. In fact since that evening, Samyak’s mind couldn’t think of anything other than the call he received from an unknown number.
Receiving the call, Samyak interrogated, ‘Hello. Who is this speaking?’
‘I am an admirer of your work Mr.Samyak.’ came the reply.
‘You are being very kind. Thank you.’ Samyak said in modesty. He was about to hang up the call when the person on the other side said,
‘I know who you truly are. Meet me at the D-park at nine in the night. If you don’t, then I’ll make sure everyone knows who you truly are.’
Before Samyak could ask anything, the caller disconnected the call. Since then he was restless. He had so many questions with answer to none. He was in a dilemma on whether to go or restrain. All of his predecessor would have restrained. But, he decided to go. Samyak had made a mistake. The very act of him visiting the place proved that he had something to hide. He was someone else.
It was fifteen minutes past nine and no one had arrived. The park was slowly starting to get deserted. Samyak observed everyone carefully. The caller might be somewhere here. The question however, was what would he do even if he had identified the caller? Would he kill him? Any of his predecessors wouldn’t have had second thoughts regarding it, if they had come to this place. Just when Samyak started to think of the call as a hoax, a young tall man sat next to him.
He smiled and offered his hand to Samyak for a handshake. Samyak accepted the handshake. The handshake however seemed very queer given the place and circumstance of the meeting.
‘Good evening, Mr.Samyak. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.’ The anonymous person said in a sarcastic tone.
‘Who are you and what do you need?’ Samyak said a little agitated. He was irritated maybe because the person was late or maybe because of his thoughts.
‘You don’t need to know who I am and I certainly am sure about your reality.’
‘I don’t understand what you are speaking of.’ Samyak said with a poker face.
The anonymous person laughed. He then said, ‘You know what I am speaking of. Truth has its own consequences Mr.Samyak. So, I request you to be honest and tell me where it is?’
‘Where is what? I don’t get you.’ Samyak answered in a nervous tone.
‘I am not here to play games. Where is the book?’ the young anonymous guy was losing his cool.
‘The book.... oh.. the book... You can find it in any of the bookstore. The perk of being a national bestseller. You find it everywhere.’ Samyak tried to be witty.
‘Oh, I see. That’s great.’ the tall guy said with clenched fist.
There was a pause. The uncomfortable silence filled in the atmosphere made Samyak nervous. He knew deep down that his identity was exposed. The park now only had few occupants.
The anonymous guy broke the silence. ‘It is very strange that people associate happiness with things. They try to find the truth of physical world which surrounds them. They don’t know that what they are searching for, is within them and not around them.’
‘Well, that is truth.’ Samyak said confidently. He continued, ‘Maybe that is the sole reason that life on earth is still possible. If everyone find what they seek then there would be no purpose left for their existence. They live with hope that in some point of time in their life they would find what they seek.’
The listener frowned. He said. ‘Yes but it is not something which they can discover in a moment. It is a process. It takes time. But, I know someone who was lucky to find a catalysed way to the process.’ He stared hard at Samyak.
Samyak didn’t answer. He didn’t know what to answer. He sat there clueless.
‘Tell me where it is and I’ll walk away.’ anonymous guy said in an authoritative tone.
This was it. Samyak knew he had to leave the place. He stood up in a reflex and joined a group of six people who were walking towards the exit. He knew that the anonymous person wouldn’t risk harming with people around him. After walking a few yards, he turned back to have a look at the mysterious guy but he was gone. He had vanished in thin air. Samyak knew that he was exposed. He had to act right away. He decided that he would leave this place and go back to his hometown where he truly belonged. He jogged in fear until he reached his room.
His room was very neat and organised. He switched on the fan and sat on the sofa, perspiration all over his face. After relaxing for a while, he went towards the refrigerator, picked up the water can and gulped the entire water in one shot. He checked if all the doors and windows were closed. Finding himself secured, he booked a flight ticket to Srinagar. The flight was at 8 a.m. next morning. He packed his bag with few of his clothes. Somewhere deep down, he knew that the night would be long. He retired to sleep hoping that he would leave this city next thing in the morning. But, not everything happens according to our expectations.
Samyak didn’t wake up the next morning. The handshake last night proved to be fatal.
It took two days for the neighbours to realize that something was not right in flat no. 202. The pungent odour of the degrading body couldn’t restrict itself from escaping out from the narrow openings of doors and the windows. The police arrived on receiving the information of the incident. Murders in Noida were not very uncommon. But, a dead body in a locked apartment for two days was something alien for the residents here. Police had sealed the apartment and were busy interrogating neighbours. The security was interrogated about events of the apartment which took place in the last two days. The camera footage was checked and the visitors list in the security office was glanced. There was no clue whatsoever. It initially seemed as a suicide but the idea was vanished into thin air when sub-inspector Ashutosh glanced over the victim’s body. That cannot be a suicide. Ashutosh knew that the case was out of league for the local police. This case required expertise. Hence, the case was transferred to ACTU.
Anti Crime & Terrorism Unit, popularly known as ACTU, took charge of the case in no time. The genesis of ACTU turned out to be mandatory when the lack of coordination between the external and internal investigation bureau paved way to loss of human life. There were consistent terror attacks throughout the country. The crime cases within the country had risen to peak. The intelligence team weren’t effective. The reason for the inefficiency of the agents was brought up by one of the intelligence bureau’s ex-chief. He has complained that their agents had to follow set of unnecessary protocols in advent of any threat. They were not given liberty to act on their own. Their every movement was monitored and they couldn’t act unless they were given permission. They were more of an order following agents than decision making agent. This declaration paved way to discussions in the parliament. As a result of which ACTU was born. ACTU was unique in many ways. Firstly, their only point of contact was Prime minister’s office also known as PMO. Secondly, they operated both within and outside the territories of the country. They had freedom to act on their own however they had to later justify their act once the threat was handled.
ACTU recruited its agents from the Army, Navy, Air force, R&AW and also local police officers. It was a combination of all the forces. Still very young, it had proved to be very effective. The crime rate and the terrorist attacks had reduced exponentially. Vikram was the chief of the unit. He was in the Indian Army previously. He was given an option to be the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) or to lead this young unit into hurdles of challenges. He surprisingly chose the latter. He was someone who would face challenges. He couldn’t sit on the sidelines watching someone else bear the torch of revolution. He equally respected the post of COAS but there are many other officers who would be suitable for the job. He knew as a matter of fact that no one would be as good as him in leading a team of young, determined and hot-headed individuals.
The headquarters of ACTU is in New Delhi. It is between the Windsor place and Panchmukhi chowk on Ashoka road. It is in the heart of the city, few meters away from India gate. Their work had to be very confidential and effective, given the location of the headquarters. The location also keeps them in limelight of press. They were yet again in limelight since the discovery of death of a young writer. The circumstance in which the dead body was found was the actual reason of interest in media. Initially, Arbaaz was given the charge of the case. However, Vikram knew that it was not Arbaaz’s cup of tea. After having a look at the picture of dead body in his cell phone, Vikram knew as a matter of fact, that it was no one’s cup of tea but one. Only Vihaan could get to the roots of the events. It was only Vihaan who could get to the architect of this murder.
Vihaan arrived at the scene of crime an hour after he was informed about the case. He was tall and well built man. He had beard on his round tan face. Everyone around the scene froze for a moment when Vihaan arrived. He wore gloves and mask given to him by one of members of forensics team. He observed every minute details of the room before having a look at the body. Khushi was one of the agents in ACTU who was given charge of the case along with Arbaaz initially. She was the first in the group to initiate a conversation with Vihaan.
‘Hi Vihaan. We have taken the blood sample of the victim and the fingerprints from all around the house. We might get the reports by tomorrow morning.’ Khushi informed about their progress. Vihaan didn’t like to be addressed as ‘sir’. So everyone called him by his name irrespective of being junior or senior to him.
Vihaan didn’t respond. He was engrossed in observing the surroundings. No one tried to disturb him. A few minutes later, Arbazz informed ‘We traced the call log from Samyak’s phone. He received a call from an unknown number at five on the same evening of his murder. We don’t know yet about the exact time of death but it is speculated to be 36 hours from now. We have traced the number and it is registered on the name of Sebastian. When we enquired further we got to know that Sebastian had complained about his phone being lost while he was travelling in a government bus three days ago. So, it is possible that the murderer stole the mobile phone from him.’
Vihaan listened everything carefully. He then replied, ‘Hmmm... I need details of the theft. Use the CCTV footage, speak to the bus conductor, do whatever seems necessary but get me the details of the theft.’
Arbaaz frowned. The task assigned to him was no less than finding a needle in a haystack. Khushi had a mischievous smile on her face. Vihaan then went into the bedroom where the dead body lay on the bed. Arbaaz and Khushi followed. They had already examined the body but couldn’t figure out anything substantial.
The upper body of the corpse was naked, with deep scars on the chest. The body had turned dark blue, eyes and mouth closed. The body was surrounded by dark brown marks. It was a result of the blood oozing out of the body, when the scars were carved on the body. The entire room was filled with unbearable odour. Vihaan and his accompanies had witnessed many such incidents and hence were indifferent to the environment. Vihaan went for a closer look. It was then he realised that it was not any other common murder. The scars were deep and not random. It was a strange art. Or maybe, a symbol. He asked for a tissue and using it he wiped the area around the scar. It was now clear. Arbaaz and Khushi went closer for a better view.
The scar was shaped in the form of three lions facing the three directions. These lions were standing bold, mouth half opened. These lions stood on a strong base which engraved three digits. The digits were 322. The base was further supported on a curvaceous figure. This figure was convex on the top and concave on the lower one-fourth portion. Additional to this there was two bone like structure which placed diagonally one over the other. These cross bones were over the three lions. It seemed as if the cross bones dominated the three lions. It was a unique art which was unseen and unheard of. The three occupants in the room had no clue of it. Maybe the one on whom the symbol was engraved would have had a fair idea about it.
‘This is unbelievable. How can someone do something like this to anyone? Can someone tell what that stuff on his chest is all about?’ Khushi yelled in dismay. She had lost it. Vihaan stared at her. That was enough for her to calm her nerves.
‘The upper part of the symbol is quite relatable with the symbol of the national emblem of our country.’ Arbaaz said, still his eyes on the symbol. The art was quite detailed. This was surely a work of an artist.
Khushi said wondering, ‘You are right. The lions in the symbol are similar to that of the national emblem of our country.’
No one spoke for next few minutes. Vihaan knew that he has to take charge now. He started, ‘You are partly right Arbaaz. The upper half of the symbol is similar to the national emblem. But most part of the symbol on the body is inspired by the symbol of Ashoka’s Lion which was engraved on the Sarnath pillar.’
Pointing the outline of the scar by his finger, Vihaan continued ‘The national emblem was adopted from the Sarnath pillar. However, only a part of the original symbol was adopted as the symbol for the national emblem. The actual symbol consisted of four Asiatic lions facing in the four directions. The back of the four lions faced each other. They were supported on the strong base having sculptures of bull, horse, lion and an elephant. There is also a dharma chakra which separates horse and the bull sculptures. However, here the sculptures are replaced by a three digits 322. The base is supported by an inverted lotus flower. The curvaceous figure here is the inverted lotus.’
‘But there is something I don’t understand.’ Vihaan murmured, irritated.
‘The two cross bones?’ Arbaaz questioned.
‘Yes. I don’t understand the significance of the bones in the picture.’ Vihaan answered.
They stood there observing the scar and the body in the hope of finding some clue. Not finding anything concrete, the trio walked out of the apartment. Vihaan clicked a picture of the bizarre symbol in his mobile phone. He knew someone who could give answers to his questions.
The trio stood out in the open sky. There was mild air which was brushing over their face. Vihaan asked his companions ‘What do you think about it? How did the events unfold?’
Khushi was quick in answering, ‘The murderer forced himself into Samyak’s apartment when he had gone out for a walk in D-park. He hid in the balcony or cupboard where Samyak wouldn’t find him easily. He also knew that Samyak was going to his native the next day, so he had to act on that particular night. When Samyak went to sleep, the murderer got out from his burrow and killed him. Then, he made that thing on his chest and left the apartment. He locked the room from outside. The neighbours thought Samyak had left for his native while he was actual dead. Only after the pungent odour made its way out of the apartment, that the neighbours knew something was odd and called the police. This would have been the course of action of the murderer. It is rare but even Arbaaz agrees with this theory.’
Vihaan stared at Khushi and then at Arbaaz. He shook his head in embarrassment. He said, ‘The theory is nothing but nonsense. I don’t understand why you both don’t observe the crime scene properly.’
Both Arbaaz and Khushi lowered their head. Vihaan then explained, ‘I checked the security camera recording and the visitors register. There were no visitors that night in any of the flats. So, the murderer didn’t enter the room when Samyak was not home. Secondly, the time of booking the flight ticket to Srinagar from which he planned to go to his native was 9:37 PM which is just minutes or hours before his death. So, the murderer didn’t have any idea that Samyak was going to his native the following day.’
‘Then what do you thing would have happened?’ Arbaaz asked enthusiastically.
Vihaan answered, ‘I am not sure though. I think Samyak was poisoned to death. Forensics will throw more light on the cause of death. I strongly believe that something strange happened when Samyak went for a walk in D-park. The events in the park would have made him nervous and forced him to book the next earliest ticket to Srinagar. There has to be a reason for someone returning back to his native from a place where he thought of starting a career, in a week’s time. The only part I am sure is that the scars on his body were carved hours after his death, maybe a day later.’
‘What? How can you be so sure about that?’ Khushi asked.
Vihaan explained, now walking to and fro slowly, ‘When Samyak went to sleep; he closed all the doors and windows from within. He died in his sleep because of some drug which will be proved tomorrow, hopefully. So the only way to enter the house was by breaking the door lock bolt. When I examined the back of the door, I found that the door lock bolt was broken and was tried to fix. So, according to my theory the murder got into the flat the following night of death and made that peculiar symbol on the Samyak’s body, tried to fix the door bolt and then locked the door from outside. Samyak’s door was not locked from outside for one day. People noticed it only when they had pungent odour troubling their nostrils. To justify my theory, I checked the security camera and the visitors register of the following night of death.’
‘Did you find anything?’ Arbaaz asked.
‘There was one visitor for flat no. 201. A food delivery guy came at 1 a.m. in the night. He took 37 minutes to deliver a packet of food. His face is not visible since he is wearing a helmet. However, the bike no. is UP 05 X 3412.’
‘Why would he come the next day to do something like that and increase the chances of being caught? He seems to be an amateur.’ Khushi commented. Arbaaaz nodded.
Vihaan however replied, ‘He is not an amateur. He did that because he wants to make a statement to someone. If I am not wrong, his statement would have reached its destination. This case is not so simple. What we know seems to be just a minuscule of some great conspiracy.’
Vihaan paused for a moment, lost in thoughts. He then commanded, ‘Arbaaz get me the details of the mobile theft.’ Then turning towards Khushi, he said ‘Check the footage of the night when the food delivery boy visited. Interrogate the residents of flat no. 201 and the security guard in charge of that particular night. Also get me the details of that bike. I need all this information tonight. Meanwhile, I know someone who would help me to decipher this symbol. We will all meet at 10 p.m. tonight, usual place.’
Both Arbaaz and Khushi nodded optimistically. All three dispersed in different directions. They had a task to complete.
One of the premier educational institutes in the country, St. Stephen’s College is also one of the oldest colleges of arts and sciences in India. It offers courses on diverse fields including science, history, philosophy, literature and many more. However, the most distinguished possession of St. Stephen’s college was Ved. Ved was one of the lectures of history and philosophy in the college. After obtaining a bachelors and masters in history, he went on to accomplish Doctorate in Religious and Philosophical studies. Thereafter, he decided to devote his time in enlightening students with knowledge of history, religion and philosophy. His oratory skill attracted great audience.
Ved had just entered the classroom. His presence was acknowledged by the full strength of the class. He casually stood in the centre of the podium. He was tall and handsome man. His fair complexion with toned arms and legs and shoulders protruding wide offered him special attention. His eyes were brown and divine. His hair was dark black, soft and wavy. His entire aura was appealing. He was very popular among the female population of the college.
He walked up to the board and wrote – “The forces of nature”
The title grabbed attention of the audience. The tranquil room was replaced by murmurs. Ved retained his prior posture..
The room restored tranquillity as Ved started, ‘I assure you this is not a Physics class.’
The audience broke into laughter. Ved waited for the audience attention. Satisfied that he had undivided attention of his audience, he asked
‘What are the forces which drives us?’
‘Earth’s gravity’ said one of them from the assembly.
‘I told you, this is not a physics class.’ Ved replied. The audience again broke into laughter.
Ved resumed with his lecture when he was sure that he had undivided attention.
‘Gravity is a force which exists in the physical world. They are value relative and change depending on the circumstances. They don’t help us evolve but only help us survive like many other forces in nature. The only two forces which help us evolve and drive us to recognise our true self is Destiny and Desire.’
He paused and glanced over his audience. He made sure that everyone absorbed every single word he uttered. Periodic pause is essential element of a fine orator.
He continued, ‘Destiny and Desire are contradicting forces in the nature. We often believe that our destiny is decided at the time of our birth. Based on our past Karma, our destiny is decided. Karma is our actions and reactions to nature. These actions and reactions are driven by desire or purpose. We react with an expectation of a particular outcome. This expectation is nothing but desire. If our destiny is decided then why do we expect? Isn’t Destiny and Desire contradicting where one leads us to stability while the other to instability?’
There were confused faces in the audience. One of the girl from the second row asked, ‘I don’t understand how ones destiny leads to stability and ones desire to instability.’
Ved smiled graciously. He loved having a dialogue with his audience. He answered, ‘Everything in the universe exists in pair. There is good and bad, right and wrong, true and false. Computers operate on a similar concept called binary numbers. If the condition is true, computer recognises it as 1 or else as 0. This is how our karma – our actions and reactions are accounted. Dharma simply means “Right living” while Adharma just the opposite. But, what is right and what is wrong? Everyone has their own version of right and wrong. A similar circumstance can be right in someone’s opinion and wrong in others’ opinion. So, how do we justify our actions as right or wrong?’
‘Intuition.’ a reply came from one of the rear rows.
‘Exactly!! Intuition gives us signs on whether our actions are right or wrong. When we complete a cycle of birth and rebirth, our karma is categorised into right actions and wrong actions. We therefore always have an account of our own karma. There are circumstances when we are in a dilemma of whether or not to perform an act. Those are the situations when we intuitions are tested.’
‘But very often we do things just in habit or in a flow. There are situations when we have to decide and act in a fraction of second. In those situations, how do we make sure that our actions are in a cause of common good?’ the same girl from the second row asked.
Ved had a broad grin on his face. He said ‘You are having no mercy no me. You are firing questions on everything Ms.....’
‘Natasha’ the girl completed.
‘Natasha... I will answer both of your questions. In the situations when you have to act in a flow, your actions are determined by the actions of others. Your reaction is based on the actions of someone else. Your reaction will in turn be action to which others will react. So the action and reaction is simply based on the frame of reference. When you act in a flow, you are basically reacting to the environment around you. In those situations you should only reciprocate in a positive manner. Your intent in every situation should be filtering out positive energy from every action and reciprocating it through your reactions. This is a very difficult process and takes years to master it. The best and effective way of doing it, is by seeing yourself in others. When you see others as reflection of your true being, then you are not just keeping yourself positive but also inspiring and reciprocating positivity in people around you.’