Shantanu aligned himself into a combating position. He boded me to stand down.
“Hey look at him man, our hero.”
“Ya, guess it is Jackie Chan.”
“No man must be Bruce Lee” gagging loud.
“We intend no harm bro. People who have, have to share with those who don’t.”
“You have a girlfriend, but we-”
Shantanu spoke nothing. A drop of sweat trickled down from his temple.
One guy came near me trying to place his hand on my shoulder. Shantanu gave a turn back kick aimed right to his abdomen. He fell a few feet away.
All the other six jumped towards him trying to over power him. He gave a heavy punch to the one before him. But in an instant I knew it wasn’t going to work.
Another fell away from the mob with a front thrust kick from Shantanu, but a dark guy’s punch caught Shantanu’s nose, blood dribbled down from his nostrils.
I jumped in, and pulled away a taller guy by his arms, and gave a sharp elbow with my left arm across his jaws, and gave a back elbow to the one who was behind me with my right arm. A knee kick on his soft spot was enough for that tall guy. He crouched.
The other 3 guys had almost over powered Shantanu, who was on his back to the ground. I gave a sharp blow to one of those guys spine making him collapse. In less than minutes, two guys had blood on their faces and one guy had a knot of my hair in his fist.
Shantanu’s shirt was torn near the sleeve, and 3 guys lay on the ground immobile, and the others were making a weak fight. Just then we heard the distant blare of siren from a highway patrol vehicle.
Shantanu caught my arm, and pulled me towards the bike. We jumped on the bike and fled the place. We could see the other following suit. I could feel Shantanu’s systole through his back.
He rode the bike in madness. I squeezed his shoulders to comfort him. “It’s alright Shan cool it. Everything is fine. Calm down.” I kept attempting to bring him back to normal, but to no avail.
He narrowly avoided a lorry and 2 sedans. The pleasant blissful journey to the beach was then completely turned into a complete botch. The blood oxytocin was completely replaced by adrenaline.
We reached the highway toll-booth. Shantanu tried his best to keep him cool and act normal. In spite of all those efforts a police official stopped us. I hid the end of my shawl that was strained with the blood from Shantanu’s nostrils.
“What happened to you people?”
“Er—nothing” Shantanu in a cool voice.
“Then why do you people look like hell?”
“Well.. hmm we fell from the bike.” He managed lamely.
“huh? Do you have your driving license?”
“Oh ya, I do.” He showed his DL.
The police Inspector checked the DL for a moment with his gaze passing through our faces. He looked up suddenly in my direction, contemplated for a while before sounding surprised, “Aren’t you the daughter of Mr.Ramanujam Iyengar.” With a quick pause he added, “The General Secretary!”
My pounding heart started exploding. I was musing over what to answer. ‘Does he really know me pretty well?’ ‘Can I just evade saying ‘No I am not’’ ‘If I say yes will he question me what am I doing?’ Neurons were doing parallel processing only to generate more questions than answers.
I had already surpassed the suspicion threshold for a normal answer. It’s high time I gave a reply. I meekly tried, “I mmm I..”
He all of a sudden ignored me, and returned Shantanu’s DL to him. “Be careful you people. You may go.”
I felt relieved for the moment, nevertheless the thoughts about dad and that Inspector of police never left my mind. Shantanu rode the bike in a slower pace till college.
He insisted on me going straight back to hostel, but I didn’t want to leave him alone. I accompanied him to our college health center. He got treated for his bleeding nostrils and a sprain in his leg. Doctor questioned me half a dozen times whether I was alright, with the only response being ‘yes’.
After half a day, we left the health center. Neither of us had anything to eat since morning. We walked to the canteen only for the sake of the other. Both of us were not in a state to feel any hunger.
After having a few reluctant pieces, we walked back to our hostels. I fell on my bed only too exhausted for the day’s impingings to keep me awake. I got up by 8.00PM awaken by an anxious Anu.
“Hey you gotta go to the mess now or you will have to starve through the night.”
After dinner, I sat down on my cot vaguely explaining what had happened. Just then mobile rang with dad’s number flashing.
‘Did that Inspector told dad anything?’ ‘Did he say that I was being sited in the beach road with a guy?’ ‘Was he so sure that it was me?’ or ‘He just said someone like me..’
It wasn’t unusual for dad to call me, but the circumstances! Fear built it’s phantoms that were worse than the reality.
With quivering hands I picked up.