Monday, 16th January – The morning was as usual, except for the fact that electricity was out for quite some time. The heater or toaster didn’t work so, breakfast was just an apple. There was a pile of documents, (mostly) old newspaper cuttings and a few files with CLASSIFIED written on them. It was evident that things were a bit out of hand for Mr. John. He was reaching out for the mug of coffee, when he noticed a few men making a circle with paint-brush on the footpath that trailed on the opposite side of the road below his apartment. There was a construction to occur, but the boots of those men caught his attention. They were well polished and it was by no way the characteristics of an average construction supervisor’s boot in Malaysia. Something was wrong!
“Hello, Miss Moon, could you please lodge a complaint for me with the Electric Company, my light is out for about an hour though there wasn’t any previous notice.”
He held the receiver close to the ear and called Zam-Burger, a nearby family restaurant.
“Hello, one Nasi Gorang and a Gudeh Putih at Nethya Apartment, flat no. 4.” This meant his lunch was going to be fried rice and jackfruit curry. But, he was least interested in the dish though he was eager for the delivery.
The construction workers started digging out a hole. He pulled the curtains further away to get a better glimpse. He sat on the table and continued to work on the files. But back therein his mind, he knew how easily he could be preyed upon. It’s true that he was unarmed but even arms wouldn’t help him much. The locality where he stayed was relatively quitter that the rest of the city. But this quietness didn’t mean an insurance form his enemies.
Mr. Hariharan John took a clean dry towel and then he started to wipe all the door knobs, glasses, pen and all other things he used to frequently hold by hands. As he was wiping his bedroom window knobs, he saw a van drop six construction workers near the demarcated sight. There were a total of ten workers in the precinct. He understood that danger was imminent. He was almost certain of their plan but as per his training, he needed to get a recce of the situation to remove faintest of the doubt. This required him to get near them and gather evidence.
So, knowing that it wouldn’t be quite hard for his assailants to shoot him and silently walkout of the premises owing to calmness of his lonely locality, he stepped out of his flat and climbed down the stairs leading to parking plot. One of them was standing at the fence near the small garden space situated on the left of the apartment’s entrance. He walked into the garden and pretended to gather some leaves from a small flower plant called Halia Bara in Malay, and noticed that the worker’s wrist had distinct mark of wrist watch having a large dial. It was easily understandable that he wore an expensive one and wore it regularly, but he wasn’t wearing one though! Both their eyes met and they exchanged smiles.
“Hello, mom I will be late for the lunch today.”
“Oh…Is there any date with a girl, son?”
“Yea, she is coming to receive me. We will talk latter, bye”
He dropped his mobile phone’s SIM on the floor and crushed it under his feet. Back in New Delhi, the message was relayed to Shekhavat. It was a level three distress message. Now, it meant folds on his forehead. His nervousness couldn’t be joked of either. At this very moment, all contacts in Malayan Police were unavailable for any quick rescue operation, and even if they had been approached, it would be impossible for them to get his man out without any bloodshed.
Additionally, there was risk of information leak too as, in the dirty world of intelligence you can never guarantee, who works for whom. But, the fact that Chinese didn’t know how much of their information had been tracked till now, so they would want his man alive, gave him some assurance. This means, if he is able to play the game right, he might escape.
The toilet had been cleaned and few papers were burnt and flushed down the commode. The files weren’t an issue as they had been categorically written using Sanskrit, Tamil, Bangla, and few Pujabi words. It would take the Chinese at least six months, if not a year to read each word, rearrange them, and do away with the grammatical errors, to get the text. And it would be a lot more fun, when they find out that it is itself a coded message in the form of few well known Bollywood movie –scripts, whose first and last letters represent few coordinates on the map of Peoples Republic of China.
His intuition told him they had planned the attack in the evening. They must have laid the trap everywhere. If he went out then the narrow almost secluded street which usually saw little bit of traffic only when people either went or returned from work, would be his graveyard. Calling anybody would mean another body count, and a sniper was at the water tank stalking him through the telescope.
But, his intuition and experience also backed the claim that they would want to keep him alive for some time, at least till they get him to talk about the files, or till he guides them to his source’s location. He had his passport and currency stacked in a small paper bag, kept in the locker of his bedroom. He opened it and took the package out. The bell rang. The question was who could it be the electric supply corporation’s men or the delivery boy?