Shreeyanshi Atharv Class – X

Mahadevi Birla World Academy, Kolkata

Katha Utsav 2016

Trisha sipped her coffee and looked at the other people in the cafe. It had been an uneventful day for her and this was the only way she could entertain herself: by observing people.

Trisha was a journalist. Inquisitive from the start, she liked her job and enjoyed the perks it gave her, like getting to know other people’s stories; and that’s exactly what she was doing in the cafe. Trisha slowly looked at everyone in the cafe. Her eyes stopped at two men sitting at the other end of the cafe. They were talking in hushed tones, and it seemed a pretty intense discussion. Both the men looked agitated.

Trisha perked up. Finally, some excitement was in her way. She tried to eavesdrop, but obviously she couldn’t hear anything over the hustle-bustle of a cafe in late evening. She got up and crossed over to them. She stopped beside their table for a second to ask the waitress for the way to the washroom and felt them stiffen.

“Easy as cake,” Trisha muttered as she returned to her seat and plugged a pair of earphones into her ears. Suddenly, she could hear the voices of the two men as clearly as if they were talking to her. She knew it was wrong, of course, but Trisha had never used her journalist equipment for such a thing like this before and surely she could be forgiven for just this once? She sneaked a quick peek at the mini-recorder she had dropped beside their table. All in place. She settled down for a fun evening.

One of them was saying, “We won’t have the time! And it can be dangerous. Let’s just get it over with.”

The other one replied, “My idea is dangerous, and yours isn’t? You’ll land us…..”

“Don’t act as if you’re scared of it; you’ve been there plenty of times before.”

“All with minor offences. It’s you who did five years.”

With a chill down her spine, Trisha realized that they were talking about jail. Both of them had probably been arrested before, and one of them had even served five years. She tried to concentrate on what the men were saying. It could be important.

“Alright. We’ll do it at the bus stop. She always waits there, and there’s almost no one there until before 7:30, when the bus arrives.”

Trisha almost choked on her coffee. Was it possible that they were talking about her? She DID wait for the 7:30 bus, and there usually wasn’t anyone around.

“…..and then we’ll see what happens. Your gun or mine.”

“Anyone’s.As long as we do our job.”

“Look at her sitting over there like a scared lamb. It’s like she knows what’s in for her.” She knew that they were looking at her.

Trisha trembled. She was about to shout out when she stopped herself. No one would believe her. She looked at her watch. 7:01. Trisha drank some water, tried to stop shaking and stood up. The waitress came to her table and Trisha said loudly (enough for them to hear, she hoped), “I just need to make a phone call and then I’ll go home.”

They did hear. Trisha still had one earpiece inside her ear and heard one of them muttering, “Let’s just wait here. She doesn’t have a car, she’ll definitely wait for the bus and it’ll be too risky with someone listening in.”

Trisha exited the cafe. Once outside, she made a show of calling someone. Once she felt sufficiently camouflaged in the crowd, she walked in the direction opposite to the bus stop and as soon as she was clear of the cafe, she stopped.

She had read about journalists being murdered, but she had never connected it with her life.In spite of the gravity of the situation, Trisha smiled at herself. To think that she had assumed it was an uneventful day. Her smile slowly melted away as she thought that it could well be her last.

She took another deep breath and looked towards the cafe – and almost cried out.

The two men were standing outside the cafe, craning their heads this way and that to look for her. Trisha cursed herself for standing right beside the cafe and walked along with the crowd, desperately hoping that they hadn’t seen her. Unfortunately, majority of the crowd crossed the street, and she went with them too. She didn’t like being in their direct line of sight and so walked quickly but carefully. After a few steps, she looked back.

As soon as she did, one of them turned towards her and saw her. Trisha didn’t wait to see what they did; she began to run. She didn’t realize how far she ran; all she remembered was that she had taken numerous turns. Finally, she stopped, out of breath. She had no idea where she was, but it was an open area. She searched her pockets for her phone but could only find the mini-receiver of the recorder. Appalled, Trisha concluded that she must have dropped her phone while running.

She started pacing. She was in a foreign area, open, and there was no one around, with no means of communication. What could she do?

Trisha slowly sank to her knees as the answer came to her: Nothing.

She heard the men’s voices. She quickly dove behind a hedge and hid herself.

One of them called aloud, “We know you’re here, and you know it too. The recorder was a good idea, but you’re finally in our clutches, aren’t you?”

They laughed. Without thinking, Trisha came out of her hiding place, and they pointed their guns at her.

“Let’s find out how well you record your actual death, why don’t we?”

Trisha closed her eyes, and waited for the inevitable bullet.

Suddenly, she heard a familiar voice; her boss’ voice. She came striding into the area. Many policemen were also with her.

In less than five minutes, the two men were captured and handcuffed. Her boss came to Trisha and explained, “When they broke the recorder, I received a distress signal. I listened in on all that they said and tracked your phone, but we found it thrown on the sidewalk. Then I tracked your receiver. I was scared that I was too late.”

Trisha stopped listening. She didn’t know why they wanted to murder her; she didn’t even want to know at that time. All she knew was that she was safe, for the time being.