A crowd was gathered outside the office. Yuvika was shocked to see it when she reached the gate. She could not understand the chaos. A lady was crying very loudly. All the people were screaming and hooting looking at the building. They were constantly trying to pierce into the building, but the watchman and other guards were pushing them away. One of the guards noticed Yuvika. He managed to come to her. Seeing this, other two guards also came to help her. They escorted her to the entrance of the building. While penetrating the crowd, some words fell on her ears, “You people are heartless. He has eaten our kids and you are making him the hero. He has killed our children. But you people are not lesser than him now.” A woman cried loudly screaming these words.
At the door, Yuvika stopped. She did not go ahead. She turned around and saw the people. She could look at their expression more clearly now. There were pain and agony. Some were frustrated. They all looked at the people on their opposite side as criminals. She suddenly felt guilty, but she did not know why.
She went upstairs and ran to Dev’s cabin.
“What is going on?” asked Yuvika as soon as she pushed the door open.
Dev was standing at the window. He was observing the situation. As soon as he heard her voice, he turned around and rushed to her. Holding her shoulders, he sighed, “Oh thank god, you are here. Are you all right?”
“I am all right. But what is going on there?” she repeated herself.
“People are going crazy,” said Dev.
“Crazy over what?” asked Yuvika sensing the situation.
“They are the parents of those kids who Vinod had trafficked.
She almost forgot about Vinod Bakshi’s story due to more hectic schedule as the draft was in the finishing stage.
These words actually hammered her ears. She lost the balance and grabbed the handles of the chair near her. She sat down on the chair. She was about to cry, and spoke with a broken voice, “Are you seeing all this now? Are you all happy?”
Dev stood there, in front of her, without moving. She continued, “What have you got apart from business? We never helped them even though we were capable of. We never gave them any hope. On the other hand, we have dug out their wounds. Shame on us.” She buried her face into her palms.
Dev again went to the window to get the update of the current situation. People were still there, crying and screaming. Almost everyone in the office was disturbed and scared.
Mr Dixit seemed unaffected. It seemed like he was prepared for it. He had asked for police help. In some time, two police jeeps came and moved the people away. They had to drag some of them out of the gate.
Now there was a pin drop silence. But the screams were still echoing in Yuvika’s ears. She was in her cabin but not working. The draft of the book was there in front of her. But she didn’t want to touch it. The images of those people were still floating in front of her eyes. “I can never understand the agony of those people. How does it feel when your kid just disappears? How does it feel to wait for him knowing the fact that he may never come back? How does it feel to ask yourself whether your kid is even alive or are you waiting for someone who has left the world and you?”
She was starring at the wall. She had felt the same uneasiness earlier when she had got the biggest human trafficker’s story for the first time. She took months to get back into her world. She could not stop thinking about those kids and their families. Today, not only those parents’ wounds were dug out.
She got a call from Jayendra asking whether she had gone through the draft of the book. She said that she would see him during the proof reading. She did not want to see anyone right now. Without meeting Mr Dixit or anyone else, she left the office earlier.
Seeing Yuvika’s SUV parked in front of her home, Joe was surprised. He went to her home just to check if everything was all right if she was all right. When he reached her house, he saw her sitting on the sofa, her bag on the chair next to her. She was starring at the floor. Ragini had put the glass of water on the table before leaving. It was still untouched. Joe knocked the door gently. She looked at him, sighed. She again shifted her gaze to the floor. He stepped in.
“Are you okay?” asked Joe.
“You left the office early?” One more question from him.
“Yes.” Again an abbreviated one!
“You are declining. You are mad at something. Hope it is not me this time.” Joe tried to lighten the atmosphere.
She looked at Joe. He was waiting for her to smile at least. But she did not.
“I am just tired. I need some rest.” She finally spoke more than one word.
“This early?” asked Joe, showing his wrist watch.
“Do you need anything? I can make you coffee,” offered Joe.
“No. Thank you.”
She turned down the offer of coffee. Something is worse than he had thought. But he could not ask any further question as her eyes actually seemed tired.
“Okay. Take rest. And call me if you need any help.”
Joe went back closing the door. Yuvika tried to take rest but couldn’t. All the hustle of the entire day was making her mad all over again. Just to distract her mind, she opened the draft of the book which she was supposed to go through. But it also didn’t help her. But somehow she kept her mind glued to it.
After an hour, Dev’s car also got parked beside Yuvika’s. He knocked the door which was already unlocked. Yuvika was in her study room. He called her name. She came out of the room. She had changed into her routine clothes and put on her RayBans, she had the draft and a pen in her hand. She was not expecting him to be there or she did not want him there.
“You left early?” She had been asked such question very rarely. Dev stepped in. Yuvika sat on a chair. Dev did not sit. He asked again, “I just wanted to see if you are fine.”
“No. I am not.” He expected this from her. He could understand her answer.
He tried to comfort her, “Listen, things are not in our hands sometimes. The sooner you understand, the better you will be.”
She looked at him with disgust. He kneeled down in front of her and said, “Yuvika, please be practical, dear. Don’t stress yourself out.”
“We could have saved them.” It was all she had on her mind, still.
Dev sighed and said, “We are professionals, Yuvika. And we are loyal to our profession. There are limitations which we have to consider. We cannot use our privileges or sources against the prestige of our profession.”
“Which profession does not allow having humanity?” asked Yuvika, looking straight into his eyes. Tears were about to roll down, but she held it back. It pained her so much that veins on her forehead swelled. He looked down. Of course, he had no answer to it. “We really could have helped, at least some of them.”
Some facts could go unheard but couldn’t affect the reality
The launch date of the book is announced today. People were cheering and congratulating each other. With this, Yuvika was climbing to one more summit. She felt relaxed. All past months were pleasurably hectic. A special dinner was organized for all the members of the office. It was kind of pre-launch celebration. Jayendra was coming with his wife and a daughter, Niyati. People from Mr Dixit’s business circle were also present. Many political personalities were invited.
The party got a grand opening where Mr Dixit took the floor and talked about the book and its journey. Yuvika and Jayendra were applauded the most for their brilliant work. But she was the one who took it very simply. She was extremely overwhelmed but she had the ability to digest the success.
Champagne was served. Some preferred wine. Yuvika settled for conversations with people around; those people whom she met every day but work dominated their meetings. Such occasions were important when they could meet each other in person and talk about many other things than the work. She never let such opportunity go away. She turned around when she got a tap on her shoulder. It was Dev’s mother.
Leena was accompanied by Yuvika and some other employees while Mr Dixit was busy in discussion with other people.
They had cocktails followed by dinner. Some were leaving the party and some were still enjoying their cocktails.
Leena said, “I must leave now.”
“Let me drive you home,” said Yuvika.
“No dear. I am calling the driver. He will pick me up.”
“Okay. Then, let me accompany you to the gate.”
“Sure. By the way, I am trying to call Dev but he is not picking up. Please inform him that I have left.”
They were waiting for Leena’s car when Yuvika spotted Dev near the office building. There were three other men; one had a cigarette in hand. Smoke was puffed out after every few seconds. She had seen the two in the party too but the third one was not there or she had not seen him, she thought. But he was the one she could recognize. He was Hari Yadav, she figured out. Hari was the right-hand man of Suparna Dalal a.k.a. Sidhu Dalal, the leader of Dalal’s party. Sidhu was not there, she realized. She was not invited or she avoided coming due to the upcoming story on her party. Yuvika was confused but chose to keep quiet. Meanwhile, the car came. Yuvika waved to Leena seeing her off and turned around to find Dev and those three men were still in the discussion. She went back to the party. After half an hour, Dev also came but she chose not to utter anything about Hari and the men. She did not want to develop any kind of misunderstanding.
The next week was comparatively relaxed. The book was in the print. She could get enough time to do the finishing work on Dalal’s story. Joe and Dev planned movies and drives too. She needed this break.
They reached a hill by a lake to watch the sunset. It was the beautiful landscape. The three of them were in a light mood. Yuvika took the centre space while Joe was on her left the Dev was on the right.
Yuvika and Dev were arguing over the name of the place when Joe said, “My project is finished.”
Yuvika looked at him and asked, “What? What did you just say?” Dev leant to his right to face Joe clearly.
“I am leaving in a couple of days,” Joe specified.
She took the time to get into her normal tone of voice, “I had just forgotten that you were here for a few months and one day you would have to go back.” She looked at the lake. The sun was setting. Dev could see the sadness on her face. He chuckled, “This is life, isn’t it?” Joe and Yuvika looked at him. He continued looking at her, “There was a day when you were mad at him, didn’t want to have any conversation with him. And now, when he is supposed to go, this fact makes you sad.”
“Strange, indeed. I never knew that I could miss you.” she turned to Joe and said. The three of them started laughing.
Yuvika got a call. She got up and walked a little far to get the clear voice on the phone, while Joe and Dev were still there. Joe looked at Dev and said, “Should I be honest with you?”
It was an unexpected request. Dev was confused. He said, “Yes. Please.”
Joe said, “I also did not like you initially.”
Dev raised his eyebrows, he wondered, “What? Why? Wait,” he turned to Joe and said, “I think I know why; because I am the successor of the magazine. Right?” They both looked at Yuvika. She had gone too far in search of the signal, was still busy talking.
Joe said, “It was one of the reasons.”
“One of the reasons? Now I have no idea about the other reasons.”
“I was not sure if Yuvika should trust you,” said Joe with much clarity this time.
This one left Dev in a greater confusion. He could not say anything. He again looked at Yuvika for some time. Then he looked down. Trust is a big word. Strangely neither he nor Yuvika had to ask each other this question despite the fact that they had known each other since years. Maybe it is something which needs to be developed and not confessed. Can she trust me? Does she trust me? She does for sure. But will she always trust me?
Interrupting his chain of thoughts, Joe asked, “Can she trust you?”
“Of course she can,” Dev said in a swift reaction. It was very obvious to him that he could never even think of hurting her. Then after a couple of seconds, he felt a sense of guilt.
A thought of questioning each other’s reliability was something which had never crossed their minds; he was a very chivalrous man and she knew that. There was never a scope for rivalry too. So what was that? He still had to break the Dalal’s news to her. This was making him uncomfortable every time he recalled it. He wanted to ignore it. It scared him a lot; only a thought of letting her down was making him frustrated.
You can read the consecutive story here: https://faceoffiction.wordpress.com/consecutive-story/
The story is a complete fiction. Any resemblance to the real world is a pure coincidence.