[if this is the first time you have landed here, I strongly recommend, you check this out first]
“Mr. Bhooshan, I am Agasthya, special agent National Intelligence Agency. This is the first time I am calling you.”
“Don’t mess me with me. I have a blood pressure problem. I might have a heart attack soon. I have been talking and listening to every word you have told me for the past half an hour.”, Bhooshan shouted into the cellphone. He was right, his heart was almost beating out of his chest.
It took a few moments for Agasthya to register what was happening. There was radio silence on the call, and he could hear Bhooshan’s erratic breath cycle. Like so many times before on numerous mission before this, Agasthya improvised.
“Sorry, Mr. Chandra. we have multiple people trying to contact you. It might have been one of my colleagues.”, Agasthya spoke calmly and apologetically. “Its alright, take a few deep breaths. You are in good hands.”. He could hear his words taking effect, the incessant breathing calmed down a bit. Just a bit.
“Mr. Bhooshan. As I said I am from the NIA. I am here to help. Now what did my colleague ask you to do? Where are you now?”, Agasthya spoke more confidently now.
“Your colleague told me to leave the college, take a cab and reach the nearest hotel. I am just outside the college, hailing a cab right now.”, Bhooshan spoke out in spats.
“Ok, and what hotel are you planning to go to?”
“The Guwahati Travel Lodge, its the nearest hotel to our college. I think your colleague is trying to reach me, should I get back in touch with him.”
“No No No Mr. Rastogi. we are at different locations. But we will get the news to him, soon. For now, I want you to change your plan a bit. Do you know any of your colleague who own a car or a bike. Even a student will do.”
“Yes I do. I even see some students nearby.”, Bhooshan replied after a moment. Processing this new chain of thought.
“Ok, ask one of them for a lift. And drive down to the nearest Police Station. Do not disconnect the phone.”
“Yes. Yes. Ravi….”, Agasthya could hear Bhooshan on the phone calling out to one of his student. He could hear him say that someone had stolen his purse and he needed to reach the Police Station now. He heard the young student agree and mention that he would be back in a few moments.
“He would be back in a while.”
“Yes Yes I heard that. Mr. Rastogi, I am contacting the Police Station nearest to your College. So they would already know once you get there. They will take you to safe place. And I would be arriving probably by tomorrow morning. Till that time, as soon as you reach the police station, I need you to turn off your phone. You will get a new phone at the Police Station, with my number fed into it. Call me as soon as you get that. I don’t want anyone to be tracking you.”
“But..but what about my family…? They might be in danger too?”, Bhooshan was getting calmer now. He felt Agasthya’s voice mush more soothing than the earlier one.
“We don’t have any reasons to believe that they are in danger. But I will still send someone from the police force to escort them to your location, once you are secured.”
“Ok…My ride is here. Do you want to be on the call, while I reach the police station?”
“Yes Mr. Rastogi, you are doing really well. If you can just hold on and tell me about the conversation that you had with my colleague. We need to make reports you see.”
For the next 15 minutes, Agasthya noted down everything that Bhooshan told him. Chandra was busy contacting the Guwahati CBI department, while Kabir waited patiently for his turn to ask questions.
Finally Agasthya put down the phone, and handed it back to Kabir.
“He is safe for now. It was pure luck that we got to him before the Poet could.”
“So to Guwahati now? When do we leave?”, Kabir asked.
“Not we, you.”, Agasthya spoke with a little smirk on his face.
“We have 3 leads now. So we need to split up. Chandra needs to stay here and follow the Car service lead. Kabir you need to go to Guwahati, and do 2 things. First investigate the Guwahati Travel Lodge. I am sure the killer had some plans concerning that. There has to be a money trail in there somewhere.”, Agasthya paused as both Chandra and Kabir nodded in agreement.
“Second you need to escort Mr. Bhooshan to Delhi, to NIA headquarters. That’s the most safe location I can think of right now. Make it quick, but make it clean and quiet with minimal fuss.”, Kabir nodded again in response. He had always wanted to travel across India, just not under so much stress.
“And what about you? What are your plans.”, Chandra asked looking up from his laptop again.
“I did say three leads, didn’t I. I am going to be traveling to Varanasi to meet a certain Gokul Das.”, Agasthya grin was finally a smile. He wondered what the Poet was thinking now. The game was on.
Parshuram tried the number again. Switched Off. He could only assume that Bhooshan had been saved. Someone had finally warmed up to him, maybe its the same guy who almost saved Dr. Batra. He could feel his face curving into a smile. The game was ON.