(Continued from Part 1 )
As he walked towards Satish , the others seemed to form a protective wall around him almost seeming to push Sachin away , Sachin was anxious to get to Satish and start working . He had read that the government had put up a special task force to capture Sobhraj and the last thing he wanted is more competition especially from professionals who stood a chance of subverting his dreams of glory.
Sachin saw Satish and tried to catch his eye but no luck so he decided to wait but the others would not let up . At some point he heard his name spoken by Satish and he looked at Satish but there was no sign that Satish had seen him . Ajit yelled “Sachin is here ” . Satish looked in his direction mournfully , trepidation clearly marked on his face .
“Hey Sachin , man of the hour ” blurted Satish nervously
Sachin was puzzled at the sudden onslaught of recognition and attention that seemed directed at him . He slowly trudged towards the group uncertain as to what this could be about. When he was younger, he avoided groups like this because that was a certainty that he would get beaten up . But this group looked beckoning and even he could recognize the adulation in the eyes of his onlookers. He was still oblivious as to the reason for his sudden popularity when Ajit piped in , “Do you know that the government has offered Rs 50000 for his capture ”
Sachin paled and nervously asked with a gulp “What capture”
Ajit was happy to clear the air ,”Charles Sobhraj , of course , now with twinkling twelve , we can capture him and split the money 12 ways”
Sachin’s annoyance showed on his fair skin and a vein bulged but he also caught sight of Balaji among his thronged admirers, Balaji who liked to bully him and beat him when opportunity availed . Perhaps it was the hint of admiration in Balaji’s eyes , or perhaps it was the painful memory of the last wallop but something aborted the course of resistance before it could even draw breath in this world.
“Twinkling Twelve” , he slowly muttered . Yesterday he was reluctant to even entertain the thought of “Twinkling Three” , today he was being forced into “Twinkling Twelve”
He slowly counted and saw only 10 excluding himself and wondered aloud , “who would the 12th member be?”
Satish was happy to clear that up . “We decided to ask Anurag because he has the perfect meeting spot ,the dark staircase that leads upstairs to his house . Nobody uses that and we could stay locked in there for days and nobody could find us. We also figured that is where we would lock up Charles Sobhraj until the Police get here”
Sachin was almost tearful by this time . He was thinking , will the hits never stop. His brilliant brainwave , not only muddied by these idiots now he would have to add Anurag to the mix , he despised Anurag and his haughty ways , his ease at school , the rest of the kids had to struggle whereas Anurag just sailed through . He was a natural and he knew it and moreover he made every attempt to ensure that you knew it too. Anurag was probably the only person to get bullied more than Sachin but that did not arouse any sympathy for him . Anurag was insufferable and a know it all .
They decided to walk over to Anurag’s house who lived just a block away from Sachin and Satish.
Pleasantries were exchanged which seemed to arouse no dearth of suspicions in Anurag. The last time people had been so cordial to him, they had taken him out for a game of cricket and instead it turned out to be a boxing match where he was the designated punching bag. But he knew better than to expect that kind of behavior from Sachin , Satish or even Yogesh whom he condescended to play with from time to time.
Finally Satish came to the point and exclaimed the whole plot to a doubting Anurag who seemed ready to scamper back into his house .
Anurag seemed scornful . Do you guys really believe that you can catch Charles Sobhraj without any weapons ?
Sachin angrily piped up “We do have a screw driver” and besides no matter how strong, he is not going to be able to deal with 12 kids at once
Anurag still looked doubtful , but where do we start searching . This time Satish had a brainwave “Well Pune , of course , after Tihar jail , Yerawada jail is the largest in the country”
That simple statement of authority satisfied everybody’s curiosity. Nobody felt the need to ascertain the facts after this suitably deft display of confidence . To my curious reader , if you are wondering , this statement is about as far from the truth as the Sun is from the Earth. And as to the wisdom of absconding criminals preferring to hang around prisons, I do suppose home as a concept for young minds is an anchor
Finally Sachin spoke up acerbically with the wisdom of the ages which has taught us that we do what is convenient , not what is right . “Well , we have to do whatever is easiest for us . We dont care that Charles Sobhraj did escape from Tihar jail which is is Delhi ,a 1000 miles away, we live in Pune and that is where we will search for him . If he wants to be captured by us , he best be getting to Pune otherwise he is going to be denied the glory of being captured by the Twinkling twelve”
Ajit was the first to notice the problem in the circular logic , “But we will get famous only after we capture Sobhraj, right”
“Right “, barked Sachin , getting more and more annoyed by the dim wits around him.
“So why should he worry about getting to Pune and being captured by us now, when we are not famous yet” murmured Ajit again
This sacrilegious statement did have the intended effect of getting everybody to think about the problem of luring Sobhraj to Pune to capture him.
Yogesh had a brainwave , “We could write to him and tell him that we will split the reward with him”
Satish queried “What is the reward?”
Sachin lost his train of thought , he meant to object to the original idea that nobody knew where Sobhraj was and therefore nobody was writing to him but instead he answered “At least 50,000 Rs”
Satish started “50,000 divided by 13 is approximately 4000”
Ajit started “That is chump change for an international gangster, he wont agree for it. We should try 50-50 so we give 25000. Sweeten the deal”
Vineet looked up “So how much does that leave us with?”
Satish started again “25000 divided by 12, approximately 2000”
Vineet looked annoyed “I dont get it, we do all the hard work and he gets to keep the lion’s share”
Ajit responded this time “We have to be practical, think of the glory after this. We will get to make more money after we get famous”
Everybody seemed to nod happily and if one could see the dreams that start floating , one would have seen more dreams of shopping and gadgets and travel than one could hope to accomplish in one lifetime.
Anurag looked around . “Ok you idiots , you are going to split the reward that you get for capturing Sobhraj with Sobhraj. Do you seriously believe that anybody would be stupid enough actually go through this? ”
Ajit piped up “It is fairly common . Dont you remember in Sholay how Amitabh and Dharmendra team up with Soorma Bhopali to get caught and split the reward for their capture”
Anurag was ready to blow at this when he was interrupted by Sachin, who was annoyed with Anurag stealing the thunder and also implying that he was an idiot along with the rest of these idiots . “That only happens in movies . Also the idea to send mail to somebody who is absconding is the stupidest idea that one can imagine”
Yogesh wanted the earth to open up and swallow him , Sita style but no such luck . The hard tiles showed him no sympathy or way to escape , no more than he was getting from his comrades .
Continued in Part 3