He was waiting on the other side of the bridge as I walked carefully towards him. It was midnight, a time when I should have been talking sweet nothings to my little ones, kissing my wife of 20 years, before going to bed. It was not a time for this rendezvous.  

‘You got my message?’

‘Yes, Appu. ‘Meet me here at midnight’.’

‘Do you know why?’

I nodded.

‘I do Appu.’ I said softly. ‘I do.’

It had been a few months now where everything had been going from bad to worse. First Ogan, then Amit and now it was our best man – Klaus. Klaus was the go-between ensuring our supplies reached where they were supposed to. Thanks to him, rich people were able to enjoy seeing the world in technicolour as the drugs did their work. Their world was wonderful thanks to people like us. And when they got caught, they decided that we should suffer instead. So a drug war was declared and the net around us tightened, till only Appu and I remained – powerful and respectable men who now faced jail.

‘Klaus must have given away everything’

I looked at my Rolex.

‘Police have been torturing him for five hours.’

‘So they will be here…’

‘In an hour precisely.’

‘Do you want to run Javed?’ he said softly.

Rage and love bubbled within me, rage for a situation that I could not solve, and love for the man who stood in front of me. He loved people, Appu. He loved a small unwanted boy who had stood before him with bold eyes and took him in when no one else would. It was to Appu I owed everything and it was why I stood with him now.

‘No,’ I breathed. ‘I’m here Appu.’

He nodded.

‘It is as I thought my child. I am sorry.’

I looked at him.

‘Appu, it’s not your fault, you didn’t know. It was bad luck.’

He sighed.

‘Yes Javed, it was bad luck. Tell me, my child, why did you do it?’

I jumped as if I had been shot. It was true. I had agreed a deal with the police that by taking me in along with Appu, I could spare the man I called ‘father’, the truth. Yes, I had betrayed him for Yasmeen. I had met her at a party and soon the world existed in technicolour for me too. Soon I was sharing things about my life which I had never shared with anyone. The thing is though, once you start talking you can’t stop. And so I kept talking, Yasmeen my beautiful ‘honey trap’ kept listening until we all fell.              

‘Appu…’ I bowed my head ‘Forgive me.’

Appu looked at me, his eyes brimming with kindness.

‘Javed, a father is no father if he cannot forgive his son. Come here, my boy.’

The sirens wailed in the distance and Appu checked his watch as we waited. Father and son. Bound together till the end.

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Ashwin Ahmad

Ashwin Ahmad is a fond practioner of the art of make believe. Facts are so much better when embellished with a heady dose of fiction.
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