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December 30th, 2021 11:06 am
Feeling immensely relieved, Shreya, Ritu, Deepa, and Soni, dashed off to their room. Soni banged the door from inside and locked it up.
” Come on Tina, we hope you are safe and sound.” The girls could not sleep from now on.
In the living room, Mr. Choudhary made a phone call to one of his friends who’s in the police department, to register a complaint about his missing daughter.
Within 15 minutes, the police van arrived at the farmhouse. ACP Mr. Neel Roy, a friend of Tina’s dad, arrived there to investigate the matter.
Being friends, both the gentlemen normally greeted each other with a warm handshake and a chuckle, but not this time as they both appeared grim.
Mr. Choudhary informed Mr. Roy about the happenings. Taking stock of the things seriously, Mr.Roy asked him something.
” May I have permission to circulate the photos of your daughter in the city, to trace her down fast. We can’t find her location at present, as her phone is switched off.”
” Sure, I have no problem with it.” Mr. Choudhary showed him Tina’s pics from his mobile and also forwarded them to Mr. Roy.
Mr. Roy now forwarded one of Tina’s pics to his police staff, ordering them to find out if the traffic police at every square, stretching the highway leading to the city identified the girl.
He also summoned the night patrolling teams in identifying the girl, in case she passed by their way. As it was a new year’s night, they were supposed to be extra vigilant.
Thanks to Mr. Roy’s efforts, and also Tina’s carelessness for not covering her head and face with a scarf, she was identified by a traffic constable at a square, nearest to the farmhouse. The couple had stopped at the signal, till it turned green, and then they went straight ahead.
But at the next signal, they had turned left, as told by the next traffic cop, who though did not closely notice the girl, but said that only one young couple in the bike moved past during that hour.
Night patrolling teams were sent to that area, to enquire about the whereabouts of the couple. The search was in full swing.
All the restaurants, ice cream parlors, and bakery shops which were still open, were questioned by them.
One corner paanwala near a public garden now revealed that a young couple in the bike had moved past, and entered an apartment complex two streets ahead.
Getting this lead, the police patrolling team went straight to the complex as directed, and asked the watchman about the couple.
The guard said that the couple arrived there more than an hour before, and also identified the girl.
He also said that the motorist was a resident of the third-floor building, named Mihir Das, a wildlife photographer.
Four policemen went up to the third-floor flat of Mihir. They pressed the doorbell.
Tina and Mihir were almost asleep. They had planned to catch a train at 5 am, waking up at 4.
But they were alarmed by the ringing of the doorbell at 3. Mihir peaked outside, from the door hole, and was stunned to find the cops standing outside.
He quickly went into the room to alert Tina, and in a shocking state, both of them crept out of the balcony to get out of the flat.
Through holding the grills, pipes, and rods, whatever they could lay their hands on, both of them managed to reach down to the ground floor.
This time, Mihir who had a helmet of his own, gave another helmet to Tina also for her safety. Silently they came out of the parking lot and zoomed past, much to the astonishment of the watchman, who then alerted the cops upstairs.
Those cops now alerted the other police surveillance team standing outside the building, to follow the couple.
Now began the cat and mouse chase. Only the vehicles of new year revelers and some trucks were plying on the roads.
At 3 am when the roads mostly remained deserted, it was not difficult to catch up with the couple. Mihir kept increasing the speed of his bike, sensing the dangers.
Mihir now had diverted to a narrow road and then to another lane, crisscrossed the route, to mislead the cops. After a kilometer, he stopped and told Tina to get down.
” Are you mad, the cops are behind us.” Dismayed, Tina rebuked him.
” This is the outer area of the railway station, the train we are supposed to catch generally stands by here, before getting a signal to reach the platform. It’s almost 4 am now, we can wait for the train here to get on, instead of going to the station and getting caught.” Mihir explained to her.
Tina was astounded to hear that. Just then, the police patrolling team, on getting the tipoff from a passerby, flashed the torchlight on Mihir from a distance.
Holding the hand of Tina, both of them hid near the bushes. Then both of them ran for their lives and moved into the woods.
The surveillance team too followed them up for a great distance but lost track of them soon after, due to the dense bushes.
The couple must have trekked for a few miles in total darkness in the woods.
After realising that the cops are no longer following them from the woods, Mihir, who still held Tina’s hand, ran towards the railway tracks. He saw the light of the train’s engine and heard it approaching, from a distance.
Luckily the train was coming slowly from the opposite direction.
Somehow in the tired state, Tina and Mihir with their backpacks on ran and climbed up the slow-moving train.
They shut the door of the compartment from inside and sat down on the floor to relax and sigh with great relief, embracing each other.
” Where are we going, my dear,” Tina who was still huffing, asked out of curiosity.
” To my parents’ home, honey, we’ll be arriving there in four hours. I have told them about you, and they have no problem with accepting you, so just chill.” Mihir assured her and kissed her forehead.
By 5.30 am, the train in which Mihir and Tina had boarded near the woods, had left the city railway station, and also took full speed. Of course, Mihir bought the tickets for two from the TTE, on the train itself.
The grim scene still prevailed in the farmhouse, as there was no information about Tina. Except that she and her boyfriend deluded the policemen somewhere in the woods, who had been running after them from the city limits.
ACP Mr. Roy took the charge now and lectured to his pal Mr. Choudhary.
” Yaar Ek baat bata, tujhe problem kya hai is rishte se, except that the boy is not from your clan.”
” Don’t talk rubbish, my friend, I can never accept that fellow to be my daughter’s life partner. He can not afford the worldly comforts Tina is accustomed to. Besides, she is already engaged to my family friend’s able son.” Mr. Choudhary snapped.
” His able son, did you say… My subordinate colleagues who inquired about Tina’s boyfriend told me that Mihir Das is a wildlife photographer. It’s a respectable profession and people in it earn a very good package from the big publications and TV channels. So why worry, dear?” Mr. Roy had reasoned out.
” And Tina, about whom you have said that she has completed media studies this year, is an aspiring journalist. This means she can very well take care of herself. I just do not understand why you are after their lives. Tomorrow after marriage, if she runs away or remains permanently unhappy, would that have been acceptable to you… tell me Tarun?” Mr.Roy continued.
Mr. Choudhary stood there speechless, as he had no answers to his friend.
” Okay… I got your answer, my dear. So I consider this case to be resolved. Take your time to cool down, then forgive and bless the children… goodbye.”
Mr. Roy put his hand over his friend’s shoulder and took a leave.
Outside the living room, Shreya and her friends had overheard the entire conversation between Mr. Choudhary and Mr. Roy. And they were thrilled to hear the outcome.
“Hurrah!!… So happy for you, dear Tina. Now we can also go back to our homes happily.” With their beaming faces, the girls said together.