Not all stones are stars..
Leave me, please’ Yusuf said as another whip of the belt hit him like a bee sting. His body was now black and blue, after the two hours of torture and beating session. His feet were roped and tied to the cell roof and from the past two hours, whips, belts and even bamboo sticks were kissing his body.
‘Behenchod’ Digvijay said, ‘Raat ko daaru pee kar call mujhe hi kiya tha na tune. Dal ke kinaare bula raha tha na, ab bol. Kya jaanta hai bata’
‘Sahib, apni bacchon ki kasam, kuch nahi jaanta main’ he said as a long drool fell from his mouth.
‘Tere toh bacche hi nahi hain na’ Digvijay said, ‘madarchod’
Digvijay hit him once again. He cried. Vikrant stood near him, watching the man turn blue and his eyes red.
After they reached the tracked location, the caller was identified to be Yusuf Saeed, an alcoholic man in his mid-thirties who was working in ‘Hotel Chaar Mahal’ as a driver, taking rides from the hotel to nearby locations and vice versa. After his location was traced and he was found, the man disapproved of any calls (even after the call recording was played in his face) and denied of any detail.
He was taken to the Batmalu police station for interrogation and the kind of person Digvijay was, he surely had fucked with the wrong guy.
Digvijay let out all of his frustration on him. He slapped him hard, beated with a stick, whipped with a belt, spat on him and what not.
‘Bhonk madarchod’ he said, ‘ab kya hua’
‘sir mujhe chodh do’ Yusuf said, ‘allah kasam nahi pata kuch’
This was it. Digvijay lost it all.
‘Allah ki jhoothi kasam khaata hai’ he said and kicked him straight in his ribs, hard, breaking a few bones, ‘Behenchod’
Yusuf was now knocked out as he spat blood. He closed his eyes and fainted.
‘Kya chutiyaap hai yeh’ Vikrant said and grunted. Digvijay spat on the floor.
‘Motherfucker knows everything. I bet he knows every fucking thing that we need’ he said. Vikrant nodded.
‘But why isn’t he telling us then?’ Vikrant asked.
‘He’s a sucker for money. We offer him money, he’ll even strip his pants down’ Digvijay said, ‘what else do we have on him’
‘Sir, zaada kuch nahi’ Vikrant said, ‘he’s a small time driver. Bewada hai madarchod, naa koi ghar hai na ghar waala. Sleeps in the car, drinks in the car and maybe even shits in the car’
‘You got the details from the hotel?’ Digvijay asked. While Digvijay was busy in torturing the living hell out of Yusuf, Vikrant had gone to the Hotel Luxuria, the one in which Pranab was staying.
The CCTV footages were revealed and he appeared to be really normal in them. His last footage, that was from a week ago, showed him walking out of the hotel, playing with his phone and smiling.
He was wearing his black t shirt and blue jeans in the last footage and probably was heading for the Dal Lake, for a walk.
‘Sir, zaada kuch hai nahi. Jo hai woh aap khud dekh lo’ Vikrant said and handed his mobile, that had the lst cctv footages of him.
After ten minutes of rewinding, retrospection and brainstorming; Digvijay finally gave up on it.
‘Behenchod kuch samajh nahi aa raha’ he muttered to himself. While a part of his mind was buys in cursing Yusuf, for the supposed drunk call (which he claimed) the other part very well knew that Yusuf was stuffed with money in every opening his body had.
‘Vikrant’ he said, ‘trace his calls. I want every fucking call he made in the last two days. Every fucking one!’ he shouted. Vikrant, for the first time trembled’ he shouted. Vikrant, for the first time trembled from his shout.
Digivijay’s veins rushed now, any time ready to burst.
‘Did that pig wake up?’ he asked. Vikrant shook his head, without making an eye contact.
‘I wish he dies’ he said, ‘I’ll stuff his body with notes, the cocksucker for money he is’
Vikrant instructed the control room to get hold of each and every call, incoming or outgoing, his WhatsApp conversations and the messages he had been sending via SMS.
His call records were mainly empty. His WhatsApp chats showed nothing except for some pedophile pornograpghic that son of a bitch forwarded to his friends. No wonder this is a fucked up world.
Digvijay was highly disappointed with it. He felt like beating Yusuf to death but refrained. He went blank, lost in a world of self-pity and drowning in sadness. He had lost this war. He was destined to live like a loser for the rest of his life.
A ray of life finally knocked his door when Vikrant accidentally mentioned ‘Hotel Chaar Mahal’ again. Digvijay’s brain went into quick action as if he had finally found something that would lead him to the end.
‘Let’s go’ he said as they left the station.
It took them ten minutes to reach the Hotel, for which Yusuf worked as a driver, part time.
He was thinking that since Yusuf mentioned Dal Lake, he must be knowing something about Pranab. Maybe he had gone to the hotel to meet someone or maybe he had dropped him somewhere, before he met his filthy end.
He rushed to the reception and took out Pranab’s driving license, he had recovered from his home.
Dust particles were scattered in the air, screeching sounds of the drilling machines and the smell of a fresh paint, the hotel was undergoing some sort of renovation. He coughed as he inhaled in the sour smelling air.
‘Madame, yeh kya shor lagaya hua hai?’ a man in his mid-forties, wearing a t shirt and tracks said to the receptionist, ‘Room tak awaaz jaata hai. How the fuck are we supposed to sleep?’
‘We are really sorry sir, this would take some time’ she said, ‘the construction just started ten days ago. It’s the first time ever since the hotel has opened. Bas kuch aur din sir, we really apologize for any inconvenience’
The man mumbled some abuses and then disappeared out of the hotel. Her landline rang and she picked it up, a visitor was asking for the wifi’s password.
‘Hey’ Digvijay said. The receptionist, who was on a call totally stumbled.
‘Sorry sir’ she said, ‘is there anything wrong?’ as she cut the call.
‘Sub Inspector Digvijay Singh’ he said, ‘here to investigate something’
‘Sir I would be more than happy to help’ she said.
He looked around to see the condition of the hotel. It was in its worst, torn sofas which rats had fed on, falling paint and screeching slow fans. Everything about it sucked.
‘have you seen this man?’ he said, sliding the card towards her. She looked at the card and shook her head.
‘Can you check the CCTV? And maybe the bookings too?’ he said, ‘for Pranab Roy’
She nodded, swallowed and then said, ‘Sir, it would take some time.
‘Sir, I will check but as far as I remember there hasn’t been any booking for Pranab Roy’ she said, ‘neither have I seen this person’
‘Yusuf’ he said, ‘works for you, right?’
‘Unfortunately, yes’ she said.
Digvijay knew the reason behind her using ‘unfortunately’ as the WhatsApp chats recovered revealed that he was sending her pictures of her circumcised two-inch dick time and again, threatening to rape her and burn her alive if she blocked him.
‘Hurry up’ he said, ‘I’ll wait here’ he said, pointing to the torn sofa in the lobby. She nodded and he went on to sit there.
Vikrant looked at him.
‘Tu bhi baith ja’ he said as Vikrant sat on the sofa next to his.
As he was travelling back and forth, spending most of his time inside his police van, fitfully, the moment he sat on the sofa and lied back, he fell asleep.
‘Leave us’ his father said, folding his hand. ‘I don’t have enough money to fill my stomach and you want me to fulfil your dreams?’
‘Dad’ he said, ‘please. Once. I’m just this close. I love literature’
‘Who reads you anyway?’ his dad said. His mother looked at him, teary eyed, ‘you failed us as parents’
The room was empty, dark only their faces were visible nothing else.
‘Son? He isn’t even a good husband’ a voice said from behind. He turned behind to see his wife Mitanjali standing. ‘While others know how to make their wives happy, he never made me happy. I feel frustrated, should’ve stuck with Guruji instead’
‘What about the smart TV I had asked for?’ his son said from the other corner of the room, ‘you sent me to a big school but ever realized that kids who study their have the best of parents. They are proud of their parents. They are proud to have them. They buy them everything they want, every fucking thing. And you?’
Digvijay’s eyes were now swollen, bloodied red, filled with tears that felt fatally disgraceful.
‘Sir’ a voice echoed in the room. Sweat beads appeared on his forehead while his heart beat now raced.
‘Sir’ the voice echoed once again.
He opened his eyes, to see the receptionist standing near him. The drilling machine sounds resumed, causing pain in his ears, again.
‘Yes yes’ he said, ‘yes’ frantically.
‘Sir, we didn’t find him’ she said, ‘we are really sorry sir. Really sorry’
‘It’s okay’ he barely managed to speak. The receptionist smiled and asked the waiter to fetch a glass of water for him. The waiter nodded and brought it.
He gulped it down in one go. Vikrant looked at him, wide eyed. He still was sitting on the sofa.
‘Do you want anything else sir?’ she said, ‘you can rest here if you want to’
‘No, no’ he said and stood up, ‘we’ll better leave’
‘We are really sorry sir’ she said once again. He smiled, just from outside.
‘Uthaya kyu nahi laudey?’ He said to Vikrant as they left the hotel room.
‘Sir aap so rahe the maine socha aapko disturb na karu’ he said.
‘Ab kahan chalna hai sir’ he asked as they sat in the gypsy.
‘Station wapas chal’ he said as he ignited the engine.
Back in the Batmalu police station, Yusuf was conscious now. He was begging to leave him as he claimed he knew nothing. Digvijay refused to see him again and instructed Vikrant to go instead. As Vikrant went inside the cell, few minutes later he heard cries and shouts.
Digvijay sat on the chair, his face dull and pale without a single hint of what would he do next. His heart felt uneasy, as if it didn’t want to beat anymore. He felt like this was too much for him now.
‘Vikrant’ he said, loud. The noises of the cries and shouts didn’t stop.
‘Vikrant’ he called him out once again. The noises finally stopped, following sounds of footsteps as he approached him.
‘Sir bahut bada madarchod hai’ he said, ‘Muh nahi khol raha’
Digvijay didn’t say anything, just kept looking at him.
‘Sir is everything all right?’ he asked. He still sat, froze.
‘Am I that unworthy?’ he finally said with his eyes full, tears ready to shoot. The last time he cried was when he had to burn his half written book, a day before he joined the training camp for his job, seven years ago.
‘I failed as a writer’ he said, ‘I failed as a father, as a son and even as a husband’
‘No sir’ Vikrant said, ‘you didn..’
‘Please’ he folded his hands and finally broke down. Vikrant was shocked to see a fully grown man cry.
‘You deserve a better senior’ he said, ‘I’ll resign’
Though he had said the words in reflex, he really meant them. It was finally over for him. Digvijay wanted to get away from this life, as soon as possible. He wanted to wash away the word ‘Failure’ written on his face with black ink.
This was a shocker for Vikrant. His mouth was left open while his feet froze.
‘Sir’ he said, ‘pleas’
Before he could complete speaking, Digvijay cut him midway.
‘I’ll submit my resignation tomorrow’ he said, ‘you should stay here. Keep up with everything and if that son of a bitch utters something, tell me. I’ll go back to Jammu’
He smiled. A broken smile, his cheeks were now wet as tears flowed down. His lips still fake smiled.
With the heavy heart, he left the office, sat in his gypsy and started it.
As the car drove away from Srinagar, the sun started to dull a little. He checked the time, it was four of the evening. He wiped his face with a handkerchief and kept on driving.
The eight-hour drive felt like eight years to him. He just wanted to get back to his family, the one who didn’t love him.
By the time he reached back, it was twelve.
As he reached his home, he honked thrice for someone to come down. He called Mitanjali but her phone showed switched off.
He called his son. Bell rang but no one picked up. He opened WhatsApp just to see if his son was sleeping too. The bar, below his name however read Online.
He wasn’t surprised at all. Using the duplicate key, he had, he entered his home.
As he passed by his parent’s room, he heard snoring and smiled to himself.
Mitanjali was asleep already, with the TV still on. He went to her, bent a little and kissed her forehead. She shifted a little, still asleep.
Hunger made his stomach clench. He didn’t have anything since morning. He checked the fridge first, nothing was available to eat. Then he checked the kitchen. He could only find uncleaned utensils and cockroaches feeding on the last bites.
He called his son once again as he usually had something to eat with him, all the time. The bell rang to full and it automatically got disconnected. He knew he wasn’t sleeping, just ignore.
Going to his room, he knocked.
‘Raj’ he shouted and knocked. No reply.
He knocked twice again, this time harder.
‘Raj, I know you aren’t sleeping. It’s important beta’ he said. There was still no answer from the other side.
‘Raj!’ he shouted this time and kicked the door hard. Given that the hasp was way too old and rusted, his kick, with this intensity made it break, making the door bang open.
What Digvijay saw, disgusted him.
In the dim light, Raj was half naked, lying on the bed with the laptop next to him wearing earphones, with one of his hand inside his tracks. The sound of the sudden opening of the door made him tremble in the bed. The moment his eyes met with his father’s, his heart stopped beating, lungs collapsed and the whole body froze. His mind went numb.
Digvijay stood there, still, looking into his eyes, as if he was just going to kill him.
In a split second he threw the earphones away, shut the laptop screen and took the bedsheet over him. His hands shivered now. Digvijay saw all this and didn’t utter a single word.
‘Dad, I can explain’ he said. It was too late now.
Slap! He slapped the living shit out of him. He couldn’t hear anything for few seconds.
Another slap landed on his face. Slaps rained as his cheeks now felt as if they were being stung by a thousand honey bees at once.
‘Isliye tujhe school bheja taaki tu yeh sab kar sake?’ he said and slapped him once again. He held his hair, tight. It felt like he saw Yusuf in him now.
‘Main mar gaya tujhe phone laga laga kar aur tu’ another slap, the hardest of all landed on his face. Raj, didn’t even protest.
‘Sorry dad’ he struggled to speak as slaps and kicks landed on him. All the nerves on his face were numb, now.
‘Get the fuck out of here!’ Digvijay shouted as he collected his T shirt from the floor and ran out of the room.
‘Fucking useless kid!’ he shouted. He then opened the laptop which was playing a porn titled ‘ Indian Brother fucks step sister in hotel’. He was disgusted to be father to such a disgraceful dick.
Just as he was about to click the ‘close’ he noticed something that made his brain to completely burst out.
He felt like he had seen the naked girl in the video somewhere. He replayed the video from the beginning and paused to where the girl’s face was completely visible. It took him only three seconds to identify who she was. His mouth dropped open.
With trembling fingers and a body that was drenched in sweat, he took out the picture of Pranab and his wife from his pocket. He wiped the photograph as sweat fell on it, from his forehead. With eyes which were about to burst anytime now, he carefully folded the picture and kept it on the screen, along with the video he had just paused.
The big green eyes, the sharp jawline, the perfectly trimmed eyebrows and the glossy red lips.
He played the video. The video started with the girl and the boy sitting on a bed that had a white faded bedsheet.
The girl adjusted her hair first and then removed her clothes. The boy removed his clothes too, later doing her for the next ten minutes in different positions.
He replayed the video, this time with sound on, to the max.
And as better as it could get, while the girl moaned aloud, he heard noises of hammering and a drill machine in the background, repeating at regular intervals. His heart was now thumping fast, almost in his mouth as if it will fall anytime he opens it.
With numb fingers, he called Vikrant.
‘Sir’ Vikrant said. His mind now ran against time; he wasn’t able to believe what he just saw.
‘Send me her brother’s photo’ he managed to speak, stuttering and with a flapping tongue.
‘Pranab’s wife’s’ he said and cut the call.
Vikrant, fired the laptop they had recovered from his home to life and searched frantically for his picture.
As soon as he found it, he clicked a picture of it and shot it across via WhatsApp.
As the notification bell rang on his mobile and he opened it, with each passing second he prayed to god for whatever he was thinking right now to be true.
The moment the ‘Downloading’ bar on his WhatsApp chat became full, a train of destress ran through him.
Whatever he thought, turned out to be true.
'She has fucked with the wrong man’ he said, more to himself and smiled.
Little did he know, all stars are stones but not all stones are stars.