PART 1: HOPING FOR THE END

Mangal was worried. Not for himself. But his family back home. 

He had left in a hurry. Within hours of the report being published on 8 August, 2012, there were murmurs of trouble. Of reprimand. So he left for his hometown in Indore. Far away from Mumbai. He stayed put at home for a couple of weeks but it didn’t look like the situation would get any better. Another matter altogether that he had been planning on visiting Singapore. On work. So he thought to himself, ‘Now is the best time, let’s just go’. He packed furiously. Throwing in unironed, even once worn clothes, stuffed in a large, black suitcase. Some documents, and his laptop bag. He hugged his wife and two-year-old daughter goodbye, and late in the evening–the evening of 26th August 2012, he left for Bengaluru. [The cheapest flight to Singapore was from Bengaluru] The next morning, with a one-way ticket, he boarded a flight to Singapore.

It had been a month since that night.

Back in India, all hell had broken loose. The company had alleged that Mangal had wanted money in exchange for quashing the report. That he had made wrongful gains from trading in the stock. The police of two jurisdictions, Mumbai and Gurugram, were looking for him.

So now, biding his time in Singapore, Mangal was worried. For the safety of his family.

‘I must call someone.’ he thought to himself. ‘Someone in Mumbai. So that they can go and check if my family is okay. If they need anything, and if they are worried, to just console them. To tell them that things will be alright, it is just a matter of time.’ With these thoughts running through his head, he looked at his phone, his list of contacts. ‘Him? No. Maybe too much of a favour to ask. Him? No. Him? Yes. He is my friend. He’ll know how to take care of this’. So he dialled the number.

“Hello. Hi sir, it is Nitin.”

“Oh. Hi Nitin. Where are you? Where are you calling from?”

“I’m in Singapore.”

“Oh okay. See Nitin…”

“Boss, I needed a small favour from you. Can you go home and just check on my family? If they need anything, if they are doing…”

“Nitin. Why are you calling me? I don’t want to be involved with you. Please keep me out of this. You know my phone could be tapped and I will get into trouble because I am talking to you.”

“You are joking, right? What do you mean tapped and that you will get into trouble because of me?”

“I don’t want to talk to you, Nitin.

AUTHOR

Ashish K. Mishra

Ashish edits and writes stories at The Ken. Across subjects. In his last assignment, he was a Deputy Editor at Mint, a financial daily published by HT Media. At the paper, he wrote long, deeply reported feature stories. His earlier assignments: Forbes India magazine and The Economic Times. Born in Kolkata. Studied in New Delhi – B.Com from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Works out of anywhere, where there is a good story to be told.

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