Read the previous part of the story here.
Roohi wanted the latest Reader’s Digest. “Can I get a book from the book stall? Please!”. “Sure, Roohi. But, will you be able to find it alone?”. “Yes, mam, I can. I saw it while we were coming from the entrance. It is just beside the stairs.”. “Ok, then, run along and come as soon as you are done.”. And, she goes jumping towards the book shop, her pony tails and the lace of her frock swaying with perfect rhythm. An extremely clever and smart girl of 9 had better reading choices than most adults. She had already graduated to Kafka and Dostoyevsky even though understanding them was a lot difficult for her. Well, the product of an under-cover agent and one of the renowned journalist of the country could be anything but!
When she was asked for payment for the Reader’s Digest she bought, her hand accidentally came across the toy phone lying in her pink backpack. She paid up, collected the book, restored the balance and the package to her backpack and got lost in the reverie. Roohi and her father were pretty close and they shared their secrets with each other. Since mommy had no time for the baby, daddy had to make up for the lack of it. It was not that Tara was not fond of Roohi, her priorities were just different.
When Roohi had told about the Delhi excursion to her parents, “Daddy, mommy, our teacher is taking 5 stuents from our class for an excursion to Delhi, please I want to go“, both had reacted with enthusiasm. While packing her suitcase, her daddy had given this toy phone to her. Shekhar had explained Roohi a lot of things over the years, cracking ciphers, teaching her to be logical during problem solving, how to go over issues methodically and prioritize things with its urgency, not to lose brain while in critical situations and even gave her self-defence classes. While giving the toy phone, he had told her about the satellite phones and how they were different from the regular mobile phones. He told her that he would call her on this number when in any emergency or that she could also call him up whenever necessary.
Till now that necessity had not arisen and she was glad that the trip was coming to an end. She loved going to different places but being apart from her darling daddy for these many days had made her anxious! Her reverie was broken by a little commotion some place distant on the platform. Instinct made her hide behind people and she saw a couple of men with huge rifles, like they show in movies, moving about threatening to fire them on anyone who made a movement. Fear had rooted everyone to their positions and the whole platform, for once, was at a standstill and noiseless.
Roohi was suddenly assailed fear for her teacher and friends. She tried to silently move towards her group who were on the other end of the platform. While she was moving, she suddenly trip on the small bag placed on the floor. There was a little thud and one of the guy with the gun started coming towards her. In her fright, she made a dash to the exit door which she could see in the front and the guy with the gun coming towards her opened fire.
Ibrahim Rehman, the chief of ISISI, was not ready to listen to Shekhar. “No, we do not want anything. We are fighting for Jihad.”. “How is it possible? Everyone wants something.”. “You will know the things at their own time. Nothing before and nothing after.”. Shekhar lost his temper and his concern for Roohi was mounting. He was hoping that she would remember to call him using the Sat phone he had given her. He wanted to call her but was afraid if it would land her in danger!
He recalls how excited Roohi was when she announced her Delhi excursion, “daddy, I really want to go. They have chosen only 5 among all the class. please, please”, and Shekhar could not say no to her even though he already had heard reports of impending terror strikes in India. Just to take all precautions, he handed the satellite phone to her and taught her how to use it. Roohi was just 9 but way more mature than children of her age. Shekhar thought that probably he and Tara were responsible for this and he regretted not being able to give her the life which she deserved.
Jeniffer reached Delhi and rushed out of the train. The fear and chaos were reigning and she had to reach Tara as soon as possible. She takes the first cab which she could find and with great difficulty, she could convince the driver to take her to the attack site. By now, the terror strike at Hotel Continental was all over the news.
Jeniffer had talked to Anand, her fiance. “Hey, where are you? How is everything?”. “Jeniffer, I will boss is gonna land in sometime and then we will go forward with our plan. You take care.”. “Yeah, ok, you too take care and give me a call as soon as possible.”. She never mentioned a word of her activities to him. They were just too unnecessary and he need not tease himself with something as simple as filming a journalist outside the hotel where the terrorists had attacked. She called up Tara and informed her that she would be there in front of the back gate of the hotel in 20 minutes.
Tara was supposed to cover the attack news from outside the hotel and stay there among the mass of other journalists till someone went inside and really did something. She did not become one of the top journalists by just standing among the masses. She was itching to break into the hotel and get some inside scoop. May be she could even help the army people get inside the hotel and nab the terrorists. But, there was a hitch. She needed Jeniffer inside with her but she could not put someone else’s life at stake. She decides many lives are more precious than one.
Inside the hotel was a man who had started whimpering and pleading as soon as he saw the people with guns. He had been sure this was the last second of his life and he did not want to die. He started crying loudly and at a sharp rapport from the gun to the wall, he had fainted. There were around 10 men who had taken over the 5-star hotel in the heart of the city and they held everyone at their gun points. They had gathered everyone from the kitchens and the cellars to the penthouse in one room to take control. And, what do they want?
Read the next part of the story here.