Love Jihad

March 08, 2016 Unknown 10 Comments

Syed and Gayatri didn't mean to fall in love. But love happens when you least expect it. It creeps up suddenly, when someone needs attention, care, conversation, laughter and maybe even intimacy. Love doesn't look at logic, or at backgrounds and least of all, religion.

Gayatri was from a very conservative South Indian family that went to a temple every Saturday. Syed bought goats for his family every Eid. That said it all. Their paths would never have crossed if it hadn't been for that fateful day. That day when he walked into the coffee shop. Gayatri wondered if destiny chose our loved ones for us. Did we have any role to play at all?

She looked at her watch. Syed was late. They met every Thursday at five pm to catch up. Their conversation lasted for hours. Sometimes at the cafe, sometimes in his car, sometimes in places that she could never tell her friends about. They would never understand. And yet, Syed made her happy.

Suddenly her phone beeped. He had sent a message. "On my way. Have something important to tell you." Gayatri stared at it and realized she had knots in her stomach. Thoughts flooded her mind. What did he want to tell her?

Curiosity is a tricky emotion. The moments of anticipation teaches you what you’re made of. Gayatri was a nervous wreck. What did he want to tell me? Was he going to break up with me? Would he propose? Oh my God what if he proposes? What do I do?! The questions were killing her. The coffee she held had gone cold but her mind was so clouded, it failed to register the temperature as she blindly sipped it.

Syed was on his way to the coffee shop, the one he had first met Gayatri at. He still remembered the day, the image crystal clear. ‘Marvel Café’ was his usual hangout. Named after the comic franchise, it was decorated with super hero memorabilia and Syed was fascinated by them. You never get bored when a life sized Iron Man is lunging at Captain America. The cafe wasn't exceptionally large, with only about 7 tables, but this only added an element of coziness that drew in a large crowd. He had sipped coffee there a million times, but that one day will forever be etched in his memory. From a very young age he was taught and prepared to find a girl from the same caste. In a country as judgemental as this, a Muslim marrying a Hindu was considered the highest level of treason. And yet, when he laid eyes on this woman, all restraint and religious affiliation went out the window. And now everything was going to change.

Gayatri stared at the man in front of her. He had walked in ten minutes ago, had time to order a coffee and explain why Batman will definitely win the fight over Superman in the upcoming Zack Snyder movie, but didn't yet find the time to tell her the important news. Did he even know the turmoil her mind was in? She looked at his chiselled face. He was slim, borderline malnourished but the look suited him. His sharp jawline and angular cheekbones were extremely attractive. But his most attractive feature was his mind. Agreed he sometimes spoke about trivial subjects like superheroes but there were times when he made the most sensible arguments. For a second she remembered why she was really with him, but pushed the thought out of her mind immediately.

“You know, I'm speaking rubbish only because I'm nervous to tell you something. Let me just get it out”, Syed said, looking at his cup the entire time. Gayatri's pulse raced. This was it. “So, I had applied for an MS program in Sweden. I got in to Linköping University. I have to leave in 3 months.” Syed couldn't get himself to look at Gayatri in the eyes as he blurted out the news. Gayatri just stared. He was dying to know what she was thinking. She stood up and walked off. He didn't have the courage to stop her. His heart ached and begged for her to turn around, come back and hug him, tell him not to leave. She didn't come. He didn't chase her.

Ajax trade centre was a brokerage hub for stock market traders. It was launched fifteen years back as a small firm, which now catered to over a million traders and had a minimum of a hundred crore rupees flowing in and out daily. They had managed to single handedly raise Sensex by a thousand points the previous year. Their marketing strategy was solid. Today, like every other day, the ATC floor was bustling with activity. The market had opened fifty points low as a direct result of the budget correction announced the previous day and traders were panicking. The phones rang non-stop.

The ‘Blue Emerald’ was an old dilapidated building. He stood on the terrace, the world oblivious to his location. No one would ever disturb him here. His Louis Vuitton suit fluttered in the light midsummer breeze as he zoomed in on Ajax Trade Centre through his Steiner 8x30 Military LRF 1535nm Binocular. It stood tall against the beautiful city skyline. With his other hand he lifted a Dunhill to his lips and pulled a long drag, burning the last of the tobacco, leaving behind just the filter. His watch began beeping, signalling it was half past ten. It was time.

Gangaram was coating a betel leaf with limestone, humming a song popular only in his native village. He smiled thinking of the giggles his two month old daughter would give hearing the song later on that day. He had just become a father and Jumri was his most prized possession. Just as he reached for the tobacco, the world around him erupted in a loud deafening bang. There was a flash of white followed by an immediate blast of unbearable heat. His body vaporized in seconds. His shop was next to the Ajax Trading Centre.

Syed was home. He had two more months until he had to leave for Sweden. He was orphaned a few years ago when his parents died in a car crash and he lived in a two bedroom home alone. It was six in the evening and he was lazing on the sofa in front of the television.
Gayatri was in his arms. He looked at her. She was the vision god had when making Angels. Her long brown hair reached her waist and the thought of how excited she got when he pulled it aroused him. He leaned down and kissed her on the lips. As he pulled back, he admired her beautiful face. He loved her large puppy dog eyes, but her best feature were her luscious lips. He remembered the day he almost lost her.

After she stormed out of the café, they had a week away from each other. He couldn’t take any more time apart and he called her. Love has a way of making you forget the days, months even years spent apart and give you the feeling you were with this person only moments ago. They decided to spend the next three months together, and then work out a plan for their future.
Gayatri felt content in his arms. She smiled at him as he pulled away from the kiss, and continued switching channels. Something caught her eye. It was the evening news. The pretty face of a reporter materialized on screen.

“At half past ten today there was a massive explosion at the Ajax Trading centre. The blast was measured an estimate of 1 megagram Ton of TNT. There were at least five hundred employees in the ten floor building. There have been no survivors yet…..”

Syed and Gayatri bolted upright. This was terrible. Gayatri began shivering. Syed hugged her tight. There was a rap on the door. Just as Syed stood up to get it, the door was busted open. The SWAT team ran in, guns raised yelling “On the floor, on the floor now!!” Syed and Gayatri fell on the floor. Gayatri looked up to see a SWAT member pull Syed by his shirt and drag him to his feet. “What’s your name boy?” he growled. Syed was dumbstruck. The Officer slapped him hard. “I ASKED YOU YOUR NAME!” “Ss-Syed”, he croaked, tears running down his cheeks. The rest of the SWAT team did a full sweep of the house and one officer ran up from the basement yelling “The canines going crazy, there’s definitely C-4 material down there. But finding it isn't important, look what I got”, he said lifting a detonator for everyone to see. “We have our guy. Move out team”, the officer commanded.

It was over in minutes. Gayatri was still on the floor, too afraid to stand up. When she was sure they would not return she got to her feet, walked outside the busted door and took a cab home. Once home she had a long shower. She made herself a cup of tea and fell on the bean bag. She picked her phone and made a call. “Master. It’s done.”

She heard the coarse voice that made her shudder. She had been conversing with him for six months now but she still couldn't get used to the voice. He had a rattle, like patients with throat cancer have. Maybe he had cancer, she didn't know. She had never met him or knew anything about him. She was recruited in the ‘Revolution Militants’ army a year back, and after six months of intense training, she was initiated in the Explosive Devices division. That’s when he had called her.

She only referred to him as the master. It was rumoured he was a founding member of the group and had immense clout. He was the brain behind the fall of the LTTE regime, although no one knew this. That’s how he wanted it. This background made her want to please him.

“How did you accomplish this? I want all the details”, his voice crackled over the phone. She took a deep breath and prepared her answer. “You know how the C-4 was designed and placed in the building. The last phase of the plan was to find a scape goat. Someone whom the authorities would blindly believe was the perpetrator. It had to be a Muslim, someone the stereotypical Indians could boldly point a finger at. I lured a guy I thought was the perfect match months ago. No siblings, parents or close relatives to bail him out. I gained access to his apartment and dropped a little nitroamine in the basement along with the detonator, this morning. I then left an anonymous tip as a worried neighbour. The SWATs raided the apartment and, well it’s an open and shut case.”

“Very well done I must say. I am proud of you Gaya”, the master replied. She felt elated at this praise. “Why this particular building, may I ask?” she enquired. “I think you have earned the right to know. Considering the drop in trading inflow the destruction of ATC will cause, stocks are bound to crash over the next few days. The market is going to plummet and we are going to pile up stock. Over the next few months traders will find new windows and as normal trading resumes, the market will recover. That’s when we dump the stocks. This is solely to fund our future projects. It has all been possible because of you. You will be appreciated for this. For now, sit tight. I will call you soon” the call went dead.

She put down the phone and continued to sip her tea. A tear fell down her eye, wetting her cheek. Syed was supposed to be a scapegoat, and only that. Somewhere between her elaborate plans, she had fallen in love. He was no doubt, going to be convicted and sent to the gallows. Her chest felt hollow. She began weeping.

The police broke in to find a dead body the next day, after the neighbours complained of foul smell. Gunshot to the head. Clear case of suicide. She was identified as Gayatri Joshi.






10 comments:

  1. I had goosebumps Anson.. You have all the ingredients required to become a prolific writer someday.. Please keep writing and never give this up. Come what may.
    You have a way with words.. :) ..looking forward to seeing your work in the bookstore soon..
    -Swati

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    1. I have some things in the pipeline, will keep you informed ;)

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  2. Classy ans .... Nicely written.. The detail with which it is written makes u feel like ur right there watching it happen ... N nice twist ... Keep writing :) ... I want ur first signed book :)- Shetty :)

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  3. If I had to be a very harsh critic I would say: "there is no flow". Good story though but you may want to make some changes in the end with the concept with respect to "This world is too corrupt to understand pure love. Syed and Gayatri were now in a place devoid of religion, colour and judgement. They were in the presence of divine love".
    Cause the end of the story does not give me any feel that it was true love. She had evil motives but she fell in love. nevertheless she carried out what she was sent for. SO IS IT TRUE LOVE????? She felt guilty for what she did but did she tell it out open???? She just died.... Even if they meet for eternity she is still going to be guilty.... Think about it...

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    1. Thanks for the critique :)
      I was actually cutting very close to the word limit. That is why I skipped the transitions and moved from plot to plot in spurts, which makes the story seem not smooth.
      I don't think Gayatri committed suicide out of guilt. She showed no remorse sending five hundred people to the grave so I don't think sending an innocent man to the gallows would affect her. What did affect her however is the thought of not seeing Syed again.
      I added the last para much after I posted the story. Maybe the story could live without it.

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  4. Awesome Anson, as good as your breakfast ...

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    1. hahaha then it must be really good :P .. Thanks :)

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  5. Replies
    1. Hey thanks for the comment :).. I had to remove your comment on Heavens Alley, contact me over mail or through the message box on the right for marketing, not on the comment section. An author cannot have his story second guessed by his viewers I hope you understand :)

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