That morning, I was in a hurry.
I needed to reach the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station as soon as possible, because the train was about to arrive.
The Delhi Traffic was at a bust and I had no hopes of reaching the platform anytime soon.
I booked a cab in a hurry and kept waiting. My eyes were constantly exercising over the dial.
Ahh !! Finally the cab signaled with the horn. Yes, it came pretty soon on time from what I expected it to. I rushed to the car as if I am going to handle the steering. After settling my luggage and myself, I switched on my own google maps and the small notes to ensure the driver was driving on the correct path.
I called my mother and told her that I had shared my location so she could trace me. I saw the driver looking at me from the rearview mirror. I knew he felt as if I was doubting him but, then, safety always comes first. As I kept my phone, he initiated a conversation remarking how very welI, I was aware and taking safety measures.
That was strange, I thought. My past experiences have told me that cab drivers did not like me doubting them, but here, this guy was appreciating me for doubting him. Strange !!
Being a keen observer, I observed, he was about 40 years old with a freckled face. He wore a good branded shirt and looked very determined. The sniff of his perfume was quite incensing. On the dashboard, I saw a small photo which appeared to be of his wife.
I smiled and looked out of the window.
He asked, “Where do you study, madam?”
I replied “NIT Hamirpur. Engineering”.
I felt dubious as why he is bothered about where I study.
He seemed impressive. He remarked how my father must be very proud of me, for studying in such a reputed institute.
He went on to tell me how he had a small daughter who was in the seventh standard and wanted to be a CID officer. I smiled reminiscing about my childhood days when I watched the show and aspired to be one. Maybe this child was the same.
He continued how she was always drawn to mysteries and wanted to serve the country by eliminating people who troubled the citizens. I was listening to all those stories silently observing his body language and how his eyes gleamed thinking of his daughter.
Suddenly his phone rang.
From the parts of the conversation, I heard “Yes Sir. I know it is important and I’ll have my life on it”.
The cab driver, having a boss and talking about life !
Maybe he has an alternate job for more income and a presentation he is putting his life into.
Few minutes were gone and again his phone rang.
This time, I knew it was his wife.
I heard “Take care of yourself and our daughter. I’ll be back”.
A churning sensation took place inside.
I knew I was safe but then 3 strange occurrences back to back couldn’t be ignored.
Why was he so apprehensive while talking over the phone?
Did I see a shiny teardrop in his eyes when he talked to his wife or all of it was just my wild mind making imagination?
Before I could ponder more, the station arrived. He put out my luggage and I paid him. Before leaving he remarked “Always make your father proud beta. They love their daughters to moon and back”.
I smiled. And bade farewell.
Still feeling uncomfortable.
I shoot down to the platform hurriedly. As I knew, there would be no one to help me perform the most popular scene of DDLJ.
Finally, next day I reached my paradise. The nature was quite pleasing and invigorating and when you have such a refreshing climate, you need to savour it with a cup of tea and newspaper in your arm chair. That morning, as I read the newspaper with my morning tea, I saw a known face.
My insides churned as I read on “A plainclothes policeman who was disguised as a cab driver from a month died yesterday tracing a serial killer who was killing women who were boarding his cab. He spotted the killer on the Nizamuddin station and took the lead. In the knock out encounter that followed, he succeeded in killing him but got gravely injured and succumbed to the injuries. Sadly, he is survived in the heart of his wife and 12-year-old daughter,who aspires to be like him, a police officer”.
His daughter’s dream, the tear in his eyes, his love for his daughter.
He had indeed, put his life in the mission.
It all made sense.
And so did the churning when I had bidden him farewell the earlier day, being unknowingly the last person he had ever talked to.