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THE GOLD SYNDICATE

RAVI RANJAN GOSWAMI

THE GOLD SYNDICATE

A short novel


A thrilling story about gold-smuggling into India.A fiction close to reality.


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AKNOWLEDGEMENT

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters, organizations and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author's imagination.This novel was originally written in Hindi.Translated and adapted to English by the author    

                                 Ravi Ranjan Goswami(Author)

1

 

The river was flooded and its flow was terrible, but I had no option. I jumped into the river and left myself to the mercy of its current, which swept me several meters along with it in a few seconds. Then I started swimming across the river with my full might. I wanted to escape and reach a safe place. I could hear the firing sound of the guns coming from the jungle I left behind. I looked up ahead and guessed that I had to cover half a mile to reach the other bank of the river. I started swimming hard to reach the other side of the river faster. Suddenly I felt myself heavy then I realized. I had jumped into the water with all my clothes and shoes on. But I continued to swim and in half an hour I was resting there in the sand alomg the opposite bank of the river exhausted. A few yards away from the bank there were a thick cluster of bushes. I stood and ran to the bushes to hide myself behind them. Reaching there a thought flashed in my mind. I asked myself from whom I was running away. Suddenly my sleep was broken. I was lying in my berth in a second class AC compartment of a Delhi bound train. I was going to Delhi from Jhansi and at that moment the train was running on a bridge. I was going to Delhi for a job interview.

The train, which brought me to Delhi reached there around 8AM. For the sake of economy and time I finished my morning ablutions in my train compartment and got ready for the interview. The interview was for the post of officer trainee in a petroleum company. Its office was in Connaught place. The interview was good but I understood that my chances of selection were few as I was just a graduate. There were many candidates, who were   having a post graduate degree plus an MBA. Above all that I was not fluent in speaking English as I had studied in the vernacular medium. This proved An Achilles heel of mine. To get a good job either you ought to be extraordinarily talented or you had to be fluent in English. I passed many written examinations for higher jobs but failed in an interview for this weakness or at least I thought so. But many Indians will agree with me on this point.

After the interview I came to a nearby bus stand  and stood there waiting for a bus to go to R. K. Puram, a place in New Delhi  to see one, of my cousins, who lived there.

When I was standing there, a man drew my attention He was a middle aged man. He was talking with the Panwala (Betel leaf vendor). I was standing there waiting for my bus. I was there in Delhi in connection with an interview for a job. After appearing for the interview in an office nearby I was waiting for a bus to go to the New Delhi railway station. The betel leaf shop owner appeared to be acquainted with him. My attention was drawn to him for his secretive way of talking to the Panwala and the queer way of looking towards me while talking. There was a look of fear in his eyes. He was talking about fear only.

Perhaps it was not prudent to take an interest in a stranger in an unknown place but I could not help it. I started to watch him.

Suddenly we had an eye contact. He came a bit closer to me and started talking with me.

He said, ” brother, I am too much afraid

I was pretty surprised by that.

He further spoke, “what will happen next?”

I asked him about what was that he was afraid of. I jokingly asked him if he was afraid of death

He replied,  “ Better if I die. I think too much, but cannot find an answer. What will happen to my life?” Having said that he turned serious.

He remained silent for a while and then suddenly spoke to me” sir, can you help me?”

I   turned cautious and apprehensive of him. I doubted that he wanted to exact some money from me. Still, I asked him “how can I help you?”

“Will you come with me to my house?”was his next question.

I doubted his intentions, but my curiosity about him increased.

By his appearance, neither he was looking insane nor a crook.

I asked him” why do you want to take me home?

“My soul is telling me that you can help me” he  replied.

I started thinking. I had feelings of curiosity, apprehension, fear and compassion. Finally, curiosity won me over. I decided to follow him.

On the way to his residence I talked to him and gathered some information about him.  His name was Harendar. He was working as a clerk in a state government department. He had one daughter named Pummy  and three sons Bunty, Chhotu and Monu.

While walking along with him I was cogitating about the situation, which I might be facing on reaching his home. How was I going to be received there?

I did not have much time to think about it.. His house was not really far. Within five to seven minutes we reached there.

We found the doors of his house open. For a moment, I hesitated to enter his house. He first went inside and asked me, "please come in." I entered there. That was his drawing room. His three sons were sitting there watching television, which was placed in a corner. His three sons were close to  about fifteen, ten and seven years of age. On seeing me, they said, “Namaste with folded hands." I responded in the same way.  The two younger boys went inside. The eldest son went on to view TV.

Harendar made me sit in a chair away from the TV and dragged a chair, placing it opposite me and sat in that chair facing me. I looked all around the room.  The room was not large, but was neat and comfortable. The Room’s walls were adorned with the calendars and photos of various gods, goddesses and hermits. There were two windows opening towards the road in front of the house. There were no curtains at the front door and windows. There was a door backside opening into the inner portion of the house. This door had a curtain. Above this door there hung a pendulum wall clock.

He was sitting quietly. His head was down, and he was looking at his palms.

Suddenly he jumped off his chair. Looking at the wall clock he asked his son “has Pummy come?” Son answered in the negative.

He looked very concerned and worried. He uttered” She should have come by now”.

He became restless. He stood up from the chair, went to the door, looked outside and came back to the chair.

I was feeling awkward  there. I was unable to justify my being there in his house for whatever cause. Furthermore, there was no strong reason of my being there except that   the long period of my unemployment has given me a sense of being in a state of permanent leisure. I had nothing urgent to do and nowhere to reach. I was a free man. He produced a suspense by his unusual demeanor and talk, and I accompanied him there.

“What do you think? Can the government catch the terrorists?” He asked me.

Before I could say anything he started speaking” Nothing can be done sir. They come like apparitions, put bombs anywhere and escape. They appear from nowhere, shower bullets and disappear. I have witnessed with my own eyes charred dead bodies of two young children following a bomb explosion at a nearby bus stop.”

“Bunty! Where are Chhotu and Monu?”He asked Bunty his eldest son where was his two younger sons then.

“They are inside with mummy (Mom)?” Bunty replied without looking away from the TV screen.

He heaved a sigh of relief.

After a few moments, he again looked agitated. He looked towards me and asked,” Will rapists be caught?”

A few days ago, a girl was abducted from her college, raped and deserted at an isolated place in Delhi. I had seen in a news report on national television.

I was about to speak, just then a girl of about 18 years of age entered the room from the front door. She was Pummy his daughter.

She hesitated for a moment, seeing me, a stranger there, then crossed me to go inside. Before she could go inside Harendra asked her” Why are you late Pummy?”

She started explaining," papa! A few days ago dead body of a girl student of my university was found behind a boys’ hostel. There was a suspicion of murder. No one has been arrested so far. So university students were agitating against the inaction of the police. They blocked the road through which my bus runs.  The Bus, in which I come, had to alter the route so it got late.

When she was telling the reason of her late coming, I was noticing the changing expressions on her face. She was a beautiful dusky girl with sharp features. She looked tired, but her eyes were alert and watchful. While talking to her father, she had been scrutinizing me too with her side glances.

After telling the reason of her late coming, she went inside.

A

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