Recap – Episode 6
“Sadly Mallik is not an informer,” continuedDaya. “Mallik is a charismatic and well-financed fanatic who knows how to connect with lonely young computer obsessed kids. And that’s where you come in. we want you to get recruited by Mallik.”
“Yes. We’ll put you in a house with two officers as your parents, and send you to high school. The rest should come naturally.”
The CBI was famous for their ‘sting’ operations. I once had read about how they had gone undercover to trap a businessman who was willing to sell firearms to terrorists. They really did that sort of thing for living.
“Some of the information on military and government networks that you gave up during your pleanbargain would be worth of thousands, but millions of dollars to these people. That’s why we want you. We haven’t been able to get anywhere near Mallik. Believe me, we’ve tried. But you might be able to do it. And you could still pass for a high schooler.”
There was a minute’s silence, while we eyed one another.
“Your parole officer had already agreed to turn you over to us. He knows the work you’ll be doing. He thinks you should take this opportunity.”
“It pays more than cooking pizzas.” added Abhijeet.
“I could earn ten times as much as anything you could pay by working as a consultant.”
“Not for two years, you can’t.” Abhijeet said quickly.
“Not legally, anyway.” added Daya.
as well as a non-publishing clause, one other of the no-contest terms of my plea bargain was a twenty four month loss of all contact with computers. I wasn’t allowed within one hundred yards of a computer. Never mind that they had them in every shop. Even cell phones come with operating systems you could reprogram, if uou didn’t mind straining your eyes looking at the small screen.
“What do you think?”, Daya said after a minute’s silence.
“You forgot one thing.”
“It’s going to take about ten seconds for someone to recognize me. I got my face on the front pages of the newspapers, and on TV. For all i know , they stuck it on milk cartons, too.”
Daya was unperturbed
“Trust me, we do it all the time.” continued Daya
He put two photographs on the table. The first was me in the old days when i had long hair and fuzz on my face. I was so involved in my favorite pursuits that some weeks, i didn’t even bother showering. The othe photo had been digitally doctored. It showed me in trendy clothes with short hair and clean shaven. I barely recognized myself all clean up.
“The Witness Protection Program?”
“Exactly. Look you’re yesterday’s news. We’ve had two hurricanes, a White House Scandal, and a stock market crisis since your exploits hit the headlines. So, are you interested?”
Daya looked surprised. He seemed to have been thinking that i would jump into the air and start cheering for the CBI.
“No? Can i ask why?”
“I don’t trust you.”
Daya opened his palms, a gesture that meant he didn’t know what I was talking about, as if perhaps the CBI was beyond reproach.
“You told all those lies about me. You said that I may have been working for terrorists, and that I cost the government millions of dollars. People believed it. How many lies are you telling today?” I asked straight what i was thinking.
“Hey,” Abhijeet said, “don’t sit there and tell us how innocent you are. You did what you did, and you had fun doing it. When you act like a criminal, people treat you like one.”
“I’m not an criminal.”, i said loudly
“That’s what they all say.”, Abhijeet said louder
“I never stole anything”
“They say that, too.”, Abhijeet’s voice was steadily rising.
“Look Sanskar. You hate us. We hate you. That should be the end of it. You go to Pizza Land and instead of chasing girls and going to parties, like other teenagers, you start palying with computers and phones. One day soon we pick you again when you break your parole by Hacking. but we’re trapped in the tar with each other.”
“I’ll be straight with you, the last time i met Mallik, he got better of me. We need each other’s help.”
“Can i leave now? Guard!!”,I told them.
“i know what you’re planning, Sanskar. You think that you’re going out of here, quietly track down Laksh, and even the score. but that’s impossible. We’re giving you a chance here…a chance to put all that behind you, and maybe even start again. You should do something with your potential, instead of……” he gestured at the surroundings,”……instead of this
I stared at Daya. He seemed surprised by my attitude, but not concerned.
“Pandey thinks you’re an addict. And he feels cheated by the way you talked your way out of a serious custodial sentence. He’s going to settle his own score. Do this for me, and I’ll make sure the next time he bothers you, at least you’ll have a ‘get out of jail’ card.”
So, Pndey hadn’t moved on. I never understood Pandey’s stance…to him, it was personal. He really was out to get me. Even after I had bartered my way out of trouble, Pandey had managed to keep my release pending for over six months. I blew a long breath out through my nose, trying to make it as dramatic as the routine that Daya and Abhijeet were giving me
Finally they made me think of it……….
Thanks for reading one more boring crap of mine….Stay tuned 😉