Taken For A Ride

 

Part 2

 

This time courageous streak in me, not often on public display, asserted itself. I looked squarely back at him until he turned away. Round 2 awarded to me. His gaze repulsed, now I examined my dress furtively if anything with it was the reason for drawing attention. The belt held up the pants, the shirt was worn outside out, the zipper was doing its job; there were no crow deposits on the shirt at least where my eyes could go. Then it struck me. Was he after my money? That must be it. How did he know about it? Was he tailing me all the way from the printer’s where I had to pull out and count the cash for payment?  I had with me all of three hundred rupees in savings due to the concessions extracted from the printer over those extra cards. They had cautioned me at home against carrying large amounts in person. How did one pay bills and not carry cash? Home delivery had meant another fifty rupees. The folks at home never understood how these things were.

 

Now again if I am already alerted and I watched him like a rat in the hole watches a cat in wait, how could he get his unwelcome hands into my pocket in the full view of a crowd? The comforting thought was quickly displaced by another unpleasant and perilous possibility. Was he operating all by himself or he was, from far, directing his other mates to close in on me? A quick inspection showed an old toothless lady and a gaggle of uniform-clad school children populating my immediate proximity – very unlikely comrades-in-crime, one had to concede. But again you could never tell in these days, could you? The ‘enemy’ had shown his hand, blown his cover: battle-lines were drawn, gun-muzzles unsheathed, fangs bared, daggers drawn, brass knuckles donned, etc. etc. It was clear the defenses had to be mounted with alacrity. The solitary ‘cloud in the otherwise brilliant blue sky’ was: it wasn’t clear to me what had to be done on the ground to thwart the ‘enemy’s’ flagrant advances.

 

While contemplating options that I had no clue about, what happened in the minutes that followed significantly altered the perceptions all around. The threat was neutralized without firing a single ‘shot’.

 

(To be contd.)

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