One of the guards was at my door. A chubby, confused sort of man, not exactly cut out to be a guard, he looked more like a timid truck driver who’d fall asleep behind the wheel, any chance he got. Somebody called “Mubashar” was waiting outside for me in a car, he said.
It had been raining all day. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but I did know a Mubashar and so I grudgingly closed my chapter on Cirrhosis that was finally starting to make some sense and came out, ran through the rain towards the small black gate beside which the other guard paced, his gun slung over his shoulder, the bag containing the extra cartridges set on a chair behind him.
An old corolla was parked across the road, its engine silent, the windows rolled up. I could make out a guy inside, his face not familiar at all. He looked towards me but made no effort to move, so I went closer, shielding my eyes against the rain. He rolled down the window, but said nothing, and instead a quizzical expression appeared on his face. “Jee?”, I called out.
“Sajeel kahan hai?”
“Main Sajeel hun.”
“Kyaa? Wo kali gaari tumhari hai? Civic? Jo modified hai?”
“Nahi”, I blurted out, my mind racing.
“Sajeel kahan hai? Usaay bulao!” His voice rose as he leaned out out, the anger on his face apparent. I couldn’t see his hands. Where were his hands?
“Idhar to main hi Sajeel hun.”
He knew that I knew. I knew that he knew I wasn’t the one he wanted.
The events of the day before raced through my mind. A certain Mirza Sajeel had stayed at the place earlier this year. Yesterday, his car had been shot at, his tires riddled with bullets and apparently he’d then been threatened at gunpoint. We didn’t know why, but apparently the guy was a bit of a troublemaker himself, and had landed in some tight spots before too.
This time it was serious.
I couldn’t decide what to do. Should I confront the man, ask him what he wanted? Or turn back towards the gate, that suddenly seemed too far away if those hidden hands were to suddenly appear? The expression on his face was steely, with just a hint of anger and frustration.
Just then, another car rolled up from the opposite side and parked right across from the first guy. The man got out and came towards us. The first guy seemed to recognize him because he called out something to the effect that it was no good, and the other guy leaned in through the passenger side window to talk to him.
And, I turned on my heel and rushed back up the path to the gate, my heart pounding.
And nothing interesting happened.