Palm Size Story # 1
25th August, 2013
Chetan Ballabh Sharma. The nation knows him as a man of enviable wit and cunning. A lawyer by profession, he is gifted with the kind of charismatic intelligence that sways decisions and judgments in the courtroom. Eloquent and ambitious, he believes that there are only two kinds of days in life: Those in which you succeed, and those in which you fail to succeed.
Today, however, seems to be an exception to the rule. The day is changing colours faster than a clever chameleon and he is yet to decide whether it is heading towards a glorious success or utter, crippling failure.
He sits, in his swanky office, clueless, for the first time in his life. In his hands rests a letter.
The letter says nothing grand. It is dated 23rd of August 2013 and contains six simple words which leave him perplexed: Whatever happens, you cannot be seen?!” He calls out to his assistant Priya, who returns with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, which Sharma claims helps him think better.
“Ahan. I have so many cases to take care of, and I get stuck in this anonymous, mysterious letter, that seems to have neither a beginning nor an end! Can you make something out of it?” he asks, handing over the letter to Priya.
Before Priya can offer an explanation, Sharma lapses into a story!
“Priya, you know what? This reminds me of a story. The legend of two kids! Do you know the story?”
When she answers in the negative, Sharma takes it as his cue to elaborate.
“It is about two boys, a Cuban and an Indian in a jail. The Cuban boy used to say something in his language and smile whenever he met the Indian boy. The Indian boy never really understood what the Cuban said. This went on for quite some time and one day it really annoyed the Indian. He punched the Cuban. Later, the two were taken to the warden to explain the case. The Indian explained that the Cuban used to abuse him whenever they met. The Cuban repeated whatever he used to say in front of the Warden. The Warden realized that the Cuban was only greeting the Indian, in his own tradition, with the words: Good morning and we meet once again.”
As Priya appears to be at a loss, he continues, “Hold on. I will clear you doubt about the connection of this legend with this letter. I want to rewind to that moment in which the Cuban boy was being punched by the Indian. The Cuban didn’t know the reason why he was being hit and same is applicable for my story. I do not know what this letter means, but it sure sounds threatening!”
“Ahh, now I get it. But, let us not make the mistake that the Indian did”, she says, “These words may mean something else. The question mark and an exclamation mark must have a meaning. It may not necessarily mean a threat or a warning. Let’s not judge it too soon.”
Priya holds the paper and tries to analyze the six worded letter.
“Sir, do you have an acquaintance who is fond of codes?”’
“I can’t think of anybody at the moment. Why codes?”
“I have a feeling that there is quite a lot hidden in these six words.”
“Oh, is it? Let’s try to crack it, then!”
Both analyse and try to solve the mystery. The mystery here was if there was any mystery at all. After an hour, Priya comes up with a six digit number.
“I counted the number of letters. I have got 8 7 3 6 2 4. Do they mean anything to you? Did you come up with something else?”
“Ah, I don’t know about the number. I think I got something, but this may not be true. I underlined the first letter of each word. Whatever Happens, You Cannot Be Seen?! and came up with W H Y C B S ? ! The last three letters form my initials – C.B.S.That might mean a question disguised in a form of a statement. What do you think?”
“Wow, that’s clever! Now comes the next question. Why would anyone ask you ‘Why’?”
“Mmm. Somebody is probably questioning my take on a case. We are down to the same story-The Cuban-Indian legend. The ‘Why’ is haunting me.”
“Let’s try the letter number cipher. W is 23, H is 8 and Y is 25 in that case. Does that strike a chord?”
Slowly, Sharma’s eyes open wide in a flash of recognition.
Priya watches as the realization sets in on her, too!
Both look at each other in awe.
“But, this is not possible!” a frightened Sharma exclaims. “Yes sir, you had sent the man to jail yourself!”
Both of them had been to Delhi between the 23rd and 25th of the eighth month, August, 3 years ago, for the final judgment in a controversial case that had been handed over to them by their richest client so far. Sharma had distorted evidence and manipulated the witnesses to win the case and send an innocent, intelligent employee to jail, on falsely implicated charges. The case had made him richer by a few crores.
Sharma remembers that the employee had been an engineer, an expert at cracking machine codes. He is also reminded of the engineer’s last words before the Police took him away: “Do not think that you will be spared. Whatever happens, I will see you, again. Whatever happens, I will see to your end!”
Today was an anniversary of his greatest victory, his greatest deceit, in all the cases he had fought till date.
As both of them tried to figure out what the threat could mean, the peon brought them yet another envelope.
It contained six more words: I am coming for you mate.
Sharma collapses in his chair as his head spins, and the office fades to black!