Episode 3: The Angel – A wretched detour

The pregnant clouds hovered over the congestion that was Rottarpur, threatening to unleash their fury on the city and wash away the filth and grime off its streets and buildings. But there was nothing that could rinse the bogged streets and bogged buildings of the festering population. Elsewhere in the State, the rains would have been welcomed with much jubilation or many curses, but here in Rottarpur it was part of the background, always there and never given much thought. The darkness encroached upon the city, yet its denizens went about their business without even a glance to the heavens. Cash continued to change hands at street corners, stabbings continued to happen in alleyways, shops continued to be broken in and eyes continued to turn blind to these crimes. It was just another regular day in Rottarpur.

Perhaps the only person to look up at the approaching storm was Colin Gomes. For Colin, the coming rain spelt disaster as it would derail his daily schedule. Now, instead of taking his regular route through Gandhi Borough 7, he would have to take the metro, which would invariably drop him early at his office steps, not to mention lighten his wallet. He had the whole journey from his apartment to the office precisely planned and he detested deviating from it, even if it would bring him to his destination earlier than expected. He wanted to be at the office exactly at 8:02 am, not a minute before and definitely not after. So the grey clouds that he saw as he walked out of his apartments upset him very much. The dratted rain had also robbed him of his morning exercise and now he had to travel in the metro. Colin did not like walking in the rain even with an umbrella, because he hated how his socks would get wet and his shoes and pant heels muddied. Normally he wouldn’t think much of the crowd around him as he walked through the streets on a clear day; a ghost among others, another non-descript man. But during a rain, the crowd would turn into a swamp, all sorts of foul smells emanating from it and he had to wade through this reeking bog of humanity. These thoughts sent a shiver through him. So Colin had no choice but to take the train. Colin boarded the 7:40 and sat down in a window seat with his satchel on his lap and head turned to the window, as the passing buildings were a better picture than the drab and monotonous faces around him. If anybody looked at Colin, they would have seen a thin, bespectacled man with an unremarkable face, very much like his fellow travellers that he disdained. But it was his greyish green eyes that set him apart and it would turn others uneasy to have those eyes gaze upon them. Presently those eyes were fixed on the rain drops sliding down the window pane as the clouds had opened up not long after he had boarded the train. They reminded him of the events of the last few days. So many drops starting out alone, blazing their own trail in their quest to reach the bottom, but ultimately coming together into one large drop until the wind blew it away into nothingness. The Sikh hadn’t answered the phone yesterday night and it was likely that he wouldn’t answer at all. The men he had sent to the Lodge had confirmed his suspicion and reported that the briefcase was missing. It was a loss that was unacceptable and had to be rectified quickly, if he wanted to meet the deadline. Colin knew that he was just a cog in the well-oiled machinery that was Rottarpur Personnel Services; just another worker, trying to do his job and keep his head above the water. But the truth was far from it. On that rain soaked morning, he did not know that that cog would bring Rottarpur to its knees.

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