Story so far : Two friends go missing while on a road trip. The road trip was a result of a wager between classmates. The challenge to race Kashi Vishvanath Express from Varanasi to Lucknow becomes a thrilling adventure for the two friends Bunty and Sonu. (Please read the complete story at Pulp Fiction Masala )
Authors Note : This story has been inspired by real incidences that happened several years ago … before the age of cell phones. You will be surprised if you knew which parts of the story are real!
‘Wow! That man was one cool character ‘, Sonu said gazing at the tractor that rattled and puffed down the highway , taking a sharp turn into a dusty road cutting through sugarcane fields.
‘There is a shorter route that cuts across the bend on the highway – It is very convenient, I will be taking that route …’, The good Samaritan tractor driver, Ranjit Singh had said to Sonu during the tractor ride.’ ‘Racing a train to Lucknow … Sir you can take a nap and still win the race’, he had joked.
It took about an hour to repair the flat tire.’ There are multiple punchers ‘, the mechanic had complained displaying the damaged tube which was cut in multiple places. Bunty and Sonu had lost more than two hours due to the flat tire.
‘Let’s take the shortcut’, Sonu said pointing to the unpaved road bending sharply towards the west ‘It cuts across the bend in the highway’
They rode through the dusty road along the sugarcane fields. It was a pleasant ride as they passed quaint mud and brick houses that were sparsely scattered along the narrow road.
The slim hope of making it to Lucknow before the train was dashed to pieces when the bike wobbled.
“No … Not again !’ Exclaimed Bunty. The dejected duo stared at the flat tire. They un mounted the bike and scanned the road which is surprisingly empty, but for a herd of cattle that was crossing about a hundred yard ahead of them. Just beyond the dusty silhouette of the cows was a mud and brick structure. Wisps of smoke hung around the small hut like structure, occasionally blowing across the road and over the sugarcane fields. It was a roadside chai shop.
The deserted Chai shop turned out to be bigger than they expected. The only person there was an old man stirring a big pot sitting on a clay oven in an open kitchen. There was also a small bicycle repair shop down the road !
‘I can fix it – but it will cost you ten rupees’, the shabby teenager manning the shop said in a delightfully gloomy voice. But even the gloomy voice seemed like Christmas Carol to the weary riders.
‘We will catch something to eat and will be back in ten minutes – make it fast‘, Bunty said handing the teenager a ten rupee note. They left the bike on the shop and walked down to the Dhaba.
‘We lost the wager …’ , Bunty admitted with a sheepish smile.
‘Koi baat nahi yaar, Lets relax and enjoy’ , Sonu smiled back.
The boys did not know that it was just the beginning of their adventure!
The Chai Shop was totally deserted.
The old man stirring the big pot gave them an ominous glance and focused his attention back to pot sitting on a clay oven.
As they settled down on a wooden bench next to the road , a tall and burly man approached them from behind the mud and brick structure. He was at least six and half feet tall. He had a thick moustache, turned up at the ends.
‘Abe, he looks like a bandit straight out of the Hindi Movies ‘, Sonu whispered as the man stood towering beside them.
‘What can I get S-S-Sirji?’ He asked. The boys were surprised by the choices offered and ordered for chai shop snacks – Maggi , bread pakoda and chai.
The man appeared again shortly. He said that the food was ready and he had made a special arrangement for dining table inside the mud and brick structure.
‘S-S-Sirji, It will be good in there, more comfortable’, he said ‘ It is dusty here’
They followed the man to a room behind the open kitchen. The old man stirring the blackened pot glanced back with a blank expression.
There was a large room with several benches. One bench was covered with a white table cloth with Maggi , bread pakoda and chai laid out neatly on it. The food looked heavenly to the weary , famished travelers and they settled down with their plates , ignoring the burly man who was standing next to them, watching them eat.
A gust of wind blew a bellow of smoke from the open kitchen inside the room.
‘ I will close the d-d-door so that smoke does not come in’, he said , getting out of the room & closing the door.
‘Is it only me ? that guy gives me creeps’, Sonu murmured.
The food was good and famished travelers had polished off their plates.
‘I need to wash my hands’, Bunty said getting up.
He tried to open the door but it did not open. At first he thought it was stuck. He gave it a shove but it did not budge.
‘The door is stuck’, He said to Sonu.
Sonu walked over and tried to open the door, pushing it with all his strength.
‘The door is locked from outside! ’
They rattled and knocked the door but there was no response. Both of them were sweating. They looked around the room. The large brick room had no windows. They continued rattling on the door for some time when suddenly the door opened.
The old man they had seen sitting on the open kitchen appeared on the door. He had a very serious expression on his face and a metallic object in his outstretched arm. It was a homemade Katta pistol !
‘Get back or I will blast your face with this’, he said with a loud croaking voice.
All of this seemed surreal – the words of Ranjit Singh flashed in Bunty’s head. “Sir, please be careful. There is a kidnapping gang active in this area …. “
‘Give me your wallet’ , the old man croaked. Bunty handed his wallet.
‘I..I don’t have a wallet’, Sonu said turning his pockets out.
‘Bike keys …’ , he croaked again.
The old man with surprising agility, gathered all the items and disappeared behind the closed door.
Bunty and Sonu stood there staring at each other.
I did not see this coming’, mumbled Bunty.
All their money , motorcycle and contact with civilization was gone.
Every passing second felt like an hour to the ill fated travelers.
‘Do you think these guys are part of the Kidnapping Gang?’ , Sonu asked breaking the silence.
‘We have to get out of here’, Bunty declared standing up.
With a sudden burst of energy, he banged the door with his shoulders throwing his weight at it. Sonu joined in – the duo pounded the door in frenzy. The old man croaked loudly from the other side of the door – threatening to shoot but the boys did not stop.
Suddenly the door broke open from its hinges and fell on the old man, knocking him down on the floor, cold. They ran out of the room and down the road to the repair shop without daring to glance back.
The bicycle shop was closed! As they looked around in panic , Sonu noticed something unusual in the pile of hay next to the repair shop. Somebody had tried to hide the bike in the pile of hay . It would have been impossible to locate but for its florescent blue color!
They retrieved the bike from the pile. ‘They must have been unable to start the bike and left it here ..’ , Bunty said twisting the choke.
‘But we don’t have the Keys’, Sonu panted.
‘The bike starts without a key – its ignition system is broken’ , Bunty said hopping on the bike and starting it.
They zoomed out on the dusty road.
Dusk was setting in and the duo were zooming past the countryside on the empty road.
‘We should go to the Police station’, Sonu suggested.
‘We should reach a safe place first, I am not sure about this area anymore’
Bunty had the bike going at full throttle, zooming at more than hundred kilometers an hour.
Suddenly they saw the headlights of an approaching vehicle. In the dim light of the dusk we could make out it was an open Jeep. When they were about hundred yards from the vehicle, to their horror, another jeep pulled over from behind the oncoming vehicle and both vehicles stopped blocking the deserted road.
It was the kidnapping mafia on their hunt !
The florescent blue Yamaha was approaching the two Jeeps, at hundred twenty kilometers an hour. Bunty watched open eyed, almost as if in slow motion, as their motorbike inched towards the two Jeeps. The motorbike was too fast to brake. A collision was imminent.
Bunty had figured out a few seconds back that braking was not an option. All he could see now was a three feet gap between the two Jeeps parked in the road.
He did not see the two gun wielding men who had got out of the jeeps and standing infront of it on the road. He did not notice a very serious looking (former) good Samaritan Ranjit Singh sitting in the driving seat of one of the jeeps.
The bike, zooming at one hundred kilometers an hour, threaded through the narrow gap between the two Jeeps. The mafia guys stood astonished as the bike went past them like a bullet.
It was after several seconds that Sonu opened his eyes and realized that he was still alive. He was shaking uncontrollably. So was Bunty.
But they kept on driving until they hit the highway.
The duo had managed to outrun their pursuers. They were about sixty kilometers from Lucknow when suddenly the bike spluttered and stopped again.
‘We are out of Gas!’, Bunty exclaimed, ‘And we don’t have any money ! ’ His dejected voice was partially drowned by the blaring horn of trucks plying on the highway.
Sonu reached under his belt and pulled out a neatly folded fifty rupee note. ‘ I told you I had fifty rupees when we started ..’ , he laughed out loud as Bunty joined him.
The night sky rang with the laugh of two friends as they took turn to push the bike on the busy road to the nearest gas station.
Author’s Note: Shortcuts can indeed be dangerous!
The duo did make it to the destination. They were greeted by Aashu & Anita who showered them with choicest gaalis, ignoring the pleas of ‘hear us out’, from the weary but adrenaline laden travelers.
‘Shut up ! You guys will make up some weird story to save your skins’, Aashu had said.
The story is finally out!