Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cryptic Crossword - Secrets of red riding hood (Game of blogs - Part 13)

Team Name: Story Weavers
Read the first part of the story here.
Read the previous part of the story here.

After the whole drama at the railway station. And the final act – oh! The final act – which Roohi would always remember. The fakir with twinkling eyes. The eyes that played with her all day long. How could she have not recognized him? Roohi’s heart swelled with pride as she recalled the sequence of events that had led to both her parents ending up at the New Delhi railway station to rescue her. Roohi had been thrilled and overwhelmed to see her mother at the station. She was an amazing woman. Roohi knew it as always – beneath their veneer of normal ordinary people, her parents were actually extraordinary superheroes.

But now, the excitement was long gone and she was here, cooped up in ‘Nani’ house. Her Naniji had been a nervous bundle of excitement ever since Tara had dropped Roohi over at their Def Col apartment. Naniji was really anxious about Tara’s whereabouts and kept on cursing Shekhar when she thought Roohi could not hear her.

“Woh nikamma kahan hai, hain? Yeh do ladkiyaan yahaan par akeli ghoom rahi hain aur jamaai raja ghar par baithe hain!”

Nanaji did not look very perturbed by all Naniji’s thoughts. He had a deaf ear turned to her and his attention was on the crossword puzzle that he was solving on his old desktop computer. Roohi was not allowed to turn on the television as per her mother’s orders and she obviously had no access to a cellphone. Because her mother had strictly told Nani that Roohi was to be kept away from all electronic devices.

And now, looking at Nanaji and his cryptic crossword was all the electronic exposure that Roohi could get. Nanaji seemed to be stuck on a word now. He read out aloud.

“Four letters. A diary. A visual. A blog. Only better.”

“Hmmm..yeh blog shog sab aaj kal crossword main bhi aa jaata hai. Kya din aa gaye hain! I have no idea what this word could be”

Roohi looked up at her Nanaji, exasperated but eager to help. After all Nanu was such a cutie! Imagine - he was using a computer to do crosswords. 

“Nana, the word is vlog. Its short for video blog”

“Really Roohi? My goodness, I would never have known. What exactly is a vlog now?

Roohi was about to launch into a long speech on video diaries and blogs etc etc. and then she suddenly got an idea. She would show Nanaji. And that way they could do something other than do boring old crosswords. 

“I’ll show you now”

Roohi's search for vlog on google straightaway got them to 'Breaking news'. There was a vlog playing on all news channels.

Nanaji and Roohi were transfixed by what they saw on the screen. It was clearly a video taken from an awkward position, most likely a camera or mobile phone hidden behind a bag. The view was of the coffee shop inside the Continental hotel. All the furniture had been pushed all over the place. There was a group of hostages visibly crouching on the floor a few feet away from the camera. Once in  a while a terrorist would come into view. They all seemed very alert and carrying a week’s worth of ammunition. In short it was a very scary scene that was unfolding before them on the vlog.

About 5 minutes into the vlog, a man came and sat right in front of the camera. For a moment he looked directly into it, almost as if he knew that he was being filmed. But then he turned around and whipped out a mobile phone and started punching numbers into it. Because it was an odd looking mobile phone (It was almost as big as an iPad) Roohi could easily see what numbers he was punching. The phone number that the man had dialed was very familiar. In fact - Roohi immediately knew who the recipient of the call was. It was Tara’s friend Jennifer. Roohi had a photographic memory - and she had seen that number being used a lot on Tara's phone. 

Roohi was suddenly consumed with fear for her mother. She knew that Tara was still in contact with Jennifer (maybe even with her) as they covered the siege on the Continental hotel. But did Tara know that her friend was in cahoots with the terrorists. Roohi wanted to reach her mother immediately. Roohi looked at Nanaji. And then as he back at looked her, they could hear the terrorist speak into the phone.

Ji huzoor. Agar yahaan par kuch gad bad hui toh aap ke pass toh Rani sahiba hai. You have the main chess piece in the game Ahana. Usko apne muththi main jakkad ke rakhiyega. We both know that hamare shattir Shahzade koh sabse zyaada dard kaise pahunchaya jaa sakta hai.”

Roohi’s blood boiled and she could stand it no further. She knew that her mother would not listen to her over the phone. Hell! She might even not be picking up calls right now. She suddenly knew exactly what had to be done.

“Nanaji hamein Continental hotel jaana hai. Abhi”

Nanaji knew better than to question his granddaughter.  He instinctively knew that Tara was in some sort of danger. His daughter and granddaughter meant the world to him. And if helping them out meant going against the wishes of Naniji, then so be it. He quietly got up from his cozy old rocking chair and announced in a loud voice.

“Roohi aur main, sair karne jaa rahe hain”

Once outside the building compound, Nanaji showed extreme quickness for his age and hailed a cab.

“Hotel Continental”

Outside the hotel there were barricades all around. There was terrific police bandobast. There was no way that Roohi and Nanaji could get in. Roohi tried desperately to find the TV crew that would have come with her mother. But there were just too many journalists with too much equipment all around. And who would pay attention to a young girl in this melee?

There was just one thing that she could do. Draw attention to herself in the most dramatic manner possible. She took a deep breath and waited till a small posse of army men started moving towards the back gate of the hotel. Most of the media people and other bystanders had been asked to move away behind the barricades and they were following orders. There was clear stretch of path on which the army men were moving – suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small girl in pigtails appeared and started running at full keel straight at the army men, shouting at the top of her voice. There was moment of stunned silence and then the army men reacted quickly. Roohi was on the ground with her hands tied behind her in a matter of seconds.

But not before Roohi had managed to scream very loudly and clearly in the direction of the waiting media all around:

“Mummy. MUMMY!!!Red riding hood! RED RIDING HOOD!”

Shekhar saw the entire scene unfold on the screens at his command centre not very far away. A gush of pride washed over him again. He knew that Roohi had done something that he had managed to not do himself – warn Tara about Jennifer aka Ahana.

He looked at the screen one last time– now the cameras were focusing on little Roohi’s face – and stood up. The words to his team were now edged with determination:

“Lets get this finished boys. Lets do this. Now!”

 Read the next part of story here.
“Me and my team are participating in the ‘Game Of Blogs’ at with us.”

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