Chapter 2 – Dream Chasers

Silence was sneaking through the only window of the room after a loud conversation ended behind the closed door. Gautham had been unconscious for quite some time. He had so many nightmares during all this time that even the characters of one nightmare appeared in the other.

In a confused state, he struggled to open his eyes which were otherwise wanting more sleep. The wooden room had a wall clock which was hanging inverted. It took him a conscious 2 minutes to realize that it was he who was hanging inverted. Tight ropes were squeezing his wrist nerves and making his ankle go numb.

More than the body weight, it was his hunger that made him feel heavy under gravity. His thoughts were wavering and he couldn’t recall exactly what happened after the meeting at Live ur life restaurant.

There was a camera in the top right corner of the room which had already alerted the kidnappers that Gautham has woken up.

“I would rather leave you than see you suffer in this project. You are ruining our future dream because of these dreams. I would be the dream that you never will see in reality. Sorry and goodbye”. 

Priyanka’s final words before the break-up kept reverberating his unconscious thoughts again and again. He could not leave the project as it was a game-changer to mankind.

Gautham had a brave personality and his vision never succumbed to unnecessary hurdles. However, the break-up had left only a maudlin whiff of air for him to breathe. He could hear a church prayer song nearby and since it was 10:00 am, he realized that it was a Sunday.

“You guys have no mercy. Why would you want to rush? He is already weak. Let me check him.” said the old man who opened the door and entered with a smile.

The old man approached Gautham saying – “I am Malik. Hey, I am just a worker here. I am going to untie you. Don’t hurt me. These people are really mad, I must say.” He placed a pillow right below Gautham’s head and got a chair to untie the ropes. As the old man cut the rope with a knife, Gautham fell down banging his head on the pillow. .

“I am sorry if that hurt but none of these lazy guys accompanied me. They don’t respect me as I am old. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Old people and respect have become a mockery these days”, said Malik in a frustrated tone.

“Water… water…” said Gautham with his eyes closed and hands still tied at the back. “Just one minute. Let me untie you completely”, said Malik and cut off the rope relaxing Gautham’s hands.

Malik opened the shelf that was behind him and took a bottle of water. Gautham slowly tried to raise his hands but in vain.

“Let me give it to you. Here you go” said Malik and fed Gautham with water,

As soon as Gautham lifted his head and tried to ask a question, Malik hurriedly said “Please do not ask me where you are, I am not supposed to tell you that. They would kill me. This room is under surveillance too.”

“Can you at least tell me why I am here?” asked Gautham just for the sake of asking though he had doubts that he had been kidnapped for the 3:43 project.

“This job feeds my family and I seriously do not wish to put myself in trouble”, said Malik and left the room with a tough heart. Gautham observed that Malik was not such a rude man but the situation compelled him to reply above-board.

Gautham laid on the floor and was surprised to see that the door was left open. It was obvious that the abductors were in a proximate distance. Gautham didn’t have the stamina to plot an escape as he could hardly stand.

Gautham was trying to see as far as possible through the only path visible and all he could see was greenery. There was another wooden house standing at the corner of the path. A swarm of butterflies circled the beautiful flowers that decorated the bounds of the house. The butterflies reminded him about the “Tell it out” day celebrated a year ago at a corporate event.

“Tell it out” was a corporate get-together held every year at the Chennai headquarters of Shadow Reals Inc. Shadow Reals was one of the emerging start-ups of the decade that had encircled itself with innovation for the future generation. …………….The event adorned itself with senior level executives and some engineers who worked in 3:43 project.

“Hey he looks handsome. I am just going to start a conversation with him. Let’s read his mind girls,” said Sheryl Dsouza. Priyanka and Rithika were skeptical about this plan but knowing how unstoppable their prank buddy Sheryl is, they just remained silent.

Sheryl walked toward Gautham with a plan. She made sure that he didn’t notice her coming and moved waveringly maintaining deceiving angles. As soon as she approached him, she forcefully dashed him from behind.

Gautham dropped his glass of lime drink and turned around in haste. She was sure he would respond in an angry tone.

“Sorry, did I block your way?” – came the response from Gautham.

Sheryl’s mind voice echoed inside – “Oh my god, how do I respond?”

She stammered, Ahhh..I am sorry. I was in a hurry to catch a friend and .. and…

Oh that’s fine. By the way, I am Gautham.

Why is she nervous? asked Priyanka to Rithika.

I have never seen her this confused and nervous. I think she fell for him, said Rithika.

Hello, I am Sheryl. Nice meeting you. I am here with my friends. The party is a bit boring. We were planning to leave, said Sheryl taking a fast glance at Gautham’s interesting professional attire.

Oh! I am an Innovation Consultant at the Chennai Office. I have joined recently. Everyone is a stranger here, said Gautham in a soft tone.

Sheryl didn’t want to miss the chance to open a friendship bond with such a handsome guy.

“Come on, join us if you don’t mind. Let’s dine at the garden buffet beside.” said Sheryl and turned slowly to check out what her friends were gossiping about her new stupidity that was happening here.

Sheryl walked Gautham to introduce her friends and Gautham for the first time made an eye-contact with Priyanka.

Priyanka turned towards Rithika for a conversation. However, her heart was beating fast expecting Gautham and Sheryl any moment now. Rithika’s words flew over the head of Priyanka and subconsciously she was rehearsing as to how she should introduce herself.

Sheryl approached Rithika and said “Hey, this is Gautham.” Gautham, meet Rithika and Priyanka.

Rithika nodded her head with a welcoming smile and shook hands with Gautham and Priyanka said “Hello”.


Dream Chasers

Chapter 1

The rain drops were cascading from the lone cloud that had a little mercy to knock the heat out of the dry land that summer. It was raining for the past 3 days. This season, monsoon was being quite generous. She was staring at the sky as if everything in this world was such a disaster and she was “the chosen one” looking up to convey GOD to pardon the worldly sins.

What wish of yours didn’t I fulfill that made you take a weird career decision like this?”

That’s how Priyanka’s dad reacted two years ago when Priyanka revealed her appointment letter. All hell broke loose for her dad as he was always an orthodox Indian dad who wished to marry off his daughter at the early 20s to some wealthy settled guy of his own caste.

Did you hear what she had planned about? Was I not a caring father, Nrithya?” Raman asked his wife.

I knew about the job a month ago”, Nrithya replied.

Raman’s immediate shocking expression was apt for the “best clown of the millennium” award and he felt as if he was the forerunner for the clown post in the leading circus company of India.

Don’t be mawkish. We all know that you aspired to be an actor when you were young, but this doesn’t suit your usual funny character”, Nrithya said.

I still do”, Raman replied with a quandary whether to smile remembering his lovely dream or to be serious as a responsible Indian dad. Raman worked as an Auditor for a private organization. After long years of work with sincere dedication, he finally chose to retire and continued doing part-time financial and audit consulting.

Nrithya gave a sarcastic smile and kept it cool downplaying the seriousness of the moment.

Priyanka was sitting at the dining table staring at her dad without an eye blink. Her speechless expression meant as if Raman had committed the greatest sin that a parent can do to the modern youth – “Questioning!”

What? Can’t I ask? You know I care for you a lot dear, said Raman.

Priyanka could take 1000 lashes for an uncommitted sin but could never tolerate the sentiment of her daily soap dad. Sometimes she used to think how life would have been, had her dad become an Actor.

The only powerful tool she had against her dad was the love between them. Her annoyed mood would always melt Raman even at sub-zero temperatures.

She slowly got up and came near her dad and said, “I had decided about my career and it is a right choice to choose this path. I understand you dad but this is a dream come true moment for me. Perhaps, who would better know the hardships involved in sacrificing one’s dream more that you?”

Raman smiled with his eyebrows raised. He silently meant, “Finally you have got a smart way to get things done!”

Priyanka’s mobile rang like a baby weeping in search of a caring mother. She came out of her daydream and walked into her room to attend the call. Her smartphone displayed a picture of a dude sitting on a wooden plank somewhere in a grassy land and the name “Bestie John” was displaying over the picture.

“Tell me, John, I was waiting for your call. Did you find out something?” asked Priyanka with a curious voice.

“Hey, Priyanka! I think the issue has taken a new twist. It seems he has gone out of India. I am not sure if he went by himself or was taken out forcibly. I also got one other shocking news. I don’t want to talk about all the findings on phone. Start now and let’s meet at “Corner Café”.

Alright. I will be there at 5.30 p.m. sharp”, said Priyanka and ended the call without even waiting to hear “ok bye, meet u soon” that was uttered by John.

It was 4.00 p.m. and a couple of hours before the sunset, the gloomy rainy day had just let the sun peep through the clouds. Priyanka got ready and went downstairs to get her car key. The quinoa-apple salad that she left on the hall table was totally spoilt. She had no time to dump it and left it stinking there.

John sealed the envelope and the “To” address read –

Major Raj Sharma,

6, Shivaji Rao Road,

Army Cantonment,

Pune – 411044.

 John was a well-built guy with a dark complexion. But his handsome attitude beheld the beauty of his character. Of all the people in his life, including his beloved girl Isha, it was Priyanka who had shouted at him the most. Yet, his friendship with Priyanka never took a beating.

Something weird has been happening in his life too due to this friendship and John never lets it disturb his work. Photography filled John’s body more than the usual blood and flesh. He never considered photography a passion as it all happened accidentally without any hint.

John rushed out of his home as he had to send the courier before the Corner Café meeting. The view outside stunned him for a moment – he wondered “Did someone drop their diamond at my doorway?” The torrential rain had crystal cleaned his otherwise dirty looking dark Honda City. He could hear his lovely car plead to him – “Oh dear Napoleon Bonaparte! Let me stay fair – spare me for the day!”

John quickly got into the black beauty and jumped into a zone of stupidity for a second – “Ahh… couldn’t these rains clean the interiors too without wetting them, my work would have been easier.”

Corner Café was a treasure box for many people who spent their memorable moments here. Coffee at this café was never the best but like the seasonal movies that became a sleeper hit among the superstar movies, this one had its own mini-fan club.

Experiences of the daily visitors varied as much as the coffee varieties did. Some students did their school assignments. College students always enjoyed time with their buddy group and were happy skipping assignments. A random business meet between two or more corporate officials was no surprising event. Birthday celebrations, campus job interview rejections, new love, trendy break-ups, Wi-Fi web and lovely FB likes for Corner Café too embellished the aroma of this hide-out at the center of the Chennai city.

A “Corner” that was at the center of a plethora of hearts.     

John arrived at the Café and found Priyanka waiting anxiously gazing through the glass window. Though the Café was fully air-conditioned, Priyanka’s anxiety and nervousness blew enough heat on John as soon as he opened the door. Ignoring all the usual “hey what’s up?” formalities, Priyanka was waiting for John to speak out about his findings.

Shall we order something? Asked John.

Johnnnn!! Came the reply from Priyanka saying it all. Nothing else except the gravity of the situation was all that John could get served. Such was the anxiety of Priyanka to know about Gautham.

“I didn’t expect this to happen to him though his activities were a suspect ever since you both broke up,” said John.

Priyanka unlocked and locked her phone screen as if she was least bothered about the break-up but deep inside, she knew how bad this separation hurt her.

Where is he now?” she asked.

I got an information from a spy that he was last seen with some strangers in Pune. They dined at Live ur life restaurant.

 What’s with you guys? Did you try calling him? Asked John.

Priyanka’s face was painted with a color called totally blank! She had nothing to say to John but she had been trying Gautham’s number ever since she realized that he was not guilty. But it was too late.

The project that Priyanka and Gautham worked together had brought a stunning halt in their relation. Now that Priyanka’s mind recalled the project days, she suddenly sprung up and said, Hey John! Maybe they took Gautham for the 3:43 project!