Journey of Teaching Lifelines #7

(continued…)And just like Sangeet suspected, none of the teacher’s phones was reachable. Every single call spoke that they were out of reach.

S.I — “Ok, here’s my walkie. Rahamat, you know very well to use it. Answer us if we radio in. Do not use your mobile phones. You 5 people are the only ones left to save all the students. Never let anyone leave your sight.”

Sangeet and S.I left for the police station.

We asked all the remaining students to go to the new auditorium, and we accompanied them and kept count at every turn.

We waited at the mini-hall and Maaran walked near and asked, ”Ray! I have a small question. Would it be okay, if I could respond to a text?”

Avanthika — “How come you’ve still not put your phone on flight mode?”

Maaran — “Actually I got orders not to. As soon as Sangeet and S.I left, Sangeet messaged you guys to put the phones on flight mode. But he messaged me not to do. He has now texted me.”

I got suspicious and pulled the phone from him to read the text.

RAY! I know you’d read this msg. I suspect a foul play from Francis. He was the closest associate to Kiran. Keep flying!

Maaran whispered, “What’s keep flying?”

I immediately put his phone on flight mode and said, ‘He was just playin’ with you man. He was just testing to see how you take it. Now, the only way they will contact us is via radio.’

Francis — “Rahamat, can I talk to you?” and called me backstage to the green room.

He continued, “I have to confess one thing. Actuall…”

And he was immediately interrupted by Avanthika near the Door.

Avanthika — “What is with boys and them having confessions always? I am going to know about this at least” she walked in and closed the door behind her.

Francis — “So, when we were back at the old auditorium, Meena passed me a paper with your name written on it. I was confused why she handed it to me. But then she looks defined a lot of things. It’s as if she escaped the capture even though being bound by rope. Here!”

The paper had a weird scribbled drawing of the old auditorium with many people standing on one side. A lady sitting on a chair, tied to. Three people governed them. The drawing was exactly how Meena had explained the crime scene when she was being deceived by the kidnappers.

Avanthika — “We already know about this. An illustration about a crime scene is nothing we can do about.”

I looked into the wall to think about multiple things related to this. Suddenly I looked at her and said, ‘Or it has everything to do with this.’

‘Francis! You are also good at drawing. You know a real environment being drawn when you see it. Look!’ and I showed him the drawing. What do you see?’

Francis — “Alright, alright! Now I get it.” and spoke a few words to himself and continued, “Meena said, Pooja had been sitting sideways when she had a glimpse of her. When you see this drawing, you could see that it was drawn from a little distance. This means the angle of Pooja is a bit to her front. This means this was drawn by the person who governed the entire kidnapping unit. But I’d say there’s no fourth person because if you see one of these figures is slightly shown in an unpredictable angle. So, as an assumption. What if, he or she stood along with the other associates. Also, not a lot of rows are drawn here. So, possibly the person who drew this was sitting in the 4th row or 3rd row.”

Avanthika — “Ok, let me, Maaran, and Jacob handle this. You both can go and assess the ass print of our sketch artist.”

Went to the hall and searched for any clues around the rows he thought our sketch artist was sitting earlier.

Francis had the drawing in hand and went near each chair and compared the view. He finally found the one.

“Ray, here! This is the seat.”

As I went near, I kicked the dust, and the light shone on an object on the floor. It was a 1985’s 5-rupee coin with Indira Gandhi embossed on the other side. Picked it up and looked at it for a while. My mind went blank.

Francis — “What is it, Rahamat?”

I said, “Look, man! I thought I’d find something else here. But turns out, you have helped in getting a toss of evidence.”

Francis — “A toss of evidence? And it is a coin. Your wordplay in such a circumstance is breathtaking.”

I said, ‘Let’s go back!’

Francis promised me that he would not share what we found and inform them that we found nothing after I convinced him.

Tapped his shoulder and said, ‘Francis, I also want you to do one thing for me.’

Back in new Auditorium

Maaran walked towards, “Guys! Found anything?”

Me — ‘It was a dead-end. Our suspicions somehow seem to be true. But let’s wait for my brother to radio in.’

Maaran — “Actually, he just did. Let’s go!”

Sangeet over radio — “RH come in. I repeat RH come in. Pied piper!”

I took the radio from Avanthika and responded back, ‘RH reporting. Hamelin received!’

Sangeet — “Ray! We’ve alerted the squad. The defense team is 2 minutes out. Over!”

Me — ‘Information received. The rescue mission is a go? Over!’

Sangeet — “Idiot! They are coming for the protection of the students so we can go on a wild goose hunt. It’s not a hostage situation. Parents have been alerted to come to school. Over.”

Me — ‘Squad Vehicles incoming. Over!’

Sangeet — “One Jeep is returning. Get everyone on the jeep and reach the station. Over and out!”

I looked at all the students briefly and ran to the stage. Spoke in a loud voice as I could, ‘Listen here, everyone. The police are coming to protect you. You will be in safe hands. Thanks for cooperating till now. A few more hours and your parents will come to the school and pick you up. I assure your protection until you reach home. Unfortunately, we gotta leave. We have a deer to catch.’

A student stood up from the chair, “Mr. Rahamat! You did your best. Don’t worry sir. We’ll be safe. After all, you said it. We believe in you” and everyone suddenly cheered. I looked at Avanthika and Maaran with tears pooling in the corner of my eyes.

As the police stood for protection, we spoke to an Inspector who came to the scene and we departed to the police station.

On our way to the police station, Avanthika asked, “What was the message that Maaran had received from your brother?”

Francis looked at me and I smirked. Shook my head once and replied to her, ‘The story of betrayal.’

Maaran — “Yeah, that’s more accurate.”

Avanthika — “Who betrayed?”

The timing could never be perfect. We arrived at the police station and I said, ‘You’ll know!’

We walked into the room where Sangeet and S.I were discussing something random facing each other.

Me — ‘Well, have you already solved the case?’

S.I — “Hello Rahamat! We were waiting for you. We got a tip about the new location. But before that, we had to wait for you and one other thing. Sangeet, do you wanna tell?”

Sangeet came near us, “Yes, Inspector.” and he looked at me to say, “I see you got my message brother.”

I looked at my friends and said, ‘Crazy right?’ and Avanthika had the most confusing emotion of all time.

Francis — “Yeah!” with a breath pause he continued, “…big time.”

Sangeet nodded at the S.I and the S.I stood up and said, “Mr. Francis! You’re under arrest for being an ally for this entire operation and deceiving us that you were on the good side all along. You have the right to remain silent.”

Half an hour ago at the Old auditorium

Francis promised me that he would not share what we found and inform them that we found nothing.

Tapped his shoulder and said, ‘Francis, I also want you to do one thing for me.’

He was confused and I explained to him the entire situation. ‘Look, man! Somehow you’re being framed. I know you will not condone such acts. But Sangeet strongly believes that you’re also a culprit in this case. All I want you to do is trust me now. I cannot go over his head. He knows his way around. You can help me here by obliging to the arrest in case it turns on you. I will do everything in my power to help you. You’re not a culprit but the situation demands to act like one.’

He thought for a while and understood the relativity of the situation (why always say gravity!)

Francis — “Look, I never did anything. But my gut tells me to trust you. Maybe you’re onto something. I hope your brother can save the students and catch the actual bad people.”

I hugged him for a moment and said, ‘Thank you very much Francis! I don’t how I can repay you.’

Francis — “You can! By catching the bad guys.”

~to be continued

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