Episode 8

NOT GUILTY

The next day, in the evening, Dia was going for her tuition’s and was walking alongside a park. Suddenly, a car stopped next to her, it was Ritesh and 2 of his friends who got out of the car. Dia understood why they were here and tried to run but was cornered.

“So, you are Dia, Sameer’s sweet sister. Your brother is so brave, yet, you… you are a coward and trying to run away.” said Ritesh, as his friends were laughing at her.

There were people seeing what was going on yet, no one came forward to help Dia. Dia was in tears now while Ritesh and his friends were trying to molest her.

“Tell your brother to keep his mouth shut or I have a good mind to finish off your family. I am letting you go today but next time, I guarantee you will live yet, you will not have a face to show to the world.” said Ritesh, glaring at Dia.

“You call my sister a coward, yet, you don’t have the courage to walk up to the ‘hero’ himself.” a voice came from behind.

Ritesh recognized that voice and looked back, alarmed. There he was, standing tall in his uniform and having a glass of tea. The people who were not coming forward, recognized him and were feeling ashamed after realizing that the girl was his sister. It was Sameer standing along with Damodar.

Ritesh’s friends backed off from Dia while Ritesh was trembling with fear. He didn’t expect this as he watched Sameer come forward.

Sameer continued, “If this game would have been played by your father, he would have done a good job, and I would have been rotting in jail. You… you are a just a burden to your father, living under his shadow and doing all sorts of nonsense. Your father has created a name, a name that he should be proud of, but what have you done? You are a disgrace to that name.”

Ritesh wanted to say something, but kept quite. For the first time in his life, he accepted that he was at fault. He could only clench his fist and stare at Sameer in anger. Every word of Sameer was stabbing him like daggers.

“I am not sure whether I will win this case or not. I am not concerned about that. I know I am right, I know I am innocent… and that is enough for me. As for you, Mr. Ritesh Juneja, you will suffer. And you have no idea how bad will you suffer.” said Sameer, as he sipped his glass of tea and walked away.

The crowd over there was listening to every word, one of them yelled at the others, “That girl is Sameer’s sister. The same Sameer who saved the lives of so many people, saved the life of the home minister who has done so much for our city… and here we are, standing as though we are watching a movie or a play. Cowards!! If you have the guts, let show these bastards that we are not bowing down to their so-called power. Move forward.” said the man.

That was enough, the people did not think twice. They pounced on Ritesh and his friends and bashed them up. Dia wanted to speak to his brother and called out to him, yet, she couldn’t as she was blocked by the angry crowd. She saw her brother get on the van with Damodar, the van sped away and Dia could only stand over there and cry. 

Meanwhile, Inspector Khan was at Sameer’s home talking with his mother and father.

“You people were more concerned about your name and respect, yet, for once you people didn’t take the step to find out whether your son was guilty or not.” said Inspector Khan.

Mr. Malhotra tried to explain, “If you would have been in our place, what would you have done? My son was never serious with his life, always good for nothing. Yes, I was enraged when I heard about the hacking incident. I accept that I didn’t think, I was not in that position… and then, I got a heart attack… after which, there was nothing I could do.”

Inspector Khan laughed at Mr.Malhotra and said, “You say your son is good for nothing, yet, he is the same boy who saved the life of the Home Minister. You say he was never serious with his life, yet, when the world turned his back on him, he care a damned about it and decided to live his own life. In short, he is your son, a boy who has manned up and has decided to prove that he is not guilty… and the best part, disappointing for you, may be, he doesn’t need his family or his friends; he has the whole city behind him. He will fight or he will die.”

The last sentence shocked Sameer’s mother and father. While Sameer’s father could only stare at the police officer, Sameer’s mother started crying and rushed to her room. Inspector Khan walked out and saw Dia coming in through the gate. Dia recognized Inspector Khan and rushed to him.

“I wanted to tell you something.” said Dia.

“Yes, dear. Go on.” Inspector Khan responded.

Dia was hesitant at first but then taking a deep breath explained whatever happened a few moments ago. Inspector Khan was shocked, yet satisfied that no harm came to Dia.

“I wouldn’t say that was not expected. Disturbing as it may sound, Ritesh has only proved to the world that he is behind all this. Yet, we still need a solid proof. Dia, I have an advice for you. Do not tell anything to your parents. They are already troubled with whatever is happening in regards to Sameer. Keep it to yourself. The case is still ongoing, if need be… you will need to speak for Sameer in court, if you have no objections.” said Inspector Khan.

Dia answered without a second thought, “I will, sir. Anything for my brother.” she then remembered something and asked, “I would like to meet my brother. I called out to him but he did he not heed. He is still angry with us and it is understood. Do you have his address?”

“I do, however, did you not try to call him and ask?” Inspector Khan asked.

“I did, but there is a disconnected tone now. I have a text message which came 2 months back which stated that he got a job, after which the contact number has since been switched off.” said Dia.

Inspector Khan looked at the number and checked the number he had. He then provided the address and the new contact number to Dia.

“Dia, it is true that he has got supporters, but there is no bigger support than your own people. Try to contact him… bring him back. His anger is justified yet, I know that somewhere in his heart he wants to come back.” said Inspector Khan.

Dia nodded her head and walked inside while Inspector Khan got into his car. He received a phone call, he checked the number and it was one of his informers, Jatin.

“Sir, Some real hot news coming up, I must say even I didn’t expect this.” said Jatin.

“I am listening. Go on.” Inspector Khan answered.

“Sir, Mr. Juneja is one of the sponsors for a political party that is trying to come to power. The political party detest the Home Minister. I got confirmed news that Mr.Juneja was eyeing that position but the ruling party has got all the support thanks to the reign of the Home Minister. The attack on the Home Minister at the rally was entirely planned by Mr. Juneja.” said Jatin.

Inspector Khan was taken aback by this news and reacted, “How the hell did you get this information? I thought I asked you to find out who those people were who hacked into college systems. Where did you get this information?”

“I will tell you everything. I am sending you my location, meet me there and I will introduce you to someone who will give you every single detail. Enough detail to start a war with Mr. Juneja.” said Jatin.

Inspector Khan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He put the phone down, started his car and stepped on the gas.

Sameer was back home, he went to meet Govardhan to take the house keys, however, he was in for a shock.

“Sameer, your mother and sister have come to meet you. An old friend of yours has also come. They have taken the keys and are seated in your room. Go meet them.” said Govardhan.

Sameer looked at his room; he couldn’t understand what to do. He was also confused as to how they got to know where he was. He then remembered something and came to a conclusion about it.

“Inspector Khan… he is working on my case, so it is obvious that he went to meet all the people related to the case, including my parents. He would have given them my address.” Sameer thought.

He was hesitant at first, taking a deep breath, he walked inside. Dia saw him first; tears welled up as she rushed towards her brother and hugged him hard. It was after 2 months that she saw her brother. Sameer didn’t know how to react, he looked at his mother, Mrs. Malhotra and then his old friend, it was Anita.

He walked towards his mother and touched her feet.

“I accept we were angry. I accept I told you to go away but that does not mean you would walk away from our lives just like that. You are my son, Sameer. You are a part of me, part of our family and yet, you left us alone keeping us totally worried as to where you are and what are you doing.” said Mrs. Malhotra, crying.

Sameer smiled and then said in a sarcastic tone, “What were you people expecting? That you can throw me out of the house and then, expect me to come back with my head held up high. I am still a sinner in your eyes, I was the reason why dad suffered a heart attack and had to be admitted in hospital.

No one… no one was in that state of mind to listen to me or take the slightest effort to ask me whether I really hacked the college systems. You believed what the world said about me and now you are standing in front of me and crying.”

Mrs. Malhotra was speechless; she knew she had no answer for that. She could only be ashamed of not taking the right step at the right time.

Sameer walked towards the window, he looked out at the lighted up city and said, “I do miss everything about my old life. I miss my home, those beautiful moments I spent with all of you; everyday was a festival for me… I always wanted to see myself happy and contented with my family. That was all the ambition I had, mom… that is all I ever wanted, yet, in the eyes of my dad, I was and I am still a good-for-nothing boy.”

“No Sameer, no… don’t say like that…” Mrs.Malhotra started, trying to clear all the misunderstanding yet, she was cut short by Sameer.

“Why shouldn’t I say that? He must be very happy right that I am living such a pathetic life, I deserve this life considering I am a sinner. Tell you what mom, he is right. I deserve it because the name I have made with this so called meagre job is better than that good-for-nothing tag that dad has given me.” Sameer retorted looking at her mother.

Anita was alarmed at the way Sameer was behaving with his mom and spoke up, “Stop it, Sameer. We are all here because we want to help you and you are behaving rudely with us. Have you lost your mind? If you would have been in our place, then you would have also…”

“SHUT UP!” Sameer snapped at Anita, the latter was taken aback.

“Not another word, Anita. If I would have been in your place, I would have given that person an opportunity or a chance to justify himself and then thought of the consequences but you people… and why have you come, Anita? To see how your ex-boyfriend is living and to sneer at me, is it?” asked Sameer, with a smirk.

Anita realized that Sameer was really heartbroken and enraged with whatever happened with him, tears welled up in her eyes as she tried her best to explain herself, “Do you really think I am happy seeing your condition? Sameer, I still love you. It is my love for you that brought me here. I came to ask for forgiveness for not being with you in times of need. I have not come here to sneer at you.

My love is not that hollow to just forget all those moments that I had with you. We all came to help you. To see what we can do to prove that you are innocent. Dad has already decided to get me married to Ritesh but do you think I will be happy with him? I want to give ourselves a chance to be back together again.”

“I know I am innocent and that is enough for me. As for us, we had lost the chance a long time back. There cannot be anything between us. It is finished. I am alive only to prove myself innocent. Inspector Khan has reopened my case and I am confident I will win. Either I will win or I will die trying. Neither do I need anybody nor do I want to be a burden to someone else.

I saw Ritesh trying to molest Dia today. I felt bad, I was filled remorse… I realized that I had taken this fight to my enemy, yet, I have also jeopardized the lives of the people close to me.”

Mrs.Malhotra and Anita were shocked to hear the last part of this conversation and they looked at Dia. Dia could only hang her head in shame, Inspector Khan had requested her not to say anything to her mom and dad, yet, Sameer revealed the truth to them.

“Mom, I am sorry… I am sorry for everything. I may have said words that I shouldn’t but nothing can be done now. I request you people to leave me alone, you may think I am living a pathetic life but the truth is that this life of mine is a gift. I deserve this gift… so please go away and leave me alone.” said Sameer, looking away from from everyone.

Mrs. Malhotra wanted to say something, yet, she realized that there was no use. She cried and walked out of the room followed by Dia. Anita started to walk, yet she stopped at the doorway. She was still in tears as she looked back and hoped for Sameer to look at her just once… yet, Sameer did not heed, he did not look back. Sameer was no more enraged, instead, he was also in tears. He felt guilty for behaving rudely with the people he loved, yet, he couldn’t come to terms with what they did with him. Anita wiped her tears, heartbroken and disappointed, she walked away and that is when Sameer turned around.

“They came to see me after 2 months, they came to speak to me… yet, I allowed my anger to take control of me. Damn you!!! Damn you, Sameer!!! That is your mother and your sister. That is Anita, your love… the reason why you started to take life seriously. And all you did was tell them to go away. DAMN YOU!!!” saying, Sameer sat down on the ground wailing.

While going back in Anita’s car, Dia narrated the entire incident of how Ritesh and his friends tried to molest her and how Sameer came in time to save her. Mrs.Malhotra couldn’t believe it when Dia said that it was the crowd over there who recognized Sameer and realized that latter was Sameer’s sister, and eventually pounced on Ritesh and bashed him up.

Anita dropped Dia and Mrs.Malhotra at their house, bidding them farewell, she instructed the driver to move the car. When they entered their house, they found Mr. Malhotra was seated on the sofa reading the newspaper. He then looked at them, put the paper down, stood up and asked, “You went to meet Sameer, isn’t it?”

Mrs. Malhotra and Dia did not answer at first, instead, the former started to walk towards her room. Alarmed, Mr. Malhotra once again asked, “I asked you a question, so don’t you dare walk away from me like that. Did you both go and meet Sameer?”

“Yes, I went to meet him. He is our son, and I believe him… I believe that he has not committed any crime. He was framed and we… his parents believed it outright. We did not try to save him, try to find out the truth and fight for him.” Mrs. Malhotra replied.

“All the evidences, all the proofs were against him… What else did we require?” asked Mr.Malhotra.

“What proof are you talking about? What evidences are you talking about? Did you see those evidences yourself? It is your son you are talking about, not your client or an outsider. You are a government officer, an income tax officer… do you or have you in your career looked at your files or your notes and blindly taken decisions?” asked Mrs. Malhotra, enraged.

Mr. Malhotra stared at his wife; he had no answer for those questions. For the first time, his thoughts went back to the day when he got the news about the hacking, he did not think twice; instead he was enraged and allowed his anger to take full control of him.

“Mom, please… be quiet. Dad is a heart patient.” Dia reminded Mrs. Malhotra.

“I don’t care, Dia. You hear me… I don’t care. A heart patient you say, how can he be a heart patient if he does not even have the heart to understand what is right and what is wrong. He always believed that Sameer was good for nothing and that thing played on his mind that day too. He readily believed that he had hacked the college systems, and slapped him repeatedly as though he was a criminal.” Mrs. Malhotra started to cry as she said those words.

Mr.Malhotra sat back on the sofa and covered his face is shame. Mrs. Malhotra sat down on the floor crying profusely now as Dia rushed to console her.

Mrs. Malhotra continued, “Do you have any idea of the condition he is living in? Do you even realize that even in that condition, my son has been called a hero, a saviour. My son is fighting life like a true hero and I, his mother can’t even do anything to get him back. I want my son back. I WANT MY SON BACK. I better die than seeing him rot in that condition.”

Mr. Malhotra was shocked hearing the last sentence. He wanted to say something, yet, he stopped. He now felt ashamed for whatever he did. He had to make amends before it was too late.

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