Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Dangerous Mission

The silent capsule elevator moved up swiftly taking noisy tourists to their rooms at various floors, offering a breathtaking view of the city . New Delhi was teeming with foreign tourists along with increasing number of non-resident Indians returning to rediscover the motherland along with kids and spouses of various nationalities.
Comrade Hari Om was indifferent to the opulent seven star trappings, perfumed tourists and businessmen crowding the elevator.
‘The despised bourgeois filth.”
He grimaced and kept aloof from the scheming heartless looters of poor around him and had his eyes fixed on the swiftly changing floor number. He come out and went on looking for the room number down the passage and rang the bell, the door was opened immediately; he entered and closed the door silently.
He looked at the tall, elegant Olga with a tight fitting Levis jeans and black genuine lather jacket. With her high-heeled boots, she was always looked taller than him. He wanted to pull and hold her tightly in his arms, but kept his distance with restrain.
“ Hello Harry.“ Olga greeted him extending her slender hand. She too sensed his restrain and didn’t move.
“Laal Salaam, comrade Olga.” Hari Om couldn’t help being cheerful. A changed persona from a swollen indifferent man he has been before entering the room.
They shook hands. Hari Om restrained the urge to embrace her and felt she could sense his ordeal.
“ How have you been?” Olga gestured him to take a seat.
“I am OK. “ Hari Om went to the window and looked out side.
“You look troubled.. are you being followed?”
" I don’t know but have to be careful. Some stupid boys have killed a patty trader and might have disclosed some secretes to the police. They have put up a new police post in the jungle…We had to move our communication center deeper in where signals are week….. I am not sure what they have learned. "
" You have an excellent cover-working with a famous NGO engaged in a tribal welfare project funded by the rich blood sucking western donors."
“ I told you not to call me here. There may be police spies lurking around. What was wrong with those little cozy hotels in Pahargunj?"
“ Get over your paranoia.”
A brooding Hari Om didn’t reply and carefully settled down on the edge of the large comfortable sofa and looked at the plates of dry fruits with distaste reserved for an indulgent decadent living. He noticed her briefcase on the center table. She always displayed her briefcase, if she has good amount of money in it. He had cautioned her about this dangerous habit of carrying large amount of money on her person.
Olga continued-“I never liked those seedy hotels with stained bed sheets, dirty bathrooms and bad internet connection. Come on, you are now out of jungle for some time, do take it easy.“
“Why did you call me here? Comrade Olga, come straight to the point. I don't have time to waste, my people are waiting for me.”
"So you are wasting your precious time with me?' Olga's voice was laced with hurt.
"I didn’t mean that Comrade Olga... tell me what you need now?" Hari Om was cold and unconcerned.
“Harry, Its about your needs and not mine.” He noticed the absent comrade.
"I am trying hard these days to forget about our relationship Comrade Olga. I have a difficult job to do and you presence always disturb my balance."
"I am glad to know that Harry. Will you ever forget our daughter?"
"It was your idea not mine and you tricked me to get pregnant. I never wanted that to happen. It was your own choice, and I was not at all consulted."
"But it did happen and you want to forget the result? She has been asking about you a lot these days."
Comrade Hari Om remained silent.
“Why don’t you reply Harry?”
“I have no concern for a budding rose when ripe farms are burning…”
“How can you say this to me about my own daughter…. our daughter? You are a heartless, insane monster just like my father, a victim of ruthless ideological obsessions. Do you know what happened to him?”
“ I don't want to listen to your diseased interpretations again.”
“ Diseased indeed….these are not my interpretations but hard known facts. He was taken to Siberia and shot dead, his body burned in a furnace by his own body guards acting on orders of competing party bosses. Suddenly they remembered his misdemeanor while fighting Americans agents in Afghanistan. An apt replay of the Stalin era, so convenient and handy. ”
“ How do you know and why you are sure of those so called hard facts?”
“ Some one who was a reluctant participant told me all in the gory graphic details.”
“Individuals do falter often, Olga. How do you hold the party responsible?”
“It’s the culture of close mind the party has been practicing so long. Any way, I know you are a hard communist nut to crack and don't want to waste precious time trying to educate you. I know you Indian communists will be the last to perish on the alter of the ideology. The brave bare foot solders of a defeated ,defunct army.”
“ Stop...enough of this non sense. Do you want me to stay or go? Make your choice right now and fast.”

They met at Moscow years ago. He was a bright son of a small town militant trade union leader sent to study engineering through party head office in New Delhi. He was proud to be in Moscow and looked forward to a comfortable and educating experience in the socialist heaven. She was daughter of a powerful communist party czar with bright future and blessings of top party bosses. Every body seemed to fear her father and her own arrogant behavior. But some how they hit off well right from the very start. His excellent introductory address was highly appreciated by all the students and party bosses present. She was first to come forward and congratulate him with a broad appreciative smile. Hari Om has been so focused on ideology leaving no interest in girls but she had made an instant impact on the young communist. She showed him around in city and their friendship blossomed.

They remained silent for a long time, till Olga continued carefully.
“You still need those guns?”
She waited for his answer and repeated her question, a little louder this time.
“ Yes, but that kind of money we don’t have right now.”
“Will you ever have the money?”
“I don’t know, we are planning some thing to raise money.” His tone was bitter and displayed an acute helplessness.
“The guns won’t be there for long, you have to make a decision now.”
Comrade Harry remained silent.
“Times have changed Harry, these guns are with the people who would sell for good money, not from any people’s revolutionary government helping other revolutionaries.”
“ You know we don’t have that kind of money. What is on your mind and why did you call me here?”
“I wanted to see you.”
“Now you have seen me. Can I leave this rotten place?”
“No. I have a good proposal for you.” Hari Om remained uninterested.
“ You do one job for me and I will give you all the guns you need.”
Hari Om was not prepared for a straight proposal and looked at her with surprise.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes I am.”
“ What is that job Comrade Olga?”
“ I am sure you will love it, perfectly in line you your passion of teaching a hard hitting lesson to the bourgeois decadent west.” Olga drew close to an impassioned Hari Om.
“ One more thing Harry.... Please note I am not a communist any more.... simply Olga, forget the comrade.”
Hari Om remained seated, looking at her with his steely gaze.
“ What is the job?”
“ You have to organize shipment of a special cargo to Europe.”
“Why through India?’
“ Because it’s in Afghanistan right now and can move to Pakistan shortly on my signal. Can’t be sent through Pakistani ports due to heavy scrutiny it might get on destinations.”
“A bomb?” Steely-eyed Hari Om was straight to the point.
“I don’t know and nor I care about that. I need money to settle down my sisters and raise my daughter in a nice way…one more thing that’s my get out job. After this job, there will be no more demands on me from the party.”
“Are you leaving Molotov?”
“Yes.. I will be a free person after this job is done.”
“Why are you leaving the party?” Comrade Hari Om was angry.
"Because I don't want my sisters to remain prostitutes fore ever and neither I want our daughter to become one when she grows up."
"Ridiculous ...the party is not responsible for these bourgeois diseases."
“Harry you will never understand that. I have gone through all.. from days of heady power, foolish expectations to the realization of hard realities…all around failures. The party and its ideology have worked nowhere. If you and your comrade think it would work in India, I don't have a problem. I will only make sure that my daughter will not be in India if the damned party ever has any remote chance of success here."
"I don't want to listen to this rubbish any more." Comrade Hari Om got up with anger.
"Sit down Harry. We need to talk and help each other." Olga pushed him back to the seat and continued.
"Better you accept the offer and our big problems are solved, you get guns for the so called revolution and I get money to save my sisters from a humiliating and degrading life. And our daughter’s future is secured too.”
Comrade Hari Om remained silent.

Olga poured more drink in her glass. Hari Om was not keen and removed his glass away.
“Can you do it?”
“I need all the details….. You know how I work.”
“That is on need to know basis only, beyond that nothing.. Better you also too don’t ask much.. Less we know better it is for all of us.” Olga opened a bottle and poured two drinks and handed one to a brooding Hari Om.
“ When do we start?”
“Right now …cheers.”
Hari Om looked suspiciously at Olga and took a small measured sip.
“Look Olga, so far so good. We want guns badly and can do whatever you want if it is feasible. That’s important… But no tricks… I warn you. You might have a become a petty bourgeois…but we still believe in the great ideology here, even if it didn’t work in Soviet Union because bloody capitalists sabotaged it through that rascal Grobochov. No treachery…you must remember… or my friends in Russia will come to after you. We have no sympathy for the class enemies.”
Olga looked at Hari Om and laughed.
“No dramatics Harry. You are imagining things … do your job well first; and the guns will be air lifted and dropped in your area. And I am just a coordinator for both sides due to my rapport with all the parties involved. Even if you do your job and there some problem in air lifting and any other thing with Afghan war lords or CIA… how will you hold me responsible?”
" If we ship your cargo, guns must be dropped in our area with in a week."
"Guns will be yours but cant commit a tight time frame for the air dropping. There are complex logistics involved."
Comrade Hari Om listened and drank, weighing his limited options.
“Tell me more about it so I can start planning immediately. Before that I want money to organize things.” He spoke with growing interest.
Olga stood up and opened her briefcase with a wink and tilted it towards him proudly.
Comrade Hari Om looked at neat pile of high value Indian currency notes.
"Genuine?" He looked at her enquiringly.
"Yes genuine, I am sure." Olga was confident.
"Make sure it’s genuine. I don't want to use counterfeits, which might create complications at crucial moments."
"Its genuine Harry, it is an important mission and nobody can afford to take any chances. Money is not a problem Harry, if you need more tell me. I will stay in Jaipur till cargo is cleared at the destinations." She closed the briefcase and handed it over to Hari Om.
“My job is over when the cargo is loaded at Indian port. Is that clearly understood and accepted?”
“Yes.” Olga replied with a smile.
“I do not need this fancy bourgeois briefcase, put money in some other bag and what are the destination ports?"
“Our friends have not decided the ports yet. They will place orders with the exporter immediately if you accept to load the cargo on Europe bound containers.
“I must repeat, my job is over when the ships leave Indian port, and I must get guns, you do the clearance in Europe. Is it ok?
“Ok.” Olga was hesitant, but happy.
'Good. Now tell me more about the cargo." He carefully put the briefcase on his lap.
“Harry, these are not bombs but a boxes of sealed gas bottles of Russian origin. Can’t be detected if hidden in a consignment of heavily scented incense sticks. Here is a list of Indian exporters dealing in the stuff along with the chemical specifications, packing case design and instructions. These papers will be destroyed right here and you can get the details on a web site to be communicated later. ” She handed over two sheet of papers to Hari Om.
He started reading the list of exporters. A name on the neat computer printout caught his attention: Bhayaji Impex, Jaipur, India was familiar.
Olga came to his assistance- “the firm Bhayaji Impex is a reputed and respected company dealing in various commodities and Indian handicraft items. They have a very influential and efficient clearing and forwarding agent in Europe with impeccable record. If the cargo is sent through containers loaded with specified incense sticks they regularly export to Europe, there is great possibility of the success in the operation.”

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