Monday, 28 March 2016
"Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective"
I got my first real six-string, Bought it at the five-and-dime, Played it till my fingers bled, Was the summer of '69. Umesh Upadhyay listened to the song playing inside the Hard Rock cafe; Summer of '69, though he didn’t understand anything except for the phrase “Summer of '69”. It was a muggy and windless summer of Delhi at that time. He was sitting with his wife in the outdoor seating area of Cyber hub. Cyber hub- a three storey food and entertainment destination in Gurgaon. While the first two floors of the cyber hub complex consist of cafes and fine dining restaurants, the top floor is largely occupied by lavish pubs and bars. In front of him was Hard Rock cafe.
‘Huhh.. What a boring place’, complained Umesh's wife Sushila. ‘We could have gone to the “Ambience mall” instead’.
Umesh ignored his wife and was busy in staring at his watch. It was 10:50 PM. He was getting impatient for the clock's minute needle to reach the number 12. He noticed a group of drunken boys and girls coming out of the Hard Rock cafe; shouting and howling; staggering and stumbling.
Umesh smiled scornfully and said, ‘These are our 21st century youth of India. They think that spending their hard earned money on weekends on gallons of alcohol is the finest thing they achieve’.
Sushila too moved her eyes toward the group. She noticed a girl in the group wearing a black shorts which was ending a mere ten inches below her waist.
She looked back at her husband with disgust and said, ‘Now I understood why you brought me here in Cyber Hub’.
Umesh turned towards Sushila and said helplessly, 'Sushila why do you take everything otherwise. I have an important job here to do rather than ogling at girls of my daughter's age’. He then looked down at his watch. It was just a few minutes left for 11pm. He immediately stood up and excused himself from his wife. He then rushed towards the elevator. As he entered the elevator, he pressed the second floor button.
Right from childhood, Umesh had a fantasy of becoming a Detective. James Bond movies like “The spy who loved me” and “For your eyes only” introduced him to the world of Spies. When he was in his early twenties, the indigenous detective TV series “Karamchand” had sown the seeds of spying. However, Private Detective is a profession which had existed in scarcity in India. He was aware of this fact quite clearly and hence, didn’t have the courage to express to his parents that he wanted to become a private detective. He knew this profession was too fantastical and fictional for a common man. He knew his older generation parent would never approve of his radical thinking. If he had shared his feelings with anyone, he would have been a laughing stock.
He used to satisfy his desire of spying by doing silly detective jobs in college for his friends like finding the address and telephone numbers of the girls and leaking out question papers. He had to then curb his desire when he got in to a job and subsequently got married. But desires are like spring. The more you try to restrain them, the greater force they would bounce back with.
Six months back, an idea has struck him to resume his detective job, professionally. His daughter had gifted him a smartphone six months ago. She taught him to use Facebook. He didn't know what to do in Facebook other than just scrolling down the page and watching the posts other people shared. It is when he came across the concept of “Facebook Page”. Public and Private organizations, Service providers, Freelancers, almost everyone had their Facebook Page. His long lost desire of becoming a Private Detective began to resurrect. He thought that if musicians, dancers, Photographers, Software developers, LIC agents can have their Facebook Page, why can’t Private Detective too? This would enable him to attract some serious cases. He decided to make a Facebook Page of himself. But he knew couldn’t just name his page ‘Detective Umesh Upadhyay’. He knew he would definitely be ridiculed by his wife and relatives and would be a figure of fun among colleagues and friends. He had to think of an alter ego. So he came up with the name “Detective U”; the first letter of his first name and surname. Though he made the Facebook page, but he didn’t see any case coming. He used to keep on staring at his Facebook page all day, waiting for someone to message him. It was only a week before he got a notification in his inbox. It was a girl named Nisha. Nisha messaged him that she had a job for him and she would like to meet him at Cafe Coffee Day, Galleria Market in Gurgaon. It was a dream come true moment for Umesh. It was his first professional project which came only after the fifty years of his life. Better late than never, Umesh thought to take up this case with utmost sincerity. He went to meet Nisha at CCD, galleria market at the mutually agreed time of 9:00 pm.
Nisha was a software engineer working for an MNC. She was in a relationship with Vicky for past eight months. Her relationship with Vicky was, however, not very seamless. She always felt that Vicky was cheating on her and secretly involved with some other girl. To catch Vicky red handed, she decided to hire a private detective.
Nisha reached galleria market to meet her private detective, who named himself weirdly as “Detective U”. She was moving her gaze left and right to find him when someone whispered in her ears from behind. ‘Ms Nisha. I can’t meet you inside the Cafe. Let’s walk up to the back side of the market where not many people can see us’.
Nisha turned instantly with fear to see a man wearing a black overcoat. His head was covered with a hat and face was wrapped with a handkerchief. Only his eyes were visible. He was Umesh. He took his fantasy of becoming a Detective quite literally. When he was leaving from home, he thought to dress up as a typical detective to hide his identity; that’s what the detectives supposed to do! Though, he later realized wearing an overcoat was not a good idea in the summers of June.
Nisha stated at the strange dressing of Umesh and said, ‘Why can’t inside the CCD?’
‘Do you think I would be able to avoid the staring of people in this attire?’, said Umesh.
‘Then why did you dress up in this way?’
‘Youths of today ask such a stupid question. I obviously don’t want to reveal my identity!’
Nisha was amused. She could see the white hair below his hat and wrinkles below his eyes. She figured out from this that the detective was an old man; probably in his fifties. Both walked up to the back side of the market. Nisha explained Umesh the current situation of his relationship. She sent a few photographs of Vicky, his mobile number and his address.
‘Let me be very clear. I wouldn’t be able to pay you much'’, said Nisha.
Umesh squeezed his brows. ‘I don’t work for money kid. You will have the evidences soon’.
Umesh turned to leave.
‘By the way what does the “U” stands for?’, asked Shraddha, as she saw Umesh leaving. ‘Is it Detective Uncle?’
Umesh preferred not to answer and left.
Umesh secretly began to follow Vicky. He followed his schedule for a few days and made a note of his activities. Vicky used to reach office in the morning at about 9. He then used to remain inside his office building for the entire day till 7 in the evening and then straightaway go to gym. From gym, he used to get back to his home by 9. Exactly same thing happened for the next five days. Umesh didn't find anything suspicious and began to wonder whether there was anything to suspect at all or Nisha was just an over possessive jealous girlfriend.
It was Saturday. Vicky, following his regular schedule, returned from gym. After he parked his car on the porch, he was closing the wrought iron main gate of his house. Umesh disappointingly began to return when he saw Vicky’s phone ringing. Vicky picked up the call.
‘Hey! Whats the plan girl?', said Vicky, as he was going inside.
Umesh swiftly walked near the gate and quietly opened it. After the car, there was a wooden door on the right which lead probably to the living room of Vicky and stairs on the left going up to the roof. Vicky went beneath the stairs, probably to remove his shoes. Umesh tip toed up to the car and ducked behind it.
‘Cyber hub. Done’. Vicky was still on call. ‘The DJ of Sutra pub starts playing after 11. So will meet there at 11’. Vicky ended the call and went inside his house through the wooden door.
Umesh quietly came out of the house and called Nisha to check if Vicky was talking to her. Upon getting the negative response from Nisha, Umesh thought today was the day when he could gather some substantial evidence against Vicky. But there was just one problem. What excuse he would put up in front of his wife. He generally came back to home by 10. But today he had to be at Cyber hub at 11. Moreover, he was not sure when he would come back.
Umesh returned to home and convinced his wife, Sushila, to go to Cyber hub for dinner. Sushila was initially reluctant but then agreed thinking that she wouldn’t have to cook the dinner.
Umesh quickly finished the dinner at a restaurant in the ground floor of Cyber hub and then sat in the outdoor seating area; waiting for 11 pm. When there were a few minutes left for 11’o clock, Umesh rushed inside the elevator to reach the second floor where the Sutra pub was. As he reached second floor, he could hear the loud beats of the music being played in all the pubs. He was particularly interested in Sutra pub. The pubs on the top floor were connected by an open air walkaway. He reached up to the Sutra pub. As he was about to enter, the bouncers standing outside the entrance stopped him.
‘I have a team get together going on inside. My colleagues are waiting for me’, said Umesh.
The bouncer stared Umesh from head to toe and was amused by Mukesh's get up. Umesh was wearing a formal wear awkwardly combined with a white Puma sport shoes. The bouncers gave him way to enter the pub. As Umesh entered the pub, he saw a terrace seating area to his left and DJ dance floor to his right. The dance floor was absolutely jam-packed. He wondered how the boys and girls were managing to dance without hitting each other. He then tried to search Vicky in the crowd. He finally managed to spot him in a corner, holding a beer bottle in his hand and dancing with his group of two girls and a guy. Umesh jostled through the crowd and reached near Vicky’s group. He quickly took out his mobile phone and raised his hand upwards to click Vicky's photo.
‘Hey’, said one of the Vicky's friends to Vicky, ‘see that uncle is clicking our photo’. She had to scream to make her voice audible to Vicky, owing to the loud music.
‘I think this is uncle’s first time to a pub’, replied Vicky. ‘C’mon buddies, let’s give uncle some cool poses’. Vicky and his friends laughed.
Umesh smirked and kept on clicking the photographs. When he finished, he moved out of the pub and sent the photographs to Nisha through Facebook messenger. Umesh had successfully accomplished his first Detective case. With a proud smile on his face, Umesh returned.
Next morning, Umesh was again staring at his Facebook page, waiting for another case. It is when he received a message. The name of sender was Vicky. Umesh was a bit surprised to see Vicky's message. Vicky asked him to meet at MG road metro station.
First the girl hired me to catch his boyfriend red handed. Now, I guess the guy is hiring me to find evidences against the girl. Today's generation doesn't have any idea about handling a relationship, thought Umesh.
Umesh reached at MG road metro station and was waiting for Vicky. Vicky had called him in the evening. Umesh again adopted his detective avatar; in order to hide is identity. He saw Vicky standing at corner.
‘So you are the “Detective U”’, said Vicky, as Umesh neared him.
‘What do you want?’, asked Umesh.
‘Thats what I want to ask?’, Vicky raised his voice. ‘I know you had clicked my pictures yesterday and gave it to Nisha. You must have been paid well too’.
Umesh stared at Vicky.
Vicky continued. ‘Yes. Nisha told me that she had hired you to gather evidences against me. You did very well. You would be glad to know that Nisha left me. You have spoiled my relationship with Nisha; just for money’.
‘It is not me’, replied Umesh, ‘It is you who have spoiled your relationship. You youngsters don’t take anything seriously. Everything in this world is a joke for you. You think it’s really cool to take everything lightly. You and only you are responsible for your situation’. Umesh blurted out his frustration he had on youngsters.
‘Yeah.. I am wrong. I accept. But what did you do? Did you "wise and responsible" elder do anything to improve us?’
Umesh chose to remain silent. He had nothing to respond.
‘I accept it was my fault when I did not tell Nisha that I am going out with friends. She is a suspicious and jealous girl. I was not cheating on her. I just didn’t want to fight with her. But she hired you and you gave her exactly what she wanted. I am not expecting her to understand, I know her nature. But being an elder, at least you should have understood that what I was doing was not cheating. You should have collected a few more evidences before coming to the conclusion. Instead, you added fuel to the fire’.
Vicky waited Umesh to answer. But Umesh didn't.
‘The private Detective U has successfully solved the case by destroying a so called careless and useless youth’, said Vicky sarcastically.
Vicky shook his head and began to leave. He walked a couple of steps and paused. He turned back towards Umesh and said, 'You, like every other person from older generation, don’t like the younger generation. You think that we are your unworthy successors and you were far better than us. But did you ever ask yourself that when you were young, were your elders happy with your generation? I am sure that they must have the same impression of your generation as you have for us. But you are going to curse us the same way they would have been doing to you. Keep up the good work of making the life of youth hell Detective U. Good bye’.
Umesh kept on gazing at the retreating Vicky. He realized Vicky was right. He too used to think in his youth that he was a radical thinker and his elders were too orthodox. He realized that just to complete his job quickly and prove the youths wrong, he didn’t even evaluate whether Vicky was actually at fault or not. Umesh hung his head low with the guilt.
Nisha was leaving from office a bit late today. She was hurrying towards her car which was parked in the basement of her office building. As she reached near the door, she heard a voice.
She was freaked out by the voice coming from just behind her back. She turned quickly and saw Detective U. The panic on her face had now replaced by confusion. She smiled and said, ‘Detective Uncle, how come you are here?’
Umesh ignored her question and said, ‘So you broke up with Vicky’.
Nisha’s smile slowly faded away. She thought for a while and said, ‘Of course. He is a cheat. He doesn’t deserve me’. Nisha had absolutely no regret for leaving Vicky. She was quite assured that Vicky was dishonest to her.
Umesh sighed, ‘See Nisha, I have no right to interfere in your personal matters. But, I would say just one thing. It is very easy to end a relationship. It doesn't take much courage to break up. But, those who struggle through several differences and complications are worthy of being in relationship’.
‘What do you mean?', asked Nisha, though it appeared that she had understood what Umesh was trying to say.
‘You know what I mean. You cannot take a vital decision of leaving Vicky just on the basis of the photograph I have shared with you’.
‘But you yourself had given me the photographs; as an evidence of Vicky’s disloyalty’.
‘Yes. That was my mistake. Going out with friends is never a disloyalty. He is not cheating on you. His only fault is that he hid it from you. But he is not the only one who is at fault. You are equally wrong’.
Umesh continued. ‘Yes. The amount of suspicion and possessiveness you imposed Vicky had made him to hide the truth from you. But that doesn’t mean he is dishonest. He loves you a lot. And he is shattered now’.
Umesh told Nisha everything about his meeting with Vicky.
Tears streamed down from Nisha's eyes.
Umesh took his hat off and continued. ‘I should have been a bit wiser. But I just found one incident and handed you the photographs. Vicky was right, we older generation just curse the youth for being irresponsible and impulsive. In a hurry to prove them so, we ignore to do what we are supposed to do: To lead them to the correct path’.
Nisha bowed her head in remorse.
Umesh kept his hand on Nisha’s shoulder. ‘Love doesn’t need a Detective to seek the truth. Go and speak to Vicky. He is not as bad as you think’.
Nisha raised her head and smiled. Umesh put his hat back on his head and turned to leave.
‘Thanks Detective Uncle’, said Nisha. Her eyes were still filled with tears. This time, it was tears of happiness.
Umesh smile behind handkerchief and walked away proudly. The case, in its true sense, had now been solved.
Umesh exited the office building. He had by now removed his hat, handkerchief and overcoat. He took out his mobile phone to book an uber cab for his home when he saw a message.
Umesh read the message and smiled with gleaming eyes, ‘A new Case’.