It was unusually cold for this part of the year with the chill wind blowing now and then adding to the discomfort. I was sitting aimlessly on a raised parapet wall built around the lounge leading to the metro station. One needed a ticket to enter the station where one can find comfortable seats. I had neither a place to go nor the money to spend for the luxury of sitting in the station. I had just finished the last fag with my eyes closed and decided that it was time to leave for my room. It was then I heard a slight shuffle of feet by my side. It was a young woman in her early twenties who would look pretty charming but for her jaded clothes, crumpled hair and a face that badly needed a wash.
“Can I sit by your side for a while, as a jerk has been stalking me? I am unable to shake him off, and if he sees us conversing, he may go away looking for another quarry.”
I turned to see a tall muscular guy with a county cap on his head walking away
“Okay, sit down by my side though it is cold here. Tell me where you reside as it is obvious you are not travelling by train.”
“Frankly I have no place to go and that is why I am loitering here not knowing what to do.”
“Sounds strange! Where were you living hitherto?What is your name?”
“Tina,I was living with a man for six months till he threw me out this morning.”
“Oh oh,I am sorry. Why did he throw you out? Any other woman? How long you had known him?”
“Six months only as I had moved in on the first day I met him. He sounded genuine and warm. He was also sturdy and good looking. I had also no place to go. We were getting along well and I had no reason to suspect that anything was amiss. He did not also tell me why he suddenly lost interest in me” she said in a stoical way.
“Was it like that earlier too, I mean living with someone, before you met this guy? Anyway you do not have to answer that question. Tell me whether you work anywhere or just loaf around living off others?”
“That was a mean question from you” Tina said angrily. "I was working as a maid in a bar till a week back when they decided to send away a few girls due to poor business. I am looking for another place and hope to get in two days. May be the guy threw me out when he knew I had no job. Anyway it is a closed chapter.”
I remained quiet not knowing what to do. I did not have the heart to leave her in the dead of night at a vulnerable and dangerous place nor was I convinced about the desirability of taking an unknown woman to my place.
She broke me from my reverie when she touched my hand and with folded hands pleaded, “Please help me stay with you for this night. I will leave tomorrow morning. You need have no fear, I promise”
When I saw the same stalker a little yonder, I decided to take her with me.”Okay, come with me. I see that guy still there waiting for you to be alone. Let me make it clear. My room is small and cannot accommodate a guest on regular basis.. You will have to sleep on the floor and leave when the day breaks. Is it clear?”
We then crisscrossed through different dark and dingy lanes till we reached my room at the basement of a house.It was self contained with a bath and kitchenette. A queen sized bed, a reclining chair, a big fridge and a small TV on the wall made it a livable place.
As she was looking around the room with interest, I rummaged the small closet to come up up with a faded jeans and a shirt. I gave them to her along with a towel and said, “Have a good shower. You can use the soap and shampoo. This jeans and shirt should fit you. I will get you a new pair tomorrow. Do remember you are leaving in the morning”
She extended her hand to shake mine and said “Thank you so much. You are so kind and understanding..I will be back in a trice after a shower”
When she was inside the bathroom, Tina heard the sound of something being moved.
She gently opened the door a little to see him moving the bed away from the wall and craning his neck that side. She closed the door swiftly without noise and had a warm and soothing shower. Everything was clean and perfect. His stonewashed jeans and shirt fitted her well and she looked attractive totally different from the grimy woman she was earlier.
As she came out, I screamed involuntarily and said “ Wow, you look ravishing”
She hugged me and said “Thank you. I am famished and need something to eat right away. Can I peep inside your fridge to find something?”
In a startled tone I said “No, you sit on the chair. I have a piece of Pizza and an apple. May be a glass of milk if you care to warm it up”
I had already spread a bed on the floor with a pillow and blanket. I said “You may eat and then go to sleep. I am dead tired and would like to hit the bed” and added with a wink “No misreading me, be sure on that. I am just trying to be hospitable to a young lady in distress”
I heard a loud knock at the door.It was 7 am,I turned to see the woman.She was not in the bed.I could see the light in the bath room.As I opened the main door slightly,the tall guy with county cap,the stalker,put his foot inside and pushed me in
“Where is the lady?”he gruffly asked.
“Who the hell are you? How can you enter my house without my permission? I am not obliged to tell the whereabouts of any lady you are talking about. Please get out” I shouted in anger.
He whipped from his pocket an identity card to show he is from Anti drugs authority and let in two armed men in uniform. Shocked at the sudden turn of events, I turned towards the bathroom when I heard the door being opened.
The tall guy stood in attention and gave her a stiff salute that sent a chill on my spine.
She said in a soft but authoritative voice “Look at the wall on the side of his bed. He was meddling there last night.
I let out a swear “You dirty B***h when the two uniformed men encircled me and handcuffed my hands behind me..The game was soon up with the secret vault on the wall opened and a large cache of contraband stuff found inside
"I want you to open the large fridge that is possibly empty and rip it apart. I suspect it is bound to give a rich haul" she said to the tall guy. The search was not in vain and far exceeded her expectations.
As I was pushed into the waiting police car she said to me “ I am sorry buddy. You were a good host but I had my duty to do, though painful it was, on a trusting guy like you..We had identified you already but did not know where you had stashed the stuff. We wished to secure concrete evidence before you are put behind bars” and moved with firm steps towards her chauffeured car.