Ranjit was riding on his motorcycle back to his home when he was waylaid by two burly looking boys “we have been very keen  to get in touch with you  while you were travelling on the bus itself but we did not want to scare off the beautiful girl  sitting next to you.  We knew you will come to pick up your motorcycle from this place. Please do not have any misgivings.  We are not the policemen but we are definitely the followers of the shrine.  General Durjan has called for you. He wants to hand over the reward to you personally for your achievement. If only you will come with us”.

“I think there has been some kind of misunderstanding. You have caught hold of the wrong man. I do not know any General”, after all these guys could be from the police.

“I am a student of the university and I am not from the army”, he told them.

“We knew you will not trust us hence we have brought this along”, one of the boys took off his jacket he was wearing and displayed the gun.

“Now if you still refuse we will have to take you there forcefully. You should trust us”. They also showed to him the capsules tied to their necks.  “We are brothers in life and death and carry our dear mothers with us’.  One of the boys spoke the code given to each one of them for the cyanide capsule tied to their necks.

Ranjit recalled General having told them once “this is your dear mother and whenever you get caught and find there is no way you can escape just bite this. Like a dear mother’s love this capsule too will put you to instant sleep”.

“Yes but I had been directed strictly not to get any where close to the shrine for next few days.  The police investigators could still lie in wait around to investigate” said Ranjit.

“We are going within the university campus only and not to the shrine.  The meeting with General Durjan will not take very long. It will be over in a few minutes. You must be rewarded for the excellent service rendered to the cause”. The younger looking of the lot told him to follow the other motorcycle driven by the senior boy. He jumped on to his pillion.

They took him to the boys’ hostel at the university through the back door.  They asked him to wait out side the warden’s room. He was not surprised to see General Durjan in the boy’s hostel.  By now he was convinced that these guys could reach anywhere and at any time. Their far reaching tentacles were too strong. They had their control spread in all the echelons of the society. He for a slight moment wished he had not involved himself with all of them.   “But what the hell, every one appeared to be on their side. The government machinery was too helpless to control or combat any of the activities undertaken by the boys set enlarge by the sage and his General”.

Ranjit was anxious to know the aftermath of the shoot carried out at by him the shrine. He was astonished to see the farcical reaction of the police. The men from the state security force covering the politician had thrown themselves on the floor as the bullet hit Tanwar. The guards themselves were looking for the covers instead of coolly finding the source and the direction of the gun fire. The clumsy reaction of the police force had given enough time to Ranjit to run away from the scene. It all appeared stage-managed to him. It was as if some force had been controlling the entire show. They were all it seemed to him working on a pre-planned arrangement for getting their senior officer eliminated.

General Durjan came out of the room himself. He hugged him so firmly that Ranjit’s feet got lifted from the floor.

“We are so proud of you young man.  What a perfect shooter you turned out to be.  It was a fantastic job done. The great priest Rajamantran advised me to congratulate and honor you in person. Come, come there is no point being modest. We know you have dug the first nail in the confidence of security forces of this state. No one and I repeat no one prior to you have achieved such amazing task. We must facilitate you for this brave act”. General Durjan held him by the arm and took him inside the room.

Two gentlemen seated inside in the warden’s office. One of them belonged to the group of well known singers of the local folk music. He recalled having seen him on various ceremonies in local cultural festivals and meets. He was also a regular performer on the annual gathering of the shrine on each New Year’s function. This year too he had begun the proceedings by singing the ode to goddess of power, at the function when Ranjit had gone to seek blessings at the shrine along with his mother. He was not sure who the other guy was. The unknown guy was carrying a bag on his shoulders that looked like a photographer’s kit. “May be he is one of the press reporters”, thought Ranjit, “but why should General Durjan bring a newspaperman with him”. Ranjit was getting apprehensive by now.  He looked expectantly at General Durjan, “is he trying to regale me by their singing to celebrate the achievement. If it is so then this is certainly not the place for such kind of celebrations.  Or is he trying to publicize what I have done to serve the mission. Either way, my patience has always led me to get answers to all the queries in the world.  This riddle too will solve itself,” thought Ranjit.

General Durjan ordered both the boys who had brought Ranjit, to wait outside and keep an eye on any visitor to the warden’s office, so that no one disturbs them in their discussions, which were to take place for next two hours.

“Ah let me first of all give you the prize for your achievement. There   is something for you waiting to be acknowledged inside this envelope”, General Durjan handed over to him the envelope containing the slip on which were mentioned the code number and the account code to a deposit of us $ 100000/ in a Swiss bank. “You can access your bank any time from any part of the world and after verifying the code mentioned by you the money can be delivered to you wherever you want.  This account is totally untraceable.   It can not be referred to by any government agency. There is a complete assurance of secrecy vouched for   by the bank. Congratulations, from today onwards you are part of the inner close and exclusive strategic decision making committee of the shrine”.

“I do not think I will be able to use this kind of foreign currency in India.  I definitely will request you for the conversion of this money to Indian currency. I think I need to take care of my living in India.  My father has been talking of throwing me out of the house I have been staying in”.

He was cut short by General Durjan, “besides you need to get married to the girl you have been meeting recently”.

“Yes but all this money can hardly take care of all my other needs. In case the great priest Rajamantran is keen that I   support and work for the plans of the shrine I will have to lead a life style that does not attract the sleuths of Indian agencies. That would mean I settle down at some place in life and get married. You will agree that here it is taken for granted that the familial responsibilities will often weigh down the person to think of any kind of subversive activities”.  Ranjit was in no mood to hide his plans to get married. He continued, “My experience so far has proved that whenever I have traveled abroad as a married man the customs and other immigration authorities have either allowed me to get through freely from the green channels. They always trusted us whatever we declared. They have been lax in their search of whatever they were trying to find”.

“Yes but some day your luck may run out. That could be the end of all the smartness shown.  I think you are not able to comprehend the bigger picture we are preparing you for.  We are neither talking of smaller money nor are we looking at you as a mere courier and a sharp shooter. We are looking at you as a harbinger of the new movement of courage and defiance. We are looking at you as a leader who will lead all our boys as their lead commander. Believe me not many people in this country are lucky enough to get the head of a police deputy chief in their kitty as a trophy. Well done my boy. Believe me you will have to cross many such mountainous journeys to reach where you are headed “.

“Yes but I have no such plans. It all was done to prove my faith and loyalty to the mission our sage is running. I have no wish to continue murdering people to further any of your personal aspirations if that is what you are looking for. Just pay me the adequate reward.  Let me get on with my life”.

“What lives are you talking of young man.  That life is behind you now.  It is the shrine that will decide the future fait accompli for the people of your caliber? You have been god sent to this earth. It is a pity that you are not realizing your own task cut out for you by the God almighty. You have been sent to us by Him to rewrite the history of our community, faith and religion. Our mission needs your services. That is what you will live for henceforth”. It was the singer talking to him.

“Cut down your voice, I think the young man has recently met the love of his life and is undergoing the moral pangs of the right and wrong in life. He will soon understand what we are suggesting to him is much above the evaluations of the common men. We are talking of achieving the heights that could be visualized only by the great sacrifices and the great martyrdoms of our national heroes. The contributions made by you to the mission’s success will go down on the pages of national history. You must however take it that, you can not be allowed to reverse the entire process by one stupid decision of yours”, General Durjan put his hand on Ranjit’s shoulders to let him feel at ease, as the atmosphere was getting too charged up by now. “The money is not the criterion, you will forget the counting once you have a look at the picture we are about to unfold in front of you. Just bear with us. Let me unfold the entire game plan of the operation started by the great seer”, General Durjan raised Ranjit’s curiosity further.

“First thing first, the gentleman here needs your photographs. We have to get the official passport issued in your real name. We know you have been crossing borders so far on fake documents. It will not be necessary henceforth if you have to serve our mission in the commanding position. It is not time now to let go of the other activities you were involved in earlier.  I mean you will not henceforth act as a transporter of females. Nor will you be getting involved in false marriage ceremonies. The mission wants you to operate as a negotiator for the arms supplies, for our cause. It will be your prime responsibility to ensure the suppliers deliver the consignments safely to the delivery points. In addition many a times you may have to deal with the opponents of the shrine through the small army of the marksmen attached to you. The gentlemen here have been doing it on a smaller scale through the cultural troupes’ tours abroad. But the small consignments have not been enough to wage a full-scale war against the armed forces. We have to now give momentum to our fight against the injustice met to our simple people. The declarations of independence from the colonial rule of the current rulers necessitate the formation of the underground cabinet of different portfolios. You are from this minute onward made a member of the inner cabinet of the independent country of the greats. This country needs your services. We believe no one can let down the faith shown by the nation in our great priest Rajamantran. The fight against the society of the perpetrators of inhuman defilements will henceforth be fought in the open. In addition to the guerrilla warfare by the leaders leading from the front though you will have to, many a times prove to the boys that you are not merely a dummy head. Hence you may have to pull many a triggers yourself too. We want to strengthen our armed position. You will have to visit the neighboring country for finalizing the deal for advanced armaments. You will also make arrangements to get them safely delivered within our territory. The payments for such supplies will have to be authorized by you only. We will open a separate account under your direction. To begin with we are placing a fund of a hundred million dollars at your disposal”.

Ranjit felt his throat choked on hearing the amount mentioned by General Durjan. He literally jumped out of the chair he was sitting in “will you please repeat what you said just now, did I hear you correctly that you want me to buy arms worth how much the amount?”

“I repeat worth one hundred million dollars” General Durjan repeated and paused for a while to let him absorb the impact of the statement. “You will be met by our armed experts in Mirpur to help you select the supplies as per the list already sent by us, a copy of which is given to you here for your reference. The mode, the moment and the day of the delivery will have to be worked out after discussion with the Intra Services Intelligence wing of the neighbors. They have been so far very helpful in furthering our cause from across borders”.

“You are talking as if I will just walk across the vegetable market to pick up a few eggplants to be cooked. I am sure you understand we do not get access to the neighboring territory without a valid visa. In the current political scenario when the countries are virtually at a proxy war with each other it seems next to impossible. Unless you are suggesting to me that I cross over like some of the boys who have been sent by you for training in camps across the line of control.  In that situation, I do not think any kind of travel document or the identity papers are needed”.

“Precisely that is what we are suggesting.  You will be going across to the neighboring country on valid papers. You will be accompanying the cultural troupe visiting the neighboring country for a religious congregation   which is falling due within next two weeks. The folk singers group has received the official invitation to organize an evening of devotional psalms and odes, from our brethren managing the shrine in that country. You will have people coming in from many of the countries from across the world. The international council of our mission is likely to announce the secession of our people from the constitutional territory of this country on that eventful day”.

“The seer himself is likely to be there along with some of the top functionaries of the movement to pay respect to the elders.  But that is simply a camouflage to seek support from the international body. Your trip is not meant for this event. Even though you will initially report at the shrine but will be taken to Mirpur the same day for completing the arms deal. The function at the shrine will be spread over three days. Our friends have assured you will be brought back to join the singers’ team on the last day.  You will accompany them back to satisfy the visa requirements”

“But why should you suggest this circuitous route. I can simply walk across like all the other boys have been doing with the help of local contacts. I can go across even with the help of the drug suppliers. After all it is a porous land frontier where the farmers’ fields too run into each other at the line of division of the two boundaries of these countries’.

“Yes but you are not just any other boy. We can not put you at the mercy of the border security forces. That is if you are able to escape then you are on our side otherwise you become just another dead body collected by the security forces for their day’s counting to be announced to the media and the world”.

“Your political mileage will be driven after you have been to the other side officially a few times. There can not be a better opportunity to begin this than the religious troupe to commemorate a social festival. You are the face we want to project as the future leader of our movement”.

General Durjan took Ranjit’s silence as the consent to whatever he suggested. He continued “we also believe you have every right to win over the love of your life. The mission will ensure that you are married off to the girl you are in love with after you successfully handle the assignment at Mirpur”.

The words spoken by General Durjan sounded too sweet to Ranjit’s ears.  He looked outside the windows of the room into the blue skies. It was so pleasant. The sun was smiling for him.  He felt the trees were dancing for him. The birds were singing for him. It was as if General Durjan had ordered all of them to wish him a great day. Nothing in life could be sweeter than the time spent with his beloved. And here he was being offered, a living full of honors, riches and respect by this representative of the seer. Yes there was a graver risk of his getting caught on the wrong side of law.   All his life he has thrived on the games he played with the laws of different countries. This path would bring along with it the supremacy. He will be able to attain the command that he witnessed had kept low and mighty bowed before pontiff.  He could visualize himself sitting on the thrown at shrine, with Koena on his side.  He anticipated the same General Durjan lying prostrate in front of him. The General was seeking his blessings. He raised his hands to bless the audience present there. But he said instead “I completely surrender myself to the will of our guide, philosopher, and leader, the great sage Rajamantran. I will do whatever he has ordained me to carry out. All tasks assigned by him will be sacrosanct henceforth. Please lead me to alter if He so wishes.  I am sure my emancipation lies in following the path set forth by Him”.

The photographer had finished his job of taking Ranjit’s photographs for the necessary documentation. He was asked by the men in the room to put his signature to different papers. He wanted to leave the room assuming his job had been done when General Durjan told him “the journey is planned for the Friday of next week. We will make sure all papers are delivered to you well in time. You may have to undergo training for a few days to identify the weapons we have asked for. It is essential that you accompany me to the camp where you underwent the firing practice. This gentleman here who shall be accompanying you or rather whom you shall be traveling with will help you practice and remember a few hymns and songs to be sung at the function at the gathering. Who knows when you may need them?”

Before their conclave got terminated General Durjan threw another inducement for him, “these are the keys to your new house. You should be occupying after you get back from there. The last thing, a car is already parked for your use in that bungalow”. Ranjit caught the keys thrown towards him in a cricket ball style.  There was a golden slip attached to the key chain on which was written the address to his new abode. Ranjit noticed it was in the most sought after locality of the town.