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Scholar-Journalist

A haunted walk in Pune

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By Varenya Sharma

I was traveling to Pune for a press conference and had a book as my only companion. I was just a junior correspondent and had been called for a special assignment by my boss. I reached the hotel a day earlier so that I can get some time to explore the area.

I was taking a late-night walk around the hotel. That was when I heard a voice, “Do you think I am a fool? Of course, I hide it well.” I stepped back. “Yes, yes I’ll take it tomorrow morning, after the press conference…You idiot, stop repeating the plan when you and I both know it.”

I was terrified at this point and wanted to run away. But part of me was saying that there is something wrong and as a journalist it is my duty to stay, listen and report. So I silently took out my phone and started recording the one-sided conversation. “Yes, do you have any other questions? We’ll be rich alright! And if the plan works out properly, as it has so far, the police will never be able to catch us. Any more questions? Ok then. Alright. Yes, bye.”

It seemed the conversation had ended. The person was silent for a moment and before I could move and hide, he bumped straight into me. I recognised him immediately and wondered how I hadn’t before. It was my boss. His eyes were wide in shock, and his mouth was agape. We made eye contact for a second, before his face twisted into an ugly smirk.

“Found me already, Bhavana,” he said.

I replied awkwardly.

“It’s a good thing you did because I was going to need you anyway,” He said. Suddenly, his entire demeanour changed as he said, “I need your help. The special assignment you were called for, well, it isn’t one related to journalism or the studio in any way. You are a girl with a humble background. You come from Surat, Gujarat, from a family of jewellery makers, correct? I need you to refit a piece I borrowed into three parts. One will be yours. Deal?”

“I umm, I-I…” I was too shocked to speak.

“Stop stuttering and answer me quickly! And let me tell you, if anyone comes to know about it, it would not be good for you,” he said, threatening me.

Suddenly, he pulled out a knife from his jacket, and pointed it at me.

I started mumbling. He pointed the knife straight at my throat, and cornered me by a wall. I got scared and pressed the home button thrice which was the easiest way to call an emergency.

I could hear police sirens in the distance. His eyes widened, but the knife didn’t move. He clenched his teeth, and slowly started pushing the knife into my throat. I was in pain, but I would stand my ground until the end.

After a few minutes, two policemen and a policewoman came into view, running fast. “Put your hands up,” they said. My boss dropped the knife and tried to run away, but the policewoman quickly tackled him. “You are under arrest,” she said, handcuffing him.

I was breathing hard, and the two policemen began checking my condition. They carried me to the police car and told me that the knife didn’t hurt me much and I am going to be fine soon. They dropped me at the nearby hospital, with instructions to report to the police station first thing the next morning.

The next morning, I was discharged early with a bandage around my neck and a packet of painkillers. And after that whole ordeal, I was left with only two thoughts: “Do I go to the police station or the press conference?” 

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