How is everyone doing today?! And who’s ready for this week’s instalment? If you missed the Introduction to Disconnect: A Novel , the PrologueChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4, or Chapter 5, do check them out before reading Chapter 6. Disconnect is fiction, comprised of a prologue, an epilogue, and 13 chapters. Every week, on every Thursday, a chapter will be posted on the blog, non-stop, until the entire book is up. Chapter 6 of Disconnect, my second novel, begins right below! Sound off in the comments so that I can know how the story is going so far? Who’s your favourite? What are your theories? Let me know! And thank you!

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CHAPTER SIX – 3 P.M.

ASHNI spies on her father from behind her school book. She pretends to be reading, and with her eyes a centimeter over the book, she watches him on the phone, calling her babysitter. After a minute, he returns it to the receiver, sighing. Then he walks to where she is curled up on the couch and sits beside her, by which time her attention has moved to her book.

“Ashni, sweety. I was going to step out for a while, but Niloufer’s mother says she’s not at home today. I would have asked Uncle Ian to babysit you, but he isn’t home either.”

Her father is going to leave her home alone once again. Ashni’s heart does little dance despite herself. She doesn’t mind that he does this and she never has. She loves the liberty an empty house gives her. On the handful of times that her father has left her unsupervised–always in the daytime and for no longer than an hour–she has dialed unknown persons for an amusing chat, ordered for toys from tele-shopping networks, and also experimented in the kitchen. When her father returns home, he always catches her red-handed, doing something or the other she is not supposed to. But today will be different. Today he will not. He will really understand her melancholy now, when he returns home to find her in exactly the same spot he left her in, not having done anything mischievous or digressed from her school books.

“You’ll be alright for some time, won’t you? It will take me less than half an hour.”

Ashni questions whether to nod. That would count as communication.

“You need to answer me, sweety. Are you fine with me leaving you all alone?”

Her finger traces the lines of her book until it comes across a ‘go’ in a sentence.

“Alright,” her father  says, not sounding very confident. “You’re sure, sweety?”

Her finger insists on the word, pressing on it.

“Okay.” Her father gets up to slip on his loafers at the front door. “Remember the rules. Don’t answer the doorbell for anybody. I’ll be back as soon as I can. And no phone calls, alright?”

But he might as well be talking to the walls. Ashni is a piece of stone that is staring at a book.

“Okay. I love you, sweety. Bye.”

Ashni doesn’t have to look at her father to sense his disappointment. She can hear it in his wavering voice.

Ashni always says I love you back. But, today is a day of firsts. It hurts her that she can’t say it, and so she can’t help but finally glance at her father. She catches the frown on his face just before he turns to leave, closing the front door behind him. Something pricks in her heart.

I’m sorry, she thinks, but her need for a guard dog is too dire to give up this war so soon.

As soon as the front door clicks shut, Ashni hops off the couch and races to the door to listen to the summoned lift that will take her father five storeys down. When she hears the mechanics descend, she returns her book to the couch and heads for her bedroom.

She had left her bedroom door open earlier, when she ventured out for lunch. But that is not okay now. Her father is gone and she is all alone. This is the perfect opportunity for the monsters under her bed to strike. Although, that is not likely since the monsters have never really shown themselves and it is daytime. Even so, why take the risk? Better safe than sorry, she thinks, as she learned in school.

Light on her feet, she tip-toes down the hallway to her room. Keeping her eyes peeled, she gently grabs the handle of her bedroom door, waits a beat, and then yanks it shut at the spped of sound. It closes with a BANG! This noise, echoing through am empty apartment, scares her silly.

Ashnireally twists and races back to the living room, almost like something might be after her, and pounces back onto the couch, letting out a sigh of relief. Phew. She wipes her brow as though there might be sweat on it. That was scary, she thinks, laughing a little.

But she did it.

And now it’s time for some fun.

Ashni grabs the remote control and switches on the televison. She needs to be quick about this. The tele-shopping channel is selling exquisite faux-diamond Cinderella slippers.

*

BAHAR hobbles to her front door with her purse in hand. She barely makes an attempt to greet the man who rang her doorbell, but she notes that he is on time as he should be.

“Pizza Paradise delivery!” The beaming delivery boy announces. But one look at her sallow, wretched face divests him of all his gusto. He takes a cautious step back.

Bahar knows she looks like she has the plague or something. Whatever, she thinks. She doesn’t care. She simply takes her delivery as he hands over each item in fearful silence, his eyes the size of watermelons. The thought of what is in these boxes alone nearly gives Bahar’s stomach a reason to riot. Finally, she pays the boy and tips him generously.

“I hope you enjoy your meal, madam, and thank you for choosing Pizza Paradise to take you away on a heavenly journey.”

She wasn’t expecting anything, let alone that, from this delivery boy who looked like he lost the power of speech after seeing her. Though, as she considers what he said, she admits to herself she has heard worse slogans. She mutters a weak ‘thank you’ and starts to close her front door.

Something shifts in her mind and she pulls her door open again.  “Excuse me,” she croaks. The delivery boy draws back up to her door.

Bahar is being such a cheat, but she might as well interview this man while she has him so that her review contains some shred of truth.

“Yes?” he says.

“I have a few questions about the delivery service,” she says dryly.

The delivery boy becomes enthusiastic all over again. His eyes dance and shine with it. “Sure, madam! What would you like to know?”

“What’s the area for the 30-minute time limit?”

“Its twenty-nine minutes actually, madam. It covers anything from Navy Nagar to Chowpatty. Your address is the end of that zone. But we do deliver to areas beyond this, madam, up to Bombay Central, where the time-limit doesn’t apply.”

“I see…” Bahar fights to concentrate over her lightheadedness from not having eaten anything in over fourteen hours. “And how exactly is the time… calculated?”

“With this.” The delivery boy with the turban wields forward an electronic tablet from his back pocket. “See this green button? I push it and it begins to count down from twenty-nine minutes, locking in my location. We only push it once we leave the restaurant.”

“So it does not matter if you… place the order by calling… or online.”

“No, madam. Same rules apply.”

“Alright, thank… you.”

“Thank you, madam. Enjoy your meal. And thank you for choosing Pizza Paradise…”

His voice fades behind her closing door. “Yes, yes… to take me away on a heavenly journey,” she mumbles in completion, rolling her eyes. “Who can forget?”

Bahar slumps into a chair as she sets down the boxes on her dining table. She isn’t ready to put any of this in her body. She already sees herself throwing up all this food that would no doubt be mouth-watering on any other day. Or it might go the other way. Her cranky bowels have… well, it has happened twice since she woke up. She is not looking forward to doing it a third time. She’d sooner dive headfirst into a vat of boiling acid.

The garlic bread smells through its container, too pungent, so she pushes the box far away from her. She is going to have to build a good bit of courage to bite into that. Only the Red Velvet cake and the side of Macaroni & Cheese seem to be odourless and tolerable. But finally, she can tell from the hot pizza box that the star of the meal will lend itself to a good vegan review. She breaks the plastic seal and lifts the box lid, eager too feast her eyes, if not actually feast, on this fancy pizza from a fancy place…

… and she cringes.

Shrimp-vinaigrette, smoked salmon, and tuna, all artistically arranged on a multi-grain base. A far cry from the Very Very Veggie Pizza she distinctly remembers ordering.

And the smell. That nasty trigger.

The smell.

Instinctively, Bahar clamps her lips shut and slaps a hand over her mouth to keep her from repeating history. Not daring to take a single breath, she leaps from her chair and flees to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

*

GAUTAM has an empty look on his face. His hands move like a puppet’s as they pack the wads of money that will soon round off to ten crore rupees. He sure feels like a puppet, carrying out someone else’s demands. The eleven men seated around the dining table methodically hand him one wad at a time, after they have counted and accounted for each one, three times, with great precision. They have been at it for close to three hours now.

What is happening? Gautam thinks.

He cannot bring himself to believe that his little champ’s future now depends on this sack of money. The one he is taking great take care to put together.

Apart from their private residence, no investment of the family comes close to providing what Gautam needs. Shaan’s trust fund held just over ten crore Rupees. The trustees didn’t need much persuading to agree that liquidating all of its assets fell under an authorized disposition for the advancement and benefit of Shaan as the sole beneficiary, as strictly provided for in the trust deed. Gautam was determined to use the veto power as an acting trustee and settlor of the trust incase they did not resolve so. Fortunately, they did not put up any resistance, and the ransom money was smoothly amassed, leaving his son’s trust fund drained of all but two lakh Rupees.

The very last wad of money is passed into Gautam’s hand–ten thousand rupees–and he hesitates to do it, but after a glance at turstees’ long and grave faces, he finally stuffs it into the duffle bag and zips the bag close.

The trustees begin to stand one after another. “Thank you, gentlemen,” he tells them numbly. After shaking all eleven hands, he bid them goodbye and, being left alone, takes a seat at the head of the table. He wants to be by himself for some minutes. He doesn’t want to move on to the next task until his mind catches up to this moment.

Except, his mind is empty. No thoughts pass by him. No emotions come up to the surface. He stares vacantly across the dining table, hand resting on the duffle bag, listening to himself breathe.

Suddenly, his little champ is not missing anymore, but is looking right at his papa from his usual seat of the dining table. Messing his food, playing with another toy robot he yet again managed to sneak to dinner, chuckling when he yanks off its detachable arms and legs. The image is feeding something in Gautam and he doesn’t want to stop seeing Shaan, not now, not ever. If it were up to him, Gautam would stay here and watch till the end of time. He cannot possibly tear himself away. Not when Shaan is here and everything feels back to normal.

Except that nothing really is back to normal. He must tear himself away to make the daydream he is seeing a permanent reality.

When he does find it in himself to do so, he lifts the bag and heads off to find ACP Omkat. He finds the man in charge in the study, surrounded by the Technical Team, on what seems to be an important phone call.

“Ten minutes? Yes, thank you. We will be waiting for it to arrive.” The ACP replaces the receiver and notices Gautam enter te room. “Dr. Shah, that was the head of the Crime Department. Our request for the counterfeit money in the prescribed duffle bag is approved. It should be here–”

“The money is here,” Gautam says flatly. He extends his arm and drops his duffle bag onto the table of computer screens.  The all rattle. “Ten crore rupees. It’s been triple checked.”

ACP Omakr looks exasperated. “Dr. Shah, I told you we do not need your money. We cannot give the kidnappers real notes. That would be a waste. The Department is supplying–”

Gautam speaks over him. “No, ACP. I don’t need your money.” He is not open to negotiation. He makes himself as clear as possible, speaking each syllable of each word as carefully as he can. “I will not gamble away my son’s life. The kidnappers have asked for real money, in an uncompromised bag with no triggers or trackers. That is what I’ve got you. And this is what we will give them.”

The ACP scowls. “Doctor, you need to understa–”

Gautam cuts off the ACP again. He is not unaware of how the ACP is treating the Inspector. For a reason that is very unclear, ACP Omkar has been giving Kapadia a very rough time, but Gautam will be damned if he lets any of that friction come in the way of his little champ’s rescue. “With all due respect, ACP, I don’t care how real the counterfeit money looks. The moment they realize they’ve been tricked, I lose my son. That is something that I won’t let happen today.”

A fire Gautam has never felt burns inside him, and it refuses to take no for an answer. He will have things go his way, even if it comes to fighting this out, tooth and nail. He will. The ACP seems worked up as well, not intent on losing this argument.

Both men stand chest to chest, which look puffed to an equal extent as they silently defy each other, eyes locked. Tension flares in the study as analysts and officers shuffle to the edges of the room, because it looks like either man is likely to turn this into a physical fight. But before either of them can say or do anything next, Gautam feels his cell-phone begin to vibrate in his coat pocket. His racing heart clenches to a stop.

He has been waiting for this call.

“It’s settled,” Gautam says through gritted teeth. “We do it my way.”

The ACP starts to raise an object, opening him mouth, but seems to change his mind and closes it. With a grunt, he concedes to Gautam’s finality on the matter.

Gautam turns on his heels and stalks out of the study for the privacy of the kitchen. He whips out his cell-phone and takes the call, almost fumbling before answering it.

“Hello?”

“Dr. Shah…”

“How is she?”

“She is doing fine,” Inspector Kapadia informs him. “There is nothing to worry abo–”

Gautam nods ot himself, but he has too many questions. “Where are you? Are you with her?”

“Yes. She said she needed to buy something before returning. She has gone into the store now.”

“Tell her that the ransom is ready. We are waiting for them to contact us again.”

“I will.”

“Are you sure she’s well? When she came to me, she was so neurotic that I couldn’t let her go by herself. I’m scared for her.”

“Don’t be, doctor. You’ll see when we return. She is doing much better.”

Gautam heaves a sigh of relief. But he still needs to see it with his own eyes. The fright Payal gave him by leaving the house without explaining much still jangles every nerve inside him. He was at a total loss until he realized to seek the Inspector’s help.

After thanking the Inspector and ending the call, he relaxes against the kitchen counter and drags in a long breath. Gautam begins to stare past the window, at the unwatered lawn of the mansion that commands his attention for a few moments. He feels unreasonably annoyed. He is surprised that with everything that is happening, something so trivial can frustrate him so much. So many things have derailed today, turning what was once a house of happiness into the proverbial house of cards. His son; his wife; the disheveled food that was ordered for the police force working the case that they were polite enough not to complain about; and, now, this. Even the gardener didn’t show up today. It’s such an ordinary bother, not worth his time or trouble, least of all on a day like this, but it still adds to his fury, that not one thing, even the simplest of things, has gone right today.

*

DIPAK is relieved to find the Baskin Robbins parlour quite empty this afternoon. Not many people are here and that should help him get what he wants and return back to his daughter in no time. But he feels quite winded after scaling the hill of Kemps Corner, so he is glad he gets to wait in line and study all the available flavours on display before being served.

Bubblegum has been Ashni’s favourite ever since he started feeding her ice cream. The next ones her list are Banana Caramel and Mint Milk Chocolate Chip. No other flavors exist that she is head over heels about. Today, he is going to surprise her with all three. Thank God they have all three available, he thinks. That should break the silent treatment, which is can’t bear any longer.

Before him in the line are two men, and a woman. The cashier serves the men quite snappily. The woman places her order next, for a tub of Chocolate-chip, and Dipak waits for her to pay.

As she does, Dipak can’t help but notice the tremors in her hands as she hands over the notes to the cashier. The AC in here is not turned up so much that she could shiver so badly. Later, when she tries to lift the bag of the ice cream she has just purchaed, her hand gives way and she loses her balance, like the bag is too heavy for her. The bag topples and her tub of Cholocate-chip ice cream tumbles to the floor.

Dipak rushes to her aid. He helps right her and retrieve her ice cream.

“Thank you.” The woman’s tone matches her body language, weak and atremble.

“It’s no problem,” Dipak says. With the tub returned to her bag, she still looks concerned about something. “Would you like to take a seat?”

She nods, and Dipak directs her to the chairs in the corner of the parlour. The cashier asks him for his order and he places it. He then asks for a glass of water and returns to the woman.

“Here,” he offers it.

The woman takes it, sipping at it slowly.

Dipak watches her closely. “Would you like me to call somebody for you?”

She shakes her head. “Thank you, but… I’m fine. I just…”

Dipak does not catch the rest; she merely trails off. The cashier calls him back. Dipak pays, takes his bag of tubs, and returns to take a seat next to the woman. Her head is lowered now, and Dipak doesn’t know if she is staring into the glass of water she holds in her lap or at the floor. He cannot read her. For some reason, and perhaps that reason is simple compassion, he is very worried for this woman. This woman who looked pained and haunted. He doesn’t know what to do, only that she mustn’t be left alone.

“This is for my daughter,” he says, unable to think of anything else to say.

The woman glances up, at his sizeable bag of tubs. “What did you do?” Her response is quick. It’s a good sign. But what she means is lost on him. “You must have done something,” she adds. “Isn’t that why you are trying to make it up to her?”

Dipak grins, and he did not think he would. She must be a mother, that’s how she understands, he thinks. “I made her angry,” he says sheepishly.

“How old…”

“Nine,” he says.

“Ah,” she comments. “That is when they begin to rebel, isn’t it?”

“It is,” he agrees. When the woman falls silent and looks down again, he is afraid she may relapse. He quickly adds, “She wants us to get a dog.” The woman looks up, her eyes livelier than they were a moment before. “She’s afraid the monsters in her room may eat her up.”

The woman nods. “And you said no?”

“It’s the only thing I could say,” Dipak says, lifting a shoulder. “I want her to get over her fears. She is a bit too old to be afraid of monsters.”

The woman wrenches her head at him so fast it must have hurt her to do it. She looks him right in the eye.

“We’re never too old to be afraid of monsters,” she says darkly.

Dipak is taken aback. “So, you think I’m making a mistake?”

The woman doesn’t asnwer. He asks her to drink some more water but she shakes her head and refuses. “This is for my son.” She gestures at her bag. “Chocolate-chip is his favourite.”

“How old is he?”

“Seven.”

“Are you also trying to make it up to him?”

She isn’t forthcoming at first, once again, her eyes going distant, her shoulders slumping. She gves Dipak the impression of a pile of leaves about to be taken by the wind. “Something like that,”she then says. “I… I did something… Do you mind if I’m honest?” Her voice breaks. Before he can tell her to continue, she does so, and hastily, like she must explain something to him. “Try and reconsider. I know it’s not how you want to solve the problem, but that is nothing compared to how you’ll feel if you never get to give her anything ever again.” She pauses as if to make sure Dipak understands what she is trying to say. As if he needs to soak this up. As if he needs to hear this from her. “I know how that feels. Believe me when I say that it devours me. You don’t want to be in my position, to have to feel what I feel. I love my son. I love him so much I am ready to give my life for him. But if a time comes when we want to do something for our children, and we are helpless… Just… reconsider, please. It might be the last thing you do for her.”

Dipak stares at her, confounded. No words come to his mind so that he may speak them. Even if they did, he is not sure he could. There is something about this woman, like there is a dull pall drawn around her, but what strikes him the most is that she has given him something to think about. Her words ring so true, hit squarely home.

Being a single parent is preventing him from seeing things as they are meant to be seen, giving him only half the picture. Ashni my everything, he thinks. It would be easier if his love was spread among many people, but it is his misfortune that it is not. There’s just one person. Only one person. And this is what he should be worrying about more than anything else.

The woman runs her hands down her face, and then suddenly rises to her feet. Dipak wonders how she regained her strength so quickly. He opens the door of the parlour for her as they leave together.

“Take care,” he finally manages to say, still very much deep in thought.

“Thank you, again.” She turns to smile briefly at him. He returns it. She then walks to the sidewalk, where a man, who seems to have been waiting for her, stands.

They exchange a few words, and the man whom she joined casts a cursory glance over his shoulder at Dipak. Then the couple walk up the road together.

*

RAHUL steps out of the shower and pats himself dry. His unpacked clothes have been hung and laid out in neat order in the wardrobe by the hotel attendant. He picks a light cotton shirt and summer trousers to put on. After getting dressed, he grabs a green apple from the fruit bowl of the dining table and bites into it. He parks himself at the foot of his bed and uses the remote control to switch on the television.

There is breaking news of a kidnapping in the city. A boy of seven was taken last night. Rahul recalls that he was on the flight around that time. There is also a cricket match underway. India and Pakistan are facing off for the hundredth time in history. Despite being from India, and having lived in London for the past decade, the sport does not appeal to him. He surfs through a few more channels and finds no good movies or sitcoms worth watching to bide the time.

You’ve never been a T.V person anyway, he thinks wryly.

He switches off the T.V and falls back, his legs dangling off the end of his bed.

He stares at the ceiling for what seems like an eternity, until the quiet stillness of his surroundings settles deep within his muscles like a pleasing tranquillizer. Just when it begins to soothe his mind and he is about to drift off, his cell-phone rings, disturbing his imminent moment of sweet, sweet peace. The sound reverberates throughout the hotel suite like an ominous call, a terrifying signal from the past.

His eyes shoot open.

Dad.

It is his father calling, to ask Rahul what is taking him so long so show his face. He wants to know why Rahul has returned to India after all this time. He expects Rahul to step up like a man and do what must be done. A mental identikit forms in Rahul’s mind, of the man he abandoned nine years ago. He must be drink-addled now, doomed to find happiness at the bottom of a liquor bottle, what he turned to after Rahul abandoned him. He must have languished is life, having lost a son whom he thought the world of; whom he wanted to follow in his footsteps and enlist and make him proud; who confronted him with a bitter truth which forced the man to refuse he ever had a son; and all his hopes and expectations of a strong legacy were washed away in one blow of rejection that is now too late to take back.

When Rahul gets up and goes to his cell-phone which he placed the bed-stand, he doesn’t expect to see DAD flashing. His father doesn’t have this British number. But when Rahul sees the caller’s name on the screen, it is like a brilliant light has been shined upon his soul, casting out all the darkness.

He feels like he can fly.

“Hi,” he answers the calls lightly.

“Hi, there.” The sound of Thatcher’s voice makes Rahul want to hold him in this moment.

“I checked into the Four Seasons an hour ago,” Rahul says. “I miss you.”

Thatcher’s laugh is full and hoarse. “I miss you too. How was the flight?”

“It was how flights go. Long and boring. How’s your day going?”

“It hasn’t yet,” Thatcher says matter-of-factly. “I’m just heading out.”

It surprises Rahul that it is early morning for his fiancé. He feels dumb for no having thought of it.

“I thought you were going to call me when you landed?”

“Yeah, I… I got tangled up with lost and found. And with all of this it completely slipped my mind. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be.” Thatcher understands. Rahul wants him all the more for it. He wants to reach through the phone and hold Thatcher. Or for Thatcher to hold me, he thinks. “When do you think you will… go to speak to him?”

“I was thinking tomorrow. I think there’s a good chance of him being home on a Sunday.”

“How are you holding up?”

Rahul speaks his mind. To the only person in his life that he can. “Honestly, Thatcher, I feel completely hopeless. I just don’t know what I was thinking. Why did I come back here? For all I know, he could be dead, and I’m the bloody idiot for not knowing that.”

Thatcher clicks his tongue. “Don’t do that, Rahul. You have to stop blaming yourself.”

“I wish you were here. I don’t know how I’m going to do this by myself.”

“You argue for a living,” he smartly reminds Rahul. “There is not a single lawyer I know who doesn’t shit himself when you walk into the courtroom. If you can take on the biggest sharks of the cut-throat legal world of the UK, you can do anything left-handed. I wonder who told me this very modestly when we first met. Oh, that’s right, it was the man I’m marrying.”

“Well, I take it back. Turns out there may be some things I can’t do.” Rahul is enjoying the levity, the playful banter. He didn’t think he would be anything but emotionally exhausted today. “By the way, aren’t you meeting Rose and Jack for lunch?”

“No, they rescheduled. They’re juggling three weddings. I told them if they mess up planning ours, they can forget the free legal advice.”

A doorbell sounds in the background.

“Oh, I need to get that,” Thatcher says mournfully.

Rahul frowns. “I’ll call you later. And don’t forget. Tell them I want the vanilla frosting on the cake. Not the chocolate.”

“What… can’t hear… Rahul?…”

Thatcher always knows what it takes to make Rahul laugh, and Rahul does laugh, for the first time in twenty-four hours. He has almost forgotten how to. “You heard me, mister. I’ll talk to you soon. Love you.”

Thatcher laughs aloud. “I love you too, bub.”

Bub.

The moment Rahul ends the call, the house-phone rings. He answers it.

It is the concierge. “The private car you requested has arrived, sir. Will you require a driver?”

“That won’t be necessary,” Rahul says, a blessed smile on his face that won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

*

YASHWANT thinks his taker is diseased. The napkin tied around her face, covering her nose and mouth, alarms him. He has been parked at Chowpatty for some time now and he cannot afford to refuse her. In all honesty, I could, he thinks. He has had nine takers so far today and he has more than made up for the dry spell that was the past two days. This woman is his tenth, and he is going to keep this streak going. Besides, he wouldn’t dare turn away a single taker that Waheguru sends his way.

The woman also carries with her a pizza box, which she places on the seat beside her when she gets in. When he see it, it puts him in his usual talkative mood.

“Yummy  pizza time, behenji? I have never been one for pizza. It doesn’t do anything for me. I’m more of a masala tadka kind of man.”

His passenger says nothing. He cannot read her reaction, since her covered face, but her eyes seem to contain the fire of Hell, like she wants to bite his head off and incinerate him. Like a respectful man, he takes his eyes off the rear-view mirror and shuts his gap.

A moment later, straight out of a horror movie, his passanger suddenly breaks into a horrifying coughing fit. Yashwant drives his taxi while sitting on the very edge of his seat. He is scared for his passanger’s life, and for himself, if what she has in contagious. But it is his taxi that he is worried about the most. Each painful cough makes it sound like she is about to gag. She may end up emptying the contents of her stomach in his clean ride. Please don’t do that, he begs her silently.

Yashwant waits for her to recover, but there simply doesn’t seem to be an end to her bout of coughing. It goes on and on. She keeps coughing until he gets her to her destination, Churchgate, and all the while he keeps chanting Wahegur’s name, begging against an expensive car wash that he cannot possibly afford. At least not yet, he thinks.

*

END OF CHAPTER 6

© Amaan Khan, August 9, 2018.

To continue reading Disconnect, head on over to Chapter 7.

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Glossary

  1. masala tadka: meaning spicy food cooked in the traditional Indian way
  2. behenji: meaning ‘sister’, a term of respect for woman
  3. Waheguru: how Sikhs address their Lord
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