I heard the commotion as I turned the corner around Rowther’s store. Of course, I’d been discovered. I’d be gullible if I were to think that I could’ve just walked in, flicked the package and made away with it. Rowther had the eye of a hawk and the instincts of a killer. But I can’t elaborate much now. There are people out to get me and I need to run for my life. So I ran wildly on the pavement, dashing, tripping and drooling over the commuters. Some swore aloud, a few even tried shoving me but some were wise enough to dodge from my path – for they saw in my hunted eyes the look of someone really desperate ... and dangerous.
As I turned the corner into Gandhi Park Street, I could hear my chasers in hot pursuit. I resisted the urge to turn around and see how many there were, but they would be upon me in a minute If I were to slow down. I feared for the safety of the package and its contents. It was imperative that I succeed in this mission that I’d set out on – it would mean a lot to my father. I remembered his words of advice from him the other day – “Remember son, there is greatness in each one of us, big and small. Someday I hope the greatness in you will come forth.’’ Such profound words. Perhaps today would be the day of reckoning for the greatness in me. I ran like the wind. Like my entire life depended on it – In a way, it did.
But my pursuers were relentless. They wouldn’t give up. And I was tiring out pretty fast. I...badly...needed...a...breather. Quickly I ducked between two huge garbage dumpsters at the corner of the street. The stench of rotting garbage was overpowering, but nothing new to someone like me, who’d lived in its midst all through my miserable life. I tried my best to keep myself from huffing and panting too loud. I saw them enter the alley from my left. There were two of them – mean looking. One held a hockey stick in his hand. My heart thud-thudded in my chest.
“Where did that son-of-a -***** disappear? I saw him turn here.’’
“Wait till I lay my hands on him, I’ll wring his wily neck.’’ Said the guy with the hockey stick.
I gulped nervously and shrank further against the dumpster unmindful of the reek.
“We better find him quick, Rowther will skin us alive if we go back empty handed.’’
They started combing the street, looking behind the parked cars and trucks. I would be discovered any minute now. I felt my throat go dry. I couldn’t fail now – it was too important that the package reach its intended destination. I desperately looked around and spotted a crumbling portion on the wall behind me. There was a small hole that I could squeeze into, if I tried hard. But what if I were to get stuck halfway through? Then I would be as good as dead. But what other choice did I have? Without wasting another second, I closed my eyes and squeezed myself into the narrow opening and inched forward. I somehow managed to come out through the other end, into the next street! Being malnourished could sometimes be a blessing!
It looked like I had thrown them off my track, finally! Oh, but I couldn’t risk being complacent. Rowther wasn’t a man to be trifled with. He might’ve sent others to look for me. I started running again, as fast as my tired legs would allow me.....
Only when I saw my destination ahead did I dare to slow down into a jog. Ah! How welcoming it looked – my home sweet home! I daren’t enter through the front, lest someone see me with the package. I went all the way around and squeezed in through the hole in the back. I spotted my father at the far end of the room having his afternoon siesta. Mother was nursing my little brother to sleep. She gave a sudden yelp of surprise as she spotted the package. My little brother pattered over to me, barking excitedly and tried snatching the package away from me. I gave him a playful nudge and walked over to my father. He was awake by now staring at me with his intent eyes questioningly, tongue hanging out. I dropped the package before him, proudly. An unmistakable aroma wafted into our little cardboard box of a house – Rowther definitely made the best Chicken Biriyani in town. And as my hungry family feasted over the biriyani barking ravenously, I surveyed the scene for a minute – this was so worth the risk. I could do it again and again...woof!