The trick was to be calm and level-headed and never to panic. The Master had always taught him to be a good listener and a silent observer. The student had learnt his lessons well and he was now a name to reckon with in a very closed niche circuit of professionals.
I looked at how things were going back to the old era. No more emails, no more phone calls, just the trusted non-descript cafes and tiffin-centres, the name and date on the bill or the napkin. I smiled – ‘Edward Snowden, well and truly made us all paranoid!’A hero of a different kind! Hunted by his own!
The idea was to meet at Mani’s Cafe. Sixty years saw no change in the quality of the delightfully tangy sambar, the soft fluffy idlies and the crispy vadas. The price alone had gone up in tune with the economy. But no compromise on taste and the filter coffee, to weave a pun – ‘It was worth dying for’!
V came in sharp at 7:30 AM he sat opposite me, no signs of recognition no smile, nothing at all. He ate his masala dosa and drank his filter coffee. As I sat amused, relishing my onion rava roast and coconut chutney; he finally pushed a small sheet of paper. He nodded his head and then left after paying the bill. I smiled as he left, good old V.
The target was Bappan Reddy a political heavy weight and an extremely prosperous farmer. He had been supplying arms to the Naxals by sourcing them from the Chinese and this mess had to stop. The instruction was clear, marked ‘Code-A’ make it look like an accident. No signs of any foul play.
As I wondered, on how to plan the ‘kill’ I saw an advert for the new Gillette Mach 3 Turbo razor and an idea struck me. Bappan was travelling from Chennai to Delhi by the Shatabdi the next week. It was to be a political discussion enroute with MLAs from the ruling party and the opposition and there was confirmed intel that enroute ‘women’ would be sneaked in for entertainment. Additionally catering staff would be taking care of the big-wigs and two separate coaches had been reserved for this entourage.
The Catering Contractor was a big name in the food industry who catered only to the elite. Joining the group as a ‘waiter’ was easy. I had taken over a chap who was currently enjoying time in Goa with the 50000 that I had offered him. ‘No questions asked’!
On the day of the journey the staff reached Chennai Central a full two hours before departure. We travelled to the railway shed at Basin Bridge Junction wherein two special coaches were allotted to us and we went about assembling our cooking apparatus in an area ear-marked for us. We were also in charge of housekeeping for the sahibs and given instructions to keep welcome kits in each of the big sahib’s rooms.
I opened one of the welcome kits. As I suspected it had a shaving kit. I replaced the disposable razor with my special weapon a poison tipped razor. The razor was coated with a poison extracted from the krait one of the deadliest venomous snakes in the world. It would do its trick.
The train departed on time and it was suddenly stopped at Gumidipoondi station. There was an emergency on-board senior leader Bappan Reddy was dead!!
I smiled and walked out. I went to the public lavatory. Neat by local standards, and took out my Gillette mach-3 and shaved my beard and moustache in three minutes flat and walked out!