Mission Melbourne – The Jackal – Chapter-1

Because Jason Bourne is hitting the screens and forget super-heroes who are either billionaires or aliens or mutants. Here’s one chap who is a human, a man whose past is a mystery to himself, a lone wolf. My tribute to Bourne – an old contest post from the past, replugged! Read on…

The instructions always came in a blue envelope. This time for a change it came in a yellow envelope and contained a photograph, an address, flight-tickets and a crisp message – “It is your time to visit Melbourne, NOW”.

There was a sudden tinge of joy and sorrow on knowing the location – Melbourne – where I found my one and only love and lost her as well. I wondered how Lisa would be now? 25 years is a long time.

Lisa and Me:
The Qantas flight departed right on time and I relaxed in the comfort of my Executive class seat. It was time to reminisce on my only love-story. Melbourne in the 80s was much different from the high-rise super-tech, honey-mooners destination that it has turned into today!

I had landed up at the University of Melbourne on a 1-year student-exchange programme. The summer of 83 – India had just won the Cricket World Cup and I was among the few college cricketers who got a chance to visit Australia as part of a sports programme that would involve the training of fast-bowlers in Australia. It’s funny when I think that now Chennai has the MRF Pace Academy and Glen McGrath an Aussie heads it now.

The University of Melbourne was a lovely place a perfect mix of old-world and new upcoming modernist architecture. The rigorous training that our physical fitness instructor Mr James Larwood would put us through would build and mould me into what I would become in my later years.

Lisa was the stuff dreams are made of – a cross between Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep she walked with a fluidity of a ballet dancer and was studying sociology. I met her at the ‘International Student Orientation Programme’ where she guided a bunch of us new students about life in Melbourne.

We saw ‘Terms of Endearment’ at the Astor Theatre and something clicked deep within – me the tall fast bowler and she the fair golden-haired sociology student. It was an affair that we knew might never last but it was a beautiful summer of visiting museums over the weekends. Going cycling exploring the hidden by-lanes discovering some quaint cafe and trying out wines and cheese. Being in love was such a beautiful feeling.

We moved in together and we were contemplating marriage and then I received an international telegram. – ‘come back immediately – Das’. Mr Das was our Man Friday and he looked after the needs of me and my elder brother. My elder brother was in the export business and exported handicraft products to the USA and UK. I showed the telegram to Lisa – she hugged me and told me ‘Come back soon Honey – someone’s joining us soon and smiled at me’. I was mad with joy and took her into my arms and kissed her. She playfully hit me and said ‘Hey Tiger go visit your brother and return’.

To Kill a Mockingbird:
Mr Das was at the airport to greet me and when I reached home I was shocked to see Dada’s body in an ice-box. I broke down and Mr Das comforted me. I said ‘Kaku what happened?’ Then the bitter truth came out. Dada was an assassin and he had been killed when a hit-job went horribly wrong as someone had double-crossed him. Universal Exports was a front and was headed by the elusive Mr. Ranganathan who sent in details to the group of ten assassins – now reduced to nine.

That’s when Mr. Ranganathan walked in – he walked straight up to me and said ‘Chottu, your brother did not deserve to go like this – I am giving you an opportunity to avenge his death and take his place!’

Thus started my journey from being a budding cricketer to one of the world’s most feared assassins!

I wrote a long letter to Lisa – apologizing for my inability to return to Melbourne! She sent me a reply with a photograph of us standing in front of the Astor! That was it…

Now so many years later when I had decided to retire this last job landed – Melbourne! Would I meet Lisa again? Had she left Melbourne?

To Kill or Not to Kill:
My assignment was to kill a chap named Peter Markham – 24 years old he had made the mistake of falling in love with Supriya Hirani – scion of India’s biggest oil company. The two were deeply in love but Mr. Hirani was looking at acquiring Patel Steels by marrying of Supriya to Bhavesh Patel. Who was I to deliberate on love I was just a professional who was paid to do his job.

It was a weird twist of fate that Supriya was majoring in Sociology and Peter was a research associate working on an alternative fuel source project at the University of Melbourne. I had Peter’s address and did a recon of the place an old two-storey apartment and that’s when my heart skipped a beat – could it be – was old age finally catching up with me – could it really be Lisa?

She had aged with grace those golden strands of hair that smile still intact! The biggest shock was when she unlocked the flat where Pete was supposed to reside – was Pete Lisa’s son? And then it hit me – no it could not be…

I walked out slowly and approached Pete’s flat and rang the door-bell; the door opened after a minute – and Lisa stood before me. She said –‘Oh! My God is it really you?’ and she started sobbing – she hugged me and I stood there bumbling not knowing what to do!

I comforted her and took her inside – ‘Lisa tell me who is Peter?’ – She wiped her tears away and smiled and said – ‘Guess!’

Then it hit me – Peter was my son our son!

How could I kill my own son?
At that moment I decided – enough was enough – I quickly asked Lisa to change and pack her belongings and take her valuables. She was flustered but I told her who I was and then said – ‘We need to reach Peter soon’ Call him and tell him to remain in the research lab and not to come out till we reach there.’

Universal Exports functioned on a back-up plan – always – if one assassin missed, there would be another assassin to finish the job. Now that I had deliberately missed my target, the wheels would already be in motion – who would be the back-up plan – Panther, Eagle or Cobra?

I asked her where Supriya was – Lisa said Supriya had gone to Sydney for a seminar and would only be back next week.

I took Lisa to my hotel room and asked her not to open the door till she heard either my voice or Peter’s voice.

She hugged me and said ‘Honey please come back safe and bring our son back safe!’

The Eagle and The Jackal:
I was code-named Jackal and I had to stalk the hunter who would bring down my son. The research-lab at the Faculty of Science and Engineering was on level-1 and I needed a either a student or a lecturer’s ID card to get into the research facility. I bumped into a middle-aged man and flicked his wallet. The wallet had the access and ID-card that gave me access to the research facility. I moved inside with ease and scanned the huge laboratory for any suspicious activity. Peter was busy sitting in front of his computer and playing ‘Angry Birds’ I smiled at my son – I wanted to go up to him ruffle his hair and say –‘Kiddo, I am your Dad!’

Then I noticed a red dot on my son’s white lab-coat a laser target for an accurate shot – I followed the trajectory and stared above to notice Eagle adjusting the sniper. I had one chance to redeem myself – I took out my customized K-7 fitted with a silencer and shot Eagle the bullet met its mark. Eagle fell down with a surprised look. No one noticed anything.

I walked up to my son and said – ‘Kiddo, I am your Dad, we have lots to talk, come lets pick up your Mom and go out for dinner!’

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