Its preposterous! The signal has been crimson for two minutes now. Wagons, Vehicles, Carts, Bicycles, Pedestrians and even Cows were waiting. Shrill and continuous honking by some dimwit who had the audacity to slam the poor Honda logo on his steering wheel despite a vivid red signal was truly annoying. There were a bunch of people arguing about a slammed side mirror of a car. And just then a young timid guy stepped right in the middle of the road, strapped with what looked like a C4 and in his loudest voice, said "if you don't give me 2 lakhs right now,” he took a pause. Showed everyone the trigger of the bomb and in a shaky voice, he continued: “I'll blow you all up, along with me!" For a second the chaotic noise halted. I took a quick peek at the signal, it showed two seconds left and then faced the boy. Just then a man in late 60s, peeked out of the window, reached into the glove compartment, extended his right arm outside the window and with a deep exhale, he casually shot the boy in the center of his forehead like it was a recurring event. The boy didn't even hold a release trigger, inarguably he wasn't taught well. Just then the signal hit green and everybody speeded through the road not giving any heed that C4 and a boy were on the road. A typical day in the Bengaluru roads. If you are checking up on me, I wasn't petrified. I have seen too many such deaths to get startled at the sight of blood, guns and bodies. But a part of me mourns for every death I witness. The people I am meeting today on the other hand, don't flinch. I am working for an employer and a cause. The means is not exactly peaceful but its necessary.
I am not a man who walks into something without complete knowledge and plans of what I am going to do, but despite my employer being extremely vague, I have a good feeling about this. Maybe I am walking into a trap but I just want this all to be true so bad, I am willing to risk it. For a man of principles and planning this might seems like a big decision. But the ones who I’ll be counting on, even though not ignorant of the truth would be focused on the pay. To be fair I have edge over the others because, at least I know how to contact my employer: Through a fake website. What I expect from this job: Challenge, Fun, Strategy and probably some honour among thieves. I probably have to be the strict disciplinarian to this crew. Even the best criminals need babysitting.
It didn’t take me long to reach Lanka. Right in the center of the typical hassle dazzle of Bengaluru, there stood a tall shimmering building. It was one of the many skyscrapers of the region but certainly the most standing out. It was clad with mirrors, which had a golden tint. I had a feeling that the theatrics of my employer to depict this as Lanka had just begun. On the top of the building glowed a large red eye and beneath it in blue and Cursive was written “Reva.” Looking at the outer glamour, my expectations have soared as high as the golden beauty in front of me. The building had two guards at the door. Their name tag said “Jaya” and “Vijaya” named after the guards of Lord Vishnu’s Abode, Vaikuntha. Technically I wasn’t supposed to reach for another two hours. Sue me for being curious.
It’s 6:30 pm. I arrived at the location. But too soon. I was told to wait in the parking lot. But I shall not wait in the parking lot awkwardly till everyone arrives. I went in to the lobby and seated myself. And did what a 54 year old would do. Opened my laptop and played speed chess with Romanian Grandmaster. What? I didn't say I am an average 54 year old. Looked at the watch to check up on the time and it was 7:30. It was time! I walked through the corridor to where the sign said “parking lot”
This was it. The cavalry has arrived fellas. I moved towards the entrance while adjusting my hair whatever was left of it at least and gave a jerk of confidence to the lapel of my blazer and whispered to myself: it’s time.
A green sports car, a blue-Grey Sedan, a motorbike and a black SUV all stood in a semi circle. I heard electric guitar and drums playing building up for this moment. Who am I kidding? I had Goosebumps right there, thankfully I wore a buttoned charcoal Grey suit with a black and gold striped tie and pocket square it perfectly hid my excitement.
One by one they exited their vehicles. Nakula came out from his neon car in a Prussian blue blazer with a Grey turtleneck. He obviously likes to make a statement. Narada exited the car and fortunately he wasn’t in orange robes with a Veena in his hands well he would have at least won the fancy dress competition. He was in a white polo with a pair of tan trousers. He passed his first test. His second test is if the first words out of his mouth were “Narayana Narayana.” Mohini removed her black helmet and unzipped her motorcycle jacket to reveal yet another black t-shirt. Out of the SUV came out the twins Yami and Raj and turns out they followed the comfort protocol they lean on the either sides of the car with Yami wearing a red sweatshirt and black PJs and Raj wearing a green tank top and camo shorts which clearly indicated his big physique. They both look at others and others look at them they exchange quirky smiles and then Yami turns towards Raj and gives him a death stare and mouths “You are dead”.
I adjusted my cuff links and said, ”Fellas,” gave a dramatic pause and continued, ”this is going to be fun.”
Almost immediately we headed inside the building and as soon as we headed into the hallway we were instructed to press the button to the elevator. With a ding the door to the elevator opened. Inside a woman in 30s was operating the elevator. She had a scar of about two inches running through her forehead. We all headed inside and just when the door closed, the operator reached inside her coat and almost immediately everyone in the elevator pointed a gun at her. Which seemed strange until I saw she was in fact gripping an Uzi. She gave out a sly smile and said “Not bad” and kept the gun back into her coat. Just then I noticed her name tag. It said “Lankini.” Named after the demon Guardian of Lanka, Lankini was said to be the final guard to Lanka. Which made a lot of sense because the elevators were the final passage to our top floors i.e. Lanka. She in a firm voice now said, “Anything you need or anything your employer needs from you, I am the medium.” She used a batch of keys, to reveal an iris scanner which scanned her eye and automatically the lift declared floor 18. she continued warmly as the elevator opened, “Welcome to Lanka.”
The elevator opened to a sensational Revelation. A mesmerizing fragrance engulfed us and the sight indeed captivated us in a world of fairytale. Right from the entrance to end of the hall was the best garden I have seen. The combination of rare flowers and herbs filled the air with energy. On the wall in Purple cursive was written “ Ashok Vatika.” In my mind I thought “Of course!” There is no Lanka without the famous garden where Sita was kept captive. The Vatika had the perfect decor. It was subtle and minimalistic. The hall was yellow from the light through the two way gold tinted mirror on the other side. The Vatika led to a dining table, Pool table and fooseball at the center of the Garden. The bar counter at the far side of the living room caught quiet a lot of eyes. Saw Nakula helping himself a drink already. If millenials had come here, their first thought would be: ‘It’ll look good for Instagram.’ The right side led to a corridor with multiple rooms at both sides. The doors had names of each of us engraved. Which for almost every one was the end of the tour despite seeing only the first floor of Lanka with multiple more floors yet to explore. Well I guess this is the end of the day. Good things can await.