S1E20: Raima with Khush
Recap S1E19 Khush Screwvala Screws! : Khush opens up to Harry once they are on the lush greens of the golf course. He recalls the incident during his Goa vacation during his teenage years when he had had a one-night stand with a sexy Parsi widow who lived in the neighbourhood. It had been a close thing because he had escaped just before the widow’s father-in-law had barged into the room with a shotgun.
Harry reminded him of his grandfather who had saved him from being branded a rapist by recording the proceeding on camera. But the trauma of that incident had had a life-long impact on his psyche.
Shom: Nor have I. We have been driving aimlessly and thinking about our first encounter. Khandala was perfect.
Raima: But why you don’t want to go there?
Shom: Khandala is not as it was ten years ago. It’s a mess now. We don’t even have the luxury of the Land Yacht anymore. Let’s go where Khush took you instead.
Raima: Why Khush? Where did he take me?
Shom: To Jampore beach.
Raima: Yes. Those good old days. It was in the same Land Yacht and I thought he was the owner because you kept saying it belonged to a friend.
Shom: Forget the yacht now, I am too poor to own one now. I can drive this Pajero on the beach and you will love it.
Raima: Why do you keep saying you are poor? Times are difficult for everyone now. But you will be richer than before because you have a heart of gold.
Shom: That was nice.
Shom’s spirits soared and he engaged the gear in ‘Drive’ and sped down the freeway to Chembur, onward to Thana and Ghodbundar Road leading to National Highway 8 to Gujarat. Raima busied herself responding to the messages for Shom and her. Later, she called Khush. He cautioned her about Jampore beach, saying that it was no more the virgin beach they had visited a long time ago.
Shom wanted Raima to tell him all that happened between Khush and her when they had been together for many days. Raima smiled, recalling their times together nearly ten years ago.
Raima’s ex-lover Saif Hussein operated under a false identity with a counterfeit passport. He was taken into custody, thanks to Khush who had acted on Raima’s instincts. He was to stand trial but, being a sensitive issue, his true identity was kept under wraps from the media.
Nobody had any inkling when Raima was suddenly taken in for questioning. She was terribly shaken up and was allowed by the authorities to contact no more than one person.
Although Raima longed for Shom to be with her, she could not get a person so private and discreet embroiled in her mess. The only person she could think of was Khush. As soon as he was cleared by the authorities, Khush came to her rescue. They were together but were not allowed to make any contact with the outside world.
When the questioning started, Raima and Khush realised it was about Saif. He turned out to be a Pakistani by the name of Iqbal Muhammad, with links to the terrorist Headley – formerly known as Daood Sayed Gilani – whose connections to 26/11 were being traced. The ISI was suspected to be the force behind it. They had used the services of the army and the navy. It was as good as Pakistan being directly involved in terrorism in India.
Since Khush was affiliated to the Bomb Squad, he was able to extract this secret information. Besides, he was the one who had got Saif into custody in the first place. Raima had become a key figure in the investigation because Saif had made several calls to Raima. Khush informed the authorities that Raima had suspected Saif and had brought this matter to Khush’s attention in the first place.
Khush and Raima knew that they had to completely co-operate with the agencies to help them establish the facts. They were encouraged to work as a team on this mission. This fact-finding project was a tedious and prolonged affair. Because of Raima’s willingness to support the investigation, she and Khush were given the best possible treatment. The police kept a watch on Raima’s house while the security at Khush’s house was beefed up.
Raima was grateful to Khush as he was always there when she needed him. As a result, they had drawn close to one another.
“Hum tum ik kamre mein band hon, aur chabi kho jai,” Khush said in his funny Hindi to amuse Raima. They weren’t in the same room, though, but in two large well-furnished rooms with an inter-connecting door which was locked from the outside. Raima smiled. She was relieved to see Khush’s good mood and sense of humour despite the situation she had dragged him into. Now she felt doubly guilty for being curt with an old friend like him the other night when he had called her.
“So,” Khush smirked to lighten the mood, “do I know your latest heartthrob?” Caught off guard, Raima turned to face him.
“No,” she said with an indiscernible trace of sadness. “No one does and no one is supposed to either.”
Khush grinned. “Well, it just so happens that I know who he is and I know him very well.”
“No way! You know nothing,” Raima cried out in disbelief.
“You don’t seem to believe me or trust me,” Khush said, giving her a look of pretended dismay. He was a pedigree marketing man and the type who knew how to get what he wanted. Raima backtracked a bit.
“I haven’t told you, so how would you know? It is impossible for you to know who he is. I know you are just playing with me.”
She was a hard nut, all right, Khush mused. He decided not to prod her any further. He could tell she already seemed unnerved by the mention of it.
“Would you care for some coffee?” he asked.
“Sure. I‘ll get it,” she said, and since everything was already arranged, she made two cups in a jiffy.
As they sat sipping their coffee, Raima wondered what Khush was up to. He was trying to extract information from her. He was crazy. He would never succeed in doing that. There was no doubt he was smart but she was too. She smiled at him and nudged him.
“Khush, why are you after my latest heartthrob and me?” She maintained eye contact, carefully studying his expressions.
Khush returned the look, locking his eyes with hers. “Hmm… you look really stunning. Not that you didn’t before but… I guess it’s because I am seeing you after a long time. You have grown more… what’s the word… elegant.” Then he smiled and said, “My friend has been looking after you well.” Raima just about began to blush at the compliment when she suddenly got annoyed.
“Your friend? Who is the friend?”
“He has told me everything about you and him.”
“I don’t believe you. He is a very private and honourable person. He would never do that.”
Raima was defiant. She had placed Shom on the highest pedestal and made it very clear that she cared a lot for her new-found love. She stared Khush in the face. Something was definitely amiss. She saw right through him and told him not to beat around the bush.
“I too think he is an honourable man and I love him as a friend as you do,” Khush replied in a serious tone.
“Please don’t speak in riddles. Just spill the beans.”
She had put Khush in a fix. He looked defeated. She could see that he wanted to answer her question but something was holding him back. He looked worried about something that he was not prepared to share with her.
Sensing his dilemma, Raima said, “Khush, let’s cool it, you don’t need to tell me. I understand there are a few things I don’t have the right to talk about. I am sure are in a similar situation. I can tell you one thing however. If there is anyone in my life that I am indebted to and I respect after my Godsend angel, it’s you.” She got up and planted a kiss on his cheek.
“Thanks, Raima. That was kind of you,” Khush said, looking quite relaxed now.
The doorbell rang and in came Khush’s buddy, the Chief of Vigilance, Mr. Deshpande. He politely said hello to Raima.
“I hope I am not intruding on anything,” he said, sitting on the chair Khush had brought in. He seemed to be in a happy mood.
“It’s all done,” he said, “We’ve got enough on him now.” Looking at Raima, he continued. “There was a man he did not want you to meet. When he made the second call to you the day he disappointed you by cancelling the dinner at the Sea Lounge, remember?” Raima nodded. “Well, he did not cancel that dinner. We have all the records. His guest was not a lady, as all they had was hard liquor and almost nothing to eat. This guest was none other than our man Headley. That vital piece of information you gave sealed the deal for us. Now we have enough evidence to nail that bastard. I am grateful to you both for your great contribution to this national cause.”
He then got a call and his face went grim. Saying ‘bara bara’ he hung up the phone in disgust.
“The Headquarters want us off the case in order to keep it quiet and away from the media. There seems to be interference from someone high-up in the government at the centre. It’s a much more sensitive than we thought.”
Khush turned to Raima. Her face paled on hearing the news.
“This Saif or Iqbal seems to be a very influential man,” Khush stated.
“So it seems. We have to do the dog work with all the enthusiasm and then are simply side-lined by the anti-national elements governing us. I don’t mind sharing this with patriotic people like you. These incidents are not unusual and are very demotivating,” the Chief concluded.
Raima was lost in her own thoughts. She shuddered at the thought of Saif when she realised how similar looking he was to Shom. The built, the height and the face profile. But one was immature, crude and egoistic while the other, just the opposite.
Khush put an arm around the Chief’s shoulders and calmed him down.
“I share your feelings completely,” he said.
The Chief looked at him helplessly. “I feel terrible that honourable people like you are troubled so much. You know you two don’t have to be tied to these rooms any more, although for some time we need you to be together and not contactable. But I can get you permission for one thing.” His face brightened up, thrilled to have come up with a solution to do a good turn to both of them.
Looking at Khush, he said with a big grin, “Your Land Yacht, the best I have seen. You both should be in it. Go wherever you please, kai pan kara. Only two security jeeps, one in the front and one at the back will be with you for twenty-four hours. After that you are on your own. One more thing, the security will never make its presence felt. That should give both of you complete privacy.”
He then gave them a big smile, turned around and left. Raima and Khush looked at each other with their mouths wide open.
Next Story: S1E21: Shom and Raima Have a Tiff