Vicky waited for Anita to say something.
Then when he lost his patience and was about to speak first, she said, “Did you get me kidnapped again?”
“No,” Vicky immediately answered.
She appeared to wait for him to elaborate on this, but when he remained quiet, she said, “I was on my way back home from sending couriers via post office. They got me on the stairwell of an apartment building. I didn’t… couldn’t… why would anyone come after me?”
Something told Vicky that he should come clean with her now or never tell her what he does for a living for a living.
Growing up, Vicky didn’t have any job prospects. Even if his mother had not been a prostitute, she didn’t have enough money to send him to a school where teachers came for longer than submitting their attendance. Where he could actually become literate. But his mother was one and everyone knew it. There was no way for him to be able to enter the colleges he saw, no way he could be successful enough to get his mother out of the place she found herself in. no way to fulfil the hopes she had when she gave birth to him.
Then he was approached by one of customers of betrothal with a preposition that would have solved his problems, at least temporarily. He would have enough to join a school where no one knew anything about him. All he had to do was deliver packets from one place to another.
Eventually he found what was in the packet was worth so much more than he received just selling the products. He started stealing some from packets and collecting it. Not enough to get noticed, but enough that soon he had more than doubled his income.
His time working as the delivery boy taught him the best routes and ways to avoid detection.
When he got to age of 17, he had saved enough to be able to open a small tea shop and get his mother out. Except, by then there was no mother left to save. So he took all the money he had and invested it in opening four small tea shops.
It took two long years, but he eventually had enough observers believing that he was simply wishing to run legitimate operations. Way too many people were looking into doing business with him and that was attracting the attention of people he couldn’t trust to keep their lips zipped. As soon as the initial attention was gone, he slowly started expanding into the other ventures. The under-the-table kind.
Rest is history.
Except his history was very much affecting his present.
Anita had not even asked questions. Just listened to him while being curled up on a sofa.
He left out the part where he had mailed packs of drugs in the paintings she had let him deliver. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Those were such easy shipments that he wanted to take up painting himself.
When he was done, she got up and said, “I need time to think. I think we both feel the same way about each other, a way that need not be said. But the person I felt those feelings for was a very different person from one I saw in the last two hours. I need time to think how I feel about this new person in front of me.”
Vicky got up as she started to open the door to accompany her, but Anita turned around and said to him, “I would appreciate it if you let me in a few days. I think I need to go and be in place where I can sort everything out in my head. That place is definitely away from any place you can reach me. Please, give me this much.”
She replied to Vicky’s nod with a hand wave.
Her goodbye, forever some reason was forever and never at the same time.
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Mili is pen name of Ankita Maurya. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and economics and is currently pursuing her master’s. She is one of those obnoxious people who prefer to be behind the camera than in front of it.