Story 23 - Geometry of an Abduction.
On the sixth day, finally, the silence was broken. Jacky called us at the university where we were working. "Indira is in Chongqing," he said, "en-route to Beijing. Let's go and meet her."
I would have kissed him, had this been possible over the phone. Luckily it wasn't.
I think we stopped the lecture in mid stream. I think we cancelled it at the spot we were at. Ross said something about an emergency. We all rushed to the hotel together, Steve, Ushi, Ross, me. We had a taxi waiting to take us to the airport for the next shuttle to Beijing. I suddenly realized that none of them had ever actually met Indira in person, although everyone knew her by now.
Jacky joined us as soon as we landed.
Less than an hour later we met Indira emerging through the immigration gate, accompanied by Jacky who had arranged her entry into the country. Gosh, it was good to see her again. To see her alive!
"I greet you and I kiss you," she said the moment we saw each other, even before we embraced one another.
"I kiss you forever," I replied, according to our established tradition, "and I am so glad you are here."
"Thanks for inviting me," she replied with a smile after she made the kiss real.
"I am so terribly sorry that I didn't invite you to come to China when we came here ourselves," I said quietly. "If I had, none of that would have happened."
Her look changed. She seemed perplexed; puzzled. "What wouldn't have happened, Peter?" she asked.
My mouth stood open, speechless. "You really don't know why you are here, do you?" I asked when I could talk again. "You really don't know! Heh, that's wonderful!"
"What is this all about? And what is Jacky doing here," she said quietly, "and the other three
people with you."
Jacky embraced her at this moment, before I could answer, then he showed her the letter. "Were you aware of any of that?" he asked.
She took the letter. Her expression changed again. Her face became tense. "Is this for real?" she asked.
Jacky nodded. "It's real alright, terribly real."
"That came six days ago," said Ushi. "Peter was determined to go to New Delhi to sacrifice himself to save your life. It took a lot of persuasion by all of us to stop him. But we did succeed."
"Six hours after this letter arrived, we had the highest level rescue operation launched from China that you can imagine," said Jacky, "with Mr. Cheng personally taking charge. He worked to almost eleven o'clock that night."
"After this, all we could do was wait," said Steve, who introduced himself, and then Ross, and of course, Ushi. "Waiting, not knowing, that was the hardest part. Those were gruelling days."
Indira's face became more tense, suddenly. "Six days ago, you say? That's when two men came to me and insisted that one of the Thevar that I knew only slightly, wanted to see me. They said I had to come right away. They insisted on driving me there. I thought the man was ill, but he wasn't. I found this odd, but not alarming. He invited me for dinner, and then we talked about health care for his workers. He even invited me to stay for the night. He insisted that I do. In the morning he asked me to stay another day. He said that he wanted me to meet someone, who never came, which apparently isn't all that uncommon in those circles."
She paused, then shook her head. "Now that I come to think of it, there were always body guards around. I am always uncomfortable at the sight of weapons. But I dismissed this, too, and after a while I thought nothing more of it. This wasn't a happy house, anyway. There were countless arguments on the phone. Then, on the third day, a limousine arrived. The people who came in it stayed with us for supper. Our host went all out for this one, with fine food, wine, dancing. His wife lend me a dress for the occasion. In the morning we all went in the limousine to another fine house, a rich place, the kind of which I have never seen. If my brother had seem me there, he would have turned green with envy."