The voice on the other end was hurling abuses even before the phone had touched my ears. “...bloody assholes! You guys think that this is a fucking joke? Do you have any idea whom are you messing with? Want to hire a star, you filthy piece of shit? Tell your fucking head or boss or whoever the fuck he is, he better pay up by tonight for the time and energy we’ve put in arranging this godforsaken event of yours! Or else we know how to get our money from motherfuckers like you. Give the phone to Jagjit!”
Obediently, I returned the phone to Jagjit who was nervously pacing up and down the steps of the college building. Yetoo, who was sitting next to me with his head hung down, looked at me for a brief moment before turning away to look at Jagjit. We both knew that instant that we were in deep shit. This was not going to end soon or in a good way either. And things had only begun to get worse.
Jagjit was off the phone soon and came up to me and said, “Dekh bhai, I don’t know what this Kumar is trying to do here! He’s obviously not interested in doing this show with us anymore. And now Faiz has told me to tell you people that Nicks won’t be leaving from Mumbai till you guys pay the rest of the money. So you call up this Kumar guy and tell him to hurry up or it’s a no-show! Deep yaar, I need to talk to you. Now! ”
Jagjit and Deep walked away to the canteen to probably discuss how they were going to extort money from us. I turned to look at Yetoo who was as dumbfounded as me. The past four weeks had showed us various colors of life. One could say that this was turning out to be an experience of a lifetime. Though deep down we both were afraid that our lives could end right here, right before this night died.
I gulped at that thought and said, “Yaar, this Kumar is going to get us killed. I don’t know what’s cooking up in his mind but I don’t want to be a part of this anymore. I don’t want to get killed or abducted because of that asshole’s decisions! “
“Saala chutiya aadmi hai yaar! We shouldn’t have signed up for this! I don’t want to die either man but we need to do something about this. And quickly! ”
“I’m calling up Kumar and going to meet him wherever the hell he is! You coming with me?”
“Hell yes I’m coming with you. I don’t want to be left here alone with Jagjit and Deep.”
I called up Kumar who answered the phone after a few rings. “Kumar, what the fuck are you doing? And where are you? Jagjit and Deep want to see you now! We are here in the college.”
“What are you guys doing there? I told you both to sneak out of that place ASAP! Can’t you both do one thing right?”
“Fuck you man! Don’t give me a lecture on right or wrong! Your stupidity has already landed us in big trouble. Now drag your ass to the college!”
“I can’t come”
“I said I can’t come! I’m out in the city, arranging a generator for the audio guy. And I want you two to go to the hotel and help Dev and the girls with the final preparations.”
“Leave now. I’ll be there ASAP. And get rid of Jagjit and Deep!”
The line went dead.
My blood was pumping faster and faster and I could feel it boil. I would rip this man apart the moment I meet him! It wasn’t just Yetoo and me who were at risk here. Dev, Kiddo and Pari were happily doing the preparations, unaware of the doom that loomed over them.
I informed Yetoo what Kumar had told me over the phone. Furious, Yetoo got up and started walking to the gate. I followed him silently. The minute-long walk to the bike had been in silence. Neither of us spoke even when Yetoo handed me the keys of the bike. We both knew what was to be done.
I kick-started the bike and pushed it into the first gear. Ten seconds later, I was on the fifth gear with full throttle open and racing down the NH4 at 80kmph. Yetoo didn’t utter a word. We both were saving our words for the showdown. Five minutes later, we had parked the bike in the hotel parking and were walking towards the banquet hall where the “event” was supposed to happen.
Four weeks back
“The next event will be held at a five-star hotel and I want it to be a grand one”, said Kumar. He was beaming with excitement.
“Five-star hotel? You sure we can manage that?” I asked.
“Of course we can. We don’t have to do anything but just get the artists ready to perform. The sponsors will take care of the rest”, said Kumar.
“It obviously isn’t that easy as you put it Kumar”, pointed out Pari.
“Haan I know that. I never said that it would be a cakewalk. But we have to aim higher. Look on the greener side! Bigger show, bigger name and bigger profit!” said Kumar smilingly.
‘Bigger profit’ seemed to shine out in that statement and overpowered everybody’s thinking. Logic was lost as money seemed closer than a dream now. I had already started wondering how much profit we could be making if the show turned out to be successful, when Kumar’s next statement brought me back to my senses.
“A DJ Night at the best five-star hotel here is what me and Das have planned to do. We are of the opinion that nothing of this sort has ever happened here and we would like to be the pioneers” said Kumar.
“And have you thought of the DJ’s?” asked Yetoo.
“As a matter of fact, yes I have. Das did some research and found out that DJ Nicks and his wife Bling are quite a craze among the clubbing community. We’ve already gone ahead and spoken to their manager Faiz about booking them for Valentine’s eve!” concluded Kumar.
“What?” we all shouted out in unison.
“I thought we were supposed to work as a team. You are supposed to keep us in the loop when you decide something!” said Pari.
“You should’ve informed us sooner. This isn’t good Kumar” said Kiddo.
“How much are they charging?” asked Yetoo, who was obviously thinking with his head and not with his heart.
“2.5 lacs” said Kumar.
“That’s a hell lotta money! Where do you think we will raise that much money from?” I asked.
“Sponsors, my friend. Sponsors” said Das who was smoking a cigarette in the corner till now.
“Are you telling us that somebody will shell out 2.5 lacs for a DJ night?” I questioned.
“Not a DJ night. It’ll be THE DJ NIGHT, my friend” exclaimed Das.
We all knew that Das was a smooth-talker and nobody liked him because of that, especially the girls.
“Enough! Let the duo’s manager reply to us first and then we can discuss about the money part. Das, we need to get going. Have a meeting with the manager of the hotel at 8” said Kumar as he got up.
They both left us sitting there as we were lost in thoughts. Hope of being successful and recognized, fear of failure and shame and many others thoughts engulfed us as we sat there quietly. The buzzing of the mosquitoes and the moon overhead bought us back to reality and we all left for home.
“Dev!” I’d finally spotted them near the smoking room on the ground floor. Sitting down on the floor were Kiddo and Pari with water colors in their hand and Dev by their side. They seemed to be preparing a directions poster for the guests that were not going to turn up.
“Where is Kumar?” I asked
“He’s gone to the city to get something with the audio guy. He should be back soon” said Kiddo.
“What happened guys? You both seem to be a little shaken” asked Dev.
“Huh? No no. Nothing as such” said Yetoo.
“Oyi Kiddo and Pari. I need to talk to you two. And Dev you too” I said.
“What is it man? You guys ok?” asked Dev.
“Everything’s fine, at least till now. Listen Dev, I want you and these girls to go back home now!” I said.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw the manager of the hotel waiting in the main lobby with three well-built bell-boys. Somebody must’ve informed him that me and Yetoo were in the hotel. I gulped down and tried to concentrate on sending these three people back to safety first.
“What are you talking about yaar? You said everything is fine and now you want us to go home! We aren’t leaving till you tell us what’s going on here” demanded Pari.
“Fine! Your choice! Kumar has screwed us up! He hasn’t paid the DJ’s a single penny till now. We haven’t sold more than 5 passes for the DJ night and the show starts in two hours! There you have it!” I shouted.
“What? So does that mean that Nicks and Bling aren’t going to come?” asked Kiddo.
“So there won’t be a show? People would kill us man!” said Pari.
“Dev, I request you to take these girls back to their homes. You’ve been a real good help man but I can’t put you or these females at risk. I hope you understand the gravity of the situation.” I said. I had started shivering a little by now as the gravity of the situation dawned on me too at the same time. At that point I realized that we were not in deep shit, we had passed that place long back. We were probably scuba-diving in the ocean of shit!
“And what would you two do here?” demanded Dev.
“We don’t know man. Probably wait for that bastard Kumar to turn up and then call it quits and go home, if we are lucky” said Yetoo.
The girls started collecting their stuff and were almost done when Kumar walked into the room with a grin on his face.
To be continued...