“Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective”- John Buchan
I got my first real six-string, Bought it at the five-and-dime, Played it till my fingers bled, Was the summer of ’69. Umesh Upadhyay listened to the song playing inside the Hard Rock cafe; Summer of ’69, though he didn’t understand anything except for the phrase “Summer of ’69”. It was a muggy and windless summer of Delhi at that time. He was sitting with his wife in the outdoor seating area of Cyber hub. Cyber hub- a three storey food and entertainment destination in Gurgaon. While the first two floors of the cyber hub complex consist of cafes and fine dining restaurants, the top floor is largely occupied by lavish pubs and bars. In front of him was Hard Rock cafe.
“Huhh.. What a boring place”, complained Umesh’s wife Sushila. “We could have gone to the ‘Ambience mall’ instead”.
Umesh ignored his wife and was busy in staring at his watch. It was 10:50 PM. He was getting impatient for the clock’s minute needle to reach the number 12. He noticed a group of drunken boys and girls coming out of the Hard Rock cafe; shouting and howling, staggering and stumbling.
Umesh smiled scornfully and said, ‘These are our 21st century youth of India. They think that spending their hard earned money on weekends on gallons of alcohol is the finest thing they achieve’.
Sushila too moved her eyes toward the group. She noticed a girl in the group wearing a black shorts which was ending a mere ten inches below her waist.
She looked back at her husband with disgust and said, ‘Now I understood why you brought me here in Cyber Hub’.
Umesh turned towards Sushila and said helplessly, ‘Sushila why do you take everything otherwise. I have an important job here to do rather than ogling at girls of my daughter’s age’. He then looked down at his watch. It was just a few minutes left for 11 PM. He immediately stood up and excused himself from his wife. He then rushed towards the elevator. As he entered the elevator, he pressed the second floor button.
Right from childhood, Umesh had a fantasy of becoming a Detective. James Bond movies like “The spy who loved me” and “For your eyes only” introduced him to the world of Spies. When he was in his early twenties, the indigenous detective TV series “Karamchand” had sown the seeds of spying. However, Private Detective is a profession which had existed in scarcity in India. He was aware of this fact quite clearly and hence, didn’t have the courage to express to his parents that he wanted to become a private detective. He knew this profession was too fantastical and fictional for a common man. He knew his older generation parent would never approve of his radical thinking. If he had shared his feelings with anyone, he would have been a laughing stock.
He used to satisfy his desire of spying by doing silly detective jobs in college for his friends like finding the address and telephone numbers of the girls and leaking out question papers. He had to then curb his desire when he got in to a job and subsequently got married. But desires are like spring. The more you try to restrain them, the greater force they would bounce back with.
Six months back, an idea has struck him to resume his detective job, professionally. His daughter had gifted him a smartphone six months ago. She taught him to use Facebook. He didn’t know what to do in Facebook other than just scrolling down the page and watching the posts other people shared. It is when he came across the concept of “Facebook Page”. Public and Private organizations, Service providers, Freelancers, almost everyone had their Facebook Page. His long lost desire of becoming a Private Detective began to resurrect. He thought that if musicians, dancers, Photographers, Software developers, LIC agents can have their Facebook Page, why can’t Private Detective too? This would enable him to attract some serious cases. He decided to make a Facebook Page of himself. But he knew couldn’t just name his page ‘Detective Umesh Upadhyay’. He knew he would definitely be ridiculed by his wife and relatives and would be a figure of fun among colleagues and friends. He had to think of an alter ego. So he came up with the name “Detective U”; the first letter of his first name and surname. Though he made the Facebook page, but he didn’t see any case coming. He used to keep on staring at his Facebook page all day, waiting for someone to message him. It was only a week before he got a notification in his inbox. It was a girl named Nisha. Nisha messaged him that she had a job for him and she would like to meet him at Cafe Coffee Day, Galleria Market in Gurgaon. It was a dream come true moment for Umesh. It was his first professional project which came only after the fifty years of his life. Better late than never, Umesh thought to take up this case with utmost sincerity. He went to meet Nisha at CCD, galleria market at the mutually agreed time of 9:00 PM.
Nisha was a software engineer working for an MNC. She was in a relationship with Vicky for past eight months. Her relationship with Vicky was, however, not very seamless. She always felt that Vicky was cheating on her and secretly involved with some other girl. To catch Vicky red handed, she decided to hire a private detective.
Nisha reached galleria market to meet her private detective, who named himself weirdly as “Detective U”. She was moving her gaze left and right to find him when someone whispered in her ears from behind. ‘Ms. Nisha. I can’t meet you inside the Cafe. Let’s walk up to the back side of the market where not many people can see us’.
Nisha turned instantly with fear to see a man wearing a black overcoat. His head was covered with a hat and face was wrapped with a handkerchief. Only his eyes were visible. He was Umesh. He took his fantasy of becoming a Detective quite literally. When he was leaving from home, he thought to dress up as a typical detective to hide his identity; that’s what the detectives supposed to do! Though, he later realized wearing an overcoat was not a good idea in the summers of June.
Nisha stated at the strange dressing of Umesh and said, ‘Why can’t inside the CCD?’
‘Do you think I would be able to avoid the staring of people in this attire?’, said Umesh.
‘Then why did you dress up in this way?’
‘Youths of today ask such a stupid question. I obviously don’t want to reveal my identity!’
Nisha was amused. She could see the white hair below his hat and wrinkles below his eyes. She figured out from this that the detective was an old man; probably in his fifties. Both walked up to the back side of the market. Nisha explained Umesh the current situation of his relationship. She sent a few photographs of Vicky, his mobile number and his address.
‘Let me be very clear. I wouldn’t be able to pay you much’’, said Nisha.
Umesh squeezed his brows. ‘I don’t work for money kid. You will have the evidences soon’.
Umesh turned to leave.
‘By the way what does the “U” stands for?’, asked Nisha, as she saw Umesh leaving. ‘Is it Detective Uncle?’
Umesh preferred not to answer and left.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2