“Hello. This is kidnapper speaking. You must have guessed what would have happened by now as you didn’t see your son coming out of school this afternoon. And I am sure, the police is listening to this conversation as well. So, listen to me carefully. If you need your son, get three crore Rupees ready within next three hours or I don’t know what I will have to do.”
The phone ended. Rohan put the phone down,wiped his tears and looked at his wife. Reshma was in tears thinking what was happening with her and her family. She kept pleading to the inspector to bring her son back.
Inspector was confused. He told, “the kidnapper seems naive. He just asked for three crore rupees when he could have asked for crores of rupees as the whole world knows how much the owner of a cricket league team earns. I am sure that we will be able to catch this kidnapper easily.”
The phone rang again. It was time for Rohan to go to stadium as his team – Wonderful Warriors was playing against Marvelous Kings in the league final tonight. But, for now, nothing of it mattered. All that mattered was his son’s life.
He called his secretary and made sure that the cash as demanded was in hand whenever required. Three crore rupees was nothing for him compared to his son’s life.
After three hours, the phone rang again. It was the kidnapper.
“Hi. You tell me where you want money. I will give you every penny I have. Please don’t hurt my Aarsh. He is my life. Please. I don’t want any harm to him. Money doesn’t matter to me. Try to understand. Take it all.”
“So now I guess you are taking me seriously. So, I am changing my demand again to just three crore rupees. But there is a constraint. I need it fast. Switch on the TV and start the sports channel. What are you seeing there?”
“It’s the final of cricket super league. My team is playing. Tell me what happened?”
“What is the score of the game?”
Rohan was getting confused now. “It is first over of the second innings. Wonderful Warriors needs 189 runs to win in 20 overs.”
“Yes. So I want you to get the money into an orange bag and take it to the ground. I will be waiting for you in the pavilion right behind your team’s dugout. You have to come before the match ends. If the last ball is bowled and you didn’t come, I am taking your son away from you forever.” And the call ended before Rohan could say anything.
Reshma had already dialed in Rohan’s secretary and asked her to pack three crore rupees in the orange bag and keep it ready for pick up in next fifteen minutes.
Inspector wanted to help but he was wrong about the kidnapper. As stadium is a public place and if he went with Rohan and Reshma, they could do anything to Aarsh. He decided to get into the camera room of the stadium to keep an eye to what was going to happen next.
Rohan and Reshma left within next fifteen minutes, collected the money and rushed to the ground. The stadium was full but when you are an owner of the company, it doesn’t take much time to get inside.
When they entered the pavilion, it was packed. Wonderful Warriors needed just 25 runs in 24 balls.
Four overs. Just three overs left before they could lose their son forever. The panic was striking them both. How much did they love that someone invented that strategic timeout that gave them two and a half minutes extra to try to find their son.
They kept looking here and there but weren’t sure what they were looking for. The time kept passing by. The match was already in the last two overs. The crowd was already on the feet in the excitement.
Rohan and Reshma kept checking each row to get a sign of someone with a young boy but the standing crowd wasn’t of any help. Right then, Rohan saw his son on the last row standing on the chair and cheering for his team.
They both ran to Aarsh. Luckily, Aarsh was safe and smiling. Right then, the match ended and his team had won. Rohan took Aarsh in his arms and were looking around. Reshma, with the bag in her hands, kept looking for the kidnapper.
Rohan asked Aarsh about who brought him there.
“One uncle brought me here. He asked me to stay here and that you will come to pick me up.”
The night ended. The next morning came with a sad news for Rohan.
Prateek Panchal- an emerging cricketer who hit a record 800 runs in the last season of domestic T20 trophy and was part of the Wonderful Warriors Squad for last three years- committed suicide in the team hotel.
Two days later, when things were finally turning into normal, Rohan received one letter.
When he opened it, he was shocked. It was from Prateek Panchal.
“I hope you found your son. You must be knowing me. I was purchased in Wonderful Warriors’ team last year at base price. That year, I didn’t get to play any match. Later, I scored highest runs in the domestic T20 tournament and thought that at least now I will get chance to play. But, your coach demanded three crore rupees from me if I wanted to get into playing XI. For someone who was coming from a poor family, I didn’t have any money. I was shattered. With every match passing by, the torture kept killing me till I felt that I wouldn’t be able to bear it anymore. That’s when I decided to end everything.
I don’t want your money. Give this three crore rupees to your coach so that next time some cricketer doesn’t have to end his life for the sake of playing at league level.”
-Arjuna@War (Parth Shah)