is like fire or like a pebble. It is like fire because it can work both
ways. Just like fire can give you light and burn you alive, love can
either bring light to your life, but if you become obsessed with it, it
can destroy you. Like fire, love is capable of consuming you
completely. It is like a pebble because the smallest of pebbles, when
thrown in water, can create ripples in it. Similarly, the smallest drop
of love in your life can make a difference."

were the words spoken by my wife, and these were the words I was
remembering as I stood there, my gun pointed at the man in front of me.
My entire married life of 3 years was flashing before my eyes as I now
looked at the man I had hunted for one long year, the man I hated with
an intensity that had surprised even me, the man who had killed my wife.

vividly I remembered the three most beautiful years of my life! The
arranged marriage to which I had agreed after much persuasion by my
parents …the meetings before the marriage, or the shortage of them due
to my job as a policeman …the awkwardness during and after the marriage
…the process of getting to know each other gradually …the journey from
two strangers to friends …and finally the culmination of friendship
into love.

belated honeymoon in Goa in the second year of our marriage …that
romantic evening when I had knelt down beside her, held her hands in
mine and thanked her sincerely for being so patient and understanding
with me, she had done the same …the sheer bliss in the months that

then the savage intrusion on our beautiful world exactly one week
before our third anniversary. It was an evening like any other evening
when I came home from work at my usual time and let myself in with my
latch key. It was a few minutes before the feeling hit me; something
wasn't right. The house was too goddamn silent. There wasn't the usual
clatter of dishes, the whistle of the pressure cooker, the smell of
freshly cooked food. Just a sinister silence which I didn't like.


glanced at the shoe-rack. Her sandals were there, so were her high
heels; she hadn't gone out. I drew out my service revolver and advanced
towards the bedroom. The door was ajar. I pushed it open and walked in.
She was there, sitting in a corner. She was deathly pale and looking
with frightened eyes at the man in front of her. He turned as the door
opened and I saw the heavy iron crowbar in his hands. One look at his
face told me that he was high on some drug, possibly methamphetamine. I
raised my gun just as he heaved the crowbar at me. It hit me on the
left side of my face and I slammed against the wall, my gun falling to
the floor. She screamed and sprang up. Out of the haze descending over
me, I saw him pick up my gun and point it at her.

"Get back!" he snarled at her. "Don't you dare move!"

shook my head to clear it and pushed myself up. Mustering all my
strength, I charged towards him and he fired at me point-blank. I could
feel the bullet shatter my left thighbone. The pain was excruciating. I
screamed and fell down with a thud. She shrieked my name and ran
towards me. And out of the mist that was slowly enveloping me, I saw
him level the gun on her.

"I told you not to move!" he snarled. "I told you!"

And then he shot her.


lay there and watched in helpless frustration as he emptied the
revolver into her body, threw the gun on the floor and ran out. I heard
her whisper my name before I passed out.

remembered all this as I now stood before that very man in the two-room
flat on the third floor of a shabby building. I remembered how I had
myself put on the team investigating her murder, how our investigation
had led us to one of the biggest dealers in methamphetamine, how we had
grilled him about his customers until he had divulged the identity of
the man who, under the influence of methamphetamine, had destroyed my

now here I was thanks to a tip off by an informer, face to face with
that very man. I looked at him, looked right into his eyes and I liked
what I saw. I saw fear. I saw that he knew he was going to die.

one officer I had brought with me was covering the staircase and the
constables were covering the exits. There was nobody to stop me. I
would shoot him down and my revenge would be complete.

"Don't do it, Dev," I heard a voice say. It was Inspector Abhay Suryavanshi, the officer who had come with me.

"What the hell are you doing up here?" I snapped without taking my eyes off the killer. "You had orders to wait down on the stairs!"

"I know," Abhay said, slowly walking towards me. "But I had to come up. I had an idea you would try something like this."

"What do you expect?" I spat the words out. "He killed my wife, shattered my whole goddamn world."

"Doesn't mean you should get yourself into trouble. Let the law deal with him."

killer spoke for the first time. "Look here. I am willing to give
myself up, just don't kill me." He turned to Abhay. "Don't let him kill

"Shut up!" I shouted. "It's no use begging for mercy because you are not getting any. Did you show any mercy to my wife?"

"You aren't leaving me with much of a choice, Dev" said Abhay.

whatever you want, Abhay. This man isn't getting out of here alive." I
retorted and I meant it. I was going to have my revenge if it was the
last thing I did on earth.

Abhay addressed the killer. "The door behind you, it's your only chance. Run for it."

glanced at the door. It looked like a connecting door between two
flats. It was ajar and I could see another door on the other side which
was open. The building was located in a sleazy area, frequented by
small time criminals. The flats must have been provided with multiple
exits in case of an emergency, like a police raid.

The man half turned towards the door, then stopped and looked at me. I didn't speak but got ready to fire.

"Leave him to me," Abhay said. "There are constables waiting downstairs. Just go down and surrender yourself. Go on, go, GO!!!"

man took a couple of steps backwards, then turned and ran to the door.
Without hesitating, I squeezed off three shots in quick succession. He
slammed against the door and slid down to the floor. His scream filled
the room. Then everything was silent.

He was dead. My revenge was complete. Emotion took control over me and for one moment, all I could think of was my wife.

Time ticked ahead.

started to fade away and slowly sense crept in. I looked at Abhay, who
was leaning against a wall watching me, then at the dead man. I had
expected Abhay to try and stop me. He could have easily spoiled my aim
by pushing me or something. He had done nothing of the sort. A faint
suspicion stole into my mind.

I looked at him. "Why did it you do it, Abhay?" I asked him. "Why did you make him run for it and then let me shoot him?"

looked right into my eyes. "What do you think? Had to make it look like
an encounter. The seniors would have roasted you over hot coals."

his gun from the holster, Abhay walked towards the dead man and placed
it in his right hand, carefully wrapping the dead man's fingers around
it. Then he spoke into his wireless.

"Sathe?" he said to Constable Arvind Sathe who was waiting downstairs. "Come up here with the others immediately."

The incident made it to the front page of The Times Of India the next day.


Kawaljeet Raichand,
a methamphetamine addict and accused murderer, was killed in an
encounter by Ins Devendra Gore and Ins. Abhay Suryavanshi last night
around 10:30 pm. Raichand was wanted for the murder of Ins Gore's wife,
Avantika whom he is said to have killed under the influence of
methamphetamine. He has been on the run since the evening of the murder.

According to the statements given by Ins Gore and Ins Suryavanshi, the two officers, along with three constables reached the Apte Nagar
area in Dombivli (W) in search of Raichand after receiving a tip-off
from an informer. They found the three storey building where Raichand
was supposed to be holed up. Ordering the constables to cover the
exits, the officers made their way upstairs, found the convict and
asked him to surrender. Instead, Raichand tried to attack them and
snatched Ins. Suryavanshi 's gun. In the scuffle that ensued, Raichand
was shot dead by Ins. Gore.

are some who say that the two officers deliberately killed Raichand to
avenge the death of Ins. Gore's wife. However, all the evidence refutes
this allegation. Moreover, a senior officer who did not wish to be
named strongly opposed this saying, "Such a killing can be planned only
with someone you trust completely, like a close friend. And Dev (Ins
Gore) and Abhay (Ins Suryavanshi) are anything but close friends. It
can even be said that they hate each other."

police officers back this statement. It is no secret that the two
officers cannot stand each other. No one knows why they worked together
on this case.

Meanwhile, the reason behind the hard feelings between the two officers continues to be a mystery . . .

weeks later, Abhay and I were returning from a scene of murder in a
police jeep. It was night-time and I intended to call it a day after
reporting to the police station. Abhay was driving and I was sitting in
the passenger seat. I decided it was time for some straight questions,
and straight answers. Abhay had been avoiding me ever since the
"encounter." Now I had a chance.


"Yeah?" he asked without looking at me.

"Why did you do it, Abhay?" I asked him.

He raised his eyebrows. "Why did I do what?"

"I'm referring to Kawaljeet Raichand."

"What about him?" he asked although I could sense he knew exactly what I was talking about.

made his death look like an encounter. You told me exactly what to say
to the media, what to report back at the station. Hell, you even
arranged for me to go home as soon as possible so that I wouldn't have
to answer any awkward questions. Everyone knows that you and I aren't
the best of friends. It's common knowledge that we can't stand each
other. Still you stuck your neck out for me. Why?"

Abhay took a deep breath. Slowly he brought the jeep to a standstill. He didn't look at me as he spoke.

"I guess you have a right to know. I did it for Avantika."

The name hit me like a bullet fired point-blank into my face. I stared at him.

"Avantika?" I asked. "My wife?"

He nodded.

loved her. I loved her more than anything else. We did our junior
college together. Even after that I kept track of her, although she
didn't know that. I was crazy about her. But I never could tell her how
I felt. All I could do was worship from afar. I almost killed myself
the day she married you. That was why I hated you. That was why I went
out of my way to be nasty to you, not realizing that it wasn't going to
help me. I was blind. All I could see was that you had taken her away
from me.

the day of her funeral, someone told me that yours was an arranged
marriage; that she had married you because it had been her dying
father's wish to see her married and settled in life before he died. I
couldn't blame her for that. She had married a man who was a stranger
to her, but she had adjusted and moved on. I respect her for that.

decided that the least I could do for her was to help you avenge her
death. I got myself on the team investigating the case. I worked on it
as hard as you did. I guess you noticed that yourself. I made sure you
got your revenge and didn't get into trouble over it.

did everything I could, except shoot down that dirty murderer myself.
Don't think I didn't feel like it. But that was something only you had
a right to do, Dev. She was your wife. She was committed to you. I
could never take your place. Besides, I never had to take a bullet in
the leg and watch her getting shot. It had to be you, Dev. I just made
sure nothing came in your way."

stopped talking and the silence that followed was heavy beyond measure.
We just sat there, staring at the road with unseen eyes.

"Love is like fire." the words sprang unbidden to my mind. "Love is capable of consuming you." It was love for Avantika that had consumed Abhay and made him help me.

I turned towards him and laid a hand on his shoulder. He slowly turned
his head. For one long moment, we looked at each other with tear-filled

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I'm so sorry."

the moment passed. We wiped the tears from our eyes and blew our noses
into our hankies. Abhay started the ignition and drove towards the
police station. We were ourselves again; two battle-hardened,
tough-as-nails cops going about their business. But now there existed a
bond between us we had never known before.