Indira Gandhi International Airport at New Delhi presented a scene of bustling activity. Anna was proceeding to board her flight.
"Ma'am," Are you going to Moscow?
A surprised Anna turned back to see a turbaned man addressing her.
"Yes," replied Anna.
"Ma'am, I think your luggage won't amount to 20 kg. So, will you kindly do me a favor?"
"What?," asked Anna.
"I will give you a packet containing a camera and a few electronic components. My brother will collect it from you at Moscow airport. I will be highly grateful if you kindly deliver this to him."
Without much pondering, Anna took the packet from the man.
Anna Pavalova was on her way back home. She lives in a Moscow suburb. In her thirties now, she had come to India to see this exotic land of snake charmers and sadhus, of lepers and fakirs and of course, of Gandhi and Tagore. She had been to all the four corners of this country and was now returning back, full of memories, both pleasant and unpleasant, to her native land. This flight would take her from New Delhi to Moscow.
The plane touched Moscow at the scheduled time. Anna was looking forward to meeting her Mama shortly. She badly missed her during this one month trip of hers. Yeah, she had been away from her home for this duration.
She could hardly control herself at the prospect of seeing her so soon.
"Are you Miss Anna Pavalova?," two gentlemen in a civilian suit were posing this query at her.
Anna was a bit surprised to find two strangers curious about her identity. When the two gentlemen were apprised of her appellation, they asked Anna to follow them. When she wanted to know the reason, she was told she would find it out soon.
Anna picked up her luggage, and followed them reluctantly. They entered a room, and Anna glanced at the door before making her entry. It read INTELLIGENCE ROOM.
She was asked to unpack, and then began a careful scrutiny of her belongings. The searchers seemed to be desperately looking for some items. After they had completed and found nothing, they stared at Anna with a questioning look.
"Sir, the packet couldn't be found," one of the man spoke.
"Then where has it disappeared?" shouted an elderly man who seemed to be their superior.
"what packet?," Anna asked.
"The packet which was given to you by someone in New Delhi," the elderly man said.
"No one gave me anything," Anna pleaded innocence.
"Liar. We have information that you are working for a drug trafficking racket" the elderly man blurted out.
Anna stood there stupefied. Her silent protest seemed to fall on deaf ears.
She was greeted to a barrage of questions, and her answers seemed to fail in convincing her interrogators.
For the next six months, Anna had to face similar interrogation sessions from time to time. She was allowed to stay with her mother, but was kept under a strict vigil. She always felt a pair of
watchful eyes trailing her.
Her passport particulars were verified to see whether they're authentic. And day in and day out, for nearly six months, Anna's ordeal continued. And after the said period, when the Intelligence people found no trace of any suspicious activity Anna indulged in, the process of terrorizing waned. It took many more months for the trauma to heal and to completely forget the incident.
A year after the incident, Anna was looking out of the window of her house. However, she was engrossed in her own thoughts. She was wondering about the contents of the packet the man with the turban gave her. Why was it so heavy?. Which was exactly the reason why she had returned the packet to the man, on second thought, suspecting it to contain something else besides the camera or electronic components only. She had returned the packet to the man just before boarding her flight.
Anna thanked the Almighty from saving her from a more messy situation.