I’m being followed. I know the feeling….the back of my neck is tingling, and I keep wanting to turn back, and look. Of course, I don’t.
First rule of counter-surveillance: Don’t let your tail know that you’ve spotted them.
Last month, Milli almost got us killed, because she didn’t spot a tail. We’ve all become extra-vigilant, since then. I don’t blame her. She’s new to all this spy stuff. I, on the other hand, was born to it.
For the past one year, my parents have been living in a small strife-ridden country in the Far East. My father is a business man, and my mother is a socialite. At least, that is the official story. Actually, they are spies, working for the Indian government, deep undercover. They are not allowed to contact anyone, except their handler, not even me. I’m allowed to write to them, once a month. Their handler gives them the letters, that they burn immediately after reading.
Soon after they went undercover, I got the opportunity to join the Blackbirds, a group of teenage undercover agents. Now, a year later, I’m a junior field agent, with permission to use firearms. But, my parents don’t approve. They think that I’m too young to be dodging bullets or exploding napalm, on a regular basis. Ma wants me to be a doctor. As if! If they wanted me to live a tame life, they shouldn’t have told me bed-time stories about Noor Inayat Khan and the French Resistance. They should have stuck with Cinderella.
Yesterday, I got a call from their boss. He was worried that they had missed three consecutive meetings with their handler. Heck, the entire Ministry of External Affairs is worried. Two missing spies, in a country with barely an Indian Embassy, and no acknowledged R&AW(Research and Analysis Wing) presence, could turn into an international incident. Their boss is worried about their safety, and the Ministry is worried about their allegiance.
I’m not worried about either. My parents would never betray their country. As for their safety, I have a sort of sixth sense about that. Every time they get hurt on a mission, I get a feeling of doom, like something bad is about to happen. It happened when Baba got shot at, in Ulan Bator, and when Ma’s jeep was firebombed in Nigeria, and so many times after that. If they were dead, I would know.
The tingling on my neck intensifies. I bend down to tie my shoe lace, and sneak a peek. I see an aunty staring at my shorts, disapprovingly. Nope, not her.
I cross the road and double back down, till I reach a coffee shop. I miss chatting with Ma. If we were having coffee today, I would tell her all about our training, and how the Blackbirds were slowly turning from a team, into a sisterhood. I just wouldn’t mention the part where we almost got killed.
I enter the coffee shop, walk around for a minute, and walk out again. Nope, no familiar faces. But, I know he’s out there, biding his time. The question is, why is he following me? Is it just surveillance, or will he actually make contact?
I pass a stall selling earrings, and stop to browse. I try on a pair, and ask for a mirror. I hold it up to my face, and then turn it from side to side, as if I’m looking at the earrings. I’m actually trying to get a visual, of the people walking behind me. There! That lady in the grey kurta, looking at those DVD’s! I know I passed her when I doubled back out of the coffee shop, because I noticed her ugly shopping bag.
First rule of surveillance: Don’t be conspicuous, in any way.
I pay for the earrings, and at the same time, pull out a little something from my purse. I turn and walk past her. She starts talking to the vendor, and doesn’t notice me sticking a tiny dot of a bug, on the handle of her bag. It’s small, but, quite powerful.
I manage to shake her off, and head home. The door opens, and I stare, in shock, at the faces smiling at me.
My parents are home again.
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6
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