The Spy Tale, the Escape: Part Ii
Mathew's is Restless
After the war was over Akram settled down in his business. He was making good money but he was a restless man. He couldn't understand why he should be restless, maybe he didn't like the mundane life he lived. He remembered his interview with the chief back in Lucknow and the words of the chief who had asked whether he was game for adventure and he had replied in the affirmative.
He wanted excitement and he regretted his impulsive action in destroying the transmitter. Now he had no way to contact his patrons back home. Many a time he thought of his mother and father and remembered going to church with them. All this appeared a distant dream and he wondered what was in store for him.
The political situation in the enemy country was heating up. The people in the East were rising against the central government in Islamabad. Many a time he chatted with the local constable who told him that there was big trouble brewing in the East. One day the Constable confided a bit of wisdom to him which he had surmised earlier.
"Ÿou know Akram sahib, soldiers of the Indian Army disguised as the Mukti Bahini are fighting inside the eastern part of our country."
"Mukti Bahni? who are they?"
"A bunch of rogues who are harassing our army there. You know these Bengali's are dark-skinned and small-statured and our army will sort them inside two days, but it is the Indian army fighting on their side that complicates the matter."
Mathews was excited at this information. He was aware of it but he continued to show disinterest and knowledge.
"Hell, "he said, "our army will sort it out in all probability inside 2 days."
The constable wanted to show his knowledge and sipping tea slowly he said, `"we will have to take some action in the west. My brother is an airman in the Air Force. He s a technician and works on the Mirage fighter bombers. He has told me that the president has authorized a surreptitious strike in the west. Our Air Force will hit at least 6-7 airfields of the enemy and destroy their planes."
"Ïs it possible?"
"Of course. It will be like the Israeli strike in 1967 on Egypt when the Yehudi force had destroyed 90% of the Arab airforce in one strike."
Mathews was filled with excitement and he wondered how he could get in touch with his bosses back home.
He was happy enough but his younger wife who was his favorite had a stillbirth. Apart from this, he was happy with his life but not content as he craved for adventure because that was in his blood. He was also having a fair amount of money and just sometime back had purchased a motorcycle.
One day when he returned home. His younger wife told him "Huzoor, today there was a Pathan who claimed to know you and wanted to meet you."
Mathews was intrigued because he was aware he did not know any Pathan.
" Why didn't he come to the shop?"
" I don't know, though I told him to go there."
"Has he left?"
"Yes. but he said he will come tomorrow because he wants to meet only you"
Mathews wondered who this man was. He could smell the whiff of adventure.
The game is afoot.
The next day Mathews waited at home for the man. Sure enough, once the sun had risen high in the heavens and the temperature in the desert has gone up, he heard a motorbike pull up outside his house. A robust Pathan got off from the bike with a small package and knocked on the door of his house.
Mathews opened the door and saw the man. He did not know him so he asked, "who are you?"
" Does not matter 331. I bring greetings from the boss he still remembers you"
As he uttered the code number of Matthews he knew this man had come with a message for him. He did not ask any other questions and accepted the package and the man left. He mounted his motorbike and soon he was pushing away on the desert road.
Mathews's mind was in a state of ferment. It was obvious to him that the chief had his tentacles all over in the enemy country. He was also aware that if the chief wanted he could have eliminated him any time. He wondered why he had not done this so far.
He quietly went to the back of the house and opened the package. Inside was a wad of currency notes and best of all a small transmitter. As he saw the transmitter he smelt the beginning of an adventure and like Sherlock Holmes words to Dr. Watson he was aware 'the game is afoot'
That night he made ferocious love to his younger wife. As he violently thrust into her he was formulating his plan for the future. Leaving his wife satiated, he went out and quietly cranked the transmitter. He passed a message, 'this is 331 here, I am alive and kicking."
He began to cultivate the constable more and began asking him innocuous questions. One day he asked him, "Look Altaf, I'm not interested in all this mumbo-jumbo which you are telling me but tell me how can our Air Force destroy the enemy force in a single strike. "
"I will tell you Hazoor sometime later."The constable wanted to show his importance. That is human nature after all.
One day the constable came on a cycle to shop," Huzoor, I know you are not interested but let me tell you that I spoke to my brother on the telephone yesterday night and tomorrow at 4 AM our air force would strike at six airfields in western India. You will watch how like the Israeli air force, we will decimate the enemy airforce and win the war. The Indian Army has created enough nuisance for us in the East by fighting under the garb of the Mukti Bahni but now we will show them who is the master."
There was not much time left and Mathews decided to act immediately. In the heat of the day, he went in the desert and quickly transmitted a message, "331 here, Enemy mounting an air attack on six airfields in the west tomorrow. Beware."
He buried the transmitter in the sand and quickly returned to his house. He knew he had taken the risk by transmitting the message in the day but time was the essence and he began to plan his next step."
Back at his headquarters, the chief received the message. He jumped up from his chair as if hit by an 8000 Volt electric shock. He shouted, "I am the winner. I knew this man will never betray us. Now we have this fantastic information. Immediately alert the air chief to carry out dispersal of aircraft as within a few hours the enemy is going to mount an attack."
On 3 December 1971, the enemy in the early hours of the day attacked six Indian airfields in the western sector. The aircraft had flown low to evade the Radar. The chief had carried out dispersal of all aircraft in the few hours available and the enemy aircraft bombed empty airfields where the cardboard planes had been put up. They reported back home that the airfields are burning. It was the cardboard planes that were burning. The enemy radio broadcast the success of the attacks and claimed that the entire enemy air force had been destroyed.
Mathews heard the news and was disheartened more so as for the next 30 hours there was no retaliation. The enemy air force was also jubilant and that there was no counter-attack and they believed that they had done what they wanted to do. But the chief had advised the commander to delay the counter-attack for at least 24 hours so that the enemy becomes complacent and thinks they have won.
After 30 hours the air force struck the enemy territories and the enemy was totally surprised and taken back. It was apparent to them that they had been fooled and somebody from their ranks had informed the enemy before the attack
The intelligence was churning full time and they had detected a transmission from Sindh. This was the clue they were waiting for and they were sure that somewhere from there the transmission had been aired, there was a spy.
Back in his headquarters, the chief was aware of it. He called his close confidants and said," I don't want 331 captured by the enemy. Before that happens, eliminate him. In case he is captured all our clandestine operations in the enemy land will be revealed. It is sad but I have to look after my country."
Mathews was under no illusion. He was aware that very soon the enemy intelligence may reach his village. He took out his pistol which had been given to him and went outside the house. He began to formulate his plans. Every day he waited for something to happen and then after 13 days the news came that delighted him. The enemy has been defeated and over 100,000 of its soldiers had been captured and made POW. This was the biggest surrender after the epic battles of World War II.
Mathews came out of his house. Far away he saw a motorcyclist approaching. As he neared he recognized the rider as the same Pathan who had come earlier. Mathews was alert. A sixth sense told him that the man had come to kill him. There was no other reason to come again. As the man pulled up in front of him, Mathew saw him take out a pistol. Mathews was ready. He had kept his pistol cocked inside his pocket and he fired in succession. Probably the Pathan never expected Mathews to keep a cocked pistol ready. He lost out on the three or four seconds that he delayed in firing his gun.
There was no time to lose he dumped the body on the fuel tank of the motorbike and drove away into the desert heat. He drove about 30 or 40 miles into the interior carried the body into the dunes. He dropped the body there and came back to the bike and drove out westwards. He knew he couldn't go back but he regretted not having said anything to his wives.
He drove westwards towards Baluchistan and from there he planned to enter Afghanistan. He knew he could not enter the border through Rajasthan as that was almost suicidal.
He reached Kabul and from a booth, he dialed the Chief's number. A lady came online and he said, "tell the chief I am agent 331 and I want to talk to him."
The chief came online immediately, "I am glad you are alive "he said.
Mathews kept quiet. The Chief continued, "Look son welcome back, I am sorry Khalid is no more but he was growing too big for his boots. Go to the Indian consulate, they will prepare your original documents. Welcome back, John Mathews."
Mathews met the chief in his office. This time the room was lit and Mathews saw the chief for the first time, "welcome back"
"Sir, did you try to get me killed"
The Chief smiled, "No and yes. But I am glad you are alive. But remember though we have won the war there are no honors or medals for you."
The chief continued, "I wonder if you have read James Fenimore Coopers novel The Spy?. Well, it's a lovely book. Read it and the result is we are spy's and we do our duty and go away unsung and unheralded. You understand?"
Mathews nodded his head.
"Look, son, I spent 6 years in an enemy country at Lahore as an Imam. I know the dangers. Now go and meet your parents and await my call. Have you any question"
"Sir, what happens to my wife and children"
The Chief smiled, "nothing happens to them. They will be looked after. They have been told their husband was kidnapped by enemy agents and killed. Akram does not exist now."
Mathews left but at the back of his mind, his Christian upbringing told him that his betrayal of the two women was wrong. He made up his mind to do something. Did he go back, did he get his women out of the enemy country? did he go on another mission. Yes, thats another story.