It was one o’clock in the night. All through the previous day, people had been closely following what looked at that time to be the strange and increasingly worrisome disappearance of Dr. YSR from over the Nallamalla forests. Sanket and myself, along with Sanket’s cousin were closely following each and every second of coverage of the disappearance over the net, while BCing away to glory into the night. Out of our fertile imaginations, various theories about what could have happened, what will happen next and the reasons for them were emerging.
Out of the blue, Sanket suggested that we went to Kurnool and took a first hand look at the search operations going on. We looked up the search area on Wikimapia, and realized that it was some 100 km farther from Kurnool. Kurnool is some 250 km from Hyderabad. We figured out that the round trip from our home in Kondapur, Hyderabad to the search area and back would take the entire next day. We still decided to go ahead and leave at 2 o’clock in the night, i.e. in half an hour from then. I went downstairs to clean my bike to get it ready for the trip.
It was only then that Sanket’s elder cousin, who had been a party to all the planning we were doing realized that we seriously intended to go. He firmly put his foot down on the plan, saying that there was no way he was going to let us go at 2o’clock in the night to cover 700 km on bikes, in the middle of the monsoon season to the Naxal infested Nallamalla forests on a wild goose chase. We decided to reason with him, but realized that it was futile. So with our tails firmly between our legs, we went to sleep at around 2:30.
As soon as the news of Dr. YSR’s death reached Hyderabad, there was mourning all around. In addition, there were chaos. Congress workers started shutting down shops. They sent home all the public transport and beat to pulp anyone who dared protest. Our managers sent us home as a precautionary measure. Since office had closed for the next day, which happened to be a friday, also, this translated into an extra long weekend for us. Both of us had been wanting to go to Mumbai for some time, so we decided that this was the best time to do that.
We left at around 4:00 in the evening from our flat on Sanket’s Thunderbird. We looked for an ATM to withdraw some cash, but realized that even the ATMs had not been spared the bandh. Similar was the case with petrol pumps too. Along the roads, there were signs of violence. Tyres were burning here and there.
We reached a deserted Allwyn Circle, halted our bike and shouted questioningly over the roar of the Royal Enfield to a lone 7-Seater driver –
Looking us up and down with some curiosity, he pointed out towards what I already knew was the direction on the highway.
We set sail for Mumbai. With exactly Three Hundred and Sixty bucks in our combined pockets and 80 kilometers’ worth of fuel in our tank, with no source of cash and/or fuel nearby, and faced with a situation unprecedented in the history of India due to which we did not have a clue as to how far we’d have to go before we found any of these. But none of it mattered, really.
‘Coz we were on the road. Under the boundless sky.