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'I don't know, can you stay on the line?' I said. I put Omi's line on hold and called Ish. He picked up after ten rings. 'Ish, where are you? Why do you take so long to pick up?' 'I am at the bank. I came with Ali to practice.' 'Is this the time to practice?' 'What? I became sick of staying at home all day. And dad gave me dirty looks because Ali was with me. So I said, screw it, let's hit some balls.' 'Ish, horrible news. Dhiraj is...,' I said and stopped mid-sentence. 'Oh no,' he said, 'really?' 'Yeah, Omi told me. Mama told him to keep quiet at home. He wants to get out.' 'Come over here then,' Ish said. 'Ok,' I said. I hung up on Ish and switched to the other line. 'Come to the bank. Leave now before it gets dark,' I said to Omi. 'Mom, don't cook for me. We'll make something at the bank,' I said as I left the house.

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'Trouble has started in the city. I heard a mob burnt two buses down in Jamalpur,' Omi said. We came to the tuition area of the backyard to have our dinner. Omi had cooked potato curry and rice. 'Rumour or true?' I said. 'True, a local TV channel showed it as I left,' Omi said, It's strange at home. Mami is still praying for Dhiraj's safety.' Omi's body shook. He broke into tears. I held his hand as he hugged me. Ali looked at us. I smiled back at him. I went to the room where we kept books and brought back three Phantom comics. I gave them to Ali as he happily read them with his meal. We sat away from Ali so he could not hear us. 'The mob that burnt the Jamalpur bus, Hindu or Muslim?' 1 said. 'I don't know, I'm really scared,' Omi said. We finished dinner and cleaned the kitchen by eight. We were planning to leave when Ish's phone rang. It was his dad. Ish hesitated to pick it up and did so only after half a minute. I had dinner. I'll be back in half an hour...,' Ish said, 'what?' We turned to look at Ish. I could only hear his side of the conversation. 'Ok ... Ok ... listen, I am at the bank. We are safe here. Yes, I promise we won't walk out on the streets ... yes we have bedding here. Don't panic.' I gave Ish a puzzled look. 'A building in our pol caught fire,' Ish said. 'Wow, which one?' I said. 'The Muslim one at the corner,' Ish said. 'It caught fire? By itself?' I said. 'That is what dad is hoping. But it could be a Hindu mob. Dad said stay wherever you are.' 'Our moms will worry. Govind's would too,' Omi said. 'Call them,' Ish said, I can't take Ali to his home too. His parents don't even have a phone,' Ish said.

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