Archive for March, 2012

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – Chapter 13

The chief of the state police appraised the consignment of the guns that was delivered to him by the courier. He selected one from the batch; the gun was smaller than the police rifle and slightly bigger than the service revolver. The reports received about Irish revolutionaries had made a reference to the gun being supplied through KGB the Russian agency. The forces manning the borders of the country here or there had caught a piece but it was the first time he will actually check the efficacy of the gun himself. He pulled the empty trigger and fired, “splendid, this is what I have been looking for”. The Chief Minister has specially asked him to look for such armaments. During his visit abroad he had been briefed and shown the firepower of these guns. He wanted to carry one himself but the government at the centre belonged to a different party and the customs at the airport will have created a scandal. Although he enjoyed diplomatic immunity, yet the national Home minister Aaham had always been on the lookout to show him down. At the last meeting of the state Chief Ministers he had sarcastically commented, “Although the law and order is the subject of your state, but how orderly and legal it remains will be decided by the powers that are controlled by the centre. The poor peasants of the state have been duped and mislead by you into believing that a small local party of your size can deliver better. Do not forget we control the strings to all purses”. The head of the state police had worked under three chief ministers but the current incumbent was different. He had the determination of the masses with him. He belonged to the same creed as the cop himself and their villages were situated quite close to each other. He remembered the day election results were declared. He had been traveling in the districts where the fiercest fight took place between the incumbent vs. the expectant. The incumbent had always been using the fair or foul means to get the power back. This time the upsurge had been noticed even in the official machinery. The police, the executive all were in favor of the expectant, which made the job of the chief of the state police much easier. He was summoned by the incumbent chief minister to his office and was told in plain words “the election is always a test of the bureaucracy’s loyalty to the government in power. The time has come for you to take this test and prove your allegiance. The party high command has conveyed that the position of governorship will fall vacant in seven states exactly three years from now; the time when you will lay down the office of the state police chief. The solitary period after retirement can be very humiliating once you have led such an active life. I shall recommend your name for the position of the governorship for one of the states and ensure you take oath as one that will herald you grand entry into Indian politics. I am aware that you have always nursed such an aspiration’. The chief of the state police who had already been sounded of an election ticket by the other party was least impressed by this offer, yet the audacity of the chief minister to directly ask for support at the election was praiseworthy. “We have assessed the weak points at some of the constituencies and we want you to deploy men and officers who are pro our party. The list contains the names of the district chiefs, the police station in charges, and some of the lower ranking officials, who must be moved immediately to their respective positions. once The election manifesto becomes operative will prevent the issuance of any such orders hence you have to ensure summary transfers within next twenty four hours before the election commission’s orders are received by you”. The chief of the state police unresponsively looked at the list; his first glance told him that the list contained the names of the officials under whose control the voters will certainly not be allowed to exercise their freedom to select their representatives. These officials will rather make sure the liberty and the right to franchise remains miles away from the voters. He put the list aside “I need time to discuss this with my departmental officers and other section heads before the orders can be issued. The summary transfers can create administrative problems. Please allow me some time”. “Where is the time? Besides you are overlooking the other hassles in case you delay this. In such a situation we will be issuing only one transfer order, the rest can be taken care of” the chief minister had issued a direct threat. The Chief of the state police picked up the list neatly folded it into four and placed it back on the table of the chief minister “I will wait for the single order” he walked out. He could hear the man swearing names behind his back. He did not care, the pre poll indications were quite pinpointing of the outcome; this man will not find a place to hide himself if free and fair polling was allowed. The common public was fed up with the antics of the current ministry and its leader. They were waiting for the election to throw out the entire lot of the existing cabinet of ministers by the use of the ballot. The administrative machinery was equally determined to conduct a free and fair polling. Hence the chief of the state police knew the politician could issue no such transfer order at this stage. He could still feel the limp in the handshake offered to him by the outgoing chief minister after the election results were declared. He had gone to escort him from the rest house he was staying in. The crowds were surging on the roads preparing for the victory procession of the winner candidate. Anticipating trouble and rough handling at the hands of the masses this man called him on the wireless “ Could you please do me one last favor before I lay down the office! Please escort me back to my residence. I am afraid the crowds will lynch me if I travel into my motorcade”. “But you have your own elite guards and commandos protecting you. How can any body even break that cordon of your ferocious protectors?” the chief of the state police chuckled. He could see massive barricades put up on both sides of the road leading to the residence of the winning party’s hero Pratap. These barricades had been decorated with the peasant party’s banners and flags displayed all over. The public address system was blaring loudly “Long live the peasant parties! Long live our leaders! Long live Pratap, the new chief minister!” The people were forming the victory queue to welcome the new elect to the venue. They were jubilant, they were happy; they were enjoying their newfound freedom from the erstwhile party. This was a second opening for them; the oppressive attitude of the government machinery earlier was too much to bear. The autocratic rule was coming to an end. “They will obviously not spare the man if they are able to lay their hands on him” thought the police chief. “I shall be traveling back with you in your car and not the official motorcade which has already left, even the party workers have deserted me. Could you please come over”? “Safety of common man has always been our prime responsibility. I shall be there in no time”. The chief of the state police entered the guesthouse from the rear gate. He asked the man to sit in the car driven by him. Two young girls of hardly seventeen to eighteen years of age also came out of the guesthouse. The chief cop did not show any kind of shock. He ordered them to leave the place on their own and mingle into the crowds. “The bastard’ said the chief cop and spat “Even at this juncture this man has been indulging into his pastime”.

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MADDENING CORRIDORS OF INTRIGUES – CHAPTER 12

12

The load of automatic guns that was brought by Ranjit from the Middle East was immediately distributed to three different places in town by him. The first few guns from the lot were delivered by him to a well-known politician named Aaham whose party had lost the elections at the recent ballot by huge margins of votes. All the candidates who had stood on the election manifesto of the party represented by him had been rejected by the electorate of most of the constituencies. The acceptance of such an enormous loss of power, political patronage and position was very difficult for the political party and its candidates. The politician Aaham at no cost could reconcile with the defeat and the loss of power that came with the ruling of the masses. He was certain that the other members of his party too were equally prepared to regain the lost power even if it meant using the force of bullets if not the ballots. The models of the guns were required to be approved by the high command of his party which was controlling the strings of financial as well as administrative sanctions for its state units too.  A representative of the high command of his party was expected within a day or two from the capital town of New Delhi, who shall be holding an inspection of the guns for approval. In case this test of these guns gets approved from the high command the guns will be spread amongst the workers of a small religious cult. These guns were to be used for creating terror and political upheaval within the state by the infiltrators of the small religious faction headed by a sage who had owed lots of obligations to the crafty politician.

“The common public who has rejected us at the ballot box enmasse, must be taught a lesson of their life time” thought the politician.

“What have I and my party not done for them? The all around development, the support price for the crops, the free electricity, the subsidized water and other requirements for the peasants was all extracted by him for these people, from the national government whenever his party had been voted back to power by the common man. The poor peasants always returned his party to the legislature yet this time they had the audacity to throw his party out at the behest of the political opponents who have always stayed in the opposition ever since the country got its freedom”, thought the bully politician. ‘It had been a very humiliating defeat and personal insult to his services rendered to common man. His party has been always a victor at the poll and this time too he was absolutely confident of an absolute majority, the counting of poll proved otherwise. The defeat of ballot must be avenged by the power of the bullet”.

The second packet of the guns was delivered to the head of a small religious sect who had of late acquired his new name as the great priest Rajamantran, on the insistence of the politician. He wanted to make sure “the guns his boys will be using should be small enough to escape detection while traveling and should be potent enough to kill a large number in a short flash of time. The instant action necessitated such weapon, as the shock of butchering so many people will give enough time to his boys to run away from the place of action after having pulled the triggers and killed the multitudes. The politician had assured him of such a requirement being met with this kind of gun, yet the clairvoyant wanted to have a look at one before equipping his boys with the same. The licensed guns his boys carried cannot be used for the purpose. They are too big, the ammunition had to be accounted for and the empties can be traced back to them. Hence the urgent need for the smaller weapons that can shower large number of bullets in a split second. “These politicians do not know anything about the guns”, thought the burly religious head Rajamantran. “These bastards always want to extract big price for the favors done. There was no doubt if the politician had not helped him he probably would still have remained a small timer, a preacher of no importance but than these politicians too amassed huge wealth from the deals in return, a large share of the offerings collected at the shrine  from  the devotees   was regularly apportioned to these brokers of power ”.

“Thanks to my friendship with the politician and their insatiate hunger to amass more and more fortune, the shrine has grown in size and stature. However every time the politicians allotted government land to the holy place, they would insist on a cut depending on the size and portion allotted by them”. He looked at the massive farms spread everywhere around; which were allocated to the shrine at the throw away price. Many had not relished his growing popularity, and the resultant attacks on his life forced him to arrange for his own private and personal security.

The cops briefed for his security cover by his politicians’ friends when he was in power could not be trusted; he knew that “they will not only betray him but will rather sell him to rivals and make wealth out of his dead body”. However his ambitions ran too high. The small holy place he controlled must be expanded into a large empire. This can be attained through reviving blind belief in religion of the faithful, their panic in the power of bullet, and simultaneously organizing their power of ballot to the advantage of the shrine. He had one power, the power of the unquestioned following of the common man in the   religion propagated by him. People bowed in front of him and paid obeisance wherever he went. His writ ran unto a few miles from the place of his temporal seat. They will willingly pay the undeclared tax to his shrine. It was believed that the part of their produce, income and yield from any profession, if offered at this shrine would bring in proceeds many times. Hence they came in drones every time the new crop was reaped or a cow or buffalo yielded the first milk after giving birth to a calf. People will bring their newborns to the holy place and put them on his feet for blessings. They will request him to baptize the child, which will be done after opening the holy book and reading the first alphabet that appeared. He had given a name to almost every child that was born within the vicinity where his summons ran.

The trunk road running a few miles away from this place however cut his authority. No one recognized him or bothered about him beyond that point. Even the highest seat did not distinguish him. He has to visit the place like any other commoner. The armed men accompanying him were not allowed inside. He vowed to himself to change all this. “One end of the road leads to the highest seat, the timeless temporal seat, from where the great religious preachers had ruled the psyche of the masses, where the writ of the founder runs even today. From there originates the very fountain of religious influence that sways the hearts of the multitudes.

The other end of the road leads to the seat of political power, the power of the sovereign, the very root of the authority that binds men into willful obedience through economic, legal and political batons, whose currency decides the fate of the billions. One day I will control both the ends”, he promised to himself solemnly.

Rajamantran had no intentions of fighting the elections himself, but the candidates came and paid respects to him. They sought his blessings. The president of the ruling party had once taken him to meet the prime minister. His stature has ever since been raised amongst the politicians as well, but that was not enough. “The king in the chess must be moved by me” he had decided for himself.

Hence he had contracted to the politician’s maneuverings of creating the law and order fright in the entire state by destabilizing the civil administration, through his boys. The boys were sent to his shrine by the ordinary people for service, for learning religious scriptures or to simply while away their time if they found the boys had nothing to do at home. Their source of employment was getting hard to come by. His closeness to the politicians will often ensure the boys got selected for the government service. In fact the marginalized landholdings had resulted into large scale unemployment every where and the plans of the crafty politician offered a chance to make the boys get into profitable employ even though temporarily, “the state should be spending enough not only to provide security to the common man but the central government will have to rush in funds to ensure integrity of the union does not get threatened” the scheming politician had told him “and therein we get the opportunity to build up our own resources which could last many  generations to ensure perpetual rule of your shrine in all corners of the state”.

The great priest Rajamantran dialed the politician’s number and spoke to him “The packet of the medicine has been delivered today I am sure this is the perfect treatment of the malady and absolute therapy to the sufferings of our poor innocent souls”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues -11

11

Ranjit listened to the remembrance songs sung by the cleric hired by the family from a local temple to perform the last rites of his grandmother. The cleric had been reciting hymns quite dolefully and poignantly. The words of the sad song and its heartbreaking tune sung by the singer were emitting so much pain in the ambience that every one present had tears into his eyes. It was as if as if each person there had been grieved by the death of his own grandmother, who had breathed her last into the late hours previous night. Ranjit remembered how he had called out to people living in the neighborhood of his grandmother’s house to inform them of the passing away of the old lady. He had wept hysterically and uncontrollably in their presence. He requested all of them to inform his parents, who were living in the nearby village.

His father and mother along with the other relatives immediately left for the town as soon as they heard of the demise of the old lady. They had also brought along with them one more village priest for conducting the last rites. The funeral could be arranged by late evening only. The village Priest was singing hymns associated with the last ritual that follows the cremation on the death of a person.

The village priest beckoned Ranjit to light the pyre. He looked at the dead corpse of the old lady. She appeared weak, small, frail, and yet tenacious. She had fought him like a tigress for good long one hour before she had given in to his powerful blows showered by her own grandson on her. He could still see that sense of determination on her face. She wanted to live even in her death. Ranjit had no intentions to nor did he ever want to kill her. She would have lived for a long time, had she not pried into his affairs.

Ranjit hid the guns at his house as soon as he reached home from the airport.   The old lady had left for the local temple to say her evening prayers. He deliberately came home during the time when the old woman will not be around. He knew her schedule of the evening and that she will be away between 4 P.M to 6 P. M. was a regular routine known to every one in the locality.

The consignment that he had brought with him was to be delivered to three different destinations. Ranjit decided that the home of his grandmother, where he had been provided shelter by the old lady out of her love and pity for her grand son, was the safest place to hide the consignment of the guns.  He strongly felt that no other place could be better. It was a perfect as there no one else except the old lady lived besides him. He had many times earlier too retained the packets of drugs in his own room and removed them in different stages over the time. Accordingly this time too he thought it to prudent to keep the guns in his room. He would at later days take away some of them in smaller lots for different consignees. The old lady had absolutely  stopped entering his room ever since she had excommunicated him on account of the duplicate keys made and used by him to steal money from her almirah.

“Do you mind if I come in” the old lady called from outside the doors of his room.

Before he could answer her, she had walked in into the room and sat on the bed under which he had concealed the guns in a gunnysack.

“You have been missing for so many days? What are you up to? You have no regards and respects left for the family honors. I can understand that, but at least you must have some iota of self-pity on your life style. Why do you not want to   do something worthwhile in your life? Your father had visited me in your absence. He has suggested that he can recommend you for a job, in case you are willing to mend your ways and are willing to get into some kind of employment”.

“Thanks a lot grandma, but I can manage my own life very well. I have no expectations about anything from you. I do not ask for any money of you now.  See I do not even ask for food” he retorted. The old lady began to sob softly.

“Sonny I know what you are up to. If I do not stop you that does not mean I do not know your whereabouts and deeds. You thank your stars that I have not informed your father because I still believe you can be brought back to normal life. The immoral games and littlies that you are indulging into do not pay in the long run. Some day the law will catch up with you and you will end up behind bars. Why do you want to bring the bad name to all of us? Just think of your own future even if you have no remorse left for your parents”.

“So the old lady has been looking into his room even in his nonattendance. Is she throwing a bait to catch him off guard or has she been rummaging through his belongings in his absence”, he was not sure although she was capable of searching his personal luggage too.

“Oh shut up old ma! I am not doing any thing that is unlawful or even what can be called against the established morality,” he shot back. It was at this point that she had bent down to pick up her slip-ons from under the cot. One slipper had accidentally been pushed little further under the bed and she was looking for the same.

“What is this thing kept here in a gunny sack?” she pulled the gunny sack towards her. She started feeling the contents of the gunnysack with her hands. “Oh! My God!  These are guns. So you are one of the terrorists now. How many murders have you committed? How many innocents lives have you eliminated? When did you join this gang of killers?”

“I have not killed any one, nor am I terrorist” he virtually shouted back at her.

“Then why do you keep this these guns at my home. What are you planning? I must inform your father. I must inform the police. You cannot do that to your own family. You are a killer”.

The old lady caught him by the collar of his shirt in a fit of rage.

“You bastard is that the reason we gave birth to you. Why did you not die the day you were born”? Ranjit had not expected this kind of violent confrontation. The old lady showered blows on his face and she was crying simultaneously “You fool, you shameless creature! You murderer! You are bringing disgrace to the family. I will kill you”.

Ranjit realized he must stop her before the neighbors heard her wailing shouts. “She must not spill the beans to any one. She cannot demolish what has not even begun yet. It is the first lot, the future offered scope of making tons of money to him. I cannot let my dream of making billions of dollars get eliminated just because this old lady gets pangs of morality from time to time”.

“You better stop hitting me like that and making a racket to the entire world about it ”, he caught the old lady by her neck and put his right hand on her mouth to shut her up.

She bit his hand, at the same time she had been hitting him with all her strength, “you scoundrel how you dare raise your hand on me?”

“Listen to me grandma; what you are saying is not correct. These guns do not belong to me.  These are to be delivered elsewhere and belong to a friend”, Ranjit tried to reason with her .He managed to put his left hand also on her mouth. He noticed she was getting breathless; his hands were covering part of her nose too. He had been blocking the breathing process of his grandmother. The old lady fell back on the cot. At this stage Ranjit took a pillow in his hands and smothered her with that pillow. She struggled very hard to extricate herself from his death like knot of his hands. She was beating him at his chest with both her hands. Ranjit had no intentions to kill her, yet he knew the instant he lifted the pillow she will start shouting at him again. He pressed the pillow deeper on to her nose. The old lady made one last effort to free herself from his clutches. She was able to push the pillow away but he sat on the pillow.

“She cannot be allowed to do this to him; not at this stage. Once she cools down I would be able to prevail upon her and explain to her that the guns belonged to a friend”. The old lady had stopped struggling. Ranjit lifted himself from top of her face. He had a close look at her. She lay there with her head tilted to the left. Ranjit lifted her head and put it on the pillow he had now placed under her head. She had stopped breathing. He put his hands on her nostrils; there was no air felt. He patted her on the cheek; her head fell on to the other side, the old lady was gone.

Ranjit reminded himself not to panic “I must not allow the fear to pervade over my thinking faculty”.

He felt strange elation within him.  It was a sense of relief. He had never felt any lighter.

“The old lady must be sent back to her own room and put into her own bed” thought Ranjit. Her hair were always tied in neat pleats, the disheveled hair could give out the story of her struggle. He picked up the dead body. It was too heavy, yet still warm. He did not wish to drag her dead body, which could leave the marks on the floor. He carried her on his shoulders to her own room and put her on the bed.  The small wooden comb with which she used to straighten her hair was there on the side stool. He opened her hair, combed them gently and tied them in a single pleat. He coupled the rubber hair band at the end of the pleat like she used to do.

Then he remembered, she would powder her cheeks before going to bed.

“Let me apply the powder on the puff”, he lightly dusted her cheeks, simultaneously removing a small drop of blood that appeared in her left nostril. “Nothing should give away the fight; you went through while leaving this world grandma!”

He took a last look at her, satisfied with the job on her face he let her lie down on the bed with her head resting comfortably on the pillow. He pulled the sheet up to her neck. That’s how she used to sleep and will be found by the neighbors in the morning.  He has to start the hue and cry for the loss of his dear and only grand mother in the early hours of tomorrow morning. He went back to his own room.   He collected the gunnysacks.

“These guns must reach the intended destination immediately”.

He pushed the motorcycle to a distance of two hundred meters and kick started it. It took him approximately two hours to deliver the consignments and come back. He noticed the quite neighborhood, there was nothing amiss. He went back in the same fashion shutting down the engine much before he reached the house. He was hoping no one watched him. He parked his motorcycle in the garage and quietly went to sleep. He will get ample chance to show his acting ability in the morning when he will have to announce to the neighbors about the sudden passing away of his grandmother while she was asleep during the night.

Ranjit wished that if he could have his way today, he could have shut his eyes to the entire world around him. But there was no way Ranjit could avoid an encounter with his father. After offering the last piece of the firewood to his grandmother’s pyre Ranjit went to one of his cousins “I shall reach home early to arrange for some cold water and refreshments etc., for the guests. None of the guests has had anything to eat since the early hours of the morning”.

His father who overheard him came to him and retorted angrily,” How can you leave this place? The ashes of your dear grandmother are still simmering.  We should at least wait till the last of the flames of her funeral pyre go down”. Ranjit, acting as if he had not heard him took one of his cousins along and reached home thus avoiding the comments made by his father. In no way he would have allowed himself any kind of direct contact with his father lest the old man would start blaming him for the old lady’s death.

However his father cornered him again at night.  After they had finished eating their supper everyone had found a place for him to sleep. Ranjit also huddled himself into a far corner of the room.  He pretended to have fallen asleep when his father nudged him to wake up. “Thank god your grand mom breathed her last. I am sure she would have had a miserable life with a vagabond like you around in her house. I am happy that your grandmother is no more alive to protect you;   I suggest you better decide to move yourself out of this house. Neither I nor any member of our family can have anything to do with you. Your activities have been tarnishing my reputation all over the town. I thought your grandma would be able to make you see some kind of reason and mend your ways and a good sense would prevail upon you. It is now quite evident her that efforts could not yield much results and you continue to live a life on the other side of the law. I will rather not have you in my house. You could be a bad influence on the younger members of my family”.

“So the old man wants to severe all relations with me” thought Ranjit. “This man has always been worried about his own position through out his life. The petty job of a policeman was more important to him than the happiness of his own progeny, all I wanted in life was a reasonable money and decent lifestyle and yet even this is not acceptable to my old man”.

“Don’t you bother about me; I will manage my own life. As far as this house is concerned I shall soon find another place to live for my soul” Ranjit retorted angrily. He could hear his mother sobbing softly behind the veil of her scarf, “Son you must listen to him.  He is your birth giver and is your best well wisher. You should always remember that despite all the differences you both have he still remains your father. I will ask him to get you recruited in police as a constable. I wish you should also like your father one day be decorated with a shining star on your shoulders”.

“Oh shut up why do you always have to come between us”, his father admonished the poor lady. “This good for nothing fellow can do nothing of this sort. He acts as a pimp and he thinks I do not know about this. Make sure he does not cast his bad shadow on his siblings”. His mother started crying loudly. Some of the relatives heard her wailings and came into the room.

Ranjit thought it prudent to leave the area,   “It seems my father, is determined to show the dispute between both of us off to all the relations who have come for the grandma’s funeral”.

His father’s shouts for dressing-down his vagrant son had become louder “My mother died because of you. You useless fellow I would not have let you live here even for a minute if it were not for her.  You must get out of this place at once.  His mother by now had also become aggressive.

She told her husband, “What are you up to. You can not ask him to leave like this? The memorial service fires of your own mother are still burning .Ranjit being eldest son of the family has to attend to all the sacrament and observance for his grandmother’s peace and departure of her pious soul to heavens”. “Why do you not help us? She had begun her pleading to the people watching this fight between the father and son. “Please explain to his father that the eldest of the grandsons have to be the available here for all kinds of worshipping to appease the gods of death and well being”. His mother looked pleadingly at one of the relatives through her tear swollen eyes and beckoned him to take Ranjit or his furious father away from the room. .

The people took led his father to another room. The fight had been temporary resolved through a momentarily truce but Ranjit could not sleep through the entire night thereafter. It was very early morning when his mother came to his bed with a hot cup of tea to see and speak to him.  He quietly sipped the hot brew, not paying any attention to sweet-talk being indulged into by his mother.

“Do not pay any attention to the outbursts of your father my dear son. He is very grieved due to the sudden demise of his mother. He will come by and become himself within a day or two. You should not mind your father’s foul temper. Whatever he says it will be for your betterment only. He means no harm to you. All we want is that you should find yourself a nice job. I shall get you a good and attractive girl as your bride and then you can continue staying in your grandmother’s house only”.

He wanted to tell her that he has already selected Koena as his would be wife and that he will bring her only after he attains the lifestyle he considers appropriate for his wife but he just looked sympathetically at his mother and got up “I must go and find out  if servant has served tea to every one ”. ‘These people will not have any inkling of my dreams” He shrugged his shoulders.

MADDENING CORRIDORS OF INTRIGUES CHAPTER -10

10

 Masood Azar was in his early forties. He looked quite, suave, well-dressed and good to look at. He carried a small leather pouch in his hands all the times.  Every few minutes he will open the pouch select a few beetle nuts and put them into his mouth.  Now and then he will take out another small tin of scented tobacco and help himself with a small pinch. The flavor of scented tobacco filled the room with a sweet fragrance. There were two other gentlemen sitting besides him in the room. Ranjit and his bride were introduced to them. The gentleman in black suit named Abdul hailed from Pakistan and the other person had an Arabic name Ranjit found it difficult to pronounce.

“Here comes the hero and his heroine. Come gentlemen let us give them a warm welcome” the Arabic gentleman spoke. ‘She is such a lovely girl; my dear Abdul! Your man is a genius. He understands our taste. He is always picking up the best of roses from India. She will add to my bevy of beauties from across the world. I have French, Japanese, and a Nepalese and now an Indian I am sure some of my Arabian clients who happen to be very rich sheikhs will go crazy for her beauty”.

The face of the girl went ashen. She looked at Ranjit for some kind of protest reaction. “How can he listen to all such shit about his wife”?

But he avoided looking at her pleading and burning glare and addressed instead Masood Azar, “I request all this must not be done in my presence”.

“Why should I not do that sir? I am paying for her. Abdul, can I take her away right now? I cannot wait to lay my hands on her”.

Arabic got up and put her arms around the girl’s waist. He pulled her harshly towards him. The girl would have slapped him had Abdul not caught hold of her hands.

Gently pushing her hands backwards he said to her “This young man is   no more your husband and do not be a fool trying to do something funny. You are brought here to perform a specific job for which he has already been paid a huge amount as your bride price. As for you, rest assured the sheikh here is rich enough to cater to your needs. If you dare raise your voice, no one will listen to you. We will make sure you are deprived of all womanly parts and thrown into the seas” Abdul said menacingly. His behavior was so brutish that even Ranjit started trembling after listening to his bulldog like snarl. He had heard of the tribal wrath of men from the frontiers of Pakistan. Ranjit was fully certain that the man will not hesitate in carrying out the threat spelt out by him. The girl could hardly cry a small sob.

Masood Azar dismissed them and he beckoned his driver to take the girl away. She was led to the other room and Abdul followed her. Ranjit started towards the door when Abdul stopped him.

“Ranjit we have business to discuss and forget whatever has happened in this room”. Masood Azar shrugged his shoulders, “sometimes one has to take a lot in stride. Abdul is a tribal from Pakhtunistan hence the brutal frankness. You do not worry about the girl a bit. He will take care of her needs. She will come around in no time. But sheikh here was quite honest she is a real beauty, a nice piece of flesh. How do you manage such things? However you are here for a different works if you will take your seat may be we can discuss the business further” Masood Azar mentioned him to sit beside him on the sofa.

Ranjit noticed a large number of trays had been displayed by his hosts on the tables, in the room. All the   trays were covered with cloth napkins.

Ranjit could count four trays placed on the side table and more were being brought in.  Masood Azar waited till the waiters had placed all the trays on the tables kept in the middle of the room.

“I think your fortune is going to take a turn for the better from now onwards. The trading in female yields a good return but not as much as we will offer now. It is up to you to decide. If you really want to join the big times?” saying this he lifted the napkin from one of the trays.

Ranjit’s eyes got wide opened.  He could see gold bars flashing in the tray. He could count only the first 10 – 15 gold bars in numbers that were lying on the top layer. It was not possible for him to make an estimate of the entire lot of gold displayed in the room. The shining glare of the gold was too much for him to bear; he took his eyes off the table and looked questioningly at the speaker.

“So they want me to smuggle gold” thought Ranjit. “But why do they want to smuggle gold? The duty on gold has been reduced recently by the government. It does not offer any better price to them in the Indian market. Besides how much a courier can carry with him”.

Masood Azar smiled menacingly at him through the thick clouds formed by smoke of cigarette he had been smoking. He was trying to read Ranjit’s mind. The beetle pouch contained cigarettes on the other side. He opened the holder and offered one to Ranjit who declined when he noticed that it was not his choice of brand.  He took out his own packet of Charminars from his pocket and lit one for himself. Dragging a deep pull, he flicked the ash into the ashtray and waited for Masood Azar to speak. The sentiment in the room was getting tense.

Putting him at ease thus spoke the man.

“This can all be yours. You want to carry it with you or do you want us to deliver this for you in your country just let us know? Better still you can safely keep this in the bank here provided you —–”, Masood Azar had deliberately left his sentence incomplete.

“The gold bars were not being offered to him for bringing in a mere girl from India”, he knew that.

He asked impatiently “Provided what? What is it that you want me to do to earn so much gold”?

He started calculating the value of the gold shown to him. “Could this be worth one hundred thousand, two hundred thousands, no, it could be worth many millions. The gold displayed here can take care of my life for a long time. I can buy that fancy car in which I traveled to this hotel today. I can buy a house and get married to a girl of my choice”.

“Please tell me provided what. What am I supposed to do to earn this much of gold”?

Masood Azar lifted the covers from the other trays one by one. Ranjit had not seen such guns before. He had often fiddled with his father’s service revolver at home many times.  He had sometimes even fired a few bullets from a .303 police rifle at the local police range where some of his father’s juniors had taught him how to fire a gun.  But these guns appeared different. These were automatics.  The bullet case attached to the bottom of the gun could have contained hundred of bullets.

Masood Azar picked up one of the guns. He offered it to him to hold it in his hands.

“We want you to carry some of them with you when you go back. These will simply be the sample, only a few specimens as advance display. Otherwise also the hand baggage will not offer much space. The balance consignment will be sent through you separately. You will get instructions to pick up and deliver at the appropriate time and place. Our agent in India urgently orders the consignment that you will carry. You will be given the address to which these guns will be delivered by you. We understand from our agent in India that soon there will be greater demand for these guns in India. We want you to take over the management of the delivery of the consignments there. We already have the sales agent based there. He will arrange the orders. The safe deliverance will be your responsibility”.

“That’s fine but how do I carry these with me through customs at the airports. I may not be able to cross the Sharjah airport forget about National capital town of New Delhi”.

“You shall be flying from Dubai and not from Sharjah. There is a delegation of trade council representatives traveling from London to National capital town of New Delhi. It is a hopping flight and will touch Dubai on the way. The delegation comprises of a few NRIs and some of the other high profile businessmen from the entire Europe and Middle East. The trade representatives will enjoy diplomatic immunity. Their baggage will not be frisked at any airport in India and Dubai. You will form a part of the delegation as a respectful businessman. However at the International Airport in National capital town of New Delhi you simply walk out of the green channel at the terminal building into the waiting car along with the hand baggage you would be carrying.  your  checked in baggage ticket will be handed over by you to the air lines staff standing at the exit door, as you alight from the flight”.

“The guns will be in the checked in baggage”, asked Ranjit.

“No I told you, you will carry some of them as hand baggage and the balance will be checked in by our man on your behalf. However there will be some one at the airport to help you clear all the baggage from the law”.

The suitcase was handed over to him at Dubai airport. He went to the check in counter and was instantly cleared. So was he at the security checks too, where nothing was checked or frisked.

The flight took off from Dubai airport and he could heave a sigh of relief. However he was still apprehensive of the arrangements at National capital town of New Delhi and wondered “if the entire plane carried guns and the trade delegates were all couriers on the payroll of Masood Azar”.

“Sir please fasten your seat belt”, he woke up with a jolt. The air hostess was gently nudging him to wake up. “We shall be landing at National capital town of New Delhi Airport”.

He had dozed off after downing a few cans of beer. He enjoyed the sumptuous meals offered on the flight, as if he had been ravenous for a long time. The touch down of the aircraft brought him back to his waking position in no time. He did not want any one else to lay a hand on his suitcase lest the weight of the bag therein gave rise to any kind of suspicion. He was on his feet as soon as the pilot applied brakes after the touch down and the aircraft came to a halt. He opened the latch of the loft on top of his seat. He picked up his baggage and was the first one to move into the vestibule attached to the aircraft. He handed over the baggage tickets to an airline staffer that had been in the wait for his visit at the exit. He had possibly received a briefing of Ranjit’s identification. The staffer had approached him as soon as the airhostess from inside the aircraft had opened its doors and the vestibule had been attached to the front exit.

Ranjit was led to vehicle parked outside the airport by the airline staff. “I hope you do not mind finishing this cold drink. We will load the baggage in the rear of the vehicle in no time. It does not take long on the conveyor belt at the international airport”.

Ranjit saw two Labradors smelling each and every package on the conveyor belt. He wondered if the canines will point out his checked in luggage. He had decided to simply give in himself to the authorities in case of his getting caught by the canines. He would claim ignorance about the source of these guns. He had decided in his mind to run away and leave the checked in baggage to its own fate but then he saw two laborers bringing out the trolley loaded with the suitcases brought by him from abroad. It was impossible, “these guys have their men spread every where.  How could canines miss his bags?  They would have surely pointed out the presence of arsenal in his bag. That means his personal belongings were not allowed to reach the conveyor belt but were whisked away from behind the curtain that separated the passenger portion from the loading section of the airport”.

MADDENING CORRIDORS OFINTRIGUES – CHAPTER 9

9

The syndicate had approved the fresh recruitment of the new couriers. The new recruitment was taking place in his part too when boss called him; “You keep on visiting area where the university and other educational institutes are situated everyday. We want you to breaking in some girls for our job”.

Ranjit had so far known only those girls who were brought in by his friends for consideration of money for their entertainment to his grand mother’s house in her absence. Suspecting that his boss is also looking for a quick release of similar kind he fetched one of the girls to him. The girl was an uncouth and loud mouth of a commercial sex worker. She had been brought in by one of his friends for a nightlong rendezvous many times earlier too. As soon as she looked at his boss she had remarked, “You bought me here for this old crap. I am sure his better half would have rejected him and that is why he is looking for a quick entertainment outside home. Did not the pimp tell you I spend no time with old hags”?

The boss threw him out along with the girl. “This is not the kind I had asked for Youngman. I do not need a female for my personal use. I am a happily married man”. Ranjit got perplexed “then why the hell have you been asking for a female. I thought you were looking for a quick release”.

“Oh shut up, we need girls for our operations. The cops are getting too smart and dangerous. People like you who go to the university or colleges without actually studying there are the first suspects the cops look for nowadays. So the earliest thing you have to do is take admission into the university”.

“But I do not want to study any further I left my studies in the young age when I had dropped from out of school itself,” said Ranjit.

“You will have to resume it again now; we will arrange for your graduation degree from any other place along with other migration papers. You will soon be joining the university’.

‘But I said I do not want to study further,” Ranjit insisted.

“Shut up and listen to me”, the boss was losing his patience, “We do not want to make a pedagogue out of you. You have to ensure the fresh recruitment of some of the vulnerable young girls from the educational institutes for our internationally operative l wing. These girls will act as couriers for us. We cannot risk sending material through men any more as they are becoming soft targets for the authorities. The girls have to be sent to Middle East, Europe and other countries as newly wed brides. It is seen that with huge immigration rush on for these countries; the cops and customs in India do not suspect the newly weds much. There is a mad scramble in India to send their wards abroad for earning dollars”.

Thus Ranjit had started his foray into the academic world even though he had no intentions of learning the black words in his life. His papers initially had been made out for political science department; the migration papers were procured from a not so well known university of central India for having graduated last year.

“Well at last I have been able to fulfill the dream of the lifetime of my father”, he smiled to himself on the irony of fate. “If only I could show this degree to him, he will be too happy. But the old shark will know the fakes from originals and spoil the entire game plan of my getting rich and making huge chunks of money in life”.

The first victim who fell a prey to his villainous charms was a girl from some village near the border town of Amarpur. Ranjit had looked at her for the first time when she had walked into the classroom he was attending. She appeared quite vulnerable, innocent, as if she was lost and unsure of herself in this city life to which she had been transposed by her parent’s ambitious dreams.  She appeared like a perfect untouched village belle with her innocence still protected. She was dressed in simple clothes. Her hair had been done up in two simple plaits. She displayed and carried a touch of total simplicity around her. Ranjit had been trained to spot such plain and blameless looking girls.

He remembered how he was often made to sit in the room by the Boss “you must observe the formation of ants crawling up on to a wall. Up above on the same wall spider would lay in waiting to entangle the ants in its web spread”. The boss would tell him “just observe how the spider waits in its web spread patiently for the ant to come near by. The spider strikes at the ant only when he is sure the ant can not escape his clutches. We want you to show the same patience when you spot a talented female in life. You will strike only when you are crystal-clear and certain you will convert her to your need”.

He would during such moments look at the cobweb very closely. He often noticed that many an ants had lost their life to the patient wait of the spider that was cunning enough to make his move at the appropriate time, “if only the ants could see that the spider was not dead but a death in the waiting, that would have kept them alive and not the spider”.

He kept her under his  close watch and surveillance  for a couple of days while at the same time making it obvious to the girl that he was keen to speak to her and make friends with her . Like a spider that had spread his deadly web, Ranjit too would arouse enough interest of his victim before he made his move on the appropriate day. He will be moving closer to her only after she had been made to fall a victim to his charms.  And then he ensured sitting next to her in the classroom. He deliberately spoke to her in fluent English in order to impress her.  And when she felt awkward answering to him in the same language; Ranjit immediately switched to the local language “I have come here from England and am new to the place. Do you mind helping me and showing around the place”, he paused to see the effect and the impact of his statement on her. He could see that every time the girl was so much impressed as he had mentioned England.

‘Of course I will not mind’ she had shown her enthusiasm immediately. He conjured up a set of parents in England who wanted their only son to study in India before settling down life. The small tidbits talks gradually improved into long dates with the girl. The instructions given to Ranjit were very clear and specific, “none of the girls you will date need ever know about your parents or any other connection in India, nor will you ever indulge into any bodily contacts with any one of them”.

He was given a few bottles of perfumes and other cosmetics etc specially marked made in England or US to present to the females he befriended. Such smaller gifts and presents carried a lot of meaning for the girls. Presenting the first bottle to her he remarked, “My uncle has come from London and brought this for you particularly. I had written to my parents about you; because some day I want to take you there with me”. This was a direct message of matrimony for any simple girl.

Surjit that was her name had come to the town to pursue higher education in order to further her marriage prospects. She came from a family of marginal farmers whose land holdings with each division in the family; have been reduced to the extent that it became barely possible to keep the kitchen fire going. The small piece of land eventually would often be either sold out or hypothecated to the village money lender to send their unemployed sons abroad with the hope they would make enough dollars abroad to buy another land holding or get the lease vacated. Yet seldom would their sons return and it often happened that the old couple died waiting for the sons of soil to come back. Similarly when it came to their daughters of the family, the same parents eagerly looked forward to a suitable groom from abroad for them. Such marriages of their daughters brought not only prosperity to the family; there was also a lot of prestige attached to such matrimonial relations with grooms settled abroad. It was a status to have a son- in- law working in as foreign country. A few of the girls from Surjit’s village were married to the boys from Middle East, Germany and some of the other lesser known South American countries. Whenever these girls sent some overseas goodies home; the same will be shown around to every one in the village. The girls who were married off to the boys from the distant lands were also regularly sending dollars to their parents which when converted into the local currency brought a grand affluence to the family. Such parents whose daughters had gone abroad would soon move into new dwellings made out of cement and bricks and their houses will soon out shine all other buildings in the locality. These new houses were in a way an express disapproval to their other neighbors over their dilapidated houses. This in a way would motivate them to either go abroad themselves or to have a daughter lucky enough to get them such a son- in- law. “Pray god bless us with an alliance for our   daughter with a bridegroom settled in a foreign country so that she can migrate abroad”, were the daily prayers these parents made to their deity.

Ranjit found her lost in a beautiful reverie and daydreaming. He enquired her, ‘Hey where are you lost. I just want you to try this perfume”.  He took out the bottle from his hip pocket and stealthily showered a whiff of Channel Seven on her face, satisfying the atmosphere with very pleasant fragrance.

Surjit awoke from her dreams and came back, “Are you sure you want to take me to your parents? In that case you have to come to our village with me. You will have to speak to my father about it. I am sure he will be too keen to have you as his son- in- law”.

Ranjit Sehgal did not anticipate such a quick reaction to his overture from her nor was he prepared to handle this. “May be this will have to be sorted out by the boss, meeting the girls parents or any relations can complicate the matters as they will definitely go for verification of the antecedents”.  He related the situation to boss.

“So she wants you to meet her parents. That can complicate the matter’.

‘Because they will insist on meeting my family” Ranjit asked Boss.

“Do not worry, it can be managed. We will have to make it a very quick affair. I may have to accompany you to the village. Better still if she can bring her parents to the city. Your wedding ceremony with her must be performed immediately.  You must thereafter fly as soon as possible along with her to Middle East”.

“How do you suggest I can do that? Both I and that girl will require passports and other travel documents. Besides the girl has merely mentioned about meeting her father, she has not said about getting married immediately”, Ranjit retorted.

“You must have trust in  me and leave everything to us. The travel papers along with the passports will be delivered before the wedding takes place. We must not lose the opportunity of getting you married to her.  If it gets delayed the other issues can crop up.  The earlier you take away such girls from their surroundings the better it is for all of us.  I am sure you have not become very familiar face in the university as yet. Your absence for a few days will be of no concern to any one. Once she has flown with you to Dubai we will take of her from there. You come back to India and start your hunt all over again”, said the boss. “I shall be acting as your uncle from abroad who has come to India with the urgent mission to get you married because your mother is suffering from serious ailment and wants you to get into matrimony before her end calls’.

The girl had taken a day off. She had to go to her village to bring her parents to city so that Ranjit and his uncle could speak to them about the wedding.  Ranjit and his uncle had stayed back in town insisting they had to make arrangements for the wedding. They said they also will get the travel documents prepared for her going abroad. The girl’s parents could hardly believe their luck when she broke the news about her proposed wedding to them. Her mother had become quite jubilant. She told the other members of their family, “It is our good luck that our daughter is in love with a boy from England. He also happens to be her class mate. It is so wonderful that he wants to marry our daughter. He wants her to travel with him to foreign country? God save her love from the evil eyes of our enemies. We must keep everything under wraps till the marriage is solemnized. I am afraid that any one of our rival families from the village can create some kind of hurdles or hindrance. Some of our neighbors as well as some of our relations will become covetous of us if they come to know that we have fixed such a   good bridegroom for our daughter.  Let no one bode any kind of ill will against us. Let no one cast an evil eye”.

“We do not have to spend any thing on the wedding expense.  I feel that is the best part.  He is not even asking for dowry for marrying our simpleton daughter. Let all of us pray that she settles down well. We will also migrate to England in future”, her father had said. “Will you call us there or will you also forget your folks once you become a phirangi. Like some of the other girls of our village have forgotten their parents. They just keep on sending only dollars for their parents”.

The girl just hugged her father and stated, “Do you believe I will ever do that kind of thing to my own family. Of course I will sponsor all of you to England. We will all stay together in my house once I am able to set up my own marital home”.

The wedding of Ranjit and that girl took place in a small guesthouse. A village Priest had been fetched by the uncle. “We are sorry for the arrangements done in a hurry as I have to take the newly weds back with me to London to attend to my ailing sister. She has got only a few days to live. She is very eager to meet her daughter in law before she dies”, the uncle had bluffed the parents of the girl.

Ranjit traveled with her the same evening to New Delhi, from where they took an onward flight to Dubai. The poor parents little realizing the profession their daughter will be forced to take to. All they knew was that there daughter is happily married.  She will continue writing to them once in a while along with a few hundred dollars sent by the boss.

Ranjit got married in this fashion quite a number of times. He would be flying the same evening to different destinations abroad. He had never ever consummated any one of the matrimonies he entered into. He had not even once tried to violate the code of conduct specified by the Boss of the syndicate. His job assigned to him will be over the moment these females were taken to a foreign land. These girls were left in the care of a local contactor there from. He will have to thereafter vanish from the scene. The syndicate there will deal with the girls from that point onwards.

‘There is a big market available for these girls. The clients in the foreign lands value the virginity.  Of late it is noticed that the customers in different countries abroad have a liking for Indian girls over other communities e.g. Thai’s, Chinese or Burmese”. The Boss also told him “The traders of flesh are merciless when it comes to dealing with girls who do not want to go along with them. In an alien land with no proof of identity on her and with the shock of having been abandoned by the duping husband these poor females will break down quite easily. None of these females therefore dare defy the syndicate”.

Ranjit once had checked into one of the back lane hotels in Dubai along with his newly wed. He told her, “you can rest for a while; I am going downstairs to find out the arrangements of the sight seeing in this city.  I will see if we can take the coach“.

“What sight seeing my dear? Let us get to look at the sight of each other first. I can hardly wait to get into your arms. Let us take off on the much awaited honeymoon together”, the girl had held him from his back. She started pulling him towards her.

He gently pushed her away “I shall not take long. You just change your clothes. I will be back in a jiffy”

He took the lift downstairs and waited in the lobby for the telephone call from the local contact. Some one had been deployed by the syndicate to escort the girl from thereafter. Ranjit was scared of going up to the room upstairs lest she forced him into any kind of physical contact. The code of conduct set by the boss should not get desecrated.

“Mr. Ranjit Sehgal, could you please contact at the reception counters. There is a call for you” the placard carried the message. The bellboy was also ringing a small bell to attract attention of the guests.   Ranjit did not realize initially that it was for him. The word Sehgal caught his attention. Someone was paging for him. He wanted to run away from there. He had feared the worst. Has the girl run away? But she was waiting in her romantic mood into the room in anticipation of getting the love of her life into her arms.

“I am Sehgal” he went to the front office and announced his name. The receptionist pointed him towards the private booth where he could take his call.

“Hi my name is Masood Azar.  I would like you to bring the girl to Sharjah. You can meet me at Hotel AL Fatah room number 325. There is a car waiting for you outside. The driver of the car will bring you straight to my room once you reach the hotel. You do not have to check out from here. We will take care of your baggage. Your hotel bill will also be paid by one of our boys”.

“But I do not understand. We have just come in half an hour ago. We both are tired due to jetlag. Besides how do I explain this to her”, Ranjit had said.

“You will do as you are told. We do not hear any arguments. You may tell her you want to celebrate your honeymoon in a better place”,   Masood Azar had chuckled on the other side of the telephone line.

She was sleeping when he came back to the room. Ranjit woke her up. She raised both her hands. She put them on his face and kissed him on the lips. “Yes my love sorry I had passed out” she put the weight of her heavy bosom on his face as she brought herself closer to him.  She pulled him towards the bed. “How long do we have to wait to consummate our new relationship? Please come near me. I am dying to get your touch of love,” she again brought her lips near to his.

Ranjit found it quite suffocating. He was at the same time feeling hardness between his legs. Her scent of the woman had weakened him for a split second momentarily. He was about to give in but he remembered the directive given to him by his boss “these females are not meant for you. Consider them as the merchandise to be delivered by a carrier.  Your job is that of the transporters’  who though should be only worried about his freight charges after the consignment has reached its place’, he smiled to himself, “the advisor must have been a truck driver”, he thought. He gently pushed her away and freed himself from her, “Come let us get going. I do not like this filthy place.  We must check into a better hotel to start with.  The whole place is stinking”.

She looked at him askance “but I find this hotel quite comfortable.  I do not feel any stink in this joint. What is wrong with you?  Are you avoiding me now that I am available to you? Oh come on I have heard people talking fondly of their romance of the first night. Here I am still looking up to my man to make the first move. We have been traveling all the while after the wedding. I am sure you did not marry me to look at the hotels and airports only”, she had put both her arms on his neck and rubbed herself against him.

Ranjit could again feel his desire growing for her. He controlled himself with great amount of self control. He opened the door of the hotel room. “We are going to a much romantic place in Sharjah. My friends have arranged our stay at Hotel Al Fatah. They have also sent the car for us.  Believe me you will enjoy the stay”.

‘Oh I thought you have married me so that we can enjoy each other” the girl taunted.” Oh come on! You must see I am offering myself to you in the most natural fashion”. She removed the bed sheet that was covering her. The sight of her lying naked under the sheets virtually gave Ranjit an electric shock. She was wearing nothing on her.

He averted his eyes from her and pulled a few clothes from the suitcase, which was lying open on the table in the middle of the room. He threw those clothes towards her.

“There are friends waiting for us in the lobby. We must hurry up otherwise they will come upstairs. We will not have time for a relaxed love making on our first wedding night. I am sure you want us to enjoy the process of this heavenly meet of the soul and bodies in a complete leisure and relaxed mood in our own sweet time”. He did not want to give her the impression that he was avoiding her.  Hence he gently pecked her with his lips on her lips. He found it difficult to hide his manhood while passing through the lobby downstairs to reach the car. It was almost a close shave today. He must visit some place for a quick let loose once she was delivered into the rightful hands. Ranjit wanted to speak to the driver of the car on way to Sharjah but the chauffer shut him off stating, “No Hindi or English please”.