Posts tagged ‘guns’

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 40

He had been sitting on the iron railing, encircling the lake. The lake was situated on the outskirts of the city. He had been in waiting there for over two hours now. He was waiting for the motorcade of the home minister Aaham to emerge from the street below.  The winter fog of the early morning had enveloped the road completely making it difficult for any one to see beyond a few yards.   That is why the members of the spotting party deployed just outside the Rajbhavan had been instructed to send a motorcyclist in advance to forewarn him as soon as the caravan carrying the home minister Aaham started its journey from there. He rubbed his palms to keep the winter chill away from his hands. The numbness in his fingers could prove fatal.  What if he failed to pull the trigger first, in that split second the security cover of the VIP will blow him into pieces. He recalled the training given to him by General Durjan when he was assigned the first job of killing the police officer in the Sanctum Sanctorum.  “It is either you or the target that loses the life.  The split second spent on dithering has caused many a sharp shooters to end up their missions by paying up with their lives. Once you have made up your mind to do away with the subject, you must do it with all precision and ruthlessness. Otherwise you must be ready to get your top chopped off instantly as there will not be a second chance for you to pull the trigger. The second shot always belong to the opponent”.

He could see vague specks of light in the distance travelling towards him. The motorcyclist came near him. He had thrown the orange peels on the road and sped away. He was giving him the necessary signal that the caravan was on its way and will be there in next two minutes. Ranjit took position behind the small mile stone on road.  It was an open jeep leading the pack of security cauldron followed by a fire brigade vehicle. He let both the automobiles pass through. He or his companions did nothing to disturb the smooth run of both the motors that were leading the motorcade.  “The home minister Aaham will be occupying the third white ambassador car; the first two cars will be used as a decoy. You must avoid them at any cost”, the informant had clear description of the seating arrangements of the cavalcade of the VIP.

He hid himself behind the thick hedge of wild foliage that had been growing on the side path of the road and pulled one of the bushes over his face as the first high intensity bomb ripped through the floor of the white ambassador car leading the pack.  The car flew to the right side of the road and fell into the ditch. There was a strong smell of human flesh burning into the air.  The occupants of this car would hardly have had an inkling of what had hit them as they were blown into smaller bits of burning balls in no time.

The deafening sound of the explosion deafened Ranjit’s ears for a while. The flash of the fire blinded the drivers of all vehicles of the cavalcade who were following the car that was blown into pieces.  The driver of the car that was there in the middle of the caravan could not apply the brakes in time and went over the rear fender of the car leading in the front that came off the vehicle hit by the bomb.

The driver of the automobile carrying the home minister Aaham avoided the clash with the car ahead of him. He steered his automobile to the left of the road. His grazing tires screeched as they turned at a very high speed missing the iron railing by the scrape of a hair. The driver wanted to take off from the scene of the explosion to save the home minister Aaham. He had also simultaneously shifted the gear into top speed when he saw his very important passenger’s life was in danger.

But Ranjit gave him not a chance to escape.  When the white ambassador car reached near him, Ranjit leapt over the railing and fired continuously on the occupants of the vehicle from a distance of three to four feet.  First volley of bullets hit the driver of the car and the security guard in their faces.  The car soared   through the iron railing on the road and it turned turtle. He fired the next round but the shots  sprayed out of the Kalashnikov  hit the door in the rear and the clinkering sound of bullets striking the iron could be heard all over the place. He had no time to see if any of the bullets fired by him had found their targets amongst the occupants sitting in the seat at the back of the vehicle. He had seen that the Home minister Aaham had ducked underneath the rear wall of the front seat.

But there was no time to wait and check the effects of the hundreds of   bullets that had materialized from his fire emitting gun. Ranjit fled towards the residential sector adjoining the lake road on foot and soon he would have been lost himself into the swallowing up fog.  But it appeared those security men who were leading the home minister Aaham’s caravan in their jeeps were too determined. They had come back after they saw the flashing fires of bullets and rising of the smoke towards the skies in their rearview mirror of their vehicles.

“There he goes”, someone had shouted in the dark. “You must take cover”, he had heard another voice from the same direction. “He may have another bomb”.   A bullet whizzed past Ranjit’s left ear without hitting him. He knew he had been dotted by the hawk’s eyes of the elite commandos who had been especially trained to provide security to the very important politicians of the country.

He was well aware that very soon all these security men will outrun him if he continued running in the open like this. He jumped over the first boundary wall that he came across and ran towards the back yard of the house. “I should find a way out from the other end” Ranjit thought aloud.  To his dismay the back yard of the house ran into a mesh of sharp edged wires that separated the two grounds falling into the middle of two adjoining bungalows. He knew he had been cornered and it was not possible to jump over the wired mesh.

“I wonder if it is the end of the world for me today” he told himself “I have hardly been able to savor the love of my newlywed for a few hours to go away like this.  She does not even know that I am not at home sleeping next to her.  She was in too deep a slumber after intense love making on her first blissfully wedding night”

He heard the human shouts were moving towards him and then a loud shriek of some one having been hit by a gun shot in the front of the house. “Who is it”, an authoritative voice boomed in the courtyard as the overhang lights came on. Ranjit fired towards the tube light shattering it into many small splinters.  The dweller inside the house put off all their lights.

“It was now or never”, he thought and ran towards the front gate spraying a volley of bullets from his Kalashnikov.  The security officer from the home minister Aaham’s entourage on his trail was taken by complete surprise. His still body behind the cover wall of outer boundary had been hit by the spray of bullets form Ranjit’s gun. It flew a few feet into the air and slumped back into the ground. Ranjit saw another figure slouched into the small plants of rose bushes.  One of his   companions had been done away with mercilessly by some of the security men. He did not stop by to look back who it was. It will be a while before some one from the house will find courage enough to come out and realize how many have been killed and by whom He sprinted   at frightening speed   till he had covered the distance of a few lanes taking him away from the house under the siege of the security personnel. He slowed down his pace after he noticed that he had come a long way away form the scene of the shootout.  He showed no hurry as he walked towards the main four lane road leading away from the residential rows of huge compounds. It appeared as if he had never missed his morning sun rise and today also he was out on a morning walk to take pleasure in looking at the sun coming out of the hidden blue skies behind the fogs that emanated skywards from out of the fresh airs of the lake waters.

“It will be a long  while before some one from the house will find courage enough to come out and realize how many have been killed and by whom. By that time I will be back with my beloved”, Ranjit told himself. He found his sweat shirt and the track suit including Nike joggers in the back seat of a car parked by one of the boys on the far end of the road.  He changed into the track suit and did not forget to tie the laces of the Nike joggers.  He told the boy to drop him a few paces ahead of the house on the opposite direction to the one from which he had been running away.

The falling drops of sweat on his brow could tell any one that he has had a long jog. But his ordeal was not over yet.

“Hey you, in the blue track suits”, he heard a voice from behind “what are you doing here on the road at such an early hour”.

It was a police inspector walking towards him. The inspector raised his baton he was carrying in his right hand and beckoned him to stop.

“Oh a running freak’, he pointed towards his track suit and joggers, “but you better be careful schmuck, winter is at its peak and you may catch cold”.

The inspector was observing him very carefully and closely. “Are you not the same guy who got married at the shrine yesterday? How can you leave your newly wed asleep in the bed alone? Do you come here for a morning run? Do you not know the times are bad for even an early morning run? There are prowlers on the road.  You could get killed. There has been an attempt on the life of the home minister Aaham, a few minutes ago. We shall have to haul you up for questioning”, the police inspector shifted his baton to his left hand and took out his revolver from the holster. He pointed it towards Ranjit. “You thank your stars that I am a disciple of the shrine and hence I am not firing at you.  Otherwise I have orders to shoot at any one found running on this road. Come let us get moving fast before any of my seniors pass through here”.

Ranjit behaved as if he was mortally scared to hear the news of attack on the home minister Aaham’s life. He spoke to the cop in a stammering tone, “oh my god! Do you mean sir they had tried to kill that minister who had come to the shrine to bless us on our wedding day? He is a very nice and gentle human being.  I sincerely hope and pray that nothing happened to him. How bad are the times .I did not want to break my routine of daily morning run. But how the hell would a common folk like me know what lies  in store for him on the roads .I thank my stars that I did not strayed too  much away from my home. I must get back home instantly.  I thank you for informing me that you are a member of the shrine. That means we are co brothers. Then we must have a similar bent of mind.  Will you please let me go? I must reach home early”. He folded his hands in a gesture of having been obliged.

“Thanks” Ranjit said. He started running in the direction leading towards his   home on the double.

The inspector fired a bullet shot close to Ranjit’s legs. Ranjit could smell the burning fire from the burnt cloth of his pajamas.  The heat of the fire was very close to his knees.  He by instinct knew that any further move by him to run away from this spot would mean his legs will be definitely broken by another pull on the trigger. He stood still and waited for the police man to come near him.

“If there are others of his fellow officers they should soon join him. Then the odds will be against one to too many. If I have to save my life then I must immediately take control of the situation.  As otherwise the entire struggle of the fight to freedom will come to a naught”.

The police man by now had come too close to his attacking vicinity. He pressed the muzzle of his revolver close to Ranjit’s head. “One more move by you and you will be dead. Just board the vehicle quickly and quietly”, the inspector shoved the gun into his left side lower earlobe. He pushed him towards the police jeep parked on the other side of the road.

“It is now or never “thought Ranjit and went straight for police inspector’s two eyes. He jabbed his fingers into the sockets of those eyes. The inspector shrieked in extreme agony. The revolver in inspector’s hands could not take the pressure of his finger on the trigger; a stray shot from the firearm hit the ground below. Ranjit gave one more chop hand blow on the officers’ neck again and with one strike he had broken his wind pipe. Blood started oozing from his victim’s nose and mouth.  The instant gush of fluid choked his nostrils making it extremely difficult for him to breathe.  The police inspector had fallen on the cold and damp earth below on both his knees. Ranjit snatched the firearm from his hand. He   put two bullets into his forehead creating two gaping holes.

Ranjit raised the revolver close to his lips and blew into the smoke coming out of the barrel. “Thanks for the souvenir but I do not need this”, Ranjit wiped off his fingerprints from the metal and put the revolver back into the holster hung onto the dead body of the police inspector. He kicked the corpse into the ditch dug up by the road building department onto the roadside.  Ranjit knew that soon it will be discovered by his fellow officers, when they would notice the lone vehicle parked on the road. He started his jog towards home blowing a whistle to the tune of latest film song. “The occasion calls for an early morning repeat of the fete performed by me last night along with my newlywed” he smiled to himself.

Ranjit slipped himself quietly into the small entrance to his home.  He picked up the bunch of garden pipes lying in the front of the green lawns and started spraying water on the plants, “the gardener should also be on his way to tend to them”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 39

The press photographers representing various newspapers were vying with each other to get a complete coverage of the event for their readers. They had been requesting Ranjit Sehgal and his newly wed to pose for photographs so that they could get a wider coverage in the evening issue. Howsoever hard he tried he could not avoid being clicked by almost all of the photojournalists present on such a grand occasion. Ranjit wanted to get away from the venue where his marriage was organized. He was afraid of not only his past activities but he was also anxious that his relationship with the great priest Rajamantran will be give him an unwanted  exposure in the eyes of the police and other investigating agencies. He was apprehensive that the sleuths of the investigation bureau will begin smelling through their many noses around. His basic strength so far has been to remain as unassuming as possible and here too he wanted to perform the role of a commoner so that his freedom to movement was not hampered. He was never in favor of solemnizing his marriage in the public eye. It was great Priest’s habitual practice to rather give a widest possible publicity to all his activities in order to attract not only the common village folks but also the politicians and the bureaucrats of all kinds. He considered them as prize trophies to be displayed on all occasions. It was General Durjan who explained to him, “You must not behave like a touch me not in front of the press and the politicians. They are all here every year.  These functions have been organized during this part of the year for past many centuries. There are no ways that any one tying the matrimonial knot under the auspices of the shrine can be associated with the political aspects of the shrine. The act of getting the young couples married is a mere social and philanthropic act of the great priest.  However if you act like as if you are trying to hide something that may give the press as well as the police a reason to look for meanings where there none exists so far. In case you are worried about your family coming forward to claim their relationship with you and giving out your real identity to your bride rest assured they have already donated you to the cause of the shrine. Your parents have accordingly been informed of your decision to spare them the pain and humiliation of falling into the hands of investigating agencies; should you get caught any time in life. In the records of their life no son ever existed by your name. They will simply disown you in the event of any one asking them about their first born son. You must be and remain the persona you have created for yourself i.e. Mr. Ranjit Sehgal from England whose dear mother breathed her last waiting for her wayward son to return home along with his newly wed bride”.

“But I always thought there was glory and fame attached to people who have led their nation to the path of victory. Why would then my original parents be ashamed of their association with me. In fact I am afraid they will be too keen to come forward and claim all kinds of relation with any one who serves the seer and his mission. And that is what I am afraid and apprehensive of; as I do not want the fact known to the world that a father who works for the police establishment has a progeny who have crossed line to a point of no return, that he is a declared ultra fighting against the same establishment”.

“These are simply your misgivings. You better get rid of such thoughts at the earliest and start accepting the fact that you and only you will be the next in line to the legacy of the great Priest. He does not have any one in his lineage to carry on the work started by him. The sweet nectar of fame, power, political heritage and the wealth of large fortune awaits you in the very four walls of sanctum sanctorum. It is the time to rejoice and celebrate. I will see  that  you and your family are driven down to your new home immediately but do not forget to seek blessings of pontiff before you leave for your honeymoon”, General Durjan winked at him mischievously.

Ranjit saw his mother in law walking towards them; she was accompanied by her husband and a few other friends, “young man in case we do not have some other ceremonies to attend   to we can go home. You and your wife will also need rest as you must have been exhausted after a long day. You can see Koena is not able to walk even; she has been on fast for the entire day and insists she will have some thing to eat only after saying her prayers at her new home. Since the great pontiff is busy with his other political guests. It is time to make our move; if we walk out quietly no one will even notice our departure”.

Ranjit felt General’s hand on his shoulder, he was pointing towards pontiff  coming out of his chambers, stooping low and brows held high as if he was in great rage but smiled returned on his celestial face as soon as he saw Ranjit’s “you are still around my children,  your  family members are waiting  anxiously to take you home . Go my child go, the world of heavenly pleasures welcome you because every thing else in this world is temporary except the fact of procreation. The family life must be started by you on the auspicious note. May you and your beautiful wife produce as many soldiers for saving the honor of our nation? Go and lead a blissful married life but do not forget you also have a duty towards the religion and the community which must be honored when the time demands”, the pontiff moved on towards other couples to bless them.

Ranjit’s mother in law bent low, she folded her both hands and requested the pontiff, “I shall be too thankful to your lordship for giving us the honor of retrieving the trust of the community. Ever since my wedding I used to worry whether my children will ever be accepted back by the members or will it is that they too like me have to be married outside our marshal community. I am willing to work for the shrine at any time. Please do let us know if I or my progeny could be of some service to the faith”.

Ranjit felt quite amused, he knew the old lady’s quest for money will lead her too ultimately to become a part of the movement led by the shrine. . There has often been discussion for forming a women’s wing that could bring about the revolution amongst the fairer sex. He however wondered if his father in law was aware of the seeds that were being planted in his wife’s mind. She was virtually falling into the same trap of money and political power that had lured Ranjit into it.

He opened the door to the rear seat to the plush luxury car, presented to him by the shrine on his wedding day. The gift wrap and the ribbons from front fender to the bumpers at back were still intact; he asked Koena to cut ribbons barring entry to the rear seat and slid himself next to her after she had settled down on the extreme left corner. He prevented his mother in law to get inside the car and requested her to join them in the vehicle that was following them. He did not want any one else to sit near to his bride, “no one except me will sit next to her. All of you can come in the other cars”, he had to tell his brother in law and father in law. Though Munna insisted for a while to sit near to his sister but was told in hushed tones by Koena to listen to what he was being told. She nudged Ranjit on his rib cage when he sat next to her “you are   being over possessive. I will not say that I do not like it; I am being flattered”. “Yes I am being jealous of the beauty, a beauty that no other woman possesses. You look like a fairy to me and I do not want any other human being near you except me”:  Koena kind of lost her consciousness for a minute when he spoke these words passionately into her ears. The words were spoken so softly that the driver in the front could not hear any thing; otherwise also he too was lost in looking at the out of this world beauty of celestial nature. Ranjit jokingly asked him to turn the rear view mirror to the other side “you can stare at your own bride when you reach your home. This one strictly belongs to me”.  Koena hid her face behind her henna colored hands in sheer embarrassment. Ranjit kissed her hands and realized he was getting excited. The sweet smell of her youth mixed with the fragrance of the perfume she was wearing gave him the feeling of possessiveness he had never felt before. His heart and mind started to pound and the throb of hardness between his loins reminded him, “He will finally have her all to himself tonight and for the rest of their lives”.  The thought started massaging his ego as well. There will be  no fear of any Arabian sheikh or the cigar smoking boss playing at back of his mind when he finally gets down to business of celebrating union of his manhood with the woman of his dreams. He felt stronger today, stronger than any other male of the species.  He wondered how the journey of life progresses; from a vagabond to drug courier to a gun carrier, to a mercenary, to the savior of the nation; the supersonic fast progression was beyond his comprehension.

Last words spoken by General were still echoed in his ears, “you are the natural heir to the throne. He is preparing you to take on should any thing happen to him”. He could visualize a sea of humanity lying prostrate at his feet, till he was woken up by the sound of music being played out side his own house. His friends from shrine had decorated his house to accord a grand welcome to him and his lovely bride. He extended his hand to help her alight from car. She was almost as tall as him, he noticed for the first time, as she took her soft steps into her new world.

Koena saw bevy of flowers arranged into bedroom to which she was led by the boys dancing to the tunes of love lyrics played by the orchestra downstairs. She noticed the soft psychedelic lights playing in the room and sweet smell of perfume pervading all over the place, she asked her mother, “are you enacting the part of my groom’s mother as well tonight by arranging my marital bed and the décor?” “Not me, these are possibly his friends from the shrine. The great priest Rajamantran must have sent them to give a memorable night to his favored nephew. Did you see the luxury car that brought you here? How lucky you are my dear! Let no evil eye be cast on you my child. I want both of you to remain happy and content forever in life”.

“I know mom I shall never forget the stance you took against dad. But his apprehensions were also not uncalled for; we have been reading about the great priest Rajamantran and his boys in the newspaper often. He has virtually become a threat to the communal harmony and peace in the country. I sincerely hope Ranjit has nothing to do with the political heritage of his uncle”.

“These are simply your misgivings dear, how can a man handling a multi millionaire worth of business afford to even indulge in such pastime. In any case both of you will be moving out of this country soon and then god willing we will also join you there”.  Koena crossed her fingers but she still had a fear gnawing at her heart, “what if she had taken a wrong decision, what if her love could be blind thus preventing her to see the actuality? She jerked her head “let me not think of any negatives. Ranjit can never have betrayed me, but if it so happens,” she decided, “that will be the end of their relationship”.

“Do you intend staying here in the same room overnight mother in law”, Ranjit amusingly winked at her “in that case I better go back to the shrine to please gods so that they could help me possess my bride from her mother even after I have been legally wedded to her”. Koena knew these words were said in pure innocence and her husband meant no offence to her mother, still in order to bring down the impact of any unintentional insult if at all felt by her mother she took cudgels against him, “sir you dare not touch me till the final permission is sought by you by promising my mother that you will never ever be the cause of any tears in her daughter’s eyes”. Ranjit pinched at his throat “I swear by all my love for your daughter madam, you will never find me ever the reason for any misfortune or misbehavior to your beloved child. But I can also assure you I will give her so much love tonight, if only you will leave us alone for the night”.

“This man is all in a mood to make it special for his wife tonight. He does not recognize any relationship or friends.  Let us leave him alone with his bride madam”, one of the boys who had brought Koena into the room led her mother away to the other portion of the house.

Ranjit held his wife back by the hand as she got up from the bed to make some space for him, “come my dear you do not have to accompany your mother to the door.  I am sure my boys will take care of all her necessities. We have lot of things to discuss tonight”, he pulled her close towards him and looked meaningfully into her eyes. She could not avoid the intoxicating stare and was lost into the love filled depth of his eyes. “Will you please permit me to close the door”, she wanted to tell him but was stopped from speaking any words. He put his hot lips onto her soft petals, pulled her towards him with his right hand and bolted the door with the left hand. He lifted her off the ground and took her to the bed with their lips sealed till she found it difficult to   breathe and virtually forced him to take his lips away by pinching his nostrils by her two fingers. “Easy be the Youngman I am your law fully wedded wife now.  No one is going to take me away from you”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues — Chapter 14

14

Nirbhaya picked up the receiver of the telephone from its cradle and dialed private number of the chief minister Pratap “Sir the goody is here with me. Can I come over and show it to you? You will simply love this. I have the information that our friend on the other side and his outfit has also shown keen interest in the same. I believe three different consignments have entered the state and the other two have gone into their hands”.

“No I am busy with the cabinet meeting. We shall meet at my residence in the evening. You must come in non-formals and bring your family along. We will have our dinner together”. The Chief Minister was known for not spending his evening time with any one. He will reach home and immediately get into his office room at the residence “there is so much to do”, he would often remark. He will have sparse dinner at late night and go to bed only after all files for the day have been attended to. The invitation to the chief cop meant the matter in hand was quite serious. It also indicated that he wanted to discuss the same in absolute privacy. It also showed the trust and the confidence the chief minister reposed in his chief of the state police Nirbhaya.

The secretariat building situated at the outskirts of the main city had not witnessed many a historical feats. None of the greats ever ruled from here like many others great of history had done from the massive historical structures of the Red Fort, the Vice Regal Lodge, the White House, the Buckingham Palace or even the smaller palaces like the Chattel, the Umaid Palace or even the Amer palace. All these palaces have been witness to the rules of the greats.  They have seen the rise and fall of the kingdoms. They have also been active participants in the making and breaking of the kings that had ruled the corridors of power of these palaces. .

However the seat of the government of any kingdom though does create a sense of awe and inspiration. It evokes a fear of the mighty and powerful and provokes and incites the willful obeisance of the masses.   The one from where our chief minister was addressing the cabinet meeting was a similar seat of the mighty government. The chief minister’s office at the second floor of this building spoke of the modern efficiency. The rose wood table with revolving chair placed behind it looked like the working desk of a busy executive. The backrest of this chair rose higher than the occupant; as it raised itself higher the smaller the occupant looked into it, as if indicating the might of the chair being greater than that of the occupant.

The members of the cabinet ministry numbering eight in total were seated opposite the chief minister. He had deliberately kept the strength of the cabinet smaller. The state treasury has been in doldrums. The current deficit ran into billion of rupees .Such a huge deficit in budgetary provisions of the state exchequer did not allow him to have room for more members of the legislative assembly into the ministerial berths. That would have meant putting more burdens on the state funds.

Pratap waited till the members of the hospitality department had laid the tea trays on the table. He beckoned them to leave and pushed his chair forward   to serve a cup of tea each to the guests in the room. He enjoyed serving tea personally to the guests. The ceremony of serving tea to the guests was always accorded a great importance. It in fact followed a big ritual in his family. His father who was a big landlord during the British era used to enjoy his evening tea served to him with a great fanfare. The liveried waiters would wait upon the guests when tea was served. His father will personally pour tea liquor into each cup, adding milk and sugar as per the liking of the guest. It appeared he enjoyed asking the guest “How much please” and Pratap seemed to have picked up his father’s good taste along with his nobility.

The Cabinet Secretary was presenting the report on excise revenue collections “The revenue collections from the auction of the liquor contracts during the current year have gone up from 1900billions to 2210 billions. That should give the exchequer an additional of 310 billions. However the revenues from the opium and poppy vend went down this year too. We expect a short fall of around 20 percent. Though we have tightened the leakage yet it seems people are gradually dropping their addiction”. “But that is to the contrary”, spoke the minister of social welfare, “In fact my department has information that the drugs are finding their way to into all sections of the society in the areas bordering the neighboring country. The school going kids are getting into the habit at a very young age and the menace is all pervasive in the labor class in the rural areas. The college youth have been found in the inebriated condition once too often by many of the NGOs. Here I present the latest figures”.

Pratap raised his hand to brush aside the report and asked the Cabinet Secretary to continue. “I am seized of the minister’s concern for the menace spreading. The government vends cannot be closed simply on this account. These vends do not strictly give supplies to any one without license. A prescription from the doctor is required to buy any thing from the opium and poppy vends. It is parallel supply of the contraband that finds its way to the rural schools and colleges. The brick kiln workers, the industrial labor, and the truck drivers are all falling a prey to this disease. We need to tighten and strengthen our enforcement wing.  The haulage of the contraband has also gone up this year as compared to the previous year. There have been some of the large catches of the contraband in the border districts. I shall read out the actual figures …” he started reading aloud the tangible figures.

Pratap looked at his watch; he had invited the chief of the state police Nirbhaya to his home for dinner this evening. He was anxious to have a look at the gun once again and hold it in his hands. He had seen one during his last trip to one of the European country. The older existing guns with which state police was equipped was outdated by now. The .303 was recommended 40 to 45 years ago. These weapons had served their purpose. They were good enough to deter the criminals from acting; but these were not effective enough to fight it out with attackers. The element of surprise was missing from the earlier ordnance. It took hell of a long time to load these guns; the aiming had to be perfect to kill or maim the predator. The semiautomatics can also not match the quickness of the gun that he saw in Europe. He wanted to equip the elite unit of the state police with this weaponry.

His fundamental agenda for the cabinet meeting was to provide for the new armaments and equipment to the elite unit of the state police. “In welfare state, however, you do not talk of purchasing arms for the internal security forces” he was aware of this fact very well.  “Some of the elected members of the party still have the socialist leanings. They do not forget the origin of the roots of the peasant’s party. They still believe in the concept of comradeships. They believe state exists for the welfare of the masses and the first and foremost duty of the state lies in creating wealth for its own self; so that it can provide for the people in General. Buying arms for the police force or equipping it with the modern weapons does not fit into their agenda. They think only bourgeois society need to spend on the security network and in their opinion the current security arrangement is sufficient to take care of the law and order maintenance in the state” he had told the chief of the state   police when he had approached him to replace the outdated and obsolete weapons of his force.

However Pratap agreed with many of his fellow cabinet ministers when they mentioned,

“What is urgently required is to open up new avenues of investments by the public sector to create jobs for unemployed youths. Every year thousands of fresh unemployed literates are   being produced by the old-fashioned and out-of-date education system. We have an education system that has been evolved out of centuries of subjugation to other cultures”.

Pratap shifted into his seat, the Cabinet Secretary had finished his presentations. It was the turn of Shrinee now. She wanted cabinet’s approvals for upgrading some of the primary schools meant for girls to the level of high schools. She wanted funds for this purpose. She was pleading her case forcefully to the finance minister.

“In the election campaign we had laid emphasis on the availability of education to the girl child within manageable distance from her home. The drop out rates of the girl students has been going up for want of availability of   higher education institutes in the rural areas. The schools for higher education are placed far away in the main towns. The orthodox parents are wary of sending their children to far off towns all alone; besides there is not much of public transport available. Every one cannot afford the private means of access. Modern times are not favorable to send girls alone away from home. The drop out rate of the girl students for higher studies will come down once we have high schools nearer to the villages”. She read aloud from a news paper clipping, “ Eve teaser molests girl in the bus”, I am reading this to make you all aware of the dangers we all expose our children to when they are forced to travel all alone away from  their homes ” said Shrinee.

“Yes but that unpleasant incident took place in the state capital. I am sure it is nowhere near your village”’ wisecracked the chief minister.

“Of course boss, besides she is stepping into your territory. The law and order of the state is your problem. She should not step onto your toes. We do not mind if she piles herself onto you but territory poaching is a strict no, no” one of the young ministers had remarked. There was loud laughter in the room. Pratap too joined them but cut his hilarity short when he saw Shrinee getting red on her face. She had actually blushed. He looked at her again. Such a beanbag of a woman was not his cup of tea. He wondered what his party president had found in her. He could see her only as a sack full of hay covered with nice clothes.

She had come to the election office of the party on the party President’s recommendations for an election ticket. Her only contribution to the politics has been to lead a statewide strike of the schoolteachers. The party president was insistent that she should be given the election ticket from the reserve constituency for women. It was the inner circle of the party cabinet only who knew of their amorous sojourns. Pratap smiled, while talking to himself, “He must be holding each one of these big ones in both his hands. They were too big for a single hand”.

The finance minister had reluctantly agreed to allocate funds for upgrading two of the schools in her constituency and sought approval from the chief minister. Pratap gave his silent nod. He did not want her to create ruckus at the party meeting, which was coming up next week.

He stood up to address the cabinet, “Friends! Comic story does not hide the fact that law and order has become one of the major issues for all of us today. The streets are not any longer safer for the common man. It is a well-known truth that our friends who sat on these seats prior to our coming into power are keen to break down the governmental machinery. They want to create a sense of helplessness and insecurity amongst the common people of our state. Our public is too simple to look through their designs. The Home minister of the neighboring state who happens to be our closest ally tells me that my predecessor is already in touch with some of the seers and prophets of the smaller yet influential shrines to incite them to create disturbance in the village and countryside. Our intelligence agencies have also sent a report that spells disaster in the coming times. I have been in touch with the chief of the state police to tighten up the administration of the law and order. We are also taking measures to transfer some of the bureaucrats from the key positions to bring some kind of the sanity to the running of the state. Our state has always been amongst the most developed states of the country, but the long reign of misrule by some of our predecessors has brought in confusion and panic in the public life. We need to remove the fear that is all pervading and bring back the confidence in common public. The electorates of our state have supported us by using their franchise wisely. We must not let them down. We will have to set our priorities right and in my opinion the Police Department needs a thorough refurbishing to bring back the safety to the common folks. Besides we need to go back over our predecessors’ policy on the agriculture support price, the industrial development and the electric power distribution. The revenue collection has fallen short by a wide margin. We will have to go the central government for additional dole to take care of our budgetary provisions and deficit for this year again.  It is my opinion that this will not be the right thing to do. Since the government at the centre belongs to the political party who has not taken very kindly to our defeating them at the ballot vote in this state, they will indulge into browbeating and blackmailing us. We will have to perforce support some of their defunct policies, even though we do not agree to the same”.

“I am here to make a personal appeal to all of you to please take care of the district administration of your revenue districts.  Each one of you has been made in charge of one revenue district, along with some of the local members of the legislative assembly of our party. Please involve them in the developmental work so that the masses get a feeling of some work taking place for their benefits. I understand the problems are manifold, particularly in the areas where the local self-administration belongs to the other party but we will have to take such things into our stride and move forward. I shall beseech the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Power and the Minister of Agriculture to look at some of the subsidies that can be curtailed without affecting the morale of the masses. We need to tighten up the strings of the treasury purse to tide over the bad times. We may require some of these funds to modernize the internal security machinery”.

He deliberately did not refer to the elite unit and its requirement of the modern guns. That would have caused uproar. Even on hearing ‘Modernization of the internal security agencies’ his colleague Rudar got up “but we need to look at the health, education and employment of the common man chief. I am sure that should be given priority over the expense meant for the police department. The security agencies are already flooded with   funds. Let them make use of the arms and ammunition already lying unused at the constabularies; besides whom will they use it against? They will use it against our own people. I think we need to look at the problem differently. What appears to be law and order problem and unrest is nothing but the after effects of the tremors the erstwhile ruling party has felt. The shock of losing the long enjoyed power   has been too much for them to bear. They will get used to sitting on the opposition benches with the passage of time”.

“I wish things were as simple as you have predicted them to be. That would have made our living much easier”, said Pratap, “I will request you to ponder over the situation more seriously”.

“You do not have to worry chief, we are with you. You have led us to the victory at the elections for the first time in the history of this country. I am sure you will see us getting our government established and stabilized as the time passes”, Brahma the minister of power assured him. A few others also nodded with him in agreement. The meeting was taking a turn in his favor bemused the chief minister.

“The situation gets compounded by the fact that we are surrounded by a hostile neighbor country. You are all aware of our relationship with them. The two wars have crippled them. The incision of their country into two halves has further demoralized their army Generals and their politicians alike. The survival of all these generals and politicians now depends on the perpetual unrest created by their stooges in the Indian Territory. They have to continuously feed a false catchphrase of Jihad to their simple Junta”, he continued.

“Their army is not able to face another confrontation directly against our well equipped armed forces. But they can certainly have a prolonged proxy war. Such a long drawn out war is already being fought by them with support from some of our brethren from within our own country. Some of our politicians for the sake of a few votes or notes can stoop low enough to invite the perpetrators from across the borders to cause disturbances. My friend Revenue Minister spoke of the drugs smuggling going up in the districts situated near the borders of the two countries. This act of smuggling is nothing but the onslaught of the alternative hostilities by the neighbors. They want our youth to become dependent on such intoxicants. They do this, so that they can cripple the future of our society and their propaganda can be experimented on our young blood. I have reports of some of their agents meeting our student leaders and political opponents. That spells of the bad times to come. The recent call for greater independence and autonomy for state governments by the student federations appears to be the handiwork of our neighbors only. Otherwise the student community has kept itself aloof from such issues so far. I will request all of you to organize public meetings in your constituencies to ensure the common man does not get mislead by the nefarious designs of our enemies. We also need to look at some of the shrines and religious places getting undue importance amongst the commoners.  Even though it is said that the politics find their starting point in religion; such religious places should not be allowed to usurp and hijack the political authority enshrined in our constitution. All great rulers have found religion often usable to control the mass psychology. We ourselves have come to power because of religious overtone of our parent body but the allegiance and loyalty must be owed to the Supreme seat and not to the factions. Some of our people have been hobnobbing with the breakaway groups of minor shrines. We must be aware of any of their movements. I have information of my predecessor having parley with head of a shrine situated near the supreme seat. Such parleys are ominous of the difficult times to come. I pray to the almighty to give sense to our brethren who could play into the hands of an overambitious seer. His religious tenacity is known to have taken the connotation of political ambitions. This will prove dangerous in times to come”.

Pratap could see a number of his fellow ministers’ simper and smirk in their seats. He realized that by touching the overtones of religious tenacity of some of them he has gone a little too far. He knew he has hit the nail in a very hard way. He glanced at his wrist watch and curtly told the audience, “I hope we will keep our duty to the nation into the top of our mind. We will not get led astray towards the wrong direction. With this I bring my address to the cabinet to an end as I have another appointment to keep”.

Pratap did not wait to see the brunt of his speech on his colleagues.  He could however hear the claps of some of his fellow ministers. He knew Brahma, the Power Minister, had led this applaud. He was the first one to start clapping and that had urged all the others present in the meeting to lend their hands too. .

“I have formed this ministry by bringing together a strange combination of different political alliances.  each  one of those sitting inside represent a divergent political thought and philosophy” he thought, Brahma belonged to their political collaborator party who itself professed loyalty to another religious and social faction of the society .this political party had  driven the mass commitment amongst the voters on account of religious fervor created by it. “Politics do bring strange bedfellows together and the best part is it makes them enjoy each other”, reflected Pratap.

He dozed off in the air condition comfort of the car he was traveling in. The droning sound of the cooling machine acted as a lullaby.  He could not even return the salute of the police sentries posted at the exit barrier of the civil secretariat. The distance of the civil secretariat from the office to his house was barely four minutes; but the security drill necessitated the alteration in the route of his official caravan almost every day. It took him more than seven minutes today to reach his residence. He woke up on hearing the clicking of the boots and the blowing of the trumpet by the contingent of the armed forces appointed at his residence. His personal secretary sitting in the front seat was also nudging him gently to wake up. He rubbed his eyes and alighted from the car. He brought his left foot down and out of the car much before the police sentry could open the door for him.

He acknowledged the ceremonial salute of the police contingent and walked directly to the study room on the first floor of the residence. He had asked the chief of the state   police Nirbhaya to wait for him there. The chief of the state   police put down the cup from which he had been tea, on the ornate table and raised the right hand to the right side of his forehead for the ceremonial salute to the chief minister. Pratap stopped him midway “Cut the crap! You need not be formal with me in private.  Please hand out a cup of tea to me also, I am quite tired, the cabinet meeting exhausted my entire energy”.

A staff waiting upon them in the wings of the room emerged from the side door to look in and check up with the chief minister if he needed anything. Pratap sent him away with instructions to not to disturb them for the evening.

He spoke to his wife on the intercom “We want dinner for two served tonight in the study, the usual stuff; no formalities”.

“Why would you want to have it all alone? Dammi is also here, I am sure you do not lack in your chivalry. We will have it together on the dinner table only”. Dammi the wife of the chief of the state   police was a distant cousin of the chief minister. Pratap asked his wife to hand over the telephone to her ‘Welcome Chhoti”, he always had treated her like his younger sister. He had acted as her local guardian when they were studying in a boarding school. “I did not remember that I have invited you to come too, how forgetful of me please forgive me. We will be down for dinner but I want you to cook Chicken a la Kiev in the same way you had cooked last time, it was too scrumptious”. She was a reasonably good cook; Pratap just loved pampering the women with niceties. The stress in police service have otherwise also been mounting everyday and he wanted to ease the tension for the wife of the top cop of his government  as he felt responsible for the families of every police officer who had to undergo the insecurities and tension of every day fight against criminals and politicians alike. He realized his hands were too tied with unnecessary official procedure and protocol. He noticed the policeman was staring at him with amusement

“I think I need a lesson or two from you in handling of the fairer sex. You literally swipe them off their feet with your charm. Is that the reason they voted for you?’ the chief of the state   police had laughed at his own remarks.

Pratap hid his shyness and beckoned him to start “Come let us look at the serious issue at hand”.

Nirbhaya The chief of the state   police took out the gun and placed it on the table for the scrutiny of Pratap.

“Is it loaded?  Chief Minister asked him.

‘No but the bullets can be loaded. If you want to fire one we will have to go out in the open grounds”.

Pratap picked up the gun “How many of these can cross borders of the country, I am sure a few of them here and there do not make much of a difference. As it is some of the districts are already flooded with traditional arms”, Pratap wanted to put the cop at ease. But he knew he was giving him a false assurance He could feel the concern and consternation on the face of the cop.

“They are spread everywhere boss. From the university hostels to the residences of some of our officers, from the government offices to the village panchayats, the tentacles of our enemy are all over us. The guns of all shapes and sizes no doubt existed earlier also, but the kind we have in our hands had never found so much interest amongst the various factions earlier. I get shudders when I think of the turmoil that will be caused all around if these guns are put into misuse. These guns could be used against you, your ministers, or even   some of the softer targets but important government functionaries. The purpose of using this arsenal can be simply to create scare, the law and order break down and give the central government an opportunity to bring your ministry down”.

Pratap appreciated the concern shown by the chief of the state   police and yet he did not want to exhibit any kind of fear or apprehension, “The break down of the government can be arranged otherwise also, even without the use of guns and ammunition. The great Mahatma did have only a small stick yet his Satyagraha (the insistence on the truth) had stopped the clock of the mightiest kingdom from ticking in this country. I am not however saying these are your misgivings only.  We cannot ignore and overlook the statements being issued by the mischief mongers. The demand for the greater independence to the states has always surfaced from time to time. I too as the administrative head of a state will prefer greater freedom from the central control. The dependence on the union should be reduced to the minimum level possible for smooth functioning of the regional units; in order to make them more welfare oriented towards the people. Yet at the same time I firmly believe that the union must prevail. The center of the circle must hold in order to keep the spokes of the states intact so that the wheels of our country keep running. Our nation has paid too heavy a price for getting freedom from alien rules… We must remember the centuries of repression we had to undergo at the hands of the Mughal, Afghans and British. The scars of centuries old subjugation, carved on the psyche of the common people are too deep to heal. We Indians do not yet value our freedom.  I am disturbed at the talks of breaking away from this country. The student wing has been playing at the hands of the pariah and overambitious politicians. The demand for separate homeland is coming from the lands, which are not the part of our country. Instead of contributing to the welfare and development of the common folks the Professor ran away from this country and raised his head in the distant part of the world. His hands could be behind the illegal smuggling of the arms or it could at the instigation of the Pro Pak lobby.  But what surprises me is why bring in guns? A few of these guns will not be able to challenge the might of the powerful Indian army. It is essential for us to find out whom but more important is to analyze why. Why for almighty sake! Bring the peaceful state to the point of the disaster. The unemployment, the underemployment of young blood, the falling standards of morals in commoner’s life, the breaking away of the thread of the family relationships between different communities can take all of us back to the times when one brother invited a foreign invader to defeat his own blood sibling. I am sure no one wants it. If my sacrifice can prevent all this I am willing to lay down my office. I shall not shirk from giving my head for this country if it can prevent what you are apprehending,” The question though was not directed at the chief cop, elicited a nodding of head in the negative from him.

“But Sir there is a saying ‘prevention is better than cure ‘The modernization of the armed wing can give us the necessary fire power to contain the blood shed we apprehend ”.

“No, no it will not prevent yet it will enable your forces to face them with equal strength” said Pratap, “I am trying to bring round my cabinet colleagues to understand mine and your point of view.  But let me tell you even as the head of the ministry I have certain limitations. There are too many checks and balances on my decisions. We need a majority pronouncement to finance your requirement”.

“In that case boss I have plans to put into use the guns that we will be confiscating in various operations”.

“You will do nothing of the sort” Pratap realized he was getting snappy; he modulated his voice and politely told the chief of the state police Nirbhaya, “We should not overlook the authority exercised by the judicial officers of the state.  We have a very strong judicial system. You can be personally hauled up by small public interest litigation. But I would suggest you do not have to exhibit any kind of panic.   We will find a way out, however at present we are all groping in the dark about raison d’être. Interrogations into all such arms smuggling must be handled by you personally to find out the answer to this ‘Why’, unless the time itself reveals their nefarious designs of the agencies that are pushing these guns within the boundaries of our country”; Pratap however was quite impressed by the efficiency of the gun. He continued “I shall be keeping this gun brought by you as a souvenir though to remind me of the emergency situation that we are facing.  This gun will also help both of us to keep ourselves focused on need for better and modern armory for your department”.

The call for dinner from down stairs came through the intercom. The ladies looked at their husbands’ forbidding faces and they could guess the worries writ large on the faces of their respective husbands. The wives carried on their own small talk huddled in one corner of the table. The wife of the chief minister got up to help the guests serve their food. She knew it was time to keep the servants away from the main house. In her family all serious discussions were handled by the closest family members and settled within the four walls of their personal rooms. None of the servants employed in her parental home ever got wind of what was discussed within those bed rooms or even on the dining table. This evening also when her husband had made the demand for dinner to be served upstairs she knew the need for privacy. She asked all of the servants to leave from the kitchen and the main house. Though the entire house was thoroughly sanitized and   debugged many times by the security sleuths, the human ears could prove more damaging than the electronic devices.

Their dinner over it was time to bid goodnight to their guests. Pratap did not get up to see them off.  He vaguely kept staring into vacant space while his wife got up from the dining table. She went to see the guests off to the main door. She came back and gently asked him to come for sleep in the bedroom upstairs. Possibly she could take his mind away from the problems of the state and politics thereof. Ever since he was elected the head of the legislature, their nocturnal actions were getting rare by the night. She had been maintaining her physical health fairly well; otherwise too she belonged to the rustic clan where women retained their natural youth and body through out their lifetime. She was still a “reason of envy” for women her age that would otherwise look worn-down without the non-natural supports. She thought “possibly the time of early morning could be the ideal time to tease his amorous senses and provide him the necessary relief for now he was too much occupied elsewhere”. She was in for a surprise when he pulled her towards him and covered her lips with the fire burning inside him, “you must take out all your worries and leave them for others for now. It is time to get lost”, is all she could tell him before he shut her up again with his passionate kiss and holding her locked in his arms, he moved her to the sleeping room.

 

 

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.