Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Man With No Name - Chapter 3




The moment the firang savari stepped off the auto, the driver vroomed away to safety.
The man pulled the last cigarette from the pack before crumpling it and kicking it to the side. The sight of a Caucasian male in this part of town was a rare one. Street urchins surrounded him begging him for food and money, laughing and giggling all at the same time. Their empty curled fingers pawed at him, appealing him to reach into his pocket with all them dollars. Few of the kids even had some change clinking in their hands, giving him a subliminal message. He looked at them, smiled before snatching the change from them and kicked them away. The kids ran away screaming murder as he pocketed the change, twelve rupees.
The man made his way to the Shri Hari Lodge’s reception, manned by an octogenarian with betel stained teeth and glasses perched on his nose fashioned out of 1980s’ coke bottles.
‘Aleem?’ he inquired pointing to the register on the table.
‘200 rupees for an hour. No AC. No hot water. No credit card. Only cash’ The old man recited the memorized spiel in chaste English as he turned his head to search for a room with a key hanging on the board on the wall.
The old man searched for the appropriate key to hand over in exchange for money. Just then, a burly looking dark man entered the lodge through the main gate, followed by the coterie of kids. One of the kids tugged at the big man’s tight shirt and pointed at the man who had dared raise a hand on them.
The man turned around to see what he imagined was a blinged out water buffalo with a thick gold chain, earrings, long hair dyed a cringe inducing blonde color with side burns thick as hotel mattresses. The old man stopped his search and looked curiously over the Foreigner’s shoulder at the big dark bundle of muscles dressed in gold.
What happened Jasper?’ The old man inquired in Kannada as he watched the big man motioned to the kids to disappear. Jasper ignored the big man’s question and brought his tree trunk sized hand on the white man’s shoulder.
Before the big man who resembled a gangsta water buffalo named Jasper could begin his interrogation of what happened, the man reached out for the earring dangling from the man’s ear and pulled hard. Skin tore. Earring came away. Pain dictated Jasper’s next move as he let go of the man and clutched his bleeding ear. The Firang turned around to pick up a paper weight placed atop the register and smashed it hard against Jasper’s head. For added measure, the man kicked Jasper straight between his legs. The big blonde colored water buffalo crumbled like papier-mâché. The man turned his attention to the old man and repeated his question, as he carefully placed the paper weight back to where he picked it up from.
‘Third floor, room number 324’ The old man mumbled, his stare transfixed on the bleeding Jasper.
The man read the room numbers partially painted over atop the doorway.
#320… #321… #322… #323…
The man leaned against the door to listen in. A door on the opposite end of the long corridor opened, a middle aged man exited and checked his zipper. He sheepishly smiled at the Firang and gave him a thumbs up sign. The Firang allowed himself a smile and a nod. He waited for his well wisher to head towards the stair before placing his ears on the door. He could make out noises emanating from the television and nothing else.
He knocked on the door with his ears firmly planted on the door. No response.  
He stepped back and studied the door. His body pressed hard against the door, he felt the tension on the top and the middle. The door had been double latched. He raised his foot and kicked it just hard enough to make a booming noise. He heard the angry murmurs of a woman and the jangling jiggles of her bangles. He heard the rustle of the human body getting off the bed and the groan of disturbed sleep. He heard the top latch being slid down away, and the latch in the middle being pulled to side.
He stepped back, and this time kicked with all his might. The door caught the wrist of the woman standing behind as it swung back with force. She stood still, her face a curious mixture of surprise and pain. His palm caught her cheeks, pushing her to the side.
The room looked like a poster of debauchery, empty bottles of booze, half smoked reefers, empty cigarette packs, half eaten foils of kebabs and biryani. The Firang saw his phone laying atop the television set. He turned around to see the man who had stuck him from behind last night, lying on the bed naked and spent. The ruckus had woken him up from his stoned blissful sleep. He stumbled around the room for cover yelling incomprehensibly in his native tongue. The man took a deep breath as he walked over the television set and picked up his phone.
‘My chain’ The man spoke as he looked at Aleem’s blood red eyes encased in puffy flesh.
Aleem scrambled and pushed himself against the wall, hoping that the wall open itself up magically, giving him room to run.
The man didn’t understand what the naked guy said. So he mimed, ‘Chain’, ‘My chain, where is it?’.
‘No! No!’ is all Aleem could say. The man opened the bathroom door and saw Oriental styled toilet, with a flimsy metal chain hanging off the flush. He eyes caught sight of a wrench placed on top of the flush. He entered the bathroom and jumped up to grab the wrench. Seeing this, Aleem found the opportune moment he had been praying for.
Aleem scrambled over the bed and headed for the door. The man turned around, sensing that his prey was getting away from him, threw the wrench at it. The wrench caught Aleem right in the middle of his back. Aleem screamed in pain as he collapsed.
The man walked over to Aleem, picking up the wrench and stood over the winching and moaning figure of Aleem.
‘Where is my chain?’ The man spoke clearly and softly, just loud enough to put the fear of god in Aleem.
‘No!’ Aleem cried as he violently shook his head.
The man stood over the crouched Aleem, his knee pressing on Aleem’s naked hairy chest, ‘My chain’.
Aleem continued to cry and plead for mercy in his native tongue. The man studied the wrench, rolling his thumb across the wheel opening the wrench’s jaws. He placed his left hand over Aleem’s knee, straightening his leg. His knee still pressing hard against Aleem’s chest. He raised the wrench and brought it with all his might on his shin. Aleem screamed in pain. The man let go of Aleem’s knee and repeated his statement posed as a question, ‘My chain’.
Aleem cried and spoke hurriedly in his native tongue as clutched his splinted shin in pain. The only thing the man caught was the name ‘Prasanna’. The man pulled out his phone from his pocket and handed it to Aleem.
‘Prasanna. Phone number. Address’ He directed Aleem with his eyes, chin and the wrench held menacingly in his hand. Aleem hurriedly typed in everything he knew. The man smiled as he pulled the phone away from his hand and stood up. He walked over to the table with the weed and the half empty pack of cigarettes. He lit a cigarette, walked over to where Aleem lay splayed on the floor and kicked him repeatedly between his ribs before he walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.
As the man made his way down, he found a big mob assembled. He saw Jasper signaling a police constable at him.
‘Oi! What the fuck do you think you are doing?’ The constable queried authoritatively in the native tongue. The man smiled as he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and flicked it at the constable before walking past him, pushing his way through the assembled crowd. The constable caught hold of the man’s shirt. The man turned around and stared at the clenched fist and into the constable’s eyes.

‘I just want my chain back’ the man stated as he caught hold of the constable’s wrist and applied pressure. The constable felt shooting pain, his fingers let go of the man’s t-shirt. The man pulled the constable close to him, studied his watch before giving him a full body search. The man pulled out the constable’s wallet, pulled the money out of it and flung the empty wallet on Jasper who still sat on the floor clutching his bleeding head. 

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