Unthonee Muni was standing at a busy road crossing. Ahead of him a ten year old boy was was crossing the road. Just then a Hyundai Accent appeared at breakneck speed blaring loud music. There was a deafening screech of breaks as the driver tried to avoid hitting the boy who in turn tried to jump out of the way. The car lost complete control and crashed into the boy sending him flying. As the boy fell unconscious the car zoomed away.
Unthonee mentally noted the number of the car, whipped out a notepad and wrote down the number. He then rushed to the aid of the boy who was still unconscious and lying in a pool of blood. A crowd had gathered around but no one come forward to help.
'Listen, friends, just help me. We have to rush this boy to a hospital quickly. If we delay it might prove fatal,' Unthonee said looking around. There was no response from the on lookers and the crowd gradually melted away.
Unthonee tried to hail the passing cars and a few cabs. A couple of them stopped, but seeing the boy lying in a pool of blood rushed off in haste. Finally a Sardar cab driver stopped his taxi and sprang out.
'What happened, Paape?' he asked.
'Some rascal ran over the boy and sped off. We have to take this boy to the hospital, come help me.'
Together they lifted the child and placed him in the rear seat of the car. Unthonee sat in front and they drove to the hospital.
By the time they reached the casualty ward of the Government Hospital it was around eleven. They placed the boy on the stretcher outside and went into the doctor's cabin. The doctor was talking on his cell. After around ten minutes he replaced the receiver and looked up at Unthonee.
'Doctor, please help. There has been an accident'.'
'Take it easy,' the doctor interrupted. 'Why are you getting so excited?' He removed a fat, moth eaten register and asked, 'Your name?'
'Unthonee Muni, but'
'Your father's name?' the Doctor said shutting him up with a wave of his hand.
'Doctor, this is really too much, outside, the poor kid is fighting for his life and here you are asking all sorts of irrelevant questions.'
'Irrelevant? You think all this is relevant? You don't understand the sanctity of procedures. This is a Government hospital. Here procedure is more important than life. Procedure is God. For men may come and men may go but the procedures go on forever. And what was that you said about some poor kid? You did not meet with an accident?'
'Doctor, be reasonable. Had I met with an accident would I have been in this state? A ten-year old boy has met with a serious accident and he is lying outside. Please attend to him quickly.'
'All in good time, dear fellow, but first things first. What is the name of the boy?'
'I don't know, but'.'
'What is his father's name, his address?'
'I don't know, doctor, but please, why don't you understand'?'
'What are his identification marks? In which school does his study? What is his mother tongue? Has he been vaccinated'.?'
'Listen, doctor. We don't have time. Because of your stupid procedure the boy will die.'
'You shut up and answer me first. What's your name you said? Looney'.. Mooney, have you registered a case in the police station?'
'Where was the time for all this? Had I got busy doing all that, the poor kid would have died!'
'So what? I can't help all that. In Mera Bharat Mahaan daily millions of people die. In this very hospital, every week, thousands croak. Am I responsible for all the deaths? Sorry, Muni, no registration, no admission. This is an accident case. I don't want to get into trouble.'
He shut the register, picked up a soft-porn magazine and started reading.
Unthonee was enraged. He helplessly looked at the driver who nodded understandingly. He went to the Doctor and whispered something in his ear. The Doctor shook his head. The driver whispered something more. The doctor raised five fingers. The driver lifted two. The doctor shook his head. Finally the driver lifted three fingers and the doctor nodded in affirmation. The driver came close to Unthonee and whispered in his ears.
'Saab, it has been settled. Saala haarami, was asking for five, but I have managed to make him agree for three.'
'For three? I didn't understand.'
'For three hundred rupees he will admit the boy and start the treatment. But there is one condition.'
'Within two hours if we don't get the case registered and report here, he will chuck the boy out, whatever state he might be in.'
Unthonee handed him three hundred rupee notes. The driver went up to the Doctor and slipped the money in his shirt pocket. The doctor continued reading and without looking at the driver said, 'Remember- two hours.'
The driver nodded his head and along with Unthonee walked out.
Ten minutes later the cab driver dropped him in front of the police station.
Unthonee paid the driver, thanked him profusely and walked inside. He found a large, bald and brawny man sitting behind a huge desk. On the desk awas a name plate carrying the legend; 'Inspector Gangu Haath Marode'. His feet were on the table. He was drinking what looked like country liquour from a bottle and chewing a piece of chicken leg. A Constable was sitting in a corner dozing.
'Excuse me, Inspector Saab'..' began Yuppy.
The Inspector motioned him to sit down. Ten minutes later, after finishing of the booze and the chicken, he wiped his mouth on his shirt sleeve, looked at Unthonee and said, 'Bolo, what's your problem? Your wife has run away with the neighbor's driver?'
'No, nothing of that sort has happened.'
'Then your brother must have threatened to murder you or your pet poodle must have got lost. Tell me what grave emergency has brought you here at this time of the night.'
'Inspector saab, a boy met with a very serious accident. I just admitted him to the hospital and came rushing here.'
'So what am I supposed to do?'
'The Doctor says unless a case is registered the boy will not be treated.
The Inspector looked at the Constable and snapped, 'Pandu, you donkey, get up. You have the bloody guts to sleep in front of your superior- that too during duty hours! Get up!'
The Constable continued snoring. The Inspector picked up a paperweight and chucked it. It landed on the Constable's paunch and he woke with a start babbling foolishly:
'Who is that? Hands up, I'll shoot you. Don't forget, my name is Pandu Jamadaar'
'You bloody donkey! Stop babbling and listen to me.'
'Yes, saar, Sorry, saar, g'.. good morning, sir.'
'There is an accident case. Quickly note the details.'
Pandu got up rubbing his eyes and yawning. He picked up a register, opened it, removed a pencil stub from behind his ear, licked it and looked at Unthonee.
'What is your name?'
'What is your father's name?'
'What do you do?'
'I am a reporter.'
'Who is the victim?'
'A ten years old boy.'
'What is his name? His father's name? His address? Quickly tell me the details. I am very busy.'
'I do not know anything about the boy.'
'Oh, oh! Now I understand. The boy is a stranger. You ran over him and getting scared of our Inspector came running to report the case.'
'No, Panduji, nothing of that sort. I was standing at a crossing when I saw a speeding Hyundai Accent run over this child. I picked him up and took him to a Government Hospital and got him admitted. Now, as per the doctor's instructions, I have come to register the case.'
The Inspector who had again started drinking looked up in disbelief.
'What did you say? The boy is not known to you?'
'Your car has not run over him?'
'Of course not, sir.'
'In spite of this you took him to the hospital, got him admitted and then came here to report. Are you drunk?'
'I don't drink.'
'Then you must be completely mad.'
'Mad? But why?'
'Had the screws in your nut not been loose why would you have taken so much of trouble? Why would you have unnecessarily spent your time, money and energy?
'But isn't there something called humanism?'
'Humanism! Ha-hah! Pandu, just listen to thus nut. He is mouthing dialogues from Manoj Kumar's flop films.'
The Inspector and Pandu started laughing uproariously.
'O' great swamiji, did you note the number of the car?'
'Yes, of course. UR-14/420 - it is a cream coloured Hyundai Accent.'
'The number sounds familiar and so does the description of the car,' the Inspector said scratching his head.
Jus then the phone rang. The inspector picked up the receiver and growled into it.
Suddenly he straightened and got up from his seat. 'Good night, sir, sorry, sir, good morning'.. I mean good evening sir. Yes sir, yes sir. I just go to the report. Yes, sir, Hyundai Accent sir, cream colored sir, the number is UR-14/420. Is it Goldy baba's? Don't worry, sir, I'll take care. There will not be any problem. You can sleep peacefully, sir. Sir, one more thing, can you please talk to SP saab, sir? Yes, sir. The promotions will be in October. Last year I narrowly missed it, sir? In that hotel raid I had taken a little bit of money sir. But after that I have been very careful sir. I have taken only from reliable parties, sir. Please sir, if you put in a word to SP saab, everything will be all right, sir. And, sir, regarding Goldy Baba please don't worry. As long Inspector Gangu Haath Marode is there is there no one will be able to touch our naughty Goldy baba. Yes, sir, good night, sir.'
The Inspector replaced the receiver and looked at Pandu.
'You know whose phone it was?'
'No, you stupid ass. Do you think I would have said sir seventeen times if it had been my wife's pop? The alarm in your nut never rings. That is why in spite of eighteen years of service you are still a bloody stupid constable. That was Naqli Wadia on the line.'
'Na' Naqli Wadia that kapde wala seth?'
'Yes, the Chairman of Bombay Living. He himself rang me up directly, not through his steno or private secretary. Pandu, I used to keep telling you no that one day I'll become a very big man. This October Inspector Gangu Haath Marode will become DSP Gangu Haath Marode.'
'Saar, you should not forget me, saar. Constable Pandu Jamaadar should become at least Head Constable Pandu Jamaadar.'
We'll see, we'll see. You know, Pandu, your problem is that you talk too much. Now shut up and let me concentrate on more important things.'
He looked at Unthonee and said, 'Listen, what is your name? Mony or Pony or whatever, I am taking you into confidence and telling you the truth. If you cooperate with me there will be no problem. If you act funny you'll get into serious trouble.'
'Trouble? I don't understand.'
'Just now Naqli Wadia gave me a ring. The Hyundai Accent which ran over the boy belongs to his only son Goldy.'
'Then your work is cut out, Just go ahead and arrest him.'
'Shut your face and listen. Now this Goldy fellow is a thoroughly spoilt brat. He gets drunk and lands in some tight spot or the other. But Naqli Wadoa loves him one hell of a lot. And whom Naqli loves Inspector Haath Marode also loves. Goldy has till now been involved in four serious accidents. Two old men, one old woman and one dog came under his car. Using my intelligence and resources I saved him every time. Goldy has been very lucky for me. When he ran over the old men and the woman there had not been much of a problem ' a matter of a few thousand rupees The Alsatian dog affair had got very sticky. The dog belonged to an influential bureaucrat and he had been hell bent on ensuring that Goldy was punished. I used my brains overtime and managed to extricate Goldy from that terrible mess. Nakli Wadia was very grateful and got me transferred from Satapur village to this city police station. In that bloody village I used to slog the whole day and get nothing. Here a minimum of thousand rupees is fixed.'
'What do you mean by fixed?'
'Arre bhai, you have seen the location of this Police Station. Isn't it really sexy? Here all these fruit sellers and vegetable vendors give me fixed protection money every week. This apart, every day some lunatic like you lands up and I am richer by a few hundred. It is enough for my chicken and local whisky. What more does one want from life?'
The inspector took a swig from the bottle, lighted a cigarette and spoke on. 'Yes, so, as I was telling, Goldy has always been very lucky for me. Last time he got into trouble I got a transfer. This time he has landed in a mess I'll get my promotion. DSP Gangu Haath Marode ' how does it sound? Isn't it really impressive?'
'What do you want from me?'
'You vanish from here very quietly. You have not seen any accident, you have not noted any number, you haven't admitted anyone in the hospital and above all you haven't come here.'
'How can I do this? It is my duty to ensure that the culprit is brought to book.'
'Hey, Pandu, this lunatic has started again. Earlier he was babbling about humanism and now he is bullshitting about duty. Hey, sonny, you think you are playing Amitabh Bacchhan's role in Khakee or what? If you don't vanish pronto I'll really fix you.'
'But, Inspector, if you don't punish Goldy he will continue murdering people left, right and centre.'
'So what is it to you? He is supplementing the Government's efforts towards population control. The Government is spending crores on its family planning and population control activities. This poor boy is contributing his mite, using his own resources. He is drinking his own whisky and burning his own petrol. Instead of awarding him you are talking about punishing him. All this is very unfair, I say.'
'Don't talk like a deranged person. You are bloody corrupt. You take bribes and openly protect criminals. But I am not going to let you go scot free. I'll complain to your boss, to his boss and if even that doesn't bring results I'll go to the top person in the land. I'll ensure that both you and your precious Goldy Baba are behind bars.'
'Bloody bastard!' Screamed the Inspector getting up. 'You are trying to threaten me' Inspector Haath Marode!'
'Saar, future DSP Haath Marode, saar,' whispered Pandu.
'Thank you, Pandu - you are trying to threaten future DSP Haath Marode. I'll smash you! I'll teach you such a lesson you'll forget all that horse dung about humanism and duty.'
He picked up the bottle of whisky and threw it on Unthonee's face. 'Pandu, throw this guy in the lock-up. Bastard drinks and drives! Kills innocent people! Bugger should be hanged!!'
Pandu caught hold of the dazed Unthonee's hand and pushed him inside a dimly lit room and locked the door.
'Listen, Pandu, make a report quickly that this fellow Muni while driving in a state of complete drunkenness ran over a ten year old boy. Next ring up that Government Hospital Doctor ' what's his name? That drunkard fellow ' yes - Kaalu Kulfiram. You ask him to come here immediately.'
'Why, sir? You are not keeping well? This whisky and chicken combination has not suited you.'
'No, you donkey. He will examine Unthonee and write in his report that he is dead drunk. You also summon those jokers who give false witness ' Iqbal Mirchi, Panther Menon and Bada Shakeel.'
'But why, boss.'
'You idiot, they'll testify that they saw Unthonee Muni drive his car over that boy. And you better make sure they understand everything thoroughly. Last time that Mirchi fellow had forgotten and instead of implicating that coolie had testified against that Seth. As a result I had to bribe the judge heavily.'
'Don't worry, saab, as long as Pandu Jamaadar is here there will be no problem. And saab I am so proud to work with you. Tussi great ho. You will definitely become Police Commissioner.'
'Yes, I know that, now don't try to butter me too much and go ahead with your job.'
* * *
In the lock-up Unthonee was in a miserable state. The time was around six a.m. He had not slept a wink the whole night. He looked bleary eyed and bedraggled. Just outside, Pandu was sitting in his chair and sleeping.
'Pandu Jamaadar Saheb,' whispered Unthonee.
'What is it? Why are you disturbing me? I was seeing such a nice dream. I have become an Inspector and Haath Marode has been demoted to the rank of a Constable. He is standing with folded hands in front of me and I am abusing him in perfect English.'
'Hawaldaar Sahab, I need your help.'
'I want to make a phone call.'
'No, I can't allow you to phone. If the Inspector comes to know I'll be finished.'
'Please, Pandu Sahab, I'll give you a gift.'
Pandu's eyes lit up.
'Gift? What gift?'
Unthonee removed a gold chain from around his neck and showed it to Pandu.
'See this, it is pure gold. I'll give it to you if you let me make a phone call.'
Pandu got up and moved towards Unthonee.
'No, first you allow me to make the phone call.'
'Okay, but make it fast and no funny business.'
Pandu walked to the desk where Unthonee's mobile had been kept, picked it up and handed it over to him.
Unthonee spoke for five minutes and then returned the mobile to Pandu along with the gold chain.
Two hours later Unthonee was still dozing in the lock-up. The Inspector was reading a cheap film magazine while Pandu was busy cleaning his ears. Every two minutes Pandu removed the glittering chain from his pocket very surreptitiously, looked at it with reverence, grinned and put it back again.
Just then Dude entered. Seeing him the Inspector got up hastily and saluted him. Dude asked him something and the Inspector gestured towards the lock-up.
Dude walked up to where Unthonee was standing, looking bed raggled and red-eyed.
'Thank God you have come, Dude. Please get me out of here quickly.'
'Tony, You shouldn't have got involved. You have landed yourself in a real mess.'
'But, Dude, how could I just watch'
'Anyway, whatever has happened has happened. Now listen carefully. There is only one solution. Do you remember the number of the taxi in which you took the boy to the hospital?'
'Yes, I noted it down before releasing the taxi. I thought I'll reward him for his help later. But why do you want to know?'
'Give me the number. We'll have to get him arrested.'
'Arrested? But why?'
'In the charge sheet we will substitute your name with his.'
'But that is very unfair. That poor fellow went out of the way to help me out. I can't do this to him.'
'You decide. It's either your neck or his. Someone has to be implicated.'
'But what about that scoundrel Goldy? You can't let him escape.'
'We can't touch him. This very year, for our party's election campaign, Naqli is giving two crores. Forget about Goldy'you think about saving your skin.'
'But what about the driver? He'll land up in jail isn't it?'
'Yes, he'll be inside for around four to five years. However, don't you worry, he will be suitably compensated. And once he comes out, we can induct him into Congress Alpha.'
'But once he is branded a jailbird his reputation will be totally ruined. What use can he be to your party?'
'You don't understand. In fact his reputation will be enhanced. We need people like him. In Janata Khichdi the majority of the members are jailbirds. Believe me, a jailbird will be welcomed by out party and he will get a good job.'
'In that case it is alright but I still feel very guilty.'
'Forget about guilt and worry about your own precious skin.'
'Good. That is the spirit.'
Dude went up to the Inspector and spoke to him. The Inspector started noting down. He then got up, went to the lock-up, opened the door and saluted Unthonee.
'What, saab, you never told me you know such big people like Dude Saab.'
'You never gave me a chance.'
'Sorry, saab, very sorry. But as you know I was only doing my duty. Now please give me the taxi number.'
Unthonee wrote down the number on a chit and handed it to the Inspector.
Unthonee, Yuppy and the Inspector shook hands.
Makhmal Malini was sitting alone in her room dressing room adding final touches to her make-up. She was around thirty five, with a harsh but pretty face and a voluptuous figure. She was flashily dressed in a silk sari and was wearing a lot of jewellery.
There was a knock on the door and Dude entered. Clad in a tight fitting T-shirt and jeans he looked very smart.
'Hi Makhmal! How are you?'
Makhamal turned around and her look of surprise turned to one of mild irritation.
Dude handed her a bouquet. She took it and threw it on the table carelessly.
'How come you thought of me after all these years? I must say it's a real surprise, though not altogether a pleasant one.'
'You have always been in my thoughts, sweetheart.'
'Cut your corny dialogues and tell me why you have come here. There must be something that you want from me otherwise you are not sort to waste time on old flames.'
'I think you are still angry with me.'
'Angry is an understatement. After making all those tall promises you vanished like the clothes on Rakhee Saawan's body. You had promised that after reaching USA you would organise a series of concerts - 'Makhamal Malini Night's in Washington, New York and Hollywood. What happened to all that?'
'Listen, sweetheart. Garam Singh had organized a scholarship and sent me to US of A. You know how shrewd he is. After taking a commitment from me that I would marry his obese daughter on my return he financed me. If he had the slightest hint that there was something between us he would have finished me. My Doctorate would have gone up in smoke. And you know the film press, how bloody nosey it is. Remembers the last time we had gone to the disco. Some bloody voyeur had managed to catch us locking lips on his mobile camera and sent the clip to 'Kab Tak' news channel. I had a couple of friends in the channel and I managed to get the clip dropped or else I would have been badly cornered.'
'I doesn't sound very convincing but I'll give you the benefit of doubt. But, tell l me one thing, Yuppy. I have heard that Garam Singh has been completely sidelined. Then how come a smart cookie like you is still tagging along with him?'
'He was facing oblivion a few days ago. He has now bounced back into the limelight by launching a new party- Congress Alpha. He has very good chances of becoming the CM of UP. To convert these chances to reality we need your help.'
'My help? What do you want me to do? Canvas for Garam Singh?'
'No, nothing of that sort. According to my plan, if you agree, we will spread rumours linking your name with Samaj Sewak's. Using our links in the media we will establish that SS has feasted on you innocent charms and then betrayed you. He is a cad, a pervert and a psychopath whose greatest weakness is women.
We'll organise your interviews in 'Harvard Business Review', 'Starbust'. 'Hindustan Express, 'The Stateswoman, 'The Slimes of India' and over 'Kab Tak', 'Pee-TV' and 'Animal Planet'.'
'Just a minute, you are going too fast. In case I agree to your harebrained scheme and take his name before the elections, he will smash me to pieces using his powerful machinery.'
'Yes, you are right,' Dude said and getting up started pacing the floor. After a few minutes he snapped his fingers.
'I go it. We will allow the rumours to build up without mentioning any names. In your interviews you will hint at a mysterious lover who is in a very powerful position. You will describe how that scoundrel has exploited your vulnerability and after savouring your charms ditched you. Nowhere will the name of your lover be mentioned. Everyone will talk of his power, his greed, his lust and his total ruthlessness. We will allow the suspense to reach a crescendo. And finally, one day before the elections we will hold a press conference in which both the national and international media persons will be invited. And in the press conference you will declare,' Dude threw his hands in the air and announced dramatically: 'The wretch, the scoundrel who has used and destroyed me is none other than Samaj Sewak the Chief Minister of Ulta Pradesh.' In a very elaborate gesture he removed a white handkerchief from his pocket and sobbed into it.
'Wonderful, wonderful, Dude. I must admit you are quite an accomplished actor,' Makhmal said clapping her hands.
'Thank you, thank you,' Yuppy bowed mockingly.
'Now, Dude, tell me, if I agree to indulge in this farce what do I get? What is my gain in taking such a great risk?'
'Tell me ' what do you want? I am here to discuss and finalize the terms.'
'You are the director of this farce. You are getting the villain-cum-hero free of cost. Tell me ' what will you give the heroine?'
'I had read in 'Starbust' that recently you have signed three films: Garmagarm Raatein, Nashila Yauvan, and Mahakta Badan. And I am told that you are the producer of these films.'
'Yes, but why are you interested? Are you planning to write my biography?'
'Don't be silly. If you accept my proposal, then as soon as we come to power we will get these films exempted from income tax.'
'How will you do that? There must be some rules for these things.'
'No problem. You will have to make sure that in the first film the heroine is a Muslim and hero is a Hindu, in the second film the hero is a Christian and the heroine is a Hindu, and in the third film the heroine is a Muslim and the hero is a Sardar. We will then declare that the three films promote national integration and get them exempted from income tax.'
'But what will I gain? I'll probably make a profit of one crore. That's all. Listen, Dude, I am now thirty five, though in the film magazines for the last ten years I have been going steady at twenty two. Just yesterday a producer came and offered me a role in which I had to play the heroine's mother. I threw the signing amount on his face, asked my pet Labrador to bite him and the Gurkha to throw him out. But Dude, sooner or later this is bound to happen. New heroines will come and I will have to make way for them. And I would rather die than play the role of a mother. That means I have a maximum of two or three years to go. After that, what? Marry a fat Sindhi businessman and live the life of an obese, rich concubine. I am much more ambitious than that. After being in the limelight for most of my life I don't want to slip into oblivion. It's either center stage or curtains for me.'
'So what do you want to become? The Chairperson of Infosys?'
'Don't be ridiculous. I want a place in the old man's cabinet.'
'That will be damn difficult,' said Dude taken aback.
'Give it a thought, dahling, No pain, no gain. And remember, dearie, your need is greater than mine.'
Dude thought for sometime as Makhmal calmly selected a lipstick and started touching up her lips.
'You call me smart and shrewd. You are miles ahead of me,' Dude snapped after some intense pondering.
'It's all your guidance and inspiration, sweetheart.'
'Okay, I accept. We will make you the Minister of State for the Preservation of Moral Values and Cultural Heritage.'
'But is there actually a post like that or like last time you are trying to pull a fast one?'
'No, there is no post. But who can stop us from creating it?'
'Okay, then I am ready.'
'It is a deal then,' Ddue said extending his hand.
Makhmal shook his hand saying, 'Why don't you stay back? For old time's sake. We can have dinner together and'.'
'Sory, sweetheart, I have to rush back and report to the old man. He will be waiting. I'll come tomorrow. We can discuss the modus operandi and have the evening to ourselves.'
'Only the evening or even the night?' Makhmal simpered coyly.
'As you wish, darling, I am all yours,' Dude said kissing Makhmal on her cheek.
Previous Page | Continued
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