MUMBAI LOCAL – #7 – The Twisted Surprise

PROLOGUE: Mumbai Local – Stories From The Lifeline Of Mumbai. A series of short stories that explores the  life of a citizen in a local train. Stories, about relationships, about culture and about the undying spirit of the people, just like the lifeline of Mumbai itself. Some real, some experiences, some fictional and many mere an observation. The many a faces, that seem strangers, draw me close to them. Some ambitious minds, some deceived, some real, some fake. Some young, some old, some hot, some cold like stone. I am one among them, and that’s what draws me more close to them. That’s what draws me towards their face, because every face has a story to tell.

If it would have been any other day, the ladies compartment wouldn’t have entertained any male members. But considering the peak hour rush and the unapologetic crowd at Kurla station, the ladies had no choice to accommodate three people, two males and one woman, who by their appearance didn’t look any close to being desi. Yes! They were foreigners who had accidentally boarded the ladies compartment and climbed with precision as the train slowly moved from the station.

The lady among them was a Chinese and the two men were probably Americans. Dressed decently, they got stared from the railings that separated the gents and the ladies coaches. A few men on the other side mumbled in Gujarati that they were new to the city and didn’t know what to do in the situation. Meanwhile, the ladies were happily interacting with their newfound friends and giving them updates about the city and its erratic weather. They also said that the three were lucky to get into the compartment, as they never entertain unwanted guests. A lady also hinted that she could make out that they were not the ‘regular’ ones and so made an exception. Else, she would have certainly shooed off the men who wouldn’t have been half decently dressed as them.

It was clearly obvious that the two men inside the compartment were embarrassed, while their Chinese companion happily chose to capture the Indianness and the Aamchi Mumbai feel on her phone. With the ladies compartment having three new guests, the otherwise dull morning had truly become a refreshing one. Each person was talking about the new visitors in a language that was completely alienated to the three. Do people in other countries also speak the same way when we visit their country? Do we also experience such a situation outside India? Meanwhile, as Sion approached, the men with utmost respect asked the ladies to excuse them. “Extremely sorry to have got in here and caused embarrassment to you all. Kindly excuse us. Thank You!”, they said and boarded the adjacent compartment, while the Chinese lady continued to be happy in clicking more pictures.

The men came in and boarded the gents’ compartment and managed to get a seat, quite lucky I must say! As they sat looking by the window, while fellow commuters continued to chit-chat, one of the foreigners saw a person reading a religious book. He curiously asked him, “Do you follow the principles mentioned in his book?” “No! I actually don’t get time to read when I am at home. I simply read to kill time,” he said. Even before the foreigner could ask his question or give a reaction, the man shut the book and asked, “You have come for the first time to India? Where are you headed towards?” The man replied, “No it’s not my first time here. I am visiting the great Siddhivinayak Temple at Dadar.”  He further said, which surprised me to a great extent, “I had come here a few years ago and visited the same temple. I am just going back to one of the most pious places in Mumbai.” The next thing that he did was completely unexpected. He removed a photo from his wallet, which was a picture of Lord Siddhivinayak, and said ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya!”

REVELATION

REVELATION

The sharp rays of the morning sun hit hard on Sam’s face as he woke up, baffled, finding himself at an under construction site. His head was aching terribly as he rubbed his palms trying to ease the pain a bit. He glanced at his broken watch, which showed the time. 9:00 AM. He stared at his torn shirt laden with blood stains and a half gulped bottle of country liquor.

‘Where am I?’ he wondered. ‘How did I land here?’ Sam didn’t remember a thing that morning as he seemed to be completely lost in thought. The continuous honking of vehicles and sound of the latest Tamil songs made him realise that he was probably near the central bus stand and taken refuge at the under construction site soon to be developed into a palatial shopping mall.                                                 

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He couldn’t bear the pain in his head any longer and decided to get himself a tea. He picked up his broken pair of Paragon chappals, lifted his lungi and wrapped it at knee length giving a glimpse of his striped shorts and walked down the stairs. He put his hand into his short pocket and came out with a stinking 10 rupee note. That is all he had.

‘It will help me buy a tea, a plate of bhajji and a smoke’, he said to himself. He walked to the nearest shop at the bus stand, which was filled to the brim with customers. And there were conductors too discussing how a fellow member of theirs eloped with a wife of one of their best friends.

‘Anna orru tea, orru plate bhajji’ (Brother, one tea and one plate of bhajji), he ordered to an elderly man, sitting at the galla, counting the morning cash. As Sam munched on the bhajjis and sipped his tea, his eyes caught the sight of a few policemen walking towards this very shop. 

Sam began to munch faster and gulped the piping hot tea as if it was cold water. The man at the galla and others watched blankly as Sam rushed through his act. One of the policeman saw Sam and pointed towards him. He left the plate of bhajji unfinished, quickly gave the money, took his slippers in his hand and began running as if he was running a marathon. 

The policemen also began to chase him with full might and force trying to catch him by the collar, sometimes coming close to catching him and on most occasions Sam escaping the clutches of the policemen.

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Finally, hours later, after running through slums, shanty localities, crowded streets, the policemen had succeeded in their efforts to catch hold of Sam, who was completely at loss of breath. Panting heavily he was brought to the police station and put behind bars. 

A hefty hawaldar took the lathi and entered his cell and trashed him black and blue on his back and legs. He came out with a broken stick but said to his senior officer that Sam didn’t speak anything. All he did was screamed and screech with pain. He also showed the senior officer something, the sight of which startled the officer.

The officer straight away headed to the cell and caught hold of Sam by his hair. He yelled out in pain as the officer, with his sharp nails pressed one of Sam’s bruises.

‘Common, speak up. Speak up or else, you know our tactics of getting things out’, he said pressing the wound harder.

‘I don’t know what you are talking about’, Sam said whining in pain.

‘Don’t try to act smart. We know everything. We want to know from your mouth. Common speak up you bastard. Why did you kill the minister’s son?’

‘I don’t know, which minister’s son, what you are talking about? Please…for god’s sake let me go. Please, I haven’t killed anyone’, pleaded Sam.

‘Then why did you run when you saw us at the tea-stall? Why did you get scared on seeing us approach Annachi’s stall? Why? Answer me now?’ the officer spoke with a sense of authority. He realised that he has got his man and it was a matter of time until everything, every detail was revealed.

Just as he was continuing with his interrogation, his junior subordinate came and said that Sam wasn’t the man they were looking for and that another team from the police station has managed to get hold of the real murderer, who murdered the minister’s son.

The officer couldn’t believe what he heard but nodded his head in agreement. Yet, there were thoughts crawling in his head thinking why Sam ran as fast as he could, on seeing them, giving the cops the intuition that he was the murderer. Or maybe it was his blood-stained shirt. Something was truly fishy here, he wondered and at that moment his eyes went into the thing that his subordinate had showed him, which had left him surprised. It was a small surgical knife and a wedding photo of Sam and his wife.

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He straight away walked back into the cell and caught hold of Sam by the collar. ‘Okay, so now that you haven’t murdered the minister’s son, you have murdered someone else. Who’s it?’

‘I am telling you, I didn’t murder anyone, please let me go’, Sam was trying to defend himself as much as he could. But not until, the officer showed him the surgical knife and the photo.

The sight of the photo angered Sam and he screamed on top of his voice, ‘Yes! I killed Rachel, I killed her.’

Sam couldn’t hold back his tears and began weeping, while the officer wondered what could have been the motive.

‘I loved Rachel from the bottom of my heart. Even she loved me and it had been three years since we were married. We desperately wanted a child. But then, it just couldn’t happen,’ said a teary-eyed Sam.

‘Is that the reason you killed her, because she couldn’t bear you a child?’

‘No’, Sam said wiping his tears off and sounding stern.

‘Then why? And why did you run when you saw us?’ asked the officer, sounding confused at the turn of events.

‘She slept with someone and I couldn’t bear that sight of her being with someone else. So I killed her with the surgical knife. I ran on seeing you because I feared my life. I did not want to kill Rachel, but that horrifying sight was just not bearable,” said Sam.

‘She had an extra-marital affair, you mean? But you said she loved you equally?”

‘No, she slept with another woman!’

THE END