“Goodself! Lifeblood! What kind of story is this?” sighed Priya as she finished signing the hotel guest register.
The clerk gave us startled look as he handed over the room keys.
“So is there a dashing handsome police man who catches these hijackers?” she asked me as the staff member led us to our room through a pathway made through the overgrown lawns. Plaster of Paris figurines held up plastic spheres with dim bulbs in them. A ghostly yellow blue light lit up the walkway through the hotel grounds.
I was too preoccupied with the room to reply. It was a room furnished in garish shades of red. The large bed occupied most of the room, leaving just a tiny passageway for people to walk.
“I don’t think the occupants of this room are expected to spend too much time out of bed” I grinned as I fell on the hard mattress and almost broke my back.
“Shut up!” snapped Priya. “And don’t change the topic. I asked you a question. Is there a police man?”
“Yes. There is a police man. A very colourful police man in fact.”I said, picking up the room phone to order dinner. The menu didn’t look very interesting. But they were serving whiskey which was always a good thing – especially when you were settling for a long story telling session. The long walk up to the hotel had made me thirsty.
Galaxy Homes, Powai, Mumbai
Mishra opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. It took him a few seconds to make sense of where he was. The ornate false ceiling was in stark contrast to the peeling water-stained pink cement slab in his apartment. The satin curtains had been drawn back and bright sunlight streamed into the vast bedroom through the French windows of a large apartment furnished with obscenely expensive artefacts.
Even the sunlight seemed less harsh in these expensive apartments, he thought to himself. The wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee filtered into the room. Mishra yawned and stretched his legs. He could just lie there forever given half a chance.
Though the large bed he was sprawled on was extremely comfortable, he knew it was time for him to leave. The maid would be coming along soon and though she knew about Mishra’s visits, there was no sense in making it obvious. The loud-mouthed fat lady would keep up the pretence, as long as he kept it up himself. Maids knew that gossiping about policemen didn’t do much good. Their husbands and sons usually disappeared without a trace for an extended period of time and they needed the law to drag them back home. ‘Though’ thought Mishra ‘in this particular lady’s case it might be an added incentive for her to gossip.’ Both the men in her life were lazy louts and drunks to boot. She would be better off if they disappeared permanently. Mishra could make that happen as well.
Disgusted with his random chain of thoughts, Mishra tried to get out of bed. His enormous belly made the task of getting up from the “ultra-soft imported-without-paying-duty” mattress, a rather tedious chore.
‘Crazy tastes these rich people have.’ he muttered. ‘Swedish mattresses? Aren’t there enough people in India who make decent cotton mattresses?’ he cursed under his breath as he struggled to sit up straight and kept sinking deeper. Finally with a great heave he flung his legs over the side of the bed and jumped out, only to slip unceremoniously on the smooth floor.
Mishra-ji, Senior Inspector, terror-of-the-local-hooligans, the man all “bhai’s” turned to in time of need, kicker-of-infinite-thieving-asses – lay sprawled, buck-naked on the cold marble floor.
Perfectly pedicured toes in golden Gucci slippers appeared in his line of sight.
‘I have seen beached whales that looked more dignified.’ cooed an amused voice.
Mishra sighed and closed his eyes. Sheila would never let him hear the end of this. He reached out to hold the edge of the side table and slowly pulled his enormous girth up. ‘Gently does it.’ he told himself. Any sudden movements and he might pull a muscle and then all the bloody constables in the police station would laugh behind his back. His nightly stopovers at Sheila’s apartment were not really a state secret.
‘I am leaving for a meeting. There are some cantaloupes in the fridge, if you care for breakfast. The maid will come in half an hour, please leave before that.’ The Gucci slippers disappeared into the living room.
‘Cantaloupes? Don’t you people eat anything normal? Breakfast should be spicy vada-paav washed down with masala chai.’ Mishra stood up and headed into the bathroom grinning at his joke. Belittling the exotic choices of the nouveau riche was Mishra’s private prop to his constantly battered self respect.
‘By the way what meeting are you going to?’ Mishra bit his tongue regretting the question as soon as he asked it. Cursing himself, he rushed into the bathroom hoping to close the door before Sheila pounced on him. In his experience the lady never told him anything unless he was required to assist in some way.
The bathroom in this apartment was as big as his living room. The mirror on the wall was surely bigger than his windows. Mishra sighed at his large belly reflected in the pristine glass. ‘Some bodies shouldn’t be seen naked’ he mumbled as he reached down to wash his face in the sink. He preferred his own bathroom with the tiny mirror set at chin level. His stubble was an infinitely more bearable sight than the rest of his body.
Elegant fingers stopped dancing on the sleek Macintosh keyboard in the living room. Mishra had tried using that keyboard once – jabbing at a few keys casually. Sheila’s screams had gotten the building security guard knocking on her door wondering if everything was all right with madam. ‘Interesting that you should ask. I am going to lead an agitation to get the two-timing cheating husband of my maid arrested.’
‘Uh. Huh’ Mishra mumbled as he washed his face with some expensive looking silver coloured face-wash he found on the platform.
‘Her juggi is in your jurisdiction.’ There was a definite note of annoyance in Sheila’s response. Mishra could almost see the left eyebrow raised half way up the forehead as she waited for his answer.
‘That’s good’ Mishra mumbled again as he doused himself with Sheila’s husbands deodorant. FCUK it said on the bottle. If hadn’t been Sheila’s apartment he wouldn’t have touched the stuff. So many fakes these days, and inevitably they got the spelling wrong. ‘These bloody counterfeiters,’ he thought ‘it was the most famous four letter word in the world and they even got that wrong.’ But the stuff had a nice smell. Her husband might be a loser, but he was a filthy rich loser making his living as the wealth manager for some really shady and powerful characters.
‘I wasn’t looking for your appreciation. Make sure those lady constables of yours don’t talk back to me this time.’ There was no mistaking the steely ring in her voice now.
‘Lady Constables? What the hell are you talking about?’ Mishra yanked up his trousers.
‘The ones you are going to send to arrest the maid’s husband. He has another woman – his keep.’ There it was. Now it was out in the open. No more subtle hints and the eyebrow was raised just as he had imagined.
Mishra rolled his eyes. His police station was perpetually short staffed and he really didn’t plan on sending lady constables to round up people based on whims and fancies of bored rich women who really didn’t have a clue on how the real world worked.
‘Poor man’ laughed Mishra ‘Isn’t having to tolerate two women bad enough. Why do you want to have me arrest him as well?’
‘Mishra, don’t push it! These perks you enjoy come with a fee attached.’
‘Sheila-ji, aap to naraaz ho gaye’ grinned Mishra, putting on his shirt. He looked at himself in the mirror. A sad, middle-aged obese man stared back at him. He was such a dashing young stud of a man when he had entered the force or at least that is what his relatives told him. His mother had high hopes for him. Even he had high hopes for him. But years of spending most of his time arranging security for VIP’s had added layers of cynicism and fat on that idealistic young man and all that remained was a belly and a bald palate.
Grabbing his cap he headed for the huge main door ‘I would have loved to spare the force to support your noble cause but I have a problem you see.’
‘And what is that?’ Sheila demanded as Mishra opened the door and turned back to face her keeping the door half closed.
‘Those lady constables are being deployed to arrest a woman who according to her very rich husband is cheating on him. Apparently this blood sucking witch – his words not mine – is having an affair with a handsome single Senior Inspector when he is not around.’ he said and closed the door just in time to avoid the slipper that was flung with full force.
‘We are separated! He is NOT my husband any more.’ He heard her scream from behind the solid teak door.
He couldn’t stop laughing all the way down to the car park where a Mercedes he had impounded the previous evening was waiting.
[This post is the second part of a longer work of fiction. All people and events described are figments of the authors imagination. Resemblance to anyone or anything is coincidental. In short Nothing is True. For more questions on what, why and copyright stuff refer this post which introduces the book]