I feel nostalgic as I walk past auto rickshaws. Nothing much has changed in this city. It’s only me who has changed drastically.I have returned to my hometown Mumbai after being in a New York Prison for more than a decade.
I was just wired differently. I remember it was the same street when I had walked on it as a 14 year old.It was 1996 and the Mumbai underbelly was flourishing. I had belonged to an affluent family of priests, but my inclination towards criminal activities had started very early in my life
Everyone has their vices. I had too many.I enjoyed doing things that were forbidden. It gave me an high, it gave a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm.
I remember my father running behind me with a stick in his hand because I stole coins from the temple and went to the nearby matka place to gamble with them. It was not the money that sometimes doubled and tripled. It was the excitement . It was the sheer joy of doing something forbidden. Out of the fear of my father finding out that I was gambling. I used to pour all my earnings into a poor cobbler’s hut. He worked hard all day mending shoes but he hardly had money to buy himself a meal.
“Those coins were being wasted when they were being offered to an already rich god. Why does he need money when he is already the almighty,” I told my dad. He slapped me hard.
My father diagnosed my condition as a disease. I was dangerous for this society that set rules for itself and where forbidden things are only allowed to be done behind closed doors and in the dark. They wake up in the morning and pretend as if nothing happened
I used to get beaten at home. My father used to hurt me with tremendous passion..I got used to it. In fact I learnt that self inflicted pain sometimes gives infinite pleasure. Once he was tired and there was no power left in his blows . I Laughed as loud as I could and he would say “Rakshas, Vinashkari , Vipreet Buddhi”
I Could not pretend any longer and live with the self proclaimed god. He used to fool people everyday and survived from the money earned from inflicting fear in them. Human beings build unnecessary cages around themselves called responsibility, Society and Limits. I had to fly and do everything that was forbidden. Not be bound by any artificial restraints
Then on one unfortunate night. The only person I could call my own, Tribhuvan Shastri my father passed away. I was only 16 and I had no source of income. There was no money to even arrange the great priest’s funeral.
As I cried sitting alone. The Cobbler walked up to me with a bag of coins and he offered them to me.The Affluent Tribhuvan Shastri used to tell me that the cobbler is from a low caste and that he is an untouchable was the only person I could hug and cry.
New York, 2005
I walked past Chinese fishmongers and green grocers cluttered in markets in the indian dominated area of Chinatown in Manhattan. I had heard about this man called as Mak.i was going to his office for an interview. On the forefront he ran a big financing company. His real name is Makrand Deshmukh which has cut short to mak as it is usually done here in the US.
He ran an empire of illicit trade .He was the kingpin of the drug mafia and all anti social activities in this city.He was the undisputed king of the Drug Mafia, He was also into Prostitution and Money Laundering for Arms and Ammunition’s and funding of Terrorist Organizations.
As i sat fiddling with my watch in the conference room of a plush office waiting for Mak.
I saw a beautiful girl fair as milk photocopying some papers. In Agreement to my bollywood icon Amrish Puri whenever i see a girl with fair and smooth skin i feel like drinking Black Dog Whiskey as hundreds of black dogs start barking in my psyche.
My heart skipped a beat as soon as she looked at me. Her eyes were big and the eyeliner and kajal made them looking even more stunning. My thumping heart sound was so elaborate that i felt she could hear it. i felt she could see the tension on my face as she walked towards me with some papers in her hand. She had a perfect hourglass figure as i saw her from head to toe with eyes full of lust. Her body hugging red dress was so elegant and glamorous that it made her look like an enchanting seductress. She said “ Please fill this form, Mr Mak will be with you shortly” .My glare was stuck at her luscious lips and their perfect shape and her voice sounded like a symphony of melodious romantic tracks. I started believing in love at first sight. My brain definitely had a chemical locha, she was the one i was waiting for all my life.I walked outside to find her again. Sitting on her desk and her eyes glued to the monitor on her workstation. As i neared her desk she saw me. She gave out a friendly smile. That smile had the power to make a man suffering from Chronic depression look forward to life with Zest and Enthusiasm.Her name was soothing to the ears. Her name was Nagma.
Mr Mak walked out of his cabin and looked at me with a sullen look. Probably he did not like me standing so close to the girl’s desk. He Tilted his head and gestured me to follow him.He swayed ahead in style. He was dressed elegantly in a stylish suit and he looked extremely dashing.He stood tall at 6ft and his neatly trimmed beard went well with his overall persona
We spoke for about 30 mins and i really do not know what he saw in a visibly under confident and fidgety me. The best thing i remember i said was that i wanted to become like him one day and wear those stylish suits. I also remember that he told me that in order to achieve that i will have to be very strong and let go off all morals and ethics i have .
Soon i became the most trusted aide of the big man. Every big businessman needs a intelligent confidante. Someone whom he can fall back on for advice or for discussing his decisions and future plans.. I was paving my way up the ranks and soon turning into the man everyone ran to for work. i knew everything . All codes, All secrets, Even Everything Mak thought,i had the key to all the locks of this business empire
Then i fell upon a tiny secret. The Girl i had fallen in love with on my first day at work.The charming fair girl with beautiful eyes was infact Mak’s mistress.She had been an innocent girl who had once been implicated for carrying drugs in her purse. She had no clue how the poison that had been found in her purse had gotten there. The only rescue she had was through Mak. She had come to visit Mak to ask for his help and the filthy man had been allured by her beauty. She had paid a heavy price for it. Mak had kept all the proofs that would prove her guilty and even though Narcotics department in this state was extremely strong but Mak had connections .He knew the figures of authority very well. He was powerful and he could do anything. He forced her to work for his company and abused her everyday.He proudly narrated the entire episode to me and even though i did not have a heart to understand humanity. i Somehow understood this girl’s plight. Maybe because my heart had thumped out loud when she had smiled at me.
I had tried to speak to her a few times but she had avoided all interactions. This was the opportunity. Mak had sent us together to deliver a consignment. I knew that the cartons we were carrying contained Arms and Ammunition but i was not sure that she knew it.
I asked “Do you know what’s inside” . She looked at me in the mirror from the front seat of the car and replied “ Yes” . I then tried to make small talk.
“ How did a girl as pretty as you start working at this place”
She replied “Well it is the same . Even i am surprised that a guy as intelligent as you is working here” She was smart and witty. She paid me a compliment and smiled.
Well i expected her to compliment my looks and not my brains but then i happened to glance in the mirror and i realized that i was an ordinary looking man and there was nothing earth shattering or even worthy about my looks. At least she appreciated my grey matter.
I was completely smitten by her. We started spending more time after office hours.
After ten occasions of rejecting it , she finally agreed to a date. Just me and her. Fascinating music played in the background and the shade of hazel lights in that discotheque made her look even more desirable and appealing.
But what intrigued me the most was why was she taking all the abuse from Mak. But i dared not to ask. I did not want to put off the vibrant energy she was showing and the did not want the beautiful smile to disappear.
But she herself spoke “ Since you asked that day. I want to share with you” “Mr Mak is obsessed with me and a man who is that powerful just takes a jab at his whims and fancies”
“All these years of endless abuse i have waited for a knight in shining Armour to come and rescue me, i do not know if can expect that from you”
If a man like Mr Mak was obsessed with her then definitely a man who wanted to be the next Mr Mak would see her as an unattainable conquest. But i was completely obsessed with the thought of becoming what she expected to me to be.
We had become inseparable. Especially after that night of passion at her house where we explored each others bodies till we quenched the insatiable thirst our souls had.
We started a joint silent rebellion It was like a slow poison that kills you slowly.Something that you can never get detoxified of.
Yes i was using the trust and faith of my mentor and turning the tables against him.Surprisingly she was much more intelligent than i fathomed. She had a full strategy in place and following her plan would ensure the complete destruction of Mr Mak and demolition of his well built crime empire. We encoded encrypted data, Passed information to competitors and cops. Mr Mak was facing tough times suddenly. His consignments were being caught. The Important men in high authorities that he was friends with, were suddenly getting fired.
In Spite of all these hindrances, he still trusted me and he gave me the code to his secret bank accounts just in case if he was caught. Then he shocked me when he said that he wished he could marry Nagma, transfer all his money through money laundering and move to different country. He wanted me to help him do that and he wanted me to also close all the pending deals and move with them.
That Night when i was smoking with Nagma. I questioned her. I told her about Mak’s Intentions and she laughed about them. She said after so many years of repeated abuse , now he wants to give me a respect and marry me.
Her bloodshot eyes reflected anger. She said with utmost passion that she wants to see him finished.
We were going to pull the trigger now. This was the final round of this drama. Mr Mak was now going to be slayed.Next Morning i was going to call Mak and tell him about an consignment been caught. I was going to pretend that i was shot and i needed his help. We were sure Mr Mak would rush to help me and fall into their trap.
Next Morning as planned i called Mr Mak.He acted as predicted.A Fleet of police cars waited in anticipation but things did not go as smooth as expected. I suddenly felt a jerk on my shoulder as i fell to my knees. Two strong policeman stood behind me with their guns pointed to the back of my head.A Police Van zoomed past others and a lady cop jumped out of it and stood there. Nagma was not the damsel in distress as she had made out to be. She had duped me and Mak. She was the smart Cop with a penchant for acting .She stood there pointing her gun towards Mak who stood there in shock as two people he had trusted the most had been responsible for his downfall. He was not the criminal who gave up that easily. Two pistols came out from two of his jacket pockets and he fired at the cops recklessly. But he did not have the strength to fire the bullet at the lady cop who stood there pointing a gun at him. I have never understood the emotional quotient of these cops. She smiled while she shot him . A bullet pierced through his expensive jacket straight into his heart and he fell flat . She fired another round this time aiming at his forehead and my idol in the crime world lay dead.
I still cannot decipher why she left me. Even i could have been killed on the same day.
For her it was just a mission. When our eyes met ,she looked at me like a stranger.I felt used and abused by a woman She was so perfect in enacting her characters and she had resorted to such cheap tactics to deal with crime and criminals..She gestured the policeman to take me away and walked past me smiling with confidence.
But as they were taking me to the prison, i realized that my end would be similar to that. A Fancy Tracer bullet piercing through my expensive jacket.Probably fired by a someone trustworthy.
Before going to prison i used to think, How would i survive in prison if i ever got caught. But then in prison i realized that An Innocent man cannot sleep in prison as he thinks how did he get there and what is the way out. But A guilty man can sleep in prison peacefully as he knows that he deserves this for the mistake he has made. The Mistake of trusting , the mistake of getting caught. The mistake of being impulsive and emotional.
© Jitendra Kotai