Anas AnalYzes

12 02 2008

Waiting for BC’s call, Apte sat in his brand-new, golden swivel chair, drumming his fingers on the antique, glass-covered, exquisitely carved rosewood table left behind by the British. His gaze slowly wandered across his kitschy cabin. Originally a huge room with a bank of ticket counters on one wall; it was converted into a ‘corner room’ and partitioned into two sections using a pale-green Japanese screen and a few fake palm trees. One section housed Apte’s workspace; that is, his brand-new, golden, swivel chair, his antique, glass-covered, exquisitely carved rosewood table, his brand-new, still plastic-wrapped, sky-blue visitor chairs, and his gaudy, backlit modern-art murals on maroon plywood walls, his dusty blue carpet, his cheap chandelier, and his whiskey cabinet. And then there was the pale-green Japanese screen, interspersed with fake palm trees, beyond which was the “Green Lounge”. This section of the room was lined on three sides with a succession of comfortable, green sofa pieces, interrupted by corner tables mounted with golden Laughing Buddhas. The monotone green walls housed the remnants of the ticket window sills, covered up using fake creepers. There was a 42” flat-screen television facing the sofas; in front of the pale-green Japanese screen. A mini bar snuggled in one corner. The room had a backlit greenish aura. He silently congratulated himself on personally designing the Lounge, and frequently used it to ‘entertain’ visiting dignitaries. The Lounge also had a separate entry, controlled by him. He began thinking of the times he had entertained Julie in there… Julie, of course, was posted outside his door. His eyes stopped at the mandatory framed painting of the face of the Great Man, found in all such offices across the country, and his lips turned upwards into a mocking smile. His expression froze and his face turned pale again as he saw another face – barely noticeable between the leaves of the fake palm tree – grinning back at him from below the painting.

The door burst open just as the phone rang, Julie trying to alert him of inbound trouble. Ram Narain stumbled in, his face even more bloated because of fear, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Sir, please save me sir! Rathore will kill me! He will kill you too! He will kill us all!!” A tear started down his chubby cheek.

“Kaay Jhaala! Bas ithey!”

Ram Narain narrated the entire sordid exchange, stopping only for sobs, and ended with a whimper: “Save me sir! Call Mr. Giri…he will save you. Rathore is mad. I have to call my boss. He will help me…Those girls of mine, one of them says she will quit and file a sexual harassment case, the other one is too shocked to speak!”

“NO! NO! NO! Don’t call anybody, you fool!” Apte screamed, and then mellowed, “I’ll take care of it. Trust me. Cool down, and wipe those tears. Go, and send those girls to me, one by one; mee baghto tyana.” The phone started to ring, with BC’s number winking up at Apte. “Look, don’t worry. I’ll see to it that Rathore suffers for this. Just go back there and have a drink or something…” Apte pointed to the Lounge.

Ram Narain entered the Lounge, took one look at the grinning face, and felt color returning to his cheeks.

***

Apte grabbed the receiver, and spat: “BC, he kaay aahe? You idiot! You are good for nothing! Can’t control your own people!”

“No shob….yoes shob”

“Tula mahitiye Rathoreney kaay kele?”

“‘Rothore loid on ogg, shob…”

“Tichaaicha! He shouted at Ram Narain and his people as if they were beggars! He abused Ram Narain and the poor girls who manage the servers! Do you have any idea what this means?!”

“No shob.”

“If Ram Narain goes to his boss, ImprovTech may pull out of the contract, blaming us! What will we do then? Where will the reputation of our Organization go? Do you know how big and powerful ImproveTech is? It is a respected global MNC! Who will ever work with us then?”

“Opte shob…”

“What’s worse, your people have abused those girls. What if they sue us for harassment? If I go down, I’ll take you down with me! Who authorized Rathore to carry out this witch hunt? Did you?”

“No shob.”

“Aataach suspend kar tyala!”

“Shob, rule…”

“Rule, schmule! If you cannot, put it up to me and I’ll do it. And do it fast, or I’ll suspend you too!”

“Ok Shob. Shob, Oi hab desoided Nawab bhill do invoistigashun…”

Apte feigned happiness, “Good! Good! Now you are using your head. Send me a mail, and I will authorize him to do the needful.” Apte slammed down the receiver.

Meaning to call them in from the Lounge, Apte looked through the gap between the fake leaves, and stopped in mid-motion. He continued to stare at the incredulous scene before him, his expression slowly changing to disgust. Finally, he cleared his throat and waved his hand.

***

Ram Narain entered the Lounge and saw Anas splayed across the sofa in the center. Anas, after convincing BC to let him investigate the derailment, had come straight to Apte to tell him the good news, and was sitting in the lounge nursing a morning beer. He motioned Ram Narain to sit while he got up to make him a drink.

Placing his drink on the center table, Anas sat next to Ram Narain and put his hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry Raam, Main hoon na. Suno Apte sahib kya keh rahe hain. Sab sambhaal lenge. You just relax.” The plump hand snaked around Ram Narain’s shoulder as he concentrated on Apte’s conversation with BC.

“See, I am investigating the accident now. We will take care of everything.” The hand started to caress Ram Narain’s arm, sending waves of relief through him.

Ram Narain couldn’t take it any longer. He lowered his head onto Anas and all the tears he had held back came gushing out of his puffy eyes. Anas used the other hand to hold Ram’s face tightly as he felt the warm flood soaking his shirt, his vest and then the skin. This feeling of coitobalnism excited him almost immediately to the point of ecstasy. His other hand traveled up Ram’s thigh, feeling the texture of soft flesh. His mouth watered in anticipation of the meat and he dribbled a bit on Ram’s curled mop. In a trance, he reached for the zipper. Anas suddenly snapped out of it, when he heard Apte cough, and found him staring at them through the fake leaves. With great reluctance, he pulled Ram Narain away from himself, and told him: “Now I shall go and investigate the accident,” he winked, “go and tell those girls of yours not to do anything rash, and tell them Apte sahib himself has invited them for resolving their grievances. You said one of them is too shocked to speak, you can send her to meet Apte sahib first, maybe just after lunch, hm? Come, let’s leave now, Apte sahib is a busy man.”

They left the room together, Anas grinning at Apte just as he closed the door behind him. Apte shook his head and pressed the buzzer.

***

“Eheheheheheheheheh…!” *snort*

Back in his chair, Anas began rubbing his hands in glee, as he emitted a strange sound he thought was a sneer. Outside Apte’s cabin, Ram Narain had already briefed him about what had happened in Signals. He was still enjoying the sensation he had experienced, petting him while Narain had sobbed on his bosom. He began to dream about the new blackmail opportunity, when he shook himself alert, and began to think how best to use this against Rathore and his gang. After a good fifteen minutes, he picked up the phone, dialed an extension, and said:

“Come here, now!”

“Yes sir!” a female voice replied.

Almost immediately, a sari-clad, slightly plump, 35-trying-to-look-20-with-excess-makeup woman entered his cabin. She was clumsily carrying a pen and heavy diary.

“Good Morning Bij…Mrs. Giri! You’re looking lovely today!” Anas blurted automatically.

Her perfectly lipstick-ed lips opened, “Yes sir! Thank you sir! It is the good cold weather we are having sir, and ‘they’ brought me a new winter cream from Tokyo sir, you should try…” Anas kicked himself mentally, but there was no escaping Mrs. Bijli Giri, the ever-sycophantic, blabbering, and extremely dumb career clerk. He thought back to when the powerful Mr. Giri had leaned on him to get Bijli posted at Bhikshapore. He had thought at the time that he was being clever by getting in Mr. Giri’s good graces and weakening Rathore’s team at the same time. As it was, Rathore had outsmarted him, and convinced BC to depute Bijli to work under Anas.

Anas interrupted: “Ahum…Yes, well, that’s good! Good! Now, what I am going to tell you is very important, and very confidential. You must not tell anybody about it.”

Bijli was all ears, thinking maybe she would impress Mr. Giri over breakfast with this and buy those Pretorian earrings she had seen on African Sky Shop. Mr. Giri never came home before breakfast, not that it bothered Bijli much.

“You know there’s been an accident here, at the Junction. I was with Apte sahib some time back, and he has asked me to conduct a secret investigation. I shall be meeting the people concerned with this case. I want you to accompany me and take notes. But remember, this is secret, so we should be inconspicuous.”

“Yes sir! Of course, sir! Apte sahib himself! Wow sir!”

“Shut up, Bijli.” Anas mumbled under his breath. He smiled, got up, and left the room with Bijli in tow.

***

Presently, the duo came across Anna, dozing on a bench. Anas motioned Bijli to start taking notes. He poked Anna on the shoulder.

“Huuuuh *sputter*…….Saar, Marning Saar!” Anna sat up with a start. Anna, a short and stodgy man, was one of the Assistants (a.k.a. almost Peons) attending to the many ‘Saars’ in Bhikshapore Junction. Having secured his posting at Bhikshapore by forgery, bribery and loads of luck, he thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Fortunately, thought Anas, he was almost as gullible as Bijli.

“Anna, the Incident reporting file, it must be with Rathore. Get it immediately!”

“Yes saar. No saar, it is in the daakit saar. Rathore saar said he doesn’t want it, saar.”

“Oh? …Come to my cabin.”

“OK saar.”

Back in his seat, Anas motioned Anna to a chair with a smile. Anna’s face lit up at the sudden show of respect, and he lowered his considerable girth into it.

“Why does Rathore not want it?” asked Anas.

“I don’t know, Saar. I had taken the file to him from Bss..Chhatopadhyay saar, but he throw it back at me. He was shouting he had to get to the baatam of the hincident first.”

“Hmm. What do you think happened with the goods train?”

“Saar”, he began, nervously looking at Bijli, “I go to Signals every day. I know many things saar. This was not an accident.”

“Oh, you can trust her.” Bijli beamed. Anas continued, “If you help me, there will be a reward for you.”

“Reward, saar?” Anna’s jaundiced eyes glinted with greed.

“Yes,” Anas knew when he had his man “you want a promotion out of this grade, no? You want to work in…Signals? Supervisor?” Bijli cocked an eyebrow, and pursed her lips. This was her ambition in life, and it was being offered to an assistant!

“Saar, what are you saying saar. Supervisor?!” The greed, jealousy and megalomania that had shaped his facial features came to the fore, and he dug his nose furiously. “I will tell you everything saar.”

Anas sat back and listened to Anna describe his visits to Signals. He lamented how those ‘technicians’ had made the cabin into their own personal fiefdom, how he had scraped pizza slices off the floor, how XL never followed the manual and executed his own shortcuts, and of course, how Pondy was ‘watched’. As Anna decried the stash of porn and the injudicious use of the huge monitoring screen, Anas wondered if they had any he would like to watch. He thought of the morning meeting, and wondered how it would be to watch some of it sitting between Ram Narain and Munni.

Anas smiled as he understood that he can use the information as a flank, to drum up side issues which would fit nicely into the incident. He made sure Bijli was writing everything down, and noticed the scowl on her face. He switched off just as Anna launched into a tirade speculating on a ridiculous conspiracy by KK with the signals guys and canteen to derail the chicken train intentionally; getting a year’s supply of parathas in the bargain.

Anas thanked Anna, taking care not to shake his hand, and packed him off. Not a bad start, not bad at all, he mused.

“Mrs. Giri, I would like to make an offer to you.”

“What, sir?” Bijli shot a cold reply.

“See here, I think I can get those bastards thrown out of Signals, and Rathore out of operations itself. Once I take over operations, how would you like to be the boss of Signals?” He smiled knowingly.

“Oh, I would love it, Sir! Wow sir, Head of Signals, Sir! Thank yew Sir!”
 
“Okay, but you have to promise me not to reveal anything to anybody, even to Mr. Giri. Understood?”

“Understood, sir! Not a word, sir!” The earrings would have to wait. Maybe a vacation to South Africa instead…

“We will go to the Hospital in a while, be ready.”

***

Anas and Bijli headed out of the Junction towards the hospital complex. Anas was quite disgusted at the prospect of entering this railway hospital. The hospital, built during the Raj, was one of the few relics left untouched in the otherwise modernized Junction. It had some good doctors, but the staff was stiffly unionized, and they weren’t backing off. As a result, the conditions at the hospital were deplorable, to put it euphemistically. The floor was cracked and uneven at places, the paint was peeling, bedding and stretchers were torn, leakage and fungus was everywhere, medicines were always in short supply, half the staff was openly hostile to patients, and the other half was anyway clueless, having been recruited more for political favours and nepotism than any qualifications. Even now, a faction of the union was staging a ‘Dharna’ right on the steps, blocking the hospital doors. They decided it would be better to enter through the back door, usually reserved for ambulances and critical patients.

Just as the duo were making their way back to the front towards the stairs, Anas noticed XL sitting on a bench, and stopped, pulling Bijli to a side before XL could notice them.

“Look, do you see XL sitting there all by himself? Now, let’s be honest here. You know how he feels… you know…so do your thing…”

“But sir! How can you say that, sir? I am a married woman!”

“Yes, we all know that. But we also need to find out all we can about the accident. Don’t worry, I will be around to help if….. Remember, “Head of Signals”…” he drew sets of quote-marks over her head as he spoke.

“Ohh, sir, yes, I’ll do it.”

Anas watched her turn and approach the bench in the corner, and then headed towards the first floor marked “General Ward”.

***

Anas entered the ward and looked around. It was a pretty dreary sight, what with people in all shapes and sizes sprawled on cots, and being fussed over by clusters of relatives, much like flies swirling around a batata vada sitting on the canteen floor. The strong smell of formaldehyde caused him to wrinkle his nose, and he turned to spit, stopping in mid-motion and nearly dribbling it out on his uniform. He was staring at Rama Rao, who, lying on the bed with his leg in a cast, was looking right back at him with a curious expression. Anas fished out his kerchief and wiped his face, approached Rama Rao’s bed, and sat on the stool placed next to it.

“Hello Rama, how are you? Very sorry to hear of the unfortunate accident. Where is KK?”

In a weak and faltering voice, Rama Rao answered: “I am okay saab. I was moved out of ICU today saab.” He started to sob, “Saab, my leg is broken saab, I cannot work for three months, the doctor says. What will I do? My family is…” Anas counted to ten, and looked up, “Where is KK?”

“Kunjachan sir has been discharged saab. Only minor concussion. He will be in the canteen with his parath..I mean nedicines.”

“Hmm. Tell me, Rama, how did all this happen? I thought KK was the best driver ever!”

“Yes saab. Kunjachan sir is the best. He can drive that engine with his eyes closed. He doesn’t even have to look outside or at the speedometer. He says he can sense these things. I wish I can learn to be more like that. In fact, he was just describing to me how he polished off the last paratha while adjusting the controls and it was perfectly at 30 Kmph. Then, suddenly, XL babu jumped across the engine, and then Kunjachan sir started to shout and leaped at the brakes. He is very quick saab.”

“And then?”

“Er…I fell and fainted, saab.” Rama Rao said sheepishly.

“Well Rama, I wish you a speedy recovery.  I have to go now, duty calls.” Anas walked off without waiting for a response from Rama Rao, who lay there looking at the receding figure.

***

Bijli reached the bench, bend down and tapped XL lightly on his shoulder. A jolt went from his shoulder to his heart, as he looked up to see two creamy moons, six inches from his face and barely contained in the low-cut blouse, grinning at him. The jolt, turning into titillation as it slowly traveled southwards, suddenly flared as they moved – in slow motion – to his right, eagerly perched themselves upon his arm, and in a most seductive tone, blurted, “XL! How are you feeling?”

Hurriedly realizing that these usually come with a body attached, XL sat upright, and his rapidly reddening face came face to face with the smiling face of Mrs. Giri, looking over him with…interest, he thought.

To the casual observer, a slightly plump aunty had just sidled up to a definitely plump uncle in a most inappropriate manner.

“H..H..Hello Mrs. Giri. Fine! Fine. I am feeling fine…never better!”

“Oh, call me Bijli. I’m not formal, you know.” Bijli said, batting her eyelashes.

“Y..Ya! Of course! W..Whatever you say…Bijli.” How sweet did that sound, XL’s heart exclaimed.

“I heard about your little accident, and I was so shocked. Rani was telling me how you risked you life to try to save the train. I want to hear it all from you.” Bijli flashed him a strange mixture of a concerned face with a smile stuck in it. Her hand reached over and slowly stroked his left shoulder, crushing the rest of herself on XL’s right arm.

XL was suddenly all gallant and coy. He hauled in his breadbasket, took a deep breath to puff out his chest, settled into Bijli’s encircling arms, and began. “You see, I was sitting at my terminal, alert as usual…” and XL meandered through the story, embellishing it suitably to make himself the hero, the victim and almost the villain, barely managing to eliminate the part of Babe #2. All the while, Bijli kept encouraging him whenever his pace flagged, with exaggerated thrusts from the side.

“Oooh…You’re so brave…what a heroic effort… tell me more.” Bijli moaned, snaking a hand up onto his lap.

XL, barely managing to control himself, obscenely mouthed: “Oh, that is all there is to it, Bijli.”
 
“Uh.then, umm.. I’ll see you around, Mr. Lobo.” Bijli said abruptly, detached herself from the arm and the thigh, got up, adjusted her sari, turned, and left. Bijli saw Anas standing at the foot of the stairs with a smirk on his face, and felt – first her flushed face, and then her head – fall in shame. “Not – a –word, sir”, she gnashed, as he fell in step, still smirking. XL, dumbfounded, watched them leave the hospital, pushing past the union mob, and wondered why his shoulder was suddenly very cold.

The casual observer muttered “KLPD” as he passed XL and walked away, quietly laughing to himself.

The lunch siren sounded in the distance.

***

Although he hated her, Anas had no choice. Rani had been on the scene at the accident, and he would have to talk to her to see if he could rake up some more muck. He called up M & M and barked at him to find her and send her over. He then called up Bijli and told her to forget about her post-lunch siesta.

Bijli entered first, subconsciously adjusting her hair, her sari, her posture and her face; clearly, she still hadn’t yet gotten over the ‘experience’. Rani entered just as Bijli was settling down to one side with her pen and diary.

Rani was a gaunt cadaver of a human being. By sheer dint of her perseverance, not to mention the sweeper’s union and a women’s rights group and Apte and the reservation panel, she had managed to insert herself into the most sought-after Junction in the entire country, albeit as a modest sweeper. Among other things, she openly despised Anas.

“Boliye Nawaab sahib, kya gandagee saaf karoon?” Rani giggled.

“Chup chap baitho” Anas snapped, pushing his bile back down his throat. Rani made herself comfortable on the floor.

“Oopar!” Anas shouted, pointing to the chair. Rani got up and sank into the chair, while Bijli looked on disdainfully.

“Now tell me, what did you see at the accident site?”

“What did I see? The entire thing. The Signals guys running around, Rathore running, Alfa running, the train crash, the Chickens and eggs flying around…and Alfa running after…*chuckle*…” and she burst into giggles.

“Alfa? What about him?” Anas straightened and then leaned forward, looking very interested. Rani didn’t miss the cue. She smiled, deepening and lowering her voice: “You know how Alfa is, mmmm! He was chasing and collecting chickens for dinner, what a good cook he is…and the way he chased those chickens, those huge arms with the rippling muscles, all those biceps, triceps and quads flowing lithely, imagine the broad, smooth back gliding in, the unyielding six-pack and that cute little butt…and then…”

“and then…” Anas repeated, as if in a trance.

“And then, the chicken took off and vanished under the maalgaadi!! What did you think Nawaab sahib!” squealed Rani, snapping her fingers in his face.
“Wha…” Anas suddenly found himself uncomfortably perched on the edge of his chair, leaning almost all the way across the table. His face, a mix of glazed manna and anxious anticipation, was equidistant from the two females who were doubling up laughing and pointing at him. He immediately drew back, turning a mottled purple.

“Get out! Get out! You bitch! Out! Now!” He screamed to Rani, who was already halfway out of the door, giggling away.

Looking down at his shoes, Anas pointed, “You too Bijli! And leave the diary here.”

“Not-a-word!” He grunted as her heard her snickering on her way out. Damn Apte, damn Giri, damn the damned union, he thought morosely, as he reached for the phone.

***

“Ahh, Munni, my pet, nice and slow.” Anas said, as he looked below his table and ruffled his hair. After a day like this, a man needs to relax, and what could be more relaxing…Anas thought, as he drifted off, thinking of Alfa; as the sun went over the horizon and the lights came on.

Much later, Anas sat framed against the sole lit office window, as he began:

Dated: xx/xx/xxxx

Investigation Report

Derailment of Goods Train No: R 2149

Incident:
The Goods Train No. R 2149 was scheduled…

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2 responses

3 03 2008
Vibhash

i just glanced thru…didnt have time to read it fully….is it like u r writing some online novel aur unearthing some report….can u elaborate?

12 03 2008
myghteeatom

@Vibhash: Sorry for the delay and thanks for dropping by. It is something like an online novel, but there are a few grains of truth strewn around. The setting may be entirely fictional, but the incidents may or may not be. Do read through the story as it develops, and see if it rings a few bells!

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