|“…so it was yet another fine performance by the dancing troupe from London. Mihirpur has got yet another feather on its cap. The way this city is getting attention, there is not doubt that it is going to join the league of Metropolitan cities in India. Two new industrial parks are coming up in a short while and which means more jobs in the city. So let us move to our honorable guest here, Mr. Bharat who is the development secretary here and…”
Electricity failed and T.V. came to silence, it was better than the obviously fake cacophony being played. Power cuts were abrupt; they came without warning and at any time. They seemed to have a mind of their own and very headstrong. Nothing could make them predictable despite of public announcements on the contrary.
With nothing else interesting in moist and smelly room, Vihan went to the door to go out. Last time when he checked, it was drizzling but now it was coming harder. There was nothing to be used like umbrella in his house; room should be more apt description of his dwelling.
It wasn’t easy to make up the mind to go out in the rain but the other option with him was to listen to hum of mosquitoes, to feel them on his body and the usual game of him trying to crush them while they trying to bite him. He knew that they were eager to get started with that eternal game as the power had failed. Worst part of power failure was not that there was no light in the room but was the fact that he had to take part in a game with mosquitoes and it was a game where defeat for him was the only probable outcome.
He stood at the door, trying to make his mind to go out in the rain because by now he was sure that he could not stay in that room with out a cigarette. Smell of cigarette smoke was better than smell of the room. But soon he came out of his predicament; Prakhar came on his motorcycle and parked it in front of his gate. The motorcycle was a two-stroke one, despite decade-old laws regarding emission norms that now banned such vehicles. Nothing was on the bike to suggest its brand or maker.
Prakhar came in and shook hand with him. While shaking hands Vihan just looked past Prakhar, as if there was no one. There was no smile on Vihan’s face and no grip on his hand. Handshake was more of formality than friendship. Only thing which Vihan liked about him was the pack of cigarette which he always brought. After three months of unemployment he understood the value of those simple pleasures of life especially if they were free. Prakhar put down the pack of cigarette on the lone table in the room where half eaten packs of fast food, cockroaches and ashes of cigarette were already occupying the space. He took out one cigarette and lit it. Lighting up the cigarette was momentary respite from the darkness inside the room. Without saying a word, Vihan took out one cigarette and lit it. They kept on smoking for a while without saying a word and then Prakhar broke the silence.
“I was right, media is not showing the real picture” he said while opening a packet which had some photographs. Though he tried to look unmoved by those pictures but his hand on table gripped it tightly. He didn't take his eyes off the pictures and forgot to smoke the lit cigarette which was in his hand. He came back to normalcy in couple of moments but those moments gave indication that he was shaken. Those photos were shocking; it showed the dead body of two old men, clearly murdered by someone. He recognized them as being the campaigners working against the government. There was sign of injury on their heads and they were in the pool of blood. Place was parking lot of some mall. Vihan remembered reading the news about the road accident in which they died. The exact piece of news said that their dead bodies were found on a highway and they died in an accident by some unknown vehicle.
There were other people in the photo but their faces were not clearly seen, photo was focused on the dead bodies lying on the floor and those people were standing up.
Vihan turned his face towards Prakhar as if asking ‘so what?’ and Prakhar shook his head as if he had given up.
There was nothing which Vihan could have done, he was jobless for past three months and subsisted on the unemployment benefits which the government had started some months back. Before that he was working in fast-food joint as the desk person. He got fired when the owner came to know that he was letting homeless people sleep inside the shop during the night. Owner was a kind person and not averse to help poor people but due to the fact that it was done without his knowledge, he was angry. Vihan was not a person who could tolerate anger. It was always the same story, he never settled on any job. Almost all the time he started his new jobs with no enthusiasm and every time he quit or got fired was because of same reason; he hated that job.
He was a freelance writer, a delivery boy, salesman etc. He could no longer remember all the jobs he had been through. Monotony and consumerism would always put him off. Rebellion was his true job but it seemed as if he had resigned from it as well.
“Try to understand, some kind of conspiracy is going on and people don’t know the real picture” Prakhar tried to reason with him. Somehow he never seemed to loose faith in Vihan.
“Even I want to remain a normal person and would appreciate my ignorance.” Vihan replied nonchalantly.
They remained silent for a while, Vihan tried to avoid the eyes contact with Prakhar and they kept on smoking.
After a while Prakhar got up to leave and Vihan reminded him that he had forgotten to pick up the photos.
“Keep the photos with you. These are gifts from me. Look at them again and I’ll come up with more proofs on this scam. For now I can say that everything in the city in reality is ruled by Ronny Dhingra.” Prakhar replied and moved out. He knew that there was no way for someone to even dream of the fact that photos were with Vihan. Basically Vihan was no one when it came to anything worthwhile; he did not even exist until he went for his unemployment benefits. More over Prakhar knew that Vihan was very hard headed and resourceful once he was after something. The problem with him was that he wasn’t after anything but for unemployment benefits.
By night rain had subsided and Vihan went out to take a stroll. Any place was better than his damp and smelly room but his locality wasn’t much better either. It was like a carnival with freak show; kid in rags with running nose, overflowing sewers and persistent volleys of verbal diarrhoea by grownups. They were drinking country liquor and fighting among themselves. Some among them were making comments on the ladies of locality all the while pretending as if they were doing it under the influence of alcohol but they dare not do same thing with some lady who seemed from a powerful family. They were clearly not doing it under the influence of alcohol and the ladies actually seemed to like those comments.
Still it was better than lonely existence at room. Low voltage electricity supply made the electric bulbs give a fraction of light for which they were designed. It was a normal occurrence and as almost everyone stole electricity from overhead power cables, it was expected. He could hear voices of people talking
“..always low voltage, for how long it will continue…”
“..what are you planning to do with high voltage; it’s better to roam outside than watching T.V….”
People were talking about everything under the earth. They were happy that they need to pay very less for electricity; just the bare minimum. Though power was down for 18 hours a day and even when the supply was up, the voltage was very low; they were happy. People were discussing everything under the earth but mostly they were complaining; some times about government, sometimes about world in general and sometimes about god.
While going through the crowd he could hear murmurs; people were talking about crime and corruption and playing the naming game. There were many weird names which he had never heard before, but one of those rang some bells. It was the name of same guy whom Prakhar had mentioned earlier; ‘Ronny Dingra’. He himself must have heard this name a thousand times but it never rang any bells but now it seemed that he was only one who knew so little about him. He looked here and there to get the respite from that name but none was forthcoming. Everyone seemed intent on discussing that name only; he closed his eyes for a moment and could see a faceless person and his name was being chanted all around. He opened his eyes and closed his ears to block out that name. He was successful in blocking the noises from outside but inside his mind he could still hear than name. It was apparent that nothing could be done now and just kept on walking and just wanted to get out of the crowd.
Finally he came out of his shanty town after a struggle of half an hour; it was an open field. Air here was much better, no smell of sweat, no smell of rubbish and no human induced humidity. It was humid there as well but not artificially induced and there was no smell of sweat and certainly no smell of rubbish. Air was fresh with smell of wild plants whom humanity hadn’t touched; yet.
He sat down and looked towards the sky in the direction of town. He could see the flickering light through the smoke from the town which came because of cooking on wood as fuel. Rains started increasing and with them the noise of raindrops at an otherwise silent place. He sat there for half an hour getting drenched before started back towards his dwellings. Suddenly there were sound of crying and laughing. Though it was very faint but it definitely was there. Sounds repeated and he could make it that sound of crying was from a girl and that of laughing was from a man or from men.
He searched for the source and found them at the side of the rock, just besides the highway. It was a very notorious highway, there had been many robberies on it and most of the encounter-killings* also happened there. There were two men and one girl; men were playing with the girl. They were threatening her and then letting her go and when ever she tried running they again got hold of her. She was loosing the energy to resist and it was clear to Vihan that they were waiting for someone. Before he could take any action police patrol car turned sharply from the highway and stopped just before them.
Girl shouted for help and two policemen came out of the car.
It became apparent to him that policemen were on the side of the perpetrators when they exchanged greetings with the perpetrators. Girl went silent; she knew that it was all over. She knew that tomorrow another entry would be made in local newspapers about yet another death in accident by unknown vehicle on the highway. She was probably numb now. That was more than Vihan could take; he went near to them unnoticed. It was easy for him because of the rains and nighttime.
He started pelting stones on them, stones of different shape and size; he never bothered whom the stones were hitting. His blood was racing as it hadn’t done in years and he was in a trance. He didn’t care about his aim and some of the stones must have had hit the girl but most of them hit the target. Policemen took out their guns and started firing in general; towards no one in particular. Unseen enemy always seem more dangerous; in their minds he was the strongest opponent that they could probably find. While they were struggling to survive, girl slipped away. He kept on pelting stones on them until he watched the policemen shoot the two accomplices. He stopped pelting and just stood there, policemen hurriedly ran to their car and radioed the some message and went away. It was now raining in torrents.
It was almost afternoon when he woke up. On looking outside he could see that rains had continued unabated. He picked up the news paper which was kept in a basket a outside the door; he had made a pact with newspaper delivery boy that he would put the newspaper in the same basket by evening so that delivery boy can return it as unsold. In return Vihan would give him whatever is in his pocket on the first of the month. It was never much but it was above and over the money delivery boy was making and so he was happy.
He went through the newspaper:
“..two brave police officers foiled the attack on them. Two bodies were recovered from the encounter area, though the officers claim that others were also wounded. Search operation is going on to nab other accomplices. Local MLA Mr. Kalyan has recommended the officers for presidential medal for bravery…”
Vihan dismissed the news and continued.
“… Miss Vani believes that her figure is because of her hard work and ‘Mr. Buffalo’ brand milk. Her next movie is very close to her heart; everyone involved in the project believes that the concept is very fresh and …..”
He turned the page and the next page was also the same; almost the replica. Everything was same, articles lining the achievement of government and talking about Mihirpur; articles showing the point of view of opposition which was almost same as that those in the government. There was no real difference between government and opposition; in-fact one family was prominent member of both government and opposition.
Not only has the politics, even the showbiz remained the same over the years. Same celebrities, same actors, same filmmakers and the same bad movies.
All pages of the newspaper were the same. He was about to put down the newspaper back into the basket when one news article demanded attention:
“..... dead body of another victim of road accident on the highway no. 88 was found. She was the first year college student of Government Girls College. Unfortunately there are no leads regarding the killer vehicle or the killer driver. Police has formed two teams to look into the case….”
Dizziness took over him and he had to sit down. He felt like crying but it was not the solution; it was the problem. Everyone was just crying and complaining and he was no different. Suddenly the room felt too small and suffocating; it wasn’t as if it felt cozy earlier but now it overwhelmed him. He felt as if he could not breadth in there and had to cough to let the air flow through the lungs. Rains outside the room and the overflowing sewers were not a tempting sight but it psychologically gave an open space to breath and in a few moments he was out; getting drenched.
No one was out of their houses in that rain. Power was down so there was nothing interesting in their houses and they just looked out from doors and windows. Rains always come with depressing atmosphere and the lane was depressing even in brightest of the sunshine. Rains only added to the pre-existing gloom. Monotony of the residents was broken by his drenching figure. Everyone enjoyed the sight of him standing in rains with closed eyes; it had been raining for so many days that it ceased to be enjoyable and that signaled the metal breakdown of Vihan. Everyone on that lane watched the sight gleefully and some of them had already made stories about the mad man in the lane. They were just waiting for the rains to stop so that they could tell everyone about the mad man.
The spectacle went on for some time before Prakhar came on his antique motorcycle. He saw Vihan and knew that something had happened. They looked at each other and without a word they went into Vihan’s shack. The crowd watching from windows and doors was disappointed; they had expected some better climax than that. Some of them still kept on looking at the Vihan’s room expecting something scandalous to happen. A murder in day light would have entertained the whole city for about a month and had it been a murder-suicide, the rumor factories would have had the fodder for at least a year.
Inside the room everything was as gloomy as ever; damp, smelly and without electricity. Vihan told Prakhar everything about that girl and the news in newspaper. There had to be a way for reporting the murders, no government, no matter how corrupt, can function if crimes like that go on without any punishment. The case was a little complex in the city, as the crimes like that was going on for a very long time as if it was the part of the culture of city. In-fact it was Prakhar who was showing Vihan the proofs of crimes by government and Vihan was the one who pretended deaf. Still Prakhar stopped Vihan from contacting the authority as he believed that opening the mouth before right time can end up with another dead body found on the highway of death; stuck by unknown vehicle.
They sat in silence and darkness for a while and then Vihan spoke
“I need a job”
“Why? You were happy to live on unemployment benefits.” Prakhar prodded.
“No longer. Something by someone needs to be done but the one who cannot feed himself is not the right person to do it.”
Prakhar smiled and told him that he knew of an accounting job in a company and he would talk to the manager of that firm.
It was a typical old economy company with business interests in procuring the grains to construction and to electronics gazettes marketing. There were many different businesses of that company with greed being the only unifying factor. The GFE group was also into education business and also had a TV network among the list of businesses. Vihan was not sure of full form of GFE, probably three companies merged into a single entity to get that name but for Vihan the full form was ‘Greed For Ever’. Being accountant wasn’t the best job to which he looked forward to but as long as there was novelty it was okay with him. He had initially thought that he wouldn’t survive three months in; surprisingly he found the job interesting. It was very innovative, company always tried to reduce the tax and hide the real income. Then conversion of black money into white was another very shrewd business.
The name ‘Ronny Dhingra’ could be heard many a times in low tones. Apparently all the transactions in black gave a cut to Dhingra. Sometimes Vihan wondered about him; how well he had managed to evade the authorities when everyone knew about him. Though everyone knew about him but no one had met him in person, everyone knew that there is someone with that name but no one had actually seen him; albeit some false claims. All accountants in the company seemed to have just had one dream; to be the personal financial adviser of Ronny Dhingra. In a sense they were working on their dreams as they were his accountant as it was their task to get black money which they would then convert into cash to transfer to him. Everything was allowed in the company; West Indian rum, French wines, Russian Vodka and Indian girls. Company took really good care of accountants because they were the real foot soldier of it.
Real estate prices were artificially hiked by the company. They themselves secretly promoted the shanty towns in the city so as to reduce the availability of land. They would simply buy the plots from the government at the throw away price under the pretence that there was a slum on it and it would not fetch any other buyer. Once they sealed the deal they would relocate the slum to the next property they wanted to buy.
The company also paid generously to the community leaders; it was the company’s model of marketing. It had two way benefits; community leaders promoted the product of company and secondly the communities under the payroll were a line of defense; and offence in case the people from above turn against the company. All communities were skeptical of each other for no real reason but the continuation of history. Best part of dealing with community leaders was the different slang in which they would talk. Generally the leader would talk big about the traditions and would supposedly go to any lengths to protect it but at the same time they were on the payroll of company.
Vihan liked the challenges in his work but still the doing the same thing day after day made it a little monotonous. Chatting with co workers was a good way to break the monotony. Generally he thought of most of the other employees as beggars; ready to do anything just to get a little bit extra. One of them was different; Badri was the only person in the office whom he found different. During smoking breaks he would always slam the company, which he considered as one big organization of thieves.
It was Badri who told Vihan the inner working of the company, the role of misinformation in the success. The shiny company had very dark secrets, apparently the company owned more businesses than Vihan knew. Badri was almost sure that the company owned most of the media companies secretly, apart from those whose ownership they publicly acknowledged. Many competing products like mobile handsets were from the company and the ads played on the TV networks being run by company and the ads were shot by the advertising agencies, which according to Badri were a part of company. Vihan always wondered what Badri was doing in the company because neither had he liked what he was doing nor there was any reason for the company to retain him.
Vihan now came to understand what he was doing in the company; it wasn’t by chance that he had got the job of accountant. Prakhar had fixed his job in the company to get the inner workings of it. Being a mole is not something which Vihan liked especially when it was done without his knowledge. He had always been an anarchist, anti-establishment but after passing a little time in the company his rebellion had subsided. There was something which bound him to the company; it wasn’t money but something else. There was still nostalgia for his earlier life though it was subsiding. Sometimes he would feel that he was missing something but could not figure it out. It was freedom!
Till few months back he was truly free. The shanty in which he used to live was so bad that he could have moved on without second thought, here he had to come to office everyday or had to inform. Earlier he never cared for government but for getting the unemployment benefits, now he had to constantly check for the government rules and regulations.
Weather had changed, it was now winter and not the rainy season when he had tried to help the girl, failed and joined the job with the help of Prakhar. His priorities had also changed with the time. It was then he decided to confront Prakhar for using him.
“This is the photo of latest victim of accident. He was a corrupt corporator who had turned against the district politicians and administration because he wasn’t being given his ‘cut’ in the money. “ Prakhar showed Vihan some pictures of that corporator.
“So?” asked Vihan and surprised Prakhar replied.
“It is another killing in the city and the people thanks god for the end of him but they easily forget that they can be the next in line if people at the helm of affairs turned against them.”
Vihan put down the cup of coffee, stubbed the cigarette and would speak after taking his time.
“So you now started to have upset stomach even if corrupt politicians are killed?”
“But ‘being-killed-in-road accident is not a solution to anything, had he brought to justice he could have implicated a lot of other culprits. We could have even recovered money from him.” Prakhar argued.
“But who is included in that ‘we’? I don’t need his money.” Vihan replied solemnly but could not gather enough courage to make an eye contact.
Vihan was trying to ignore him and instead was looking at the walls which were properly painted, at the room which was properly furnished, at the window beyond which there was a properly maintained park and at the LED TV in room. Now there were ‘proper’ things which could not be left behind easily. Only proper thing for Prakhar was to leave which he did. He half hoped for Vihan to call him back. Vihan stood there and felt something was not right but that feeling wasn’t strong enough to stop Prakhar.
It was a bright sunny morning in winters, a perfect day for everything. More than a week had passed since Prakhar and Vihan had parted ways. Guilt of parting with a real friend remained on the back of mind of Vihan but it wasn’t much. There were more important things to take care of like making the black money white, sipping good wine and listening to top shots of the company and agreeing with them. On that perfect day, he knew that something was not right. There was uneasiness in that perfect weather and by lunch he was sure that some thing was wrong. But that feeling went away and he passed the rest of the day normally and went back to his room to sleep.
Morning newspaper was same as that on previous day, same old fake reporting as ever, now Vihan knew which news was correct and which was not. It no longer mattered what news was coming to public as long as public was entertained and in good humor. People don’t generally like news without some murders or big shot crimes. They needed some conspiracy theories; they needed some bad news so as remain hooked to it. Earlier he used to read newspaper thoroughly but now only looked at the headline. Colored page 3 photos were the only real interesting part of it. Sometimes the newspapers did publish scandalous photos which gave the TV media the spice to run the programs for a week. He was about to thrash the newspaper into dust bin but something made him look at the inner pages. He started reading a news article regarding the accidental death on the highway.
“..... dead body of another victim of road accident on the highway no. 88 was found. He was Prakahar, a journalist with independent publication. Unfortunately there are no leads regarding the killer vehicle or the killer driver. Probably the accident happened around noon and police was informed about this by a passing motorist…”
Vihan felt dizzy and could not read remainder of the news.
Ringing mobile brought him back to his senses; his boss was calling him to office for some urgent work. He went out leaving the mobile behind. Some one has to put a stop to all these killings and for this he needed to know who ‘Ronny Dhingra’ was.
Next two months passed in search of ‘Ronny Dhingra’, Badri helped a bit. It was Badri who gave the leads for getting started. He also told Vihan the reason why the company never fired him though he always spoke against them. Badri’s father was himself part of the company just in some other city and any action against him would mean his father would spill the beans which company just could not afford. Having idiotic Badri on board was thousands time better than having his shrewd father against them.
His search for Dhingra, whom he considered the biggest nemesis without ever having seen him, led to many small time criminals and big shot businessmen. All of them knew Ronny and all of them had never seen him. Only a few provided him with some good lead but the cumulative sum of the leads was enough to pin point the exact location of Ronny’s house.
It was a big story house with unkempt lawn with one old ambassador car perennially parked and a lone security guard. Every businessman worth anything had at least couple of guards but Ronny was with just one security guard. Probably others needed guards because of him. There was no need of flashy cars as well when from morning till evening some or other big cars like Mercedes were parked on the road which belonged to his visitors. By night all visitors would leave and but for old ambassador car there was no vehicle nearby and Vihan guessed him to be either a loner or a weird kind of person; probably he was weird because Vihan never got a chance to even remotely watch him even after looking for him for two weeks. He never came out of the house. Vihan’s surveillance told him that on Monday night no one would be at his place by 8 in evening and that was the right time to go for the kill.
On Monday night there were no visitors in the house and no cars on road. It was the time when Vihan took his chance and entered the house courtyard half expecting for some alarm to ring but nothing happened. He was little surprised with no alarms ringing; sometimes if nothing wrong happens it only increases the apprehension and it was on such time. He could bet that he all could hear was just his heartbeats and his footsteps though he was passing through lawn.
He reached the door pretty soon and it was locked so he moved to servant quarters. The door at servant quarter was locked as well but it wasn’t a very strong door and he opened it after unscrewing couple of bolts. He entered the house with trepidation, he wasn’t sure what to expect in there. House was in silence but for some sounds in the kitchen and Vihan had deal with him before going for Ronny. He tiptoed to the kitchen and was surprised to find that guard was the cook as well. Just a big cut on the neck was enough to silence the cook; for ever. Vihan had come with a pistol and a knife; knife was the preferable option because it won’t cause any sound and the pistol was just a backup.
He slowly tiptoed to the master bedroom from where the sound of TV was coming. Some one, probably Ronny was watching the TV. On it some singing program was coming, but Vihan could not pin point which program was it. He looked around and found the house to be very normal and he felt both; relief and let down. He had expected something sinister, something monstrous going on in there, but there was nothing amiss. He inched towards the bedroom, there was another thought going in his head that probably more guards were in the room. He reached the bedroom and put the ear on the door to listen to the room and found that some devotional programmed was being played. There was no other noise and after listening to it for some time, Vihan was sure that there was no one else in the room but for Ronny. After praying to god, he opened the door with a solid kick.
There was just one man in his fifties watching TV and having dinner. He looked at Vihan who had pistol in one hand and bloodied knife in other. That man was quite unremarkable and could melt away in a crowd without a problem; he looked at Vihan and was too shocked to say anything.
Vihan was under whelmed with this discovery and asked
“Are you Ronny Dhingra?” Half expecting the false refusal but man remained silent for few moments and then burst out laughing.
“Why are you laughing?” Barked Vihan, he started feeling unsafe now. Just a confident laugh from an unremarkable oldie took away all the confidence which he had.
“Your question is so funny” That man could not suppress his laughter.
“What is so funny about it?” Vihan could feel the sweat on his face.
“You don’t know anything about Ronny and still murdered someone to meet him.” He said while looking at blood stained knife.
“I have no problem in committing any more murders to reach to him and I know that you are Ronny Dhingra”.
That man remained silent for few moments and the started speaking in a serious tone.
“Why you need Ronny Dhingra? What do you want to do with him? I am not Ronny Dhingra but I can help you. Just tell me why do want him?”
“He is behind all the crimes in the city.”
“Why do you care about the crime in the city?”
“Honest and simple people are suffering for no fault of theirs.”
“Still you didn’t answer my question, why you need Ronny Dhingra?”
“Ronny steals and loots the money from government officers, distribution system and artificially hikes the price of essential commodities. He is the one behind all the business houses in the city and he is one who sets the price. He is the owner of everything in the city, including lives of common people” Vihan was panting by the end of his diatribe. Old man was unperturbed.
“But you still didn’t answer my question, why do you want him”
“He got my friend Prakhar killed” Vihan shouted and old man just smiled.
“So you had a personal reason for seeking out Ronny but you were talking big. How can you say that Ronny is behind the killing of your friend?”
“Ronny is behind all the crimes in the city and my friend was collecting evidence to implicate him and that’s why he was killed and his body was thrown at the highway of death”
“You really think that Ronny is behind all the businesses in the city and you also think that he is behind all the crimes in the city. So if I say it more succinctly then I may deduce that he is behind everything.” He pauses for a moment while a confused and unsure Vihan keeps on staring at him.
“You must have heard that all the businesses are headed by just one group which is in turn headed by Ronny. And you must have also heard that all the criminals belong one gang that is also headed by Ronny. So why hasn’t somebody ever seen him. All these qualities; being the most powerful and never being seen by someone would mean that he is akin to god. Isn’t it?”
Vihan sat down on a chair, looked to around to make it sure that there was no one else.
“So what your point is? Is he your god? My friend was murdered so there is got to be somebody responsible.”
“Your friend was killed by ‘Status Quo’; all the businesses and crimes are also being controlled by the same ‘Status Quo’. People who are born rich would never let anyone else to become rich and those who are born poor but has no chance of any improvement in life won’t let any other poor man to become rich, because of jealousy. Those who try to do otherwise are breaking ‘Status Quo’. Probably you friend tried to break the same and paid with his life. There is a criminal inside everybody which is trying to break free and those who can milk the criminal inside others, reach the top. For your kind information there is no monolithic corporation or gang; it is just the same lust for money and power which acts as glue. Probably you would now understand that there is no ‘Ronny Dhingra’; it is just a creation of mind and media. People look at him as a godlike figure and after committing any crime they just give an excuse that if Ronny can do that then we can at least do this. We; me, other businessmen, politicians and government officials make sure that people are given opportunity of steal and commit other crimes so that they lack the gut to point finger at others. We let your ‘common people’ steal the electricity so that we can do then same. At the end of the day people end up paying exactly the same amount which they would have paid hadn’t they stole the electricity but they dare not point the finger at us. Our media companies always show the bright side of city and if it is not there then we create it, it keeps people interested. But the people are more interested in the stories of crime, because of the criminals inside the mind. They love to believe that they are surviving in a lawless frontier area so that just survival becomes an adventure and therefore many crimes are overstated with spices. Now you have killed my guard; it’ll provide a good entertainment to public for a week. If you kill me; the news would entertain people for a month, and if you commit suicide as well then people would enjoy the legend for years. This crime would again be labeled on ‘Ronny Dhingra’ and his legend would just grow. Would you mind killing me?” old man asks with a smile.
Vihan was incredulous with that blast of information. He spoke after putting down the knife and pistol; without looking in the eyes of the old man.
“I’ll go to state government, central government and expose how you guys have criminalized the city. How you loot the city.” But on the inside he didn’t mean any of this and spoke because he had to say something.
“Do you really think that there is something like government? Or it is just another status quo” Came the reply and there was nothing which Vihan could and do.
*encounter-killings – Indian slang for extrajudicial killings by police force.