Open Call , Short Stories -Shashi Kadapa

 

Resort Politics

By Shashi Kadapa

A satire- humour story on politics in an Indian State renowned for scholars, poets, singers, and artists. What happens when the government is un-governed in absentia by squabbling, intemperate, corrupt, desperate, power hungry politicians, for which ‘any end justifies the means’?

 

It was a fatal and flawed, incomprehensible blunder that I set out to Gengaluru, the capital of a South Indian State. The TV channels and anchors were screaming about a ‘constitutional crisis’ in the city. But, I reasoned, I am a common citizen, what has politics and the shameless intrigues got to do with me?


I checked into a hotel, washed up, and for a change, decided to wear white, with black glasses, etc, looking quiet dapper. Trouble started when a few layabouts loafing around a paan shop spotted me. They made a flurry of calls, cast gaunt and sidelong glances at me, as I stood oblivious to frenzied mutterings.


Next instant, a smelly bed sheet was thrown over me and I was bundled into a waiting taxi!


The vehicle went on and on for a long time, over potholes, and ditches, bringing the stark realisation that this city had more potholes than roads, and that it was the dextrous driving by the driver that we jolted on the ‘slope’ of the potholes, without crashing into them.


It was apparent that I was being kidnapped. But for what? Ransom?


I carry what I own on my back, and there was nothing worth that could be exchanged. Besides, my wife would have given away our meagre belongings, if the kidnappers promised to keep me.


Anyway, the contraption stopped after some time and I was jostled into what appeared to be a resort. The sheet was yanked off and there stood a number of ‘characters’ fresh out of C grade Kannada movie.


One tall, lanky fellow appeared to be their hit man. He came and introduced himself. “I am B Gouda”


“Le”, it said. “Which party are you from”?


More out of terror and to ward of a beating, I raised my palm.


Quickly the atmosphere turned to one of bonhomie.


“Ha” says the hit man, “You are from our party EmptyGong. Welcome!”


I was ushered into a hall, filled with what were obviously politicians. There were, thick, fat, lanky, stout, looked fierce, feral, obnoxious, I run out of words. Once I was caught for drunk driving and shared a cell, courtesy of the Police, with some inmates. I spent the night in the brig until the next day and bribed my way out. Anyway, the inmates of the cell looked like cherubic toddlers compared to these political desperados.


Question came fast and quick.


“Which constituency? Why was I running away to join the BJees?”


“We gave you a ticket and got you elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). Now you want to rebel and desert our hundred year old party”?


“We are loyalists, loyal members. You know what we do with rebels?”


The hit man Gouda stepped up. He pulled out a scythe, grabbed a coconut and in one quick move sliced off the top.


Then he glared deep into my hysterical eyes, ran his fingers across his throat in one smooth ominous motion, giving ample hint that my throat would be slit!


My throat dried up, I could not even gabble that I was a nobody, I was not an MLA, and that I had nothing to do with politics.


Worst, I still had no idea why I was press-ganged into servitude. They had mistaken me for someone else?


-----xx----


They hustled me off into one of the dining rooms. The hit man Gouda lead the way, through a gym where a bunch of very fat and stout wrestlers were exercising. It appears that this route through the gym was pre-planned to intimidate and ingrain a deep rooted, and endemic fear.


The wrestlers, huge beefy creatures, slapped their arms and thighs, making sharp staccato sounds that ricocheted through my spine. Their training acts were even more intimidating. My escort, the hit man ran a running commentary.


"See that wrestler banging its head on a rock and rapidly breaking off chunks. He is called head-butt killer and finishes his opponents by butting their heads with his head."


He gestured to another massive fellow "That respected wrestler is practicing by crushing rocks in his hands. He is called 'head crusher'.


"Now look at that 'great bone crusher', yes the one who is crushing iron ingots in his biceps. He is undefeated in 100 matches, and has crushed the bones of all his opponents."


There were two massive things that were beating themselves. I looked inquisitively and the henchman replied "Oh those two. One of them is hitting himself because his wife left him. The other thing is hitting himself because his wife is not leaving him."


Great, I soliloquized, between us, we have all emotions, relations, tragedy, debauchery, treachery, greed, corruption, and misery tied up.


The hit man added. “The rooms and hotels are guarded by these wrestlers and their trainees. They are on probation waiting for a chance to impress us and find regular employment. Do not try to escape and give them a chance to show their skills on you.”


I had read somewhere that the bigger and massive you grow, the lesser the blood that reaches the brain, leading to impeded intelligence, and a smaller brain. Well, this theory was proved here since these things had very small heads, and bloodshot, glaring eye.


----xx---


A warm aroma of expensive whiskey filled the room, like the scent of incense sticks pervades the prayer room. One thing was sure, these politicians knew how to live and enjoy.


The buffet tables were loaded with the finest eats. Courteous resort staff waited obsequiously on us, serving whiskey, and food. I asked for a double, grabbed a plate of snacks and went to a corner. My hunger was eating away my stomach and the whiskey smelt very appetising.


Two people sat at a corner table, and like me, it was apparent that they did not belong to the political clan. As I sat and nodded questioningly, they glared suspiciously as if I was a plant.


One of then burst out “Saar, I am a milkman. I had come to deliver milk and they caught me and put me here, mistaking me for an MLA.”


The other fellow, a pious Muslim shrilled “Janab, I had come to deliver bread. They caught me and want me to pose as an MLA.”


“Guys, why worry? We have good food, booze, they will soon realise their mistake and release us.”


“Hah” muttered the Janab. “During Bakrid, we buy sheep fatten them for slaughtering. This is what will happen to us!”


“Please explain. I do not what is going on.”


“See Saar, these two political parties are always fighting. They never work anyway. Now some MLAs of the EmptyGong have defected to the BJees. There is a vote of confidence and the EmptyGongs are kidnapping people and they will pose them as the defected MLAs.”


“Will the house leader accept us?”


“Janab, the house leader is one of them. The rebels are incommunicado. The EmptyGongs will win, and then they will get rid of us.”


“What if we run away?”


Janab, “during day, we are guarded. Outside the walls are hordes of BJees, waiting to catch us. Inside we have the wrestlers and the hit men and his gang. Even Shaitan, the devil will stay away.”


Really very depressing, tragic.


The hit man and one fat shetji type, who he called as Goswal sheth came to us.


A bag was thrust into our face and the fat sheth sais “This bag has one crore rupees and 10 kilograms gold. This is your fees.”


The hit man hissed dripping venom “take these funds. Vote for us, live and enjoy life. Run away, you will ….. he again repeated the slicing motion across his throat.”


Not much of a choice, we remain here, the gang has us, we get caught fleeing, the wrestlers will catch us and prove their worth and seek permanant employment, we escape, the rivals will get us.


I watched despondently from the window at the sprawling lawns. Well maintained, fertilised probably with the flesh and bones of hapless victims. I saw a couple of lithe athletic security types jumping on a trampoline, placed near the wall. They bounced off with the ease of seasoned athletes, soaring above the walls. I had also noticed that the electric main switch was under the steps that led to our room.


An idea struck me, but I kept quiet.


--xx—


The night struck 4 or more and the party was not going to end. We three were given a room, and I changed into a Dhoti and shirts, making me look like a politician. If anything, the desperados were fighting, swearing, and blaming each other for their misery. The wrestlers had eaten their full and where lolling about.
It was now or never.

 

I woke up my fellow inmates. Tehy were fatalastic and left their fate in the hands of Khuda. I convinced them and told them even the rivals outside the walls will be sleeping. Iin spite of their vehement and vociferous protests, they got dressed, slung the precious bags around our necks and slowly sauntered down the steps.


The guards in the hallway, lulled into indolence at our haplessness had joined the horde.


Slowly, we crept down the steps. One of the horde saw us and shouted “The rebels are escaping.”


I slid under the stairs and quickly pushed the switch off, plunging the resort into darkness.


It was a free-for-all as the inebriated loyalists fell over each other and grabbed anyone who came in the way. The slumbering wrestlers took time to come to their senses and started thrashing and mutilating anyone who got in their way. The hall was a mess of broiling horde as each member tried to get catch or flatten a rebel MLA. In the darkness, I heard the head-butt killer snarl and get the hit man Gouda in his midriff, eliciting foul oaths. I felt immense satisfaction.


The wrestlers wanted to prove their worth and graduate from an intern to a permanent position. Hence the ardour, and neither man nor beast was safe. It would take about two minutes for the generator to blink to life, and we had that much time.


What about escape?


Exit through the main gates was out of question. It was secured by alert guards.


We ran to the lawns and pulled up the trampoline to the wall. The milkman was the first to go, and he landed safely with his precious bag. The next was Janab, who uttered Allah and jumped with his bag. The last was me.


I am not very fit physically and the strain of the night and day had degraded my motor skills. The first two bumps sent me reeling into the wall. The last was successful and I landed in a bush, bruised, suffering from concussion, but in one piece with my bag, and staggered around.

 

Just at that moment, an early morning lady walker happened to pass and she espied me as I lurched and tottered and hit the wall.


She burst out vehemently "Oh look at you, you low life form alcoholic! You lout! You irrigate yourself to such an extent that you cannot walk, and bang on walls. What a miserable sight for me to see on my morning walk.”

 

She continued "this area is gone. This resort is infested with thugs and politicians. The neighbouring house has the Karaoke group of BVB Classics of 84, berating us night and day. They scream and shout and neither man nor beast is safe in this area. Bah!"

 

That was true, the Karaoke group had set up a discordant sound of strident wailing. Sounded like a bunch of cats and dogs getting their throats slit, slowly and agonisingly.

 

I felt hurt and strong words of scandalised outrage came to me. I did not say a word. We pushed on quietly to the bus stop to move on. I would catch a bus to Dharwad and escape.

 

I had this bag of gold and cash, I had duped politicians. What more could I want?


---- END---

 

Based in Pune, India, Shashi Kadapa is the managing editor of ActiveMuse. He uses an Indian voice to narrate wistful tales life in rural India,creating a web of thought provoking stories. His short stories appeared in anthologies of Casagrande Press, Alien Dimensions #11, and in the Spadina Literary Review. He has written for The Times of India and Debonair. Shashi is working on a book of short stories and a novel.

 

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