Twinkling Twelve and Charles Sobhraj – Part 3

Continued from Part 2

“Well how about we start by making a trip to the police station and tell them that we will be helping them. We know how the mama (police) just botch everything up” , Anurag stated authoritatively

Ed – I have no idea about the etymology of the term mama being used for police . Mama in Marathi means maternal uncle . But usually the term when used for cops has a derogatory sound about it that has always been inexplicable to me.

Sachin looked dubious , “Are you suggesting that we go to the police station and tell them that they need to stop investigating this case?”

“Exactly , we will also tell them where we will be searching so they can be spared the trouble of having to look in those places ” , exclaimed Anurag triumphantly . Like most sheltered children who are pampered and told repeatedly by their parents as to how special they are , Anurag had developed a strong sense of contempt for the general mass of humanity . With Anurag , one was guilty of stupidity unless proven otherwise.

Satish looked around puzzled , having always been obsequious in life tends to leave one tremulous of authority and the thought of walking into the police station and informing the guard that we will be taking over was more alien to him than say the thought of landing on the moon. He wondered if his idiot friends would actually go along with this foolishness.

The rest were happy to go along with Anurag’s suggestions and the dirty dozen walked over to the nearest police chowkey(station) . The picture of the paunchy  constable chewing his betel leaf contentedly with the red juice staining the lower echelons of his majestic mustache formed a sight that is familiar to most if not all . He looked petulantly at the young impetuous horde that seemed to advance towards him. He had children of his own and disliked them with a passion . They were usually good for nothing and demanding .

This crowd looked no better , especially the vanguard who looked like entitled spoilt brats . His instinct was justified when the brat started to talk “Hey you havaldar(constable) , we wanted to tell you that we are going to capture Charles Sobhraj and we dont want you meddling around ”

“What !!” , constable Ganpatrao was dumbfounded but as the words permeated through the layer of confusion and astonishment and understanding floated to the surface , his eyes blazed . The little bastards always bought out the worst in him

As Anurag patiently started to reiterate their position , unwary of the mottled rage in his adversary’s eyes “Weeee arrrre gooooinnng toooo caaaptuuurrrre Chhharrrrles Ssssobhhhhrrrraaaj and weeee donnnnt wannnntttt you medddddling arrrrounnnnd ”

” Piss off , you little bastards ” , screamed constable Ganpatrao and brandished his staff with the strongest intention of knocking off the little brat’s block whilst spewing profanities directed at mothers , fathers and general family ancestry in chaste Marathi . The dirty dozen beat a hasty retreat with Anurag still in the vanguard .They did not stop until they were out of breath and well out of reach of the fat constable who looked like a bloodthirsty savage as he ran after them with all the effort that he could muster

Now after they had regrouped , Anurag looked around and counted 12 for 12 .He was disgusted that nobody had bothered to put up a stand with the fat constable. He wondered if they needed some inspirational lessons in courage but he decided that perhaps inspiration could be better utilized at another time especially since some uncouth idiot might point out that he was in the vanguard while fleeing .It would be impossible to explain to these idiots that since he was the smartest, he had to ensure his protection for the betterment of the group . He looked thoughtfully around him .The stupidity of the police as personified in the fat constable who could not see the voice of reason and intelligence made it evident to him that they would have to go higher . Perhaps the Inspector or Sub Inspector in the station , that would mean having to sneak around the constable. It was also evident to him that he would have to be the one who would have to talk to the sub inspector because these idiots seemed to lack the backbone requisite for such a foolhardy task. His contempt at his comrades who seemed to have fled without making a bold stand was rising in a dangerous crescendo.

Ed – Well , dangerous for Anurag anyway, had he proceeded to voice his contempt at them , Sachin and Satish may well  join the others in a new punching game 

Fortunately he did have a brilliant brainwave

“I have an idea ” , Anurag exclaimed

Satish looked tired , these audacious trysts with authority were beginning to sap his strength and test his belief that bringing Anurag was a good idea to begin with.

“Ajit and Yogesh should bait the fat constable so that when he was busy chasing them and away from the door , the rest of the gang could go inside the police station and talk sense with sensible authorities. ” , Anurag looked at them proudly expecting an applause . Two silent minutes later, he silently told himself that he needed to find an audience intelligent enough to appreciate his brilliance

“Why should we risk our necks” , bleated Ajit .

“yes , you should go “, ventured Yogesh  timidly looking at Anurag.

Anurag wanted to launch a blistering attack on the stupidity of the general public who were utterly unwilling to sacrifice themselves for the larger cause but rescue came galloping from an unexpected quarter .

“You guys are the fastest runners that we have, Anurag is too slow and he could get caught” Sachin said slowly

Anurag was deeply offended by that comment and wanted to correct him that he had been in the vanguard whilst running away from the policeman . Before he had a chance to defend his running prowess , Yogesh agreed and Ajit reluctantly followed him .Flattery or perhaps logic had won the day.

As Ajit and Yogesh started walking towards the police station . Sachin rallied everybody this time “We need to get in position before the fat constable is led away from the door”

As so everybody decided to take up their respective vantage points where they could see Ajit and Yogesh approach the fat constable .

Ganpatrao viewed tea as one of the rare luxuries nay necessity that was permitted in a thankless spartan government job and he took it very seriously . The neighbourhood tea boy who was a whole 8 years old , knew exactly how he liked his tea . The black tea leaves needed to be blanched in boiling water and 3 paper thin slice of ginger added , after which a pinch of powdered cardomom and cloves were added to the mixture followed by 2 spoons of sugar. After the decoction was deemed suitably aromatic, whole fat buffalo milk was to be added in an exacting proportion of 1.125:1  for milk and the tea decoction. On occasional days , he would permit himself the luxury of a biscuit with his tea.  Ganpatrao viewed the general public as a nuisance that had to be tolerated , personally he would love to lock the lot of them up and throw away the key , unfortunately prison space was a big consideration these days. But his distaste of the general public  might almost seem like love if one was to realize his loathing for the public’s children had grown by leaps and bounds in the last hour . The bastards had led him on a merry chase for a full 10 minutes . It had taken him almost 20 minutes to come back to his post where his boss , the sub inspector demanded to know where he had been goofing off and given him a good ticking. Not a good day at all . The ordeal today was certainly one of those days where he needed a stiff cup of tea with a extra spoonful of sugar and a couple of biscuits to fortify himself for the rest of the shift . As he took up his post again , he looked around for the tea boy who was nowhere to be found. Story of his life, the runt was always hanging around when he was not needed and right now when he desperately needed a tea, the little vagrant had pulled one of his disappearing acts . He wondered if he could arrest him , a definite benefit would be that he could always get tea when he needed it. Deprived of the life resurrecting benefits of tea, he had to content himself with a betel leaf (paan) . Fortunately he had the foresight to buy an extra paan after lunch and he pulled it out of the recesses of his uniform but realized that the earlier exertion of running after those rascals earlier had managed to drench the paper packet in sweat . He slowly unwrapped the wet paper which had the annoying tendency to tear off and stick to the betel leaf and meticulously cleaned it . The sweat on the betel leaf made him queasy , the thought of putting that in his mouth was nauseating but so was the thought of throwing away a perfectly good paan. He hit upon a compromise , he decided to wipe the sweat off on his uniform before eating it.   So focused was he at the task at hand that he failed to notice Yogesh and Ajit on the steps of the police station looking curiously at him. The sudden sight of these two squirts that he did not recognize startled him thereby dropping the precious paan and in a moment of rare adroitness , he swung his hand and managed to clasp the precious cargo between the palm of his hand and his thigh. It is rare that one has moments of such joy followed by such depths of consternation. It was as though somebody sky diving from a mile above in the sky manages to plumb the depths of the Mariana trench in the next moment. The pride and joy at having secured the paan safely was followed by an acute consternation at the sensation of wet betel leaf goop on his hand . He withdrew his palm looking on in horror at the slowly spreading red stain on his trousers . If one had a view of the thoughts inside constable Ganpatrao’s mind , one would have witnessed Dante’s inferno in all its volcanic frenzy.  He looked up at the two miserable wretches who had caused this mayhem and his fury knew no bounds . In a act of agility that would have defeated most Olympic athletes , he leapt up to grasp them . Fortunately for both of them, they had retreated couple of steps while they had watched him during the whole paan exercise and they fled as hard as they could with the constable in hot pursuit . This time the constable aided with various emotions that had eluded him during his prior pursuit seemed to be gaining ground .  The fat constable gaining ground on Ajit and Yogesh mesmerized Satish into paralysis, while Anurag and Sachin came out of their vantage points and hurriedly looked for the others . Seeing nobody else come out of their vantage points, they decided to go inside the station alone before the fat constable came back.

Entering the police station , they found a small vestibule that had a table with crumbs of stale food and stains of tea. Entering a swinging wooded door , they were confronted by a officious looking man in a police uniform with his legs stretched on the table and head hanging on his chest. The man appeared to be asleep . Anurag looked at Sachin and grinned and whispered “You see why we dont want these idiots around”

Sachin looked exasperated . It is unclear to us whether his source of exasperation is his all knowing companion or the police who seemed determined to make an ill impression on the young minds but notwithstanding  the source , he rapped the table  . The sleeping figure did not budge . Anurag watched the reclining figure , could it be possible that somebody had committed a murder in the police station and left the body dressed up as a cop . Before he could convey his theory to Sachin , Sachin rapped the table again , harder with greater urgency. The sleeping cop woke up with a start . He looked at the two kids with bleary eyes . He had a new born at home that kept him up at night and his hopes of getting some rest at the office was dashed by these impertinent brats.

“What do you want?” , snapped Inspector Vithal Pant .

As Anurag started to talk, Sachin interrupted him . “Sir, please we would like to help the police catch Charles Sobhraj . If you could tell us what we can do to help , we will be thrilled to help”

Vithal Pant looked at the kids . Unlike Ganpatrao, he did not view them with a jaundiced eye. Perhaps the sweet taste of fatherhood had inculcated some tender feelings towards children, unlike Ganpatrao who had to provide for a big brood, this was his first child. Perhaps Sachin’s demeanour of humility was the clinching factor, we will never know . He smiled at the boys .

“I actually have a bigger task for you guys before we set out to catch Charles Sobhraj. ”

The boys looked agog with excitement

(To be Cont)



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