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SUPARI - A short story

Deepthought Senior Member
Deepthought
Deepthought

Joined: 08 August 2015
Posts: 215

Posted: 22 April 2016 at 1:46am | IP Logged

This is the 3rd story in the Brief Conversations series. It is a tale of dirty politics, prejudice and intent to murder.  

 

BRIEF CONVERSATIONS 3: SUPARI

 

Ram Prasad Bismil had followed the instructions to the letter. At precisely 2 pm, he had gone to Palika Bazaar, a fully underground air-conditioned market at the centre of Connaught Place, New Delhi. As agreed with the anonymous person on the other end of the telephone, he had asked for sweet supari and offered Rs500 at a particular stall in the busy market. When he was handed a small brown paper package by the short stall owner with two missing front teeth, he had felt vulnerable and exposed. All during his journey here and even now, Ram Prasad couldn't shake the feeling he was being watched. His nervousness made him sweat profusely. The stall owner however was very business-like, pocketing the money and then dealing with the next customer in line. To outsiders it appeared a routine transaction. Despite that, he felt very self-conscious and afraid that almost every person that looked at him had witnessed the dubious purchase and knew of the illegal act he was planning. 

He had held onto the package until he was in the safety of his home before opening it. The A/C chilled the sweat on his back and face when, with slightly trembling hands, he tore open the package to reveal its contents. He looked down in surprise at the cheap mobile phone and folded note. Putting the phone temporarily aside he read the accompanying note, written in Hindi. 

"The mobile phone is a disposable item. It can only be used to phone me. My number is programmed in already. When you call me you will be able to safely relay your request without being detected by anyone. Speak clearly and explicitly. Instructions regarding the transaction will be given to you over the phone. Only call if you wish the transaction to proceed. At the end of the agreement or after 5 pm tonight, the number will be rendered inoperable. No further calls will be possible on this mobile phone after 5 pm." 

Reading the note only made him even more nervous and he momentarily began to have doubts about his intended course of action. However Ram Prasad knew that if he didn't go ahead, his political career would be in tatters and he would spend many years in a prison cell. 

Prison conditions would be intolerable enough even without the prospects of mixing and being in physical contact with lower castes, especially filthy Dalits. As a RSS sympathiser, he resented the reservation system for Dalits and the other so-called backward classes. Ram Prasad believed jobs and university places ought to be awarded upon the basis of merit. Nowadays just about every group was demanding reservations so that they too could board the gravy train. Unfortunately many politicians were prepared to grant such reservations in their game of vote-bank politics. That was what modern India had become in the political struggle between the parliamentary parties. 

Shyam Sunder was a Dalit who currently threatened Ram Prasad's lucrative but illegal business dealings. Ram Prasad had lost too much sleep worrying about Shyam Sunder the Member of Parliament who was not only aware of the fraudulent business practices but was also too stubborn to guarantee silence for a share of the profits. Sunder's motive for refusing a handsome remuneration could only be politically motivated or a personal vendetta. What other kind of fool would turn down substantial additional income if it was offered? 

Again all fired up about his potential nemesis, Ram Prasad called the number programmed into the mobile phone. It took three rings before the call was answered. 

"Yes, how can I help you?" 

Ram Prasad panicked on hearing the voice. It was a different voice from the one he had called earlier and had given him the instructions about where and when to pick up the package. The politician's protective instincts screamed at him to end the call immediately and throw the phone away. 

"Are you there?" the new voice inquired. 

"I...but...Who are you?" said Ram Prasad stumbling over both his thoughts and words while his heart was jack hammering in his chest. 

"Just call me Mr Supari...Are you still interested in my services?" 

"Maybe." 

There was that uncertainty again, clearly reflected in his voice. 

"You need to be sure. Once the agreement is made there's no turning back. Is that clear?" 

Despite the A/C, fear and anxiety caused sweat to dribble from his forehead down the sides of his face. He was obliged to dry his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. His first response to the question was to nod but then realised he had to actually speak to be understood. 

"Yes, I understand." 

"Good. Let me specify what services are on offer. The bronze service will scare the victim and perhaps break a bone or two. Does that suit you?" 

The politician realised that this was insufficient for his needs. Shyam Sunder was not the type of person to stay silent just because he'd been beaten up. The man had the zeal of a Dalit wanting to right past and present wrongs. 

"No, it doesn't." 

"The silver service will ensure the victim is given a good scare and will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Would that suit your needs?" 

"No." 

"Well, that only leaves the gold service which will ensure the victim is permanently removed." 

The man spoke about all the different service with the same callous voice, giving no hint at the gravity of the intended actions of maiming or killing another human being. 

"If I chose the gold service how can I be certain, the police won't link the matter to me?" 

"Why should the police link a fatal accident with you of all people? But if you wish to be absolutely certain, then I would recommend the gold plus service. 

"What does the gold plus service involve?" Ram Prasad felt obliged to inquire 

"A big boom and a lot of talk about terrorism in the media," said the calm and matter-of-fact voice. "The police will be so busy chasing Muslims terrorists that nothing will be linked to you." 

Ram Prasad gulped at the audacity of the man who was unperturbed at the idea of taking several innocent lives in order to disguise the killing of a sitting member of parliament. Then he had a twinge of conscience about his own behaviour of purchasing the death of an individual who as yet had done him no harm. 

"So which service are you interested in?" 

The politician knew full well that anything short of death for Shyam Sunder would lead to his fellow Member of Parliament revealing information to the police about illegal business dealings. There really was only one option. He just wasn't sure he had the courage to take it. 

"I want the gold service." 

"Good choice. Now let's discuss my fees for that service and how the payment will be made." 

Ram Prasad understood. Business is after all just business. 

"How much is your gold service?" 

"That depends how well known the person is. If the obstacle to be removed is relatively unknown, the charge is 1K. The fee is 2K if the obstacle is a medium rank governmental official or middle manager. If the obstacle is the CEO of a medium sized company or well known to the public, the fee is 5K." 

Ram Prasad was surprised at the cheap prices. Had life become so cheap? 

"Who is the obstacle and what does he or she do?" 

"The obstacle's name is Shyam Sunder and he is a relatively new Member of Parliament." 

"That definitely merits 5K." 

"Worth every rupee." 

"Not rupees, dollars," corrected Mr Supari. "Fees are paid in US dollars - cash in advance." 

The politician gulped when he heard that. That brought the price to about 70 times what he had thought he was expected to pay. 

"What would you say to Rs250K..?" 

"It's a fixed price fee. Take it or leave it," said Mr Supari, his voice hardening. 

He thought about it only for a moment before realising he couldn't countenance the stress of finding another hit-man and going through all the cloak and dagger routine, yet again. Besides he needed to get the job done while his wife and daughter were away visiting his sick mother-in-law. 

"OK. What are the arrangements for payment?" 

The voice on the other end of the phone gave very explicit instruction about the time and place for paying the fees. He then asked Ram Prasad if the instruction were clear and understood. 

When he was satisfied with the response, he commented, "Then this conversation is complete." 

Mr. Supari ended the call. Then he switched off the recording device that had been on during the entire conversation. He looked down at the picture in his left hand. It showed a very nervous Ram Prasad accepting the package from the stall keeper in Palika Bazaar. A smile of satisfaction spread across Mr Supari's face. Success felt good. 

Mr. Supari put aside the cheap mobile phone and the photograph.  He picked up his own smartphone and made a call to his superior. 

"Gaitonde speaking." 

"Sir, the tiger has entered the cage." 

"Good news, Bansall. When do we bolt the cage door?" 

"Tomorrow at 6pm, sir." 

"On your way home tomorrow, I want you personally to deliver all the incriminating evidence and accompanying paperwork to my house." 

"Of course, sir." 

"When you do get back home, pack a suitcase and catch the first train from Delhi to Shimla. All hell's going to break loose. The politicians are going to weigh in, and the media are going to have a feeding frenzy. When the news gets out, I want you lying low, somewhere safe and out of sight of the politicians and news reporters. Understood, Inspector Bansall?" 

"Yes, sir."

  

(The End)



DO NOT COPY THIS POST AS THIS IS EXCLUSIVE TO INDIA FORUMS

Edited by Deepthought - 22 April 2016 at 1:55am

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