“Youknow how the market is these days…inflation is at its peak. People don’t have money to buy even tomatoes, and you want me to do this!”
He put his index finger straight into his right nostril, desperately trying to catch something there. His facial expressions imitated a hunter, who concentrates on his prey through the binoculars of his rifle. The circumference of his eyes reduced, which suggested his focus. After a struggle of two minutes, his expressions changed to normal. He took out the sticky extract of his nose and started rolling it in a perfect round shape. And this was exactly after having dinner with Manish on that table.
Ranjit, 42, suited perfectly like a gentleman, had an anxious look on his face. He was short, 5’2’’ in height. He had a mole on his right cheek, and he was very sensitive about it. He didn’t like anybody staring at it, which is exactly what Manish was doing.
Manish, 38, was also suited to perfection. He knew that Ranjit hated anybody looking at the mole, but somehow he could not resist it today. It looked bigger than ever. He shook his head and tried to see elsewhere for a moment, but soon his gaze turned towards the mole again. It was disgusting.
“But I did everything you said. I have worked so hard for this.” Manish finally uttered something.
“There are no definite rules for this. I told you those things 3 months ago…you know how important it is to abide time.”
“I am almost on time. It happens sometimes, not everyone is a cakewalk. There are difficult people too.”
Ranjit took out a packet of ‘Lucky Strike’ cigarettes, and put it on the table. He fumbled into his pockets one by one but couldn’t find a lighter, or even a match stick. A wicked smile appeared on his lips, which looked similar to that of Charles Sobhraj, and was perhaps cautiously practised.
“Lucky Strike‘s taste is unique, distinctive, rich, smooth, and satisfying. They are almost free of additives and taste completely natural, but without a lighter… it’s worthless. Same is the importance of timing in this business. You missed the occasion of the elections. Now the rates are down. I can’t help you.”
“Ranjit,” Manish used his polite voice to frame him, “I need the money. I am in deep debt. I have worked for you, for years. I did whatever you wanted, gave you exactly what you wanted. This is a hard time for me, and I am banking on you. You have to help me with this.”
It was chilling outside. The white bed sheet of fog had covered the entire parking area. The cars parked there seemed like they had been unmoved for months. The whole place gave the impression of a dump-yard.
She woke up in panic, convinced she had heard something very odd. She opened her eyes with difficulty. Her head was pounding with pain. She drank too much last night. In the dim glow peeping in through the window of the car, she saw outside. The car was parked and she could see no sign of Manish. She tried to open the door of the car but it was locked, she tried another, but that was locked too. She looked here and there. She could see two men from the window of the restaurant in front of which the car was parked. Probably it was Manish sitting with his friend, who was supposed to provide them with a house to stay.
‘Maybe he locked the doors because I was sleeping.’
Seema, a beautiful Gujju lady who worked in a bank until yesterday, sat reluctantly in the car, holding her head. The first day she saw Manish, he had come to the bank with some cheques. Seema had just started working there, fresh out of college, and was a tad nervous. She watched his confident face with its bright smile. He was polite and courteous. By the end of that first, almost wordless transaction, she had already started thinking about him – a lean and tall gentleman with cheques amounting to lakhs, what could his line of work possibly be? He surely looked like a lawyer or an executive manager. Soon after their first encounter, they started dating each other. He was 38 and she was 25, but the age difference didn’t matter as their thinking was perfectly compatible. Overall, love has no boundaries and no logical definition. It is a trance which oscillates between hormones and emotions. Once you start swinging, you continue till you are stopped by an external force.
Seema told Manish all about her and her family. Their meetings were so passionate, and their understanding so attuned that they soon decided to tie the knot. It was like a roller coaster. Just yesterday, Seema told Manish that her family had denied accepting him because of his age and caste. And today, they were on a run to accomplish one of the most desirable things in life – marriage. They decided to go to Bandra and live there in a house, which belonged to Manish’s friend, and get married after getting his mother’s approval. Manish told her that his father passed away when he was 13 years old, and since then he had struggled hard to establish himself.
Seema rolled her fingers into her dark and long hair. She looked outside the car reluctantly, and felt like she had been waiting for Manish in that car, since eternity. She had heard about one of her school friends who fell in love with a person twice her age. He had a steamy affair with her, and left her when she got pregnant. But Manish was different. He had never touched her like that, nor tried to impose his sexual desires on her. She still felt so pure and untainted with him.
Overall, love has no boundaries and no logical definition. It is a trance which oscillates between hormones and emotions. Once you start swinging, you continue till you are stopped by an external force.
“She is a virgin. What else do you want?” Manish whispered.
Meanwhile, Ranjit ordered tea, and asked the server for a lighter. Manish refused to have tea. He was very health conscious. He never smoked or boozed. He was a teetotaller in the true sense of the term.
“Doesn’t matter, do you think I have nothing to care about, apart from your consignment.”
“People will bid very highly, in her auction.”
“Really…I don’t think so.”
“I could go to someone else as well.”
Ranjit lit his cigarette. And took a long drag until his lungs filled with nicotine-clad air. He closed his eyes and felt the pleasure of the smoke reaching his brains through his blood current. After almost 20 seconds, he exhaled an enormous amount of smoke into the air. Manish stared at Ranjit as if he wanted him to melt with the heat of his eyes.
Manish had been indulging in the business of female trafficking for several years now. His job was to deliver middle class or upper class girls to Ranjit. He used to misguide girls and manipulate them, taking advantage of their desires. He had delivered countless girls to Ranjit. Most of these girls wanted to be models, actresses, designers, or were just in pursuit of fame, no matter where it came from. Now some of them were sex slaves, serving big corporate families, while others were sophisticated escorts. A few others, who didn’t co-operate, were brutally murdered. Manish knew that if he even dared to sell the girl to another dealer, Ranjit would not hesitate for a moment to kill him and bury him in unknown places, with many of the girls he himself had delivered.
“Please try and understand my situation. I am begging you. At least look at her pictures. She is sexy. She can be a perfect whore and earn unlimited money for you.”
Manish kept some pictures of Seema on the table. Ranjit, who was still busy smoking, saw the picture from the corner of his eyes. She was fair. Her face was perfectly oval in shape. Her eyes were big, hazel with impressively long eye lashes, curled upward. The shape of her nose seemed perfect, although it was a little slanted towards the right. Her lips were luscious and soft pink in colour. Ranjit browsed through the pictures. Her assets were neither too big nor too small. They were of an ideal size and seemed untouched. He smiled.
Seema remained still on the seat of the car. She didn’t even try calling Manish, as she was lost in the past and future of her life with Manish. She remembered the day he asked for her pictures to show to his mom. And when she said that she had none, he took her to the photo studio and remained with her until they had some fabulous pictures. He still had them. It was shocking how Manish got furious when the photographer asked her to show her cleavage. This was one of the many proofs of his love and respect for her.
“Itseems she doesn’t know how to expose,” Ranjit declared.
“She has not been exposed to such a culture yet. But I think the client will love the reaction on her face when they remove her clothes for the first time.”
“Is she ready to do such a thing?”
“Name one girl who was…” Manish had a crooked smile on his face.
“I don’t have time to make them ready. I want someone who is ready to go…like today. Will she agree?”
Manish said nothing but stared at the pictures on the table keenly. He looked at the watch and realized that he had been sitting there with Ranjit for over an hour.
“She is worth waiting for.” Manish took one of the pictures in his hands, and declared.
“No…Time is important.”
Seema took a small pillow which was kept on the back seat. It was covered by a velvet cloth and felt very cozy. She rested her head on the pillow. It was comfortable. She took her cell phone and browsed through the gallery. Her eyes expected to see the picture of a house, which she had clicked when Manish showed her the bungalow he intended to purchase. It was huge and completely separated from the rest of the colony. It also had a beautiful lawn in the front, and a swimming pool in the backyard. Life for Seema was going to be so easy and luxurious.