Saturday, February 13, 2016

Playground of Life

The novel, Black Hole, continues.

For a summary of the previous parts or for the links to the parts themselves, click here.

4.3

*
The presence of police on the campus baffled Ishan.  Over a month had passed since Ishan started getting used to the choice of millions.  Flowing with the current is the choice of millions, he said to himself as he understood the system more and more.

“A fight between two boys,” Mr Hemant Hooda said when Ishan enquired about the police presence.

Hemant was the psychology teacher.  He was the first among the staff to make friends with Ishan while most others kept a suspicious distance.  Hemant was of the same age as Ishan.

One of the students of class eleven picked a fight with the son of the music teacher, Mr Shivprasad Mishra.  “Teasing is a very common problem among the boys.  Junior Mishra attracts more teasing than others for various reasons.”  Hemant explained that being a teacher’s son was enough reason to attract negative attention.  Being Mr Mishra’s son is an added attraction.

Shivprasad Mishra was a musician of some repute.  All India Radio used to air his ghazals occasionally.  He had all the hubris and eccentricity that artists usually possess, perhaps a little more than the normal quota.  “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge, doesn’t the Bible say that?”

“Hm,” Ishan mumbled his assent indifferently.  He was not interested in listening to Biblical wisdom. 

The management was extremely displeased with Mr Mishra and even terminated his service once.  Hemant narrated.  He took the matter to court.  The affair was hushed up soon with an out-of-court settlement.  “It altered his stature in the school altogether because winning a case against Mr Sitaram Rana is news indeed.”

Ishan wondered why that was so.

“Mr Rana is a very powerful person with influence in the government.  He can buy off lawyers and even judges.  His thugs can threaten or beat up anyone anywhere.  In many ways he’s no different from a mafia don.”

“But someone told me he was a very religious person.”

“He is.  He is that too among many other things.”

Choice of millions.  The phrase resounded in Ishan’s psyche.

“How did Mr Mishra win against him, if Mr Rana is so powerful?”

“To win, you have to use the same strategies employed by your enemy.  Mr Mishra has some relative who is an MP from Bihar and who won the election by booth-capturing.  He sought the assistance of the MP.  Mr Rana has steel mines in Bihar.  You see the connections.”

“I also heard that Mr Rana has connections with Devlok.”

“Indeed.  He’s the son of one of the founders of the ashram, Mahendra Rana.  The present Baba’s father and Mahendra were bosom friends.  The land on which Kailash Public School stands was originally grabbed by Mahendra Rana in the name of the ashram.  All the money that Sitaram Rana invested in the steel industry was siphoned off by his father from the ashram, people say.”

“But Mr Sitaram Rana is a very religious person,” Ishan repeated it, this time to himself.

“He is,” Hemant repeated his answer.  “He is that too among many other things.”

“Who called the police on the campus?  A problem between two students should be solved in the school itself, isn’t it?”

“Mr Mishra has his own ways beaten by his gigantic ego.  But he has reasons to be inflamed this time.  His son lost a tooth, you see.”

“Lost a tooth!  In the fight?”

“Yes, he was punched squarely on the face.  Otherwise the boy wouldn’t have gone to his father with a complaint.  Class eleven is not an age when boys can go crying to their parents for levelling out their problems with classmates, is it?”

“Why are the police sitting in the Vice Principal’s office rather than the Principal’s?”  Ishan had noticed that as soon as he came out from his class and was going towards the staff room.

“The Princi and Mr Mishra are at loggerheads with each other.  There’s an interesting story about them here.  Once the Princi issued an official letter of warning to Mr Mishra for neglect of duty or something of the sort.  Mr Mishra read it standing in the Princi’s office and then rolled it up contemptuously.  Thrusting the roll on to the face of the Princi, he said, 'Shove it up your arse, you Bum-bum.'”

Ishan laughed.  He thought that Kailash was a very charming place.  Bum-bum.  Actually Mr Abhimanyu Chaturvedi was gifted with a rich bum, Ishan recalled with amusement.

“And Mr Mishra sang a ghazal in a school function on the next day:

It’s a battle of wits in the playground of life;
The clown sits on the throne while his knights wield the knife.”

Hemant actually sang the lines.
 
“You’re a good singer,” complimented Ishan.

“Thank you, dost.  Do you sing?”

“Not at all.  Even a nursery rhyme remains beyond me,” confessed Ishan.

“You’re very fond of reading.  I see you are one of the rare teachers who frequent the library.”

“Books don’t play games like people,” said Ishan.

“Ha ha ha,” Hemant laughed loud and long as if Ishan had cracked the best joke of the year.  “What’s life, friend, but a series of games played by people?  Some games are interesting enough to appear in history books, while others belong to the common marketplace.”

“Where would you place Mr Sitaram Rana?”  Ishan was curious.  “In history or the common marketplace?”

“Borderland, like most people with big ambitions.  He is the kind that will make a lot of noise as long as there is the mafia to shoot for them and vanish without a trace once their lungs become too weak to suck in the air.  Like Bal Thackeray, for example.”
 
“The guardian of Maratha pride.”

“Sentiments, not pride.  There’s a big difference.  Have you heard about his dalliance with Michael Jackson.  When Jackson wanted to perform in Bombay, what did the Maratha Tiger do?  He became a plunderer.  He demanded that the entire collection of the first concert should be donated to the Shiv Sena.  Four crore rupees just for the asking.  When Jackson agreed to give the alms, Thackeray raised another demand.  That’s how the game goes.  You push as much as it goes.  And it can go a lot depending on how hard you can push and how soft your target is.”

“What was the next demand?”

“That Jackson should perform in Bombay only with the blessings of the Tiger.  In short, pay him a personal visit first.  Ego boosting, after plundering.  That’s how the game goes.  And Jackson knew the game.  He agreed again.  And what did he do?  ‘I wanna piss,’ he said as soon as he entered the Tiger’s den.  And the Tiger led him personally to the toilet.  Jackson pissed to his heart’s content in the Tiger’s den.  And the roaring custodian of the Maratha pride kept that toilet unused after that and showed it off even to the media as Michael Jackson’s autograph in the Maratha Tiger’s mansion.”

Ishan laughed.

“Sitaram Rana is the Bal Thackeray of Kailash Public School,” Hemant concluded.

“Amen,” Ishan reciprocated.

*


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2 comments:

  1. Visiting after a gap.
    Great that you have started writing a novel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was also wondering where you had disappeared. Glad to see you back here. :)

      Delete

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