Love Kumar had no clear idea of what he was going to do with his life as he stepped out of the jail having completed the term for the rape he had committed seven years ago. He had met all sorts of people in the jail, like politicians and godmen. Until he met them in jail serving terms for crimes ranging from rape to murder, Love Kumar had thought that crime was the prerogative of the undeserving poor like himself.
He had not wanted to commit the crime. Life made him do it. That’s how he saw it at least. Life makes the undeserving poor do all sorts of things in order to get on in the world ruled by the deserving affluent. Politicians, for example. People give them the right to swindle. His own MLA had a huge body of thugs and goons who would do anything for their leader. That is in addition to the official security provided to the politician by the State. And the people voted him again and again to power.
Love Kumar used to stand in awe when such political leaders passed by escorted by a retinue of body guards, official as well as unofficial. It was a similar awe that overwhelmed him when he saw Lalita. He was working at a construction site. Lalita was another worker. She was young and exceptionally pretty. Such prettiness does not belong to the working class. So when Love Kumar felt drawn to Lalita it was in fact the undeserving poor’s aspiration to reach beyond his class. That is how life is. It makes you want to move out of your class to the next one in the social hierarchy.
Love Kumar ogled Laita whenever she passed by with the bricks on her head. Once he saw her putting down the bricks and rushing somewhere. Curiosity made him follow her. There was a child, a year or so old, sitting in the shade of a tree. There was a cloth chain binding him by the waist to the tree. Lalita picked him up, sat down under the tree, unbuttoned her shirt and popped one of her breasts into the child’s mouth.
“He is constructing this building,” Lalita said later when Love Kumar managed to speak to her. “It is his hunger that is constructing this building.” She patted the child on its back.
Love Kumar was consumed by a hunger. The sight of Lalita’s breast had whetted that hunger beyond control.
The Court could not understand that hunger. It sentenced Love Kumar to a seven year-term. The deserving rich don’t understand the hungers of the undeserving poor, Love Kumar knew.
Encountering politicians and godmen in the jail was an unexpected experience, however. It made Love Kumar think that the line between the undeserving poor like himself and the deserving rich like the politicians and godmen is a very thin one.
There was this man in jail whom everyone addressed as Guruji. They said he was a godman. One day he raped one of his devotees, a young woman who had sought his blessings in order to help her overcome her problems. Guruji asked her to meet him alone. He made her drink something and she was dazed. When she woke up from her spiritual daze she realised with horror that the Guruji had added one more problem for her: she was pregnant with his child.
Love Kumar had not deceived Lalita, however. He told her that he felt ineluctably drawn to her. Just once, that’s all I’m begging from you, he pleaded with her. She told him point-blank, Bhaad mein jao. He couldn’t take that from another undeserving poor. So he gave it to her. She deserved that.
Guruji and Netaji all have their special places even in jail. They deserve that. They belong to a different class, Love Kumar knew. He longed to reach that class as he walked on having got his freedom from the prison.
It was then he saw a group of young men stopping a truck carrying cows. Love Kumar stood to watch. He had heard from Netaji in jail that gau raksha was the latest fad in the country.
The young men dragged out the people in the truck’s cabin and beat them to death. Hiding behind a tree, Love Kumar watched as the gau rakshaks divided the cows among themselves.
Enlightenment descended on Love Kumar. He knew he could change his fortune easily now. He decided to become a gau rakshak.