"How long do you think?" asked the bearded man.
"Must be another 30 minutes" replied the man with the scar honking with disgust. He got irritated when someone pestered him with questions. At the age of 12, in a fit of rage, he had broken his teacher's head and ran away scared of police. The same anger earns him his bread with regular dadagiri and occasional murder.
"Bhaiyya. Stop for tea. I am feeling sleepy." the new recruit chottu just added salt on the scarred man's wounds.
They stopped outside an old dilapidated tea shop where Sardar drivers and their puny assistants drank tea and ate Parle G cracking vulgar jokes and laughing loudly. Chottu grabbed 3 biscuit packets and ordered 3 masala tea.
"So what is the number?" asked chottu.
"What number?" replied the irritated scarred man.
"You know. Like 'Ab tak chappan', do you keep count of the number people you tanked off?"
The scarred man had never given it a thought. The only thing he remembered clearly was his first cold blooded murder. That was thrilling experience. But the later ones were more mechanical and he just went through the motions. He probably got used to it.
He made a mental note to keep a score of his victims henceforth. Maybe like the Count of Monte Christo.
"Are you sure that our targets would be there as expected?"
"Yep. The source is quite reliable. They stay in a small apartment in the next city." replied the bearded man.
"What do you think they might be doing now?" winked chottu mischievously.
She lay her head on his hairy chest playfully wriggling them. He looked over the ceiling and saw the fan which was loud enough to hide the sound of their love making. He was not sure if he should be relieved or troubled about it. They were still getting used to each other physically although they could read each other's train of thoughts at that moment.
"Do you think we made a mistake?" she asked.
Like most women, she felt guilty and doubted her actions after an act. Like most men, he remained silent and neutral. The only thing he had learnt from his parents' marital life was to stay silent when in doubt. He knew that they were past the 'mistake' borderline.
"I dont think it makes any difference to our parents." He said bitterly.
He was angry with his parents and hers' as well. They had treated them like a piece of dirt and he knew that they deserved better.
"My papa would understand and forgive us." she tried consoling herself rather than answering him.
"Yeah. And Hitler had siesta with Jews. How long are you going to fool yourself?"
"How long can they hate us? I am their daughter and they love me."
"Do you even realize that they were going to get you married to someone you never knew just for the sake of society and pride?"
"Almost every second parent does that in our country. Your parents were not an exception as well."
"Well, mine were the second parents in this case."
They smiled weakly at this remark. He ran his fingers and adjusted her hair behind her ear. They knew that the first few months were going to be very tough emotionally and financially.
"You should have been living in a castle like a queen. Look at you now." He felt guilty.
"You dont understand. Its not a castle that makes a women a queen."
"Then what makes a women feel.....queenly?"
"Its....." she moved near him slowly and kissed him gently on his lips. "The King".
"That’s so corny" smiled Chottu seated on back of the car referring to a lyrics of a love song played on the radio.
The bearded man got irritated and lowered the volume. He sat upright as if he was going to deliver a sermon.
"Remember. As much as possible dont use the gun. It has to be used only if you find them out of your reach. Use your knife."
"But knife is so crude. And why should we use a knife when we have a gun?" asked Chottu still itching from using the gun in his hand.
"Because a knife is silent. Also, knife causes more pain. I want to see them shiver with pain and fear before they die." The beaded man mentally pictured killing them with his bare hands.
"I can understand your anger for the boy. But we can abduct the girl right? After all she is your relative."
"Dont even talk about that bitch. She ditched our family for that useless bastard. It will serve as a lesson for all the girls in the family. Also a reminder for the boys to stay away from our girls."He winked as if he had just shared the joke of the year.
Chottu made a mental note to check if any girl he loved or pretended to love had such crackpot relatives.
The man with the scar smiled to himself. After all this, people still called him savage for his grizzly appearance and behaviour.
These bastards were killing their own daughters and sons in the name of honor. Ironically, man had invented all possible gadgets and covered himself with fashionable attire, but still the age-old animal instinct to kill and relish was left untouched inside.
"Dont you think that the police will trace you? After all, your family will now be the direct accomplice in this case." asked Chottu as if he had just passed Bar exam in Loyola.
"Hmm. How many cases in India do you think get delivered hailing truth and justice? In most cases the accused and accuser die out of depression and old age. And the rich in jails are supplied everything including carnal pleasure. The police might be hot on trail for one week. The news channels will run it for 2 weeks. By third week, the public will be looking at some other hot murder like this or forget it in midst of an Indian team's victory over Bangladesh. So you can jump with joy and say "Fuck the justice system.""
"Hmmm. Sounds logical to me. Hey, what is that?"
"Thats salt. If I am not wrong, you add sugar when you make tea. Maybe your dad adds salt in his tea."
He made no secret of his hatred for her dad. Her dad had sent some gundas and got him roughed up in a hospital for only talking to his beloved daughter. And that is when he also started to fish out for grooms outside the city who did not know about his daughter's love affairs. And even if they did, the heavy dowry, Jewels and Maruti Swift car should make him forget it.
"You have never laid your foot in your kitchen, have you?"
"Except when I wanted fresh and hot parathas."
She missed her mom and her parathas. Her mom would miss her too. Atleast she thought she would. How many women even had a say in such a savage society?
He came and hugged her from behind. He knew that she missed her parents and he wanted to make her forget the pain. Forget the anxiety. Time as they say is the best healer.
"Hey, what’s the name of the theatre near our house?" he asked trying to change the mood.
"Alankar" said chotu.
"There it is." said the man with the beard. It was dilapidated theatre with possibly 10, 20 Rs tickets and where old hindi movies with sleazy titles used to run.
"Did you see the name of the movie running there?"
"No. Do you think we are here to watch some stupid yuppie flick?"
"Well. Ironically, it is called I hate Love stories."
He winked and laughed uncontrollably. The bearded man gave him a beastly look which promptly shut him up. They parked their jeep outside the shop next to the theatre and walked towards their "spot".
"So, are we all clear as to what we need to do?"
"Well. I hope to get that accountant's job for which I interviewed yesterday. The Manager seemed quite happy."
"Yeah. Lets hope we move out of this dungeon soon."
"Then we will enrol you in some college here."
"Why? You don’t want me to work?"
"No. Your mom wanted you to have Master's degree. Atleast someday when we show up at their door with a Master's degree and a kid, it should make them happy."
"You know, even after all this shit, you want to make them happy?" she asked quite relieved.
"Well. I hope someday we all live in peace. After all, everybody's life is short. And why make it shorter with anger, grudge and hatred."
"You know, I think of this and this song comes to my mind. Tum Bhi Chalo Hum bhi chalen"
They start singing together
"Chalti rahe zindagi.
Naa Zameen Manzil Aasmaan....
They smile and embrace each other.
They hear someone knock on the door.
She walks to the front door and opens it.