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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Janki and Mansoor

Prologue

Janki's husband Mr. Agrawal was murdered in the broad daylight in presence of twenty people who refused to testify. Mr. Agrawal was a contractor, who had build his fortune by making buildings for the government. Overpriced stock was underused to make sub-standard buildings for a housing board colony. Each flat was sold at a subsidized rate to the government employees. Janki had seen her husband rise from a one room rented apartment to a a contractor who owned a farmhouse each in Poona and in Delhi. In their village in Kapurthala, their rise in fortune had turned them into mini-celebrities. The five feet two inch body of Janki, with five kilo gold ornaments worn as bangles, nose-ring, anklet, belly-belt and earrings, in all fifty-five kilos of her frame resounded with howls that rung in the street for hours.

Somewhere else in the city the murderers sat solemnly in a temple, listening to Bhajans. A dozen people had died in a building collapse; Mr. Agrawal was proven innocent in the court. Now the dead were avenged "as they should be".

Janki had two sons. Both were lodged in Dehradoon boarding school. Mr. Agrawal wanted his sons to inherit a business empire. Janki was going to continue his efforts to build one. The story so far looks like a Bollywood movie, and all I need to finish it is a bunch of villains, the sons in love with two daughters of their father's enemy and a bunch of song dance sequences. In this story though, things happen in a different fashion, and there is no known enemy. Mr. Agrawal's death brought out his will: he had written off nearly everything to Subedaar Mansoor Ahmed, except the house and two acres of ancestral land in Kapurthala. Janki was surprised. Mansoor Ahmed was their neighbor, their landlord a decade ago. He still lived in the same building in Old Delhi and called upon their family on every festival, with a box of laddus in his hand. After the will was read, Janki howled even louder than she had cried at her husband's death.

Mansoor always had the reputation of being discretely honest in all his dealings. Janki had known no instance of his taking single penny as bribe in his capacity as a policeman. After a long stint in Army, where he was a Subedar, he had enrolled in Delhi Police and worked vigilantly for six years. He was suspended last year for failing to arrest the people who were suspected of implanting a bomb inside the building that had collapsed. The defense of Mr. Agrawal, with help of some well-mannered, highly influential police officers had proved beyond doubt that the building had imploded. Four names were floated as suspects, Mansoor was put on their trail, and later suspended under pretext of letting the criminals off, by accepting bribe for it. A cardboard box containing two hundred thousand rupees was found in his house. He was saved of the jail term by Janki. For years, she had addressed him as bhaijaan, and so Mansoor let her pay for his bail and release.

Mansoor was murdered six hours after the will was read. Mr. Agrawal's elder son was with his mother all day and younger one left an hour or two after the will was disclosed. He was in a state of extreme, and nervous excitement - his father had died only three days ago and had left everything to Mansoor Khan in a strange will. When the news of Mansoor's death was related to Janki, she immediately wanted to know where the younger son was.

The younger son returned to the house nearly four hours after the murder of Mansoor Khan. His mother had fainted three times already. A doctor sat at her bed stead. Two policemen waited for him. It turned out that he was gone to their family lawyer's house, and had been in discussion with him, to figure out if the will could be altered to the advantage of the sons. The policemen called the lawyer up and the alibi was perfect.

To be continued....

Other chapters found here

5 comments:

Proma said...

You're going to hate this - but this story screams bollywood. Both the story and the writing. Hmm... waiting to be proved wrong :)

Proma said...

And of course the title - Janki and Mansoor gives away some secrets. I'd love to see new titles to part 2, 3,etc.

Btw , when I said bollywood, I meant the likes of - Rudaali, Shatranj ke kiladi, Zubeidaa sorts.

Vivek.Sharma said...

Proma,

The narrative itself admits that the story is of Bollywood genre.

Btw, if you had delivered me a pinch or a punch, (first comment), was there a need to say it was friendly one (second comment)? Wouldn't I fare much better if you trash this piece, and let me lie down, knocked out, or maybe see if I can even recover and fight back? :)

Janki and Mansoor is another experiment; lets hope I can learn something from it.

Proma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proma said...

I like it somewhat. You are a bigger bolly fan than me, and when I smell cliche, it usually is a huge turn-off. The writing I like, and am hoping that the plot provides more punch and unexpected twists in subsequent parts.