[Short story] The Plot

For last ten minutes they were stuck at this signal. Few minutes ago there was a loud uproar about bandh and there was a lot of confusion. One taxi was broken in the middle of the street, causing frustration to increase. The humid heat of Mumbai was also not helping.

At the signal Ramesh was waiting patiently for the taxi to start. He had picked a passenger at the previous signal and was happy how the day started. His daughter’s birthday was next week. If only he could take two more long distance fare, he would buy her the cartoon shaped cake he had seen before. But his taxi had broken down all of the sudden in the middle of the signal.

Rakesh had just gotten into the cab, worried sick. This was the 7th job interview in last 2 weeks. He was rejected in the first six interviews. Today job interview was taken by a north indian. What chance did a poor Marathi boy who studied in Marathi medium have against those from fluent speaking convent educated outsiders? They should never have stepped into this city. He thought, sena pati was right, non Marathi should be kicked out.

Iliyas was grateful. Today was his first day of job as a taxi driver. Coming from a modest minority community, he had no chance of survival in this crazy city. But as luck would have it, he got this taxi on rent from its owner. All he had to do was pay a fixed amount to the owner per day and whatever he earned more was his salary. He was waiting for a fare yet and was parked behind ramesh taxi.

Jitendra was smoking a bidi at the local pan stall glancing at the traffic signal. This day was just like any other, he had woken up on a creaky bed in the chikalwadi chawl hearing fathers swear words. Go help your mother at the vada pav stall, his father used to scream. Imagine jitendra Bhai serving vada pav, he would be mockery of the colony. He was born for greater deeds and he knew that since beginning. This vada pav was for those lesser outsiders.

Rekha was looking for a taxi at the signal. She glanced sideways at Jitendra and murmured, hooligan. These hooligan are making this city inhabitable. What was their problem with the city name she didn't understand. She was doing everything she could to survive. People think getting a MBA degree is the end of world, it only begins. The hard part begins once you come out of b-school.

Ishwar was dashing down the street towards the signal. His sena pati was not well and he could do nothing about it. Ishwar came from a less known place in Maharashtra. He was supposed to contest for ZP elections and sena pati had given him his first chance. Sena pati believed in him when no one else did. This traffic was killing him. He had to reach his sena pati for one last time. His jeep broke down a few miles behind and he was running all the way.

Punyappa had only a month left to retire from the police service. He had a smooth service with very few hiccups. Living in a small chawl in Girgaon mumbai, he had very less to complain about to the merciless city. He just wished his last month in service will also go without any problems, without any troubles. Sena pati falling ill was a sign of trouble because the city was now on a boiling point. Everyone was tensed about what was going to happen. Punyappa was ashamed about his selfishness but he wished Sena Pati would not die on his watch. He could finally play with his grandchildren.
'If only the traffic would clear,' he thought wiping his sweat from the brow. The heat was killing him now.

Ishwar screamed at two taxis in front. Rakesh honked his horn for the thirteenth time. Rekha cussed at the public in general, what a bunch of wusses, she thought. Jitendra glanced at Rekha and cursed under his breath. A girl like her would never give him any thoughts, she thinks she is better than him. He spat on the ground once, someone should teach her a lesson. Ishwar was worried, 'Move on' and he glanced at Iliyas, for a moment, he froze. The traffic was not clearing, he had to do something.

Jitendra moved forward towards the signal frustrated. Rekha was still waiting to cross the road. Ramesh was struggling to start his taxi. Jitendra stood parallel to Ramesh and glanced once at Rekha, she clutched her bag tightly. He bend down and started pushing the taxi forward.
Ishwar also joined him and pushed the broken vehicle to the side. Together, they manage to clear the road. Ishwar was still upset, someone would pay. He glanced at Iliyas one last time and with full speed dashed to his taxi.

Without thinking he sat inside the taxi and asked him to move. Iliyas knew the destination, that is where he was heading. Ramesh got out and thanked Jitendra, who simply smirked, glanced at Rekha and left.

Havaldar Punyappa used his whistle to clear the remaining traffic. In few minutes the whole street was empty. Rekha crossed the street and walked to her office, glancing at Jitendra from the corner of the eye.

Punyappa also crossed the street walked to the Pan wala, "Too much humid, isn't it today?" he asked.
Jintendra replied yes and they both shared a smoke.

The stage was set but not the plot.


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