Thursday, May 17, 2007

Off With His Head!

A couple of days back our cook A entered my room in a flap. "Something to tell you," she said, "But let me finish my work and then I can talk." Before I could die of curiosity she settled down on the couch and started pouring out this dramatic real life story, of what had happened to her the previous day as she was getting back home from work at about nine in the evening. She had just crossed the maidan over onto the road leading past her house when she saw a fellow slowly cycling along. Behind him, unknown to him was a guy trotting after him with a chopper. Before anyone knew it the guy with the chopper had knocked off the head of the cyclist and run off and as A said, her hands and legs "liquefied".

What shocked her the most was the fact that she knew who the killer was, it was a young man who lived in a nearby building, whose father was respectably employed as a driver or something. Whooo! Anyway A had her wits about her because before anyone could spot her, she dodged into her building and once back in her room, collapsed onto the bed. "If I had "bud payshur" she said, "I would have had a stroke by now or I'd be dead." We figured out that both guys must be members of rival gangs, that too gangs related to some big time mafia dons about whom one is always reading in the press. (Later on I learned that the boy with the chopper was arrested by the police).

At times like this I see how far apart our lives are, A's and mine, although we don't live all that far away from each other. Violence seems to be built into the environment of working class people. The other day during our fortnightly get together T also spoke about how volatile the atmosphere in slums and chawls is. The least provocation can set off a really bad reaction. Must be quite a task to maintain any degree of sanity in those surroundings so when I do see people succeed at it, it awes me.

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