Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The “Big Dad”

THE “BIG DAD”  
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

“When did this tea stall open…?” the boys asked me.

“I have just opened today morning – you are my first customers…” I said.

“That’s good – we can have a cup of tea before we catch the morning train to go to college…” one of the boys said – there were 5 boys in all.

“Will you all like to have tea…?” I asked.

“Yes – and – have you got cigarettes…?”

“Yes…”

“Give us a cup of tea and a cigarette each…”

The 5 college students drank their tea and smoked their cigarettes.

An attendant came out of the Station Master’s Office and sounded the Bell.

“The train is coming – let’s go…” one of the boys said.

They gave me their tea glasses and they started to walk away.

“50 Rupees…” I said.

“What 50 Rupees…?” one of the boys asked.

“25 for the 5 Teas – and 25 for the 5 Cigarettes…” I said.

“You are new here – aren’t you…?” one of the boys asked me.

“Yes…” I said.

“Do you know who he is…?” the boy said  pointing towards another boy  who seemed to be the leader of the group.

“No…” I said.

He is Durjan Singh’s son – and – we are his friends. Do you understand…?

“Yes…” I said.

My Uncle had told me about Durjan Singh – the local “Dada” – the “Big Dad” – the uncrowned “King” of this place.

In fact – it was with Durjan Singh’s “Blessings” that my Uncle (the Station Master) had managed to let me open my Tea Stall at the Railway Station.

It could hardly be called a “Tea Stall” – it was actually just a “Cart” – with a stove, a few pots, a flask, a tray with glasses, and a box for cigarette packets.

As far as the “Railway Station” was concerned – this was the smallest Railway Station I had seen – it was more of a “halt” – just one solitary platform – and – except for the slow passenger trains to the junction nearby – hardly any train stopped here.

The train arrived.

The college students got in.

Three men got out.

They looked at me – they looked at the Tea Stall – and they walked towards me.

“I haven’t seen you here before…?” one of the men said.

“I have just opened today…” I said.

“That’s good – give us some tea…” the man said.

I said to him: “Yes Sir – do you want cigarettes…?”

“You have cigarettes too…?”

“Yes…”

“Okay give us 3 cups of tea and two cigarettes – he doesn’t smoke…” the man said, pointing towards one of the three men.

The three men drank their tea – and two of them smoked their cigarettes.

They kept their glasses on the cart.

“25 Rupees, Sir…” I said to the man who had ordered the tea.

“25 Rupees…?”

“Sir – 15 Rupees for the 3 Teas – and 10 Rupees for the 2 Cigarettes…” I said.

“How dare you ask for money…? Do you know who we are…?” the man said menacingly.

“No, Sir…” I said, feeling scared at the man’s tone.

“Have you heard of Durjan Singh…?” he asked – pointing his finger threateningly at me.

“Yes, Sir…” I said, trembling inside.

“We are his men. We work for Durjan Singh. Do you understand…?” the man said to me.

“Yes, Sir…” I said.

The three men walked away.

So – they were gangsters – belonging to the “Durjan Singh Gang”.

My uncle had told me that Durjan Singh was the local “Dada” – but I didn’t know that he was such a big Gangster.

What a name – “Durjan” – it meant “Rogue” – a “bad character” – an Evil Scoundrel – a “Villain”…

How could parents name their child “Durjan” – unless it was a family of ancestral gangsters…?

This “Durjan Singh” – he must be a really terrible fellow – and – everyone seemed to be working for him – everyone seemed to be a gangster in this horrific place…

I made up my mind to get out of this horrible place at the first opportunity.

I started to wind up my cart.

My uncle had told me to wait till the morning ‘Passenger’ Train which came at 9:30 – but there was no point – since – even if there was some “customers” wanting tea and cigarettes – no one was going to pay any money – since – everyone out here was related in some way or the other to that all-powerful evil gangster “Durjan Singh”…

While I was washing up – I saw a man dressed in a Safari Suit walking towards me.

He looked like a gentleman.

He seemed to be out of place in this horrid uncivilized place – he was probably a visitor from the town.

“Can I have a cup of tea…?” he asked politely.

“Yes, Sir…” I said, “Will you like a cigarette with your tea…?”

“No – I don’t smoke…” he said, “I’ll just have a some tea…”

I poured tea into a glass from my flask – and – I gave the glass to the man.

“Thank you…” he said with a smile.

He sipped his tea.

I gathered my things.

He asked me: “You seem to be closing down...?”

“Yes, Sir…” I said.

“It’s only 9 o’clock – why don’t you wait for the 9:30 Passenger Train – you will get plenty of customers. Many people take that train to go to work in town…” the man said.

“Sir – what’s the point of having more customers – in fact – the more customers I have – the more loss I will make…” I said.

“Really…? Why do you say that…? How can more customers mean more loss…?” the man asked me.

“Sir – it seems that no one pays money over here – everyone seems to be a freeloader – right since morning  I have had many customers – they had tea, cigarettes – but not a single customer paid for the tea and cigarettes – they all want it free…”

“That’s funny…”

“Sir – there is a “Big Dad” called “Durjan Singh” out here…”

The man looked at me and said: “...“Big Dad”...? You mean a “Gangster”...?” 

“I don’t know, Sir. I have never met him. And – I wish I never meet him. He must be really scary – a terrible fellow – some sort of “Mafia Boss. This whole place seems to be his fiefdom...” I said. 

“Mafia Boss...? Fiefdom...?” 

“Yes. This “Durjan Singh” seems to be a dreaded “Mafia Boss”. And – everyone seems to be related to him in some way or the other – so they don’t pay. First his son and his friends came – they had tea and cigarettes – but they refused to pay  then – his men came – they too refused to pay for the for tea and cigarettes they had – all freeloaders – when I asked them for money – they threatened me with his name…”

Is that so…? Anyway – I am going to pay. How much for the tea…?” 

“Five Rupees, Sir…” I said.

The man kept the glass on the cart.

Then – he took out his wallet from his breast pocket and extracted a hundred rupee note.

He held out the 100 Rupee Note towards me.

“Sir – I don’t have change. I told you, Sir – no one has paid me since morning…” I said.

“Open my account – I will be having tea here every morning…” he said – and he gave me the 100 Rupee Note.

I took the 100 rupee note from him. 

I looked at him and said: “Sir…?”

“Yes…?”

“Sir – may I know your good name…?”

“Durjan Singh. My name is Durjan Singh…” the man said. 

The man smiled at me.

Then – he walked away. 


VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer: 
This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in this story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a revised repost of my story THE VILLIAN posted online earlier at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/the-villain-short-story.html
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