Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Item Girl by Richa Lakhera

Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one,’ bragged one of the officers to his groupie subordinates, looking pleased as punch with his smoothness.
‘Boys. It’s here. Right here where fear is,’ he said glibly pointing his stubby ringed finger at his head while the fresh recruits listened on in rapt attention.
‘I say the only race in police is khaki,’ he continued. ACP Bhonsle rolled his eyes and moved away from the group of policemen looking for last empty spots in the smoke-filled officer’s mess. It was still a Tuesday night but inside here it was always a Saturday at a cricket match. The smell of greasy burgers was over-powering and he could hardly breathe amidst the stench of the burning oil. He wondered why the café even bothered to install bins—nobody seemed inclined to use them. Spotting no empty tables, he made his way back downstairs to order his food. The young boy who took his order looked older than his years, tired, world-weary, uninterested. His order arrived, a huge veggie-burger, large fries and a chocolate milkshake. Kabir absent-mindedly popped a French fry in his mouth. It tasted as bad as it looked. Greasy, unhealthy and fattening. But ACP KabirBhonsle felt grateful that the shitty place had taken his mind off the case, even if only for a bit. Puffy faced and slack-jawed from the long hours, Shinde had slumped on the chaise lounge and dozed off.
‘Why is he sleeping?’
‘Double shifts, just a couple of hours of down time before the next shift kicks in,’ Holkar said.
‘Tell him to get up. Eat and get back to work… Shinde, chalutth!’
Shinde instantly wide awake, bounded to the attached kitchen and fixed himself a bowl of roasted dalia and milk and voraciously spooned the cereal into his mouth, before pausing to catch his breath. In response, Holkar rushed to the refrigerator, grabbed a container of orange juice and after a greedy swig childishly kept the carton for himself.
‘Excuse me—Bhonsle Sir.’
‘Not excused.’
‘Man can’t be excused to take a pisshaab?’
‘You should say take a leak bhnchot.’
‘Leak…piss yapishaabmatlabmootne se hai. Gooooingsir….’
Kabir shrugged while gulping down his now cold burger with the tepid fizzy.
‘Sir, the content of the Panvel farmhouse lockers.’
‘Found anything?’
‘Same thing. Naked photos of girls and boys. And lots of photos of Dannie.His niece. Remember Dannie?’
‘Yes bhenchodI remember Dannie.’ Bhonsle regarded the huge stash of photos and tapes and private letters dumped onhis table. Pausing for a moment, Kabir pored over Dannie’s pictures, as a child of three, five, ten. Even as a child it was evident that she had uncommon beauty, indicative of the star she would become. And one of the most sculpted heads he had ever seen.
A pale-faced office-boy shovelled into the room listlessly trying to figure out where to place even more sealed packets on the already full table.
Abbey kya?There is more stuff? Motherfucker keep it on the table—let me finish this crap first.’
‘Anything important?’
‘Boy photos, girl photos, more chics…pervert faggot…stubs of cheques, papers with studio addresses, producer details, too much useless information.’
‘One thing is for sure. Mr. Unpopular had an unending list of people who had a bone to pick with him.’ Kabir regarded the exhaustive material in front of him taunting him with its hidden truths and wondered just what had he succeeded in establishing? He impatiently waved to the skinny office boy signalling him to dump some more courier packets on the table and instantly felt bad for snapping at the boy. Poor sod. A late-night shift was no beachwalk in a station full of grumpy policemen. They were all snappy and tired and angry, at having to rework the summary, when all they wanted to do was to hit the field, down stiff ones, crack the case and head home. Not necessarily in that order.
‘Hey boy! Come back.’ The thin pasty-faced boy, unnerved by the sight of scores of angry men in khaki looking pissed like hell, looked like this was the last place he wanted to be in. ‘Boy don’t be scared. Take this money and buy yourself something to eat. And that’s an order—’ His men guffawed as the boy snatched the money from ACP Bhonsle’s hands and almost bounded out of the room.
‘Back off…! The poor boy was scared shitless.’
‘Hey give me a knife. Maadachotthis is tight—letter bhibhejengey chain lagaakar—’
Kabir struggled with the last remaining bundle and finally managed to open it. More photos. Shit.
Ayuuuikk?Whathefuckkkk is this!!’
Kabir stared at the photos, but nothing made sense for some time. He sat stunned for a moment, trying to understand what he was seeing. Then with a loud expletive which surprised the assorted men in the room, ACP KabirBhonsle’s team saw him doing the fastest sprint out of the room yelling at the doorman to stop the office boy. 

But the thin boy had disappeared into the dark.

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