The air was rent black and blue with expletives and the sound of kicking and hitting. The person at the receiving end of all this rage was beyond protestation. He simply lay curled up waiting for the brutality to finish. Now mind you readers, this is not the first time this enclosed verandah had seen such violence, but this was definitely the first time it was aimed at one of its own.  

“Dada Bhai, please stop!” implored the Superintendent of Police Manoj Prasad as he rushed in to stop the violence. Dada Bhai was enraged. He was shouting at the top of his voice; his hair was askew. His face was red and spittle was flying from his mouth each time he opened it. Moments ago, the S.P. had parked his vehicle outside the big haveli for he had feared exactly what was happening. “You are going to kill him,” he tried holding Dada Bhai’s hand. And mind you dear readers, no one ever, held Dada Bhai’s hand.

A resounding slap reverberated in the verandah. The S.P. touched his cheek but did not utter a word. “This m******, has cost me a humongous loss. I will kill him!” he shouted and proceed to kick again.

“Dada Bhai! We don’t need this kind of attention now. The Commissioner of Police is personally going to oversee this case and the Chief Minister has asked for regular updates.” He indicated the divan with his hand and urged Dada Bhai to have a seat. Dada Bhai spat on the bloodied motionless body of his trusted right hand-man of many-many years. He then proceeded to the divan. The S.P. shouted at the guys standing there, “Aye! Take care of him. See that he doesn’t die.”

“He was the one who recommended that driver. Bloody fool was drunk while he was driving. It’s a damn good thing he died in that crash, otherwise I would have wrung his neck myself,” seethed Dada Bhai.

“I understand Dada Bhai. But there is too much heat on this case right now. The media is constantly showing images of the container that plunged into the river, drowning those twelve underage girls. Their lifeless bodies floating in the water, still shackled to hooks has the whole nation in uproar. People are demanding justice, haunted by their deathly pale faces. On one side there are riots and the other candle-lit processions. Let all this die down.”

“Those girls would have fetched me huge sums and to top it off I now have some very angry customers to appease,” he said irritably and signaled a servant to make his peg. 

“There are more where those girls came from. Tomorrow is another day. Just don’t do anything to hurt that tomorrow. As long as their families hope for a better future, we will have our supply.” 

And while they waited for the heat to die down, a mother in a faraway village waited to hear from her daughter. All she had was hope. 

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Shweta Singh
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