Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Ageing Warrior 3

He was an ageing warrior; his body was betraying him everyday. Every time when he pitted his strength against younger partners at sports he was re-introduced to the frailties of age. The need to employ his wits and his cunning grew increasingly as he found himself often out of breath. Soon slyness would leave him too. It was only a matter of time. He knew it. Why, only last night he meekly followed as the Little Girl led his feverish body to bed. And despite all desire to treat his illness callously, he found himself unable to hold his fort. He gave in to her home remedies: soaked his feet in hot water, popped a pill, had a couple of drinks (this was a ritual he couldn’t give up) ate dinner and went to bed early.

In the morning, he felt well enough to classify it as semi-strong. Most of it had to do with the Little Girl; all through the night she clasped his back and drove his fever away.
“I had a dream last night.”
“Strange, so did I”
“In my dream, someone woke me up…I think he looked like the Teacher…and told me that you have a fever. Did you have a fever last night?”
“Yes! I did.”
“Anyway, he told me that I had to grab you…that it was the only way your fever would go away.”
“If you didn’t hold me the way you did, I would have woken up…that would have meant less sleep for me…and I would have woken up un-rested, feeling really shitty for the rest of today.”

There was work to do. Fresh kill to be made in the garb of a business deal, if the taxonomy was right. Most of it was still in the realm of wheeling…no dealing as yet, but there is always hope. The carnivore cannot afford to close both its eyes at the same time, not especially if it hunted alone. Unlike lions that have the rest of the pack to bank upon, the tiger has to prey on its own. Being human, even though he wished he were a tiger, a huge Siberian, the Warrior had little more than keep both his eyes open. In the fickle world of commercial machinations he had to keep his ear to the ground, keep one eye on the future and one eye guarding his back, ensure that the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing and above all keep two or three, if not more, steps ahead of his rivals. In absolute physical terms such contortions seem impossible but he manages because he’s has long practice at it. After a while, even Ashtanga Yoga seems naturally easy to the practitioner. Though the onlookers may be very confused.

“How will you untangle yourself?” asked the incredulous Englishman at the airport many years ago. If his accent wasn’t a dead giveaway, then his attire would have served the selfsame purpose: the white slacks with the button down cream shirt and the hat. His fat, sagging wife, had to be his wife, no self-respecting man would be seen with a mistress that hideous, in a flowery holiday smock that unsuccessfully covered her lardy, lumpy middle aged body yawned. She was perhaps tired of her husband’s inquisitiveness, she was perhaps tired of the heat in Abu Dhabi, she was perhaps tired of her weight…she was perhaps tired of everything.

“I am not tangled at all”, said the Warrior. He was sitting in the Lotus Position, making a perfect pyramid out of his lithe starving body. Was there any other way for a civilized Hindu to sit while waiting at the airport? The Englishman took a step back when he saw the handcuffs as the Warrior stood up. The Warrior was waiting to be deported. Something was the matter with the plane…he was in a brown, standard issue, Indian Embassy blanket and underwear. The Englishman had perhaps imagined his clothing to resemble that of a Fakir…a Hindu sage.

“I think that is an announcement for my flight”; the Englishman beat a hasty retreat dragging his wife along, distaste writ large on his face. He was aghast that he spoke with perhaps a common criminal. It was the 1980’s, but if it were a world today, he could have bragged at his local pub, “I think he was a terrorist.”

The Warrior once again assumed the Lotus Position. Was there any other way for a civilized Hindu warrior to sit while waiting at Abu Dhabi airport to be deported? At least there was water to drink. This was perhaps the worst time to be locked up in prison in a Muslim country. He had followed the Nautch Girl to this place. She had danced her way into his fancy. And then, ever so cruelly, like all beautiful women do, she withdrew letting him know that the affairs of her heart were complicated and that it had room for more than one man.

He didn’t want her all to himself; no, he followed her to see who the other men were, what was their kind, and what was the extent of her involvement with them? In an up-market arrangement in the city, the Nautch Girl was to peddle her talents in front of numerous teetotaler money throwing Sheikhs and hooting South Indian immigrants. The Warrior, yet again after many long years, found himself in a place where women were objects. Yes, he had gone whoring once, but that was eons ago. But he had always been respectful, even if he had paid for it. Here a man tried to grab the Nautch Girl, “Did she look annoyed? Yes she doesn’t want this kind of cheap attention. I must do something.”

The Warrior stopped at the buffet table, nibbled on some salad and quietly concealed a butter knife into his sleeve. Sheesh! A butter knife, but that was the only piece of cutlery that had the delicate balance of a weapon. The others were either top or bottom heavy. Sheesh! A butter knife! Well, international flight regulations did not allow a man to carry a Muella Scorpion, and he didn’t think he’d need one here, so he didn’t go shopping. It was the Sheikh’s paradise; everything was on sale in its well-designed malls.

He waited till the fellow had to go to the men’s room. The Warrior followed the Fool who had lunged at the Nautch Girl. The Fool took out his penis, aimed at the lavatory and began humming the song that the Nautch Girl was dancing to just a few minutes ago. The Warrior waited till the Fool was in midstream, when he launched himself with the ferocity of a hungry polar bear and cunning of a man who has fought many battles and lived to tell the tale.

“Bloody kafir! He has stabbed seven times with a butter knife. I never knew that they could do such damage. Son of a pig!” The policeman was angry…it was the holy month of Ramadan. He was at Iftar, breaking his fast with his brethren. As if it weren’t enough that nautch girls were performing in the city; here was a man with murderous intent. To commit a crime was unthinkable during the month of prayers. It was a gruesome sight. A man lying in an expanding pool of blood and urine, gasping for air, calling out to God in a rasping voice, with his pants around his ankles. The hotel security had already detained the Warrior. They were alerted by another guest who had thought that now would be a good time to pee.

It was Thursday night. The Warrior was to be jailed until the Indian Embassy could be contacted and until they agreed to take custody. His clothes, his wallet, his watch, his shoes were taken away and he was given a robe. He was allowed to keep his cigarettes. Friday was Jumma when the faithful had to gather to pray; even more so in the holy month of Ramadan. No work was done in Abu Dhabi. The Warrior remained imprisoned…and without food. Saturday and Sunday being the weekend also saw him in the same predicament. Plus this was the holy month of Ramadan. At first on Friday morning, he smoked a couple of cigarettes. Then he realized his situation in the context of time and location. It was then that he decided to chew the tobacco inside the cigarettes instead.

Ultimately on Monday morning the Indian Embassy took his possession. And here he was, Monday evening at the airport waiting to be deported.

1 comment:

satya said...

Jump cut! But it got the flavour. The British intervention was very good.