Samrat was staring at the mobile in his hand in disbelief. “He disconnected my call! That b****** disconnected Samrat Thakur’s call!”
Samrat Thakur; a young man at 27 years of age was blessed with a model looks, a floppy mop of hair he deliberately allows to fall on his forehead almost reaching his eyes. He was handsome and he knew it. But at this time he was angry. Murderously angry.
An older man was standing next to the bar. They were in a mansion. Thakur mansion. In a sprawling room which offered splendid view through its glass windows. But none of the men were interested in looking at the view outside. The atmosphere inside the room was explosive enough to drive out any pleasant feelings like watching greenery and relaxing; out and far away.
Samrat was still staring at his mobile. His eyes still disbelieving.
The older man poured whiskey in a glass filled to middle with ice then went near Samrat and handed the glass to him. Samrat took the glass but it was involuntary. He was still not believing some one had the gall to hang up on him. Not someone. Just one. A man he hated. Hated to his core.
The older man kept his palm on Samrat’s shoulder and said in a soothing voice.”
“Sam! How many times i need to tell you that you should keep away from …” before he could finish his sentence Samrat’s hand shot up. He threw his glass with full force on the floor. The whiskey flew in a golden arc then fell on the carpet soaking it, ruining a very expensive carpet. The shattered pieces of glasses fell on the floor making tinkling sounds and creating prismatic hues in the air while falling down.
Samrat looked at the older man with eyes blazing in anger.
“Why uncle! Why should i keep off that that .. ” he could not find a word vile enough to describe that man.
“Who the hell does he think he is?! He is just a bloody paid killer. WE hired him. He is OUR servant! Just because Dad gave him shelter he thinks he is above all!”
Uncle, the older man was Bhanupratap Singh. A man of medium height, salt and pepper hair and kind eyes. He has the looks of an elderly kind professor.
“Sam! Calm down!” he said in a gentle voice. “Why do you want to even think about him? Just stay away from that man. You know very well that your Dad, my brother in law Thakur Saab thinks of him as our best shooter. Besides Thakur Saab loves him like Son.”
Samrat flinched at that. Bhanu pratap noticed it and placed a hand soothingly on his shoulder again and patted it gently.
“I know Sam! It is unfair. You are the Son of Saab, His only heir, son of the wife he loved; my sister. Yet his affections as a father lie towards that stranger of a man as a son”.
Samrat looked up at the kind eyes of his uncle.
“He loves that Man more than how much he loves me! Doesn’t he Uncle?!” there was lot of hurt in his voice.
His uncle gently nodded his head and kept on patting Samrat.
“I just never understood your father nor will understand i guess Sam! But know this Lad! I love you! You are not my nephew Sammy… You are my son!”
Samrat’s eyes welled up. He manfully rubbed his nose, drew a deep breathe and said.
“I want to know about him uncle. Everything you know uncle. Tell me!”
Bhanupratap knew who the man Samrat wanted to know about for he asked the same question many times before but never listened to his answer. Sometimes he mocked calling it folklore. Sometimes he got agitated. But this time Bhanu Pratap knew Samrat would listen.
There is something in the air today which is beckoning past. Memories of past are rushing to merge with the present to create a pathway to future.
He cleared his throat went near the bar made a peg for himself and Samrat. He came near the young man who was now sitting on the bar chair and handed him the glass again. Samrat took the glass silently and waited for his uncle to start.
Bhanu pratap took a sip from his glass and took a deep breathe then he stared out. As if his old eyes are seeing through the present into the past; old dog-eared memories…neither faded and never forgotten.
Bhanu pratap Thakur started the narration of the Man called Gabriel.
“It’s been a long time. Close to 12years back. One day we, your Dad and I went to a hotel. Had some business dealings there. While coming back we stopped midway to meet some gang members of ours. Parked the car near a desolate area and went to a dhaba by the road side. When we returned to our car and opened the door we saw a boy no more than 17 years curled up in the back seat. Torn shirt. Bleeding all over. Too much of blood. On his clothes, his face and yes! His hands. At that time i felt the blood is not his own. At least not entirely anyways.
Thakur Saab just looked at him and the boy stared back. I have seen many grown ups, roughnecks, murderers withering looking into Saabji’s eyes. But this boy, just a wisp of a boy stared right back. No fear No pain.. No emotion at all. They stared at each other for a moment maybe or maybe longer. No words were spoken yet it looked like they communicated something. I don’t know what but i felt silent understanding and acceptance between the big man and the boy who is child yet not a child.
Saabji silently sat in the driver seat told me and the driver to hitchhike back home. I have no idea what transpired between Saabji and the boy. I never asked Saabji. And he never volunteered. Next day He called all the gang members for meeting. There he introduced us all to that boy. I don’t know how to describe that boy. Just a day before i saw him but i couldn’t forget his face. Then there he was standing right in front of me. You must have noticed Sam that man has a very casual devil may care style of stance. He stands with his hands in his pocket head slightly tilted to left and the looks that say ‘Go ahead! Amuse me!!’
He stood in that same stance. Just a boy standing in front of a bunch of tough hardened men. Yet no nervousness on his face, no fear and surprisingly; no curiosity either. For a long time i thought and still think that human emotions, feelings, thoughts are beyond him. I have never seen any other man besides Saabji to hide what he is thinking so well and so totally. Maybe i shouldn’t say this but Saabji can show emotions at times i guess… but this man?! ..And those eyes! The eyes that looks straight at you as if they can see through you.
Saabji addressed us all. I still remember each and every word he said. Each and every scene that played out that day.”
Samrat was listening intently. Just as a kid would listen to his favourite uncle reciting a fairy tale. In this case a macabre fairy tale.
Bhanu pratap continued… “Saabji said meet the new member who will be joining our gang from today on. I want all of you to welcome him. He will make his own place here and will earn the respect that he deserves. So treat him as you would treat any new boy in our ranks BUT remember this ‘This boy is mine’!”
The way Saabji announced that the boy as his own there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that this boy is special. He is off limits. To be treated with respect.”
Samrat’s face fell at that. He failed to remember a single time when Thakur Saab addressed him as his son with pride. In private or in public. What is this about this man that his own father would announce to the world that the Man is his own. And according to uncle Thakur Saab met that Man only one day before. Samrat his own son never received any fatherly pride from his dad his his whole life of 27 years. So he hates that man. He loathes him. How could he not. He had to.
Samrat mentally shook himself out of his thoughts. Those never ending thoughts. He started listening to uncle again..
The older man continued.
“I think even if Saabji has not warned us, nobody would have dared to tangle with that boy. Even at the age of no more than 17 he looked as if he can take anyone head one and emerge victorious. There was something about that boy which warned wiser men to back off. Though i felt men high on hormones; less in brains who take this boy as challenge and may try to break him in. After all who wouldn’t enjoy the kick of breaking down a mighty and proud Stallion? I knew the boy would be challenged or attacked. And i was proved right. It happened and How!”
Samrat’s eyes lit up with curiosity despite himself. Bhanu pratap noticed it and smiled slightly at his nephew.
He said “I will tell you about it soon Sam. First we should proceed with what happened in that meeting”.
Samrat pouted at that but obediently looked at his uncle to continue.
Bhanu pratap continued “Saabji then called up Rana”.
Samrat’s head jerked up at that name and he murmured ‘Rana’ in awe.
“Yes” the older man continued “Rana!! A legend in our world. I know you have heard of him Sam and you have seen him a few times but you don’t know the extent of his legacy. You were in boarding school at that time.”
“Yeah boarding school in London” Samrat muttered in low voice “Always in boarding school. The farther the better. If Dad could have found any place beyond earth he would have sent me there.”
Bhanu pratap could hear the low mutterings of Sam and feel the pain of his nephew. He soothingly said “Sam Thakurji did it to keep you safe”.
“Safe!” Samrat replied derisively “Virendra Thakur, the god of underworld had to send his only son far away from him, his house and his life to keep that son safe. Don’t tell me you believe that yourself Uncle!”
Bhanu pratap knew what Samrat said was true. He himself never actually managed to understand why Saabji sent his heir, his only son so far away for so long when there are men in here who could kill and die to protect Samrat Thakur, Son of their God, Virendra Thakur.
So the older man allowed the moment to pass. And waited for Samrat to calm down and control his pain and anger.
Samrat took a deep breathe. Then looked up at his Uncle as if to say Continue.
Bhanu pratap started narrating the past again.
“Rana!” Bhanu Pratap said “is the first and the finest sharp shooter of our gang. I would say the best Shooter of the entire underworld here. Most respected, most revered and definitely most feared. Not many people will think of challenging him. Not many did. And whoever ever tried to actually challenge him didn’t live long enough to tell the tale or even regret their actions. He in one word is Legend”.
Samrat was listening with total concentration.
“Saabji called Rana to come forward. Generally Rana doesn’t attend meetings. I was actually surprised to see him there. So when Saabji announced his name; he came forward from the shadows near the pillars where he was standing all the while. Rana was giant of a man. He still is of course. Not those bulky bodyguards kinds. He is more like tough, hardened, rock-solid kind of a guy. No one knows his real age. Now he is in fifties i guess. So he must be in his early forties then. Tall, extremely fit and handsome to look at; Rana doesn’t look like a man you could throw your attitude at. But that boy gave him the same devil may care look. And Rana stared right back at him. I swear i saw him giving his very rare and very slight smile. It felt as if Titans has acknowledged each other. Gladiators entered the arena and are ready for the game.”
Saabji looked at Rana and said “Rana! So you have seen this boy. From today onwards his is your responsibility. You train him in everything that you yourself are expert in. You teach him everything that needs to be learnt to survive in our game. And you give him your knowledge and experience about our work, our world. He is all yours. You are answerable to no one. Treat him as his deserves to be treated. Break him if you have to, Kill him if you must but make sure this boy is a worthy successor of yours.
Rana gave a slight nod of head then looked straight at that boy. That boy was returned his stare slightly tilting his head forward. Rana then asked that boy in his deep booming voice that echoed round the room “Your Name?”
That boy simply shrugged his shoulders blinked his eyes once gave a lop- sided smile and saying nothing. He just said absolutely nothing.
There was a pin drop silence around and everyone was staring at Rana and that boy as if we are watching a powerful clash of titans happening silently. No one ignores Rana, his command or question. Yet that boy; a stranger of a boy; was still standing in his devil may care attitude and was staring right back at Rana almost challenging the mighty man.
Rana then nodded his head slightly, gave the younger lad straight and stern look and pronounced
“Alright! So be it! Then from today onwards you will be called as ‘Boy’. Just ‘Boy’! When you are good and ready I will give you a name. And i will be the only one who will decide if you are ready indeed!’
Saabji watched the entire exchange with utter satisfaction and gave the boy a look of pride. He then dismissed the meeting a wave of his hand.
That day on the boy became the student of a legend to start on a trail to become a legend himself.”
Samrat’s nostrils flared at that. His own dad chose a rank stranger; a nobody and gave his the best of the best Guru to learn, to evolve, to arrive. And ignored his only son and sent him off to a faraway land to study and learn. Learn what?. How to read books! OK! So he did his MBA. What good will it does in his Dad’s world where the only language understood is that of guns, violence, blood, money and death. THAT man lived Samrat’s life, took his rightful place and above all earned his father’s pride. He will pay. Someday! Somehow. Samrat will make sure of that. That’s his promise to Himself.
To Be Continued…………
— Candy Lemon [Nimmi] —