|Creative Writing Competition 2012 India|
It was a holiday for the public but the small and busy market in the outskirts of the city never knew what a holiday was. It was lively as always, carrying out its functions as usual.
Loud noises of bargaining, vehicle horns, engines and screaming of the vendors were too much to tolerate. Foul smell of rotten vegetables, plain whiffs of blood from the butcher store and the putrid smell of decomposed fish would assault any one’s nostrils. Even the fresh and pleasant floral scents from the flower shops couldn’t win over the malodorous air. But then, it was a market!
After some moments, all the hustle and bustle of the place came to a sudden and screeching halt by an unexpected soundtrack.
“No one wants to be defeated
Showin’ how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it
Just beat it, beat it
Just beat it, beat it
Just beat it, beat it ”
The public looked around in shock.
Then a skeleton figure, with snake eyes appeared before them suddenly, in red overcoat.
The figure was clutching his overcoat with both hands; a mannerism or for confidence?
There were metal meshes on the shoulder and several zips in the front of the overcoat. The standing collar with zip and multi zippered pockets in the front and the back, gave it the look and the feel the wearer wanted, as the public eyed him. Some boys looked at the figure in astonishment and for some girls it was an eye candy.
As the crowd stared at him in half – opened mouth, the young man revealed his face out of the furry hair!
The background music of ‘Beat it’ flowed from the stereo held by another who followed the main figure.
Figuring out the figure that showed up before them, some young men from the crowd spelled.
“MJ!! Michel Jackson!”
The sellers and some of the buyers in the market then became aware of the identity of the person. Soon an expression of disgust spread over the faces of sellers.
The figure had been a regular visitor of the market since some months along with the helper boy, who held his small stereo. The boy followed him like a servant and laughed at his silliest jokes as if they were the best jokes of the millennium.
The man during his early visits had claimed that he was far better than Michel Jackson by his dancing skills and someday he would become more famous than MJ himself.
Many realised that the young and rich man was spoiled and a crack head. They liked to ignore him, but his irritating comments and behaviour had made all shopkeepers and sellers hate him.
The man visited the market just for a ‘show’. He never bought a thing from the market but his only aim was to underestimate the products, mock the sellers thereby sink their business.
He was regarded as insane by many sellers in the market.But the economic losses he had caused were unjustifiable. As in;
He would enter each shop and take some product, be it a ware or a shoe or a piece of cloth. Then he would ask the shopkeeper its price. He would then make a loud statement that would be a real blow for the shopkeeper.
“Seriously? Is this what you have got to sale? This is the worst product I have ever seen in my whole life, that too with such an unjust, high price. Moreover, this won’t even last a month. Why should you cheat poor people selling such low quality things?”
(His mouthpiece of “Seriously?” had given him the name ‘Serious Jackson’ among the sellers of the market!)
Then he would woo all the customers not to buy the products. He would remind them, if they did, they would be fooled.
He would enter a sweet shop or a vegetable shop or a fruit shop. Those places were always very crowded.
He would ask the price of a candy or a vegetable or a fruit.
Then his roaring sound would be heard.
“Seriously??? Your products have any quality to be sold at this high price?”
The customers would then turn around to see what the young man has got to tell.
“Guys, don’t buy anything from this shop. Last time I bought something from here and you know what? There were worms inside it. I was hospitalised for a week to become okay. Take my word and protect your health!”
Each time he made an announcement he would hold his overcoat with both hands and he would try to straighten the already straight collar of it.
The middle class shoppers would always take his word and leave the shops without buying the product, no matter, how hard the sellers persuaded them. The sellers found the irk man as a crooked plan of other sellers in the market. Rivalry sprouted between the sellers of the small market.
When the young man had left the place after his last visit, all the sellers of the market held a meeting to resolve the ‘headache’. It was then they realised that almost all shops were visited by him, which left all the sellers in the same pathetic situation.
It was then they had come up with a resolution to solve the problem the next time he arrived in the market. The plan was well plotted and all have been patiently waiting for his arrival since then.
So the presence of “Serious Jackson’ made their eyes glow with happiness as they all hoped their plan would work well.
‘Nothing has changed’ they thought as they saw him, ‘not even the way in which he held his overcoat!’
As soon as ‘Serious Jackson’ neared the sweet-shop the owner ran to him like a long lost friend. He then asked for ‘Jackson’s’ autograph.
Slightly surprised ‘Serious Jackson’ proudly gave him his autograph.
The sweet-shop owner walked with him for a while, praising him in all ways he could for the similar looks MJ shared with him (It was not otherwise!). The deliberate wording made things easier.
“Dancers like you are great. But the world is ignorant about your existence. All people still adore a Michel Jackson who is long dead. He shared your features. We all know you would dance in an amazing way than him. We would like to arrange your dance for the village fest. What do you say?”
The ego was rightly stroked.
“Seriously?” He asked, forgetting what he had done to the sellers of the market during his previous visits.
The shop owner tried hard not to laugh.
“Yes, very much seriously!” The shop owner smiled inwardly.
It took only seconds for ‘Serious Jackson’ to nod positive.
But the shop owner insisted that he should meet the animal seller to fix his charges, as he was the programme co-ordinator of the village fest.
“And, one thing, you should ask your assistant to stay here. We can meet the animal seller, fix things up and come back. Let him loiter here with your stereo!”
“OK!” With that he gave instructions to his assistant.
All other sellers were eagerly waiting ,”Our plan is all working out!”. They followed them.
The shop owner and fake MJ strolled passing the meat and fish shop. After some minutes they reached the animal seller’s section.
The shop owner passed a wink to the animal seller, while introducing ‘Serious Jackson’.
While the animal seller and ‘Jackson’ started talking about the venue, time, date, charges and facilities for the performance, the shop owner untied a goat which was not fed properly for some days. He then tied it at the back of the fake MJ.
The animal seller offered ‘Jackson’ 10000 bucks for the performance.
Unable to resist the surprise, he mouthed, “Seriously?” with a wide grin on his crooked, foxy face.
As he got lost in dreams and calculations, the goat did its work perfectly. The nuts in the dream world didn’t even notice it.
The sellers’ plan worked well, perfect than they had expected. They never had known people would get that much lost in thoughts to be ignorant of an animal eating their overcoat.
“So what you say? DEAL?” The animal seller asked ‘Serious Jackson’, appreciating the goat’s work.
It was then the crazy man felt coolness on his backside, as air passed over his sweaty skin.
Suddenly he turned back to check. He could see a considerable portion of his red overcoat already ingested by the goat, along with his undergarments. A portion of the red overcoat hung from one side of the goat’s mouth.
His source of confidence being tattered, along with his false self-esteem, ‘Serious Jackson’ could do nothing but run away like a mad man, while all in the market had a good time laughing, a memory they cherished often.
After that incident, ‘Serious Jackson’ never came to spoil business in that busy market.
Also, the goat that had ingested his red overcoat got sold three days after the event; whether the overcoat had killed it or not is unknown.