It was 28th November 2012, their birth day. As he hurriedly entered the door in a celebratory mood, he saw her in the corner of the shop. She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. ‘Who now?’ he thought. Even though he wished that he could ask her the same, he couldn’t. With a puzzled look, he marched towards the table as memories from their dark past flashed before his eyes.
Once the two Sher Khan Juniors sprinted 300 meters across the swampy marshes, they are now just a hill’s climb away from reaching the peak of the Kanheri caves. The two have been doing this every day for quite some time now. ‘How do the kids happen to enjoy playing dumb charades the whole day long?’ would be on every single tourist’s mind out there.
But hardly a few knew the fact that one of the Sher Khan Juniors was mute and that the two of them conversed in a sign language that none can crack. Today they are late to the peak by at least 3 hours than their routine. For the good, they thought. Because that’s what they thought about anything and everything. Rain was at its best in Bombay in 1993 and the 9 year old twins were having great fun this late evening. Once they were finished with their entertainment at their spot near the peak, they were set to start their long walk back to their huts inside the National Park.
But today one of the Sher Khan Juniors had other plans. He wanted to explore the cordoned area of the park. Just for the fun of it. “If an area is cordoned, it doesn’t mean that it’s not open to the civilians. It just means that someone has been there and he doesn’t feel that everyone should be there. The intentions might be good. But you never knew”, whispered the Junior to the mute Junior. Having never refused each other’s requests, the doppelgangers crossed the barbed wires and marched ahead. After a virtual swim through the bushes, the kids never will have wished that they see what they saw that awful night. Or maybe not.
After 15 long years as head constable, Sanjay had been promoted directly to Sub Inspector cadre in 2008 August for he had single handedly solved the mysterious bank robbery case that had left the Mumbai Police perplexed. Media still was not happy about the trials though. Into the fourth month of his new role, Sanjay was back to his station after the night rounds. Haider, his humble personal subordinate, came to Sanjay’s desk and handed over a few documents and left the room. A thing that Sanjay’s junior officials had become used to in the past few months. Haider never spoke to anyone himself nor did he respond to others. He would just visit Sanjay, hand over a few papers or else bring in with him a petty thief from whom the other officials would loot.
Today was time for both, the station thought. Entered Amisha, a lady who would remind gentlemen of the Mughal-e-Azam era, just till the second she breaks her silence. It’s after her very first words that one would realize the fact that Amisha is an Anarkalian transgender person. Having known the Sub Inspector’s traits, the junior officials quietly stepped out of his cabin as they didn’t want to unexpect the expected. After an hour’s ordeal, or that’s how it sounded for others from outside, Amisha came out of Sanjay’s room with bruises on forehead, cheeks and both the arms.
“He doesn’t seem to be finished”, quoted one constable looking at Sanjay’s dejected face; “Maybe he couldn’t even get a start” walked off another. Sanjay pushed Amisha out of the station and quickly forced her to the back of his jeep. He took the front seat not even caring to get back to his uniform and screamed for Haider. On receiving his orders, Haider ran into the station, took two big sacks (what looked like ones that cops would have usually arrested people on suspicion of possession of arms), dropped them in the backside and took the driver’s seat. “Amisha N Khare, very stubborn beauty”, Sanjay exclaimed. “You won’t last long this way”, growled Sanjay as they now were a few streets across the Ville Parle police station. “Let me just get done with this delivery now and tonight we shall discover who’s a tough-nut to crack”, said Sanjay as he asked to stop by a dark junction.
“Amisha was not a transgender person by birth. An accident while swimming transformed his traits when he was a young kid. No one knows about her heritage but they say she was exported from Karachi by port. They say she was brought up by a transgender group who survived in the Karachi Port area making boats. Who would care to know such details when they are left spellbound by the mere guise of her?” according to the tales of the pimp who sold her to Haider for an undisclosed amount. “She was being hunted by all the big shots of the city but nothing seemed to hurt her (physically and mentally)”, the pimp had added.
A car passed by his jeep and at that same moment, a series of totally unexpected events unleashed before Sanjay. Just as if they had known the people inside the stranger’s car, Amisha and Haider each took out an Ishapore 2A1 and fired five rounds each at the car and dead silence broke. All the five inside the car were forced to a merciless death on the spot, each one of them suffering 2 head-shots, 1 each from Amisha and Haider. “Take out the pile of Type-86ers and hand them over to me without even blinking an eye” ordered Amisha, as she pointed her rifle at Sanjay’s mouth. Quickly after taking hold of the grenades, they stuffed his mouth with his sock. “You wanted to know what my full name was didn’t you. Now read this” quoted Amisha as she started to write something with a broken glass piece on Sanjay’s arms. Having managed with agonizing pain to read what was written, Sanjay had just two words. “But how?”
Haider was on his usual evening lookout in Mumbai’s suburbs for Sanjay’s late night entertainment before the usual supplier spotted him amidst the crowds and offered him to show the latest selling bonanza. The pimp took Haider to his lane and introduced Amisha. A feeling of strangeness instantly struck Haider on his first glance of Amisha. As the pimp ordered Amisha to fix the deal, Haider and Amisha were done almost momentarily with the business. The deal was fixed without even the exchange of a single word. It was rather a two or three second hand-signs conversation. Haider immediately stuffed the pimp’s hands with a bagful of black money and ran to his jeep holding Amisha’s arms as the pimp looked perplexedly happy.
“Head straight to the Ville Parle police station. We have no time. Don’t ask me why. I will explain you later. Just leave now and we’re going to act as I say for a few hours from now on”, said Amisha to Haider as he silently obliged with a nod.
The boys were expecting to have an elegant view of the moon and the landscape during their adventurous trip. But what unfolded was a total misfortune. As the man (who appeared to be a head constable) was quickly packing something into sacks, the Juniors observed that the deceptions were apparent. The stealthy behavior of the stranger made them patiently wait for 3 hours for the man to be done. Once he was done, the two Juniors quickly rushed to the spot and unpacked the sacks to find a huge quantity of dangerous weapons. Just when they were about to set off, the stranger had arrived with his gun held high and pointing at the mute Junior.
“What are you two doing here? Tell me right now or I blow both your heads off”, said the man with a firm grip on his gun.
“Don’t do anything to him constable sir. He can’t speak. I will tell you everything. We live in the huts inside the National Park. We were orphaned by the bomb blasts this March at Ayodhya. Our godfather was killed in the blasts. We just live here and came for an evening walk. We won’t tell anybody what we saw here. Please let us go and we will run away somewhere”, cried the Junior.
“Ayodhya. Hmm. What are your names” asked the stranger?
“Sher Khan Juniors. Sher Khan is our Godfather. He migrated to Pakistan during Indian independence. We were on a pilgrim trip to Ayodhya when the incident happened. Now please let us go”, cried the Junior.
“Sher Khan killed at Ayodhya. Sher Khan Juniors wandering about in Bombay. Wrong information to tell a Hindu policeman in Bombay. People not worthy of a life. Now one of you dies and the other one lives. Just decide between yourselves or I choose a random fair option. I give you 20 seconds time.”
“Please let us go. We will run away to a far place and won’t speak about this to anyone. I swear on our lives. Please”, cried the Junior for life holding the stranger’s knees while he saw the gun being forced into his silent brother’s mouth.
“Don’t do this to him. I will die. I will go. Kill me. Please leave him. I will die. I will die”, told the Junior as he gasped for breath.
He took the gun from the stranger’s hands, pointed towards his chest and just before the stranger could fire, jumped into the water from the cave top while an instant shot in response from the stranger seemed to strike the Junior near his groin.
Watching his brother getting blown off frenzied the silent Junior as he fell on the floors in shock.
“Since you asked Mr.Sanjay, let me tell you something” shrugged Amisha.
“Nature created men and women and attraction was inevitable. A blend of curse and science created species like me. People are still reluctant to accept us as one of them, leave alone providing us with equal opportunities. But there are honorable people amongst us too; who would hit the rough seas for transporting goods, totally unaware of the value they add to their masters, just because they enjoyed doing so; who would dare to protect a young kid, who belonged to a neighboring rival country, from the ruthless people who killed in the name of patriotism; who would patronize the kid as one of their own and teach him all that they got. Of course, there are sham individuals in this group too.
But that’s the mask they are being forced to take up due to this evil society. No one can refute the fact that majority of the society is survived by sections of masked people. People who hide their lives behind a mask they create for themselves; just because they are afraid and don’t want to be got ridden off by the powerful sect of the society. This country has seen enough partition of land, men and money because of the selfishness and lust of a few individuals. You greedy bastards don’t know about the lives of normal individuals. The majority of the individuals whose very life is made a sacrifice owing to the acts of a few policemen, politicians and criminals.
People who don’t even possess an identity for themselves. Their survival enables you to live while they stay driven. Whose health is your wealth. They don’t live their lives. Time just passes. But they continue to do what they have been doing for generations together; still unaware of the benefits that are reaped to whom they are working for. Paaji always used to tell that killing is against the faith of humanity, leave alone some religion. But that kind heart didn’t beat long. Every human takes pride in something. For some it’s their romantic success with a person from a culturally opposite sect; the progress of their family for some; upliftment of their nation for the more learned ones; the progress of humanity as a whole for the divine souls. But there are some vicious souls who don’t belong to any of these classes. Now look at you. There is not anyone, even yourself, to whom you are truthful. See where you people like you have got this world to. I won’t let you be the cause for a single more droplet of blood on this earth. You are not going to assist the planned bombings at 12 locations tonight. I won’t let you kill another Sher Khan” said Amisha furiously as she watched Haider chop off Sanjay’s head from behind with an axe and blood guzzled out of the headless body onto Amisha’s face.
Amisha stabbed the headless body for two or three seconds before the heart came to a halt.
He kept on staring at the knife as he neared her table. Clad in her winter jacket, the beautiful Amisha took note of the concerned look on Haider’s face. She noticed that he has been watching the knife suspiciously. She took her Double Meat Club Sandwich; spread on it the ketchup that was spilt on the knife and gluttonously gobbled it up as both of them shared a big round of laughter.
“I won’t let you kill another Sher Khan. I won’t let you kill another Sher Khan” cried Amisha repeatedly while alternating between a heavy panting state and the sentence.
After Haider took one last look onto what was written on Sanjay’s arms, he took out his cell phone and took a photo of the writings that would have read as below.
‘AMISHA N KHARE
I AM A SHER KHAN’