Sunday, January 30, 2011

Khorpude and Fernandes

"Ah, Khorpude. We meet again. It's been a while, no? A goddamn while. Twenty years. Bees saal baad. Everything about our little cat-and-mouse chase is so fucking filmy, no? Even that fucker Desai wants to make a film about us. He came to my Bandra office today only. These producers also have their khabris. He came with his newest chela, that director...hmmm...what's his name, what's his name?"

"Shayan Bannerjee"

"Haan, Bannerjee. Saala, these new chaps are ruining the industry. They sit in their fucking flats in Lokhandwala and watch European films, and they want to come and try it here. Alternative cinema, post-modern cinema, this cinema, that cinema. And these producers also are encouraging this sort of rubbish. This Bannerjee tells me that the public has become more intelligent, their sensibilities have changed. Khaak more intelligent. People will always want masala, romance, naach-gaana. Eh, you want a cigarette? Don't feel shy, men. You can talk to me openly. Nobody else is there. You want me to call you Khorpude bhai? Only then you'll talk to me, haan?"

"What Fernandes saab? I'm always open with you. You know how I enjoy listening to you talk. Ah, still smoking the same, I see? At least some things haven't changed. But I think time has caught up with both of us, saab. Three of us, I should say. You, me and Bombay."

"Bombay, Bombay. Nowadays, it's become fashionable to call Bombay your randi, your whore. All these arty people, like this chutiya Bannerjee, they'll go around making films and paintings and saying they're inspired by Bombay, their muse, their whore. But Khorpude, we, you and I, we said this thirty years ago, didn't we? We know her moods and her dirty little secrets better than all these pretenders. But true, things are changing. Look at Parel, where you used to be the raja once. A fucking acre of land was not sold without you knowing about it. Now, bhenchod, Lower Parel has become Upper Worli.

"What to say, saab? It's sad that baba has to see all of this. You know that he used to be a big man in the old days. When he was chairman of the Union, Thackeray himself used to come to have aai's adrak chai. The foreign hotel people brought down the chawl, giving a pittance as compensation. I have a nice place in Andheri. I told aai to take baba there. But he refuses to have anything to do with me."

"We must live with the consequences of the choices we make. But sometimes I wonder, Khorpude, whether we really have a choice? Take love for instance. We never choose to fall in love, no? It is inevitable. We know it's not good for us, that eventually it will wreck us and exact its price, and still we find ourselves falling, slipping..."

"Fernandes saab, since when you have become so philosophical? But men have been known to ruminate as they grow older. Very true, saab. You've definitely heard about my love story, saab. Splashed all over the newspapers, and they also made that film about it. Saab, I've thokoed many women in my days but I really thought this Radhika was different..."

"What yaar, Khorpude? You should have known better than to think that a film actress would be different. They're the worst of the lot. She was the one that did you in eventually. She was the one who told the Crime Branch that you were holed up in that flat in Jogeshwari. That's why you're sitting here in this lock-up."

"I became a fucking majnoon. To the world, I was Khorpude bhai, the king of the Bombay underworld. With Radhika, I could be Manjesh. You know saab, she was the one who told me that there is a difference between loving someone, and being in love. It is possible to love a lot of people, but you can be in love with only one person. Talking of love, how is bhabhi doing saab?"

"Your bhabhi and I are divorced. She was sleeping with another man. You know that Sharma? The sub-inspector who busted Ismail Pathan's smuggling racket in Uran? Haan, that one. I'd gone to his house to collect some files on a case we were jointly working on, and I saw her there."

"What did you do, saab?"

"I removed my revolver and pointed it at them. I was disgusted, shocked, even though I suspected something was on. I didn't think it had gone so far. I almost did a Nanavati, but then I put my revolver back in my holster, and walked out quietly."

"I would have emptied the fucking cartridge into both of them, saab. There and then only. How did you deal with it?"

"I drank, Khorpude. For six months, I was a fucking bevda. It showed on my work, and I was transferred to Goregaon station from the Crime Branch. But then I realized that I needed to take control of my life, piece myself together again. These boots are made for walking, Khorpude. We must make our peace with the imperfections of human nature."

"Let us leave this talk of love and loss. I've grown old saab, but not that old. Tell me, what are you going to do with me? I see no way out this time. This is not like the old days, when there would be hundreds ready to give their life for me. I've heard you've rounded up most of my boys. You remember that time when you interrogated me twenty years ago? Commissioner saab himself escorted me out of the lock-up when I was bailed out. And you remember who had furnished my bail bond? It was Patil, the man who became the fucking CM two months ago. It's all a game, saab. Now that I have nothing to offer, no one has anything to offer me. It is time to pay for my sins."

"Are there any moral absolutes, Khorpude? I don't know. I don't think I ever will. But we most forge on, doing our business, until we are turned to dust ourselves. And now that you've brought it up, I must tell you that I've been given the job of turning you to dust. They say that if I do it now, they'll be able to make the morning papers. 'Dreaded gangster of the 90s gunned down in Jogeshwari encounter'. That's what they want Bombay to wake up with."

"Ah, the Bombay Police. Still up to their old tricks, aren't they? I've lived life on my own terms, and I'd love to go on mine. Let me script my own obituary. Let me kill myself, so that my spirit will remain unconquered. And let Bombay know that I took my own life. If anyone deserves to know the truth, it is her. Grant an old friend his last wish?"

"Ah, the quirks of the erstwhile king of the Bombay underworld. You've been a worthy rival, Khorpude and a worthier friend. For all your misdeeds, you deserve to die. But I know your heart is in the right place. And for that, you deserve to choose how you want to go. My father always told me that a saint is a sinner for at least one, and a sinner is a saint for at least one. I'm not that one, Khorpude. But I'm sure there are many. Goodbye, my friend."


Anonymous said...

This post has said so much in so little. There are bits of you here and there, and almost all over.

Moares said...

@Anon: Anonymity is very alluring. I'm sure you have your reason/s. If at any point you think it/they are not good enough, drop me an e-mail and tell me who you are? For now, I'll live with the mystery. And you know me well, so you know I won't just live with it. I'll relish it, actually. The mystery and the hunches. The mystery in the hunches.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, we do not have reasons. But if you are sure I have one or more, let's stick to that.
Trust your intuitions. We actually know a lot more than we think we do.
And there is always the mystery. Its necessary and nice. Without mystery, the world would be boring indeed.

Carkey said...

"These boots are meant for walking"; Quirk?
Though, I felt that the conversation dragged on a bit, it was actually a nice read.
Good writing!

Shambles said...

I think you need to know Bombay to _feel_ this post. I think none of us can lay claim to that, but still. Outstanding. So much said in that one conversation. And far too many of my emotions about the city (and now, maybe a bit about life and love) match the ones in this. Kickass.

Moares said...

@Carkey: I wanted to write something for Quirk, and this had been playing in my head for sometime. For my aha moment, refer to @Shambles. So, I had my aha moment a few days before the Quirk submission deadline. Ah, serendipity.

@Shambles: Thank you, sir. I was ambling around in Dhobi Talao the day before I wrote this. I walked down Fashion Street and crossed over into one of those lanes that you take to get to Churchgate Station. To my left, book sellers on the pavement. To my right, people playing football on the KSA ground. Around me, people. All in a hurry to get somewhere. Some towards the sea, some away from the sea. And I knew it had to be written.

Anonymous said...

Pour through Anjali Joseph's Saraswati Park, for the love of Bombay.Probably u already wld have, the avid reader that u are.

Telcontar said...

This reminds me of every book I've read set in Bombay. From Rushdie to Vikram Chandra or Suketu Mehta they all write like this! There has to be something very edgy in the city. Having been there only once I don't really know.