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Raghu B

Comedy Drama Crime


4.8  

Raghu B

Comedy Drama Crime


Starstruck

Starstruck

11 mins 34 11 mins 34

Ajju and Raja


"What are you drawing?"

"A clock."

"A clock? What time is it on the clock?"

"Whatever time I want it to be."

The small kid was holding a stick as high as him and pointing at the earth, showing his artistry in the mud. His friend, a little older fellow, lying on his back, looked at him, uninterested in his art his friend just created. His attention was at the dark expanse above with a handful of dots of stars in it. The small kid wasn't interested in cosmology as much as he was in the mud clock he drew. 


"Ajju, come here. Lie beside me"

Ajju complied, leaving behind the big stick and the doodle. 

"What?"

"Look at those stars. They are shining alright" 

He paused. 

"Do you think that someday they might fall? Hmm?" He looked at Ajju, now lying on his right.

Ajju hadn't thought about anything like this. But he did find it fascinating now.

"Do you think so? I think if it happens none of us will be alive only."

"True."


"Raja, I want to ask you something?"

"Yes, Ajju."

"Do you think they would be gone by now?"

"I don't know".

As they lay looking at the night sky, a tiny rock flew from nowhere and struck Ajju's knee, disturbing their stargazing scene.

"Oi, what are you two fuckers doing there?" called out a voice.

"Aaarrgh… this guy," said Ajju, instantly identifying the stone thrower and also rubbing his slightly bruised knee.

"What?" asked Raja in a commanding tone.

"Come down, Nathan is on his way home. We will catch him on the turn near the market," yelled the boy.

Ajju looked at Raja as if he was waiting just for his command to do the next move. Raja, too, as a cautious but desperate measure, nodded a little, providing assurance to the little guy that it was ok to go. Both of them got down the middling mound on which they laid. They proceeded along with the other boy towards the market to confront Nathan, the nightcrawler.


Nathan the "nightcrawler"


On 17th street, a curly-haired, burly looking man adjusted his crotch area, zipped up his jeans after micturating upon the wall beside the abandoned godown on the end of which a bike was leaning rather precariously. He wiped his hands on his hanky he kept in his jean pocket and he sat down in front of a skinny 20 something boy. The TV in the room was on and the news channel was blaring out something as a caution.

"Anything is breaking news, right?" the burly man asked rhetorically. Neither seemed to listen to the TV. He reached for the remote and switched it off. 

"Cigarette?" he asked.

"Ummm… okay," he took the cigarette from the pack handed out to him by the burly man.

"So?" he inhaled deeply, "Nathan?"

"Yes," answered Nathan, lighting his cig.

"Gucci, Nike, Adidas?"

"Yeah."

"And these look authentic? Like the original?"

"Of course. You can't find a difference. It is even better than the original, I'll say", Nathan sniggered. 

"And you sell them on platforms? Stations?"

"Not only there. It is sold in tourist places with kids."

"And these kids… they don't try to take it and run away, right?"

"That won't happen. We won't let that happen. We have a way to deal with that and it's already dealt with. You don't have to worry", said Nathan, putting out the half-finished cig in the ashtray kept on the table. 


The curly-haired man was a short man and a small entrepreneur. He had heard Nathan's name in the area and as a prime dealer in brand fakes, Nathan a.k.a the nightcrawler was the man to go to in order to talk business.

"Good. Good. I had already talked to your boss. But I just had to see who this Nathan was since I was going to have to deal with you for this area", the man then handed out to Nathan his hand as a deal clinching sign, which Nathan reluctantly shook.

"What do you do in your free time, Nathan?" asked the big man, as Nathan was stepping out of his house.

"Just collecting dues," he smiled as he said, "Like now. I'm going for that only."

Nathan came out of the front door and muttered, "Fat fucker", and went for his bike which had been inclined towards the godown wall. 

The "Nightcrawler" as he was known in the area for his high nocturnal presence and for his 'dealings' with outsiders. He was a smart boy, who left school when he was 10. Since then, he had been working around the area as a mechanic, a salesman for bikes, a valet briefly at a five-star hotel, and other small jobs. He always knew he had a thing for doing business. And that was 2 years ago when he was introduced by Denis, his current boss, to fakes. The business helped him gather a lot of dough as well as a certain command and respect in his area. The 'dealings' were known by many but no one really cared much about it, until one day jeweler Ratan was knifed last year. One of the 'dealings' members were responsible for it or that's what was reported, which then caused a dip in the respect ratings for Nathan in the neighborhood, including a few scuffles between Nathan and Vijay, Ratan's son.


The jeweler and the son


"You think, she's just an illiterate woman, she doesn't know anything. She keeps blabbering with her loud mouth. That's what you think."

"Ma. Please. Shut up."

"Yeah, I will shut up. You know what, you or your precious father don't listen to me at all."

"Ma, again? Why don't you shut up for once?"

"Look, Vijay, I have been telling you we need to go away from here. We will go to the city and keep our shop there."

"Ma. No."

"Listen. Before something like last year happens again…"

Vijay gets up and storms out to the balcony leaving his mother interrupted and silenced. 


In the other room, a silent man lay on his bed, listening to the conversation ad nauseam since the past year paralyzed and bedridden. Ratan. The famed jeweler of the neighborhood, the money man, the miser omnibus, hapless in life. The jewelry shop was in his control, wholly, with his graduate son, Vijay, helping him out with errands and that was it. Now, Vijay has the shop to himself, his wife louder and much trashier, this was his downfall. And to think that, in his head, everything from that fateful day, is vivid, down to the tiniest detail, but not enough to make him get up and tell anyone, brought tears to his eyes.


The radio in Ratan's room was making some announcements about a certain event about to happen which he could least care about. As soon as the conversation stopped between his son and wife, the medicines kicked in and he quickly dozed off. Vijay came into Ratan's room, rummaged for something in the wardrobe, took a few notes from it, and looked at his father. He noticed he had slept and he switched the radio off. He then proceeded to get out of his house, his mother muttering under her nose, and started to walk somewhere.


Vijay was a very noticeable figure in the neighborhood as the son of the miser. He was the subject of the jokes for many of the kids around. His friends weren't many. Neither were his admirers. He always thought that his father's image was imposed on him and that's why he wasn't liked by many. That was the reason for his anger on his father too. He was friends with Nathan's gang and used to be involved in the dealings. But his family never knew any of those things. Post the knifing incident, he dealt with a friend who in turn dealt with Nathan's gang, since Vijay and Nathan fought. He was now on his way to that friend's place.


Back to Ajju and Raja


"How did you know he's coming to this side only?" asked Raja. He didn't trust the boy leading them. He thought he was pranking or maybe something else was beckoning them around that corner.

"I know. He will be coming this way, you will block him and then we'll see," said the boy, marching ahead like a squadron leader. 

Ajju was keeping pace with the two older boys, his chappal a bit jittery like it could tear apart at any time. He didn't care for it, cause the purpose of the pacey parade was about something more. 

"We need to get it from him today. For sure," he squealed from behind. As he walked along, he looked up at the sky, at the few stars and then quickly focused back on the road.

"Ask your brother to hurry up, Raja!" exclaimed the boy. 

"Come on, Ajju."

The two brothers go to their neighborhood school. They have a sense of unity and camaraderie that was very visible to folks in the area. Money was a problem for their family comprising of their father only. From doing odd jobs to selling brand fakes to tourists who come to the town fair, Ajju and Raja were doing well to help their father. But this week's pay wasn't in their pockets yet and Nathan was responsible. 

"Look, there he is, talking to some idiot," said the boy leading the brothers.

"You guys go and talk, I'll be around," and he started to fade away in the background.

The brothers marched ahead determined to stand up to Nathan when they saw their father with him.


The father


"Okay. I'll come up there for a few days. Yeah. Don't worry. We will be ok. The kids will be ok too. I'll go now. See you in 3 hours."

Sunil heaved a sigh of relief. The arrangements to flee had been taken care of for now. But that wasn't enough, he has to ensure his kids are away from all of this and that they don't come down here until they are safe. He kept thinking about what to do next when there came a knock on the front door of his house. 

"Who could that be?" he muttered, a bit scared now. He was unprepared about the dangers that his new vocation would lead to. 

The knock increased in number and volume. And more again.

Sunil slowly opened the door to see Vijay, looking desperate in need of something. Vijay barged in brushing Sunil's sleeve and turned around and asked, "Do you have any? Now?"

"What? No!"

"What do you mean no?"

"I don't have any whatever you are asking me."

"You deal with those guys right?"

"No. I don't do stuff like that. That was all in the past. I don't think it's the right time for you to be here."

"Why not? Ok then tell me what do you do with them?"

"I can't tell you and I respect you and your father but I think you should please get out now. Please, Vijay," he pleaded.

"No. Tell me. Maybe I can help you?"

Sunil sighed. He had to get rid of Vijay within whatever time he has left before they come. So,

"Nathan's after me. I owe him so…"

"Ohh. Okay. Umm…then…I don't think I can help you with that. Yeah. No."

He then advanced towards the front gate of the house, when – 

"You don't see WhatsApp, do you? There are forwards, my mother told me there is some meteor or something. Crazy…"

After his exit, Sunil gathered his stuff and rushed to pick up his kids from the meadows they were asked to roam at for the time being. He slipped out of his house silently and took the narrow vein-like lanes and just when he got out onto the turn near the market, he was stopped.


Last rendezvous 


"Look, there he is, talking to some idiot," said the boy leading the brothers.

"You guys go and talk, I'll be around" and he started to fade away in the background.

The brothers marched ahead determined to stand up to Nathan when they saw their father with him.

"What is the father doing with him?" asked Ajju to Raja, rather confusedly.

"I don't know," he replied.

They ran from the end of the street as fast as they could, when they saw their father falling down from a whack given by Nathan on his face. Alarmed by that action, the two boys ran even faster to reach their father. On the side was a man seen laughing who was also hit on the side of his head by Nathan.

"What are you laughing at, you imbecile? I could get you killed at the moment but I have other issues to deal with. Fuck off!" said Nathan to Vijay.

The two boys helped their father get up. Nathan noticed them and asked, "Oi, boys, you've come to collect your father?"

They stood there scared holding their father's hands on either side. They knew now that they were in trouble. Sunil held them very closely.

"You owe me a lot, Sunil. What are you going to do? You've already wasted so much of the time given to you. Your children aren't able to sell anything. You've given me no choice but to…"

He slowly drew a gun from his side pocket and lifted it up to Sunil's face.

"I have no fear in pulling this trigger. I rather enjoy it, Sunil. It'll be like hunting deer for me. Like how the rich guys do."

He placed his finger on the trigger, while the people opposite were trembling in indescribable horror at the madman they were witnessing. 

"I am gonna count to three. 3…2…"

A meteor from the sky struck Nathan's head and removed him from the scene. He fell 20 feet away like a toy thrown away by a toddler. Sunil and his sons were dumbstruck in disbelief. All of them heaved a huge sigh of relief. 

A few minutes later, Ajju and Raja went and looked at Nathan who lay on the ground like a clock showing 4.30. 

The brothers smiled at each other and Ajju remarked, "The star has fallen, Raja." 


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