Bhel Puri Gone Sour
Bhelpuri Gone Sour
It was 9.30pm on a Friday.
Prem said to the belpuriwalla “2 plates please”. He knew it would take him quite long to finish two plates of bhel. He had to be at The Taj Mahal Palace at 9.45pm
Not because he had an engagement there. No, he had to pick up his boss from the hotel and drive him to the airport. His boss had to catch the 1am flight to London.
Prem was tired. The entire week had been excruciating. He had not gone home for more than five days. He had slept for barely four hours in the office. He reasoned that if he were 15 minutes late today, his boss would understand. After all, 9.45pm was too early to leave to catch a 1am flight.
He dug into the plates of bhel and the taste enveloped him. He was in another world. The kurmura along with finely chopped onions and potatoes all doused generously with tamarind chutney made his taste-buds feel like he was in heaven. He lost all track of time. When he had finished the last mouthful, he looked at his watch and was soon back to ground reality. It was already 9.50 pm. He would be able to reach the Taj only by 10pm.
Running to the car, he pressed the accelerator and zoomed through the traffic. Why did the traffic have to be so heavy on this night of all the nights! He jumped through signals and almost knocked down an old lady.
His phone beeped. He answered it, knowing fully well he would have to pay a fine of Rs. 1000 if he was found talking on the mobile while driving. ‘Prem, where are you?” came the cultured, accented voice of his boss. “I on way, sir” he replied in his broken English “I be there in five minutes, sir”. He suddenly wished his boss was an Indian. At least, he could talk to him in Hindi then.
Mr. K was in a foul mood. These Indians! They just could not be trusted to be on time. He would see to it that Prem would be punished. He forgot the many days and nights Prem had sacrificed being with his family so he could drive him around.
When Prem arrived, Mr. K said to him coolly ‘Driving me to the airport is the last job you will do for me. From then on, you are fired.”
This was the beginning of the end.
Prem was 52 years old. It would be difficult if not impossible to get another job. He had married late and had two children still in school. His wife was a homemaker.
A week later, Prem shot his wife and children dead before turning the trigger on himself. When Mr. K heard the news, he replied without emotion ‘It was his own fault”.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Ulrica Dias.
Published on e-Stories.org on 08.03.2012.