Chapter One Point Five or The Mezzanine
<Temporarily suspending in time the events previously mentioned>
Same day, Madras of 1940
Drops of sweat fell to the ground silently as Detective Inspector Second Class Murugan B.A drank his coffee in the middle of the Officer’s Mess, Teynampet Police Station.
A picture of English Royalty hung on one side of him and a picture of an English politician on the opposing wall; he knew the politician’s name and he said that to himself. No reason.
The time was when the sun would reach a spot in the universe that is directly above the Officer’s mess. The shortage of staff in the mess was not much noted as the shortage of air, while a man who should have retired thirty years ago dipped his trembling hands in brown water as he tried to wash the coffee remnants out of the white porcelain cups. His name was Javed something, even this the Detective Inspector Murugan knew.
Unaffected by the noise made by the washing of coffee cups, Murugan walked out of the mess, unconsciously checking and rechecking the weapon in his holster. A sentry saluted him as he walked past, which Murugan duly ignored. He could afford it.
<A Coffee before a killing- interlude>
Some days ago, Murugan was having coffee with a man of questionable character, but with a scientific bent on crime.
“The European lady can’t sleep without it” he said “She needs some more”
“Which European?” Murugan asked.
“Look Inspector, I cannot give away my clients, it is only because I guarantee them absolute secrecy…”
“Look! I cannot be seen talking with you, I am an officer”
“Second class, that’s the highest you’ll get. They don’t promote Indians unless you are willing to wipe the shit off British shoes”
“This isn’t about where my loyalties lie” Murugan tired to reason, but this time a little softer than before, his eyes turning vulnerable.
The opposing man who now seemed to Murugan to posses every quality of the devil said, “yes I know where your loyalties lie” punning correctly.
Murugan did things with his hands that he had never done before, locked them on the sides of his forehead and clenched his teeth in shame.
“I’ll take that as a yes, same time next week, and usual place” the man left, sliding between the gap that the wooden table could offer the chair. Like a snake.
<End of interlude>
The Classic still reserved the balcony, that mezzanine floor was the standing memory of the wall that divided the city into the colonials and the brown masses who thronged below. Exceptions of course could be made in case.
The Monday morning show brought no crowds, Murugan walked into the otherwise empty balcony, showing “Of Mice and Men”. Detective Inspector Murugan had not seen it, he had no intention of seeing it. He would wait, saying thus to himself he closed his eyes.
Sometime had passed till the devious bald man had appeared, but no one could say exactly when this small man had taken the seat behind Murugan and hissed into his ear, “Have you got it?”
“Yes” Murugan said, tapping lightly on the gun that clung to his right leg and smiled in the darkness.
“You are professional as I was told, you would be” Murugan tried to turn and look behind when he was advised quite strictly by the man.
“Leave the package on the seat next to you, and walk without looking back; we shall part as friends and without bloodshed” the man said, it seemed that he had practised this dialog a hundred times.
“This is it” Murugan thought to himself, this is the moment between me and freedom from all this. Having placed the token package as instructed, the inspector deftly took out the covered pistol from its holster thus terminally alarming his adversary.
“This, inspector is a big mistake; you know I’m not the only one who knows and i don’t like guns…they are noisy”
“Who else knows?” Murugan now pointing directly to the head
“Who else knows?” again, this time louder.
“Killing me would not serve any purpose…killing me”
“This land would be subtracted of one dirty middle-level pimp, now tell me who else knows”
“You know Murugan, this is actually what I did expect, after all the talk of what is coming… i hope to die before…you know”
“You do realise that I do have a lot of time” the inspector interjected “and I will not hesitate in killing a man such as yourself”
“tch.. then do it, you will not get any name from me, but ….”
Murugan looked around to see if anybody had been alerted by the noise, but blood spurted out like ants coming out of a mechanically disturbed anthill.
Death instantly swooped from above and claimed the bald devious man with deadly secrets, his name would soon be known. He did not carry a gun.
Satisfied,Murugan walked away briskly not noticing the pamphlet that was in the pocket of the man whom he had just killed.
<Meanwhile somewhere on Marina Beach>
Something as large as three medium sized fishing boats joint together, washed ashore. So breathtaking was the sight, the people who had gathered there instinctively started to calculate its dimensions.
“It could eat all my goats back in Chingleput” said one concerned
“And mine too” said another
“Mine too, but I have none” said a steely voice that pierced through the concentrated gathering of anxious people who had stayed behind.
Three in the crowd gave way and Malayappan, the snake charmer with a mustache as swirly as the creatures he tames walked and spoke thus
“Where have you been all these years, my friend? I’ve been waiting for you for a long long time”
The thing that had just reached the shores of Madras was so tired that it quietly ignored the attention it was getting, it was used to being alone in the sea bed that it never realised it was the last one of its kind. It slept.
Meanwhile Malayappan had announced to the world that ‘it’ was actually a ‘he’ and was duly named Rajan.
“Oh! Now, I’m called Rajan” thought Rajan the sea-snake and closed its eyes dreaming of the desolate sea bed.
<Meanwhile in a press not far away The Madras Mail had just decided to the print the story of a murdered Chemistry professor from Madras University on the third page as they could not get a good picture of Silver Star Bama.>