Radhe was a perfectionist.
Radhe was proud of his profession. Or ‘Art’ as he called it. Is it a child’s play to relieve a gregarious old man of his favorite watch? That too, while he is busy talking to you. It requires nerves of steel and the oratory of Marcus Aurelius. Sometimes he got thrashed roundly for his efforts. But well, he used to think philosophically, it’s a professional hazard and all flesh is grass. Radhe never had a regret for this life. He always was busy thinking of ways to improve his trade. Radhe used to think of himself as a modern day Robin Hood. Robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Well, this was stretching things a bit far! The only poor to benefit from this misguided philanthropy was he, himself. But, we should not be too critical. It’s always the thought that counts, or so they say.
Recently he had developed a new trick. The best thing was, he could act alone and didn’t need an accomplish. He had a marked aversion to partners. Radhe had a quite a bad experience of partners. His last accomplish had vanished with the booty they conned. One of them had eloped with the love of his life – his 1985 model Enfield Bullet, which he had stolen from the parking of the Hanuman temple. Radhe was heartbroken for days and lost faith in the honesty of mankind.
This new trick of his was actually a variation of the old school thuggee trick. All he had to do was stumble into the potential victim, stagger and fall while slapping his right palm to his crown. It had a small plastic pouch concealed in it, which was filled with red sauce. The next step to do was, scream blue murder and accuse the victim of pushing him. The victim was invariably glad to cough up a tidy amount to avoid prosecution and a scene in the market, where this drama was designed to unfold. It always worked without fail, thus proving the admirable sagacity of the long forgotten thugs, who invented and polished this trick. Radhe always bowed his head reverently to the long dead geniuses.
This Friday he got up early. He assembled his tools of trade and went out in search of his victims. It always was an exhilarating feeling for him to go in search of new victims. He felt like a tiger prowling in the jungle. He was proud of his wit and talent.
He sensed, rather than saw his victim. It made him feel more like a predator. The old lady must be 80, if a day. She was tottering on her knobbly stick and peering around her with rheumy eyes, while continuing her faltering steps. One wondered if she will reach her destination or will be a martyr in the cause! Ideally, he wouldn’t have chosen her but for the gold chain in her neck. It was obviously useless for someone, who’s days could be counted on fingers, without exhausting all a man has! Radhe stalked her, so that he can catch her at the most opportunate point. Once he reached there, he casually sauntered towards her. He always wore a formal suit on such expeditions. It created an aura of respectability and the victim was suitably mortified. Apart from this, it also gave it a high tone. Aren’t all businessmen well dressed?
Radhe stumbled into the old lady. It was more of a lunge than a stumble. The venerable lady was incapable of handling any kind of nudge, let alone a stumble. He affected it perfectly and rolled on the ground. His dexterous hands moved of their own accord, with a mind of their own. The left one pocketed the chain, while the right one went to business dutifully. Radhe screamed pitiably. Like all managers, he was doing a number of things at a time. He was screaming, he was calculating the price the chain might fetch, he was assessing his chances of getting away with the least brouhaha… He really didn’t expect any worthwhile payment from this quarter. The victim was trying to peer through the hazy fog around her and decipher the cause of this commotion. Suddenly a soprano voice piped out…
“Papa, isn’t this uncle the most unluckiest in the world?”
The tableau froze!
All the actors in this real life drama were suddenly interrupted by this seven years old heckler. Radhe stopped mid track in his public performance of how his life was ruined due to this massive blow to his head. The gawking crowd considered this new source of information with interest. The old lady peered in the direction of the piping voice, expecting some illumination on this mystery. The father shushed the girl, but she was relentless and wanted an affirmation of the unluckyness of the protagonist.
“What do you mean?”, the father asked, scandalized. All eyes were on him and the poor guy was not used to such attention.
“I saw last week. This uncle got hurt in his head and was crying like this. The bad man who hurt him paid him money. See? He again got hurt!”, the queen of her sex explained. “He is the most unluckiest.”, she declared triumphantly.
There is nothing as shifting or fickle in the world as the mentality of a mob. Not even a Donna’s behavior on St. Valentines day can compare with that. The mob may love one and mount them on a pedestal. The next minute, they will tear it and use it as one’s tombstone.
Radhe was searching avenues. The tables suddenly turned. The predator became the victim. Radhe was soundly thrashed again. This time, blood freely flowed. It blended with the sauce and created its own morbid flavor.
The old lady peered around once more and then tottered away to her mysterious destination.
The little girl and her father vanished. The girl in her conviction that she was right. Papa thinking that they did something illegal.
Radhe got away from there. Another professional hazard! He cursed all children in general and the observant ones with long memory in particular. He yet had to have the shock of finding that the chain in his pocket was ornamental and not genuine gold.
He will take his loss philosophically. Radhe is Fredrich Nietzsche incarnate.