Happy Birthday

It was around 11:50 pm when a knock on my door woke me up.
I walked up to the door to investigate the source of that knock. I was greeted by Bharat uncle, wearing his suit (as always) which complemented his powerlifter like body.
” Your father wants to see you. In his office”
” In his office? are you sure?” I asked
” yes.”
My father never called me in his office, never called me for anything really. This was very unusual. I guess a common folk would call my life unusual too.
When I was 12 years old I had a little fight with my ‘friend’ back then so I came home all upset and angry. I tried my best to hide my anger, as a man does but I was not a man yet. When you are a little kid who doesn’t know how to control his overwhelming emotions the only real way you can express them is through streams of tears, my anger translated to tears which were very visible to everyone in the house, including my sweet mother, who being a mother, couldn’t bear to see her little kid upset so she told my father about this.
Things went on as usual and at 10, I went to bed to cry off my anger and around that time, hearing my cries my father came into the room and asked
” what happened ?” as calm as ever
” I HATE SCHOOL… I NEVER WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL AGAIN. NEVER. ” was the only way my brain could translate my emotions
he stood there for a moment considering my demands and then said
“Ok. Now go to sleep” and walked out of the room.

I never went to school again.
When you are crazy rich you can do stuff that the normal folk can’t. My house is as big as a castle so I never really felt suffocated, and to replace my friends there was the servant’s son, we call him Chotu. I am pretty sure my mother pays him to be my friend but I don’t need that money and I can’t bear to be alone in this castle of mine. In a strange way, I do feel alone most of the time.
I remember playing hide and seek with him when we were small little kids. I won, obviously but over the years we have stopped talking. He still gets his money and I still love him but when you know someone better than you know yourself there is not much to talk about, what is left is an understanding silence.

” Why is he calling me this late ?” I asked
” Do you think he’d tell me ?” answered Bharat uncle
” Touche”
My father really isn’t the talkative type, Bharat uncle is my father’s younger brother he owns 50 % of the family business I think, that’s some of the information I was able to get about our family business in one of my eavesdropping sessions and even Bharat Uncle is left out on secrets that he deserves to know about, from what I have heard he is not happy about it.

Because of my father’s disposition, I was primarily raised by my loving mother who can, when needed, transform into a terrifying beast with the intent to school me. I love her dearly.
Mother also doesn’t talk about business, I am not supposed to know. I realized that fact quite early so I focused my resources on things like movies, books and other things of beauty but the mysteriousness around this matter had interested me since and I still try to get all the information I get my hands on.

I was right outside my father’s office now. I knocked on the grand wooden doors and was answered by a ” Come in”.
I opened the door and went in, the room was filled with cigarette smoke and my father was sitting on his ‘boss’ chair behind his ‘boss’ table, as the moonlight coming from the windows behind him graced his shoulders. He was wearing his suit, not the normal workday one but this one was reserved for the special occasions only. He sat there wearing his special occasion suit with a glass of scotch in one hand and a cigarette in other, radiating nothing but pure power, his face was calm and composed as ever.

” Come and sit down,” he said as he stubbed his cigarette in the ashtray which was filled with other cigarette stubs that were used throughout the day.
I did what I was told to do. I realized that Bharat uncle didn’t follow me into the room so I guess this must be important.
I couldn’t believe it, I was in his office, in THE office, the very office that is responsible for a significant part my childhood fantasies. My father was smiling at me, queer.

I sat there, cherishing the moment for soon it will become past, with the loud tick-tick of the big wall clock that filled the silence reminding me that I better enjoy every second of this and as the clock struck midnight
” Happy 18th birthday son!”
I have had my fair share of amazing birthday wishes but this one topped them all but something was off, I knew that there was something more to it.
” Thanks!” I said, visibly happy.
He emptied his glass of scotch and got up from his chair to get a new bottle of scotch and a new glass from the cabinet and after keeping that on the grand table he brought a box of cigarettes and kept it on the table as well
” I’ve been waiting for this moment for 18 years son. You are a man now but before we resume the celebrations you have a decision to make”
” what decision ?”
” decision about joining the business”
“Yes,” I said without even thinking twice, the prospect of joining the family business had seduced me since my childhood, the mysterious air that surrounded it only made me want to join it more, if I had an opportunity and I didn’t seize it, my childhood self would never forgive me.
he laughed a little and said
” you are a man now, stop acting like a boy”
he waited for a second and looked at his watch at the very same time there was a knock on the door.
” Come in!” my father said
The head servant, who is Chotu’s father was visibly sleepy and…troubled, something was up. He entered the room with a glass of milk, kept in on the table and exited the room without exchanging any words but I could see that he wanted to talk to father but this unspoken request wasn’t acknowledged by my father, perhaps intentionally. My father followed him till the door and after he exited the room he locked the doors.
” There. Now no one can interrupt us.” he walked back to his chair and sat down.
” Now I am going to say something which may be difficult to absorb but I ask you to not interrupt me while I talk and when I am finished talking, you can ask any question you desire and after you are finished asking questions you will make your decision. If your answer is no, things will resume to being normal. If your answer is yes, things will remain as it is for a week and after that, you will start working for the family business. Just a short vacation before the work starts. Clear ?”
“Clear” I responded
He cleared his throat and began.
” I don’t know how to start, so I am going to get to the point. We aren’t a business son, we are the uncrowned monarchs of one-fifth of the country. The law calls us criminal, they call us illegal. We reduce crime, we increase crime. If we want we can stop it entirely but we can’t. Do you know why”
“No”
” Because they need us and if we are not there to provide them with the crime when they need, to provide them with thieves to catch, then everyone suffers but more importantly we suffer, as a family and as a business. People may think that we are bad, that without us world is great place but that’s not true, without us they have no one to blame, no one to compare themselves with and feel better and as much as they hate to accept it, without us there cant be balance and without us they will become us.”
he sat there looked around his office and then continued
” all this glamour comes for a price. Once you say yes, whether it is on the legal side or for the illegal side you are no longer my son, you are no longer your mother’s little babe, you are no longer a person. You are a soldier, giving away your life for us. You will carry things in your conscious, things no one should carry. You will do horrible things to horrible people, things so horrible that you will stop feeling human and you will do all that for your family for this enterprise and for the sanity of the world. You will be at war with the world so you can make peace with it. ”
Never have I seen him talk this much. Never.
” We do all this to survive, to bring food to the table. We have succeeded in doing this because of one reason, we help people, not the people who want help but the ones who need it. Strong people don’t need allies its always the weak people and weak people together are stronger allies because they are as loyal as one can be. Remember that. We do all kinds of criminal activities brothels, drugs, killing people. We do the white, black and gray stuff and we make a significant chunk from doing it. We launder what we can through our legal side. We wear suits because of its a job and just because we do this stuff doesn’t mean we are this, you always have to separate yourself from these scum and suit is the reminder of that. I have given you all the information you need to make this decision. Now, the scotch represents the legal side, the cigarette the illegal and milk signifies that you don’t want to part in this, you want innocence. So whats your answer?”

I picked up the glass filled with scotch and drank it till there was nothing left, and as it burned down my esophagus to reach my stomach my father smiled.
” Great. Welcom-”
He was about to start his ‘ welcome ‘ speech when I picked the cigarette and asked for
” lighter?”

he lit it up with his gold lighter, I only took one drag, long enough to make a statement and to cough. I didn’t notice a smile this time.
” You think you can handle this?” he was concerned
” Anyday. Anytime” I replied in the cockiest way possible.
My father was angry at me and I could see it, I could feel it. He didn’t want me to join the illegal side I think or perhaps my supposition about this being easy offended him.
” Interesting choice of words.” he said,
” why?” I asked and then he
” BRING HIM IN” screamed.
He stood from his chair and pulled the top left drawer and took out a gun and a bullet. I have fired a gun before, I liked it, it was a great stress buster.
The doors smacked open and in came Bharat uncle dragging a man with a rag on his face squeaking and crying. The very moonlight that once kissed his shoulders and the back of his head which made him look like an angel from heaven were now amplifying the anger in this terrifying creature that my father had transformed into.
” What…. whats this?”
No one bothered to answer me.
The man was made to sit on his knees.
by this time my father had loaded the gun with (one) bullet.
” Now I didn’t want to do this in front of you. I was going to do this when you left”
he kept the gun on the table. I don’t know this man, I don’t know who my father has turned into.
” but since you like being the ‘ Gangsta boy’ and since it’s easy to do this, I guess I will make you do it.”
Our conversation was interrupted by Bharat Uncle’s
” oh not again!”
” what happened ?” my father asked
” he pissed on your carpet”
” this is the 5th time in a row! from now on we do this outside”
I had made a mistake. The little world around me warped as I realized who the man was.
” I noticed that you liked the servant’s boy” my father brought back his attention to me
” He stole your mothers necklace. Now he is going to pay for it with his life. We cant have people we don’t trust sleep right next to us.Bharat is going to ‘off’ his father after this, the man who brought this milk. Its sad isn’t it. I was going to tell you that we sent them off to a farm just like your dog but since you are a hardass you do it.”
” People we consider family betray us and the illegal side handles it. Go ahead do it.”
” How much did the necklace cost?” I asked
” Almost nothing but it’s about the principle” My father replied
I calculated every possible escape route from this situation. I had only two options.

I picked up the gun and walked right behind him. I pointed my gun at his skull and waited. Waited for someone or something to help me pull the trigger.
It’s funny how easy it is to take a life, how easy it is to destroy something that took so long to make. Death was just a pull of a trigger away.
” Are we sure he did it?” my shivering voice asked
“Yes”
I took a deep breath. The longest and the deepest breath of my life.
” You can choose the legal side. Its easy on the conscious, you have to do things like this every other day on the illegal side ask Bharat he handles the illegal side.” saying this my father retreating into being my father and not that beast that he was a second before. He wanted to scare his little kid away from this mistake.
I looked at uncle and he nodded yes.
In front of me was a 5-year-old friendship, the only one I had. Yes, he did steal the necklace but his life wasn’t a fair price for it. I knew that this was not about the necklace either it was about me. It was about me growing up by killing my childhood, my innocence. I had two clear options, either remain an innocent child or grow up

” I love you and will always love you.”

and I hated being a child. I hated being left out. I hated being lonely in a castle full of people. I hated people treating me like a little child.

The sound of the gunfire echoed in the room, longer than it should’ve and in front of me laid a dead body with its brains on the floor. Everyone was startled perhaps even Chotu if he had enough time to think about it.

” You start from next week…. and happy birthday” my father gave me the best birthday gift ever, manhood.

 

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