G ray Toyota-Hilux truck drove along the bumpy farm road that bifurcated from the highway, closely followed by fumes of dust and pitch dark smokes, rumbling with distasteful clatter and halted with an abrupt jerk in our neighborhood. A bald man in his late thirties jostled his way through the truck gazing at the apartment he had rented recently.
He wore a sweater tinted with a mosaic of tiny purple flowers and letters that looked more like graffiti than mere adornment, and Blue Jeans that went pretty well with white pair of sneakers. He was followed by a maid and a fair lady, his wife (or sister?) who was constantly throwing tantrums on him. It was much to expect, newly moved in couple quarrelling over petty issues in the neighborhood. They were followed by consignments they had brought along with them, sofa sets, tables carved with exotic woods, finely varnished chairs, TV set and other comfy amenities.
That night, boisterous moment amid newly moved in couple nearly woke up half the neighborhood. They were quarrelling: one could hear crashing of bottles, ceramic plates and mugs, loud din and noisy two-way mutter in a dimly lit interior at the moment when people get used to hearing whining and shrill howl of nocturnal wolves and foxes lurking about the premises.
“Damn it!” my cousin complained as he changed his sides on the bed, “they have begun too early”, looking at his watch with partially opened eyes and soon began to snore.
Fortnight elapsed in Tokhaphuville, newly moved in neighbor kept people at arm’s length not even bothering to exchange greetings. Most of the times the husband would be found with infuriated grimaces, he talked less save for the complaint that the place’s festooned with hell lot of rats, of assorted sizes and colors that found no other jobs than to nibble up his exorbitant articles. His wife kept herself indoors, I wonder if other neighbors saw her for once.
Late night quarrels were usual phenomena in their house after they put up in the neighborhood of Tokhaphuville.
The neighbors walked office agitated and their inability to sleep the previous night formed the topic of discussion every morning since the novice entered the neighborhood. None knew him to furnish any details if one were asked for except that the couples were irksome and kept on fighting the entire night, making their home a wrestling arena.
He mowed his little lawn, painted fence posts with lime and erected a huge signboard at the entrance of the gate that read:
YOU ARE ENTERING A RESTRICTED ZONE
WE LOVE OUR PRIVACY
YOU ARE NOT WELCOME!!!
Everyone respected the signboard and none seemed to have the audacity to trespass his premises. We were good the way it was, to be at a safer distance from the weirdoes and, him, from us. He was an intolerable cynic and a sadist!!!
It was Saturday evening; the dusk crept at a snail’s pace and the little town of Tokhaphu lay adorned with brilliantly lit lamps with smokes issuing from the chimneys that left faint trails as it rose aloft.
Everything seemed perfect that particular moment, when, as usual but this time, little bit violent, the distraught new neighbors quarreled.
“I will kill you! There’s limit to tolerance and you surpassed that thin line”, the man yelled
“Kill her before we wake up half the neighborhood”, the wife joined in.
The dialogue was followed by clanging and breaking of household stuffs, assault and resistance interpolated by brief silence and loud noise that would have awoken even a deaf duffer or perhaps dead.
The people assembled under colossal oak tree with faintly lit lanterns whispering and muttering about the commotion in the neighbor’s house.
Someone from the crowd suggested, “Let’s call the cops before we witness cold-blooded murder in our vicinity”, and began to punch 112 when an elderly man interrupted, “it’s no use calling the cops, by the time cops arrive, he and his wife would have murdered the maid, it’s an open and precarious conspiracy of murder we are dealing with. Let’s break in their house and save the maid”.
“What is with this man? Is he on parole? For how long are we to face this sorta predicament?” someone muttered wrathfully.
The crowd, more like a mob stampeded toward the “No Entry” zone, flung the gate wide open and entered in like pack of horses galloping to a finish line in a race.
Inside the house, commotion and quarrels seemed to have unabated. Glasses broke, TV crashed on the floor, tables and chair dislodged and loud bang of someone’s head being battered by a club was heard.
“I will get you, bitch. Just wait and see. Let me get a rock to crush your damn head”, the man inside yelled and pushed the door open to fetch a sizable rock to crush the maid’s head.
As the man heaved the rock and tried entering inside, the crowd caught him by the arms entreating, “Please, simmer down. You are unto a heinous crime that would lead you nowhere than behind the bars. Let’s sit down and talk”.
“What the hell are you talking about?” the man asked quizzically baffled by the crowd outside his porch standing like deserted animals seeking shelter from the downpour under thatched roof of a ramshackle hut.
“Why are you so pissed off anyway?” the elderly man asked as he placed his hand on his shoulder to pacify him.
“I have spent sleepless nights by her notoriety.
By virtue of her, half the neighborhood lay awake as I heard them speak behind me. I have had enough and I am gonna smash her head and dance upon her corpse”, the man retorted maliciously.
“You don’t wanna be committing the crime. Take pity on the maid and spare her valuable life and you save yourself from redemption. Isn’t it even?” the crowd protested.
“Maid? What the heck are you talking about? Let me go or she evades, hold me not for I got to do this work at any cost”.
But the crowd clung to him firmly advising him not to do anything he was upto…
“Leave me for this is the perfect opportunity I was waiting for since I moved in here. She will escape…she will”, he writhed trying hard to get out from the hold of the crowd when suddenly, a fat rat leapt out of the door followed by his wife with a broom stick, “There she goes…” the man muttered resentfully.
27th of September,2012