Trying to generate hope, I have so far penned 2 pieces of fiction – to restore faith in divinity amongst humans.
In both the tales, God Almighty plays a subtle role and restores sanity and parity.
I have begun writing the third.
Here is the first instalment.
August 22 2017
Nungambakkam rail terminal seemed huge and imposing to the demure, dusky 22-year-old, Telugu speaking girl D Swathi at 5-55 a.m. that Tuesday.
Her namesake had been murdered in cold blood in that very railway station in June 2016. The perpetrator, stalker-killer – one Ram Kumar – had dropped dead in a prison under mysterious circumstances a few weeks later. Chennai’s corrupt cops had complicated the murder probe. Some among them had succeeded in getting sections in the media to cast aspersions on the character of the victim posthumously. Later, Kumar’s suspicious ‘suicide’ was hurriedly buried in the shallowest of graves.
She had other reasons to be afraid.
Fear in a male form, with rippling muscles, clad in a crocodile brand black “T” shirt and black trousers with a leery expression to boot had stalked her all the way from home located some 600 metres away.
Chennai is India’s 4th largest metropolis located on the right flank of the Asian subcontinent’s limp phallus shaped peninsula’s upper half. On a map, Sri Lanka, the island nation, seems like a drop of semen dripping from a flaccid male organ.
Swati had joined the very organisation where her namesake had worked before – Tata Consultancy Services [TCS] a few weeks back.
The firm’s offices were located in a distant suburb named Maraimalai Nagar – some 50 km due south of where she stood.
Juxtaposed to rail terminals, the names Swathi and TCS have an eerie ring. Way back in 2014, another girl by the same name had died when a bomb planted under her seat went off in a stationary train in Chennai Central Railway Station.
Hailing from a lower middleclass family, D Swathi stayed with her parents and younger brother in Choolaimedu, a nondescript district located within a km of Nungambakkam railhead.
The place is a beehive of criminals. Many of them are drug peddlers, eunuch sex workers and pimps. Most of them are stool pigeons. Policemen wink at this flotsam and jetsam of the underworld – under the guise of running a network of informers to solve more serious crimes. The shameful ruse rarely works.
Defenceless girls trudging to and from work and/or educational institutions are regularly kidnapped and handed over to rich, sexual perverts. Videos of the resultant sadistic acts are used to blackmail and force some of the survivor victims into prostitution. Less attractive girls were/are first raped, then slaughtered and flung by the wayside far away from the crime scene – where – more often than not – the bodies are not identified.
Such abominable crimes have become commonplace in almost every 3rd world city. India’s Chennai is no exception.
Swathi’s killer Ram Kumar was cited as dead after biting into a live electric wire in a highly restricted and remote zone within Puzhal prison – which was off bounds for an under-trial prisoner. Kumar’s regular cell was almost a km away from where his body was reportedly found – an electrical control room. Cops trotted out a cock and bull story that Swathi’s killer had bitten into an electric cable and had died of a fatal shock.
Swathi’s initial ‘D’ stood for Damarla. It denotes origins in the neighbourhood state of Andhra Pradesh. On that very day – August 22 – in 1639, one of her forefathers – a small-time vassal of the Vijayanagar Empire – Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu – had ‘granted’ the land between 2 rivers – the first being Cooum and the second named ‘Egmore’ to the ‘Honourable’ East India Company to build a ‘factory’ and a warehouse.  The former has morphed into a huge gutter. The latter river isn’t even visible. The ‘factory’ served as the first seat of power of colonial British.
When known as Madras, Chennai could boast of a uniformed fraternity that cared for citizens. Police commissioners like Parangusam Naidu in 1919 and Sripall [1980-1984] the citizenry enjoyed a sense of safety. The political rulers – like the late Chief Minister MGR were of better stock. Finally there were others like Mohandas – the legendary policeman of Tamil Nadu.
The situation had worsened since the turn of the century.
It had reached its nadir after the Swathi murder. Since then, the mismanagement of law and order southern India’s show piece is at its worst. In early 2017, cops had allowed half a million persons to gather at Chennai’s seafront called the Marina Beach – demanding the holding of the annual bull-taming festival that had been banned by the Supreme Court. The do had culminated in mindless violence. The cops blamed it on the sudden entry of ‘unruly, non-state, opposition sponsored so-called unknown violent elements. The vital question as to how such a huge crowd had gathered on a thoroughfare marked in the south by the state police headquarters and Tamil Nadu’s seat of power – Fort St George in the north remains unanswered.
Swathi briefly ducked into a nationalised bank’s air-conditioned teller machine console, inserted her Andhra Bank debit card, punched her 4 digit personal index number [PIN], clicked the ‘savings account’ and ‘withdrawal’ slots respectively and typed 5-0-0. Unexpectedly, 5 crisp, hundred rupee notes came out of the dispenser.
A warning note in the balance slip informed her that she was below the Rs.1000 minimum limit in bank accounts.
“Mine is a Jan-Dhan account – and hence the minimum balance routine shouldn’t count,” she muttered under her breath.
The tall promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi didn’t matter to the shrewish females that manned Andhra Bank’s branch where her savings account was lodged.
“Those are our rules. If you think we are violating them, you can take your account and go elsewhere. The banks need to make a profit and pay its staff. You freebooter paupers keep draining our precious resources,” the school marm-like manageress had announced when Swati had tried to protest the other day. During that exercise, a diabetic subordinate of the man-eating tigress like manageress was ticked off for being a bit late in a highhanded and rude manner. His obvious chagrin caused the man to initially wince and then lurch unsteadily before he returned to his seat.
The likes of scofflaw Vijay Mallya who owed close to Rs.100 billion to high street banks in India were enjoying life abroad while the nationalised financial institutions’ decision makers that had illegally funded his shenanigans with people’s money played silly parlour games by pretending to auction the ill gotten wealth of the fugitive profligate. If the poor as much as whimpered a protest, the persons behind the counters shamelessly cited non-existent rules and barked threats – sending those whose money actually generated their salaries – scurrying for cover. Like elsewhere in the globe, the dice were loaded against the poor in India and its southern metropolis.
Swathi had needed the change. She entered a small shrine for the elephant headed Hindu God, Ganesh sitting virtually next to the ATM.
“Save me from the clutches of this cruel world, O Lord! Every day, this stalker chases me right till the station and I do not want to die like my namesake. I am afraid to go to the police because he may be part of a gang that regularly pays the cops. I am scared of losing my job. My family needs the money badly. The management will wash its hands off if something untoward happens. I get the heebie-jeebies about getting raped. Please save me, sir!”
Wiping tears from her eyes, Swathi hurriedly shoved a single Rs.100 currency note into the offerings’ box, joined her palms in prayer and ducked out of the shrine’s low threshold. As she ran up the stairs of the foot over-bridge towards the platform– the rowdy – leaning on a lamp post at ground level – whistled.
“The rhythmic movement of your behind stirs my loins and challenges my manhood! Why don’t you take an off and see a movie with me today?”
The rowdy’s cat call irked her. Pretending not to hear him, Swathi bounded up the stairs.
Meanwhile, another, similar devotee placed two plantains on the offerings’ box hurriedly and left. A hungry cow craned its neck and succeeded in grabbing the fruits. Swathi’s improperly inserted hundred rupee note slipped out and fell by the wayside.
I picked it up – knowing that it would come in good use a few minutes later.
Some 1 km to the north of the railhead is a small vegetarian eatery Subha Niwas that serves mouth watering fare at very competitive prices.
An obviously hungry beggar stood beyond the cash counter asking for a free cup of tea. The cashier was shooing him away.
“It is okay. Please give him the drink. I will pay,” I said as I entered.
“Hello! You are here after a long time,” the waiter said as he placed the cup of strong coffee on the table. A small stainless steel vessel containing sugar was placed helpfully next to the beverage. “You seem fitter than before,” the waiter added.
As the beggar finished his cup of tea and tried to enter the establishment to thank me, the cashier waved him away angrily.
A moment later, the rowdy who had stalked Damarla Swathi wandered in and devoured four idlis [spongy rice-cakes] in a jiffy.
The rowdy was obviously very, very, hungry.
Someone looking like his cousin parked his ‘Enfield Bullet’ outside and ambled in.
“You ready with the cash, Sengodan? The boss doesn’t like to wait. And the rendezvous is a long way off – close to Sriperumbudur – on the Bangalore highway,” the newcomer said.
“Yes…I have the Rs.1.5 lakhs in 2000-rupee-notes. I hope the brown sugar is of better quality this time. Last time’s supply had some silly, illegal additive. Clients got a better ‘kick’ but one of them dropped dead. Luckily none in the vicinity of the OMR [Old Mahabalipuram Road] – the IT corridor – where most of the stuff was sold – made the connection. A murder rap is the last thing I want,” Swathi’s stalker said.
“The boss has it all covered. He has huge influence in the police department – both at the state and at the centre. He invests the money earned from these shenanigans into real estate – building on lands acquired cheaply and at what are known as ‘competitive rates’. The money is very, very well hidden. Some 3 years ago, there was a building collapse in the suburbs that killed 61 chaps – all poor labourers from northern India. That makes it 61 murders and not even a single murder case was registered and/or pursued. The semi-high rise with 11 floors in question collapsed like a house of cards and yet none of those who had bought them seriously pursued the case. Whatever settlement had to be done, was perhaps done out of court. Don’t worry about murder and/or any raps. The boss will take care of them all. Talking of the drug OD victim, I heard that the boy died on the road. Someone cleaned out his purse, credit cards, wrist watch, gold chain, i-fone mobile and a lot more. That someone happened to be one of your flunkeys. So, cut the sanctimonious, self-righteous shit and let us get going.”
The duo settled the bill and left.
“You haven’t touched your coffee, sir,” the waiter announced standing next to the chair where I was seated.
“I suddenly don’t feel like having any. There is a bitter feeling on the tongue and in the intellect,” I said, settled the bill for the other man’s tea and my coffee with the Rs.100 crisp note I had picked up and emerged from the eatery. The beggar rushed towards me. I left Rs.20 and change in his bowl. I retained the Rs.50 note, for I knew it would soon find a use.
“Use the money for eating and not drinking,” I told the man and walked away.
As she left her office around 6 p.m., Swathi called Veerabahu – her younger brother – a class 9 student.
“Come to the railway station in exactly one hour. That fellow was chasing me today morning also,” Swathi announced.
“I can do very little to that body-builder if something bad happens,” Swathi’s male sibling commented.
“Let us all hope that it never comes to that. There is a saying in Telugu – a male even if he is of the size of a palm – is protection enough.”
“Okay, I will come,” the boy grudgingly said.
It had been a hectic day at office.
Retired Director General of Police Durgaiyadimai Dheeran Thiruvachagam had addressed a select gathering of systems analysts in TCS. Swathi had been part of the audience. The man’s initials constituted the acronym DDT, an insecticide currently banned in many nations. 
“In more ways than one, my initials – DDT have serious similarities with the properties of the insecticide DDT. There are many who call me a ruthless, uncompromising demon who ends criminals’ lives with ruthless and cruel suddenness. I had served in the army and was known as a killing machine. More often than not, I shot the enemy-wallahs dead and never bothered asking questions. But, once I returned to civvy-street as a cop, I changed a few of my tactics. In one of the districts bordering Chennai – where I had been posted as a DIG, a retired colonel and his wife were robbed and killed by masked robbers. The killers had decamped with cash and jewels worth about Rs.60 lakhs. They were parents of one of my pals killed in action Kargil. The doctor who examined the bodies told me that they had died less than an hour ago. These gangs usually have about 10 or 11 chaps. We stopped all vehicles and the odd train leaving the area. In some 45 minutes, my juniors had nabbed the baddies. I asked my men to herd the villains into a nearby forest area sans any locals. The booty was found on them. Someone in the force who knew these types guessed that they all were hardened criminals who could be made to talk. But, recovery of stolen properties from past heists could well nigh be impossible as smart lawyers could delay matters in court. The chaps would eventually get bail, vanish and sooner or later…would commit the same crimes again, he said. I knew that the assessment was correct to the last punctuation mark. I asked the criminals to be lined up and took a hard look at them. Picking up a 303 rifle, I calmly shot all the knee caps of all the chaps and also their elbows – rendering them invalids for life. By then, the criminals were begging for mercy and said they would part with all their booty hidden somewhere in Andhra Pradesh – between the railway terminals of Bitragunta and Kaavali. The criminals were then forced to lie down on their stomachs. One of my boys ran the wheels of a police jeep on their injured limbs. We ensured that the chaps lived and dropped them off outside their village and came away leaving a note in Telugu behind – “Any and all those who wish to sample our welcoming party in Chennai are welcome. This wonderful treatment awaits you!” The number of masked robber gangs’ activities in TN has been vastly reduced. The villains, probably, are still alive but will never squeal to bleeding heart human rights’ defenders. They know my type never takes a chance. None of those gangsters can ever be sure as to what I would end up doing. In their warped mind they may imagine that I would lead a vigilante team of commandos and kill them all. Some of my batch mates actually did something like that in Maharashtra a few years ago. Nevertheless, there are cases of such gangs operating in AP. I admit that the methods I just described are not legal at all. Obviously, they are very, very cruel and inhuman. These days, such robbers have learnt a few more dirty tricks. The operators with different modus operandi come from other states too. Criminals’ heist planning quotient – has improved and larger heists have happened and are eluding the inevitable end. But, instances of masked robbers – hitting families in secluded homes in the edges of Chennai city have drastically come down. Is it only due to what I did? Perhaps not, I would carefully add. But, my tactics, sure as hell, must have contributed to the number of such instances coming down. I am like the DDT – illegal in many ways, but, have my useful sides as well,” DDT had said as his opening gambit. The listeners had giggled.
The balding retired cop advised the IT professionals to strengthen the arms of the central government by getting time allotted by the management to hack codes of secretive offshore banks that helped villains stash ill-gotten money in numbered accounts.
“These bastards stole from this nation … or … every one of you. You should help retrieve this stash and deposit it into the coffers of the Government of India, from where the baddies cannot get it back. The money will help India that is Bharat into becoming Bharat that is India. Emperor Bharat had sowed the seeds of proper, operative democracy and selection process of rulers strictly on the basis of merit some 4,000 years ago. It is well nigh impossible to do something as dramatic as that at this point in time. But, with better funding, the government can attempt doing stuff that will help the larger interests of we the people of this nation,” the former officer had stated during his 2 hour long presentation. During the tea break, Swathi had buttonholed the former officer.
“I am not sure whether the management here will allow such hacking. But, some of my friends could do this outside the office in our spare time, sir,” Swathi had told the man.
“Better be careful child. Your namesake was killed … I suspect … because …she was attempting something of this sort. Her killer Ram Kumar was a fall guy who was easily and shamelessly eliminated by corrupt elements in the police force to which I belonged sometime ago. In my opinion, a chilling message was sent to warn such covert vigilante groups – not to crack such codes and retrieve stolen stashes. But, I would say, continue doing it till the baddies find it too difficult to rob the common citizens of India. God only knows how many Ram Kumars are lurking and with what purpose,” DDT had opined.
“But sir, as you say, if some bad people from the police department are involved, what about our safety? Forget the stashes abroad. I am being tormented by a local stalker and am scared to seek help from the nearby cop house,” Swathi said bitterly.
“I played the role of an avenger while donning the uniform. Now, I can’t pull off such shenanigans. Times have changed. The way things are regressing, one can only pray to God! Who knows, God may still help,” DDT had said finally.
As Swathi got into the train at Maraimalai Nagar, her younger brother – a slender teenager lad set out from home, to accord his sister a modicum of security as she walked home.
To be continued
The factory and the warehouse were housed in what came to be known as Fort St George – from where the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu is being ruled … or perhaps more correctly … misruled.
On 22 August 1639, the piece of land lying between the river Cooum almost at the point it enters the sea and another river known as the Egmore river was granted by a junior member of the Damarla clan to East India Company after obtaining a permission to cede to the white man had been obtained from then Vijayanagar monarch whose first name was Venkatadri.
On this piece of waste land was founded Fort St. George, a fortified settlement of British merchants, factory workers, and other colonial settlers. Upon this settlement the English expanded their colony to include a number of other European communities, new British settlements, and various native villages, one of which was named Madraspatnam. The British named the entire combined city Madras to mark the occasion.
Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is one of the biggest cultural, economic and educational centres in South India. According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the sixth-largest city and fourth-most populous urban agglomeration in India. The city and its suburbs that includes most part of Kanchipuram district, constitute the Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is the 36th-largest urban area by population in the world. Chennai is among the most visited Indian cities by foreign tourists. It was ranked 43rd most visited city in the world for year 2015.
The Quality of Living Survey rated Chennai as the safest city in India.
Chennai attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists.
As such, it is termed “India’s health capital”
Chennai has the third-largest expatriate population in India. It stood at over 100,000 in 2016 as per census reports.
Tourism guide publisher Lonely Planet named Chennai as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2015.
The metropolis is ranked as a beta-level city in the Global Cities Index and was ranked the best city in India by India Today in the 2014 annual Indian city survey.
In 2015 Chennai was named the “hottest” city (worth visiting and worth living in the long term) by the BBC, citing the mixture of both modern and traditional values.
National Geographic ranked Chennai’s food as second best in the world; it was the only Indian city to feature in the list. Chennai was also named the ninth-best cosmopolitan city in the world by Lonely Planet.
The Chennai Metropolitan Area is one of the largest city economies of India. Chennai is nicknamed “The Detroit of India”, with more than one-third of India’s automobile industry being based in the city. In January 2015, it was ranked third in terms of per capita GDP. Chennai has been selected as one of the 100 Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under PM Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.
Sometime in June 1744, a rowdy element from England’s Shropshire called Robert Clive began life as a clerk and rose to become a general. Known to have terrorised those who studied in his home’s vicinity, Clive cemented the authority of what was also then known as ‘John Company’.
Clive ‘oversaw’ the dispensation of the ‘white man’s ‘justice’. The greed of short-sighted, egoist weak Muslim noblemen – Muhammad Ali and Chanda Sahib helped him. The insistence of blue-blooded Frenchman Governor General Joseph-François, Marquis Dupleix to fight according to rules aided the cunning former clerk with enormous chutzpah. Within the next half a decade, the authority of the French had decayed and that of the British flew full mast from Fort St George.
In the mid 1740’s, British Prime Minister William Pitt ‘the elder’ hailed Clive as a ‘heaven-born-general’ without any military training.
Clive returned to Great Britain at the age of 35 with a fortune of at least £300,000 filched from India plus an annual ‘quit-rent’ of £27,000.
Lord Macaulay praised Clive thus: “Clive gave peace, security, prosperity and such liberty as the case allowed to millions of Indians, who had for centuries been the prey of oppression. [Clive was better than] Napoleon [Bonaparte whose] career of conquest was inspired only by personal ambition.
DDT or Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane is a colourless insipid odourless crystalline insecticide whose early form was created in 1874. Its commercial use was perfected by Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Mueller in 1939. Some 9 plus years later, Mueller got the Nobel for medicine as the poisonous chemical was effective in destroying harmful arthropods which are insects of the arachnid and crustacean variety. These beings constitute roughly 80% of the world’s animal population. Opinion about letting them live peacefully is divided. Known to cause several diseases in two-legged and 4-legged creatures, a section of humanity wishes to exterminate them. A larger group opposes this idea because the poor voiceless things help in pollination and thus spread of vegetation – the world over.
In 1962, marine biologist Rachel Louise Carson – whose interests centred around saving the world through conservation of multiple species authored the book Silent Spring. The book revealed that DDT also caused cancer among humans and was a serious threat to wildlife, particularly birds. The ‘Bald Eagle’ [national bird of the US of A] and Peregrine Falcon were 2 birds that had almost been rendered extinct by hunters and also by DDT. A decade later, United States of America banned use of DDT by accepting the ruling made under the auspices of Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Thanks to the ban, the 2 birds in question can be seen flying freely in the American continent. Nevertheless, DDT is still used in some nations as it effectively kills mosquitoes that spread fatal epidemics like malaria.