Telugu Original by : Durvasula Kameswari
[There were many unforgettable classical stories on game in Telugu. Allam Seshagiri Rao, Poosapati Krishnam Raju, Devaraju Maharaju and a host of others have written memorable stories about hunting in the wild. But this one is of a different kind. We read that the predators running after their prey. But did you ever read about a prey running after its predator? Then read.
Durvasula Kameswari is a prolific writer of yesteryears, and this amusing story rivets your attention unto the last.]
“Malkangiri Forest Guest House,” which usually slumbers silently amidst surrounding darkness of the densely wooded Dandakaranya, was unusually bubbling with activity that night. Petromax light was spreading its brilliance all around. Two jeeps were standing outside. Four Forest Guards in armed uniform were standing in attention. While the four Forest Rangers were lost in gossip standing in one corner, the four District Forest Officers were leisuring out on the verandah chitchatting. Strong odors emanated from the kitchen in the back of the bungalow as fowls were butchered and marinated in spices. Sensing these scents from afar, four or five dogs loitered around the place wagging their tails in anticipation.
When no forest officer was on tour to that place, the Dak Bungalow presents a look of hibernation. Being located at the centre of the forest, officers of other departments would never stay at the bungalow other than in an emergency. Even among the officers of the forest department, only those people with a fancy for hunting wild animals stay there overnight. With winter too cold, and rainy season too wet with heavy downpours, officers prefer going on tour only during summer, the only season pleasant.
The reason behind the present hullabaloo was that the Conservator of Forests was camping there for the next two days. The moment he received his program, the District Forest Officer tactfully dropped a hint to the local contractor. He knew that the contractor would make the necessary arrangements to keep him in good humor. Otherwise, how could he afford to arrange regal comforts for the Conservator of Forests with his nondescript government salary?
Nor it was new to the contractor. He takes it was part of his duty to make necessary arrangements, commensurate with officer’s rank, to make their stay comfortable. Today’s visitor was none other than the Conservator of Forests (CF). That too, he was visiting the district for the first time after assuming charge. So, the arrangements he made were top class. He arranged for half a dozen fowl and two goats. He specially commissioned premier foreign whisky and liquors. Having been informed that two friends of CF were also accompanying him, he ordered for three beds and Dunlop mattresses. New bed sheets, towels, fresh laundered curtains and upholstery, special bath soaps, hot water, and other necessities were in place. He desperately needed to be in the favorable looks of the new CF. There was a three-lakh annual tender coming up for bidding shortly, for clearing, weeding, levelling the woods, and fresh planting of Teak, Cedar, and other woody trees. The DFO had been a hard nut for him to crack. If he could catch the big fish, he thought, he couldn’t care less about the DFO. And the two days’ expenditure was nothing before the three-lakh contract.
His name was Patnaik. Though he had Telugu roots, he was a native of Odiya when his ancestors settled in Odisha for the past few generations. Subbayya, when he joined as a Forest Guard, became Subbarayudu after he grew in ranks to become a Ranger. After amassing wealth in that position, he resigned his job and started forest contracts in a modest way and had reached up to the present level within a decade. Identifying himself as a Telugu with Telugu officers and as Odiya with Odiya officers and with his thorough understanding of clauses of the tender and readiness to share the spoils with the officers, Subbarao Patnaik became more smarter after becoming S. Patnaik. Presenting himself at the Dak Bungalow whenever a high dignitary camped there, and attending to all their personal needs, he became indispensable and dear to every officer.
Ramakant, the new CF, was a Casanova – handsome and amorous. Patnaik gathered quite a detailed intelligence about him: that he was a connoisseur of wine and woman; a libertine who disports himself merrily with friends, clubs, parties and game-chasing; that he had very humble beginnings, married an ugly woman for money agreeing to stay with his in-laws, and furthered his studies with their help; that, unable to put up with an uncultured and termagant wife, he was looking for the pleasures outside what he missed at home; and that he was earning with vengeance the very money that was at the root of his uneasy compromise in life, and regaled with friends in clubs and tours to avoid his wife… and much more. The CF was so adept in attracting any woman with his personality and finesse that nobody had a clue how he would mesmerize them to his way. From friends to officers, from top to the low in the hierarchy, everyone was aware of his weaknesses. However, his glib talk, his charisma and his amiability overshadow his negative traits. With people magnetized towards him, he would keep the atmosphere always buoyant and bubbling. Whenever his mind turned to hunting for recreation, he would plan a visit to some forest locale under his jurisdiction. To his credit it must be admitted that he was a crack shot who bagged four tigers besides number of deer and black buck already – the skins, nails, heads, and horns of which he liberally presented to his friends. Should any officer from other departments express his desire to watch his hunting skills, he would gladly take them for escort and see they got royal treatment during their stay.
Patnaik made all arrangements basing on the information available to him. Ramakant was expected at the Dak Bungalow by seven leaving Jeypore in the evening.
At the sound of jeep’s horn, watchman ran up to open the gate. Guards, standing in attention, saluted. Rangers greeted him obediently. DFOs came down the steps and stood in attention. And the contractor, who was overseeing the dinner preparations, hurried from the kitchen into the foreyard. Accepting the greetings of his subordinates with a gentle nod of his head, he walked up to the verandah along with his friends and sank into a chair. After very brief and formal introductions and a cursory review of office matters for ten minutes,
“Alight! We shall meet again tomorrow at ten in the morning,” he bade them goodnight and walked into his room.
The DFOs who had been waiting there for him for over four hours, looked at each other with forlorn looks. That they had to visit him again the following morning was the reason for their despair. There was only one Dak Bungalow at that place. They had to get back to either Koraput or Jeypore for a night’s stay and come back. As they were well aware that the CF would devote two hours to work and two days for hunting, they reluctantly dragged their feet cursing him within.
“Will it please you to have a cup of tea now, sir!” asked the contractor with all humility.
Looking into his watch, Ramakant said, “Not now. It is seven-thirty already. Let me have my bath first… we shall think about it later.”
“Yes, sir! That was also taken care of. Hot water is ready in the bath. When do you want me to set up the dinner, sir!”
“At Ten. You are…?” Ramakant looked at him enquiringly.
“I am Patnaik, sir! I look after the contract works here,” he said humbly.
“I see!” said Ramakant. When Patnaik said he was a contractor it conveyed everything.
“Then, have the arrangements been made for tonight’s hunting expedition?” he enquired.
“Yes, sir!” he answered.
“Is machan ready? Also, the people who should accompany us, a jeep, floodlights, and a gunner?”
“Yes, sir! Everything is in place!”
“Okay. Then, let us leave after dinner between ten-thirty and eleven,” and entered his room.
By the time the three friends completed their bath, Patnaik set up near the petromax light – a round table with three chairs, top-shelf liquor bottles, ice flask, glasses, fried cashew, potato chips, groundnut, cigarette packets and brand-new sets of playing cards. Ramakant nodded his head in appreciation of the arrangements and picked up a bottle calling out, “Well. Come on friends! Until ten o’ clock, let us engage ourselves in this sport.”
“Shall we play rummy?” asked Abhiram Panda, opening the seal on the packs of cards. Abhiram Panda, IAS was Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
“We could play bridge if we have another hand. Where are your DFOs? Have they all left?” asked Bibheeshan Mohanty, Chief Engineer in the National Highways. They were club friends.
“DFOs? What for? They will be sitting here stiff like scarecrows, afraid of even putting up a simple smile. Neither they breathe easy nor allow us to,” said Ramakant dropping ice cubes into a glass.
They played rummy till ten, and the forest echoed with Ramakant’s boisterous narratives of his earlier hunting expeditions, and their unrestrained animated laughter.
They got up at ten for dinner. Along with mutton, chicken, and pulao, Patnaik stacked their table with appetizers, sambar, rasam, coconut chutney and a host of side dishes and recipes.
“Wow! All Telugu dishes are served here. Is the cook a Telugu?” Ramakant asked in approbation.
“No, sir! Knowing that you like Telugu dishes, I asked my wife to prepare these dishes,” replied the contractor demonstrating all humility.
“O! I see!” said the inebriated Ramakant, floating in a different world. He was in no position to ask for, or listen to, any more information. They had their bellies full. Patnaik arranged chairs and cigarettes for them to relax under the moon-lit open sky.
“Wah! Ramakant! I must commend you for ensuring a marriage-party-like reception at no expense,” hailed Abhiram.
Ramakant smiled proudly. There was – ‘What do you think of me?’- mien in his look.
Nature is flooded with pristine moonlight. The sweet scents emanating from the jasmine and the night queen vines merged with the scents of wild inflorescence of the forest brought by the gentle breeze from afar. A soft sound of water cascading down yonder hill into the dale beneath accentuated the pervading silence. The whole atmosphere was majestic and enticingly pleasant.
“Wonderful! This solitude, this cool breeze, this fragrance, and this moonlight is the right ambience for a honeymoon; could there be a more gratifying experience than to meld into these moments with your heartthrob … Oh!” exclaimed Ramakant. Being sensual by nature, that spark of poetic instinct in Ramakant coupled with the heady liquor and the setting wafted him to subliminal worlds.
“Poor fellow! Don’t go for the kill! Where from the contractor could provide you with such sweetheart? Don’t trouble him!” Knowing Ramakant’s frailty, Bibheeshan remarked playfully.
“Don’t underestimate him! Our (Rama)Kant should only wish for it, he could spring her to life ex nihilo from the most uninhabited jungles!” joked Abhiram.
“Good lord!!” Ramakant suddenly straightened up in his seat in surprise, as if somebody uttered ‘Amen!’ to what Abhiram had said. The two friends turned their attention in the direction of the object of Ramakant’s surprise.
There was a tent standing opposite the Dak Bungalow. The three friends forgot to bat their eyelids watching a woman loitering in front of the tent under the full moon light at that hour. She had exceptionally long flowing ebony hair, tucked a wreath of flowers in her tresses that contrasted and compared with her glittering white sari. They looked as if somebody had frozen them into statues.
‘Who is she? An eerie enticing nymph? Goddess of the woods? Or a divine damsel? Is this true? Or am I dreaming?’ Ramakant, completely sobered from his intoxication, screwed up his eyes and stared at that figure. The other two friends were under the same charm.
“In the midst of this forest and at this midnight hour- who is this feminine form? What mission has she here? It is incredible. Has this tent come up from nowhere now or was it there already?” asked Ramakant, recalling suddenly the tales about ghosts and apparitions he heard and read before.
“Probably we missed it. It was already dark when we came here,” said Mohanty.
“Better we ask her to relieve ourselves of the suspense,” suggested Panda. Workers and staff were having their dinner in the kitchen. They could hazily overhear the conversations and the sounds of glasses and plates. They saw a guard standing at the gate.
Ramakant called out to the guard. Pointing towards the tent Ramakant asked him, “Look over there! Who is that person? Do you know her?”
Before he could reply, Patnaik ran up to them in a hurry from behind, and looking into the direction of Ramakant indicated, replied apologetically, “Hi! Hi! She is but my wife, sir!”
Ramakant was amazed.
“What? You are living with your family in a tent in the thick of a forest?” he asked in disbelief.
The contractor replied, frisking his hands humbly,
“No, sir! She never came to these parts. When she wanted to see these forest locales and insisted to follow me this time, I brought her with me,” he offered explanation as if he committed some gross impropriety.
“But then, are you not afraid to live under a tent?” Ramakant expressed his doubt.
“Where is the alternative accommodation here, sir? We were in the Dak Bungalow when the room was available. I vacated it after getting to know your program and set up this tent. I will be leaving this place in another two days,” Patnaik replied.
All the enthusiasm of Ramakant dissipated instantly.
His curiosity to listen to some romantic fable subsided when he came to know that ‘she’ was the wife of a contractor. After the contractor had left the place, he looked in her direction once more. She looked healthy and attractive. Even from this long distance, he could clearly notice the sheen of her skin. And that waistline- between the jacket and sari – a summarily attractive figure by all standards! ‘Should such murky beast of a contractor possess such a beautiful wife!’ He envied him. He could not digest that fact.
“No use my boy! She is a family lady! Resign and reconcile to the inevitable. Don’t risk reputation and bitter consequences,” advised Mohanty, as if he had read his thoughts from the changes in his face.
“No. No. Nothing of that sort! I was simply curious when I saw such a graceful figure suddenly amid this forest. That’s all!”
But he could not convince his mind as easily as he uttered those words.
They got into the jeep at eleven. They set up flood lights in the front and back on its top. While Mohanty was at the wheel, Ramakant and Panda sat next to him. Ramakant was ready with his gun, cocked. Hoping to find some minor game on their way… a gunner, the contractor, and a guard were sitting in the back. Tea was filled in two large flasks. They carried some snacks, cigarette packets, water bottles, a thick cotton floorcloth, battery lights and other paraphernalia with them.
“How far is the place?” Ramakant asked the contractor.
“We need to drive for about six miles along this road, sir! There, we fork onto a kutcha road for another four miles. The jeep cannot go further. We can reach the machan by walking for about three furlongs from there, sir!” explained Patnaik.
The jeep moved forward as directed by Patnaik. After they took the kutcha road, some hares crossed their path, and scared of the floodlights and the sound of the jeep, disappeared into the surrounding bushes. Two jackals watched them nonchalantly lifting their heads up. As they drove forward, the forest grew dense, and the low branches almost brushed their heads. And the birds, which were blissfully asleep till then, awoke and started making scary calls. The road tapered gradually, and the jeep passed almost along a footpath like way. On the rough and rugged terrain, the jeep hiked up and down banging the passengers in their seats. “I did not come across in our way a single Hyena this night,” moaned Ramakant with disappointment.
When he was aiming for a hare, Abhiram restrained him entreating, “Please, don’t shoot that poor creature. The harmless leveret is so sweet looking in its cottony fur.” New to the hunting expedition, they were both excited and exhilarated. When they reached the end of that narrow passage, they stopped the jeep.
They got out of the jeep. The gunner walked in front; the guard carried the luggage and the rest followed holding a battery-light in their hands. Making way through the branches above and keenly watching the forest floor below, they moved ahead. The thick canopy of foliage prevented the brilliant moonlight from filtering through to the ground and it was dark all around. With the relentless noise of the crickets and cicada around and the rumbling of dry leaves under their feet, Panda and Mohanty found the atmosphere more adventurous than frightening. A deer, disturbed in its sleep by their footsteps, sprang up and galloped over an adjacent thicket. Nervous and confused, some hares ran helter-skelter. Walking for three furlongs through the dense forest they reached the machan set up for the hunting. It was built of bamboo over the strong and wide branches of a giant tree. The machan, which could comfortably accommodate six people, was cushioned with soft leaves and straw. A guard, previously assigned the duty of arranging for the bait, was ready in his place with a fat healthy ram. The contractor climbed up the tree quickly, spread some more straw liberally over the bamboo and the leaves, spread the cotton floorcloth, and carried all the material up. One by one people reached the machan, helping each other. Not far from them, the ram was tied to a tether. Ramakant, the gunner, and the guard, holding a gun each in their hands, positioned themselves according to plan and got ready.
Apart from skill, enthusiasm, bravado, and confidence, one needs patience for hunting a tiger. Indeed, an enormous amount of patience. Because one needs to keep awake and be on the alert in the ambient darkness while eternally waiting for the beast. Despite such endless wait through the night, the tiger may not turn up; even if it did turn up, one could miss the aim; and even after getting a shot, which was not fatal, the tiger could still escape with an injury. Many times, the hunter may have to wait for two or three days continuously. Even so, there is no assurance that the expedition will be successful. Ramakant has sufficiently warned his friends of these facts beforehand. He himself had made at least fifty attempts before but could succeed only on six occasions.
Hours rolled by. It was two o’ clock in the morning. Smoking cigarettes in a chain, they already had two rounds of tea. Panda and Mohanty started yawning. Their eyelids got heavy with sleep. After sitting in a set position for a long time, they were developing cramps. They could not even converse for they should keep quiet. Moonlight was filtering through the crevices of leaves like silver coins. Perceiving that something was going to happen to him, the ram was bleating out of fear. He was trying violently to break free from the tether. But for the occasional rustle of the leaves, the soft galloping sound of the stream over the distant hill carried by the wind, the cacophony of the cicada, howling of the jackals, and the scared calls of the birds, the atmosphere was cool and otherwise quiet. What looked interesting in the beginning became vexing for the two friends as time ticked away. Ramakant, however, was smoking continuously and waiting patiently as he was inured to such wait.
Though he was physically present at that place, Ramakant’s mind was not on the job at hand. It was preoccupied with the shape of the woman he saw few hours before. The reflection of her haunting beauty under moonlight rattled him and he lost his focus. He was not new to easy woman, but that feeling that she was beyond his reach, seized him with disappointment, which, in turn, kindled interest in her and her image flashed repeatedly before his eyes.
Another hour passed. They almost resigned themselves to the idea that the tiger might not turn up and were disheartened. They were dozing in their sitting postures when they suddenly heard its roar in the distance.
That’s it! Sleepiness vanished all at once and they sat tight and waited anxiously. Ramakant later alerted in a hushed tone, “It is somewhere in our surroundings.” Listening to the tiger’s rumble, the ram started to free himself more vigorously. The breeze carried the foul scent of the tiger with it. They were sure the tiger would come this way listening to the cries of the bait. Every rustle of the dry leaves, every little sound in the thicket caught their attention. They were piercing through the darkness for the tiger.
One more hour passed. It was twilight hour and the first rays of the summer sun might light the orient sky any moment. The wind turned cooler and with renewed disappointment they were just beginning to doze off. There was a sudden thud from nowhere, and a heart-rending cry of the ram rent the air. The gunner was the first to fire the shot in the direction of the sound. All the battery lights flashed suddenly in that direction. The tiger leaped over the hedge and ran away with the goat. They could briefly see its movement in the hedge and disappearance into the wild. Ramakant and the guard fired in the direction of the hedge. They knew they were late. “Pch! It escaped! It was lurking somewhere here biding its time and jumped at the right moment and got away with the catch. Tigers, too, are getting smarter than us. Bad luck! What else can we do? Let’s try our luck tomorrow!” announced Ramakant.
“Shall we get down and check with our lights?” asked Abhiram out of curiosity.
“No! It could still be lurking behind a bush around this place. It is not safe to get down until the day breaks,” warned Ramakant. All their excitement melted in a trice. They just waited for the day to break. After another half an hour, the eastern sky got brighter by the second. When they thought it was safe, they got down and probed the bushes with their lights. They saw the blood stains of the goat up to a little distance. Deciding it was not safe to pursue further, they returned to the jeep, reached the bungalow by five, and log tired, slept until ten o’clock next morning. Ramakant threw a fleeting glance towards the tent before falling asleep.
He woke up from sleep with a start and looked in the direction of the tent through the window. She was drying clothes on the line. Watching her with her hair in a slip-not after the bath, donning a rusty brown sari in floral design with a matching blouse, and the glistening interspace between the two – Ramakant’s heart missed a beat or two. How deeply he yearned that she should turn her looks towards the window! And that very instant, after hanging clothes over the line for drying, she threw a glance towards the bungalow and walked back. That look was enough for Ramakant to lose his mind!
Ramana Kant was not himself for the rest of the day. He perfunctorily went through the official discussions with his subordinates. Drifting into a deep sleep after lunch, he only daydreamed of her. In the evening he visited the restroom three times, threw up twice and complained of lightheadedness and vertigo. Taking medicine did not give him any relief. His two friends were worried about him.
“Don’t worry. I was short of sleep last night. Overeating and alcohol resulted in indigestion. That’s all.” Ramakant comforted his friends.
As the evening progressed, there was no letup in his headache.
“Friends! I am sorry, I cannot lead you for the hunting tonight. I gave him instructions and the contractor will take care of you,” he said feebly.
“There is no thrill without your presence. We already had a taste of it last night. It doesn’t matter even if we skip it for today,” said Abhiram.
“No. No. How could that be? Having come here to watch a tiger hunt, how could you return without taking a tiger for a trophy? I advised the contractor to set up the machan at a different place tonight. Rest assured the tiger is going to come again tonight. You will not miss it a second time. Don’t worry about my absence. Patnaik will take care of you.” Ramakant convinced his friends. He called up the contractor and said, “It is your responsibility that my friends witness the shoot. See everything goes as planned.”
“You don’t have to worry, sir! Take a complete rest. Trust me! I shall return with the tiger tomorrow morning!” Patnaik assured with all humility.
After everybody had left, Ramakant sat smoking in the open. There were no noises in the kitchen. It seemed their work was over, and everybody had left.
Nature was awash with the brilliance of moonlight. The full-blown jasmines on the creeper over the compound wall twinkled like little stars. Their fragrance was intoxicating. Moonlight only abetted it. He was looking towards the tent intermittently.
As on the previous night, she was loitering in front of the tent in a white sari. She looked restless: she sat in a chair for a while and got out of it soon as if she grew tired of it; and, she put on the transistor listening to it for a moment and changed the station soon. He pitied how disconcerting loneliness must be to her. And her loneliness churned out different ideas in him. The ambience was only feeding that appetite. But a sudden hesitancy, fear, and diffidence prevent him from advancing further. He could somehow contrive for solitude under the pretext of ill-health. If he dithered to proceed further out of discretion, his mind was forcing it upon him advocating that there was nothing to lose. Despite all his previous experiences with women, this seemed altogether new and different. Craving for the unattainable, waiting endlessly to possess it, and suffering the angst in the intervening period were new. That’s why he was getting crazy, anxious, and sweating profusely with excitement. With all his finesse in handling women in the past, he was not sure what to do and how to go about. If she raised any alarm what would become of his reputation and standing?
Finally, he stood up deciding to go ahead no matter what. He could not resist his temptation to watch her from close and to talk to her, in the least. ‘He would advance further depending upon her response. Else, he will just introduce himself, exchange pleasantries, and get back. Nobody could find fault with it.’ He reasoned. And summoning all his courage and will, he walked up to the tent with staggering steps.
The hunting party returned early in the morning with all the attendant frenzy after killing a tiger. As on the previous night, the tiger dared to run away cleverly with its catch. But the gunner fired the first shot hitting the right spot. The tiger wanted to escape leaving the goat. But with his second, it dropped down in its place and on the third shot – it succumbed. Tying up the seven-foot tiger to the jeep with ropes and cables, they brought it to the bungalow. Ramakant gifted its head and nails as souvenirs to his friends.
After the excitement over hunting the tiger subsided, they took breakfast, and Ramakant thanked Patnaik profusely before getting into the jeep.
“Mr. Patnaik, many thanks for your excellent hospitality. Your arrangements are commendable.”
It was very atypical of him to thank the contractors, as it was his impression that it was their bounden duty to make all arrangements for his visits.
Patnaik laughed awkwardly and made a gentle submission: “Hi! Hi! Thank you, sir! It is all your grace! Can I make a small submission to you, sir!” He pleaded with humility.
“Please go ahead,” said Ramakant.
“Three-lakh contract for clearing the woods and planting Teak, Cedar, and other woody plantation…”
“I see. Did the DFO call for the tender, then?” he enquired.
“Yes, sir! I have also submitted my tender, sir! Kindly put in a word to the DFO sir…” he said frisking his hands as was his wont.
“Okay. Don’t worry. I shall see to it. I will call DFO and talk to him,” assured Ramakant, getting into the jeep finally.
After the CF and his party had left, Patnaik sat leisurely with the top-shelf pint (a mixture of left-over liquors) and ordered chicken fry with the unused chicken. The Two Rangers were merrying in the distance. ‘She’ was sitting from Patnaik at a short distance and munching fried groundnut.
The devil possessed Patnaik by then. He was in seventh heaven laughing loudly and recollecting how things went his way.
“What did sir say to you, last night? Tell me once more? Recount what happened last night?” Words rolled incoherently on his tongue as he rolled in laughter holding his sides.
She replied with a giggle, “Why? Didn’t I tell you before?”
“No. Not that way. Tell me more clearly.” He pleaded.
“What is there to recount? ‘How sad! Are you not afraid of being alone?’ he said after walking into the tent. He found it an excuse to initiate a conversation with me. Waiting for such an opportunity, I offered him a seat. I made coffee and gave him a cup. Then he started shooting questions one after the other. ‘How could such an educated beautiful woman could marry such an ugly blockhead,’ he pitied me. Then I narrated my hardships, with tears, about my humble background and how I was given in second marriage to you against my will. Poor fellow! His heart melted. He consoled me saying, ‘we are birds of same feather.’ Then he went a step further telling me, ‘Let not your beauty wane to no avail. It is not a sin. With the sweet memories of the night one could easily swallow the rest of a bitter life. Your beauty infatuated me. Please accept,’ he pleaded, taking me over. I was as anxious as he was and delayed my surrender so long as I could, pretending loyal to my husband before yielding to him.”
There was pride and grace behind her smile as she narrated the tale.
“I acted so well. What is the reward, then, for me?” she asked extending her hand gracefully.
“Why are you in a hurry, baby? Take this thousand.”
“Only a thousand? For all my histrionics, I thought you pay me more than the usual sum,” she whined.
“You should thank your luck. I could have arranged for ten whores at a hundred. Since you are good looking, and a high-class woman who could also speak English I am paying you a thousand. Don’t get greedy,” censured Patnaik.
“Guru! Then you conned the CF by a smart move!” applauded one Ranger.
“That’s okay. But why should you tell him that she was your wife?’ asked the other Ranger.
“If I did not say she was my wife, how could he feel the guilt of stealing something from me? How could he get a feeling of sinning and feel obliged to me? An easy woman is everyone’s property. Will she have the same charm as a neighbor’s wife?” guffawed Patnaik.
“Guru! You are peerless. One should commend your ingenious plot. With an investment of a thousand, you bagged a three-lakh contract!” The Ranger patted him on his back.
Patnaik curled his moustache up proudly.
I thank the editors of Saaranga Web magazine (English Version) for publishing this story on the 15th of Feb 2023 issue.