THE MAGICIAN – An excerpt
(This is an excerpt from one of the many books I am revising and rewriting. Might be a bit raw, hopefully. Your comments and feedback most welcome).
A group of eunuchs crowded around the gate and insisted on entering the venue.
Their jewel-toned sarees looked gaudier with the fake gold and coloured gemstone jewellery that embellished their ears and necks. Thick bangles of colored glass interspersed with gilded ones made clanging sounds as they slapped their palms against each other at a 90 degree angle, making a peculiar clapping sound.
The two burly security men at the gate, who would in normal circumstances be very proficient in throwing out any intruder or miscreant, seemed to be at their wit’s end. They looked sheepish and bit wary as the enuchs harangued them with curses even as they stood between the eunuchs and the gate.
‘Kya baat hain? What’s the matter?”
Sasha moved forward and accosted them. Her ears filled with the sound of her thudding heart and her palms were suddenly sweating a lot. She was wary of the eunuchs and a bit scared too, as they had a bad reputation for hurling curses at people who annoyed them and legend was that these curses often came true. An elderly-looking eunuch, the mildest – looking of the lot stepped forward.
“Baksheesh chaaiye. We want a gift. This is such a happy occasion. Your wedding anniversary, isn’t it? You must let us dance and entertain the guests.”
“I’m sorry, that is not possible. And it is not a wedding or a birth. This is just a wedding anniversary party. What is the need for dancing? Please go away.” Sasha spoke politely, silently willing them to leave. Now she was beginning to get worried because very soon all the guests would start arriving and it would not be very good form to have the hostess having a run-in with the eunuchs at the gates of the venue.
“No,no we will not leave without the baksheesh,” countered Pushpa, the elderly eunuch.
“Yes, yes,” echoed the other eunuchs in unison and then they started singing Hindi film songs.
“Okay, okay, here take two hundred rupees and go.”
“Ha, ha, do you think we are beggars? Sorry, we will not take anything less than twenty-one hundred rupees”, admonished Pushpa. She was clearly ready to drive a hard bargain.
“Cheats, they come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Why the hell should I pay her eleven hundred rupees? As if I am ecstatically happy with my marriage. It’s not even worth 500 rupees though I wonder how one can evaluate the worth of a marriage.” A mind-reader would have been shocked to hear these troublesome thoughts that passed through Sasha’s mind but none of that showed on her calm face.
“Five hundred and that’s my last offer.”
“May you have a long happy married life. May your children be blessed with a long and happy life. Twenty-one hundred and not a paisa less”.
“OK, there’s nothing much to cheer me about my marriage, but I will give you eleven hundred rupees because you gave good blessings to my daughter. Take it and leave or else I will be forced to call the police”.
At this there was a lot of shouting and discussing amongst the eunuchs before Pushpa acquiesced “Theeek hain. Okay, we will take the eleven hundred”.
A lot of singing of songs and circling of hands around Sasha’s head accompanied the handing over of cash to Pushpa.
Heaving a sigh of relief, Sasha turned around to enter the gate of the hotel.
“Beti, you will find a great love. Death, yes and then there will be pure love.”
Sasha spun around at these words and her eyes looked into the eyes of an old hag, wizened with age. Transvestite, woman or man, the ravages of time had wiped away all such demarcations. But, the eyes, they were as old as the earth, deep and wise, they seemed to be laughing at her.
Sasha’s heart started thumping. Death. This word registered in her mind. It sounded horrifying.
“And this old hag, wonder where she came from, I don’t remember seeing her, Why is she or is it he, whatever, why is it laughing at me?”
Just then the eunuchs boarded a passing taxi and left.