Kashi slept that night on the park's bench. He woke up at about 4am. It was still quite dark but he could see the dawn was breaking. He tried to sleep but could not go to sleep. So he got up and started to walk toward the town. The town was shut but one or two people were walking doing their morning walks. He walked about in the town. The streets were getting familiar to him. Then he heard some strange voices. He looked around and saw the voice was coming from the speakers. He walked toward the place where the voices were coming. He could see it was a temple or something but somehow different from the one in the park.
He walked in the temple through the main entrance. He saw people were taking their shoes off and going inside. He took his shoes off and went inside. It was a big hall and people were sitting in it. More people were coming too. He stopped one person and decided to ask him.
'What is this place?'
'It's a mosque. You must be Hindu?' the person asked.
'Umm…I don't know but…' Kashi was confused.
'Don't worry. This is mosque where we worship our God. We are Muslims.'
Kashi knew a bit about Muslims. He read it in a book.
'So you worship here?'
The guy looked at his watch. 'Still time to go. Okay, come with me. I'll show you around.'
Kashi followed the guy. They were standing in front of the taps.
'Here we make Ablution and in the big hall we do our worship. Just sit here and watch us. After worship meet me,' the guy said and Kashi nodded. He sat there and watched the Muslims do their worship. He could not understand what they were doing. It was so different from what he saw yesterday in the park temple. The worship ended in five minute and people started to come out and leave the building. The guy who was talking to Kashi came to him from one side.
'Come with me,' he said and Kashi followed him through the exit. They walked about three or four shops and entered through a little door which goes to the flats upstairs. The guy opened his door.
'My name is Mushtaq and this is my little flat.'
'My name is Kashi,' Kashi said looking around. Still one hour to go to work.
'My flat feels a bit lonely because I'm not married,' Mushtaq said laughing. 'You want a cup of coffee?'
'No thanks,' Kashi said but Mushtaq got up and made two cups of coffee.
'Take it. We Muslims think that guests are god sent.'
Kashi took the cup and took a sip.
'So, are you Hindu?' Mushtaq asked.
'I don't know. Never thought about it. I guess I'm nobody.'
'You got to have a religion. I am a born Muslim and proud of it.'
'No. I don't have one,' Kashi said and looked at the time. 'I got to leave now for work.'
'What time you finish?' Mushtaq asked.
'Finish at 1pm.'
'Come have a lunch with me after that. I'm off today. Where you staying?'
'I don't have anywhere to stay. I slept in the park two nights,' Kashi said.
'God. You come here after work. I will be here,' Mushtaq said and walked Kashi out of his flat. Kashi got out and headed straight to his work. His boss had opened the shop and he was talking on the phone again. He looked at Kashi and nodded. Kashi put his bag at the back store and came forward.
'How you doing young man?' his boss asked.
'Fine. I know how to do this work.'
'Okay. One delivery is coming at 9. You have to unload it and stack the shelves,' boss said and began to dial numbers on his phone.
After work Kashi went to Mushtaq's flat. Mushtaq was watching cricket. He opened the door. He was happy to see Kashi.
'How did the work go?' he asked.
'I bought new plates for you. We will have lunch now. I'm already hungry,' Mushtaq said.
'Why did you buy new plates?' Kashi said. Mushtaq had gone in the kitchen by then. He bobbed his head out. 'Because Hindu and Muslim don't eat in the same plate.'
'I don't know. That's the way I been told.'
Kashi kept silent. They had lunch and it was delicious. Kashi had never eaten food so tasty in his whole life.
'I live alone here. My parents live in Goa. I have another bed here. Why don't you sleep here?' Mushtaq asked.
'Well I don't have anywhere to live but I don't want to be a burden on you.'
'Not a problem. I would be very happy to help you. I love helping people.'
That made Kashi smile. He felt so happy inside. So happy. So free. He accepted his friend's request.
It had been a week Kashi worked at the fruit shop. His boss was always on the phone. He was quite aggressive kind of man. Kashi spent most of the time with Mushtaq. Mushtaq showed Kashi more of the town near by and some famous parts of Mumbai. Mushtaq worshipped five times daily. Sometimes Kashi would go and sit in front of the taps and watch them pray. He would watch how they bend down and put their foreheads on the ground in a prostrate position. He would watch it but could not understand why they do it. One day Mushtaq took Kashi to the head leader of the mosque. His name was Akram and he was about in his fifties with a white beard. Akram patted Kashi's shoulder.
'You are a good boy. Come to the mosque anytime and you can talk to me. I'm always here,' Akram said and Kashi nodded. Kashi felt great sitting in their company. Akram was telling him good things which he never heard before from anyone. Anyway, Kashi would pay a visit to Akram daily without any absence because he loved being there.
It had been two weeks he started work at the fruit shop. The boss never talked to him and Kashi kept himself busy with the fruit. It was quite a big shop. The time was 11am when two Land Rovers stopped in an emergency outside the shop. There wasn't a customer in the shop at that time. Kashi was putting up the cucumber when he saw two men, nicely dressed, with shades on came in. They were talking with the boss for a while. Kashi came closer so he could hear.
'Where is the stuff?' the man with shades on was asking.
'I told him I can't give you the money just now,' boss said.
'Varma told us that if he yaps, kill him,' the man said. His hands went in his inner pocket of his jacket and came out a heavy pistol. He fired two bullets and my boss was dead. He fired another one. Kashi was witnessing this horrific incident. The man looked at him, came near him and grabbed him by hair.
'What did you see?' the man asked loudly.
'Saw you kill my boss,' Kashi said trying to get rid of him. The two men looked at each other for a minute. They threw Kashi in their Land Rover and off they went. There was a hustle in the crowd. But nothing happened. Another man murdered on the unsafe streets. Another case opened. Another victim trapped.
The Land Rovers stopped in front of a bungalow type of house. The two men dragged Kashi on the floor and entered the house. Kashi could see a lot of doors were closed and there were security guards in front of them. It looked like some offices. Finally they stopped in front of a big door. The door opened and they entered. They threw Kashi on the floor.
'Boss, Ram is finished but what about his money?' the man asked standing in front of a desk and beyond the desk was a man in his thirties sitting holding a pen in his hand and one end in his mouth. He looked up.
'Who is he?' he looked at Kashi.
'He witnessed us killing Ram,' the man said.
'Shoot him,' the boss said and the man got the same gun out.
'Wait!' Kashi screamed.
The boss looked at Kashi and got up. He came near him and grabbed him by his hair and pulled him up. 'What did you see?'
'I saw him killing my boss,' Kashi said. The second moment he felt a pain and he thought his tooth had come out. The man had slapped him across the face.
'What did you see?' the man roared.
'I saw this man killing the shop manager,' Kashi said. He was ready now. He saw the man's hand got up but Kashi caught his hand in the air. The man was getting red with anger. 'First I tell you the truth and you're slapping me. This man killed the manager. Isn't that true?'
Kashi was still holding his wrist tight. 'Isn't that true?'
'Yes,' the man said, bit calm.
'Now I should slap you because you said truth,' Kashi said and let go. The man got up and went back to his seat. Kashi got up now standing. He felt brave. He knew this was some kind of criminals he was facing.
'Where you going to work now? Your boss has been killed,' the man said.
'I don't know. I'll find somewhere,' Kashi said.
'Work for us. I will give you money. I'm Varma.'
'What do you work as? Killing people?' Kashi said.
'Yes that but I will give you small job,' Varma said.
'No thanks,' Kashi said and turned back toward the door. He heard a fire shot and he quickly turned around.
'You can't go like that,' Varma said and he placed a large amount of money on the table. 'That's your advance.'
Kashi hesitated then he grabbed the money. 'What do I have to do?'
'That's not my job. Raj will explain to you,' Varma said and pointed at one man.
'Yes said,' Raj replied and Kashi got up and they both came out of the door.
'I know. What do I have to do?' Kashi said cutting his talk.
Raj cleared his throat. 'You have to be our transporter guy. We had difficulties trying to find them. Our trucks go from here time to time but we need someone to protect our supply too and deal with the police too.'
'What kind of supply?' Kashi asked.
'It's mainly drugs and some guns too,' Raj said.
'So what do you want me to do?' Kashi asked.
'Just take our main trucks to the destination. Most police are with us but they get transferred sometimes. You have to be careful. We cannot buy every single person but most people need money. They will do anything.
'Like me?' Kashi smirked.
'No I don't mean you. Seriously,' Raj said.
'Okay. When is the first truck going,' Kashi asked.
'No. Not yet. First I will show you your house. Relax and then Varma will talk to you.'
They got in the car and the car drove through the roads of Mumbai. They both were quiet during the drive. After 10 minutes of drive, the car stopped in a porch of a beautiful house. They entered the living room. It was a fine-looking house, neat and clean.
'This is your home,' Raj said and pointed in one direction. 'That's all the wine and spirits and if you need some entertainment let me know.'
'No I don't drink and no entertainment,' Kashi said. He still had his bag hanging to his shoulder.
'Okay then. I am going. You relax and I will come tomorrow at 11 am,' Raj said and walked out. Raj had given the keys to Kashi already.
Kashi looked around the house for a minute. It was so big. He had come in houses like this in dreams. He can't even think he would come in this house. There was a strange feeling he get from the house. After 10 minutes of standing and staring, he got out and locked the door. It was 7.15 pm and it was still quite light. He started to walk on the footpath kicking the little stones thinking where he is going? Who is he? What does he want? What does life mean? Where is he? He has nobody in this world. He stopped looking around. He was alone standing on the footpath. Beside the footpath, a line of trees ended right where the road ends.
Kashi turned right from there and found that he was heading toward Mushtaq's house.