The Grip of Infamy. Episode 6. Serialised Story by R. Sittamparam
Anthony had half a mind to break into the house and drag Haque out. He would bring the rogue to Thana’s warehouse about five kilometres away in Jalan Ipoh and bash him up to his heart’s content and later feed his body parts to the crows at the garbage dumpsite nearby.
But Thana’s strict instructions kept him sane. In the underworld code of conduct, showing absolute allegiance to the boss’ orders was crucial and ascertains the life and death of a member. Anthony however ordered his driver to stop the car about 20m away from the house and got down. Walking cautiously looking to his right and left, Anthony went up to the gate of Haque’s house.
The six-footer who sported long shoulder length hair tied in a ponytail, put his left hand on the gate post and peeking in, scrutinised the inside of the house compound. Casting his eye one more time at the lighted room and not seeing any movement there, he quickly noted down in his small address book, the house number, registration numbers of a Datsun and a Yamaha 100cc motorcycle parked in the driveway. Glancing once more at the lighted room, Anthony turned away from the house and headed quickly back to his car as he saw that Muthammal’s house was open and wondering if it could be the gossipy woman who uploaded the video. He was well aware how women including the elderly had taken to the social media and smartphones in a big way. For someone like Muthammal believed to be reasonably educated in English, WhatsAp and Facebook could be a godsend tool to extend her gossip network and get instant gratification.
Anthony also noted a small group of scruffy looking children playing with a puppy further down the road and with a heavy sigh, the father of two infant boys broke into a quick stride towards his car. He thought to himself, the boss is right, we have to lie low for a while.
News of the shooting incident in the media died down after three days when police announced that the case had been classified as a revenge attempt by Thana’s business rivals and that investigations into the case were ongoing.
The independent online news media were not about to letup on Thana’s video and managed to keep the story trending for two weeks with comments from Opposition leaders and NGOs. They however had to drop the story failing in their efforts to get reactions from Thana who extended his overseas stay with the excuse of attending his wife’s graduation from some unknown university in Russia. Sanggaran Vellu would only say that Thana’s business affairs had nothing to do with the party and refused further comment on the shooting incident or the video matter.
It was the eve of Deepavali when Thana and his family touched down at Kuala Lumpur. Their return was partly due to their youngest son, two-year-old Thevarayan’s doting over his maternal grandparents who had raised him at their house from the time he was a nine-months-old baby. The couple’s four-year-old daughter Tharshini had also been feeling lonely away from her cousins and relatives.
The couple were received at the VIP arrival lounge of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport by Anthony and Thiagu who quickly whisked them away to escape the eyes of the media. Asha did not take this lightly and chided the two henchmen. “Why this secrecy boys? I thought the issue over the video is now resolved. I say, all this secrecy is not good for the children.”
Thana came to his henchmen’s support, “It’s OK dear. This is just a precautionary step. You never know what can happen these days.”
The couple and their children were taken directly to Asha’s family home in Sabak Bernam where they were received with great fanfare by Asha’s parents Mr and Mrs Madhavan and the families of their other five children. The Madhavans lived in a bungalow sitting smug in a little fruit orchard covering three acres on the side of a hill. The property was recently purchased for her parents by Asha.
After settling in, Asha had excitedly got down to the task of distributing lavish gifts of colourful sarees, kurtis and Punjabi dresses, cosmetic jewellery together with kurtas, dhotis and traditional suits. She had bought these gifts for her parents and siblings’ families in Tamil Nadu in India where the couple had spent the entire month of their disappearance from Malaysia.
Thana meanwhile was on his mobile phone most of the time instructing his lieutenants and getting briefings from his political party channels. He appeared to be in a cheerful mood when the firecrackers and fireworks went off at the stroke of midnight, marking Deepavali day. He joined the other men at the house to guide the little children in firing the rockets and sparklers.
Thana and Asha who were visibly the VIPs in the house, then casually went around the house meeting the other families gathered under the roof and wishing them Happy Deepavali.