Grip of Infamy. Episode 16. By R. Sittamparam

Episode 16 (Scroll down the Literature section to read earlier episodes of this serialised Malaysian novel)

Thana’s driver, Sarath let off his boss at the entrance to the MVP headquarters, a five-storey building painted brown and yellow. It appeared dull despite the falling rays of the scorching afternoon sun.

The building was dwarfed by a surrounding maze of skyscrapers, and a flyover that was a vital part of the city ring road network, looming on its left.

Sarath who underwent surgery after the Sental shootout to remove a bullet lodged in his left lower jaw, had manoeuvred through a crowd of protesters gathered at the gate.

Sarath noticed it was their own people protesting against a MVP leader who was a thorn in the side of eager climbers like Thana and hanger-on deadwood leaders.

MVP deputy president, Datuk Seri Puvanthiran Gopalan temporarily held the president post when Sanggaran Velu was suspended from The Bigger Alliance Supreme Council, over a corruption charge.

Puvanthiran had jumped on the opportunity of his corrupt boss’ detention by the Anti-corruption Agency, to make an attempt at turning around the party.

A group of Sanggaran Velu loyalists within MVP’s Central Working Committee had sabotaged the new leader’s attempt and fought to maintain the party status quo.

Sure enough before Puvanthiran popularly known as Datuk Seri PG could make any telling change, the detained leader bribed his way out of the corruption charge to seize back power from his nemesis.

Unable to sack Puvanthiran who had the community’s backing, Sanggaran Velu henceforth took every opportunity to pressure his nemesis into leaving MVP.

In the latest salvo, the dictator had jumped on a statement by his deputy blaming Indian cinema influence on the rise in crime among Merekasian Indian youth.

Sanggaran Velu had immediately refuted his deputy’s claim stirring up the cinema addicted Merekasian Indian community, through his mouthpiece the Azhum Oli Tamil daily and national Tamil radio and television channels.

The dictator who often emulated the political strategies employed by celluloid villain politicians crudely created by Tamil movie makers was himself a die-hard Tamil cinema addict. The latest rumour in MVP circles was that the rotund and balding Sanggaran Velu paid his pimp in India handsomely to bring ex-leading Indian movie actresses to Merekasian hotels to live out his celluloid fantasies.

Shouts of Sack Datuk Seri PG! Long live Indian cinema! rang out among the crowd.

And as Thana stepped out of his car the crowd shouted: Go for Number 2 Thana! You can do it! Thana for Number 2! Thana our number 2!

Thana waved at the crowd wearing a discernible smile followed by a frown having caught the eye of Santhiran from among the protest group before entering the lift.

The 50-year-old Santhiran was on Thana’s payroll as a facilitator of Indian Widow and Widower Support Association one of the many Non-governmental Organisation shell groups funded by the Urban Empowerment Department under Thana’s recommendations.

Santhiran’s actual role was to provide crowd support for MVP’s public activities which in recent years had become massively unpopular among the community and were generally ignored.

The great demand for these paid supporters had given Santhiran the opportunity to start his own crowd supply agency providing part time work for alcoholics, unemployed youth and the elderly.

He had even formed branches in rural areas at the northern and southern states of Merekasia, regularly transported hundreds in chartered buses to MVP and The Bigger Alliance organised public events.

It was Santhiran who had started the chants by protesters calling on Thana to go for the Number 2 post.

Although Thana was elated by the sentiment, he was wary there would arise repercussions and felt Santhiran had been too overzealous showing his loyalty.

On exiting from the lift at the third floor, Thana motioned his aides off and moved away to one corner of the lobby area to call Santhiran on his mobile phone.

Don’t go overboard, Anneh. Stop bringing my name in. Just do what you were paid for. Understand!

Sorry boss. I understand. I understand. Santhiran blurted out in reply.

Thana had purposely come in early to the office to monitor the protest arranged by him on request of Sanggaran Velu’s son, Wira Pandian.

The protesters had been paid to keep up the ruckus until the party’s CWC meeting started at 4pm.

In particular the protesters were tasked to harass the deputy president and his men when they arrived for the meeting.

Thana was seated in his room at the MVP Mereka capital city division office toying with his pistol when the door swung open and senior clerk, Saraswathi Arumugam peered in.

She saw the pistol in Thana’s hand but appeared unperturbed as she relayed her message. Thana, the boss is here and wants to see you immediately.

Most of the senior staff were aware that Thana carried a pistol following an incident where Thana had whipped out his pistol when a finance clerk at the office queried him on one of his division’s expenditure claims.

All the events and characters portrayed in this serialised novel are fictional and any parallel with real life events or persons is purely conincidental.

Sittam Param

Writer, poet, dramatist and former journalist. I have passion for art in all its forms hence my involvement in this portal.

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