Black and White!

Apr 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: Short Stories

Kallu Koylewala limped into the living room of his house. “Imarti Rani,” he called out to his wife in a shrill voice wiping the sweat from his bald head. Imarti came into the living room from the kitchen smelling of turmeric and garlic. She looked at her husband’s dark face, his dhoti and kurta, which were white when she had given them to him in the morning and were now almost blackened with coal dust.

He took out a wad of 500 Rupee notes and gave it to her.

“What, the notes are smudged in coal again. You know the sabzi wala and doodh wala don’t accept these blackened notes of yours. And whenever I go to the kirana wala, I hear those jealous women whispering amongst themselves that we have black money. Why don’t you do something about it?” She screamed waving the wooden rolling pin at his face.

“Keep them inside and get me a cup of tea,” said Kallu as if he didn’t hear anything. Imarti went into the bedroom mumbling something. She lifted the mattress on the bed revealing a zip underneath. She opened the zip and plop, out fell a couple of wads of coal smudged 500 rupee notes. She shoved them all inside the mattress.

She came into the living room again and placed the tea cup with a rattle on the table. Kallu flicked a channel and the TV started to broadcast a 20-20 cricket match. “Are you listening,” said Imarti looking at the bowler on the screen who was rubbing the ball on his thigh. “The other day Sharmaji’s wife was telling me, that these big business men are all converting their black money into white money by purchasing these cricket teams. Why don’t you do it too? All the money has started falling out of the mattress now.”

“Shut up and don’t talk stupid,” said Kallu looking up at Imarti. “If somebody hears that and reports it to the IT department we will be in jail.”

“Then don’t tell me if there’s no milk or vegetables tomorrow. No one is ready to accept this black stained money. They all want their money to be clean.”

“They are all jealous of my money. Now stop screaming before the IT department raids our house.”

* * * * *

Early next morning Imarti was woken by a loud banging on the front door. She ran to the door covering her head with her saree pallu. As soon as she opened the door she gave a short cry of bewilderment, horror and surprise all at the same time. In front of her stood eight tall men all wearing grey Safari suit and dark glasses. Every one of them had thick black hair combed so tight that not even hurricane Katrina would be able to ruffle them.

“Is this where Kallu Koylewala lives,” asked one of the men.

Imarti couldn’t say anything. She just gawked at the eight well-built, tall men.

“Yes I am Kallu Koylewala,” said Kallu almost tumbling into the living room pulling a dirty vest over his pot belly.

“We are from the IT department and we have been informed that you have a lot of black money and that you are trying to convert them into white money by buying a cricket team. And your wife will also be a stakeholder in the team.”

Now both Kallu and Imarti were gawking at the men.

“All the money that I have got is this,” mumbled Kallu and pulled out a few coal smudged ten rupee notes from the pocket in his pajama.

“Mishra check if the money is black,” said the man who had spoken first.

Mishra stepped forward, took the money from Kallu’s hand and looked closely at the black stains all over the notes.

“Yes sir, it’s black money,” declared Mishra.

“Mr. Kallu we will have to search your house,” said the boss.

Imarti slapped her forehead, sat down on the floor and started crying. Kallu fell on the sofa clutching his chest.

The men spread out all over the house and started to turn it upside down.

“Sir, I have found it,” Mishra’s voice came from the bed room.

They all ran into the bedroom. Mishra was standing clutching a handful of black, stained five hundred rupee notes and with the other hand he had raised the mattress. The zip was open and several black stained notes were trying to get out of the opening.

“Mr. Kallu you will have to go to jail for this. And since your wife was supposed to have a stake in the cricket team you were talking of purchasing last night she will also have to go to the jail,” said the boss looking gravely at Kallu.

Imarti gave a shrill cry of horror mixed with pain and flopped onto the ground again.

Kallu tried to explain but all he could say in between sobs was “Sir… errrrr… no money… errrrr no cricket team… ummm… please… my life… errr.”

But the men were not ready to listen to anything. Mishra tugged the mattress and brought it into the living room. The men followed him, followed by Kallu who was now pleading with the boss with tearful eyes and folded hands. A huge crowd had gathered out side Kallu’s house.

The boss took a look at the crowd and then at Kallu who was now wailing like a dog who had lost his bone on a chilly winter night.

“Stop crying. Speak to Mishra may be he has a way of making things right.” said the boss.

Kallu got up and looked at Mishra expectantly. Mishra whispered something in Kallu’s ears. Kallu nodded and wiped the tears from his face.

“But how will you make all my money white,” asked Kallu.

“Leave that to the experts,” said Mishra.

Mishra nodded at his boss. The boss nodded in reply. The rest of the six men nodded at each other.

“Get down to work,” ordered the boss.

Mishra closed the front door and the windows.

The men tore open the mattress. Tripathi started counting the black five hundred rupee notes and stacked them. Mishra asked Imarti to get some clean rags and some water.

They all sat down on the floor and with the rags dipped in water started wiping the black stains off all the notes. The boss sat on the sofa watching a cricket match on the TV as Imarti got busy in the kitchen.

It was eight in the evening when Mishra polished the last note and put it on a stack.

“Sir we are done,” declared Mishra, stood up and stretched his full body.

The boss looked at the neat piles and smiled satisfactorily.

“Mr Kallu we have done our job it’s your turn now, get us a briefcase,” he said.

Kallu produced a battered grey briefcase from under the sofa and handed it to him, who in turn passed it to Mishra, who in turn got down on his knees and started stuffing the briefcase with the stacks of notes until there was no space left.

Mishra closed the briefcase with a loud click and nodded at his boss. The boss nodded in reply, all the men nodded at each other.

“Mr. Kallu, we are sorry for all the trouble we caused you and we are happy to say that all your money is clean,” said the boss with a grin and shook Kallu’s hands as if they were long lost friends.

Kallu managed a smile looking at the few stacks of notes left on the ground.

The men opened the door and came out. A horde of people, journalists and news reporters greeted them with a loud noise. The news reporters thrust their cameras and microphones at the boss’s face.

“We have interrogated Mr. Kallu Koylewala in the latest Cricket scam. We have not found any black money at his place. We are happy to say that Mr. Koylewala is clean,” said the boss generally addressing the crowd with his right hand raised, as if taking an oath and the battered briefcase in his left hand.


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Born and raised in Steel City Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, Vivek did his MBA from New Delhi. When in school, his grandfather introduced him to Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, and he hasn’t stopped reading since then. Inspired by the lives of common people who are in all ways unique in their own rights, he started writing short stories in 2009. Mumbai as a city provides him food for thought and he is currently working on a collection of short stories, he aspires to get published soon.

Vivek Singh has written 8 articles on The MAG. View all articles by


15 comments
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  1. Some quick thoughts:

    1. Oh.My God. I hope this is not what IS the truth – all hand in glove.
    2.You need to really keep at the story and not give up half way through. Test patience? No, there are no give-ways. It’s a tight wrap up.
    3.

  2. 3. Vivek’s style is unmistakable in his ending to the story.
    As usual, his story is unusual in it’s approach and comes close to a sleight of plot.
    Best Regards,

  3. interesting read…witty and engaging…

  4. Interesting read. 🙂 Keep up the good writing!

  5. interesting… is taken from tharoor saga??

  6. Loved the characterization in this.
    I read the story y’day and was thinking of Imarti this morning– that’s how solid the build up is.
    Thanks for the read.

  7. the story is a beautiful metaphor to the IPL saga..good one bro !!

  8. This work is no less than that of any professional writer.
    All the best to this prolific writer.

  9. nice and witty. loved the humor(katrina one :P)

    keep rocking,
    PN.

  10. wah, this is brilliant,
    i especially liked the way you’ve portrayed the blackness of money,
    and how easily it’s been shown to get cleaned and become white,

    gives a great insight into the black and white of the current ipl scam,
    but the best part is that this story would remain just as much pertinent and entertaining even without the halo of the IPL scandal,

    keep writing,
    for the better and the verse,

  11. well narrated story , simple yet interesting , keep writing
    would like to read your next story in a paper back edn

    cheers

  12. Hey Everyone

    Thank you so much for all your support and encouraging words.

    Regards
    Vivek

  13. Congo Sir…!!
    you have written a very good and interesting and an eye opener
    story…!!
    I really liked it…!!
    Pls write more stories for us…..!!

  14. What?? I thought Imarti was dreaming the whole thing!!! Please don’t tell me you actually wrote a story where IT officeres wiped clean the dirty notes!!!

  15. i thought that she must be exaggerating when she said that the mattress is full of notes.but it was for real.. your stories have a flow which dont let the readers get bored and want them to finish it in one go..

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