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Arindam profiles his classmate Monty, for his forthcoming book, for whom life wasn’t easy. An exclusive for Different Truths.
Monty (name changed to conceal identity) was a timid boy in our class. His parents were very strict – like most parents of our time. He had become a drug addict, said some of his friends, many moons later.
He had, therefore, become wayward. His grades kept falling. He did not attend school for weeks.
Monty was asked to call his father, who had to meet our Headmaster. He avoided. He was caned and warned. Next day, he brought his father to school.
At the verge of rustication, he confessed that he had hired this man to be his father.
Someone recognised his ‘father’, who was a private tutor in his colony. The news spread. At the verge of rustication, he confessed that he had hired this man to be his father. Monty was let off with a severe warning.
After school, most of us lost touch with Monty. We got busy with our studies and day-to-day affairs. I too had forgotten about him.
I had become a journalist in the 1980s. I was working with a prominent Mumbai-based magazine and was sent to report on the mega fair at Allahabad.
As I was coming out of the Camp Office of the Divisional Commissioner then, I heard someone call me. I stopped. Was looking around. At that time, Monty patted me on my back. We hugged.
He told me that he was working as a casual labourer, on daily wages. He was washing utensils at the Commissioner’s Camp Office.
He was in dirty, crumpled clothes. He told me that he was working as a casual labourer, on daily wages. He was washing utensils at the Commissioner’s Camp Office. He requested me to put in a word for him with the Commissioner to give him some respectable job like carrying files, etc. That was easy for me.
Soon, Monty, a boy from a good family, had been appointed as one of the personal staffs of the Commissioner. He was upgraded to Group C and was attached with his PA.
A few days later, Monty offered me a sweet. Here was a smart young man, in clean clothes. Refined and well groomed like any one of us.
I returned to Mumbai. Monty and I kept in touch for some time. Then, we lost all contact.
No one knew where he was.
Much later, I was shocked to find that my classmate had been tortured to death.
Reportedly, he had become a ruthless contract killer. He had terminated several members of a Mafia gang.
He was hounded and caught.
They found out about him. He was hounded and caught. He was working for a rival gang, it seems.
I wondered what all must have happened to transform a well behaved, good mannered timid boy of yesteryears to what he had become. A fearsome killer.
Was it his very strict parents that perhaps forced him into drugs? What life denied him, perhaps intoxication gave him. He escaped from agony – like many of us. His suffering and exclusion were much more than many of us.
We will never know how he was pushed downhill. When did that sinking to the bottom reach the point of no return?
To me he is still that timid boy with a sweet smile. Or the beaming and happy young man whom I had met in the mid-1980s.
I pray that he be absolved off all his sins and wrong doings.
I pray that he be absolved off all his sins and wrong doings. I only hope that all of us, who have known him, be a little more compassionate to him.
If Monty became a monster, let’s not forget that this society creates evil-doers too.
This could be anyone’s story. Is it possible that it could have been me, instead of Monty! The answer is, yes.
Sadly, neither life nor death was easy for Monty.
Life is very cruel for most of us. My eyes are moist as I write this from him. All of us have dark sides – five hundred shades of black perhaps!
Photos from the Internet