The Shine Journal

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THE INAUGURATION by Satish Pendharkar

They had begun arriving now in their swanky cars that gleamed like molten metal and were causing a temporary traffic-jam as they queued up to turn right from the Residency Road and climb up the driveway ducking under the festooned marble-arched entrance that bore the name Emerald Heights, the seventy-storeyed residential skyscraper that was to be inaugurated a little while later.Shambu's heart swelled with pride as he stood at the end of the driveway watching the image of his gleaming face and body getting distorted as the cars made their ascent. Shambhu had reason to be happy : Today ws his day (and besides) he was in new clothes and shoes !

Till a few days back he had been a worker at that very site.Right from the time the site was cleared of the shrubs and rocks to the time when the final landscaping was done and the driveway laid he had participated in the magical transformation of the plot of land. The two years had passed off sooner than a sound night's sleep. They had been a period of constant learning for him.He had managed to rid himself of acrophobia while painting the exteriors of the building.He had learned how to weld, plumb and operate a forklift – no mean achievent for a poor, uneducated young lad from rural India.

Shambu had travelled ticketless on train to escape the grinding poverty of his village near Lalitpur and had landed in Mumbai, the megapolis which though already bloating like a corpse washed ashore and stinking like hell yet drew people to it like a magnet does iron filings.

A flurry of activity triggered off by the lathi-weilding policemen goading people to clear the place and the frantic conversation of one constable on his walkie-talkie was signal that the chief-guest was in the vicinity and would arrive any moment. Sure enough a minute later wailing sirens and flashing beacon-lights atop the posse of cars heralded his arrival. In two minutes things had quietened down.Policemen had cordoned off the place.

Shambu knew that now was his chance.  Introducing  himself he  told the Sentry that he was going to attend the inauguration. Another Sentry laughing at him asked him for the Invitation card. Shambu reminded him who he was and how he had built the  building with his hands which he put on display. The Sentry shooed him off. That infuriated Shambu who grabbed hold of the other's collar. This caught the attention of the policemen who roughed him up.Shambu tried to explain things ; the cop hit him on his knee. Shambu cried out in pain ; the cop hit him on his back.Through tears and with  howls Shambu tried to reason with them. Each time they replied with blows. As he ran backwards downhill he saw Everest Heights become dimmer  and receding from him forever. 

BIO! I  live in the state of  Kerala in India and write in my  spare time. I have had some of my Short Stories and articles published in Indian magazines like Savvy and Alive. One of my One-act plays titled The Homecoming won the Social Issues Scripts recognition award of the 2007 Theatre in the Raw, Canada  Playwriting Competition.I have had my poems published in Maverick.

Motivation: The irony that the one who constructs a building never gets to stay in it.

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Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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