I had ordered 2 two kilo chickens. Why did you not deliver at home?
Arrey Patrao what to tell you –
I was at Chicken Sagar’s chicken shop again. There was a party/small gathering at the house today & no chicken on hand. She had sent me – I protested as to why he didn’t give us home delivery as promised the day before. Chicken Sagar, the brave bald & bold man heard me patiently. Then replied
What to tell you Mashe – I got tricked.
Tricked – how?
Then in his most emotive voice he shared with me –
Mashe, the chicken farmers from south – his voice shivered – they are against us chicken sellers in the north. Not sending trucks on time, sending sick chickens, fighting on phone & always asking for higher price.
What has that got to do with my order? I interrupted him.
Am telling you Mashe – he continued ignoring my interuptions – this south people they are all together. One group.
I’m telling you sir – he spoke fast – see my relative, the old Patrao, you know my wife’s uncle he is also from the south.
I realised there’s no point interrupting him, let him talk.
Yesterday, I had to take the Patrao to the hospital tied to my delivery scooter. That too during the day in curfew time!
Why? What was wrong with him? I asked forgetting the very reason why I had gone there.
Chicken Sagar’s relative lived further down the road. His wife called to tell Sagar’s wife that the man was having a bad acidity attack, had to be taken to hospital.
And this was when I was just coming out to deliver your chickens – they were on the bike, tied up with other orders. All of them were two kilo chickens ….
Yeah right – I thought.
I went to the house on the slope on my scooter with the chickens. The man looked okay – his eyes were shut, like he was sleeping. But I knew no ambulance would come there. And that day, my assistant also did not come to work.
I looked at the assistant who was busy cutting chicken, least bothered.
His family is also from the south – chicken Sagar whispered before continuing – I had no choice but to take him to the hospital on my bike.
I imagined a Rayban weilding, maskless Chicken Sagar with his relative (whose face he had masked) tied to his back dodging his way through the treacherous streets of Goa. It was filled with cops/authorities on the lookout for people like Chicken Sagar transporting illegal goods or sick people who had suddenly become more dangerous than illegal goods.
I approached one big naka-bandi – big check post.
Then what happened?
There was no way out, but straight to them – too late to dodge. Chicken Sagar’s face grew pensive. So did his assistant who had disappeared into the shadows on the mention of the relative & had now emerged again.
In Goa because of the curfew they were putting you straight in jail. Big money to be spent to get out. Plus my bike would be confisticated But most important –
The old relative? I asked.
My chickens would be gone – he countered.
Then what – no choice, I rode ahead. I quickly told my relative to breathe heavily at the checkpost – Chicken Sagar squinted his nose –i didn’t hear any reply, so I said – You want to reach hospital or I should leave you on the road. But he still said nothing. The checkpost was very near. I got scared.
Scared? I asked looking at my fearless crusader.
Not scared – he corrected – little afraid, that’s all.
As soon as we came, a senior inspector stopped us. I read his surname. He also from the south. Big trouble.
That’s when I noticed a couple of other buyers had also joined in Chicken Sagar’s saga telling class. All of us were now listening in rapt attention to his story.
As the senior stopped us, Patrao was not just breathing heavily, he was moving from side to side, tore buttons of his shirt, hands shaking – spit coming out of his mouth and all!
Wow slipped out of my mouth.
Yes! You know cops never asked me anything – the senior inspector put Patrao in police van. I was on bike, he made another constable sit behind me on scooter.
So you got a police van to carry your relative – wow!
Not just that Mashe – Chicken Sagar began counting cash in his counter – me with my chickens & constable on scooter, behind the driver & my uncle in big police van with siren. Behind all this also senior inspector in the jeep also put red light on following us!
What the –
Yes Mashe! Just imagine, everyone in shop & Shiolim saw me riding. My photo on whatapp in shiolim got famous. People from Bombay, Goa, even London send me my own photo!
You became famous!
For a little time – he smiled, before he stopped – but I knew, once we reach hospital, they would know old man is acting. Then what?
Then what? The old uncle with white cloth bag next to me asked Chicken Sagar.
When we reached, the van had overtaken the scooter. By the time I reached in, they had taken the Patrao inside. No one was allowed inside. We were all waiting out. The constable at behind me at the hospital entrance, me at a distance with my chickens on the scooter, the senior in his police jeep, the police van with other policemen were waiting.
Chicken Sagar stopped talking when the assistant came up, gave him some instructions – then he looked at some bills to count them. He knew we were waiting for more answers –
Then what happened? I couldn’t wait & asked. Old uncle with the cloth bag gave me a disapproving look.
Chicken Sagar looked up – like he was surprised to see us. then his eyes shone, he remembered.
Tomorrow Sunday we are saying prayers for the Patrao for his soul.
Heart attack – not acidity, the hospital told, Chicken Sagar confirmed.
The sudden turn in the story made us all quiet. That’s when Chicken sagar added,
That’s why there are no two kilo chickens now?
Suddenly I remembered why I was there again.
But what does two kilo chickens have to do with anything?
Arrey I told you na – it is this south people always. Uncle from south died – senior inspector from south gave escort – so for him & other police I had to give all the chickens – cannot send them hungry no.
But today you can get fresh chicken na – I quickly told him
I told you no – this south people they sent me chicken but only one kilo, small size. I have to give chicken for tomorrow’s lunch at Patrao’s house. All of south will be coming for his funeral & we have to start making the chicken today.
My head was reeling. North-south- I didn’t know what to respond.
Okay – so you don’t have chicken to give then? I said half turning away.
Mashe how can I turn you away? Don’t worry.
I smiled – Chicken Sagar smiled back. He told me. I had no choice – so said yes.
That evening boneless chicken pieces fried in Goan style , cut ready breast, leg, liver & gizzard. Of course they were meant for Patrao’s place but a portion had been arranged by Chicken Sagar to be delivered by his assistant who called me once near our gates. Since she had been busy through the past two days, all I had to do was ‘manage’ the cook & set it up. She didn’t have a clue.
Until next morning….
Why has this chicken Sagar sent a bill for 1200? Two kilos of chicken is barely 500. Did he deliver more?
I hung my head. Caught.
You know Chicken Sagar is a North goan and his chickens come from the south…
She rolled her eyes, left the room.