05/07/2013 by Siddiqui Fayesal
“What the hell’s wrong with this place?”
“I leave for half a year and look what a dump you’ve made this out to be.”
“Naats. Don’t start again with that shit, OK? You’ve been drinking like a swine in here since you were born. So don’t get uppity here under my roof. These folks, dumps you called ’em?, pay for themselves. Just swig it hard and disappear before I call in Jaffar.”
“Yeah. The saviour of us all when Naats throws a fit.”
The setting of this short dialogue between Jaffar and Naats was The Creeps, which was mildly mentioned in the introductory chapter of Naats. The Creeps, which we will refer to as, simply, a bar was never overflowing with patrons. It wasn’t the kinds frequented by travellers and merry people. It was lesser a bar and more a den. The only thing that was remotely alluring about the place, other than morbid curiosity, was the lady who sang in a husky throaty voice from 9 till midnight. Once upon a time, a few years before the time, there used to be dancers. The bad kinds. The kinds that swiveled on poles and thrust their hips to the cacophonous and raucous claps and whistles of the members.
I wonder what sort of logic I use but I’d say, even with those lusty ladies dancing to rising testosterone of the unclean male company, that it was a better place then. Yes, there was clamouring to touch the lasses and to unzip and urinate over them. There were more fights and bloodshed but it was at the spur of the moment. Friends came inside as friends and fought over drinks and abused the girls and argued over who got to take them to the stables (no body ever could. Jaffar was clear about that.) and they punched and kicked each other and stormed off the bar (It was a bar then. Not a den.) alone without the company they arrived with.
But, the next day, promptly in time for the girls to dance, they arrived. Laughing over their audacious behaviour of the previous night. They even said sorry to the girls and told them off that they were married to homely wives, as if the girls were at fault for making them forget their marital bliss.
Naats was a good 10 year younger than Jaffar and a good 7″ shorter. The very first time Naats got on the wrong side of Jaffar was also the last. That story I will tell at a more peaceful time.
Jaffar leaves Naats and goes inside the ante room for his sleep. He was woken only if there was a disturbance that his help couldn’t manage with. After responding to Naats’ question he walks off without a glance at Naats. This was probably one of the reasons why Naats never bothered him. It was a long tradition to give your adversary a deep, long and dark look before turning ones back. It was a form of threat that was supposed to keep them at their toes. But Jaffar regarded Naats as a mere pest. Naats’ life was spent traversing between bars and police stations. He was always caught for something that he didn’t do.
But, in the opinion of some, Jaffar was wrong. They felt that Naats was letting him take control of his life the easy way; that he was just waiting for a dramatic pause in the rigmaroles and continuous oscillations that his life was. Swinging between uncertainty of the next tramping steal and the next pick-pocket allegations, Naats didn’t have time for Jaffar.
Not yet, at least.