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Fiction Contemporary Urban Fantasy

I was born in Bangalore, way before the corporate revolution hit India. We were satisfied with routine jobs and stable life. But my hometown was something else. 

The old British roads were still intact. The neatly spaced lines of copper pods never ceased to turn with the season. The air always seemed to smell of light vapor. 


The rainy seasons were particularly brilliant. Drinking spicy chai as the rain lightly flecked my face, that is definitely something I miss. Even the cold winters always brought a sense of warmth. The summers were never unbearable but hot enough for us to embrace them.


And I can't even begin to describe the coming of spring. The trees shed and turn yellow; not a sight can beat that. True to its name Bangalore had once been the Garden City. A garden that once brimmed with life and hope.


But that was in the 90s. It is 2021 now, and the city isn't the same. With so many corporate jobs and corporate offices, the city turned to the hustle and bustle of the rat race. The pleasant life has now become a thing of the past.


I don't want to be that senile pensioner who keeps talking about the glorious, good old times. That's nonsense. All those retired people who keep telling us that these times are nothing compared to their good ol' times, I'm not like them.


But I have to tell you one thing. There used to be much more open space in Bangalore. But in the mid-2000s and through the last decade, those open spaces either turned to corporate offices or towering residential complexes that house corporate employees.

 

I retired in 2000. For a few years, I used to feed the sparrows in the evening at our community park. Sometimes, I tried to lure other birds as well, but let's not talk too much about that. My wife is watching from somewhere, and I don't want trouble when I go to the afterlife.


Now in 2021, most of the children's parks have vanished. But my community park was still around. The jasmine plants were still well maintained. Their scent lifts my spirits even after so many years.


But recently, a company put out notice towards the end of February this year.

All children's parks were government-owned. Even the gardeners and maintenance men were government-appointed. But they sold the land off to the big corporate company.


The government got their sale price, and will now leech property taxes for as long as they want. Why should they care about children and the park?


I had once tried to start some kind of a revolution during my college days. I think it was to postpone the exams or something like that. The same feeling of rebellion made me feel young again. With this company encroaching on our community, we weren't going to sit back. 


First, we tried to stop them from entering the park. But then came the police. Of course, they had been paid well probably with black money. We couldn't fight the police, so the corporate company’s contractor began measuring the park to build their office. 


Soon, a few activists came to our "rescue". Since the ruling government had passed the order to sell the park, the opposition funded the activists to apparently do some kind of social justice. Let me tell you one thing; when the British Raj ended, they left behind two things. First, they left us with English as a common language. And next, they left us with their divide and rule politics.

 

Our movement had started to save the children's park from encroachment. But now it had turned into a political abuse-fest. As tensions and publicity rose, the company management realized they had to do something. 


That was when the company agreed to sit down with the community residents and talk. 


They set up a meeting in the children's playground. The same playground which they had purchased along with the park. They set up a mini stage and we were the audience to their show.


"We at Good Will LLP would like to address the regrettable situation regarding the purchase of the park. We are ready to work with the community members to resolve this immediately. We would like to let you know that we will always abide by our company's motto of inculcating an ethical work culture while staying true to our values of diversity and inclusion irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, sexual disorientation, marital status, or alive status."


Then we began to question them. Why are you stealing the children's park? Where will they play? And some more similar questions. They gave a reply while reading off of a script,


"We have observed that children in 2021 are becoming addicted to their phones and not spending time with people. At the establishment that we have proposed, we will provide a service where children can interact with each other. We would like to let you know that we will always abide by our company's motto of inculcating an ethical work culture while staying true to our values of diversity and inclusion irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, sexual disorientation, marital status, or alive status"


That's when I spoke,


"So you are just buying the park and charging entry fees?"

  

The community began to support me until the corporate people spoke again,


"We would like to let you know that the community shall be fairly compensated. We would like to let you know that we will always abide by our company's motto of inculcating an ethical work culture while staying true to our values of diversity and inclusion irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, sexual disorientation, marital status, or alive status."


"So you're just going to bribe us? And why do you keep repeating that like a parrot?" I said.


No one from the community supported me this time. They were ready to take the “compensation”. But I wasn't going to leave it. The park had always been there, and I wasn't going to let them take it away.


"You bloody capitalist pigs. You talk about children not interacting with each other. But then you turn a park into your revenue. Why don’t you just leave the park as it is? Answer me!"  I said.


"We have taken note of your concern. We will definitely discuss this with our higher management. And we would like to let you know that we will always abide by our company's motto of inculcating an ethical work culture while staying true to our values of diversity and inclusion irrespective of race..."


"Shut up! How many times will you keep repeating that? You're just puppets to your master. I'm not going to leave this. I will make sure that the park stays."


A Month Later,


I watched as they began to dig the foundation in the park. After killing me, the henchmen had thrown away my mangled corpse in the lake right beside the park. Just last week, my body had floated up to the lakefront. The community residents sold their silence for some more “ethical compensation”. I don't know where they threw my body after that or what they did with it.


As I watched on from the afterlife, I began to question myself. Why am I still stuck here in this park? Why don't I go to heaven or hell? Why haven’t the servants of hell or heaven come to take me yet?


Right then, someone began to speak to me. 


"So you have joined me finally." 


It was my wife.


When I first met her almost forty years ago, she spread a rumor in our community that the park was haunted. And we use to sit alone in the park free and undisturbed. But for the last eight years, I've been in the park by myself. But here I was, finally reunited with her in the afterlife, in the same park where I first met her.


As we saw the construction company measuring the plot to dig, I immediately knew what I had to do.


The rumors of the park being haunted had to become true now. No corporate executive will ever step foot into the park again. Children and young couples will always be welcome.

March 19, 2021 07:47

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