Arthur Pakenham has been angry ever since his Manager in
He found this incredulous. How can the whole office shut down for a week for some native holiday. No wonder the business was going to dogs and people, like Hay Smith, who has been in
Arthur Pakenham now understood why the Board wanted him to get there as quickly as possible to straighten out the mess!
Arthur Pakenham was 39 years old. He was a good looking man. It is said that his looks came from his ancestors and his unadulterated bloodline. He was also always very well dressed. Most people who did not know him very well, did not understand why his wife Milly had run away five years ago with a stage actor!
Those who knew him knew better! Arthur was obsessed with work and a perfectionist! So, without a wife or children, his work ethics, the family firm of Fowler & Pakenham knew he was the right man to send to
Though he had never been to
He arrived in
His suspicion about Hay Smith was right, this man spend very little time in the office and spends more time at the Clubs card tables and with his Eurasian mistress.
The rest of the staff, who were Indian were rudderless and though some of them were not bad chaps, just did not know what they were supposed to do most of the time! Arthur was determined to turn things around quickly.
He liked the accountant a Suresh Babu who looked funny with his high caste mark, a trident in white, he wore on his forehead, with his western style clothes. He was quiet, courteous and meticulous, the kind of subordinate Arthur liked!
Arthur was a man in a hurry. He had to get things fixed and get back home before Christmas. He felt if he could get the whole bunch together for a couple of days, he would be able to whip them into shape!
What these chaps needed was a good a hiding to get them out of their slumber and by Jove; he would give it to them.
He asked Hay Smith to find him a place where they could have a two day meeting without being interrupted. He called it a meeting, what he meant was a hiding session!
Hay Smith said that he knew just the place. He was good at things like this! It was a large bungalow owned by the Tollygunge Club adjoining to it, over 150 years old and had been owned by some native princes before the club acquired the bungalow 50 years ago.
Arthur was very pleased with the location and its facilities, he especially liked the suite given to him, upstairs, which he was told had belonged to the senior prince, including the ornate bed with the crest of a tigers head in the middle of a rising sun.
The crest looked familiar to him, he felt he had seen it somewhere before.
He was curious, he asked the Manager, who the crest belonged to and who were these princes.
The Manager, who was a native, told him in bad English, that the bed the Burra Sahib is sleeping was Tipu Sultans and the senior Prince who lived here had been the eldest son of Tipu. The prince was imprisoned here for over 30 years, after his father was killed in Tipus last battle in Srirangapatnam.
Arthur felt smug; he would be sleeping in Tipus bed, this rogue King, his ancestor Arthur Wellesley had killed 150 years ago.
After dinner on the first evening he gathered the group on the wide verandah of the bungalow for drinks and felt it was time to get started, he would start by telling them the story of his ancestors and their exploits in
He told them how his namesake the great General Arthur Wellesley had led the armies against this trouble maker, Tipu, and put him to death and established British power in
His voice was filled with arrogance and scorn; everybody was silent, many with their heads down.
In the failing evening light, Arthur could not see the face of Suresh Babu, it was filled with hatred, anguish and pain. He could not hear Suresh muttering to himself this boorish boastful Englishman, belonging to a family of killers, he should be taught a lesson
What Arthur did not know was like him, Suresh had illustrious lineage too.
His ancestry traced back to Purniyaji, Tipu Sultans Confidante, Minister and his most trusted friend.
Arthur dismissed the group asking them to gather next morning by nine in the morning.
It was a nice and crisp autumn morning in
Hay Smith went up to find him, in a few minutes the group downstairs heard Hay Smith shouting, Oh My God, Help me, Help me, several of them, including Suresh Babu, rushed up stairs and could not believe what they saw ..
Arthur Pakenham was laying on the bed, with his eyes and mouth wide open with a knife thrust into his chest, it was a kanjar, a Indian style knife, he was dead.
There was a note written in red ink by his side, it read,
Sarkar-e-Khudadad! (God Almighty protect the Kingdom )
None of them knew what it meant except Suresh Babu, it was Tipu Sultans battle cry against the English.
No body noticed that Sureshs trident caste mark on his forehead this morning was not white, but painted in red.
Tapan Bhattacharya has several years of experience in US based IT industries in senior management position. He is also a Board member of a Minneapolis, USA based non-profit organization called APCC (Asia Pacific Cultural Center).
He has also authored; In the twinkle of an eye!
More posts by this author:
- In the twinkle of an eye!
- Bande Mataram -Its origin and Impact on the struggle for Indian Independence