Skip to main content

The Assassin and a Cup of Tea

An Air Warrior and devotee of Lord Krishna has published over 120 short stories and 15 books on fiction and 4 on military history.

the-assassin-and-a-cup-of-tea

The beginning

The young lad is preparing a cup of tea as Ronnie Singh enters the small tea stall at the edge of the tea Garden. His mind is in ferment. He remembers his last meeting with the big boss at the Planters Club in Jorhat. This city is the center of the tea plantations in upper Assam. He remembers the meeting vividly in the lounge of the Planters Club. He had gone straight to the lounge where the big man was sitting and waiting for him and a waiter was serving him tea.

The tea plantations all around the city were a gift of the British Raj but now with the British gone, there was a power struggle between the leftists who wanted to control the labor and the management. Diwan Jarmani Das stood up when Ronnie entered and motioned him to come and sit down beside him. “ Sit down, my man,” Diwan Jarmani Das had said, “I have an important job for you but first tell me would you like a cup of tea?”

“I relish a cup Assam Tea.”

Jarmani Das was the owner of the biggest group of tea plantations in the region. Ronnie sat down and the waiter immediately left and after about a minute returned with a teapot and a cup in a tray.

“Have a cup of tea my friend,” Jarmani said.

Ronnie sat down and as the waiter brought the tea in a tray, he took the cup, added a cube of sugar, stirred, and sipped it. The tea was delicious as he liked Assam tea which is a shade different from Darjeeling tea, being more pungent and stronger. He sips the tea and then looks at the man and says, “Sir, tell me what you want me to do?”

Diwan had looked at him very intently and said,” I will come to the point straightway There is a man called Peter Jha, who is basically from Bihar but I believe he’s a committed communist party cadre and he controls the labor union of my tea garden and they have been carrying out all sorts of nefarious activities there.” He paused for a moment and continued,” the agitation has picked up and despite my agreeing to all the demands with the bonus, this man is leading the labor down the path of no return.”

“What do you mean sir?”

“I mean this man is instigating the workforce and they are not working and those who are my loyal workers are being intimidated and at least three of them have mysteriously disappeared and the police have been unable to do anything.”

Ronnie sipped the tea and said,” can you tell me everything about him?”

“As I have just mentioned he has come from Bihar and has settled in this region. He’s also a member of the communist party Marxist group and he has taken control of the labor. I am getting worried and I fear that I may not be able to even display my product at the next tea auction in Kolkata.”

“Family?”

“None.”

Jarmani saw Ronnie sipping the tea and waited for him to say something. After a moment Ronnie said, “I understand; what are my instructions.”

“I want you to eliminate Peter Jha.”

“Are you sure I will do it?”

This reply brings a smile to Das’s face and he replies, “I know you thoroughly you are a hitman and you recently did a similar job in the Darjeeling tea estate. No ? you have to do this job for me remove this Peter Jha from the garden.”

All this came to Ronnie’s mind as he entered the tea stall which is the only one around and where the labor force and all the supervisors come to refresh themselves. He was sure that Peter would also be coming here and he would wait for him.

Scroll to Continue

Ronnie had looked at the owner of the tea estates and it was the first time he smiled since he had sat down for the cup of tea.

“ Sir, you can be sure the job will be done but my fee as you know is pretty high, which I’ve already communicated to you. I would like the money deposited in my account in the bank preferably in the non-resident Indian account which is operated from Dubai.”

“I will do it, my friend”

“Please don’t keep calling me your friend, we are just having a business proposition and after the job is done I do not want to meet you again.”

“How will you do the job?”

“That is my prerogative..”

He remembers this conversation with Jarmani Das in the planters club and now he had entered the small tea stall at the edge of the tea Garden. He could see the tea plantations spread out over acres of land. He went and sat down at a small wooden table and the boy came up to him and asked,” what can I bring for you?”

“A strong cup of tea without sugar which I will add myself.”

Ronnie picked up his cup and sips the tea after adding a sugar cube and says, “tell me my boy who is this Peter Jha?”

The boy gives a scared look and looks around before he answers softly,” he’s the big daddy here but I can’t tell you anything more because very soon he will be coming here for tea, this is the time he comes every day.” On hearing this Ronnie asked, “what does he do here?”

“He comes for a cup of tea”

“Wonderful, I want to have a cup of tea along with him just show me the cup which you’re going to serve him.”

“He likes to drink tea in a mug, it has to be strong tea and I already got it ready.”

“Where is the tea?”

“It is on the stove.”

“My boy, “ Ronnie says, “I think I have forgotten my mobile in my car which is parked outside; just go and bring it for me.” The boy leaves with a nod and Ronnie is alone for a very short time in the small tea stall.

He comes back and sits down on the table and puts his hand in the pocket of his coat and feels reassured with the small .32 revolver that he carries. It is his pet weapon and he has used it any number of times in Bangladesh and Bengal.

He keeps sitting as a man enters and Ronnie by instinct is sure it is Peter Jha. The man comes inside and sees Ronnie sitting. He is galvanized at once seeing a stranger and he looks at him and says,” I have not seen you before.”

“Yes, you could not have seen me because I’m visiting this place for the first time.”

The man looks angry and has an incredulous look, he says in an icy tone,” my friend you must know, strangers, are not welcome here.”

“I’m not a stranger”

“That’s a bit of an enigma because I have not seen you before. You also mentioned that this was your first time here”

“I was here five years back because I had some work to do but at that time the tea plantation was peaceful but now my friend things are different and I sense an undercurrent of tension here.”

Peter does not say anything and comes and sits down at the table opposite Ronnie.

“You look an interesting man, I hope you will not mind if I sit at your table and have a cup of tea.”

“It will be my pleasure”


the-assassin-and-a-cup-of-tea

The killing

Peter Jha sits down opposite Ronnie on the same table and the boy already knows what he wants and he fills out a large mug with tea and brings it. Jha takes the mug and raises it to his lips and says,” to Your Health.”

As Peter sips the tea he looks at Ronnie and says, “are you going to stay here long?”

“No, no I’m going to go back today itself.”

“That is a wise idea because I will not advise you to stay on here because the labor can get violent and who knows what may happen to you but at the same time I’m intrigued why you have come here.”

Ronnie does not answer but just keeps smiling and looking at Jha.

“Why are you smiling man?”

“Because my friend, you’re going to die now.”

Peter’s voice was almost like a snarl now and he says, “what the hell are you talking about ? I’ll put a bloody bullet in your brain straight away.”

“There will be no need of that.”

Jha looks at the mug and realizes that he has almost finished more than half of the tea and now he was beginning to feel a little languorous and he is looking at Ronnie with a glazed eye.

“What have you done?” he screams

“I have put a small concoction, a special poison that takes effect very slowly. It will first affect your nerves then make you unconscious and you will die.”

“How could you have done it?”

“I don’t mind telling you now; I had to ask that boy to go out of the stall and when he was away, I had put the killing concoction in the tea.”

“You bloody man, I’m going to kill you.”

Peter wants to draw his pistol but his hand wouldn’t move and then he slumps on the chair. He can see everything but his hands can’t move. Ronnie gets up and is now moving towards the door of the tea stall; a drizzle has commenced and he looks at the clouds and knows it’s going to rain. In the meantime, the boy is looking at Peter Jha whose head has now slumped on the table. He’s worried and rushes towards Ronnie and says, “Sir, what has happened to this man? I am scared and what will I tell his wife? she’s in the family way.”

The words hit Ronnie like a ton of bricks. A pregnant wife left all alone? he doesn’t say anything but quickly moves out into the rain and begins to make his way to his car parked close by. He gets into it and presses the ignition and the car comes alive and moves away. He was glad he didn’t have to use his pistol and now he wanted to see whether the money had come in his bank or not. At the back of his mind is the realization that Diwan Jarmani Das has not given him the full information about the man when he had asked him.

He opens the app on his mobile and is reassured that the money is there. He does not drive away and picks up the mobile and dials the number of Das. He says, “ I have done the job but I want to meet you before I go.”

“Is it necessary?”

“Yes!”

“Then come down to the planters club and have a cup of tea with me, it will be the last cup of tea between us.”

Ronnie Singh now enters the club and finds Das sitting in one corner. He looks happy and motions Ronnie to sit down. He gives a signal to the waiter and says, “bring 2 cups of the best Assam tea.” In a moment the waiter returns with the tea in the tray. Ronnie gets up and walks quickly to the waiter and tells him, “ you go, my man, I will serve the tea.”

He takes the tray from the waiter and heads towards the table which is nearby and puts it on it. He looks at Das and says, “I brought the tea myself because I want to make it a memorable occasion, as you have said we are not going to meet again after this day.”

“Yes, I don’t mind.”

Ronnie pours the tea into 2 cups and tells Das, “drink it, to your good health.”

Ronnie brings the cup to his lips but doesn’t drink but this is not noticed by Das who starts gulping the tea down. He is smiling at Ronnie and Ronnie is also smiling at him and he says,” I must tell you one thing that you have not been entirely truthful to me.”

“What do you mean, I deposited the money.”

“You didn’t tell me that Peter had a pregnant wife and now she will have to live her life alone but you must remember that there is honor among thieves also and now you are going to die.”

“What rubbish are you talking about?”

I have put a special concoction in your tea and in another 15 minutes your nerves will start getting dull and then you will slowly die and you will not even know it; I can assure you it will be a painless death.”

.

The end

Jarmani Das can feel his nerves tingling and his vision is becoming unclear. He realizes that what Ronnie is saying is true. He wants to shout, he wants to say so many things but the words will not come out of his mouth. He sees Ronnie get up from the table and quickly leave the room even as he falls across the table. Ronnie quickly goes to the car and drives off. He opens the app on his mobile and decides to transfer the entire money to the wife of the man he had killed. Yes, he will get the details and send the money. He looks at the passing countryside as he heads towards Nagaland and then thinks that the centerpiece of this entire incident is a cup of tea.

© 2022 MG Singh emge

Related Articles