The residents of Devi apartment woke up to the news of their security guard Ram Bahadur’s demise at the hospital. The Secretary of the complex had arranged for his body to be brought in for the residents to pay their last respects, before being taken to the cemetery.

The honking of an ambulance at the apartment gate stirred Jimmy from a deep sleep. He was hungry and tired, haven’t eaten anything since Ram Bahadur fed him the previous afternoon.

The residents flocked the ambulance as the freezer casket containing Ram Bahadur’s mortal remains was lowered to the ground. Men sighed in sympathy. Women struggled to hide their tears. The children hid behind their mothers, afraid to look.

Jimmy tiptoed up to the rectangular box wading his way between the onlookers. There was a strong smell of some medicine. Jimmy tapped on the frosting glass box peering into it. Jimmy wondered how Ram Bahadur could sleep inside the cold box.

The mortal remains of Ram Bahadur was shifted to the mat made from braided coconut leaves. Someone walked up to the security cabin and brought Ram Bahadur’s khaki dress and cap and placed it next to it.

Jimmy took few steps back away from the burning lamp that was placed adjacent to Ram Bahadur.

The ambulance retreated into the street. Few residents cried without restraint. The Nepali priest arrived with his men. After a brief chant of hymns, they lifted the body and marched out into the street. Few men from the complex followed along. The women and children stayed inside the compound.

Jimmy knew this place well. Ram Bahadur used to take him here to attend to nature’s calls. It was his foes’ territory and he had few violent skirmishes with them. Ram Bahadur had saved him on many an occasion. Jimmy ignored the glare of his adversaries and walked between the men for safety. Jimmy did not understand why Ram Bahadur was being lowered into a pit.

The new security guard, Tej Pratap assumed charge next day. Despite the residents’ assurances, he didn’t like Jimmy. He brandished his baton whenever Jimmy approached him.

Jimmy became very frightened and insecure for the first time in his life. He decided to go and wake up Ram Bahadur sleeping under the earth.

The helper from the cemetery came to the secretary’s office with a message that Jimmy was attacked near Ram Bahadur’s grave and was bleeding profusely.

The veterinary officer on duty ushered the secretary and his flatmates to the ward where Jimmy was lying sedated on a soft bedding. The wounds were thankfully superficial, the vet had remarked. However, the flatmates realized that Jimmy was still bleeding from his heart while missing Ram Bahadur.

Jimmy’s new kennel looked better than the security shed. Jimmy chuckled in joy while drooling at the tray of his breakfast placed below the portrait of Ram Bahadur.

Tej Pratap quit within few days.

Devi Apartment did not look for his replacement.

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Written by Ranjit Narayanan

Ranjit is an Engineer by profession, does a sales job that takes him to different corners of earth and those journeys make him pen down few words to lean away the boredom of constantly watching the lazy clouds outside the window of airplanes.