“So,” he said with a meaningful pause, “you want to know where ol’ Trauer has been.”
Trauer sat at the café counter. Considering the quagmire out in the streets, he seemed pretty calm.
“No, just that it is quite odd. I don’t know that much about me.”
“Wasn’t that the whole point. I’ve been holed up in this place for this long for the sweet sweet promise of anonymity.” He replied, however it was devoid of defiance: He meant to tell me a tale today. All I had to do was push all the right buttons.
“No, man. Only if you want.”
“There isn’t much to tell. There are a lot of specific details that will put me in a whole lot of trouble. I’ve done a lot crazy stuff you know. Most of them I am not proud of anymore…” his sentence was interrupted by a deafening explosion, it came from somewhere close. The man at the counter ran out to see where things were going.
I looked back at Trauer. His white face was now a white shade of death. I looked closely, his eyes were somehow focused at something afar. It is a bit clichéd but it seemed as if he had seen a ghost. I would later come to know that there was ghost involved in his seizure like state.
“We must leave. There is something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something.” he tossed a role of fives on the invoice.
We grabbed our coats and ran out of the café.
“What do you have to say about the violence in the streets?”
“It was expected.” I said.
“It started all there, about 2 weeks ago.” he said pointing towards the smoke stacks at the horizon. “The workers wondered why they were still content with making cars and beauty products when they themselves couldn’t afford a bar of soap. These young men confronted their owners, or the consortium of owners as the story goes. The consortium was faced with a dilemma. Should they treat the young men the way they had treated their fathers and grandfathers, the way the colonial oppressors had done to their great grandfathers, the way their tribal leaders ruled over their great great great grandfathers? An old one suggested that these were the ways these people were used to so this is they way that was to be continued. The other option was to offer them better lodgings and better pay since there was enough of a margin for all that. The misers declined the second option.”
“That part of the issue was not in the newspaper.” I replied as we scrambled across the road.
“It never is, its too radical.”
“First the workers stopped production, then stopped shipment of the stock that was already there. At last the supply of raw material went south. The workers then thought of the immense power that they possessed and they took to the streets.” the roads were empty. Trouble had started in the south of the town. Law enforcement was busy dealing with the revelers. Most of its focus was to escort the elders of the town to obscure locations in the New Republic.
“Is that what you wanted to talk to us about?”
“Not exactly. It reminded me of old times. The violence is going to come north and its going to knock on our doors. This is not the best time for a group of foreigners in this place.” he said without eye contact.
“I am no foreigner. Neither is Rakh Bihari” I corrected.
“Sabir, The Mad Russian and I myself are. Why do you always forget Aamir Mehdi? You have a better class standing, when a wave has eliminated the upper class, you will be next. The only one to be spared will be Rakh. He will even start writing for the revolution. He will become a peoples poet in no time.”
“Can’t see that happen,” I laughed, “what do you have in mind? I do forget about Aamir most of the time.”
Another explosion rocked the city. This one was appeared to be closer than the last one.
“For now let us hurry…” before he could finish an explosion was heard just behind us. We turned and looked, it was our beloved café. I was shocked. The stock of books now charcoal, the expensive coffee machines, “Oh God!” I wondered, “ Were the owner and the coffee boy still in the building?”
“I hate callous revolutions.” Trauer snarled with vicious hate. It occurred to me that this was not the first revolution he was witnessing.
“Our consolation is that out if this revolution a more justified social system will come to life.” I offered.
“It never ends that way.” he held my hand again and began to run, I tried to keep pace.
A throng of protesters appeared at the far end of the road. He started loudly as we ran, his speech was punctuated with with heavy breaths.
“These revolutions are high jacked by cheap numskulls very early on. The ideological sages are executed and removed like thorn… the revolution steers course…new people become the higher class. A new throng enters the lower class…the cycle of oppression and revolution repeats… sooner or later…” I tried to keep pace.
We disappeared into a dead-end street. This was the access to the Ivory Market Building, home to Sabir’s head office.