“That’s three hundred Rupees up and down or even if it’s just one way.“
“But that’s ridiculous” Laxman screamed.
The auto turned to be more of a hurdle than help for them. They knew the rate was outrageous, they knew the driver of the auto did too, but his mouth was shut by the kind of arguments they were putting up.
“Who’d go to that desolate place sir? We’d find no customer at that place.“
“You seem to be working at a well off place. Can’t you even afford this much for travel?“
“The price is fixed sir. There’s no other transport to that place anyways.“
That sealed it. He knew he couldn’t force logic at this place. He recalled Rekha mentioning about travel in car being cheap and he knew she’d be thinking the same. There was no use pondering about that now.
They hired an auto (whose driver insisted on playing FM in full volume) and traveled along the highway for quite sometime before the driver suddenly turned left and hit a dusty path. Another left bought them to a way that would be unfit of being called even a path. The driver kept talking above the noise of the radio, trying to figure out why they were going to the place and so on; basically a lot of personal questions which he had no right of asking in the first place! Fifteen minutes of bumpy ride (the FM was just a jarring noise now; but it was still kept playing thanks to the enthusiastic driver) Rekha’s arm was huddled tightly around her hubby’s, feeling all secure; Laxman, though being shocked for a couple of minutes, managed to force a stupid conversation about some cricketing league which he had very little idea of.
After confirming that the ride would take another ten minutes, Laxman leaned back and closed his eyes.
<Flashback: 2 months ago>
The moment he set his eyes on Ravi, Laxman had a feeling he was being swindled of his money already; and a moment later when he mentioned the amount of money he was planning to invest, he was sure he could see lust in Ravi’s eyes!
They spoke briefly about the vacant plots available in all remote places of the city when Ravi suddenly mentioned “Sir I know you’re Vinodh sir’s friend, but now you are my friend too and why would I not want to help my friend?“
Laxman wasn’t sure if he was being asked a question or being asked to ask one. He stared not knowing what to say for a couple of seconds.
“You see if you want to get a land in this way, you’ll have to pay up 20L per ground. What I’ll suggest is preregister it with ME and you can get it for 25% less. But, of course, no mention of this to Vinodh sir you know. You’ll just have to pay me 5% more than what you do.“
“Preregister?” Obviously it was a new term to Laxman.
“Don’t you know sir. It is the latest trend nowadays. I am the kind of guy who normally deals directly with the authorities and a person in my position would be the first to know which land the government will auction, when and what price. Whom to CONTACT and get a portion of it allotted to someone, like you. I know it may sound a little complex, but trust me it’d be the best thing to do at the moment. Think over it sir.“
Laxman did think. Though he detested the thought of doing such business (with people like Ravi), he decided to give it one shot before finalizing.
“Hmm, tell me where the land is and what the quote price is. I’ll let you know.“
“You’ll have to wait for one or two months. You know government process moves at it’s own pace. So it would be a bit tricky.“
“But by that time the land prices would go up” Reasoned Laxman.
“But it would still be less than what I would quote for Vinodh sir’s land” Remarked Ravi, who had probably rehearsed these lines well in advance!
Laxman stared blankly again. After a couple of seconds, he decided to give one final attempt.
“Okay, I’ll wait. But not more than a month or two at the max” Laxman put forth.
“Sure sir. It’s a smart move. You won’t regret this decision sir.“