Fiction: How Khali, The Crime Lord, Really Lost His Ear

By Tejaswinee Roychowdhury

Rumour has it that Khali’s mother was terrified of looking into his eyes even when he was a bawling baby, for they were the soulless sort of black you could fall into and dissolve if you weren’t careful of their haunting allure. That his name meant ‘empty’, was no coincidence. Born into a world where laws fashioned themselves out of drugs and blood stains, Khali, believed his grandmother, was destined to restore the family reputation since the ambush and murder of her husband. And he did — their little seaport village rife with tales of his benevolent monstrosity. Naturally, there was quite the hullaballoo when a doctor from the government hospital in the district was kidnapped, and at gunpoint, made to stitch up and bandage the wound from Khali’s missing ear.
The public started speculating how Khali must have lost his ear while the doctor was still being threatened by his silver-haired grandmother with graphic descriptions of what the henchmen would do to his very pretty daughters if he dared talk. Once the begging, sobbing man was pulled off his knees to be shipped back in one of their many Tata Sumos, the old woman spit red into her bowl and folded another betel leaf. She had to take charge of the theories bubbling amidst the crowd outside, as such things, if not nipped in the bud, could bear a heavy price. And thus, she spun her masterpiece.
Over the years, as is the design of such stories, it snowballed into a local legend that attracted the newly transferred brave, young Deputy Superintendent of Police who covertly sniffed around without much success. Though the central plot never wavered, everyone had their unique version of its details. Without any traceable eyewitnesses, the result was an uncorroborated hearsay mess. It amused Khali’s grandmother on her deathbed. On the pyre, her wrinkly corpse still bore a well-earned smile. After all, she had Khali deliver a very public vigilante justice by bare-handedly gouging out the eyes of a man twice his size while he tore off Khali’s left ear; undeterred by the profuse bleeding, Khali then beat the brute to death with only a shoe — his message clear as day: hands off women, no matter who — in this case, a dancing girl from a travelling entertainment company.
Only Khali knew that was a load of bullcrap — like the rest of his life. 
For starters, there was no man involved, much less a big-ass brute. But you see, Khali had a profound weakness for women who were willing to do anything sexual for money — this meant there really was this dancing girl from a travelling entertainment company, except she was also a prostitute — a rather exclusive one at that whose schedule was so tight that one needed to pre-book the night — very pricey and non-refundable, of course. And Khali, who had heard mythical tales about her sexual prowess, had been itching to conquer her, for he had heard how men would be left a limp blubbering mess after their encounter with this supposed sex goddess, known by her stage name: Mohini.
That evening, Khali was nervous. He wanted to fuck a sex goddess limp and change the course of myth and history, and he didn’t quite have the sort of pornographic experience he bragged to his boys about. So, he downed eight badda pegs and one chhota peg of whiskey before barging into her tent — a smirk across his face, a short but thick pole down below. What followed was unprecedented.
A naked Mohini screamed in horror as her voluptuous breasts drowned in Khali’s nasty vomit while his pre-cum pooled in the dimples of her thigh. She grabbed a steel bowl full of condoms from the bedside table and delivered a sharp blow on the side of his head. Khali whimpered like a wounded dog as he bounced off the bed and landed face down on the floor, his fancy shirt soiled, his sweaty hairy butt glistening in the tent’s yellow light. Because his feet were jelly, he started to crawl away while Mohini yelled — her abuses blending into each other and birthing new ones. By then the manager-cum-pimp and bouncer had rushed in, and Mohini, making no attempt to cover up, glared at the pair.
And so, they did, with very little consideration as to where they were throwing him — a ditch, far from the company’s tents, and full of metal waste. Hours later, when Khali came to his senses, he tried to lift himself up, unaware that his left ear was directly beneath a meat cleaver, rusted but sharp. Half his ear dangling, Khali sat in the dark, crying like a little boy at the thought of facing his tyrant grandmother.
At least the men were kind enough to toss him along with his pants.
Khali sneaked into a tiny cowshed not far from his village, startling a calf and his mom. He pumped cool water from the tubewell, cleaned up, and stole a gamchha to bandage his head. By midnight, he was sitting before his grandmother, a resigned look on his face. She calmly inspected the ear before handing him the blood-stained gamchha.
“Stuff this in your mouth.”
Khali obeyed — like he always did.
She tore off the remaining ear, put it in a metal box, and called on her henchmen for an urgent kidnapping job. Once they left, she put her grandson’s head on her lap and ran her fingers through his hair. It would be a long night.

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury is a Pushcart-nominated writer and poet from West Bengal, India. Her publications include Muse IndiaTaco Bell QuarterlySan Antonio ReviewJAKE, and more. Tejaswinee is the founding editor of The Hooghly Review and a lawyer. Twitter: @TejaswineeRC