The sincere and dedicated readers amongst you (apart from being discerning, which all of you are, obviously, that is why you are here), would have read all the stories on this blog (hopefully more than once, but I can live with at least once) and so, would be aware of Munni, the charming chaalbaaz child criminal who had teamed up with Pawan to blow up Mumbai as we know it, and whose nefarious plans were thwarted only by the unwitting yet unceasing efforts of the house sparrow Chun-Chun, her ‘trouble-here-I-come-YAHOOOOO’ daughter Chikki, Chikki’s best friend Vyjanti, a buffalo, the cattle egret Sukanya, and last, but not the least, her fiancé Kabu, the pigeon.
(Narrator’s Note: Yessss, I just wrote a single sentence of 113 words. Take that Dickens!)
The last we saw of Munni was when she had disappeared into thin air after fleeing from police custody on the Western Express Highway. But while we all saw (or didn’t see, actually) her disappearance, no one knows her real identity, where she is from, and most importantly, how did a sweet little girl become a highly-trained Ninja assassin. Until now, that is.
Between Bhimtal and Mukteshwar in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, lies a small village called Ramgarh. It might share its name with the home of the most famous dacoit in the world, on whose head the Government had put a reward of ‘poore pachaas hazaar,’ but thankfully, that was where the similarity ended.
This Ramgarh is a lush green valley, both beautiful and bounteous, and is known as the ‘fruit bowl of India’ because of its countless orchards of apples, peaches, plums and astronauts…sorry, scratch that, apricots. The people here are poor, simple, extremely kind-hearted, and most importantly, happy beyond belief. So Munni could not possibly be born there, could she?
Munni was actually born in a concrete swamp just after Bhimtal (and thankfully, MUCH before Ramgarh, called Bhowali, where every surviving tree had been cut mercilessly to construct ‘beautiful, mountain-view apartments in the Himalayas, very close to Bhimtal and Nainital’, and every inch of the mountain had been carved inside out to get stones for those apartments. Little wonder then that the residents of this God-forsaken town had a permanently jaded air about them, and even lesser wonder that a stone-cold killer like Munni was born in a place where everyone had a heart of stone.
We will probably never know the identity of the real parents of Munni, as she was found abandoned in a stone quarry, in the midst of the rubble of what seemed to be a freshly demolished hill. With her, in the basket in which she was kept, was a note, in keeping with the convention followed by all child abandoners across the world. The note simply said, “SHE BROKE OUR HOUSE!”
Returning from their daily visit to the neighbourhood theka, Suman and Prem heard the cackling of a child, and decided to investigate. Prem had worked in the quarries of Bhowali for a long time to impress Suman’s father and win his heart and her hand, in that order. And after being finally allowed to do so, the two had promptly gotten married and settled down in Bhowali only. Their happiness was complete now, with one minor snag (from their point-of-view, at that point of time, now, in hindsight, they would rue the day that they found that devil of a kid, but let us not get ahead of ourselves and return to our story, wherever it might be at this point)- They did not have any children.
It is not that they could not conceive medically, the problem lay somewhere else, in their sanskaars. For the moment the two started coming close to each other, both used to shut their eyes out of sharm, which, for Suman, was an ‘Indian aurat ka gehna’, and for Prem, was ‘what should have been done by Saif in Kya Kehna’ (instead of what he did, Hawji Hawji, resulting in that poor schoolgirl Preeti, or is it Priety, or Preity…anyways, that poor schoolgirl getting pregnant and such havoc being caused in her life, forcing her whole family to sing an Indian version of Oh Carol, laaya hai bahaar…in the process. THAT had scarred him for life, and made physical contact with any woman impossible).
So, they both wanted a baby, but couldn’t conceive one, so they did the next best thing, they became drunkards. Which was a very bad thing, not because drinking is bad, which it is, but because that resulted in them being on that road that late evening, passing by that quarry, and hearing that little girl’s cackling, deciding to investigate, and finding the girl in the basket with the note.
The girl looked like manna from heaven to Suman and Prem, so they decided to take her with them to their home (in keeping with the universally acceptable International Law of Finders Keepers), and name her Munni. But what they did not realize, despite Prem’s vast experience in quarry digging (which, it was later revealed was restricted to getting stoned on A-Grade Himalayan Maal), that the rubble had been an intact mountain till a few hours ago, and was converted into rubble by that sweet, innocent girl, who could not be more than two months old at the time. And as Prem and Suman would realize much later, when they bumped into Munni’s real parents, the note was explicit in its warning- “SHE BROKE OUR HOUSE!’
Maybe adding the word ‘LITERALLY’ at the end of that sentence might have helped warn Suman and Prem about the monster they were adopting in a more idiot-proof manner, but knowing as I do how sloshed they were at that time, I would not bet on it!
What havoc will Munni wreak in the lives of Suman and Prem, and subsequently in Bhowali, that will cause even the notoriously stone-cold criminals of the construction mafia of the town to tremble in fright? And where and how will Munni get trained in the deadly arts of the Ninja assassin, and not Ninja Assassin (which, by the way, was not a great movie, but had a brilliant shot when the police station gets attacked by the villain Ninjas in the dark, try it if you get the time some time)? To find out the answers to these deadly questions, focus your chi-shakti (as the Hindi dubbed version of the Korean Martial Arts cult film Arahan called it) on this space, and keep waiting with equanimity for the next part of Munni: Origins.