POWER WOMAN : Jenabai in her early 30s
The sun on her face woke Jenabai. She made an attempt to turn away from it but the brightness in the room killed her desire to sleep any further. She finally got up at 9.30 in the morning. None of her children or her grandchildren were home, she knew. She peeped outside through the large square window of her Dongri room. Jenabai still hung on to her tiny house despite having so much money, because she was attached to it…
She had suffered a sleepless night and the restlessness was making her head spin.
She realised that she had made a heavy promise to [Haji] Mastan, and she was already feeling its burden on her shoulders. Jenabai was not used to making empty assurances to the people she cared for. And though she might have convinced Mastan that she was able to handle the situation at hand, she knew that convincing Dawood and Sabir would be difficult.
She decided to make herself some tea… When the water was boiling… she heard a loud knock on the door of her room.
Maasi, open the door, a young voice said.
Recognising the voice, she placed the vessel back on the stove, got hold of her dupatta and moved toward the door, opening it slowly. Dawood stood there; he was sweating profusely.
Oy chhokra, whats happened now? she asked, referring to the sullen look on Dawoods face.
Dont ask. Just one of those usual fights but the man is badly hurt, he said.
Whom did you beat up? she asked.
Maasi, it was that notorious Hamid Chuha from Manish Market. The man had become a big menace. You know weve been fighting for control over some of those shops. I went to sort things out with him today, but this time he really got out of hand and I beat him up.
Hmm… good. So you evened things out finally.
But now I am in trouble, Maasi. Chuha is in the ICU and the dress-wallahs (the police) are after me. My father also knows about it and he wont spare me either. I dont want to be beaten up by him. Please help me Maasi, get me out of this situation.
Jenabai sat silently for some time, trying to sort out the whole issue in her head. Suddenly, the wheels in her mind started turning and she said, No one will dare to harm you in my presence. But I hope you realise that it wont be easy for me to convince both the police and your father at the same time.
I know only one thing — however difficult things are, nothing is impossible for you.
| Haji Mastan
Jenabai gave him a small smile. I may need a favour from you sometime soon. Will you agree to do it for me?
Without the slightest hesitation Dawood agreed. Maasi, I am ready to lay down my life for you. You are like my mother.
Later in the evening, Jenabai made an unexpected visit to Mussafir Khana. Dawoods father, Ibrahim Kaskar, was sitting on the single bed at the end of the room with his hand on his head; tense, angry — and yet an air of fragility hung about him because of his age…
Salaam Jenabai, come in. How come you are here? he asked.
Salaam, Ibrahim bhai. I heard about Dawood so I thought Id come and meet you. Has he come home?
Ibrahim turned red. He wont dare to come home. Dawood has left me ashamed. I had so much respect among the police fraternity and he has stripped me of it.…
Dawood is like my son. The moment I heard about the incident, I first thought about you and Aamina bi. I enquired with some boys who were present at the shop when the fight took place between them. They told that it was not Dawoods fault.
By the grace of God, my son is innocent, Aamina said when she heard this…
Ibrahim was not as easily convinced. Jenabai, we need two hands to clap. I have seen so many such fights during my service and I know that my son is not innocent.
Bhai, Dawood was beaten really badly. If he did not defend himself, we would have been attending his funeral today. Would you choose Hamid Chuha over Dawood?
Ibrahim did not say anything for a long time. Then: If this is the case, I would like to speak with Dawood. He cant afford to repeat such a thing again.
I will try and track him down and tell him to meet you. Just dont be harsh with him. He is a nice boy and you can trust me. I would have killed to have such a son. Saying this, Jenabai walked out of the room.
The next day Jenabai made a trip to the Crime Branch Office at the Mumbai police headquarters in Crawford Market. She had decided to meet one of the most reputed and distinguished senior Crime Branch officers… As an informant, Jenabai had always maintained cordial relations with the officer...
Come in, Jenabai. Salaam. What brings you here today? the officer asked.
I was going to buy some vegetables from the market so I thought Id just drop by to meet you.
After a few more minutes of small talk, Jenabai decided to get to the point. Sahib, I feel bad for you. These gang wars in the city are keeping all you dress-wallahs busy.
Yes, we have a big task at hand. In fact, it was only yesterday that Dawood and his goons beat up a shopowner from Manish Market. That mans condition is very serious and that haraami Dawood is absconding.
…Jenabai did not say anything. She knew what was coming.
By the way, if I am not mistaken, you know their family well, right? the officer enquired.
Jenabai suppressed a smile. This was going to be much simpler than she had thought it would be…
I dont know where he is at the moment but Dawood does listen to me. He treats me like his mother. I may also be able to track him down … but… but this will come at a price.
The officer was taken aback. This woman had the nerve to lay down conditions in front of a senior crime branch officer! Calming down, he asked And what will you do for me?
What if I make Dawood your informant?
Informant? the officer asked, shocked.
The officer didnt say anything for a few minutes. Then he asked, And what would the price for this be?
Nothing. Just drop all charges against him, she said.
At around 3.40am, she heard a faint knock on the door…
Maasi, any luck? Dawood asked.
What do you think? Jenabai smiled. Your Maasi has managed everything. Now you are a free bird and Ive spoken with your father as well…
A very relieved Dawood drank the glass of water offered and was ready to leave when Jenabai stopped him.
Now it is your turn, she said. …Mastan is tired of your gang war. Your boys have caused a lot of commotion in Dongri. Do you realise that you all are fighting against your own brothers?
Dawood remained silent, so Jenabai continued, Mastan wants the Pathans and you all to unite and become one strong force, so that nobody takes us lightly. For this, he wants to have a joint meeting with you all.
Dawood was in a tight spot. He did not want to be part of the meeting — but he had given his word.
And so Jenabai had her way.