The sun had just touched the sea. The orange orb made a warm backdrop to the sea birds coming home to roost. A few trawlers and yachts made their way leisurely back to the wharf. All in all, a charming view from the twenty-first floor of the Taj Club Lounge.
Carmen stood at the window, a frown of worry on her forehead. The fading sunlight bathed her nude body in a ruddy glow. Her bare, somewhat tanned arms (courtesy her jogging at the Jogger’s Park nearby) revealed excellent muscle tone. Her rippling abdomen, strong thighs and powerful calves shouted out about the power in her body. A fitness guru, yoga expert and dance instructor, her body was honed for movement, speed and power.
Carmen was worried as Sonal was an hour late in coming from Mehboob Studios, where they had a fitness and dancing camp yesterday. The event was so successful that Carmen and Sonal had agreed to meet some eager women who wanted to set up a Mumbai chapter of the fitness philosophy that Carmen and Sonal championed.
Carmen had met Sonal about six months previously in Kolkata. Sonal was her most ardent fan in Asia, and had persuaded Carmen to visit India for a workshop on body strength and flexibility. It was Carmen’s first trip to India, and Sonal, a charming host. Sonal picked up dancing and fitness tips from Carmen, who was herself impressed by the strength that Sonal could command in her calves and thighs. They became fast friends. During that visit, they had chanced upon, or rather been chanced upon by three desperate goons. Despite being outnumbered and outweighed, they had prevailed in the fight and destroyed the goons with superior body strength and fighting skills.
Carmen had always been an advocate of female fitness. She believed that in staying fit and healthy, lay the wellbeing of people. She had also been training young girls in self-defence. Diminutive looking, Carmen was deadly with her Capoeira skills. Where she couldn’t reach with her arms, she could do a handstand and kick someone in the face with speed and power.
Carmen knew Sonal could take care of herself, but still… Sonal’s phone was switched off. Worse, none of the young Yoga volunteers had turned up either. The uneasiness in Carmen’s mind remained, as she remembered the hue and cry around the recent unsolved incidents of young girls disappearing in Mumbai. So she put on her canvas shoes and decided to take the twenty minute walk to the studio.
The event was resoundingly successful. Sonal had more registrations than she could manage. Happy and exhausted, she led the four young girls of the troupe into the Force van – a ten seater hired to keep their equipment and their belongings. As she and the girls sat in the bus, the driver switched on the air conditioning. The sweet sickly smell made her frown. Yet another peculiar smell in this city. She recalled how sometimes the smell of dried fish in the afternoons made her wish for a less sensitive sense of smell…
The stink of stale sweat and urine woke her up. Her head was groggy and vision faded. She struggled to move, and realised that her hands and feet were bound tight. A filthy gag almost choked her. She struggled, even panicked, as she realised that a duct tape covered her mouth. Distant lights, the sound of traffic and a band playing nearby all made her disoriented.
Hobbled, unable to move or get her bearings, she almost cried. And then she remembered the relaxation technique taught by Carmen. She focused on her breathing, allowing it to slow down, controlling the inhalation. Slowly, she felt as if her soul was rising up from her body. Relax, focus, relax, focus.
After a while, she took stock of the situation. She was bound and tied, unable to move. She could make out the dim shapes of others in the darkness –yes, one of them was Chhaya, the little girl with the fair skin. The girl seemed to be working on her bonds. Chhaya was blessed with a contortionist’s body. And now she was twisting her arms and body, trying to get out of the ropes. Her left wrist got out first, at the cost of a little skin. But after that she was free quickly.
Chhaya crept towards Sonal. She took off the gag. That almost made Sonal retch. But she couldn’t untie the thick ropes that bound arms and legs. “Chhaya, quick, take out my phone.” Sonal kept her slim phone in concealed pocket in her trousers. Their abductors would have failed to detect the phone. Quickly, she spoke with Carmen, detailing her abduction. Carmen told her not to worry.
Grim faced, Carmen paced her room. The police was not going to be of much help, not if Sonal and the girls were to be free quickly. She called her friend who worked at the mobile company, and asked him to triangulate Sonal’s number. As she got off the phone, she took out her matt black leotard exercise outfit. She slipped in two throwing knives, the ones with a triangular blade and a weighted end. A rolled bit of twine completed her kit.
As she slipped out the hotel, her friend called back. The place was at the other end of the Bandstand, just beyond the place where she would jog every morning. A stark and poor place, with dim lights and locals scurrying to reach home or wherever.
Carmen found the place. A surprisingly large bungalow with an overgrown garden. The place had seen better days. There were two guards, mostly standing together. Once in a while, one would loiter off and go around the bungalow. So when the slim one strolled off around the back, Carmen jumped him. She applied a choke hold on him, and wrapped her legs around his upper body. The struggling man thrashed around. But Carmen’s arms and legs are like banded steel. A fly in a black widow’s grasp would have better chance to escape. Her right forearm muscles were stretching and twisting his neck, making it difficult for him to breathe. She held his wrist in the grip of her left hand. Her legs were wrapped around his midsection. The back breaking pressure was too much for him. In panic, he thrashed about, trying to escape by instinct rather than plan. Carmen just plied on more pressure. The man died in the arms and legs of the sexiest fighter in Mumbai that night. Carmen had squeezed his internal organs and almost twisted his head off with her power.
The pot-bellied guard, worried that his partner had disappeared, came grumbling about his partner’s toilet breaks. Carmen dropped him with a chop to the Adam’s apple – not too hard, just enough to make his breathing laborious and unable to speak or shout. Carmen did that so that she could use her arms and legs both on his body.
As the fat man collapsed clutching his throat, Carmen turned him around, put a leg below his right arm and applied an omoplata. With a quick round turn, she dislocated his shoulder joint and put him in great pain. His mouth was open and he was gasping silently. Carmen turned him on his back and put a foot on his chest. “Where are the kids?” she asked in a harsh whisper. The man only gasped like a fish out of water… “Where?” She stamped on his pot belly. “Where…where…where? “Each stamp made the man judder in agony. Furious, Carmen put her foot on his face and pressed. Hard. Her powerful leg muscles broke his jaw. As her foot began its inevitable journey through his face, his unmolested arm helplessly tried to beat it off. He died painfully, crushed underneath Carmen’s raging foot.
Just then, even before she could catch her breath, the side exit opened and out came a guard with his baton. Carmen rolled to avoid his blow, and tripped his legs to make him tumble. Quick as a cat, she sprang on his back. She twisted his arm so that he was forced to remain on his knees. She then wrapped her knee around his neck. Carmen’s balled calf muscle completely choked off his breath. She held him in her knee grip, as she surveyed the house entrance, trying to make out if there were more inside. He waved his arms wildly and kicked with his legs. His neck almost squeezed out by the bulging calf. Carmen continued her survey, until the man’s struggle lessened and dwindled away to sporadic nervous twitches. She removed his head from her flexed knee. It fell with a thud at her foot. The tongue lolling out and just touching her big toe.
Carmen moved into the house. She saw three guards at a game of teen-patti, the local version of poker. Carmen knew it would be dangerous to take them on all together. So she just walked in with her sensuous and slow dance move. The three guards spring to their feet. Carmen does her best dance. She has exquisite control on her hips, her abs and legs. She moves her arms gracefully. It looks like Raqs Sharqi, but much more sexy. The guards are enamoured, and they fall into step with her. They are enchanted, unable to draw their eyes away from the dynamite beauty dancing in front of them.
Carmen decides she needs only one to interrogate. She draws out her knives. She stabs two of them in the base of the neck. Spurting blood sprays the room red. She kicks the third one in the groin. In about 15 seconds, there is just one man alive in the room. Carmen has her foot on his chest. She presses. The man gasps for air. He feels as his sternum is about to collapse. Carmen presses even more, her wonderous calves bulging with the effort. The man begs, points to the basement door.
Carmen ties him up with strips of torn curtains. She leaves him hog tied and gagged and goes cautiously to the basement.
The knots on Sonal are tight, made by an expert who knows ropes. Carmen’s steely fingers make short work of them.
Sonal is a woman in rage. She wants to tear those responsible limb to limb. Carmen calms her down, and they take the remaining girls out. She tells Sonal to take them back to the guest house where they were put up.
Carmen comes back to the bungalow. She uses the knife to poke the hog tied man’s eye. Very soon, she has the story.
The empire of Ari Anna is built on sex. Brothels from Dongri to Govandi. Dance bars in the back lanes across the city. Video parlours that play old movies by day and XXX movies at night. Even a high end escort service in tony residential areas. He has the police in his pocket. He also happens to be one of the few dons who openly moves around in Mumbai, but has hardly any police cases registered against his name. Rumour has it that his association with Rajan gives him protection from “Supari” or contract killings.
One of the ways he adds to his flesh trade juggernaut is to abduct young girls and force them into his business. The good looking ones are trained to dance and entertain. Others are forced into prostitution. Once the girls are into the system, they literally disappear for years until any alert for tracing them runs cold. The authorities turn a blind eye as well, as long as they know he is not funding terrorism.
It was all an attempt to abduct the young girls with Sonal and force them into Ari Anna’s vast machinery of sleaze. The mistake these guys made was that they never accounted for a powerhouse like Carmen.
Carmen hoists the hog tied ruffian onto her shoulders and carries him to the basement. Earlier, she and Sonal had put the corpses of the other guards in as well. The shocked ruffian sees all the bodies and knows that he is on the losing side. He tells Carmen that four others are coming to check out the latest “haul”.
Carmen takes out some juice from the refrigerator and hydrates herself. She gets a call from Sonal, to whom she relates the sordid story. Sonal agrees to come as a back up to her.
It’s midnight. The doors of the Jeep thud shut. Carmen, hidden behind the kitchen cabinet, makes out four people. She has switched on the TV, which plays bawdy music. The four come in shouting, asking their whereabouts.
Ragu. Ari Anna’s right hand man. His armed driver cum bodyguard is a bulked up man with an Uzi slung from his right shoulder. The third character is a fat businessman in a safari suit that went out of fashion decades back. This one has hair dyed dark orange with “Mehendi”. Rings and gold bracelets adorn him, too numerous to count.
The dangerous one is the fourth, a slender woman. She is Sundari. Her pink skin and white hair indicate albinism. She moves like a snake. Her dark eyes are like glass beads, devoid of any empathy. The dark stole she wears covers her upper body, but shows enough to suggest that she is the one to take down.
The group of four settles down into the plush sofas, all except Sundari. She seems to detect something. Her eyes go over the room.
Carmen signals Sonal. They attack as one. Carmen takes Sundari while her back is turned away, while Sonal goes for the bodyguard.
As soon as the attack begins, Sundari throws off the stole. Her pale arms are spread apart. They are sinewy and defined. The tendons and veins appear stark on her milky skin. She’s got a lot of cut marks as well. A tinge of masochism in her. She turns around like a snake, a ceramic knife slicing the air towards Carmen, who manages to avoid the slash by barely an inch. Carmen rolls and locks her legs around Sundari’s. They go down in a tangle of arms and legs. Carmen has an armbar on Sundari. She forces the knife from her grip, and kicks it away. Sundari looks at Carmen with an evil smile, and with a sudden twist, breaks free. She pummels Carmen with her arms and legs, who bunches up to avoid the body blows. Her hard arms and legs are like solid wood. But Carmen is made of stern stuff. Years of Yoga, Capoeira and gymnastics have given her a robust, flexible and extremely strong body. She suddenly stretches and entwines Sundari’s legs with hers. Leaping on to her, she uses her elbows to land hard, telling blows on Sundari’s face and torso. Elbows that break bricks, land and crush Sundari’s ribs and face. But she doesn’t give up so easy. She fights tooth and nail. She bites Carmen and tries to rake her fingernails across her face. Carmen moves away to recuperate.
Sundari reaches for her knife and lunges at Carmen’s chest. Just as she is about to hit, Carmen has taken a hand towel and uses it to lock Sundari’s wrist. She then wraps her legs about Sundari’s shoulders and locks her arm. Carmen’s powerful calves are locked in a figure four around Sundari’s neck. Powerful, bulging muscles choke Sundari, finally breaking her neck. “Bitch” spits Carmen, and moves towards the businessman.
In the meanwhile, Sonal sprints towards the bulky guard. Before he can take the safety off the Uzi, she has already taken a leap. Her foot rams him square in the chest, making him sail over to the end of the room. The powerful kick would have felled many men, but the bulky guard was making to get up!
Sonal kicks him hard in the ribs. Using her strong legs, she stamps him repeatedly on the chest and face. Finally, she leaps up and lands with her foot smashing his crotch. That is enough to silence the guard. Sonal takes a long breath to see Carmen applying the choke hold on Sundari. She feels “That Bitch is done for in Carmen’s legs”.
It is now the turn of Ragu to face Sonal’s wrath. He sees the battle with a mix of incredulity and anger.
Carmen is heaving for breath after the battle with Sundari. Gingerly, she feels the bruises and scratches where Sundari has left her mark. “That was close. Mustn’t get too confident.” She walks towards the businessman. The man is jabbering away in a high pitched voice about something. She finds the entire thing revolting. The orange dyed hair, the paan stained teeth; His very presence is infuriating. She punches the man in the chest. He goes down on his knees and implores her with folded hands. Carmen comes upto the man and puts her foot on his face. She presses down, making the man lie face down on the carpet. He seems to be begging for his life. But she’s not in a mood to forget. Let them go, and they will be the scourge of this city. She decides to show him her strength.
So she does her handstands in front of him. Followed by push ups and a one-hand balance. These highlight her body and muscle tone. Any sane man would go bonkers with such a display. The businessman crudely adjusts his crotch to account for the bulge in his trousers. Carmen then goes on to display how she controls her abs. At the end, the businessman is quavering in his shoes. Carmen reached down to his groin and removes his belt. She then applies it round the neck of her prone captive and tightens it. The businessman tried in vain to remove the constraining band. Slowly his breath leaves him, and he collapses in a heap near the staircase.
Sonal is in the meanwhile intimidating Ragu. The big time thug is forced to beg for his life. Sonal says: “You run the biggest whoring operation in Asia. Your shows spoil the lives of thousands of young women every year. Tell me Ragu, how does it feel to be at the mercy of one such woman? How does it feel when you realise you will be killed by a ‘helpless’ woman?” “Please, p-ply-please, let me go, I will give you a crore rupees in cash. I’ll give you whatever you want.” “Ragu, when you are in the grip of a strong woman…” For Sonal had lifted him in a bear hug, and was squeezing the breath out of him; “…do you think your ill gotten cash matters?” “N-no-nooo, 2 crores, 5 crores, whatever you want, please let me go…”
With great upper body strength, she heaves his body up and slams him on the floor. With her foot, she pins him down. So that he can only squirm like a pinned insect. Sonal presses down harder. The bulge in her calves applying so much pressure… Ragu frantically tries to push away the leg, but it is like trying to move an iron pillar. Ragu’s eyes bulge, as the pressure makes him take breath in painful gasps. Sonal laughs loud and long. She’s moves her foot up his chest, almost to the neck. And squeezes further. Ragu lets out a high pitched scream. So Sonal quickly pushes her foot onto his face. “Mmmphh…fmhhh” he says. In a sudden rage, Sonal presses hard. Her calves bulge as if the power of her body had been intensified into all that muscle. Ragu’s jaws gave away.
Sonal then moves back her foot and stamps on his solar plexus. The broken thing below her cries in a muffled voice. The legs are thrashing. So Sonal lifts her right foot and smashes it into Ragu’s groin. The shock of getting his testicles smashed, sends an impulse to his brain, which reacted and created a condition called vaso vegal inhibition. Ragu’s brain had shut down his own body.
Sonal and Carmen slowly walk out of the bungalow. They hail a taxi. Holding her hand, Carmen looks into Sonal’s eyes and said “Stay with me tonight.”