Short story

The Conspiracy Club

Shyam was bored to death.

He had finished a M.Com degree and management course at the local university and was waiting for a job, which for all practical purposes had eluded him for the last one year. He wanted a good job, an easy one with a good pay and designation. He didnot care what the job was but did care that he should have an easy time and plenty of money. Such jobs were hard to come by and Shyam just waited patiently.

Crotchety with boredom and a good life in his parental home, Shyam decided to start a detective agency. He advertised his services online. His advertisement said his agency provided services of all kinds from hunting for lost pets to looking for criminals to delving into conspiracies.

His first case was that of a missing dog. Macho, the dog in question had gone missing from a pet care centre while his mistress was getting her nails done at a nearby parlour. Macho had been missing for one whole day.

Shyam went to the pet care centre, the dog pound, animal shelter, the owner’s home in vain. At the pet care centre, the employees were very cold to him. He got no information. At the pound and animal shelter, dogs in cages barked and bared their fangs at him. Shyam was scared of dogs. He was not too happy. The owner was distressed and kept calling him till the evening, when she informed him that Macho had returned home on his own and therefore his services were not needed.

Shyam took missing pets off his list.

His mother found out about the advertisement. She forced him take criminals off his list.

Now, all Shyam was left with was conspiracies. No one called him to help them solve a mystery. He still didnot have his perfect job or any job. He started delving into conspiracy theories on his own. But that was taking him nowhere and was too taxing on his brain. He needed people his age to interact with. He needed friends. So, he decided to form an anti-corruption and conspiracy club. All members needed to pay an annual membership of only Rs 100 to start with. Shyam got together a bunch of young people who met every evening under the tall banyan tree in the park to discuss politics, corruption scandals and conspiracy theories. They were all young men with not much to do and enough money to spare. Some of them were Shyam’s classmates, who like him, waited for the easiest way to make money and have an easy life. Shyam had collected nearly one thousand twelve hundred rupees, which meant there were twelve members in the club.

Thirteen young people in a park under a banyan tree discussing politics started drawing attention. That is when Shyam thought it would be better to have the gathering indoors. The twelve members of his club agreed. They discussed renting a small room and expanding their club. They raised the entrance fee to one thousand. Surprisingly, they found takers. They now rented a small room in a big house and held their meetings there. Not that the meeting generated action but it helped people voice their opinions and relax. It was an outlet to talk, especially for people who were not getting anywhere.

Over a period of five years, the membership and the annual membership fee increased. Shyam found, a higher membership fee was directly proportional to the increase in number of applicants. Of course, they had to provide facilities like a cafeteria, music, television. So, Shyam rented a small house. The kitchen was handed over to a local tea stall owner. He was quite happy to oblige and run the cafeteria in the dining-drawing area.The music was provided by a rejected karaoke system from Shyam’s home. They installed a big second hand TV in another room, which they called the movie room. The ACC (Anti-Corruption and Conspiracy) club gained in popularity. Shyam stopped looking for a job as he became the founder of a fairly popular people’s club and he started making a lot of money from the annual membership fee.The club’s popularity with rich, unemployed youth invited the attention of the local politicians and journalists, especially as it claimed to be a club dedicated to the unearthing of corruption and conspiracies. They started patronising the club. The local politicians tried to raise funds and clout for their cause and parties and the journalists tried to scent out scandals. The club started becoming the breeding grounds for the young monied and money-makers. The club moved to it’s own building. Now, the club had it’s own restaurant and gym. Then, it acquired a pool table and swimming pool. A crooner, a bar and another posh restaurant further enhanced it’s attractions.

Shyam’s ACC club became popular and the talk of the town. Ten years down the line, it was a prestigious and professional men’s club. Anyone who was someone professionally belonged to the ACC. Young jobless wastrels no longer found their way to the club. The club became a hotbed for conspiring for entry into the club and for gaining influence or finance in or from the government or industry.

The twelve founding members had all become powerful, influential and wealthy. Six had joined politics. One of them was running for the parliament as his godfather, the local member of parliament, was retiring. Four had become leading journalists whose copy had to be re-written, but they were unparalleled in scenting out scandals. People feared them. If a scandal could not be found by others, they were sure to scent it out with their unparalleled skills. Newspapers vied to employ them. The eleventh one had become a godman, a great Yogi. He founded his own ashram and taught yoga to the rich and famous. There were some drug and sex scandals in which his name was implicated but everything was quieted down as the four journalists vouched for his godliness. His holiness was above scandals. If anything, the rumours drew a bigger crowd to his ashram. The last one had become a businessman known for his ‘connections’. No one knew exactly what he did but he was very rich and powerful. It was said that he was the man who created the chief minister of the state.

Shyam, of course, became very wealthy. He had opened chapters of the club in other parts of the country too. The Business Weekly had named him the ‘Man of the Year’ five years running. He had found his niche job among the wealthy and powerful. Here was a man who had achieved his dream.

Or had he? Did he have a dream? What was it? Was it a dream…?

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