My next main Total-e-Bound Character will be a Djinn.
No, No,No, he'll not be happy to hear you call him that. No, he's a Djinn, it's the same thing really, just semantics.
Yes, a djinn. He's called Johnny.
Johnny the Djinn?
Don't worry folks, I often talk to myself! I was just imagining a conversation where I'd introduce Johnny. It's not his real name, no, it's a human name he picked, somewhat short-sightledly you might say, because he doesn't tell anyone his real name, he knows the power of a name.
Johnny was captured many, many years ago and had been passed down the generations of the Khan family and now his Master is called Rahul and Rahul is a Bollywood Superstar.
Rahul is a young, reckless man who really does not want to enter the arranged marriage his father has set up for him. Johnny needs to get him to that wedding, he has been commanded to do so and a command to a Djinn is more than a compulsion.
Rahul uses a premiere in London as an excuse to run away to England however he did not expect to fall in love while he was there.
Rahul left the club not long after Panya. He had barely drunk anything, and he had not snogged any woman there at all. I was fairly convinced he was ill.
“I’m not,” he hissed as I threw the question his way as I materialised beside him in his limo on the journey back to the hotel. “Just didn’t see anything I fancied.”
“Have you changed your mind? Are you going to go back and honour your bride?”
“Fuck off, Johnny,” he laughed. “That is never going to happen. No, I just didn’t feel like it, all right?”
“Oh, that bit of Brit stuff drained you, did she?”
“Johnny, sometimes I wonder why I keep you around,” he gasped, exasperated.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’ve granted you fame and fortune even though you’re only as talented as a wet dog biscuit.”
Rahul didn’t reply, so I stayed quiet. It’s not all like Aladdin, you know. Most of us Djinns hate those who capture us and resent the rest of the family as we get passed down the generations. People say we’re monsters, but I can tell you Jennistan, the land of Djinn, is far more civilised than any place on earth. Humans are evil. We Djinns are just very focussed on doing our job. There is a difference.
When Rahul reached his hotel room, he threw himself onto the sofa with a sigh. I leapt from the travelling amulet to my tea kettle that sat on a corner cabinet and looked very out of place in such a slick, black and white bedroom. As much as I have space in both places, I prefer my tea kettle. It is my home away from home. I have my stuff in there.
Yes, Djinns have stuff. Not a lot of it, considering our centuries of life, but we can be sentimental, and when you are enslaved and imprisoned you need some reminders of your old life, your free life, to keep you going. Not that a Djinn would ever commit suicide, it is not something a Djinn would even contemplate. But a depressed Djinn can make some very bad decisions. Trust me, I know.
I was surprised when he reached for the phone. Even Bollywood stars have some concept of time, though their day is skewed to start later and finish in the early hours of the morning. But by my calculations it was well past three a.m. and I couldn’t imagine he’d be ringing India. That was the last place he’d want to connect with.
I finally realised what he was doing when he slipped off his trousers. He was going to ring the Brit bit. He read the numbers on his thighs and entered them into his mobile. Then he dialled.
“Hey Laura,” he said, “it’s Rahul.”
Magic is a useful tool. I concentrated and listened in on both ends of the conversation. So I’m nosey. Djinn’s don’t sleep, and I wanted some entertainment. I am sure if Rahul realised I could hear any of his conversations, he’d be mortified.
“I know it’s late.” Rahul could win prizes for stating the obvious.
“Late?” she croaked. “It’s technically morning. What’s up?”
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have rung.”
I saw something on Rahul’s face I’m not sure I’d seen before. It was a mixture of nervousness and fear. He never usually experienced such emotions as he knew whatever happened I would be there to sort it out. He had an all-powerful Djinn. He didn’t need to be afraid of anything.
“No, no, no,” she scrambled over herself, “it’s okay. Sleep is over-rated anyway. How was the club?”
“Boring.” He gripped the phone all the tighter. “Because you weren’t there.”
“Oh, that’s sweet,” she giggled. “Damn, are you sure this isn’t a dream?”
“No, Laura, it isn’t. I need you. I need you now.”
I suddenly realised the meaning of the word ardour. I get bored, so I read. I’ve read every book in the world, give or take half a dozen or so, and a lot of them mention ardour, and it was written all over his face.
“Really, Laura. I’ve not been able to think about anything else but you.”
“Rahul,” her voice was breathy, like she’d run a mile or she was seriously aroused. I guessed the latter was more likely. “I want you, too. Jeez, I can’t believe this is really happening, I swear I’ve not woken up.”
“Where are you? How easy is it for you to get to the Heights Hotel?”
“Well, Jeez, I dunno. It’s twenty minutes or so away, I guess, but I wouldn’t fancy the Tube at this time of night.”
“I’ll send a car. Give me your address.”
“Rahul, you’re crazy,” she laughed and gave him her address.
“Crazy for you, babe,” he replied. “The car will be with you soon.”
“Okay, Rahul. Bye.”
He rang the front desk, and I appeared before him.
“This is not the way an engaged man should act.”
“Johnny, not now,” he sighed as he ran into the bathroom.
“Look, I’m just trying to help you. I’m just trying to carry out the wish your father left me with. He repeated it to me on his deathbed, you know, it was his dying wish. He just wanted the best for you.”
“No, Johnny, he wanted the best for himself. Malati’s father is a businessman, always was. Dad got a lot of cuts and special deals because he agreed to the stupid arranged marriage the moment Mr Hamada’s daughter was born. It has absolutely nothing to do with what is good for me.”
“You can’t play the field forever. Damn, man, this morning you were shagging Panya in that hotel bed. Do you have no shame?”
“Laura is different,” he said and ripped off his shirt. “I don’t know what it is, I honestly don’t, but when I look into her dark eyes I just lose myself.”
“Yeah, you lose your fucking marbles. She’s British, Rahul.”
“Shut up, Johnny. You’re a damn Djinn. How the hell can you be racist? You’re not even the same species as me.”
“It’s not about race,” I snapped. “She’s not from Mumbai. She’s not like you.”
“Johnny, I know she’s white, she’s British and she’s wonderful. I don’t care that she isn’t of Indian decent. I don’t care. I love her just the way she is.”
“You love her?” I gasped, genuinely shocked. Not much shocks a Djinn, I can tell you. I can count the number of times I’ve been shocked on one hand. Did I mention I was shocked?
“Oh, go away, Johnny. Jump back in your stupid kettle. Go, that’s a command. I mean it.”
He stared at me, and I shrugged and left. I could have hung around a little longer, I could have fought the command if I had wanted to, but I had decided I’d had enough.
He loved her. I couldn’t see any reason to believe he was lying. He’d never told me he’d loved another woman. He told them he loved them—Jeez, it was like a throwaway comment with him—but this was different, it was genuine emotion.
It would only end in tears. Even if he did love her, it couldn’t work. He was a rich movie star and she worked in a cinema. She was a fan girl. I am sure he loved her adoration more than he loved her. Rahul was vain, that had to be the explanation.