Dharavi - The Missionary



Dharavi was one of the world's largest slums. Located in Mumbai, India, about 700,000 East Indians crammed into an area less than a square mile. Shanties made of blue, red, yellow, and brown rusted scrap metal and moldy plywood, between one and four-floors high, were lined shoulder-to-shoulder, the narrow streets between piled with refuse and waste. The stench of sewage, garbage and despair hung thickly over the slum.

Agent 47 paced his way steadily down the street, surrounded by children begging for handouts and being eyed warily by adults. He stood out like a tall, bald, tattooed, very white thumb. Dressed as a Catholic missionary, complete with collar, Agent 47 was in Dharavi to eliminate Aadi Bharat. Bharat was a local who'd clawed his way out of the slums using any means necessary, and then continued using those means on the world stage. At some point, an invisible line was crossed and now certain players wanted Bharat gone. The ICA - and through it, Agent 47 - was tasked with the job.

Agent 47 had been in Dharavi for close to a week, seeking Bharat's exact whereabouts. Cash payments for information wouldn't go unnoticed, and so he'd had to work Bharat's name into casual conversation here and there. He'd finally gotten a bead on Bharat, holed up in a yellow, two-floor shanty near an open sewage spillway.

Due to high crime and violence in the area, Agent 47 could only bring with him what he could conceal on his person and, even then, he had to use hidden caches in his long frock to protect from pickpockets. His pistol with suppressor was tucked into an ankle holster. He had a remote micro explosive and palm trigger up his left sleeve.   A tactical knife, sharp enough to cut a man's throat, was sheathed up the other sleeve. Three people had attempted to kill him so far while he slept at generously offered shanties. All three places now had vacancies.

Sandwiched between brown and red shacks like mustard, the yellow, two-floor shanty had no door, only a frayed curtain. Windows had been cut out of the metal, leaving ragged, uncovered holes to let in the "fresh" air.   The view from the windows was another line of rusty shanties across the spillway dividing the narrow road.

Agent 47 needed to see the inside of the shanty, and confirm that Bharat was present. He started edging closer to the line of shanties, allowing the children to jostle him more. When he reached the target door, he pretended that the children pushed him inside and he landed on the plywood floor with a loud, "Oof!"

The main floor of the shanty was one small room walled with slightly less rusty metal. The sun coming through the windows brought the only light into the room.   There was an old wood-burning stove, a blue plastic water barrel, and a rotting floral sofa pushed against a wall.   Bharat and two other men leapt up from folding chairs around a rickety wooden table in the center of the room at Agent 47's inglorious entry.

"What is the meaning of this?" Bharat demanded in Hindi. Bharat was tall, thin, and pock-marked, and wore a navy kurta. The other two men appeared to be guards, both armed. One aimed a pistol at Agent 47's head.

"My apologies," Agent 47 replied in Hindi, his head practically under the table in the small room. Children poured into the shanty, crying out their apologies as they helped him to his feet and to the sweets and missal pamphlets in his pockets. They seemed oblivious - or uncaring - of the pistol pointed at Agent 47.

Once on his feet, he held up his hands in a placating manner to the men. "I have come to bring the word of God to Dharavi. Are you interested in being saved?"

Bharat made a gesture of impatient dismissal. "No.   Be gone with you." He retook his seat, and one of the two guards did the same. The guard with the pistol lowered it, but kept his eye on Agent 47.

Agent 47 lowered his hands. Opportunity presented itself when he glanced at the floor.   The children had discarded the missal pamphlets taken from Agent 47's pocket at their feet. Agent 47 made a show of crouching down to gather them, making shooing sounds to the children. The guard watching him scoffed and went to take his seat.   Agent 47 took that moment to hide the micro explosive under a pamphlet, which he left, along with several pamphlets, under the table.

Straightening, he gave the three men a benevolent bow of his head, the pamphlets he'd collected clutched to his chest, painting the perfect picture of an out-of-his-depths missionary.   "Blessings be upon you."

Bharat lifted his hand and motioned toward the door. "Go, go."

Agent 47 shuffled out the door, along with the children. He continued down the street, putting the extra pamphlets back into the pocket of his frock. He made certain his entourage was fully clear of the yellow shanty before using his thumb to activate the remote trigger unseen, through the cloth on his wrist.

The small charge exploded, rattling the metal walls and sending bits of table, chair, and person-debris out the windows. The children and other people on the street gasped or screamed. Some fled. Agent 47 turned at the sound with the others, placing a hand to his chest as if horrified.

A brave soul ducked into the yellow shanty and returned a moment later with a shake of his head.   A woman wearing a sari, a Christian cross, and an expression of worry approached Agent 47. "Are you all right, Father?"

"More than you think," Agent 47 told the woman enigmatically. He gathered the remaining children around him and escorted them away. "Come along, children.   There is no reason to linger..."

 

End