Meet My Imaginary Friends: Raj Singh
Born to Indian immigrants in Bayonne, New Jersey, Raj Singh and his brother, Kumar, were biker bad boys who looked like Indian princes and talked like Tony Soprano. After losing the two people dearest to him, Raj was about to drink himself into oblivion until he found a reason to live--forming a new motorcycle club called Durga's Dogs whose mission it was to track down and break up dog fighting rings. When his old friend Kit Wilde asks for his help finding a Friesian stallion, Raj and Durga's Dogs are only too happy to be of assistance. In this scene from The Legend: A Marienstadt Story, Raj helps Priya Desai, a girl he'd had a crush on when he was a boy but had not seen in years.
During a brief trip back to Bayonne for their father's birthday, Raj saw Priya again. By that time both he and Kumar had acquired the muscles, tattoos, and attitudes that came with their way of life. It was a steamy summer evening and they had just roared up in front of their parents' house when they heard a woman screaming.
“Please,” she cried, running toward them. “Please, you have to help me stop them. They'll kill her.”
Raj looked at her and was surprised, though not displeased, to recognize Priya Desai, now wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, her hair pulled back in a braid.
“What's going on?” he said.
“Raj?” She stopped in front of him. “Oh, please come help me. Some boys have a dog tied up and they're throwing rocks at her. They're going to kill the poor thing.”
“Where?” he asked.
“In that empty lot behind the coat factory. Please, you have to hurry.”
“Climb on.” He reached to help her and she hopped on the back of his bike. Kumar followed. Even over the roar of their bikes they could hear the shouts of boys, and the pain-filled yelps of a dog, as they rode into a dirt lot littered with debris. The boys turned as the two motorcycles bumped over the curb and swept around the crowd, coming to a stop between them and a terrified dog tied to a chain link fence.
“Get out of here, you little jackasses,” Raj yelled at them as Priya climbed off his bike and ran over to the dog.
The boys, most of whom appeared to be under fourteen, backed up grumbling and complaining, but they dropped their rocks and sticks. Kumar jumped off his bike pulling a knife from the leather sheath attached to his belt. As Priya knelt on the ground comforting the bruised, bleeding dog, Kumar cut the rope binding it to the fence. Priya picked up the dog, cradling it in her arms, and carried it over to Raj.
“Please, can you help me take her over to the shelter.” Priya's eyes were just as lovely as he remembered them being. “I work at an animal shelter a few blocks from here. If you could just drop us off, I can take care of her.”
“Sure.” Raj helped them climb on behind him.
When they got to the shelter, Raj offered to accompany her inside.
“No. You've done enough. Your parents are waiting for you at home. Thank you so much for helping me.”
“You work here?” He studied a building that looked more like a warehouse, with security doors and metal grates on the windows.
“Yes. I started out as a volunteer while I was in vet tech school, but I've been working full time for a year now.” She gave him a helpless little shrug. “My parents hate it. They keep threatening to ship me back to India, but I love working with animals.”
“I'd like to see you again while I'm still here,” he said.
She nodded. “I'll stop by your house and wish your father a happy birthday.” She turned, and with the dog in her arms, disappeared into the building.