Understanding The Psyche Of Don’s…Bhai’s

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"No matter where they run, they just cannot hide".  Words from one of Interpol’s top officials endorses the view that the long hand of law eventually catches up with crime and  crime bosses, as proven with the recent arrest of Italy’s top mob man after 43 years. Making me draw an analogy to their lives – a flattering comma eventually turning into a damning full-stop.

The mind and persona of a ‘Mob Boss, Bhai or an Underworld Don’ has always intrigued me. I have been a mafia movie buff ever since I was a kid and to an extent I tend to agree with this statement that these movies run because "identifying with the protagonist in these movies has a cathartic function, allowing us to live vicariously  – so that we don’t feel compelled to engage in their acts ourselves. We certainly may not condone what they do or engage in the acts ourselves, but there is a silent, unspoken awe of their idiosyncrasies". But movies or no movies, rightfully so, the end never favours crime or crime don’s in most cases.

The formidable might of a ‘Don’ can be summed in Michael Corleone’s words from ‘The Godfather’  "My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power like a President or a Senator".  Indeed, from the real life don’s the Al Capone’s, the Bugsy Siegel’s, John Gotti’s, the Kray Brothers, the Dawood Ibrahim’s etc – to the reel life ones Don Corleone, Tony Montana, Tony Soprano, Bhiku Mhatre’ etc – the temperaments have all been the same, Authoritative, Fanatic, Shrewd, Egoistic, Revengeful, Ruthless, Intrepid, Crazy etc.  Their undying passion for money and control – their influence over people, cities and even countries is indisputable. Every country has their own share of ‘Crime czars’ some even going to the extent of using the politics/religion card to amass power, wealth and the accompanying clout.

Which brings me to query the influencers of the don mind, What drives these folks towards this self imposed ‘Almighty’ like persona ? Is it the effortless acquisition of easy money! Is it the ‘control and domination’ factor even if it is ephemeral, the thrill of sitting on the highest pedestal with a remote control on people’s lives and decisions? What pleasure do some of them derive from their transgressions, committing shocking, if not ruthless crimes ? heinous is some cases, giving even the toughest of cops goose bumps? Is it the rough childhood, broken families, the unfortunate upbringing, the inborn insecurity of the basic needs.  The great Maslow understanding their hierarchy of needs, surely would have a bone to pick here.

The recent arrest of the Italy’s "Chief of Chief’s" Bernardo Provenzano, dubbed the "Ghost of Corleone" known for his spine chilling atrocities and  killings clearly supports my argument.  Ironically, the man so dreaded, seemed ‘meek as a lamb’ when the police finally arrested him. The power the man commanded was evident, with soaring ratings of some channels covering the story – gaining much prominence than the close fought national elections. On a related note, more on the personal front, I came across the recent demise of a childhood friend who in the past few years had risen to the high ranks in this cesspool of crime. He was shot dead by the police in Bombay. In this case, I have to admit I saw the writing on the wall when I bumped into him a decade ago. He had gone too far at that time, fallen into bad company and seemed a sucker for an easy life. My efforts to talk him out of leaving this world seemed fruitless. He made it clear to me that anything could be achieved by force and thought himself to be ‘God’ doing anything he wanted or for that matter anything I wanted. It didn’t surprise me when I recently read that he was fatally brought down in a police encounter. The only case in point here was he came from a decent family.

""…these criminals might get a reprieve from the physical anguish but the mental torment in some way or the other taunts them in the later years, causing them much distress, misery and unbearable pain….""

"Crime of-course doesn’t pay but it has indeed become convenient living" as Horace Rumpole of the English TV series ? Rumpole of the Bailey put  it. And some Crime Godfather’s have made it that way by playing the survival game to perfection, eliciting an image of legality whilst presenting the perfect picture of corporate citizenry. It is an undeniable fact that politicians in certain countries the world over, are in some way or another connected to the mob and rely on mob bosses considerably to get themselves voted to power. That the general population is helpless understanding the Mob’ reach and influence into every fragment of society only endorses the power these people yield.

Probing the ‘Capo di tutti capi’ or the ‘Godfather’ psyche makes one wonder, if somewhere in the deep recesses of their rigid minds – there is a kind of anxiety, a belief that that the fragile ‘playing card’ houses they live in, are a second away from the gentle breeze. During one of my conversations with a police friend in the higher echelons of the force, an interesting comment left an indelible mark on me, to quote him "these criminals might get a reprieve from the physical anguish but the mental torment in some way or the other taunts them in the later years, causing them much distress, misery and unbearable pain".

At the time of writing this piece, I am pondering what might be going through the arrested 83 year Italian mob boss’ mind.  Is there any remorse as a human being for the various crimes committed by him?  A lonely cell and his hardened conscience might have the answers. But will there ever be answers to his numerous victims families. I doubt it.

About the Author:
""Irwin Rego, a Bombay born Canadian is the grandson of yesteryears’ renowned musician and Konkani writer J.J.Rego ? Bendur, Mangalore and son of the famous Konkani and English writer J.B.Rego ? (Poinari, Times of India).  Irwin is a highly qualified communications and advertising professional, having served on the Corporate Advisory Board for Fedex-Kinkos, Canada, just recently relocated as  Director ? Client Affairs at a  reputed Strategic Communications Consultancy in  Bahrain. A man of many talents, he is also a poet, singer, actor, cook, a well known public speaker, an excellent hockey and cricket player and a regular columnist for the Gulf Daily News – Bahrain.  A die-hard Mangalorean at heart, he has one regret – his weakness in conversing in the konkani language.

Author: Irwin Rego- Bahrain

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