"what an epic vision. reading throughout, all i could think of was, how stupid is this man? you described his damnation in such a way as to stand for the damnation of all who oppose the flow of time and destiny, and who dwell upon moments of life best left behind. he could have moved on, had a wonderful life still, and yet he refused to do so, despite all indicators that this reliatonship between his ex-woman and this man was written in the stars. you described it excellently, and the end was very good! surprising and very satisfying. good work!"
Though Rama had tried hard to erase that humiliating incident from his memory, people wouldn’t let him forget it. The moment he would be on the street, passerby would stop him and would try to sympathize with him. He hated the villagers. He hated even living in that rouge of village where he had lost his honor. In few days he preferred to be confined to his hut that situated beneath a barren hill. His ailing mother was his only company. She was no console either who all the time would curse the gods and parents of the would-be-bride of Rama, Laxmi, and that monster Dasaru who had dared to abduct Laxmi from the marriage pavilion before the final rituals were performed.
It wasn’t abduction, really. As if one of the guests Dasaru had entered the pavilion. Parents of Laxmi were panicked at the sight of Dasaru and had tried their best to prevent him to step on the platform where a sacred fire was lit and final marriage ritual was being performed. Dasaru was known as a notorious man in the vicinity. It wasn’t easy to stop him. He had shoved back the bride’s parents and concerned relatives to stride at the platform unobstructed when marrying couple was taking last round about the sacred fire to declare they were married.
But before the last round would be complete, Dasaru had roared, “Laxmi, stop!”
Laxmi had stopped where she was. Rama was startled. Laxmi untied the knots of her cloth those were bound to Rama’s in vehemence and had leapt at Dasaru. Rama hadn’t realized what was going on. He stupidly had watched Dasaru taking his bride away from the pavilion with no one daring to stop him. The gathering had stood stunned. Women had started crying and cursing. Mother of Rama, who was so frolicsome and buoyant today, fell unconscious. The young men in the gathering swore and shouted angry slogans and said they won’t leave that bastard. But by then Dasaru and Laxmi had gone.
When Rama had realized that nothing could be done and that he was deceived his anger knew no bounds. He abused the parents and relatives of Laxmi for being swindlers. Then suddenly he started weeping. Elders tried to console him but in vain. His dreams of wedded life had shattered before his own eyes. The image that he had nourished in his heart of his bride since the day he had seen her and had agreed to marry her was at tatters. It was arranged marriage any way! Had he forced her to marry him? No. Then why this deception?
He knew not what wrong he had done. Wouldn’t he make her a happy wife?
Why she had to abandon him?
That too in a gathering…where sacred marriage rituals were being performed?
When he had thought over and over again on the predicament, he had realized, it must be an old affair, between Dasaru and Laxmi. It was why she had leapt at that monster on his call to join him.
His heart had gone on fires. Humiliation, insult and loss of dignity had made him crazy. But what he could do? His bride had abandoned him before he could claim her as his lawful wife. The consolations like hot iron needles had pierced his dumbfounded mind.
The night of his marriage had proved to be a worst nightmare.
There was no ceremonious retreat to his ancient hut. There were no enthusiastic relatives dancing on his way back on the rhythm of the drums. It was a dark night. All over a stupid silence prevailed. Everything seemed mocking at him. No matter what wrath for Dasaru and Laxmi exploded in his mind, he knew he was helpless.
Night was not the night but a realm of horrendous dreams. And he was stark awake. His mother had lost all her courage. She was sick. Her only dream to see her son had a family had went to ruins. The woman that till today had upheld honor of the family was defeated.
Next day there were many visitors. They sympathetically as well as vehemently had tried to tell him that at first instance his choice to marry Laxmi was wrong. Didn’t he hear the rumors or the gossips about her illicit relations with Dasaru? How could he be so stupid enough to agree to marry her? Was it only because she was only beautiful woman in the village? How could Rama forget that had she been virgin she would have preferred to marry richer man but him? Rama was pauper, wasn’t he? How could he dare to ask her hand in first case?
The accusations were many under the disguise of the consolations. Rama hated them than ever. He started to avoid them. For him all had collaborated to torture him. He would walk uphill in the morning and wherever he would find a solitary place he would spend the day thinking of his misfortune. When the night would descend he would come back to his hut and before entering his hut would spend his time with the cows and bulls he adored. He would sit beside them, would caress them and would tell the story of his ruins.
When finished with this he would walk up to the hut and would prepare some food, for his mother was in no position to get up and do the things for her son.
Taste of the life had suddenly became so sore!
A month passed by. Rama needed to buy merchandise. He needed to till his farm, as monsoon was becoming upbeat. He was not a rich man. What he had was just four acres of the land on the plateau. Long ago his father was died of the stroke of lightening when he was tilling the farm. Since then it was Rama who had shouldered the responsibility of his family. He was a very young boy then. When he had to go to the provision store in the village people still would look at him sympathetically and would ask him how he was coping up. Rama in the beginning wouldn’t tell them anything but would try to divert the matter that would be hurting him. But when he came across the people, who enjoyed knocking his wounds, on one fine day he grabbed by throat a curious one and created a show. Entire village had gathered at the scene to entertain them.
“You were eunuch, this is why Laxmi had to run away with that manly man!”
This remark was disastrous for him. He wanted to wail. He wanted to kill each and one those had heard that bastard. But he felt limp. He fell on the road as if all life force was drained out of him. The sympathetic people rushed to help him. The sky exploded. A heavy rush of the rains shrouded the scene. People ran to the shelters. Rama got up on his own to walk back to his closet.
The night was demonic. He could not sleep. He knew Laxmi was openly living with Dasaru. She obviously was a shameless woman. Dasaru was a condemned man. He was known for robbery and violence. Villagers were afraid of him. Laxmi must have thought Dasaru was a hero. I must kill the hero. Only then shall rest my soul in peace. He started scheming. He knew where Dasaru resided. He knew what path Dasaru would take to reach the village to impress his arrogance.
“I must kill him!”
He vowed when the dawn was breaking out behind the shield of the clouds.
He found the sickle he used to cut the crops. He sat in the den sharpening it for an hour. When satisfied, he dressed himself and under the showers of the rains made his distance stealthily through the farms towards the hamlet where Dasaru resided. He waited like a patient hunter behind a shrub. Dasaru didn’t materialize that day. When evening met with the final dark, he returned with a vow.
He started early morning next day.
He was lucky.
He saw Dasaru walking confidently by the pathway. A mist gathered in his eyes. He cautioned himself, be patient, let him enter my range…
Clear the fog….
Dasaru was now ten feet away.
From behind the bush he leapt in vehemence, abusing and swearing…
Before he could plunge his sickle in Dasaru’s stomach, Dasaru kicked him, casually, as if he knew what danger was lurking in.
Rama fell faltering on the muddy slope.
He was raised by throat to receive another blow over his head.
“You motherfucker, try this bloody game again and you are dead.”
With this Rama was hurled away in the crops.
His body ached. His ego cracked. His mind wept. He cursed. He swore. Dasaru laughed and strode away in his own confidence.
After long a time of agonies, Rama managed to get to his feet.
He followed the same pathway.
In lost confidence.
He came about a swelling stream where women were busy washing the cloth and in gossiping.
Laxmi was one among them
One Teeth-less old woman saw him and giggled.
“See, here comes your hero…”
“If there is hero, it is Dasaru…!”
Said Laxmi looking at the weakling Rama through her seductive gaze.
Rama thought, could there be another moment to die?
He even then squinted at Laxmi.
She was as beautiful as ever.
“Cant you take pity on me and come back to me?” he wanted to ask her. He could not for now he had become a fun point for the ladies on the stream. He could listen to the muffled mocking sounds, remarks and piteous looks.
Like a wounded man he turned his back, with his heart sinking, he somehow managed to disappear from the scene.
When he thought he was out of sight of those vicious women and enchanting Laxmi, he sat on a boulder. His body ached. The sky thundered. Suddenly there were torrential showers. He was drenched. His muddy cloth was getting cleansed. His tears mingled with the heavy downpour. He looked up. Muttered, “why me?”
He bent his head. Nodded vehemently. His body shuddered.
The rain showered like a perpetual curse.
Something must be done.
For life was becoming a curse.
He now knew, unless he killed that bastard Dasaru, his soul never will be at rest.
The village where his forefathers had lived seemed to him a hell.
He could not put his heart in farming though monsoon was ticking by. The sight of healthy crops in nearby farms wont lit the fire of jealousy in him. He was unmindful towards the losses he might have to bear for his negligence. He was on fire of his personal disaster. His mother was still not well. He had started cursing her too for agreeing to his decision to marry Laxmi, when she could have advised him to check on her character. When entire vicinity knew about her secret affair, why his relatives or so-called friends never cautioned him? He felt deceived. He felt cheated.
He must kill Dasaru who had crushed his ego, pride and life.
Now he knew on his own he never ever could kill him.
He had an ego-shattering experience in an attempt of killing him.
He, no matter how he felt ashamed, had realized he could not withstand the agility of Dasaru had he waged another physical battle against him.
And yet he must achieve what he craved for!
When he heard someone talking of a notorious contract killer, Kallu, whose whereabouts were too difficult to find and who was most wanted by the law, another idea popped up in his mind.
Why not he can hire Kallu to kill Dasaru?
Idea suddenly grabbed him by his mind. His new mission was to locate Kallu and give him an offer. He didn’t know how much he would charge. He sold ancestral ornaments to collect handsome sum of Rs. fifty thousand. He knew no one could refuse that amount of money to kill a villain. He started wandering about the villages, took note of every piece of information that he heard from gossiping people and finally found where to find Kallu.
That was moment of rejoicing. But he couldn’t. At least till the moment the man who had robbed him of his honor was dead. Till the woman, who had abandoned him for the sake of her secret lover, had been punished. His soul couldn’t be at rest. How could it?
He made the distance through dark of the night drenched by drizzle and sound of nocturnal insects and rushing streams towards a hill that was crowned by woods.
He heard the muffled sounds of human species and his heart leapt to his throat. He almost ran. He faltered. Unmindful to his injuries he finally made his destination.
In a ruined temple, in torchlight sat a gang. The man, most feared, Kallu, sat on the step, with his laughter roaring. On his intrusion the sound fell. Ghastly silence took charge of the situation. Their practiced hands swiftly produced firearms and aimed at Rama.
Rama raised his hands, he was sweating, he yelled, “I am here to seek your help, please don’t kill me…”
They silently took stock of Rama.
The frightening moments were killing Rama.
He fell on his knees.
Feeling that the intruder was harmless, the gang roared in to laughter.
The firearms disappeared.
“Who are you?” roared the sound of Kallu.
Rama explained, almost in babble, as to who he was and why he had come to seek help of Kallu, the great man, savior of losers.
“Do you have money?” Asked Kallu in a suspicious voice.
“Yes. I have fifty thousand rupees to offer you. You just have to kill my sworn enemy.”
Kallu took his time to swallow the uttered sum he was being offered. It was a big amount of money that could help his gang to survive for months.
“And who is it that you want to kill at my hands?”
Kallu asked in a hoarse voice.
“It is Dasaru…the bastard who abducted my wife…Laxmi.”
“You are talking of same Dasaru who live in hamlet of village Warude and he is…”
“I am talking about the same man…”
Said Rama vehemently without noticing changed color of Kallu’s voice.
The silence fell again to give way to the natures profound sound.
Why they are silent? Why they can not rejoice over the hefty amount being offered, wondered Rama.
“Kid, you have come to wrong person. It was Dasaru who had saved me from life imprisonment. I owe him to the extent that I can kick billions of rupees offered to me to take his life. I must caution you, do not again try to raise your ugly eyes at Dasaru or it will be me to destroy you. Forget Laxmi, Dasaru deserved her and when she is happy with him who you are to get forcibly her back by killing Dasaru?”
Rama felt as if he had a punch in his stomach.
He tried to protest.
Then he heard Kallu ordering his men, “ take money from this bastard and throw him out of this place!"
And he till date he can not ever remember how he managed to reach his hut to find his mother was dead and neighbors were desperately waiting on him to perform funeral rituals.
Life of Rama was thrown in an abyss of misery since then. He didn’t know what to do. He had lost his appetite, no matter how neighbors tried to force food upon him he wouldn’t eat. Sleep had abandoned him. He hardly would bath and wear clean cloth unless someone forced for it. He had forgotten his mother whom he had loved so deeply. The hut meant nothing to him in which his forefathers had lived for generations. The farm wouldn’t attract him in which sweat and blood of his past generations had been sown. The hillock on which sitting by dusk the dreams he had nourished seemed worst enemy to him. The stream, where as a kid, he had swam and prayed to the river goddess seemed to him as if it was abductor of his soul. As monsoon receded and days of winter cleansed the cloudy sky to give way to the serenity of nature, the village had become festive. The crops had benefited each and one, except Rama. The sounds of the drums started resonating village temple in the nights with heat rending prayers dedicated to the all-merciful Lord. While sitting on a boulder, unmindful of the celebration of faithful people, Rama would be scheming on destruction of Dasaru who had looted his life from him. The crashing cold breezes wouldn’t bother him, no matter he was half-naked. In fact he was reduced to a skeleton. And yet that blooming face of Laxmi and her indifferent laughter for him would infuriate an infinite anger in him.
But so helpless he was. He had tried to punish the man who had abducted his wife and it was he who was finally defeated.
The world was not the same. It was an eternal curse. And yet, he knew, somehow, he had to avenge his enemy. Only then he could see the woman who could have become his wife, weeping and cursing him on loss of her love, Dasaru.
For whom she had dared to humiliate him before the gathering.
But how he could do it?
He was straining his mind. And yet no answer would benedict him.
And unless he finds the answer, how could he come back to his sanity?
The crackers knocked divine peace of the night. Days of Diwali festival were ripe. The huts and houses that surrounded his hamlet were lit with sacred lamps. It was only his hut, which had drowned in the ugly marsh of dark. He was sitting on step of his hut looking wildly at the celebration that was on in the village.
Laxmi too must be celebrating this festivity with that bastard. Holding her tender hand, he must be helping her light the lamp and cracking a firecracker. She must be holding his arm in her grip in an apprehension and love and deep desire. The thought made him wilder. He suddenly got up. I must kill that bastard!
New moons night of Diwali couldn’t offer him any consolation. He roamed around the village like a vagabond in distress and there was no one now to offer him even food. Who wanted bad omen anyway, of a crazy man, when they were in festive mood?
He sat, when he felt he couldn’t lift his burden anymore, on a stone beside shrunken stream to observe stars dancing on rushing waves.
He was startled when he heard someone stepping in the water. He tried to look carefully, but greasy dark wouldn’t allow him to see who could be it.
Still, curious, he watched the stream and slowly a slender figure of a human being he could see on the backdrop of dark.
The firecrackers exploded in rapid succession somewhere in the village shattering calm of the night.
He leaned forward and in immense curiosity watched the man in the waters. What he could be doing in the water at this time of night, he thought.
As the sound of explosions receded he could hear the man in the waters chanting verses, so aloud that he was startled.
He understood the man was a black magician who, mostly on new moons night, would perform their secret rituals with skull in hand to gain supernatural powers.
He observed the scene without fear as a ray of hope sprouted through his bereaved mind.
This was only way to get rid of Dasaru…
The Tantrik (black magician) lived on a hill in a hut surrounded by wild shrubs and creepers. The scene in itself was horrible as he saw the skeletons of dead scattered around with heads missing. The sun was about to set. Only living animal, a black dog, wailed as he saw the intruder. Tantrik appeared from the tiny door of the hut and shot his gaze at Rama.
“What are you looking for?”
Rama met the distance, bowed his head as he stood before terrifying figure of tantrik and said in humble voice,
“I’ve heard you can destroy enemies if you are paid handsomely, with your supernatural powers?”
The Tantrik, an old man in his late fifties, gave a raucous smile.
“You have heard right, young man, what can I do for you? Who you want to die vomiting blood? Tell me, I command!”
Rama took his time to tell as to whom he wanted to be perished.
The old man stood silent. His red eyes pierced in Rama for long a time.
“I will charge you five hundred rupees, is it understood?”
“Next new moons night will be okay to do the things. Get me money five days before so that I can buy necessary provisions.”
“Will he die?”
“No one has ever escaped my powers. I can rise one from dead or can take life if I have to. I can read from your face you are too desperate to have your enemy killed. Go home son and arrange for money, okay?”
Rama felt euphoric on this promise. He nodded, thanked the Tantrik and left for his home.
He descended the hill, made his way through the glen where cattle still grazed. First ever in those ugly months a vicious smile appeared over his face. He patted a cow as he made his way through the herd and laughed.
“Now you can’t get away off me, you son of the bitch!” he muttered. Face of buoyant Laxmi appeared before his eyes and he spat. “You are a whore…I will destroy you!” He spat again.
He crossed the stream. He felt light. He approached his hut. It was dusk by then. He sat on the steps and watched the people who now had practiced to neglect him. He wasn’t bothered. What difference now it could make when he already was so humiliated? But now, you motherfuckers, will realize, I never give up! I am going to destroy that bastard who had destroyed me.
What to do about it? He didn’t know. He had sold all his possessions and had lost the money to Kallu. He looked back. What worth this hut could be? But he dismissed the thought as he wanted a place to reside where he could keep Laxmi to abuse her till she begged and wept.
Farm was his only alternative to raise money. He knew a moneylender who could lend him money on mortgage. His eyes twinkled as the solution came forward.
He couldn’t sleep that night. Just dreamt how mysteriously Dasaru will be vomiting blood to die on the mystic charm of the Tantrik.
The night of new moon was that all he waited for. He had paid money to the tantrik and had promised to be present when rituals were to be performed. He walked through the greasy dark through glen to ascend the hill. The chill was terrible and yet it couldn’t bother him. His heart was aflame with a desire to have his enemy killed. He neglected the sound of nocturnal birds and insects and even a snake that crossed him in a speed. Now he was on the hilltop. He could see a fire lit in front of the hut and could hear faint sound of chanting of tantrik. His pace grew faster. He was almost breathless when he reached the hut.
The tantrik had drawn various mysterious circles, had put several lemons in the circles those were pierced by needles and drenched with red powder. Before the fire sat tantrik holding a skull and chanting vehemently.
“I know you have come. Sit in the circle and do exactly what I tell you. I have aroused the ghosts with my spell and they will follow my command, they will take him…” Said the tantrik without opening his eyes.
Rama watched him stupidly not knowing what he had heard. He was stupefied. His faith in tantrik had grown immensely. He sat in the circle trying not to disturb arranged circle of lemons. He tried to focus his gaze on the leaping fire tongues. The sound of chanting grew louder. He was mesmerized. Tantrik would command him to get up, put some grams and flesh in the fire and again would ask him to sit down. He followed the commands mechanically. It was tantrik now who had got up. He spread his hands and commanded some powers that he couldn’t see. The tantrik threw some ash in the air, turned around, said something in strange language. His voice was threatening. Queer sort of anger exploded in his voice. The mist surrounded him. He now couldn’t see the tantrik or the fire. Where everything has disappeared? The question appeared in his mind though there was no place for the question, or anything but an apprehension that emerges when the moment of finality approaches.
Tantrik still stood chanting verses throat high. His body was now in momentum. As if he was talking to invisible souls those were his slaves.
The spell was broken, the mist was shattered as he saw the tantrik having a blow in his chest. Tantrik bowed letting out agonized moan and a streak of the blood trickled down his mouth.
Rama was startled. Fear groped him. He wanted to get up and run away. But as if he was rooted to the earth. Tantrik was weeping, asking forgiveness from some invisible deity.
Suddenly he stopped. Raised his finger, pointed at terrified Rama and shrieked,
“Desert this place you stupid fool! Who you wanted to be perished is blessed son of deity whom I worship! The powers I’d sent to kill him has returned back with a vow to get me and then you. Run….Run I say….”
Rama, taking hint, though to terrified even to know what direction he was running, darted. He faltered, he fell, and bruised as he was with the wild run he had taken.
He was breathless and he just could not lift his leg. He fell. He grabbed the grass and wept incessantly. Then he turned his body. The eternal show of stardust was on. The chilling wind crashed against his frail body. He closed his eyes.
He knew that he had lost!