Dhur, the Brigand – I – The Hurricane

I. The Hurricane

This is the song of a forest untold before,
a story in verses of the strife of a barbarian,
a villain of deeds that will frighten to the core,
a tale that flew from the lips of a wise centurion; 

The skies were mild orange with the setting sun 
peeking from under the heavy thunder clouds,
a storm was brewing in the dense green forest,
a kind unseen except for those buried in shrouds;

He thrust the sword hard in to his enemy’s bowels,
and twisted and turned it and removed it with the entrails,
blood everywhere poured, on floor, sword and his face,
rushed to the next victim this veteran of many battle trails;

soon none standing except his war hardened vile men,
and treasure chests and high class women in palanquin,
all treasures, women high treasure, moved to their den,
the princess of the realm declared herself above the din;

it was bad news to the men who feared harsh reprisal,
but he, the dreaded bandit Dhur was excited and happy,
this meant a heavy ransom as there could be no reversal,
he strengthened tents and prepared for the storm snappy;

he dragged the princess Kajal shivering in fright to his tent,
please no, I a virgin preserving for my husband, she begged,
pleas fell on deaf ears, he raped her again and again hell bent,
the storms raged and her resistance and resilience plugged;

all her royal robes shorn and torn she was left buck naked,
many a brigand came in to talk to the leader and leer at her,
she crushed beyond shame at being a showpiece thus staked,
blood leaking she curled in to a foetus and cried without stir;

tents broke apart and men thrown away by the hurricane,
soon no tents and few frightened men clutching hard at trees,
smashed in rocks, brain splattered men die cursing profane,
his one hand clutched tree, the other her, in daunting ease;  

there was little to see, as if cloudy skies descended to earth,
felt like being torn apart by rocks, the winds blew iron hard, 
the rage of angels and wrath of gods to give this storm birth,
such fury and violence unpainted before by any worthy bard;

raped and now naked for all to see was her shaming thought,
she cared not for the storm and wished to hurl to death,
bold by nature and trained in martial arts yet all to naught,
a strong rain poured but slowly eased the storm leaving earth;

the men gathered the belongings and tents spread out,
she wishing death was only hostage and woman left alive,
his tent put up and she was dragged in for another bout,
at last left alone, her tears dried, she had nothing to strive;

too tired and sad to think vengeance was not yet on her mind,
grief struck, she a royal princess with serfs for every command,
turned to dust, humiliated and used like a whore of the vile kind,
drenched by storm and rain her bare body the torment withstand. 

 

The Sea Beckons – 9 – The Plunge

The sky was a spray of orange with the setting sun peeking from behind the clouds. It was darkening and the evening was quickly fading in to night.

Velan asked Stephen, “Where is the heart?”

Stephen looked blankly at Velan before answering, “Yes, I get you mate. Where is the heart in this ever heartless world. But buddy there still is lot of goodness in this world.”

“The heart is near the centre a tad bit to the left. It is not all left as people think.”

Stephen blinked and said, “What ever man. Why did you ask me to come over to your house and take your car and drive here. You could easily have come in a bike. Moreover why have you asked the two frauds to come here.”

Two guys, Nishant and Shyam had tricked Velan by saying they needed his ID proof for a purchase.  When he showed up they had made the purchase of a mobile on loan with his proof promising to return the amount shortly. They had out right cheated Velan and exploited him thinking he can afford it and let it slide by. Velan was a pushover until he is pushed too far. He had called them to join for drinks. Shyam was an ad film maker and Nishant was a good for nothing loafer with loans all over town. Shyam was the one who got the mobile but Nishant was the one who sweet talked Velan in to coming with the ID proof in the first place.

They came and were standing in the dimly lit side lane where the bar entrance was. The lane reeked of urine. Velan and Stephen were waiting in the car in the main road. Velan asked Stephen to remain in the car. He then stepped out and checked the long knife underneath his shirt. He went to the two and before either could open their mouth he took out the knife and stabbed Nishant in his thighs hard and twisted the knife and pulled it out. He then turned the knife to Shyam and asked him to give the mobile. Shyam silently in fright turned over the mobile. Stephen watched all this from the car.

One leg of Nishant’s grey pants had turned in to dark red and he was howling in pain. The sun had disappeared all of a sudden and it was totally dark yet the moon was nowhere to be seen hidden among the clouds. Velan calmly walked back to the car.

Stephen had started the car and was visibly shaking. Velan had earlier purchased this long knife from a iron and steel utensil supplier that supplied to butcher’s shops. He had got the details of the shop from Stephen without revealing what he wanted. As soon as Velan got inside Stephen rushed away. Not before a limping Nishant and Shyam threw expletives at them. Velan was shaking as he approached them initially but surprisingly enough after plunging the knife he became dead calm. It gave him such a high that for brief moments he considered plunging the knife in to Nishant’s heart.

 

The Sea Beckons – 8 – Quest

Velan was happy and content these days. The friendship of the sophisticated slum girl Mercy and the creatively alluring Deepa’s blog rapport made him happy. The days that extended endlessly with boredom now were shorter and sweeter. It had been several days since the first phone call with Mercy. He had talked to her several times since then and also met her in the beach on more than a couple of occasions. Similarly he commented regularly on Deepa’s blog posts and she too left comments in his blog.

Yet even in these wondrous times there was an ache in the back of his mind. He wanted to write a novel. It was his life quest. He had in fact written a potboiler thriller fiction novel. But it didn’t satisfy him. He almost discarded it. He wanted to write a character driven literary fiction. Yet having had a cloistered life and having slept idly for over a decade he had nothing much to draw from his life for the novel.

So he wanted to meet new people in different walks of life and interview them about their life and experiences. He bought a recorder for this. He already had a camera to take photographs. But you can’t simply go up to people and talk to them about their lives. At least he could not do so. He asked his friend Stephen about this and he had promised to arrange for meetings. But it was not happening.

Meanwhile under the guidance of his brother and his own efforts the non vegetarian restaurant was beginning to take shape. The kitchen and the kitchen team were ready. The interior decoration was done. Only the several other finishing touches remained.

Life was taking shape for Velan before his eyes. Yet the slow pace of these changes were almost maddening for Velan.

Then something hit Velan hard. Why wait for his friend Stephen to ask for introductions. He can ask Mercy and she will take him right in to the midst of the slums and right to the midst of the sea. But the problem was she might take affront to treating her and her folks as some pieces from the zoo. Yet the yearning for his quest of a novel outweighed these considerations and he called her. She picked the phone on the first ring itself.

“Hello Mercy, I have a favour to ask of you. But I don’t know how to ask.”

“We are way past these things. Don’t be shy,” prodded Mercy.

“I want to meet people of your slum and interview them. Go in a boat to the sea. All this for a novel I want to write.”

Mercy laughed loudly at this and said, “Thats all. For a moment there I thought you were about to propose to me. Consider it done.”

“Okay, I’ve got to go blog now. Catch you later.”

“So you are still running behind that blogging girl Deepa you’ve told me about.”

“No, nothing of that sort. We are co-bloggers thats all. Please don’t tease me over her.”

Velan ended his phone call and sat idly smoking and hearing songs. His mind was not in to blogging. He wanted his novel bad. Did he have it in him he wondered. The blog was filled with people of superior skills. Yet if they themselves couldn’t make it, could he? He had meagre talents that he can hone. But will it take him all the way. Something drastic must happen in his life to force his pen to weave a glorious novel. What will happen he wondered.

 

The Sea Beckons 6 – Blogging girl

[ Velan is a psychiatric patient who remains single because of that. He has met a slum girl, a graduate and employed one at the beach. After chit chat they swapped numbers]

It has been two days since he met Mercy at the beach. He had been meaning to call her but somehow it didn’t happen. He barged in to his room after a very late breakfast of Ven pongal and vada and a coconut chutney. He decided to check out his blog before calling Mercy. He had recently posted a poem that he thought was a bit rough around the edges but still beautiful and stunning. He had hoped for a few likes and comments before he returned from breakfast. He was in for a disappointment the blog post had only one like.

He had a hundred and eighty odd followers and his posts average at least five likes easily.  Some of his posts got a dozen or more likes. However he denied that the likes matter. But only the quality of his writings and the very fact he is writing more is important.

He clicked the Gravatar of a girl in a green floral print dress looking away from the camera. Her face wasn’t visible. An ugly duckling may be mused Velan laughing to himself. Though he laughed there was something enamouring in the elusive beauty of that picture. He fell for its indescribable charm. He navigated to her Gravatar page and through the website link there he went to her blog. Normally when visiting other blogs he used to read fast, skip, read, skip, read etc to get at the gist of the post and then like it. Not that anyone would quiz him about the post yet he did it as an etiquette. Some blogs especially poems enthral him and he reads them slow and steady. Her blog was of poems and self help features. It wasn’t dazzling but it was innocent and alluring. There were a lot of love poems and he hated such poems. He liked a few takes on pets, nature and her emotional distress. Especially some poems about her grief thawed his indifferent heart and made him cry. Her name was Deepa and she too had some sort of psychiatric disorder and was grappling with depression.

There was an emotional connect for him. There was a red ball near the bell on the screen indicating new message. She had commented on his blog.

‘You write well but why so sad in all that you write.’

He commented back saying ‘I am actually a fun loving person in real life but write thus as an outlet for negativity.’

He decided to write something brighter for her. Gone was the thought of having to call Mercy. In a blog world you don’t chat like you do in Facebook or other social media platforms. Here you interact only in the context of the blog.

He found in her blog a peculiar type of poem called Villanelle. Inspired by it Velan wrote a Villanelle of his own. He mentioned Deepa and her blog as the inspiration in his blog post. He provided a link to her blog from his blog itself. Then to his surprise Velan found her liking almost all of his blog posts and commenting on a few. Their camaraderie was improving day by day. Velan visited her blog often and spent time on it as much as he did on his own blog.

The Sea Beckons 7

 

The Sea Beckons 5 – Slum Girl

[ Velan was an unmarried 37 year old guy. He was unmarried because he had BPD, a condition which led to episodes of insanity for him. At other times he was normal and extremely intelligent. He had a brother Vishnu and a business partner of the family Sridhar. They were in the process of setting up a restaurant for Velan]

It was a Monday and there were very few people on the beach. Velan was sitting alone facing the sea. He wasn’t an ardent admirer of nature yet the sea always seemed to beckon him and he heeded the call at times. Far ahead in the distance a girl in a blue jean and white T – shirt was sitting alone just like him. She was facing the sea and Velan couldn’t discern the features of her face.

A kid selling groundnuts came up to him. Velan bought some groundnuts from him.

“Why are you here alone?” asked the boy.

“Why you must have seen many like me come alone here?” asked Velan.

“Not really, mostly couples and families come here or some come with friends?”

“There is a girl over there alone don’t you see her?”

“Oh, I know her. She is different. Want me to introduce her to you?”

Velan laughed at this and said, “You seem mature for your age. Are you studying?”

“Yes, I am in 8th grade and sell groundnuts only in the evening. Okay I’ll take care of business and see you around if you are still here,” said the boy and left.

Velan sat idly for some time staring at the beach. Then he took a cigarette and tried to light it with a match box. But the breeze was heavy and he wasted almost half of the matchbox trying to light up the cigarette. Velan was so busy doing this that he didn’t see the person hovering near.

“Give me the match box,” said the girl and sat near him.

Velan looked at the beautiful fair girl in the white T – shirt and blue jeans with astonishment. He gave her the match box. The girl deftly lighted a match and cupped her hands holding the light for Velan to light up. Velan lit it and dragged heavily on the cigarette and exhaled in joy and relief.

“How come…,” Velan started but was cut off by her.

“The kid selling groundnuts told me that you were sitting here all alone and depressed. I came to see if I could cheer you up.”

Velan smiled at this and asked “How did you light up the match?”

“I smoke here a lot that I am used to it.”

After a few puffs Velan offered the cigarette to her. Both Velan and the girl sat silently sharing the cigarette and staring at the ocean.

After a while Velan said, “I am Velan. A restaurant is being set up for me and it will start shortly. I live in Rajiv Nagar.”

“I am Mercy,” said the girl and cocking her head at Velan added, “I live here in the slum on that side of the beach.”

Velan asked in surprise, “But the jeans and T – shirt?”

“Why what made you think that slum dwellers can’t dress like this?”

“Oh sorry, do you study?”

“My studies are over I work in Diamond flowers, the artificial flower export company.”

That made sense to Velan for daily wage labourers, mostly girls with little to no schooling worked there.

“So you have studied till what grade in school?”

Mercy laughed at this and said, “What arrogant thinking? I’ve completed M.A English literature and am an assistant manager, customer relations, at Diamond flowers. I am simultaneously doing my Phd.”

“Then why do you still live in the slums?”

“It is my home. Moreover I got the job recently and am planning to shift with my parents and brother to a different proper rented house. My home is here therefore I loiter here but why have you come here?”

“I am mostly alone. I have only a couple of friends in this town. They too get busy with their families. Being single I don’t have anywhere to go. The sea calls me to come here at times.”

It grew dark. It was time for the girl to head back home. They both exchanged phone numbers and went in their separate ways.

The Sea Beckons 6 – Blogging girl

I smile

I smile at the stars

the stars smile on her

I thought I was one of her anchors

I was a deadweight I heard her whisper;

I don’t hold a grudge

for I am worthless

as I myself judge

can’t find any likeness;

she left me when I needed her most

but I did cope with resilient vigour

I did in totality get toast,

but emerged stronger;

from lovesick puppy I transformed in to a tiger,

till I summit I won’t on any girl linger.

The Sea Beckons 3 – Role Model

Sridhar was giving away the weekly payments and salaries in his office since it was a Saturday. He ran a real estate and construction business. He did maintenance and repair of old buildings and construction of new homes as per client desires. He also built new readymade houses with standard qualities for sale to willing customers. He got a boost in life and moved away from his egoistic friend and erstwhile partner only after he joined hands with Karthik sir. Karthik sir was a retired professor and so was his wife Vani. Karthik sir was not involved with business and his eldest son Vishnu was the one taking care of it. The younger son Velan had problems and was drifting away with the money he got from home. Sridhar realised that Velan considered Sridhar as a sort of role model and tried to match the image. Sridhar was involved in a few real estate deals with them and was a partner in the vegetarian restaurant and Customs Freight Station with them.

Sridhar was 47 years old and had a son and a daughter. The son worked in Bangalore as an architect and was rooming with Vishnu. The daughter was doing her final year in Post Graduation. Sridhar had risen from humble beginnings to achieve this position. He now had his own house and two cars. He was now taking active interest in politics too. He was the ward representative of a political party in Tamil Nadu.

He received the call from Vishnu and after he cut the call, he wondered at the news, Velan seemed normal in the morning. He called his man Friday Kumar and set towards the port. He saw Velan sitting isolated. He apologised for Velan’s entry in to a restricted area and casually stated that the ex Tirunelveli mayor was his cousin. Soon after writing a letter of apology Velan was released in to the custody of Sridhar.

continue to the sea beckons 4 

The Sea Beckons 1 – Relapse

Velan was cruising at a speed of eighty kilometres per hour in his bike on the beach road.   The bike was shaking and tears were flowing freely from Velan’s eyes. They soon dried up but his eyes were bloodshot. He couldn’t remember what he was thinking except that he was thinking of his parents and brother and how he was fortunate to have  them as family especially his brother. How he was waste of a life and a failure. He wasn’t thinking properly as his mind was thinking in different unrelated tangents. He was stopped by a cop.

The cop said, “Stop, you don’t look right. Check this guy first.”

Velan saw a police car on the side and a lady sub inspector leaning over its hood. There were two other cops. Velan stood by the road silently not answering any questions.

The cop asked, “Boss, whose boss are you?”

Velan’s bike number was 8055 that can be stylised in to the word Boss. It was a VIP number that Velan got paying extra amount. No one got numbers like this for a bike.

Several more questions followed but Velan was finally booked for driving without a helmet and he paid the fine 100Rs and moved on.

He turned left and went to the beach. There was almost no one around but there were an unusually huge number of crows around. It was an eerie feeling. He stood there seated on his bike for long. Then he emerged out and instead of taking the road that will take him to his house he veered elsewhere. He sped madly on his bike and once there seemed to be a high checkpoint where he remembered leaning under the check post and driving past it. He was lost and he was worried. That he had a mobile in his pocket and could call for help eluded him. He was not thinking straight.

He was stopped by a policeman in a different uniform from normal. He later surmised that he might be a cop of the central force to protect the port. Velan wasn’t sure if he was in Tuticorin anymore. He thought he might have reached somewhere near Madras by now. He was taken in to a PSA Sical office waiting room. He remembered this somehow. He was taken back to the road outside and three to four policemen were grilling him while a crowd of onlookers had emerged. One policeman was using obscene words and saying he will immerse his lathi in to some places that can’t be named. But no one touched Velan.

Then from amidst the crowd came his brother’s friend, a volleyball player working in the port on sports quota. He said something to the cops and a few calls were made and Velan was again made to wait, this time in a security room. Velan had a mental or psychiatric condition called Bipolar disorder. It led him in to episodes of insanity at times such as these and then he would have to be medicated for months or weeks to bring him back. At such times the world seemed almost magical to Velan. But at other times he was quite normal and intelligent.

continue to the sea beckons 2

 

The Sea beckons – Teaser

I am abandoning project Tuty, a novel project for now. Let us face it I was not going to get any headway with it any time soon. I am tired of writing only so called poems and not interested in venturing fully in to short stories yet. I saw a blog by Priya Varshney titled   Bittersweetturns  where she is writing a story series titled Dreaded Desires. Each post is short almost not even a full scene and all about the emotions of people involved. I am ashamed to admit that being quite older than her I still haven’t got skill enough to write like her. Be it poems or other writings the blog is full of talent and genius that highlight my inadequacies to the core. May be I am being unnecessarily competitive here. Anyways coming to the point I’ve decided to write a story in a short series format apt for blogging. I would punctuate it with poems and stuff. I haven’t thought about it, the story series, an iota and plan to string it along as I go. I am titling it ‘The Sea beckons.’ Wish me luck.