Monday, January 18, 2016

Dkhar

The novel, Black Hole, continues.

Story so far:

Chapter 1 - The Original Sin:  Kailash Public School in Delhi is donated by Sitaram Rana to Nityananda Baba of Devlok Ashram.  The ashram was founded by Kailash Baba along with the material assistance of Amarjeet and Mahendra Rana.  An Anglican Pastor, Aaron Matthews, is also an integral part of the ashram.

Chapter 2 - A Gospel: Ishan Salman Panicker is one of the English teachers at Kailash Public School.  His foot is fractured the day the school's management changes.  Lying in bed he begins to write a gospel.

Chapter 2 continues:

*

Ishan's father, Shankara Panicker, disappeared from the face of the earth the day Farishta Kharmawphlang’s protracted labour ended with a wail that rent the serene evening that usually characterised the hillsides of Shillong.  Farishta’s wail of relief assumed the colour of a raincloud on the face of the midwife who had been attending to her for long.  The newborn did not wail.  “Wail, he should,” mumbled the midwife in anxiety as she took the infant by his ankles and jerked him with a practised turn of her wrist.  The world turned upside down for the infant and he burst into a wail that wiped out the cloud from the midwife’s Khasi-rosy cheeks.

“Ishan,” murmured Farishta when she came to her senses and saw the tiny male organ of her little offspring.  Ishan was the name to be given if it was a boy, according to the wish of her husband.  “The very sound is a melody,” he told her.  “Ishan.  As mishti-ful as a Bengali sweet.”

“Is that why you like that name?” she asked.  He had no Bengali connection. She had.  Her father was a Bengali.  Yousaf Husain was one of the many Bengali refugees who climbed up the hills from the land of droughts and floods to the abode of clouds and dreams.  A young man whose cheeks had just begun to sprout hairs, he was a jack of many trades including masonry and carpentry.  While returning home one evening after the day’s labour at a construction site he stood amused by the sight of a nubile girl demanding from two boys a ride on a pull-trolley with tiny wheels.  It was the kind of trolleys widely used in the town for carrying water in tin containers that bore the names of various mustard oil brands.  Each trolley was designed to carry four or six such tin containers.  The boys would fill water in those containers from the nearest source and then drag them home with a rope attached to the trolley.  Occasionally the trolley became a roller coaster on which the boys had a ride on the by-lanes that wound up and down the hills.  Yousaf was amused when a girl who looked old enough to marry snatched the trolley from the boys, sat on it and let it roll down the lane while she shrieked with joy like a little child.  Her ebullience was, however, brought to a quick end by a little stone which made the trolley stumble throwing her out on to the concrete lane.  The two boys stood laughing and clapping their hands at the justice that was meted out to the snatcher of their precious possession.  Yousaf saw blood trickling from her abraded knee as she sat on the ground looking sullen.  He went near her, picked a few leaves from a herb nearby, squeezed them in the palm of his hand and then applied the natural medication to the girl’s wound.  Very tenderly.  The whiteness of the girl’s skin, its marmoreal smoothness, the shapeliness of her muscular leg, he knew not what, made him touch her as if she was a fragile work of art crafted in some gossamer material.  The girl was staggered by the tenderness as much as by the alienness of its source.   She looked into the eyes of the man when he had finished applying the herbal paste on her wound like an artist giving the final touches to an exotic work of art.  “Khublei, thanks,” she said.  Yousaf did not know what to say in response though he had learnt enough Khasi to know that khublei meant a whole lot of things from a simple ‘Hi’ to an expression of profound gratitude.  His sleep was haunted that night by a pair of shapely legs and baffled eyes.  He met the owner of those legs and eyes the next day too while he went to work and then on his return.  She pretended to be doing some work outside her house when he passed by.  “Euphrasia,” she said when he asked her name one day.  He had learnt enough Khasi just to ask her that.  As he gained more and more mastery over Khasi, which he did with mounting passion, Euphrasia Kharmawphlang was also gaining mastery over him in her own coquettish way.  Euphrasia had inherited Shillong’s flightiness, coquettishness and whimsicality.  Being the khadduh, she was to inherit all of her family’s property.

“You are the khadduh.  How can you marry a dkhar?  A khar-Bong at that!  Worse than the worst, a Muslim!  Impossible.”  Euphrasia’s mother fulminated. 

The khadduh is the youngest daughter in a Khasi family and she inherits the family’s entire legacy.  In her veins runs the pride of the tribe.  She has to carry the sacred family lineage forward.  She has to look after the parents.  And here is this girl, headstrong little kitten, a spoilt brat, going to marry a dkhar, an outsider, and worst of all a Bengali Muslim refugee.
 
“Why don’t you say something?”  She asked her husband when she failed to convince her daughter of her sacred obligations to the family and the tribe.  Obligations to history.  The father put down the glass from which he was sipping the rice beer brewed by himself and looked at his daughter.  He thought he was seeing a new person in her daughter and looked again.  He stood up to see her better.  Her eyes were glowing.  It was the glow of love which he had seen in his wife many years ago, before they married.  How could he subdue the glow of romantic love?  Who was he to douse the flame of eternal love?  He was no Akbar to bury Anarkali alive.  He picked up his glass of rice beer and said to his daughter, “Cheers!”

Yousaf Husain, the dkhar, khar-Bong, Bengali-Muslim, became a member of the Kharmawphlang family.  History was to repeat itself, in its own quirky way, when Farishta Kharmawphlang would marry Shankara Panicker, a dkhar, a Hindu from Kerala, the other end of India.


*

PREVIOUS PARTS

Chapter 1: The Original Sin


Chapter 2: A Gospel


2 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Loved that reference to the trolly used for carrying water. In my childhood, we had that trolly and had lots of fun with that.

    Great story telling! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have watched those trolleys with a lot of amusement too.

      Very happy to get this comment from you.

      Delete

Land of monks and peace

Lingdum Monastery Of all the places I’ve visited, it’s Gangtok that keeps beckoning me again and again.   My wife and I spent th...