. . . . Cntd of #2
“Wicky simply cannot live without her,” this is how I wanted to start this installment. Because this basically is about Wicky and Wicky’s only woman – nothing else.
Wicky cannot live without her. After the tumultuous tour to Kodai to show his love that anything is possible, Wicky returns home (how disastrously, you would read in this or probably next – the last instalment). Beating out sh^t or being beaten out of shi^t is not new for him. But this is something he hasn’t experienced till then. The emotional weight he got on his head was inexpressible. He was outward walking towards the goal aggressively, but inward, struggling for stability in emotions. A mixed cocktail of strong emotions was running through his veins. The words spoken by her, the words he has heard, the tears shed by her and the tears he has wiped; he doesn’t even know if she remembers him wiping off her running tears.
“I wish to die Wicky,” she says and there stops his world. “I really wish to,” her face, crippled with pain twists and turns ugly. Wicky can’t bear to see. “You are here this moment; I wish I would die in your arms.”
“Yes, you would,” he would say, and how hard is it to let the dearest of all to let die – at least in words? “Yes, you would, but then,” he would place an open condition, “Only in my arms,” and the rest he mumbles for himself, “in my arms, no one can steal you away.”
Wicky was waiting to meet her. All he wants is to look at her once after the draining jourmey. That morning she called and asked if they both could meet that evening. Could? Hahahaa. He will, and he said so. He kept on waiting for the evening. But when just one hour was left, he got the idea!
“Hey see, listen,” Wicky gets excited. “I have something on my mind,” Wicky says to Sravan, who was eating a mango. “I want to do something, really.”
“What is it?” he asks, ready to get anything done for Wicky.
“I think I want to marry her before she leaves.”
By the time Wicky could set up things and go, the woman was already waiting at the temple. In an attractive yellow dress. She was beautiful. Wicky parked the bike and they both walked into the temple. After the traditional reverences was payed; Wicky being non-serious and she being very particular, they both sat in the temple premise.
He wants to marry her.
“Sit properly, the goddess should be visible,” she said.
“Really?” he asked.
“Yes, right? The goddess should be visible.” It was more like an obvious fact she was stating, and Wicky is a religious enthusiast. If it was someone else, he would talk about the practical differences of Darshan and Dhyan, and all exotic rubbish and show-off the mythical sense, but at the woman, he wouldn’t at all. “yea?” he said, and tried to move in a way that his woman would like him to.
She simply closed her eyes and was praying something. There was nothing on his head except the idea of marrying her.
“I am afraid to go,” she said.
“No, it will be okay, we are all with you, you see,” he tried to comfort her.
“Hm,” there was a sigh of despair. “I don’t know what will happen after going there,” Wicky didn’t reply. She needs to take time to articulate the confusions in her head. “I will never bring any problems to you,” she said at last.
“Whatever you might bring is not a problem at all,” he assured passionately. “No, don’t think so. We might have disturbances here and there, but a problem, no. I don’t really believe so.”
“But I still will not. I will not bring anything that disturbs you,” she promised. “I don’t know why I am going now. I wish we are married.”
He was waiting for it.
“If we are married, I would be much stronger and confident about all this. I want to be with you. I really don’t want to go.”
“Shall we marry now?” He asked. Not an instinct. Never an instinct.
She smiled strangely, but a sly coyness was in it. She was so beautiful.
“No, I am asking you genuinely,” he asserted. “Shall we? Now? This moment? In this temple?”
She lowered her head. He was waiting for an answer. Positive one. But, she shook her head. Ha, Wicky’s inners were shredded into pieces. “Our parents got a lot of hopes on us. We should noy disappoint them,” she said.
“Come one they know everything about us. We are like engaged.”
“But still, it should be done by their hands,” that’s how her statement would roughly be translated into English. Wicky thought for a while, she was silent too. “I really want to marry you, right now. But we can’t,” he nodded his head.
“Alright then,” let us marry now and they will remarry us again. She gave that strange, surprised, sly and coy-ish smile again. She made a remark on Wicky’s ability to find loopholes. “At least registered marriage?”
“Wicky,” she said.
“I am afraid,” and he knows all her mind is on the journey that commences the next day.
“Give me your hand,” he asked. After a much thought, she lent her hand to him. He spoke words of love in her ear. He wants to marry her.
From there, they went to another temple of Shiva in which a seating idol of Lord Shri Krishna is placed at the outer altar of the temple. The walk was memorable for him, and it was moving too. The last moments he would spend with her. She would leave the next day. They reached the temple and when Wicky sees Shiva, he gets excited. He payed his observances to Shiva and she moved to the other gods in the same temple. Wicky was in a joyful mood – his natural trait when she’s around – and was playing with her. When they came before the goddess, Wicky in a serious tone told his woman:
“Do you know what is written in Sama Veda?”
“What is it?” she asked, almost with an academic curiosity.
“So, in Sama Veda, which talks about so many important things, one major issue was highlighted,” he was building the curiosity.
“Yeah, what is it?”
“So, that is. . . If we stand as a couple before the goddess and if I pinch your cheeks with love, she will bestow her blessings upon us.”
She kept the ‘oh-yes-really?’ expression and said in a blunt voice, “I am sure, nothing of such is prescribed.”
But Wicky retained his serious voice modulation, “Do you know at least Sama Veda? I am a scholar and believe in me when I say it,”
She laughs at it and they both move to the next god. Wicky scorns himself for spoiling a wonderful plan.
“Lord Subramanya is good for health,” she says.
“And for nothing else?” he asks, with a cocky smile.
“Don’t make fun,” she snaps. “They believe if we pray him, he will take care of our health.”
“So, you say he is the doctor god? That is his specialization?”
She looks at him, “I am not saying like that, I am not categorising. I am just saying out the belief.”
“Then what about my Shiva? He can’t take care of our health?” Wicky simply loves to irritate her at times. She walks away with mock anger.
“We shall sit somewhere,” he says, following her. “In a corner somewhere.”
“Not here. It would not look well,” she thinks for a moment and says, “there is an altar where Krishna’s idol is placed. We can go there,” she says and he is excited again at the idea of Krishna. He wouldn’t know, that’s where they are going to get (materialistically) married for the first time!
“Ov, he is so beautiful,” Wicky says looking at the idol. She relates the relations she has with the place since her childhood and the reason why the idol was not taken inside and was left in the outer-altar. But the place was great. A huge hall with no one else. Wicky and his woman sat on the raised platform on which the idol was placed. They both speak words of love, care and affection. The idea of her leaving the next day was constant on their minds and the idea of marrying her anyhow was too on his head; scheming a ‘14 billion possibilities’!
He uttered the lovely phrase taking her hand. She returned the love. He did it again, and she too did, with a shy smile. He did it again and she did it too. They had a good time teasing each other. Wicky’s woman talks of her mock-suspicion towards Wicky flirting with other woman, while he mock-defends it in the name of Krishna sitting before him. Any allegations she makes, about the trickery, flattery, unlikely-dare and importantly of his dark complexion, Wicky compares himself with Krishna who was sitting before them.
“With him right beside me, no one can beat me,” he boasts out loud. He relates several tales of how Krishna brings Gathokgaja into The Great War, how He brings Rukhmini heroically, how he tricks Barbarika and how he ends the headache of Jarasandha with the help of Arjuna, and as he keeps on speaking, he gets overwhelmed and finds eternal peace inside. He makes his woman read the Madhurastaka and enjoys listening. He makes her recite his favourite sloka thrice and finds peace again in their spiritual union.
It is time for the marriage.
Give me your hand, he asks. And she extends it. He places his hand in his pocket and takes out the black leather box.
“What’s that Wicky?” she asks, anxious.
He opens the box, talking, “I have been thinking what to gift you before you leave. Like, what would remind me all the time. What can that be? Then, I thought,” he stops, taking the shining silver ring out of the box, “I would give myself to you.”
She immediately asked, with a glad and smiling face, like a curious child. “Wicky, can we exchange rings now?”
“Yes,” he says.
“Then do it. You place the ring on my finger.”
Wicky adorns her left hand’s ring finger with it.
Looking at the ring she says, “Wicky, it means we are married,”
Taking a deep breath, “Yes, under his grace, we are.”
That was when Wicky’s gift was returned for all the chanting he would do in the later part of this installment. The chant of Radhe Radhe Govinda, Govinda Radhe, which Wicky explains as a tribute to Krishna, asking Him to join him with his woman after the journey is fulfilled like a magic, right before Krishna himself. Who says miracles don’t happen? Come, listen to this tale, you would find a thousand miracles.
Sahasra murthaaye, shasra padakshi sirouru-baahave,
Sahasra namne purushaya,
Ssawathe sahashra koti yougadharine namaha!”
The next night, the parting in the railway station was the most painful of all the episodes Wicky has underwent in his rugged life. She has turned him into a man; a good man. She was leaving. The cosmic pain was entering him and was tearing him apart. The train was three hours late stationed in the station. She was at the door and he was on the platform: she was holding the holding-bar at the door and he was holding her hand. Tears came down her face, and after many years he felt tears welling out of him. His throat was heavy and so was his face. But he was smiling while she continuously insisted not to fake his smile for her sake. But he couldn’t help it. Everyone on the platform was watching for all the hours but they didn’t care.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you too,” she said in return, her voice heavy.
A thousand promises were made. The prospect of a happy future was asserted again and again. Beautiful imaginations were entertained. “I will stay here if you don’t want me to go,” she said for every couple of minutes, and he desperately wanted her to stay and not leave him at least for a moment in life. But he doesn’t have a choice. He would shake his head and say that she going then was important. ‘please ask me to stay, I will,” she says again with her voice breaking and tears rolling down. He would look away from her, and shake his head again. She should not stay, she should go. “Please, I really don’t want to go.”
“Get inside and sleep,” he would say abruptly. “It might take time for the train to leave.
She would look at him with a guilty face and shake her head. “I will be with you,” she would say, and he would laugh at the evident irony of the statement.
Being the author of this episode, I cannot explain my remorse that I am portraying this. It is a deep injustice to this piece what I am doing, but I am condemned to do so. The pace of this long journal disables me to run over the events without leaving me any chance to meditate over them. These guys; this couple is magic and who knows it better than me? The electrifying tension between them, the scarring pain and divine love would take me a book to describe. Once, when all this was happening, Wicky remembers her woman asking her mom to get a drink bottle for which she gets denied. Wicky suddenly remembers it while the train moves and runs back to a stall and buys it for her. Simple and normal gestures of love, heavy and filled with the essence of affection. Hm, I plead pardon from the muse of this tale – Wicky’s Woman – for such haste in narrating these most tender and beautiful of all events on this planet.
“Do you know what I am thinking about?” He says after a brief moment of silence.
“What?” she asks, with all her attention grabbed.
“I am thinking about a parallel universe in which we would not stray away and stay together forever.” He says with his lump growing heavy and eyes nearly breaking.
She stares at him saying nothing. Her heart grows heavy; too heavy even to carry.
In the meanwhile, her mother comes and with a good hearty smile, she tries to pacify us by saying that we would be soon together and not to worry and get her anxious. “What is happening with both of you?” she asks with a smile. “Nothing is happening now. This is not a permanent parting. This is just a break,” and she goes on, but the couple doesn’t care. They just stare at each other.
The train moves.
It skips their heartbeat.
Two hour ago, Wicky would be saying to his woman’s mother about the Kadas on his hand, when she enquires why he wears three. He gives his semi-spiritual and semi-religious and semi-maniac reason. But he says, he would never remove them under any circustance. He points of the widest and the biggest one among his three Kadas. “This is the Kada of Sri Krishna,” he explains passionately. “this is the most important of all.”
“Give me your hand,” he asks her as she was retreating inside.
He removes his Kada of Sri Krishna and places in her palm. She holds it tight and wears it to her left wrist. She would say soon, “The Kada which you gave will guard me from every danger.”
She leaves with one final union of palms and a parting ‘I love you,’ and a promise of an early return to him and be his wife forever. And he; he stays there in the station with brimming eyes – under the blurring lights, contrasting his empty life – for the next half an hour, unable to leave and go back into the endless abyss which would be marked at every inch with her absence. Would she, sitting in his heart, project herself all around the world in all those lightening sunrises and dying sunsets?
It was a good start for me. The Srikanta’s thing and all. Like I said, it gave me something amiable to look forward to and smile at. Like I already stated, he would become a sweet headache for us in the next coming days, dancing and singing; the lover boy in the squad. It is much needed. Without someone pumping the positive vibes, a remote journey might suck a lot of energy from us; especially when it is a with a person like me and with a mission like mine.
We were ready to get down in Chennai and then was when we got to know that this friend of Srikanta who promised us an accommodation has stabbed our backs! But it was okay. We were not looking for comfort. I and Sravan talked for a while: we would keep the luggage in the cloak room and we would sleep somewhere in the station for the night and start early in the morning. Sravan was okay with it. Srikanta? He would even sleep on a thorn bed then.
But then, I haven’t taken the most important person of the tale into consideration. There was Aamani – the muse of my first novel – waiting at the station with her would-be. We got down the train and then is when I would take up the chant of Radhe Radhe Govinda, Govinda Rande – for which I give an explanation to Sravan when he goes irritated at me singing it all the time: “I mean something very sacred by it,” I would say.
“And that is?” he asks.
“I remind Krishna, like, just how Radha has waited for Him at Yamuna, my woman is waiting for me with a hope that I would return. Of course, He didn’t return to Her (at least like how we know it). But I pray from Him to grant me the Grace to return to mine.”
“So, what is the plan?” she asks, receiving me gladly and introducing me to her would-be. He makes a remark of my long hair he has seen in the pictures, and slyly I say I got it cut a few days ago. And you people know when and why that is.
“Nothing particular,” I said. “We would eat something and stay in the station for night and then we will start in the morning.”
“Shut up,” she scorned. “I will slap you across the face. See how you are talking. You want to sleep on the platform? That too when I am around? No need, I will take a room for you people.”
“I cannot afford,” I whispered; I didn’t want her would-be to listen. “We didn’t pan for this. I don’t have money.”
“Why are speaking rubbish? I am here and I will take care,” she said and was leading us out.
However, her would-be, very casually asked me, “Where are you going, Sharma?” For she calls me Sharma.
“I, ah,” I hesitated for a moment, looking at Aamani. I could have lied. But cannot lie to her like I did to the rest of the world. She is a world herself with all her people. “I am going to Kodaikanal.”
Her would-be remarked that it was good, but Aamani knows it is not good. She knows I wouldn’t and of course, cannot afford money for amusement. “Why is that, so suddenly?” she asked, very suspicious.
“Someone needs something and. . .” I shrugged my shoulders.
She let out a despaired sigh. “You will never change,” she said. “Just like that nomad in Yevade Subrahmanyam, always reaching out for adventure.” I simply laughed at it.
“First let them eat something,” her would-be suggested and that was really wide for the moment as I along with our company am distraught with hunger. We were being famished.
Aamani’s would-be looked like a Bollywood actor. At least these main-role guys in Hindi serials. And we three, wearing shorts and with weary faces, sweaty dresses and lousy walk were like clowns. It was like a rich couple feeding their daily labor as an appreciation. Sravan, who is generally considered the most handsome of us three was the worst then. He wasn’t even standing straight. Every time I look at them, who walked behind us, he was like gesturing his stomach with a devastated expression of utter huger. I would nod my head gesturing them to follow us. When Aamani asks me what it was, I would simply say, “nothing.” I don’t remember Srikanta even looking at us. He was just looking somewhere in the sky with his mouth open.
At last we were at a restaurant. Sravan and Srikanta stood outside, shocked. I also was with my mouth open. “What happened?” Aamani asked when she found us not following her inside. I looked at Sravan. He looked at me. I looked at Srinata and he looked at Sravan. “What is it?” she asked Sravan and he looked at me and then I said, again in a whisper. “We really cannot afford, let us go somewhere else.”
Aamani ‘looked’ at me. We all walked inside silently in a line.
We ordered what we needed. They went with non-veg and I went with noodles, for it was late at night, crossing eleven already and they were closing the place. Aamani and her would-be were just watching us.
“So,” she started slowly, “what’s the story?”
Why to lie at her? “There is someone, don’t ask me who that is right away: I will tell you when it is time, and so, she needs a herb which ‘might’ be found in Kodai, and so. . .”
“Why you all the time?”
“Someone should, right. If not someone, who?”
“Stop these kinds of things, Sharma. What’s all this?” No, no, don’t get her wrong at all. She is as good as an angel, but then, she has seen me risking too many times. She has seen me living just falling out of death. There were moments I went to her home bleeding with my pants and shirts torn off fresh from an accident. Haha. I remember it very well; once I met with a disastrous accident, totally wacked, and I didn’t drive to my home. I went to hers.
I called her from the outside. “Come out.”
“You came home?” she asked excited.
“Yes, but you come out quickly,” I didn’t want to panic her in a call.
“Yes, wait.” She said and she was coming out. My legs were devastated with all the cuts and blood. Cloth got stuck with wounds and shirt was torn all along. I was not able to lift the legs. “Where are you?” she asked, coming out.
“Look at the street end,” I said. And she turned to look at me with an excited face.
I remember it very vividly. She walked towards me with a wide smile; she didn’t observe the wounds. She was almost teasing me, something in Telugu, like, “Anti babu, innalaki darshanam,” kind of thing, which would loosely translate into English as, “What sir, a rendezvous after a very long time?”
Only she was moving towards me and I was not walking, standing behind the bike. She grew suspicious of something wrong, but when I walked on hardship out of my cover, she stood on her feet with wide opened eyes, with a huge gasp, she didn’t utter a word. She yelled out loud turning back and running towards her house, calling out her sister.
Haha. Aamani – The muse of my first book. I couldn’t give her anything else in return.
Such were the situations I kept her in. But they all love me as their own, and I don’t dare to keep the proposition that I am not.
We left the place after a brief discussion about the “The Unfortunate Events in The Life of C.S.” a friend of hers and the brother of mine. The story of how he fell into the pit of misfortunes and attempted to take off his own life and took hide at Usha Kiran and me is a story I never go tired of saying again and again.
They both booked a cab for us and Aamani was in the cab with us while the would-be followed us on a bike. They took us to a comfortable hotel near Igmour station. Took a room for us, which we could never afford. After shifting our luggage into the rooms. I came out and walked till they leave.
I have to name it. I was afraid. I was afraid all along the way I began the journey. I am a brave man, but every warrior nicks in the lap of his mother secretly. It is an existential fear. That was gone off the surface when Aamani was around. I was like, I could easily do what I set out to do. She came. She made everything comfortable and she was leaving. Like a divine creature who was just there to help me at crisis and then the job was done. Before leaving, she took a pack of notes which would constitute a thousand rupees. I couldn’t take:
“No, no, please. Please. I shall be in your debt forever if you go on do like this,” I am not talking about material or monetary debt. I was talking of the debt through which I can repay the gratitude.
“Simply shut up Sharma,” she said forcing money into my palm. “You might need this.”
“No, I have something, like, we have some money.”
“Keep this also,” she forced me and she was saying to her would-be, “He never asks even if he needs something.”
“I will ask,” I immediately said. “I will ask if I need something. If not you, whom would I ask, tell me.”
“Then ask me when you want too,” she said, leaving money in my hands.
They both were on their bike and slowly left the place. The last words of Aamani were a warning for me to call her if we need anything.
That night my sleep would be scarred by dreams in which someone or something tries to take my woman off me and I fighting all of it. It would go grotesque with a lot of gore. Screaming, cries and a lot of physical violence mark my dreams. A long axe would stand straight in all the dreams. A striking image would be of I sitting in a corner of a room with my lovely woman sleeping in my arms with her hands around my neck while I hold a long axe placing it before us; like shielding us both with it. It was not hard to understand the meaning of that symbolism. Such dreams would keep on repeating till today, when the woman is not beside me and I keep on craving to have her with me.
I didn’t say I care only for proper things.
In the morning we wake up with an idea to catch the afternoon train. Then, a change of plans: Sravan gave an insight that, if we get on the afternoon train, we get down at Dindigul at midnight and we should again struggle for the night. Better than that, Srikanta said that we got a bus direct to Kodai that evening. We have a home, why to forsake it? That was the idea.
We agreed it was okay.
My woman always said I look too unorthodox for her family members. So, she asked me to get a few decent pictures for myself so that she can present them before them. So, I had a few decent pictures, one of which I would use for the cover design for this journal series.
I would pick some pace from here so that it would not bore the reader much:
We had lunch there at a good place. The food was good. That evening we go to the bus pickup place where I found a girl who was beautiful and thought of Sravan. “Cha, cha, no,” I thought again with a smile. We got on the bus. All the while my woman was in touch with me. We never left each other, never would we.
The bus journey was nearly 12 hours long. The night breeze helped to lull us to sleep. There were no dreams. I slept keeping a loop of “Hare Krishna Hare Rama,” and “Radhe Radhe Govida” chants of Krishna Das and by the time I woke up, we were in the depths of the Tamil Country. By the early morning, we were climbing the mountains which looked like the manifestation of my God Himself; enormous, full of life and immovable. I never took my eyes off the mountains.
“How many hours to Kodai?” I asked Sravan. He said it would take a couple of hours more.
I was looking forward to it.
Here. In this particular forest is the herb hiding that can heal my woman totally and I know somehow that I was going to find it.
If this a traditional travelogue, I should be describing the landscape and give lengthy and lengthy passages with praising paragraphs. But it is not. I am able to look at the mountains and valleys, the greenery, the awe-inspiring scenery; I took a lot of pictures to send to my woman. The little built houses in the valleys coughing out smoke early in the morning into the streets filled with mists, people wearing woollen clothing walking and cycling in the remote villages of those mountains and the waterfalls on the either side of the passage were divine. It is what we all should live for; to view the real grace of god, but I have seen better beauties than all those: I have seen the magnanimity of my God in the painstakingly describing scriptures, I have seen the universe that’s filled within everyone and I have , hm, seen the twinkling stars in the eyes of my woman when she cries. Apart from all these, I have seen Usha Kiran. . .! (Ah, that expression of yours, bro, that expression of yours, I wanted to shock you. No don’t worry that I made fun here out of nowhere. No. I didn’t. I really, simply wished you joined me in the journey of my life!)
All those traditional things, I cannot describe, for I was not enjoying them. The closer we were reaching, the stronger the sense of duty was conquering me.
From the moment we entered the Kodaikanal, it was all Sravan who needs to drive. He visited the place once, he could manage the language and keeping everything aside, he is the sanest of us all. We didn’t know where we should get down. We sat in the bus till it reached the last point of its course, and there we got down.
We looked for a hotel to stay in. A guide/taxiwala ran towards us and Sravan communicated with him and we need a cheap hotel to stay in; around 1,500rs and not more than that. The average costing seemed like 3,000rs per day. The guide made a few calls and set a room for us at the precise costing we asked for. We went to the hotel which was very nearby.
Sravan payed for 24hrs keeping a fact that what we are searching for is not found in Kodai, but in a village called Mannavvur, which was a bit away from Kodai. We might stay there the next day.
I know we simply can’t go into the wild and search for a drug-herb. We need someone who can supply it or someone who would know the suppliers. “What shall we do?” I asked Sravan, after we booked the room and were waiting for the maids to clean the room for us.
He thought for a while and said, “Let us start with the guide himself,” and walked towards the man who was waiting outside for us to take his tour package.
He was a dark and stout, but a strong man who smokes cigarette in a really regionally-stylish manner. Looking at us walking towards him, he took the little book in which all the tour plans were vividly listed. Sravan reached him and gestured him to keep the pocket-voucher inside.
Sravan’s attire gave a serious air around there.
The man was waiting for Sravan to talk. Sravan took a moment and explained him what it is we want.
“You mean those herbs?” he asked, a bit startled. “You came for those?”
“Yes,” Sravan said. “We need to get those and get back.”
The panicked man told us that it is not easy to find them in summer, for they grow in winter, but yes, we know, as I mentioned already, I can’t ask my love to postpone her hope. He also said they are illegal, and that, being that far by then, we cannot think of those legal and illegal things and we know that too. But the next thing he said stopped everyone on their foot.
“Six students died last week taking it. You want that herb?”
Everyone looked at each other. At last all their eyes landed on me. I was looking at Sravan. Taking a serene breath, I nodded my head.
. . .CNTD!
The #4th installment – in which the romantic tale of Sri Kanta, past demons of Sravan and the tremendous return journey of ours would be portrayed – would be the last of this series.
It’ll be out, very soon.– Nagendra Sarma,