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First pages

Prologue

The contents of this novel illustrated from some real circumstances, incidents, and mysterious moments that involved by the Author un-expectedly many years back. The spark has did not went off in mind and it becoming lightened more and more during the past years.

The story of ‘Peacewoods’ originated from a Village of Kerala, the southern part of India. The words given in Italics are the name of local places and some nicknames.

Journalist Mr Ajay came to know about an establishment named ‘Peacewoods’ that provides shelter for the destitute & homeless women from his friend Advocate Mr Divakaran. Director of this institution is Mrs Nair, a middle-aged lonely woman who proved herself as a distinguished personality in the society and living as an ascetic, her real name is Revathy. The curiosity of the journalist made him follow her to find out how she becomes this position and why she lives lonely.

The story also says how an ‘innocence’ of a man will be cheated, looted and guided him to be isolated from society. This is only a format of many incidents how men face and survive in their life. The Journalist investigates the past of Revathy to find out the hidden realities and taking the readers through her life by explaining the facts and tells the story of the Village and Villagers.

Revathy and his family lived in a remote village named Chittankarathuruth where most of the people are very poor and living together with all religious happily. Revathy’s father Mr Bhaskaran Nair is the only one man have Government Employment in that Village and thus most of the natives loved and accepted his personality. The same respect has being giving to his family also.

Bhaskaran Nair’s friend Mr Surendran made a master plan to utilise his goodwill in Government for his selfish benefits. His plan was very critical and Bhaskaran Nair did not know that he approaching him with a selfish motivation.

Surendran become success to destroy him and his family for the wealth, and keep his daughters – Revathy and Suni – in his custody. Surendran made this program secretly but one Villain, named Soman came in between, he demanded Surendran to hand over the girls to him, and the properties shall be for his. Surendran has made another plan to cheat Soman in this deal to take all for him but Soman came to know this and waiting for the moment to attack him.

Bhaskaran Nair hooked in the net that Surendran laid over and he lost his life and wife. Surendran has taken all the properties that belong to Bhaskaran Nair and the two teenage girls as the part of his hidden agenda.

During the fight with Soman, Surendran lost both girls they are apart each other forever. Revathy escaped from their trap and reached in a monastery, she met a priest who knows their family and with the help of him, Revathy established a firm named “Peacewoods” for the rescue of poor and homeless woman.

Since then, Revathy is searching for her sister and did not found; she lives by searching her. Ajay the investigative journalist finding out the tragic incidents happened to that family and through his investigation getting all persons together.

In his journey, Ajay unexpectedly happened to be an important part of the story of Revathy and become a turning point to him. Ajay has a past, an affair when he was in the College days and during the investigation, he realises what he was searching for in his life until now.

 Also, Ajay finds out the hidden and undisclosed romance and its tragic evolution of a never opened love story of Revaty and how she known as Mrs.Nair.

Ignatius Variath

1

Ajay becomes sad that he was not able to spark even a semblance of a response in her, as he desired, at least for once!

“Mrs Nair,” after a long pause, Ajay called again…

She sat still on a chair leaning a little forward with her face propped by her hands. Her long, curly, black strands of hair veiled her face and hands partially.

Her bare forehead, sans vermilion-spot through the curl below the centrally lined hair shone like the crescent emerging from the cloud-clad sky.

Except for the occasional moving of her charming white finger seen slightly through the black hair-locks, that ‘Statue on the Vault’ remained inanimate.

Eyes cast afar, though Ajay had thought about a way to bring a change to this ‘deaden’ condition of Mrs Nair’s, nothing came to his mind. While climbing the steps to Peace woods, Ajay had a clear picture of his purpose. The bygone times slumbering in the innermost chambers of that young silver sparrow suffering pain all alone brooding under the wings of sad reminisces, are to be dug out. A new spirit has to be given to her, if possible, by making up for the shortcomings in them.

However, anything is possible only if she does start talking!

The experience since he came there passed through Ajay’s mind…

While granting permission for visit, it seems, she might have thought that was for some journalist. When it was mentioned that I was from Chittankarathuruth, she stared at me startled, as if she had heard something most unpleasant and then turned her face down sobbing. Ever since, how long had attempts made to wake her up! Ajay felt he was losing his self-confidence.

Ajay got up from there and went to the Veranda; the beautifully designed garden appeared most fascinating. In the broad courtyard are different species of blossomed flowers. Within boundaries made of bricks and planted suitable saplings; through them goes a sand-pebbled walkway. By all mean, ‘The Peacewoods’ is a veritable abode of peace!

Ajay took a cigarette from the cloth-made shoulder-bag and lit it; sometimes passed, he inhaling the smoke and enjoying the beauty of the flowers in the front yard. The light blue rolls of smoke having relieved his tension, Ajay, regained his sense of mission...

Why have I come to this monastery as a historian? Why did I sow seeds of sorrow in the mind of a woman who was otherwise leading a peaceful life?

Having reached up to here, is it right to recede?

‘No!’Ajay whispered.

 

The fame as a writer who depicts life as such with its raw realities cannot be a drop in no way or been given away. I have to keep on trying…

Even my friend, Advocate Divakaran who had given me accounts of Mrs Nair, in fact, discouraged me; didn’t he?

I still remember the very words he had uttered making fun of my efforts: “Why do you want to trouble that saintly lady who has given shelter to orphaned girls by her own hard work without any generosity from anyone? If you didn’t have any stories, do write some articles about the activities of some politicians.”

Ajay recalled the days when he had gone to Chittankarathuruth Village to find out the living conditions of Mrs Nair – to do research on a ‘living fortress’ collapsed fifteen years back!

That was a journey that undertaken to get to know the story of a woman who had suffered hellish miseries following the loss of her kith and kin. Until reaching Chittankarathuruth, the picture of a sylvan beauty of a village landscape was all in the mind.

Nevertheless, what I had seen there was an air of a deserted burial place. A banyan tree stood there bare but looked as if it had branches spread all over the ground once! Two Kiosks and a Tea-Shop inside a palm-thatched shed and no other signs that there was a living Village!

The entrance into an expanse of a few sand-heaps fenced by steel wires is blocked by an iron gate!

Ajay was heartbroken, lost his hope of meeting the persons or seeing the places he was looking for.

Chittankarathuruth is no longer that good old village; the long period of fifteen years has totally changed its profile.

Since most of its land area had already acquired for a fertiliser factory, the evacuated natives migrated to the neighbouring villages…

Sit down under the Banyan tree, Ajay happened to look at the iron gate, Guard was a rather old man.

Ajay was not aware that the people who were in Kiosk eagerly looking at him. He approached the security guard who was sitting inside the shed staring at him, sounded a short groan to mean what the stranger wanted.

Putting up a smile, Ajay said, “I am looking for one Anthachan Muthalalee who lived here around”. He asked after a pause, “Do you know where he is now?”

The security guard glimpsed at him from top to toe and then, stared at his face. Ajay felt the gravity on his smallpox – scarred face getting relaxed a little bit.

Curly hair, broad forehead, thick moustache beneath a lofty nose, bold framed spectacle, wearing a collarless long shirt and with a serious looking appearance might be contented the security guard, he inviting Ajay into his shed.

“Sir, where are you from,” he said, “I haven’t seen you before”.

Ajay was glad at his change of attitude, but without expressing it, he replied: “I have come here from Anathapuram, I am a journalist, name, Ajay.”

 

“Oh! I see. So, you are from a newspaper, do you? You must have come to write about the new Company.”

Ajay could sense the displeasure in the security guard’s words, but he spoke fairly, politically. “No, I have come to know the whereabouts of a man who had lived here long back. Gentleman, do you know Anthachan Muthalalee?”

All of a sudden, the old man's face and sunken eyes brightened his perplexed eyes that turned towards Ajay filled with waves of affection!

Ajay sat on the bench nearby, looked at his eyes, he knew a good heart within that dark, lean aged body.

“Gentleman, what’s your name?” Ajay queried again.

Ajay was grieved that see him sobbing like a child when hearing his question, Pat fondly on his shoulder and queried, “Why are you crying? Tell me whatever it is.”

For a while, the old man sat silently looking afar, and then, wiping his eyes with the edge of his Khaki shirt, he exclaimed in a mellowed tone:

“I cried, out of joy, sir. Quite for some time, nobody has ever behaved me so lovingly even my own children call me ‘Hey, Old man’... Sir, you are a good man!”

Ajay felt that though, in the course of the fast march towards modernization, villages have lost their simplicity but the innocence of the native still remains.

Ajay wiped out the teardrops rolling out of that innocent man’s eyes and comforted him by patting on his shoulder.

The old man's face was enlightened; he got up with the enthusiasm of a youth and sounded loudly at the Teashop

“Two cups of tea… one special.”

He sat near to Ajay “You need to know about Anthachan Muthalalee, right? He is no more, two years now since he died.” He continued pointing his hand towards a coconut grove afar “House adjacent to that place is a hospital, belongs to Muthalalee’s son Dr Jose. If you want to know anything more, you can ask there.”

Ajay felt that curtain was falling over his investigation!

Sipping the tea bought in the meantime by the tea-boy, Ajay said friendly “Gentleman, but you haven’t yet told anything about yourself.”

He smiled, exposing his paan-stained teeth and said: “My name is Gopalan, native place, this Chittankarathuruth itself.” He opened his pan packet, applying lime on the Betal-leaf; he continued, “When Anthachan Muthalalee had his Ration Shop, I had worked there. Ah! That good old time is gone; Company took over the place, everything vanishes!” Pointing his finger away, he went on “See, that Sand Dune was the Ration shop.”

Ajay looked towards that memorial monument for a while…

“By the blessings of my ancestors, I got this job,” he continued, “I can stay here until the company starts, afterward…! Yeah, by then, I’ll have the time to go up.”

From his talk, Ajay got a gut feeling that he would be of some help in his investigation. Observing the varied facial expressions of Gopalan, Ajay proceeds with the interview:

“Mr Gopalan, In fact, it is not about Muthalalee that I want to know, but about Bhaskaran Nair, the one who was employed at the Government office”.

The surprise was obvious on the old man's face. To confirm what he had just heard, he enquired back, “Sir, You mean Kavunkal Bhaskaran Nair? So called Bhaskaran Sir, who had only two daughters?”

Ajay’s information was limited; however, guessing that it has to be the same person, he agreed.

Suddenly the old man's anxious face was overclouded, currents of sweat flowed through the wrinkles on his head.

“What boots speaking about them, Sir!” Gopalan continued, “No one is existing and no news of the whereabouts of those girls, either dead or alive, God only knows!”

Tragic scenes of a bygone age were flashing before the old man's sunken eyes. Feeling that for a while, Ajay told, “All are not dead, but the girls are alive.”

“Where, where are they?”

When he saw his joy, Ajay felt sorry for having told a lie. However, it was not a complete lie, one is alive, he justified himself. Moreover, that was the reason why he himself had come there. Ajay decided to begin his investigation with this man, as he knows in detail a lot about Bhaskaran Nair.

Ajay’s mind confused so far with too many thoughts became active now. As this man is an ambassador of the old generation can draw a true picture of the past. All he wanted was correct answers to a few questions and the rest will shape up in his talented imagination.

Let it begin with the old man. “Right, you can tell me as much as you know.”

Gopalan appeared to have gained fresh energy, “I’ll tell you, Sir… everything that I know.”

Just then, a siren sound heard wailing from afar. “It’s time the workers finished their day’s work” Gopalan looked at Ajay and continued, “I’ll back to you after the workers left.”

After a while, a long row of workers passed through the gate. Ajay stood there watching Gopalan inspecting their bags and things…

“Sir, you are not getting in?” Ajay looked around hearing the familiar voice.

‘Where is the man, Gopalan?’ Ajay wondered, he looked all over but did not find the guard, neither the wired fence nor the gate!

“Sir…”

The repeated voice brought Ajay back from the world of olden time. Oh! I am not at Chittankarathuruth at all… but at Peacewoods. The auto rickshaw driver who has called, he realised.

The monotony of waiting for so long was writ large on the driver’s face. Ajay tried to get out of the guilt of shame for having stood him up for long, he got into the auto. Once again, he looked at the board at the gate of that building, mind whispered.

“PEACEWOODS!”

He read all the letters written in green on the white board.

“PEACEWOODS, HOME FOR THE DESTITUTE AND HELPLESS WOMEN”

The sole authority of the organisation is Revathy, surname, Mrs Nair.

I will use my pen to help realise the dream of this woman who lives like a destitute and I will not fail! How many problems have I already solved with my mighty pen, indeed, I will succeed in this too.

While getting down the auto and entering the home, Ajay was engrossed in that picture and thought. He took out the diary from the shoulder-bag and placed it on the tables, sat on the chair. Once again, he went through the matters written in it. The information already available, he thought, was more than enough to write the introductory background to the story.

The bits and pieces of information scattered here and there in the diary were, arranged in order. He fused them into the ideas that germinated in his mind and converge all of them onto his pen, which put them down in black and white…

Meandering through hills and vales, gushing over sand beds, embracing them, flows the river Periyar like the beauty of a Malayalee bride. On the quiet, bank of this river is the village CHITTANKARATHURUTH

 

Note: Muthalalee – Land lord, Anathapuram – Name of a place

Note: Chittankarathuruth: Name of a local place

Note: Malayalee – Native of Kerala

2

Many families living in Chittankarathuruth Village are dependent on the river. Chinese fishing nets protruding over the river, canoes parked by the banks and the groves bearing bunches full of coconuts are the landmarks of the village. Muttakkara, Chennanthuruth, Chirayakkara are the main places bordering Chittankarathuruth, among these, Muttakkara is a fairly developed village. From this Village, many public service buses ply to the town whereas Chittankarathuruth has only a bus – One trip in the morning, and the other in evening.

The main centre of the village is the shade of a Banyan Tree that stands branched out and the bus comes up to here only. Main business centre in the Village are here were a Kiosk, Tea-shop, Grocery/Ration shop and a Tailoring/Textile shop. So, most of the villagers frequent here for their living needs.

The grocery/Ration shop is run by Anthachan Muthalalee whom all the villagers respect; tailoring/cloth shop by Chandran Pillai; tea shop by Mohammed dearly called Mammookka and so, they are the very Important Persons of Chittankarathuruth.

Chittankarathuruth Village wakes up before dawn and at that same time, Mammookka opens his tea shop. The accompaniment music for the Sun’s first beams is the tea-making sound

of Mammookka. The voice of pouring tea from the lofty held in his right-hand to steel mug down into the one in the left hand is the music to the waiting crowd. Mammookka’s tea is a quintessential starter for all the men on their way to work!

Mammookka’s tea-shop would be busy, till the 9 O’clock Bus starts from Banyan tree and after the early morning workers are gone. Thereafter, it would be quiet around there but the customers would be the jobless miscreants of the village. Newspaper reading, heroic story-telling about themselves, drafting character codes for the girls living in the village, giving them ‘character’ certificates – are the main past times of those lazy youngsters.

Though Mammookka has opposition to these lazy guy’s, being well-aware that not to deal for good or bad with these uncivilised gangs who smack no trace of self-respect is undesirable, he would keep silent.

Another sound that is loudly heard in the junction during the time is that of the sewing machine of Chandran Pillai. The ‘tuk-tuk’ rhythm of the machine stops when somebody comes in to buy a hand-loom towel, a coloured loin-clothe, or an inner wear from his textile store!

The next meeting place of this jobless army after leaving Mammookka’s shop is in front of

Chandran Pillai’s shop. In the evening when the 5.30 bus enters the Muttakkara Bridge, the gang

will have reached the Banyan Tree Basement. From morning 8 to 9, and in the evening 5.30 until

8.00 at night (Even if, no bus) Banyan Tree area is their hang out arena.

They know the exact number of people going to the town in the morning time. They would keep in memory the colour of their dress, their virtues, their facial disposition and all, and in the evening, when they return, the gang would compare and note the changes that occurred and make it the topic of the day’s debate. If an obvious external change has been, discover – especially in a woman – they form themselves into a Board of Court and juggle with his/her life like a ball in the game.

If the last bus missed, reaching Chittankarathuruth from the town is extremely strenuous. Until 11.00 at night, there are buses up to Muttakkara where from people have to go miles on foot to reach Chittankarathuruth. As walking beside roadside cemeteries, both burial and burning grounds are slightly daring, the residents of the locality do not venture it. For the very reason, after 8.30 at night, the road would be very empty.

There is only one person who goes along this road in the darkest hours of the night. That is ‘Hammer Pappan!,’ the great inventor of the local illicit brew, popularly known as the Peoples ‘Revolution Tincture’. This liquor becomes the panacea that lightens the burden of the labour and heavy laden of the villagers.

Though Pappan – full name Pappachan – is a native of Muttakkara, as the headquarters of his ‘business’ is at Chittankarathuruth, he lives here.

Kavunkal Bhaskaran Nair, reverently called Bhaskaran Sir, is respected by each and every person of Chittankarathuruththuruth except one. That is Hammer Pappan, that too, owing to personal reasons.

One night…

Bhaskaran Nair was walking home, putting on courage from Muttakkara as he missed the

last bus. The trodden narrow road was only dimly visible in the flickering lamps of the village houses.

Suddenly as he heard something coming from behind with a roaring noise, Bhaskaran Nair deflected to one side to give way. Instantly, the gigantic thing that came from behind fell down outright with a weird noise made by two beings simultaneously as if frightened by each other!

On regaining his mental balance, what Bhaskaran Nair saw was a large plastic jar, black Pappan and his bicycle lying on the ground!

After lifting up him, Bhaskaran Nair advised, “Why can’t you stop this yet, Pappa! At least avoid these lightning trips at night!”

He did not utter a word. Pappan who has always been boasting of being highly chivalrous felt a shame bigger than ever before. Within no time, he quit the place with the jar.

Enjoying the adventures of him, Nair walked along laughing.

Next day, a story of Bhaskaran Nair been caught by a ‘Demon’ was spread throughout the village. The story breaker was none – other than Pappan himself!

However, the second day, people got another news also, that is Pappan caught by Excise

Police. Not just being locked-up, he was beaten to a pulp. Hearing the news, his wife, Maria soon fell down swooned.

 

 

Pappan believed that the black hands behind his tragic arrest were those of Bhaskaran Nair’s; hence the justification of his to have branded him as his enemy thereafter.

Kavunkal Bhaskaran Nair’s is a fair large house. The other houses near the river are those of the laborer-folks.

The villagers gave prominence and honour to their Bhaskaran Sir’s advice and views. His wife, Kamalakshiamma used to get up early in the morning and do the household chores. She was very particular about that Kamalakshiamma is eight years younger than her husband is but even now, she looks only forty-five. Disciplined daily routine and lifestyle are the secrets of her youth. Fair complexion, chiselled body structure, and a pleasant face are her beauty, which her two daughters have inherited ditto.

As usual, Kamalakshiamma woke up her husband with a steaming morning coffee; it is the habit of Bhaskaran Nair sipping it sitting up on the bed.

While drinking coffee, he noticed a feeling of displeasure on his wife’s face; he forebodes some problem impending so early at the break of the day.

It must be some trifle; he was sure because become displeased by silly things is her second nature, he smiled it away.

Kamalakshiamma took his smile as laughing at her. She exploded in dire exasperation “When my heart is burning, you are ‘playing the fiddle’!”

Having failed to make out what the real matter was, from her expressions, Bhaskaran Nair said gently “Alright, here you are, I have stopped ‘playing the fiddle’, tell me, what is the matter?”

Kamalakshiamma became relaxed a bit “That Lakshmi calf of ours has toppled all the milk.” She continued sadly, “Now what to do! You say by self.”

“Is it the tragedy, I thought our Sweet Mango tree’s branch fell down and broke the stable.”

“For you, it’s a comedy… this is not the matter of one or two Rupees… it’s the monies of six litres of milk that is gone.”

Bhaskaran Nair could not but laugh at the seriousness of his wife over the spilt milk. However, he did not show it; for if it is assessed in her point of view, there is some truth in what she has claimed.

Bhaskaran Nair is a government employee, even though all home needs are meeting decently with his salary, he is not able to save anything for the future. Kamalakshiamma is keeping a couple of cows and the income getting by selling the milk, she deposits in the bank daily. Even Bhaskaran Nair does not know how much it is by now.

‘Many a trickle makes a muckle’. In that proverbial sense, how can she lose a little!

Bhaskaran Nair consoled his wife “Never mind, Kamala, what is gone is gone for good, be careful next time!”

“You would just say things like that! Do you know that the girls are coming of age?”

-That is true… Bhaskaran Nair became conscious:

‘I haven’t saved any amount for the purpose. The only possession is these fifty cents of land and this house in it and the loan against it is yet to pay up. As it has pledged to Anthachan Muthalalee, overdue are managing somehow or other but wife’s saving plans are different. That was why she made such a ‘hue and cry’ over the spilt milk. She used to remind of those plans occasionally and I too felt that these were good’.

“Revathy is now seventeen and she would be twenty-two after five years, by then Bhaskaretten will have retired. With the amount what will be receivable then, can be utilize to get her married. Afterwards we have to plan Suni’s which will be arranged by selling our house and the land. Thereafter, Bhaskarettan’s pension salary is enough for both of us to live in a rented house.”

Bhaskaran Nair narrated by self: ‘All I can do is to be a part and parcel of this happy world built in the air by wife, besides bowing before Almighty God!’

“Hey, are you daydreaming by sitting up, though this age! Come on, get up and take your bath.” Walking up from his trance, Bhaskaran Nair saw his wife standing in front of him smiling. Her face was not expressing the displeasure over the incident that she showed until a little while ago. Nair thought about her innocent nature and was pleased. All her quarrels were like this; momentary, an ideal family life. Both daughters have the same nature of their parents; the elder is Revathy – studying in P.D.C, now the second year; the other one is Suni, in class 9.

Revathy and Suni are sisters but more than that, they are friends. Their giggles and frolics always heard loud in the house. Warm evening get-to-gathers with father and mother are a frequent feature of that home. Bhaskaran Nair is fond of taking his bath in the river; so is his going thereafter to the nearby goddess – temple wearing that damp cloth for the bow. He never breaks that habitual ritual of his. As the father, the daughters also follow that divine practice without fail.

As soon as returned from the temple, getting ready to set out begins. Revathy is studying at the Convent’s college near his office; Suni at the school there too. The trio goes together in the

morning but in the evening, when classes are over, the girls go home straight.

That day when the three returned home from the temple, the Temple Steward, Govindan Nair was waiting there. Bhaskaran Nair felt that there had to be something serious that wanted to discuss because he did not tell anything when we were at the temple. After the girls had gone inside, he inquired:

“Unusually you have come at this time, what is the matter?”

“There is an important matter,” Govindan whispered, “a small problem for the Flag-hoisting ceremony in the festival.”

The temple festival is yet to begin and suddenly remembering that the flag hoisting has to be next day, Bhaskaran Nair gazed at him anxiously.

“Our Temple owned Elephant has passed away this morning!”

Bhaskaran Nair is the President of Temple Committee as well; he began to think about getting another elephant very fast from somewhere,

Govindan continued: “Chirayakkara saw mill owner Chackochan has an elephant but the big problem is how a Christian Elephant can be used for the temple procession.”

 

 

Bhaskaran Nair was convinced that Govindan had raised a valid point; he asked, “What do the Committee Members say?”

“Chackochan bought this Elephant from Melekkada family only last month. The elephant’s name is Kesavan, quite a Hindu name!”

“In that case, we can think about that.”

“But some Committee Members are against it.”

“Then, Govindan may personally call all the Members for an urgent committee meeting; I shall join within a few minutes.”

Ever since Govindan moved out of the gate, Bhaskaran Nair had been racking his brain about solving the problem. It is about the care of Goddess, how it possible the ‘Holy Idol’ paraded upon without an Elephant! How will the festival be complete without the procession?

Even though the Elephant is kept by a Christian, wasn't that owned by Melekkada Family until a few days? Bhaskaran Nair thought how to convince this to the committee?

“Father, you are sitting like an idol! Come and have your breakfast.”

Rubbing his wrinkled forehead and smiling at Suni, Bhaskaran Nair went inside.

“Dear daughters, you may proceed after breakfast, today I am not coming. I have got an urgent affair at the temple.”

However, even before the girls went out of the house, Bhaskaran Nair had set out to the temple. He was sure and certain that as bearing the office of the President of the Committee he had to uphold a firm stand and strong opinion on this very important agenda.

 

Note: Melekkada – A family name

Note: Muttakkara, Chennanthuruth, Chirayakkara – Names of local places, Mammookka – Nick name of a person

Note: Hammer Pappan – Nick name of a person

Note: Bhaskarettan – Call by adding ‘ettan’ to name as a respect to an elder

 

3

All the Committee Members were ready in attendance at the temple courtyard. Of them, the prominent persons were Thadathil Kunjupillai, Tailor Chandran Pillai, and Thoppil Krishnan Nair, besides Steward Govindan Nair. Due to the manifold aspects of the problem, everyone appeared restless as if stuck halfway in a bottleneck.

As the President felt that formalities were irrelevant, he himself opened the subject straight away.

“I believe, Govindan Nair had already briefed you enough on the situation. Now all of you should express your opinion one after another.”

Thadathil Kunju Pillai himself started first, clearing his throat. “Only the thing I have got to say is the Temple shall not be desecrated by the presence of a Nazarene's Elephant.” He continued after attending the other’s expressions, “The Idol may as well be paraded even raising up in our own hands.”

Chandran Pillai’s opinion was different: “The auspicious way is to know the Will of the Deity through the Holy Rite of Foretelling by the Temple Oracle. Unless and until we get the right elephant, postpone the festival. If the Oracle proposes another solution, then, there will be ample time to do that too.”

Krishnan Nair’s view was another one, which the President too felt that was the most practical one.

“I don’t think your superficial talk will do any solution. On the other hand, try to assess the facts in true prospect.” Krishnan Nair continued after a pause, “of course, Chackochan has purchased the elephant that belonged to the Melekkada family which is Hindu, besides; the mahout is also a Nair. So, I strongly feel the elephant shall not be branded as an alien.”

Thadathil Kunjupillai suddenly remarked smartly “what nonsense is Krishnan Nair talking! It was that family’s only back then. Today the Elephant belongs to Chackochan, hence, it is a Nazarene, and there has no doubt. To let such an outcast elephant inside the temple compound has forbidden! Such a mahout, Raman Nair as cleaning its dung deserves to be beaten up!”

Chandran Pillai as well expressed his religious fervour by adding to Kunju Pillai’s words “What Kunju Pillai has just mentioned is absolutely right, that elephant is a Christian every inch! In fact, Raman Nair too should be branded as an untouchable.”

Bhaskaran Nair could not but laugh, how extreme is religious prejudice in their minds! He thought and then, in a lighter vein, he spoke generally in a strong voice:

“Let’s not talk about dung, let’s think about the Elephant. According to what you are saying, most of us are also to be declared as untouchable, because many of us are working with

or under, non-Hindus and for other religious communities, my office manager is also a Muslim. How many Christians and Muslims are coming to Chandran Pillai’s shop and he himself is stitching clothes for them! Do not forget that son of Kunju Pillai living with the money what he is earning by teaching at the Church-School! Do you want all these people to be excommunicated condemned as unholy?”

Bhaskaran Nair’s illustrative narration left everyone at the wit’s end. Though they could not find fault with what their President had explained, their faces did not look pleased. Bhaskaran Nair went on.

“Again, I have to point out to another point! By thinking in your terms, tell me, do Elephants have religion?” Seeing all of them sitting silent, Bhaskaran Nair continued.

“If at all, an Elephant does have a religion, if yes, it is only by birth. Think about this Elephant, the Melekkada family has owned, indeed it is Hindu by birth. I am sure that you all agree to that. Moreover, it is being looked after by a Nair and the Elephant’s name is Kesavan. All these are Hindu! Aren’t they, Kunjupillai?”

Kunju Pillai had nothing to reply. Chandran Pillai sat with his head down as if blown up by a blunder. Others remained silent as they were convinced that the President’s statement was acceptable. When the Elephantine problem was solved, there came another ‘elephantine topic’ that was trumpeted.

Note:- Thadathil, Thoppil – Family names


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Ignatius Variath lives in Cochin, India. An engineer by profession worked in many companies in India and abroad, presently working as Engineer in Doha, Qatar. Four books (fiction) published in the Malayalam language through Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace and few stories published in regional illustrations. The family is my inspiration, the experience is my creation and profession is my strength. ‘The Peacewoods’ is the first Novel in the English Language. Email: antonyignatius@hotmail.com

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Once I met a family in critical circumstances and I become a helping hand to them. When I inquire about the situation what they happened to be at present which strikes me badly. I developed this spark to make this Novel.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Yes, nobody can underestimate the mental power of a lonely lady that she can come to a distinguished position in the society easily if she wishes to do so. The story says about the real happenings of a girl and her family that will be an inspiration to young ladies.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
I have published four books in Malayalam language through Amazon CreateSpace and Kindle. Details are available in my author profile and my media.

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The Peacewoods
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