Chapter – 13
We reached a place very strange to me. I realized that we had gone very far from the school.
“Where are we going? Where is the playground?” I asked Hamsa.
He did not reply me. Instead, he said:“Your friend Mani is strong…”I was slowly realizing what he meant. “He is valiant…” Hamsa went on saying.
“Yea, he is valiant and strong! Why do you bother about him? Now, tell me where we are going? Where is the playground…?” I yelled.
“O, cool down boy…cool down. We are just reaching the playground. Ha ha ha…” It was Vishwam who replied. Hamsa too joined his laugh. I realized the sinister ring back in their laugh.
Yes, there was a ground indeed. A ground surrounded by thickets. I surveyed around. I saw the thickets quaking. Out came four crude looking boys with sticks in their hands. All of them laughed, laughed aloud.
“See! They are all ready for the game with Kols. You are the Kutti!” Hamsa erupted into a horrible laughter. An uproar of sinister laughter clashed each other and resounded.
“You are the Kutti! You are the Kutti!” The crude looking boys echoed Hamsa’s words.
I knew that I was trapped. The whole place was strange to me. I did not know the way out. Even if I yelled, who would hear? No one seemed anywhere nearby. What to do? Had Mani been with me…
Under the evening sun, I saw six elongated shadows nearing me; all with sticks in their hands. Suddenly, someone pushed me from behind. Before getting time to see who it was, I rolled down on the ground to the feet of one crude-looking fellow.
“Here is my throw, Kanna. Hit him!” I realized the voice. It was Vishwam. Hot blood rushed in my veins. All the spirit of my adored warriors blazed in me. I am not going to succumb. I am going to fight a fire game! I curled on the ground like a serpent and clenched Kannan’s leg and pulled him down. That heavy figure fell on the ground with a loud thud. I knocked his chest with my knee and grabbed his heavy stick in the fraction of a second. I was burning with a strange fierceness which was hitherto unknown to me. Then I turned round in great speed and hit on Vishwam’s chin with the heavy stick. Blood splashed from his mouth. I felt some wild frenzy overpowering me. I hit them like a maniac. On their stomach, cheek, neck, shoulders, legs…and wherever I could reach my rod. A fierce hit burst open Hamsa’s forehead. In the next instance, I gave a heavy punch on his chubby chin. He was knocked down. I got punches and hits from behind, but I never knew the pain.
“Kill him!” Hamsa yelled from where he was fallen. I jumped on him and gave another heavy blow on his face. I literally saw his two teeth jerking out of his mouth. I knew that it was dangerous to linger there. I brandished my rod and ran as fast as I could. I ran into the high grown thickets. I could hear shouts behind me: “Kill him! Kill him!” I heard the sounds of hurled stones falling around me. I ran with all my strength.
Out of the thickets, I ran into the paddy field. The paddy field seemed endless. I meandered through the green stocks to avoid the stones chasing me. By the end of the field, there was a rivulet. Reaching the shore, I looked back, gasping for breath. They were well behind.
I jumped into the rivulet. Water was cool. I felt my wounds smoldering. But I did not care. I swam briskly. I knew not to where I was swimming. I just swam down the rivulet. When I had swum about a furlong, I just eared to listen if anyone was following me. No one! No sound anywhere. Darkness was slowly slanting on the rivulet. It was getting colder. Then I realized that I was missing my books and slate. Where were they lost? Anyhow, that was not the time to seek for them. I was in strange waters, in unfamiliar place. How could I get back home? To where should I swim?
My legs were getting numb. They were cramping too. I felt it was not wise to go on swimming like that. Suddenly, I saw a glow of light from a hut near the shore. I swam to the shore, and crawled on to the salty soil by the bank. I was panting terribly; my body shivering wildly. I sat down on the bank and stretched my body backwards.
How could I be so brave and fierce? I was wondering. I never thought I could fight six rogues all alone. I had grown from my mother’s little boy to a fighter! But, is it good to be so? To be a fighter, a blood thirsty one? I was surprised when I recollected how I felt a fierce rush of blood within, at the sight of blood. I just closed my eyes for a while, and tried to forget everything like a nightmare.
When I opened my eyes, through the leaves of coconut palms, I saw above
me the darkening azure sky with a chip of moon hanging. Pale stars had just begun to peep. I just lay there, still panting. Listening to the rustle of the flowing rivulet, I thought of mother, and my younger days when I watched the ‘Moon Uncle’ on the night sky. My heart ached for mother, in that strange surrounding. I felt painfully homesick. But, how could I reach my home? As I lay there, I heard a hushed splash in the rivulet, nearing the shore. Are they following me?
(to be continued…)
by A. Fraizer