Red Blue Gray: Day 29

Chapter 4

Gather around all. Today I am going to tell you the story of a prison. This one you need to hear. Come on, come on. Who wants to hear a story? Young man you seem to be much older than other. But, you remind me of someone. This story doesn’t have that one person who eyes and face you inherited, but let us see whether my story can incorporate him. So—

Not long ago there was a river that used to traverse through the region. There was one village on its back at one end. The river was like a loop of a rope. On one end it had this village and on another end at the knot of the loop was a palace. The palace was made by some king whose name cannot be recollected now. The village was made of the servants and staffs of that palace. The king had a lot of palace like this. When he died this palace of him was forgotten.

During the 1857 Revolt a group of six rebels reach the village. The villagers were very kind and lead them to the palace where they could hide. They hidden for over a week; the villagers used to supply them food and all other things needed for living. One full moon night they were attacked by a small garrison of soldiers. They killed and butchered them. The steel of the blade turned silverish pink in the full moon night before they strike each rebel. The air was smelt of the gunpowder while the breeze carried the sound of the shots far over the bank.

In reality, the king had inherited the task of being spy from his forefathers. When ever and who ever had ruled this country, boys and men from their family had worked as spy for that ruler—be it Mughal, be it Portuguese. The King was their guise that they disguised themselves to carry on their work. One of the forefathers was also with Mir Jafar when he conspired against Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah. This palace was their safe-house where they often used to invite the person whom they suspect had came to know of their identity or learned of their intention. They used to lure that person with proposal of hunting, fine wine and nautch girls from Lucknow. Then with time and opportunity, their hired killers used to kill that person and buried him at bank and marshland of the river. The village populace was made of these men who were employed by the king to carry out the task of killing or to carry message. The women were the nautch girls.

In 1857 when the rebel reached the village, their leader found it as an opportunity. Long being they were struck there. The last king had given birth to a girl so there was no king. Thus they were left unemployed but not without work. They started cultivating the land and grew wheat and rice. When it was time to sell their produce they used to travel to the city to sell their produce, and sometimes used to gather the news of their master. Sometimes when it was not the time of cultivation, they used to be in the city and used to work as spy for those who wants information. Those who used to deal with information always used to look at them with respect and dignity.

The runaway rebel gives them the opportunity to gain trust of the new rulers who used to speak in a funny nasal unknown verse. That time some of them with effort and labour had learned Portuguese, English and Hindi to work as translator to the foreigners. When the General of a big garrison, stationed not far from the river on the other side, received the news through one of his translators, he ordered one of his commanders to raid and killed the rebels.

That night, after the leader confirmed that no one was missing, the young commander asked his soldiers to drag the body to the third floor, the top floor, and in the corner of the floor there was this open space. When they were dragging the last fifth one—a tall figure with beard touching his chest—the body jerked and smashed heads of two of the soldiers to the wall in a blink. Before a soldier hit him on his head with butt of his rifle, he had killed four to five soldiers with his bare hands. He was injured at his thigh and one arm but he fight like he the bullet hadn’t touched him.

They carry the unconscious soldier to the cell where his other mates were lying. The commander ordered his men to break the knees of the rebel followed by uprooting his nails. Then his hands were tied at the back, and he was made sat amongst his dead mates. The commander entered the cell with a flambeau. He was carrying a mischievous smile on his mouth. Beside him was standing the leader of the village. The rebel looked at the villager and smiled. In clear Bengali he dictated—whenever a son will born in your family he will be killed by me and in this cell. I will reincarnate tonight and will come back to your village.

The moment he had stopped, somewhere an owl hooted coarsely while a cat meowed mellow filling the abstract silence of the moment. The rebel smiled. The leader snatched the flambeau from the hand of the commander and threw it on the rebel. The rebel never screamed nor shouted.

The commander was enraged by this action. He had planned to keep the rebel alive and tortured him to extract information from the man. He cursed the leader who laughed and said it was never too late and the commander was naive and soft hearted. Later the General appraised the leader and rewarded him by donating a land in the city. The commander also received a rise in his position and later became a famous jailor. From that time the cell was cursed whoever came to live there had died under the circumstance that cannot be explained.

Yes. Oh the reincarnate form of the leader. Let me have some water. It was another part of this story. [Cont’d]

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