MALABAR AFLAME : Lesson 5 – (Karoor Soman)


Amazon Best Selling Novel  “Malabar A Flame” in Lima World Library


5.The terminators

There was no one else there. Silence prevailed everywhere.
He winced as if some tragedy had happened. The ammo
inside Glastford exploded through his tongue and pierced
into Antony’s ears.
“If the store key is in your pocket how can the goods be
taken? Is it at your convenience the store is to be opened?”
Antony looked at his watch. It was 9.10 am. Nine was
the time to open the store. It was a slip on his part and he
promptly apologized. Glastford’s face became cloudy, but
nothing further happened. His silver hair was flying on his
pate in the wind. A cigarette had been blazing between his
lips. He put down the stub and shouted. “Open the door!’
It was a command. Antony humbly listened to all without
uttering a word. In case he replied it would be a war of words
and then a visible quarrel. Patience and endurance are the
most suitable weapons before those who shoot anything and
everything that comes to their mouths. Antony stared at him
while he was walking away.
The store was opened. He reclined on the chair in a
pensive mood. What does it mean? That too, for one who
never comes at 9 for duty?
It is the first time that I came 10 minutes late, thought
Antony. Sticking to duty time I used to come at 8 to open
the store and prepare the income and expenditure account.
For a silly thing he scolds me with the sharpness of a sword.
Today’s late-coming was simply inadvertent.
The man who talked with rage never enquired about the
reason for the delay. For that there should be compassion.
The main reason for his outburst was not anything unusual.
Why does an Indian work on the British soil sitting on a chair.
He reveals his bitterness indirectly. Why should a citizen of
the powerful nation that rules over a people from one end
to the other stand before a subject of the latter? It is just
as seeing an animal in a zoo. Is this selfishness or deceit?
Britain-born Glastford though he can speak English just like
a cataract, is unable to write his mother tongue with that ease.
As he had proved his caliber in architecture the civil
engineer had posted him as a supervisor. An organization
where 30 Englishmen worked he was disappointed to see an
Indian ruling the roost as a store supervisor.
Antony was elevated to this position because of his
proficiency in English and devotion to duty. On arriving
from India his first job was to carry big laterite bricks to the
worksite. To place bricks intact. To cut the iron rods into
pieces and help the store supervisor to complete the account
When the store supervisor retired he recommended
Antony to the post. From the day he became the store
supervisor Glastford’s aquiline eyes hovered over Antony.
Antony ignored all these. He felt that the other person saw
him as a rival. Hitherto he had not talked to Antony. If he
talks he stands a neat 10 feet away. When Antony was in the store he would not come there. It was good that this type of
people kept away while talking. When they came nearby it
would stink. No bathing. Seeing him, Antony remembered
the children of the feudal Manakkal tharavadu. In the school
they always used to sit on the front benches.
Students like Antony were always on the back benches.
No admission for Ezhavas, Pulayas and Parayas. No
permission to walk or play with the high caste pupils. But
such humiliation, hatred and untouchability were not
expected in this civilized country. It was horrible here than in
the native land.
Antony could not concentrate in his work. When he
remembered Glast’s outburst, it turned up in his stomach.
In front of him stands Glastford in pink attire, with a gold
crown on his head and a three-streaked sacred thread worn
across his chest, reciting sermons, surrounded by sorcerers
and priests. He commands and the disciples obey. The king
without sceptre and crown enters.
This fake priest, the self-imposed emperor, extols himself
and orders to seize and imprison him. A man from among
the crowd requests the king:
“Oh! our King of Kings, kindly don’t imprison him and
thereby commit a sin. Have mercy and merely exile him.”
“Where to exile?” the King asks, twisting his horn-like
“Where your majesty is the Emperor. That is the small
state of Kerala in India”, he replies.
The king complies with the man’s entreaty.
“Glastford, I am sending you to the place where gods have
assembled. Don’t ask the colour of God there. Pull out your
stinking dress. Bathe and put on the sacred thread. Learn the
holy mantras by heart. When I come to visit India it is with
reciting the rosary you should welcome me. This is the way I
punish you. This is for what you know? You value the colour
of the skin not skill. Kerala is fit for you. Go away from me.”
Antony guffawed at this vision in his mind. The peals of
his laughter rent the door open and reverberated outside.
When the Irishman Tony entered he saw that Antony was
laughing alone. He was stunned and said to himself that this
was the symptom of insanity. Tony ran back the way he came
in and returned with two others. Then it was calm there.
They saw an Antony who was buried in the account book.
Tony felt his sight was dim. He blinked and looked again at
Antony. What joke is this, the other two stared at Tony. Tony
looked puzzled.
“Your head has run amok,” they said, and went back.
Hearing the sound, Antony lifted his face from the book
and glanced at Tony. Smilingly he said `Good morning’. Tony
willy-nilly said `Good morning’.
Tony pushed open the door and Tony’s eyes lingered on
Antony. It is a room where danger lurks. One should be on
the alert lest something untoward should happen. Antony is
mad. Can’t say when this lunatic becomes frenzied and starts
clawing and biting. After all, he comes from the land of tigers
and may be an expert in biting and killing. How this man who behaved like a lunatic became calm in the next moment?
Tony was anxious to get out of the room. When Tony turned
to leave Antony called him from behind.
Is he out to attack me? Is he again threatening me?. Tony
promptly turned his face and gazed at him. Seeing the smiling
face of Antony he felt relieved.
“Tony just sign in this.”
The book, in which the list of articles taken by Tony from
the store was recorded, was placed in front of him. Without
making me take out my true colours, duly sign this forthwith
– that seemed to be the hidden sense of Antony’s words.
When he handed over the pen it looked like a pointed knife.
Tony cast a scared look at Antony.
When he wrote his name and signed, the pen seemed
shivering between his fingers. When he walked away from
Antony he felt immense relief. His paces became wider. He
was seized with some sort of apprehension. Tony decided
not to come here any more for his needs.
In Antony’s mind it was the wooden planks Tony had
taken away. Has wood any colour difference?
When a log is peeled it becomes a close friend of man.
When human skin is peeled off, there comes out blood. Its
colour is red – neither black nor white. Lifeless body is but
ash. Priests affectionately name life as soul. Why colour
discrimination in human alone? It is because a crumbled
heart and a rotten mind make them blind.
Those who tried to grow grain in the same soil where once
they sowed bombs are not immigrants or beggars. Those
who came here by the order of the rulers are not without any
address or name. In the First World War the British rulers
had deployed ten million Indian soldiers in various parts of
the globe.
In the war over 40,000 were killed. In the Second World
War thousands of British soldiers were wiped out. Those
who sacrificed their lives for the sake of this nation were
styled as martyrs. Did those foreigners who fought for
Britain’s liberty look at the colour of the enemy, while at
combat? When warplanes appeared in the sky how many fled
their work place and took refuge under the trees for days on?
Those were the days when we fought against death to live. It
was a life and death battle.
Then nobody remembered the colour of the skin.
Thought only of life. Only those who robbed others and
became rich can trample upon the innocent jobless like
sheaves of corn.
Those brutes devoid of human qualities and values
were reveling like blue bottles swarming over worm-filled
carcasses. They had aquiline eyes. They had their avid eyes
fixed on neighbors and colleagues.
While boarding the ship to this land how happy I was! I
could not see any colour discrimination in the White’s palace
in Cochin. Some nice people who love all human beings.
On the other hand, these idiots here have their look and
expression as if the world is under their feet.
They conveniently forget that the Germans turned the
earth upside down here. Doesn’t everybody like a peaceful life? Here only colour has got any value. Black and pale skins
have little worth. The two horses I look after here have these
two colours respectively. Between the two, the black stallion
has got priority. It is the black one who wins in horse races.
Experience teaches us not to move against Whites. If it
so happens, heads will roll. Torsos will spasmodically jerk
to stillness. He who sleeps with another’s wife will not be
the king adorned with a crown. Will be a mere sentinel. The
clarion call of discrimination. It’s the war-cry.
Closing the store Antony came out. Reaching home he
ate his lunch and walked to the grazing field to see Ali. Giant
trees stand, scraping the sky. Their branches swaying in the
wind. Green field grass stretched along the field. The black
horse King and the white horse Prince grazing around within
the fenced yard ran to him like kids.
The mane on King’s neck danced in the wind. The
gestures shown by the horses are of affection. Antony stood
there fondling their heads. Antony used to come here daily.
From three to seven in the morning he would give them
water and feed.
On Sundays when Antony goes to the Holy Mass it is Ali
who feeds them. Even though Ali is with them the whole day
Antony is dearer for the horses. Just like his own children
Antony looks after them.
Leaving the horses, Antony walked to the top of the small
hill nearby. From the bushes he plucked some herbs and fed
them with his hands. It is a delicacy for any horse. He stood
there for a long time, watching them masticating the grass.
Then he said “Good bye, King, and Prince,” and departed.
Antony looked around for Ali but could not find him
anywhere. Where has he disappeared, leaving the horses
within the iron fencing? When muthalali comes to know,
would he like all these? I can only point out. If there is no will
to be honest, no one can be corrected. He might be sleeping
inside the room.
He walked up to the room which he found closed. He
felt that someone was inside. He called out from outside. No
response. Just listened. Is there the sound of the fluttering of
a nameless bird. His face darkened.

 (To be continued….) 

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