SATISAR THE VALLEY OF DEMONS (XVII)

Raja Ram Dev and the two swamis were finally brought into a sleepy village situated in the foothills. It was surrounded on all sides by majestic chinar trees and had a fresh water spring, on one side of which stood the remnants of an ancient temple and on the other a beautiful little mosque. The three of them walked with cautious steps as being blindfolded they could not see. After walking for a while, their escorts ordered them through a door; they had probably come into a house as they could hear men and women talk around them. They heard the door being shut and then some one telling them to sit down. All three of them sat down on a straw mat. Then the voice again came.

“Remove their blinds, Let them see!”

Immediately their blinds were removed. Raja Ram Dev could slowly make out that he along with his companions was sitting in a dingy room, in what was probably a farmer’s hut. An earthenware lamp burnt in a corner and spread its yellow light in the room. He saw three men sitting in front of them, all carrying weapons in their laps. The one who appeared to be in command began without any ceremony.

“Now tell us who you are and what is your mission?”

“We are sadhus, we seek our lord. That my son is our only mission.”

“Oh sadhu maharaj, cut it out. Tell us your name and your rank. Where is your HQ? I want to know everything and I will get it out of you.”

“I told you my name. I told you who I am and I told you what I seek. Nothing more do I have to tell you son,” Raja Ram Dev replied.

His interrogator felt uneasy. The man looked so calm and composed. There was not even a shade of fear on his face. He seemed to have a cool, calm and serene look. To hide his uneasiness and to reassure himself he fiddled with his gun and said, “Okay, what was your name before you became a sadhu? Your father must have given you a name. Tell me that name.”

“Well, my name was Ram Dev,” and pointing to the companion on his left continued, “He is Haruswamy.” Then turning to the right said, “He is Maruswami.”

With an expression of jubilation the man in front shouted out,

“That is Doraiswamy; what brings you back?You were let off once. Okay, very good. Now we can get some more of our Mujahids released.”

Saying this he stood up and signaling to his comrades walked out of the room. Raja Ram Dev looked towards his Gurus.They did not utter a word. A faint smile danced on Raja Ram Dev’s lips, as he began preparations for his evening samadhi.

Kashyap continued to roam the beautiful valley, realizing the Lord in His true colours. Splendid was his experience. Wandering through dense green woods, crossing silver brooks and emerald green meadows he was left in a state of total bliss. On one of his forays into the countryside one autumn morning he came across an expanse of water. The crystal clear water shone and radiated every ray of autumn sun into the surrounding mountains. It was breathtaking! A splendour he had never known! Kashyap settled himself on a rock overlooking the lake. Flocks of water birds danced around the lake. Kashyap thought of having a dip in this clear water. He somehow linked this dip to the ritual dip he used to have in order to wash away his sins on the way to Moksha. Well, he thought, having attained his Moksha, no sins clung to him. He smiled, got up and walked towards the edge of the lake. Removing his raiment he stepped into ice-cold water. A shiver ran through his body as the water touched his feet. He continued to walk. The water rose to his legs till he was waist deep in the lake. He began praying. Uttering the holy words, he began lifting the water with his hands and wetting his body. The earlier shivers gave way to a feeling of cool comfort. He closed his eyes in deep meditation. Nothing appeared in the vast expanse of his thoughts. He continued to stand there, hands folded, lost within his own self, trying to seek the unknown, the unseen within his own inner being. Suddenly he sensed the water rising to his chest, then to his shoulders, and he opened his eyes. Everything looked the same, only he was descending. The ground under his feet was giving way and he was fast sliding in. Water continued to rise touching his chin. He tried to swim, splashing the placid water with his frenzied arms. It did not stop his slide. He was in great panic as water rose to his eyes and he could see nothing. His vision blurred and then darkened. He was falling into a deep black hole. Was this death?? This was Kashyap’s last thought before he passed out.

Ajab Malik was reciting his poem to a packed audience at SP College. A lean, thin, tall young man with intelligent eyes, dark, long and curly hair and a wide shining forehead, he reminded one of Shakespeare’s Romeo. Girls idolized him. Boys either loved or hated him. He continued to recite verses in measured, well-articulated tones—a cultured voice, a dramatic delivery, right gestures with long tapering beautiful hands. Everything about this boy was right. He was earnest in his disposition, disarming his enemies with a smile, endearing his friends with a word. There in the audience sat Noshlab, a burqa clad college girl, sobbing at each verse delivered by Ajab Malik. Other girls were in raptures, clapping and conveying their feelings as loudly as possible. The college principal, Mr Kaul, a stern wise old man looked at the row of girls disapprovingly, but no one responded. Ajab Malik continued to deliver his entreaties to a stone-hearted damsel who did not reciprocate his love. That was the only thought matrix over which poets wove their poetic fabric. They sang to a damsel of unearthly beauty, who made the hearts of poets bleed through their eyes. But somehow, Ajab Malik, though conforming to the general trend of his age, appeared to be in the process of establishing a new distinct style. A new idiom seemed to be shaping up, for he not only sang of the damsel, he also challenged his foe for a dual. He presented the picture of a traditional Urdu Persian lover with a rose bud in his hand as an offering to his love, but one who also carried a sword to protect the rose.

Noshlab could not sob incessantly. She had to stop which she finally did. The Mushaira was over and people began to leave. Ajab Malik stood there responding to greetings of his audience, shaking hands and thanking all and sundry. A showman to the core, he was making the best use of a great performance. And then in the college lawn he came face to face with his damsel, Noshlab, the burqa clad daughter of a rich businessman of Srinagar. Her escorts were waiting for her at a distance and the decorated tonga was at hand. Ajab Malik did not utter a word. He dumbly stood there on the green turf waiting for Noshlab to speak. She did not say a thing. Ajab Malik waited.

She waited and ages passed between them.

There was a feeble movement in her listless body securely tied to the cot on which it lay. A thick rope that was tied to the cot’s posts tightly secured her wrists and ankles. Again her body stirred. Her breast heaved and her eyelids flickered. She opened her eyes. At first she saw nothing save a vast and deep darkness, a pounding in her temples. She closed her eyes. Now she began to think—yes she was alive and awake. In a split second her latest memories flooded her; the shrieking baby, the men in uniform and then the darkness. She again opened her eyes. She could make out the ceiling and then the electric bulb hanging from the center—yes she was in the same cell. Images began to clear. She wanted to turn her head; it ached; she wanted to lift her arm, it did not move. She sensed that her whole body was chained. She moved her eyes to look at the surroundings. There she could see them—three shadows, faceless forms, black from head to toe, standing side by side. She concentrated her gaze on them. She could make out nothing except double rows of large white dazzling teeth. She felt scared. Who were they, these shadows with only a set of teeth to show. Ghosts, she thought, then dismissed the idea. She must be imagining things she reasoned and shifted her gaze back to the pale ceiling above her. But was she really chained to the iron cot? She again moved her eyes and with great effort lifted her head just a bit. Thunder struck her eyes. She was naked; there was not a stitch on her entire being. Her limbs securely tied she could not move. But her nakedness she could see. In shame she shut her eyes. Her heart began to pound at a ferocious pace. Sweat oozed out of her every pore. She could do nothing. She could think nothing. Her entire body suddenly became alive.

She felt as if her flesh was expanding in all directions. Naked, raw flesh. She clenched her fists. She tightened her being. She shut her eyes. And then it happened. She felt a claw descend on her big naked breast. She squirmed in disgust but did not dare to open her eyes. The claws dug deep into her breast. Nails sunk into her being. Then she felt thousands of claws all over her, tearing her, crushing her, tormenting her. She could take it no more. She had to do something. She tried to shriek but she could not.

Her vocal cords refused to move. She opened her eyes. She could see nothing. It was pitch dark and then in that dark tunnel she sensed those three pairs of white glistening moist dentures descend on her. It seemed an eternity passed. She lay there alive or dead, she did not know. She could only feel those claws, those jaws, tearing at her raw naked flesh and then suddenly it all came to an end. Jaws withdrew the claws withdrew. She opened her eyes. It was light all around. She lay there, utterly torn, bruised, and chewed. Her whole body was in a mess. She turned her head to locate those shadows. They were gone.

An excerpt from Ayaz Rasool Nazki’s  book SATISAR, THE VALLEY OF DEMONS published by Vitasta Publishing and the book is available on www.vitastapublishing.com