SATISAR THE VALLEY OF DEMONS (XXVI)

Birds reminded him of his own bird.Where was Noshlab? What had happened to her? What did that crazy German do to her? Oh God!’ His own private grief overtook the concern for humanity and forgetting Berlin he turned and hurried back. By and by he came into a busy street. He saw people coming out of their homes to spend the evening outside. Some would just walk around; some frequented the well-kept parks but mostly people rushed to the pubs. Berlin was alive during the night. Neon lights sparkled everywhere. Ajab Malik had avoided being out at late hours. He would come out for a stroll after dinner and then hurry back to his apartment. He hadn’t struck up any friendships so far and so had to spend most of his time all by himself. Walking back to his apartment, Ajab Malik was lost in his own thoughts. He had, for years, withstood the agony of separation from his beloved. But now in the lonely but beautiful and tranquil surroundings the pain became intolerable. If only once he could behold the beautiful face of Noshlab. Oh God! He would give away his life in exchange. But kismet or fate continued to deny him this. His search had finally brought him to Berlin. Would he ever find Noshlab? Would she really be around in some German town? Was that crazy German really a native of West Germany? Could not he belong to the East? Oh my god! What if he really belonged to the East? Ajab dismissed the idea, and then shook himself. Take charge, he admonished himself. Be calm, composed.

You need to have your thinking cap on now, push the emotions just a bit towards the back burner. He had to be from the West. But what could he do with the bird? He could be a scientist specializing in birds. Ornithologist? Or he could just be a bird collector. These Germans have funny hobbies. Some collect rags, some collect worn out shoes; could be that this particular German was just a bird collector. Collecting exotic beautiful birds, caring for and watching them suffer.

Lost in his usual agonizing thoughts, he came to the street that led to his apartment. Taking the last turn, he saw the door of a nearby pub open and there she was! Ajab Malik froze in disbelief. The blonde, beautiful girl wearing a sky blue top and a navy blue denim skirt came straight towards him. As she approached, she sensed that she was being keenly observed. She walked up the remaining steps and came face to face with Ajab Malik. He wanted to say something but no words came out of his mouth. The young girl stopped, smiled and with a giggle said, “Eh man. Want me?”

Ajab Malik managed to say “Hello my No….”

He could not complete ‘Noshlab’. The girl took it as a ‘No’ and pleaded, “Come on man. I don’t cost you much. Just a good dinner, some nice wine and a whole night, so cheap my man!” The words just floated in and out of his ears. He was unable to understand what the girl meant.

He just stood there like a zombie. The girl took his arm, and almost pulled him towards her.

Kashyap was enthroned as the supreme monarch of the country. Nilnag himself attended the investiture ceremony among others. It was Nilnag, who, amidst the recitation of the sacred hymns and burning of incense, placed the crown on Kashyap’s head. Nilnag’s chieftains and nobles remained in attendance. Jaladbhava’s populace watched the ceremony as mute spectators. They knew that they could do nothing; their leader had been removed from the scene. Jaladbhava’s army had been disarmed and completely neutralized. Nilnag fulfilled his promise at the religious ceremony by placing the crown on Kashyap’s head. He then proceeded to address the gathering. He said, “People of Kashmir, today is a great day in your lives. It is a great day in the life of your nation, so rejoice and be happy. For you have been delivered from the yoke. Demons have ruled you for long. Those who have been removed were truly Rakshasas and divine providence has intervened to bring them to their end. Kashyap is a noble of royal lineage. He is wise and learned in the matters of state and religion. Follow his word and you have nothing to fear. Disobey him and you shall perish.”

Saying this Nilnag sat on his seat beside Kashyap. The majority of the audience remained silent. Only Nilnag’s own men raised slogans and cheered their king. When silence was restored Kashyap stood up and addressed his new subjects. “When the world sleeps, Satisar wakes up to the new dawn. We will run the affairs of the state in accordance with the divine law. We thank Nilnag the great monarch for his guidance and help in freeing this nation from the clutches of the inferior race of the Rakshasas.” Saying this, Kashyap sat down and a heavy silence fell over the place. No one raised any slogans, no one clapped and no one cheered.

At last Nilnag got up and so did Kashyap and the ceremony came to an end. The country had thus passed from the hands of Rakshasas to none other than the grandson of Brahma—Kashyap, and was to remain as such.

Rachel turned out to be a terrific woman. Birbal had never imagined even in his dreams that a woman could be so insatiable. Since the moment the two entered Birbal’s hotel room they embarked on a journey of wild lovemaking, which seemed to go on and on, exhausting Birbal totally. He had tried to match her passion and keep up the tempo till midnight but finally felt sapped of all energy. He dozed and fell into a deep slumber. Rachel kept on needling him for a long time but there was no response from Birbal’s limp body. Once sure that the man had finally run out, Rachel sat up in the bed, stretched out her arms and stood up. Throwing a glance at the sleeping man, she turned over, stood up, and entered the bathroom. She knew she had all the time in the world. She leisurely got into the hot bathtub and submerged herself completely in the hot water. It felt good relaxing. She just lay there allowing herself to get over the recent exertion. At length she began scrubbing herself, rubbing every pore with the luxurious soapsuds. She felt on the top of the world.

She came out of the bathtub and put on the shower. Streams of warm water hit her body and the soapsuds began sliding down her glistening skin. Once clean, she walked out into the bedroom, water dripping down leaving a trail behind her as she walked on the plush carpet. In the center of the room she picked up a large towel and began rubbing herself dry. She threw a glance towards the sleeping Birbal and smiled. “Fool,” she said aloud, and then throwing the towel away crossed the room to the closet where her clothes lay entangled with those of Birbal’s. She carefully separated her clothes, putting them neatly on a chair nearby. Then she picked up Birbal’s clothes, one by one, going through the pockets, emptying them, and laying the contents in a pile on the table. Throwing away the last bit of his clothing she looked at the assortment of articles recovered from his pockets. A pocket watch, passport, wallet, keys, a small pocket book, a few bills. That was all. She opened the wallet. It was bursting with currency notes. She threw it down in disbelief. She stood up and looking all over the room headed towards the small table at the head of the bed where he lay fast asleep. She opened the drawer. It was empty. She lifted the mattress corner—nothing there. Where the hell have you hidden it? she almost screamed in rage at the sleeping man. In the next hour or so she had searched every nook and comer of the room but the treasure she was after was nowhere to be found. She gave up in disgust. This nut was really hard. She resolved to crack it any way. She threw a glance at the sleeping man and moving towards the bed said, “I will find it, you bastard, even if you have hidden it in your bowels.” Saying this she jumped into the bed and snuggled close to Birbal who seemed to respond to her frantic touch.

Gani came really alive. The poet in him woke up from a deep slumber. The fragrance of almond blossoms knocked at his senses and transported him to another world. Not far from the mental asylum stood Fani’s hermitage. A vast expanse of land at the foot of a bare hillock, studded with almond trees in full bloom. Dara Shikoh had set up a library of rare books and manuscripts for his philosopher and guide. There were living quarters for Fani, meditation cubicles for his disciples, a glorious mosque whose floors and walls and ceiling were studded with thousands of precious stones. Fani was in his own hermitage. Dressed in a flowing embroidered gown with a large round white turban on his head he addressed his pupils who squatted on a Persian carpet in front of him. In the front row sat his blue-eyed boy, Prince Dara, shorn of his royal attire, simply dressed as a seeker of truth. Gani sat with him and others sat behind them. Fani dwelt deep on his concepts of human brotherhood. He had completed work on his treatise on religions of the world. Dastaan-e-Mazhab was the point of discussion. He held that faith and religion were two different entities, one may supplement the other but the two never intermingle. Faith was simple and unitary in disposition. The ultimate being was supreme, omnipresent, all encompassing. This was faith and common to all people of the world. Religion, on the other hand, constituted a set of beliefs and practices which, depending on time and space, could differ amongst men. Faith on the other hand, was one indistinguishable quantity, undivided, whole. Faith could coexist with any religion, whereas religions couldn’t and would clash one with the other. His book had set religious bigots on fire. This was total blasphemy. He was accused of being a heretic, and religious authority handed down ‘Hukme Kufr’ on him. In all this Fani remained unmoved. He religiously defended his alleged irreligiosity and held his ground. Dara Shikoh, listening patiently to every word his guru spoke raised his hand. Fani noticed and fell silent for a while. Then looking at Dara with those piercing eyes enquired, “What is it Dara?” Dara sat straight and with a bow replied,“Great and wise teacher. I have a question.”

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