Ajab Malik debated these questions in the dormitory room at Gottingam. The Sudanese, Mohammad Bari, simply laughed at his theories. He would quote verse after verse from the holy book to prove Ajab Malik wrong. Monsoor Ali, the Bengali poet, hid behind Nazrul poetry and Rabindra sangeet. Ajab Malik was never impressed. He had been in Germany for over six months now. He had not moved out much. He had to complete the German language course before beginning his training in Television Production Technology. His guide and teacher Miss Braun was a considerate lady. She treated him like a little child. In her company and due to his intellect, he, within a short span of a few months, picked up the German language. He was fastest in his group. Miss Braun was delighted when he conversed with her in fluent German. There was a flair for the right word in this young man, she thought. She had nicknamed him “Word Master”. He felt flattered. One evening, Miss Braun, a lady in her late thirties, invited Ajab Malik to her apartment. This was her way of conveying her approval of her pupil’s progress. Ajab Malik dressed in his Sunday best reported at the apartment. Miss Braun was waiting for his arrival. She looked quite different. She seemed to have spent sometime on her hair, face and the selection of her dress. He was stunned. Oh God! She looked gorgeous.

Teasing her, he enquired, “Hello, glamorous lady! Where is Miss Braun?”

“You naughty boy! Come in,” was the friendly response thrown back at him.

Miss Braun led him into the living room. They sat side by side. She enquired, “A drink would be alright?”

“I am at the disposal of my hostess,” Ajab Malik declared with a sparkle in his eyes. She got up and returned with a bottle of wine. Putting two goblets on the table, she opened the bottle and filled the goblets. Picking up one she handed it to Ajab Malik. Then lifting the other, she raised it up and brought it near his goblet.

“Let us drink to German language,” she said with merry laughter.

Guru Swamy was a big man. Long black curly hair dropping down to his shoulders provided the necessary halo for the godman. A prominent big nose, two small slit like eyes and a long beard completed the facial detail. He wore a saffron coloured robe and strings of beads of varying sizes and shapes hung down his neck on to his chest. Birbal recognized him the moment he was ushered into his room by Ranjitov Sin. “Hello Guru Maharaj. Recognise me? I am Birbal, the same good old Birbal.”

“Yes, yes! How are you Birbal and what brings you here?” Guru Swamy rose from his seat to take Birbal’s hand into his own and led him to a seat by his side. Once settled the three men began conversing, discussing the weather and exchanging pleasantries. By and by, they came to serious business. Ranjivtov Sin introduced the subject of discussion. Guru listened patiently. Birbal conveyed all the details. “Well I can help you in reaching the caves of Qaf. But let me be very straight, no confusion old buddy. What do I get in return?”

Birbal thought for a moment. What could he offer? Perhaps the new locomotive deal or may be the defense modernization? Before he could come to a conclusion, Guru came out openly, “Look Birbal, the treasure you are after is worth billions. Wait a bit. You said 370 coins. Right? Do you know the price of each coin at, say Sothebys? It will not be less than ten million pounds. I will put the entire lot at around 3.7 billion pounds. I do not care about the cards. You can have them all. But I get half of the coins.”‘But they are not to be sold Guru ji. They are to be used in the national interest. I have promised my friend out there in the cold. I can’t let him down. You understand.” Birbal pleaded with tearful eyes and a choked voice.

“To hell with your friend and don’t give me this national bullshit. I know what type of a nationalist you are; come on, be straight. Bargain man. Bargain!” Birbal knew that Guru Swamy was not the one to help without a consideration. He had no choice in the matter. After playing for some more time he said, “Ok, It’s a deal. Now tell me how do you take me there?”

“Ah, that is better. Now look and listen carefully. I will give you a magical ring. As soon as you reach the barricade near the Qaf Mountain, you put it on your little finger, all the time chanting the mantra that you must memorise. Remember to recite the mantra thrice while rubbing the ring with your thumb. You had better write down and memorise the mantra. It goes like this “Abjad Havaz, Hatui, Kalama Suhaf as Qarashat”. Birbal quickly got out a pen from his pocket and noted the magical words in his diary.

The Guru resumed his directions. “You will become invisible and proceed directly to the mouth of the cave. From there on you will have to use your own judgment in locating the treasure,” he concluded.

“You can trust me for that Guruji. Thank you so much.Tomorrow morning I shall proceed to Qaf and Insha Allah will return to you in the evening. Now let me leave. Good night.”

“Good night and namaskar,” replied the Guru.

Nilnag, the eternal monarch, sat on his throne. The throne was made up of the winding body of a huge snake with numerous folds. The snake’s hood provided the overhead canopy that shaded the king as he sat surveying those present in his court. The royal assemblage consisted of his nobles and chieftains, all seated on serpentine seats. Nilnag looked old but agile. He had piercing eyes—small black stones glittering in the white surroundings of his eyeballs and his eyelashes were exceptionally long and pointed, like his eyebrows. He was bedecked with jewelry that hung from his throat, ears and crown. Sitting straight in his royal seat, he addressed his courtiers: “Gentlemen! Today we have assembled here to welcome a person of great lineage, a person of exceptional intellect. If only we are able to enlist his support, our victory over Jaladbhava would be guaranteed. As you know, we the pataal inhabitants cannot tolerate a powerful enemy sitting just upon our heads. We have tried everything so far, but Jaladbhava is a hard nut to crack. But, in this man, who is going to be presented here in a short while emerges a ray of hope for our nation to redeem its pride. We propose to utilize the services of this man in vanquishing Jaladbhava and taking his kingdom for all times to come.” Nilnag stopped his little speech. Taking a cue, all the courtiers clapped their hands. A man rose and raised a flag shouting slogans.

Nilnag Ki Jai Pataal Ki Jai Jaladbhava Hai Hai Jaladbhava Hai Hai.

Presently order was restored in the court and Nilnag, taking charge again, commanded that the guest of honour be presented forthwith. In response, a string of fairies one after another flew into the court and descended onto the floor. One among them headed towards the king and began gyrating her body and swinging her wings. All other fairies taking cue repeated the ritual. The fairy then prostrated in front of the king. Other fairies followed. After a long pause the fairy lifted her head and rose to her feet. All others followed her. Then the king addressed the fairy: “Yes, produce the guest of honour.”

“Yes my lord,” the fairy replied and put her right hand into her left armpit under the huge white wing. She brought out her hand and placed a little diamond in front of the king. Positioning the sparkling diamond in the open space before the king she moved three steps away. Bowing her head, she joined her hands together and murmured a mantra. The diamond shook and then a cloud of smoke rose from it and began dispersing into the air. As the smoke cleared everyone saw that a handsome man, elegantly dressed, stood with folded hands in front of the king, who said to him, “Kashyap, we welcome you to our court. We hope your stay has been comfortable.” Kashyap bowed in gratitude and thanked the king for the hospitality that had been extended to him. The king then offered him a seat. Once seated in front of the king, Kashyap again thanked him. The king then began, “Our intelligence reported to us that a Brahmin of great lineage had successfully pierced the defences of Jaladbhava and was roaming in Kashmir without any hindrance. We followed this lead and came to know through our agents that Jaladbhava had taken kindly to you. We thought that we have a real opening in you. We, as a matter of fact, are not interested in the territory. We are a peaceful nation. We strongly believe in non-interference in other’s affairs, but how can we allow an inferior race to be in command. This goes against our own basic doctrines of statecraft. Therefore, we have tried to modify the existing situation, but unfortunately we have not succeeded much. We also know of your desire to liberate the area. We will do everything in our power to help you in your noble mission. Believe us, it is our earnest desire to see you on the throne of Kashmir.”

Kashyap considered each word spoken by Nilnag. Here was an opportunity of a lifetime! But how far would Nilnag go? Would he really help him? And if yes, then how? Could he not later on betray him? Kashyap was lost in his own calculations. Nilnag seemed to read his mind for he spoke very openly indeed. “Look my friend, rest assured that we will lay no claim to the territory. We will only see you installed on the throne. You will have complete freedom to decide your own future. We want no forced marriages, no imposed unions. You may do whatever you want, once order is restored. We shall never, I repeat, never come in your way.”

That settled all the doubts that Kashyap may have had on the subject. He gave his word to Nilnag. Both got up and embraced each other, then sat down and resumed their discussions.

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