AUTHOUR : NAVAL LANGA
THE DENSE CLOUDS lowered their stocks washing out the surface of the earth. Midnight. Rain. The darkness went into every drop of the water. Hopp spurred his horses to run high. The chariot was not good to run at its best. It was un-oiled since the ages. But it was valuable for him, made by the great grand farther of his great grand father.
Right-side wheel of the chariot tumbled on a stone. He saw his body flying in the air. Dhaddada… dhaddam… dhad, and he was thrashed again on his seat. Reigns still in his hands, but limbs trembled on seeing the death so near. On a crack, he shifted his gaze on back seat of chariot. Shudders took hold of his body and mind. Soul, too, shaken.
He saw a woman, sitting in the back seat.
Hopp was a pundit, an owner of a temple, only temple in the kingdom. King visited the temple on occasions. People revered Hopp. They looked at his chariot with devotion. They believed his words as the translation of God’s will.
“Who… who are you?”
“Carry on. I am not your enemy.” The woman spread her lips wide and showed her teeth. The teeth were bigger than a wolf’s teeth and sharper than a lion’s. Design of her face made his navel pulsating with horror. He was a man of courage and the holder of faith in God. But the flood of darkness, his flying in the air just before a moment, and the sharp-teethed woman squeezed out every drop of his courage.
No words were exchanged until the temple gate became visible. He gathered remnants of his courage. Fearing though, he turned his eyes on the woman.
“Where do you live?”
“I am homeless.” Again her teeth sparked. It made the darkness darker. He came down the chariot, his legs still unsteady on ground.
“Go into that hut. And leave before dawn.”
“No. Find out a home for me. A permanent home.” The teeth. She gazed at his face. The gaze was sharper than a deadly sword.
“What’s your name?”
“Feara. Feara, the blood sucker.”
Every hair on his body straightened. The woman disappeared in the hut. Hopp heard the clinking of teeth. No, it was not her teeth, he realized. It was from his own mouth. His teeth clinked again. He walked up to the temple steps. Sat there. No one was awake in his house, in a far corner of the temple yard. A cat mewed and it shook the whole universe. Again the deadly silence took hold of the whole surround.
* * *
HOPP WAS THE owner of high respect among people. They respected him for his sacred lineage, for his ownership of the temple, and for the kindness he showed by distributing food on festival days.
People were happy with him. But he was not happy with himself, with what he had. The cause of is unhappiness was a two-legged man with one eye on his face. Goldie was his name. He traded in things and had erected a three-storey house. King’s palace was the only building taller than the Goldie’s. Hopp envied him. He envied his horses and the stable and the score of chariots he possessed.
Hopp was a man of mind. Before daylight replaced the stormy night, he found out a strange utility in Feara. Feara, the Blood sucker. He desired her presence. He gave ample food and drink to the hungry and thirsty Feara. He promised her a permanent shelter, too.
“Keep you teeth covered until I say to open.”
“My master, I will obey your words.” She agreed to be his prisoner.
* * *
Days passed and Hopp sent a message to Goldie: Meet me at night. No one ignored Hopp’s words. Goldie too did not. His chariot arrived at the temple. Hopp embraced him.
“Feara wants to meet you.” He told Goldie. He knew that Goldie owned everything. He was wealthy next to the king. But he did not own one thing: the courageous heart. On seeing Feara and her face, the land beneath Goldie’s feet slipped. Clink of her teeth made him shivering. Hopp watched his face. The arrow was on the target.
“But why she wanted to see me?”
“I don’t know. She is an evil soul. Look at her nails. She can tear open anybody’s chest, at one stroke. But for the wellbeing of all the people of our kingdom, I hold her as prisoner. She can go out only at my will. And by her power, she can convert gold into dust. You understand what I mean.”
Goldie understood what he meant.
Months passed and Hopp employed a crowd of labourers. He wanted a three-storey house behind the temple, the house higher than the Goldie’s. Some articles of gold had walked out of Goldie’s coffers and were parked in the chest of the temple. People offered even free labour to the temple. People knew that they could go in dark only because of Hopp’s magical powers. Woman knew that their children were alive because Hopp was on their side. Hopp gave food to all the labourers. He was a man of mind. Now he was a man of gold, too.
* * *
When the king summoned Goldie for a purpose, the trader of the things had become a little bit poorer. He stood in the court with folded hands. His hands and neck still sparkled a golden light, but Crowna saw grim over his face. Goldie sat under the shadow of the king’s sword.
“Pundit Hopp is your good friend.”
“He is everybody’s friend, My Lord.”
“Hmm… Have you seen the Feara?”
“How she looks?”
Crowna collected data about Feara and her master, Pundit Hopp. With the Feara under his command, Hopp was a man of limitless power. He could send tremors into the hearts of anyone, merely by talking about the Feara and her powers. Hopp enjoyed influence over the multitude.
“Call him.” The king ordered.
Hopp was summoned to the court of king. Hopp was a man of mind. But he consulted Feara, his partner in trade.
With the help of her fingernails, Feara wrote on a wall of the hut, ‘the king had a divine sword. Get it anyway. His strength will devolve upon you.’
“How can I get his sword?”
“You are a man of mind. Think.”
Hopp started thinking. On the way to king’s palace, he dragged out a design from his mind. But on seeing the king’s court he was baffled. It was full of candles. Candles were on every brick of the walls. And under every brick, there was a human skull. Bricks lighted, skulls highlighted.
“You are a pious man, Pundit Hopp.”
“My Lord, I am a citizen.”
“So be protected by my sword.”
“My Lord is kind to this temple-man.”
“You are a temple-man. This king bows his head before you. But you are not a warrior. So hand over Feara to your king and be happy.”
The king had a bright face, brighter than Hopp had presumed. And he was owner of a sweat and poisonous tongue, too. Hopp looked at the king’s sword and went on his design.
“My lord, I am also worried. Feara is enemy of all. I seek your sword to kill her with my hand. My Lord may honour me with possession of the divine sword for a day.” Hopp was a man of mind.
The king leaves his throne. Came near to the temple-man. The sword was in his hand. He raised the sword and made it falling on Hopp’s throat. King’s tongue had failed to work on the man of mind. His swards did not. Hopp was beheaded.
The king took possession of Feara. He became her new master.
SINCE THE DAY, Feara is in custody of the king. Whenever he needs to fear the people, he releases the power of Feara upon them. It works. [Image courtesy Alonzo Cano [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]