(Tales From Paharpur : Story 2, Part 1. BlogchatterA2Z challenge Day 5)
Prakash was my childhood friend. He was afflicted with polio and his limp grew worse with age. We grew up together in Paharpur. The name Paharpur might have come from the fact that the village was surrounded by a number of hillocks. My house was in the middle of the village, just opposite his.
We were in High School and he was our undisputed leader. Besides Prakash and I, our gang of four consisted of Tirky and Ranka. The school was in another village called Kantakpur, three kilometers away. The three of us took turns to carry Prakash in our bicycles. Being village boys, we had all started our education late and we were quite over aged for high school.
The dusty road to Kantakpur started after we crossed the river near thick bushes of kewda flowers. One day, when we had just crossed the river, Prakash told us to stop. Calling out to Tirky he said, “Do you see the black bird sitting there on the tallest kewda plant?”
We craned our necks and narrowed our eyes to locate the blackbird. “Yes… yes. I see it,” Ranka shouted.
“Tirky, today is your lucky day. We have found what we were searching for.”
While Tirky nodded to show his understanding, Ranka and I demanded an explanation.
Tirky wanted to say something, but, Prakash stopped him. “Let me explain, he said, our friend Tricky has a crush on Jaya, that idiot Vikram’s sister. But he does not know how to approach her. I consulted the ancient manuscript that one of our great great grand fathers has left for us. It is written there that to seduce someone and make him or her do whatever you want you need to get the twig of a black bird’s nest found in the kewda flower bushes. First, all of you go, search for the nest and get the twig. Then I will tell you what to do.”
The kewda plants were part of thick bushes consisting of various thorny plants and creepers. The possibility of snakes hiding in the thick undergrowth made the prospect of reaching that particular plant scary.
When Prakash saw that we were hesitating he came limping. He shouted and taunted calling us names. “Useless fellows, wait I will show you how to go inside.” He used his stick to beat the undergrowth to make sure there was no snake. Then he crawled inside. In no time he was near the trunk of the plant that housed the nest. We followed him and were about to reach him when he signaled us to stop and be still.
I could see the tail end of a black snake dangling from the tree. The other portion seemed to be hidden in the nest.
He said, “Don’t be afraid. But be still. I know the snake mantra. It will not do us any harm.”
He mumbled something and slowly touched the snake. We could see its head emerging out of the nest. It went up the branch and slowly slid into another tree.
“Now your chances are double, Tirky. The scripture says if the nest is guarded by a snake you will enter her heart without any difficulty.”
When we came out with the twig, Prakash said, “Now we have to crush the twig to make powder out of it. Once the powder is ready I will empower it with a special mantra. You must find a way to mix it with the perfumed powder that she uses. Once she begins applying the powder, you will see the miracle happen.”
Tirky bribed his sister to do it. His sister and Jaya were close friends.
But even after a week no miracle happened. Jaya continued to ignore Tirky. Rather the whole thing backfired. Someone leaked this conspiracy to Jaya’s elder brother. One day when we had gone to the village pond for our morning ablutions, Tirky was badly thrashed by him and we, the co-conspirators, were let off after a stern warning to maintain respectable distance from Jaya.
Prakash was adamant. According to him the prescriptions of that rare ancient manuscript never failed. There must have been something wrong with our execution. Did Tirky’s sister really mix the twig powder with the powder that Jaya used?
We ourselves developed doubts about our execution. That prevented us from estimating Prakash no better than one of those village charlatans.
(to be continued)