Jul 31, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T (Act IV)

Act IV: A Confession

Ramaiah gingerly felt the broken glass piece on top of the wall of the huge Arputharaj bungalow, careful not to cut himself. He didn’t worry about the pain, but the Rajapalayam dogs that were tied to a corner of the yard would become agitated if they smelt blood. As it is, a stranger’s entry, however stealthily made, wouldn’t go unnoticed by the hounds. But he decided to take his chances. He couldn’t spend yet another sleepless night thinking of her...

He slowly crept across the lawn and climbed the gulmohar. A few carefully placed tenners to the milkman earlier in the day had elicited the precise location of Julie’s bedroom window. As he gingerly made his way across the branch that leaned into the first floor balcony, he was painfully aware that one false step meant not just a broken leg from the fall, but probably his life if Jacob found out who had crept into the house. Or worse, a public humiliation, following which his own father would kill him.

He was so focused on not toppling over that he didn’t notice the bright eyes watching his progress with child-like anticipation. Julie knew she should be screaming the place awake, but something stopped her. Maybe, because she had lived such a sheltered life since all the local boys were afraid of her brother, this secret meeting gave her an adrenaline rush. She found it difficult to believe she was attracted to this ruffian after just two meetings. After all, she was planning to go to Chennai for higher education, while the loafer balancing himself atop the tree had dropped out of school after failing to clear the eighth standard in three attempts. But she didn’t pause to question her motives or think about the consequences, she just stood there with a innocent yet naughty smile.

When Ramaiah caught sight of her, his heart missed a beat. All his carefully rehearsed filmi dialogue deserted him, and he mumbled something incoherently. But as they say, love doesn’t require too many words to be spoken, and a smile and a hand being gently held was enough to convince both of them that they had no future without each other. Julie told him to meet her at the church the next day, and said they could talk to Father Dorai to marry them soon. She was confident that only Father Dorai could convince her dad to agree.

The events would probably have turned out if Ramaiah hadn’t dropped his slipper, or if one of the dogs hadn’t started madly barking at the slight sound, or if Jacob hadn’t missed his daily peg that night and had chanced to be walking across the lawn. But that is how events turned out, and Jacob caught sight of a man hurriedly climbing down the tree, leaping over the wall and running away. He couldn’t recognize who it was or he would definitely have given chase. But he did the next best thing, and bounded up to Julie’s room to find out who the intruder was. While he loved his sister more than anything in this world, it translated into a strange form of violent protectiveness, and even two stinging slaps couldn’t get her to change her version of “probably some thief trying his luck”. Jacob strongly suspected otherwise, but even he couldn’t have guessed that the ‘thief’ had stolen his sister’s heart.  

The next morning, Father Dorai was surprised, both to see his usual attendee missing as well as the unusual attendee standing outside the church. Julie had not been permitted to go to church by her brother, while Ramaiah paced impatiently outside the church, desperate to have a word with the priest. Father Dorai was a considerate man, but equally conscientious, and he took his time completing his sermon and prayers before admitting Ramaiah into his private study at the back of the church.

Father Dorai patiently heard his new confessor, all the while stroking his beard thoughtfully. The young man was unlettered but intelligent, appeared rough but was earnest, and Father Dorai could imagine what made Julie fall for this guy. His mind was working out the complications this might lead to, the violence it might trigger, but if Father Dorai had a fault, it was that he firmly believed that he should offer a solution to all who knock at his door. He said he would think of something, and advised Ramaiah to not confront Jacob till then. Little did he know that his advice would be ignored before the sun set on that day. 


PS: For those who are still interested in knowing how it ends (or whether it will end), yes, I am committed to finishing this by the end of the week. Whatever the work pressure.

Jul 20, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T (Act III)

Act-III: A Confrontation

Rev. Francis Dorai did not skip a single beat as the motorcycles roared into the churchyard, and except an imperceptibly quick glance at the three intruders shuffling into the last row, he showed no reaction. Rev. Dorai, ‘Father’ to most of the villagers, was adept at dealing with irritants far larger than three youths barging in. Divine coincidence, he thought with a wry smile, as he was reading “thattungal, kadavugal thirakkapadum” (“knock, and the doors shall be opened”) to his congregation just as the three walked in.

Father Dorai recognized all three youths, and while he continued with his sermon, his mind was furiously trying to come up with some reason for their appearance here. He knew Madasamy Mudaliar well, and could claim to be the only Christian who could walk into the Mudaliar household and come out with all his limbs intact, and thus had a strong feeling that Ramaiah and his friends weren’t here to listen to “Kelungal, kudukapadum” (“ask, and thou shalt receive”).

Father Dorai was well respected all through the village, in spite of, or rather because of, his colourful past. He still retained the athletic build from his younger days as a champion kabaddi player and boxer, but God knows he had abused his body in his youth. Regular rounds of alcohol and the occasional ganja, till one day he had lay drunk at the toddy shop while his mother died of a heart attack in their hut, gasping to see her only son. He buried his past along with his mother, took up doing odd jobs for the church and eventually, a kind priest counselled him to dedicate his life to Jesus and the community. Whether he thought this was a way to repent, or saw a chance to probably save other misguided youth through example, we would never know, but he jumped at the chance. And three decades later, he was still preaching the word of God, as he saw it. His was a sane voice which had calmed tensions while the neighbouring villages burned during the last communal riots.

Father Dorai followed Ramaiah’s line of sight, and this time, he paused mid-sentence. There was no doubt which girl he was intently staring at, and Father Dorai immediately realized the consequences of her brother Jacob finding out the presence of the three youths. He made a motion of clearing his throat, coughed a bit, and announced, “Sorry my friends. My throat seems to be giving me some problems. So, can we continue the sermon later and proceed to the choir?”

“Ulagathil ulla arputhangal, ellam padaithathu Avan thaane” (“all things great and wonderful, the good God made them all...”), the choir began. Twenty voices were going full blast, but Ramaiah heard only one. A hundred people sat in between, and Ramaiah saw only one. Julie was blissfully unaware of the pair of eyes intently staring at her. And so was Ramaiah. Father Dorai slowly made his way to the last row, motioned to him to walk with him outside, and asked him “what brings you here, my son?”, fully knowing he wouldn’t get a honest answer.

“Father, I came to listen to the choir. You know, the songs are very nice”

“My son, I used played kabaddi with your father. Ask him, and he’ll tell you no raider could fool me. I may be old, but please don’t insult my intelligence.”


“Forget her, my son. You know the history. No good will come out of this.”

“Father, I am willing to die for her”

“The problem, my boy, is that twenty others will die for no fault of theirs”

“In that case, Father, I’ll kill myself. I cannot live without her”

“I suspect you have been watching too many movies. Go home, think about your family, think about your father...

“What the hell are you doing here, bastards?” Jacob’s voice boomed from the church entrance.

Father Dorai turned and fixed him with an admonishing glance “Jacob, I will not tolerate such language in my church!”

“You please stay out of this Father. I’ll deal with these high caste bastards. Won’t allow us near their temple, and have the temerity to walk into our church! And you, you forgot the thrashing I gave you last time? You do have some gall walking in like this!” Jacob thundered, and a landed a hard slap across Mayandi’s face.

Ramaiah rushed forward, and with a practiced upper right, had Jacob reeling to the floor. Jacob immediately flashed a knife, which was promptly knocked out by a kick from Bangarappa. Ramaiah drew his aruval (sickle) from his back in rage, completely tuning out Father Dorai’s scream ”Stop it you fool”, when he caught sight of Julie, fear in her eyes, clutching her friend’s hand tightly, silently pleading. He threw away his weapon, turned and jumped on his bike.

As he rode away, he cast a quick glance back, and was rewarded with the sight of beautiful moist eyes, filled with gratitude, and he hoped, love.
(to be continued)

PS1: Yes, yes, I know. I have been extremely slow in taking this story forward. Two reasons. Work, for one. Two, I had no idea how long this will take when I started. I did not have the complete story mapped out in my mind. So, please bear with me while I squeeze out some free time and try to wrap this up. As quickly as my bosses will allow me to.

PS2: Note to self: think twice before attempting ambitious stories. Stick to PJs and puns and all will be well.