Srinivas Cv

Abstract Drama

4.5  

Srinivas Cv

Abstract Drama

Talisman

Talisman

11 mins
339


Synopsis:


The year was 1903, according to the Hindu calendar (1982, Gregorian calendar), when a son decides to leave his father for greener pasteurises of modern life. 


For the father, the decision taken by the son was not easy to accept. For generations, their family had been the go-to for defending the village from any black magic or evil eye. The father wanted great things for his son. But his responsibility to his people was a bigger one. 


With a heavy heart, he lets his son go into the modern world. But he stayed back in the village. 


Many years later, when the son returns to his ailing father and village, things take a turn for the strange. Things start to go out of control for the father. He could see his son suffering. He never wanted this for his son. What end was that visit going to bring?

 

Breaking the shackles


Prasad was running to catch the bus. It was almost a 5-kilometre run. For a young border security man like him, it was not a big task. The time, however, was not on his side. He planned his journey well, but the train was late by two hours. He had only a few minutes left to catch the bus. It was the only bus to his village and if he missed it, he would end up waiting the whole day to get the next bus. After running another minute, he could see the bus station and the bus promptly leaving. 


Everything else may or may not be punctual. But this bus was punctual all the time. If not, the return journey will be in the dark of night via the thickest forest. 


Prasad pranced a little bit more to get into the running bus. Prasad paid for his ticket and sat next to the conductor. He was trying to catch his breath after all the running when a familiar voice wished him.


"Hi, Prasad. How are you?" asked the man.

"Fine", nodded Prasad.

He did not let Prasad finish the pleasantries and jumped directly to the critical things.

"You should not have left the village. Your father became weak after you left."

Prasad had nothing to reply to that. He felt a little guilt while leaving, it started to multiply after hearing those words. 

"We all villagers realised it. But he was strong for all of us."

Complete silence from Prasad.

"Your brothers and their wives were of no help."


Prasad stopped listening and started to recollect the day he received the letter from his father, Narasimhan. It had only two words, "Not well, visit once".


He booked the next train available and started. All through the journey, he kept going through that letter and kept thinking.


"Not well. Who could it be? Not my father. He treats everyone's ailments how can he be not well? Maybe it is not a person that is not well. It could be his practice that is not going well. He might finally agree to come with him to settle in a big officer's quarters."


With the words from his fellow passenger on the bus, the reality hit him hard. 


That evening, when Prasad was ready to leave his village, he wanted his father to stop him. But, it was not to be. He sent hundreds of letters to his father asking him to come to town. His father had no reply for him.


On that day, on the bus, Prasad was left with nothing but guilt. The guilt of leaving his old father. All the Ramayana stories from the father and Dharasath's death on Ram's Vanavas did not teach anything to Prasad. Tired of all the thoughts, Prasad slept to be woken up after a few hours by the conductor.


As Prasad was stepping out of the bus, he heard something strange. A rattling sound from the back of the bus. He peeked a little by turning his head towards the sound. He could not see what or how it was. All he saw was a long iron chain tied to a pole.


As he got off the bus, his house came into view. He saw its dilapidated condition and forgot all about the chain. He started to make quick steps towards the house. The house has lost its physical charm. Still, there are crowds of people waiting outside it. They all want his father to give them natural medicines, treat their fears, give them talismans, and ward off evil in their houses and villages. 


The crowd was not new to Prasad. The restlessness in them was something new. The people were always patient with his father. That day the faces looked helpless, frustrated, and impatient to the point of anger. As he got closer, he realised what was all the commotion about. His father was not well and not ready to come out to talk to people.


Prasad stopped at the door of the house, washed his hands and feet with water and started walking towards his father's room. He noticed his brother sitting in his father's chair and trying to treat people. In the room, he saw his father sitting on his easy chair, he looked weak. He was not in his usual attire of Vibhuti on the forehead, white silk dhoti and a long silk angavastra. He looked pale in a worn-out banian and a wrinkled dhoti. 


"How are you?" asked the father, in a neutral tone. Trying hard to hide his emotions. The tears in the eye, however, gave away the plot.

Prasad did not reply. Instead asked his father to pack his bags and leave with him immediately.

The father pointed to the window, with a grin on his face. On the other side of the window was the crowd.

As if he did not understand the message, Prasad asked, "The window will be taken care of by brother. If required, we can support him from town. Now, let me pack your bags."


With the grin intact, the father said, "Windows are there to take care of us. It got the family every bit of respect it has."


"Stop with your stupid respect", Prasad wanted to say when something stopped him. He closed the window, turned to his father, said, "Please", and waited for his father's expression. 


His expression started to change the grin was lost. The face started to look very tense. 


Prasad, initially thought his father heard his mind's voice, the stupid word ringing. But a second later, Prasad knew what changed his father, the rattling of the chain.


"Dad, you don't have the energy."

The father, Narasimhan, was busy ignoring his son. 

"Listen to me, please", begged Prasad.

Narasimhan wiped his face with a towel and applied Basmha to his forehead. The son always wondered how his father had those three parallel lines. Today was not going to be different. He picked up the angavastra and walked out.


As they walked out, they saw for the first time. A teenage girl was tied to a long chain and dragged into their compound. She had a dress that seemed to have not changed for many days. The wrist had marks of the iron chain and cuts, showing signs of her being tied for more than a few days already. From one corner of his eye, Prasad saw his brother talking to a crying woman and a man who looked dejected. The parents, they should be, concluded Prasad in his mind.


Narasimhan walked a little further and stopped in front of the pooja room. Closed his eyes in respect, inadvertently Prasad followed and closed his eyes to take god's blessings. The father opened his eye and picked up the wooden stick from the pooja room. 


Prasad, holding the stick, "No, Dad. Not the stick." requested his father.

The father picked the stick only on rare occasions. The stick was used when any person was possessed by an evil daemon. For all watching, it felt like it was used for hurting the person. In actuality, it showed who was in control. The stick never hit any human, but everyone feared the stick treatment. 


Seeing Prasad's hand on the stick, Narasimhan got angry, and an argument started between them. It was not verbal. It never needed to be. Narasimhan had a very stong glare. Prasad felt it, but he held the stick for a few more moments.


At that moment, the parents were telling their concern about the daughter to his brother. Thanks to the village silences, Prasad heard from ten feet away. 


"She is behaving very strangely. Beating everyone if not tied down. It had been over a week like this. Visited an English doctor, but he also could not help us. She almost killed her father one day. Heard about Narasimhan Swamy and came here."


As the conversation was ending, he realised his hand was empty. His father was no longer in front of him but was walking towards the girl. 


The crowd around the girl were having their own discussions and the area was filled with cacophony. Prasad followed his father. The spectacle was not new to him. 

Suddenly there was one big cry. "Take the chains off", shrieked Narasimhan. 


Seeing his father with that energy, Prasad felt happy. But, he knew what came next. So, he stood close to his father. The guys holding the chains let go, and the girl was free.


The girl did not move for a few seconds. She sat down on the floor, with her loose covering her face. No one could see what was going on with her or what her mood was.


Narasimhan started walking towards her when suddenly she started cackling. He did not stop he continued walking towards the girl


"Stop", shrieked the girl.

"How dare you try to stop me, old man? Have you forgotten your sickness, frail man? Or is it the confidence you got seeing your young son here? "


Everyone in the crowd started conversing again. 

"How does she know about Swamy's condition?" said one.

"How does she know about the son?" asked another

"Don't forget they are from out of town", reminded another.


The girl, now looking directly into the eyes of Narasimhan, said, "Your Prasad forgot everything. He is a modern man. Don't you dare to stop me thinking he can help", said and started laughing some more.


Narasimhan, said, "Don't you dare play me. Now get out of the girl before I start using the stick." 


"You, you will use the stick on me? I have to teach a lesson to you", said the girl and made a shrieking sound towards Narasimhan's direction.


Prasad knew what his father was going to do next. As expected by him, Narasimhan tried to pick up his stick and hit on the ground making a loud noise and scaring the girl. As he picked up his stick and was about to hit the ground, the girl swung the chain in hand in Narasimhan's direction. Narasimhan lost control, some thought the chains hit him, but it was not that. He had not enough energy. Prasad went to his father's rescue. He held his father's shoulder in one hand and the stick in his father's hand with the other hand.


Sensing the weakness, the daemon in the girl walked towards them laughing out loud.

" I will get rid of you and your son", she announced and came close to them. Feeling her aura, Prasad picked the stick out from his father's hand and hit it hard on the ground. The sound coming out of the metal edge reverberated through the compound. The girl stopped in her track.


He cried loudly, " STOP AND GET AWAY FROM MY FATHER".

The sound made the daemon in the girl fear Prasad for the first time.

Making his father sit down on a chair, Prasad walked towards the girl, his eyes a ferocious red.


"Stop there, don't you dare come", said the girl.

Prasad kept walking towards her adjusting the stick in hand to have a better grip.

"See what I did to your father, don't come near me."

Prasad hit the stick on the ground one more time. The noise was even louder this time. The girl ran away and climbed to the top of the tree.


"Don't come near me. I will jump from here, and the girl will die."

Prasad walked closer to the tree.


In a firm voice, Prasad said, "Leave the girl and go away".

"No", came the reply.

"Don't you see you have no place to go? This is my place, and I control everything here." 

Prasad's voice suddenly seems to have changed for a firmer base tone, and he started to feel very confident.

"No, I will not go until I get what I want?"

That was it. It did not take much time to get that words from the daemon.

"Tell me what do you want? I will get it."

"I will not tell you."

"How dare you?" Prasad shouted and hit the tree with the stick in his hand.

"I don't fear you. You are nothing before me", replied the girl.

"Come down, let us find out", challenged Prasad.


"I don't need to come down."

"Then leave the girl and get out of here. Otherwise, I will come up," said Prasad. Without waiting for her response, he turned to the crowd and asked them to bring a ladder.

"Why are you punishing me? Punish him", pointed the girl to her father.

Prasad signalled the man to come closer to him. He ran to Prasad.

"This man?" Prasad pointed to the father.

"Yes."

"What did he do?" asked Prasad.

"He promised Ganganamma Thalli (village devatha) a feast and never gave that."

Now he turned to the father and asked, "Is it true?".

"Yes", nodded the father.

"Maybe you are right. Who are you to find fault? It is between him and Ganganamma Thalli."

"I am one of the Ganas of amma. She is too good to people. I keep people in control."


Prasad turned to the man and slapped him hard.

"See what you did. Because of you, your innocent daughter is suffering."

Everyone around, including the daemon on the tree, was shocked by Prasad's action. 

With residual anger, he turned to the daemon, "Now I take care of this, you leave the girl."

She nodded a "No" in reply.

Prasad turned and slapped the father once again. This time the sound reverberated a lot louder. The girl on top of the tree started shrieking, "Dad help me." Prasad asked the one with the ladder to bring the girl down.


Prasad turned around and noticed his father wiping off tears from his eyes.



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