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Paul Zacharia

Vijay tilak

The assassin walked to the police vehicle, his head held high. His body ached where he had been hit. He longed to rub those spots and his hands twitched in the cuffs. As he walked through the parting in the crowd made by the police, he glanced expectantly into the faces watching him. His face fell.

Oh, Bharat Mataís children, my own brothers, why do you stare at me so cruelly! Alas, donít you know that a sacred thread, hallowed by the knot of the Gayatri mantra, encircles my torso? Yet, for the deliverance of the Hindus, I have carried out a deed which was not my Brahmin dharma but a Kshatriyaís. But look! My hands have been manacled by the very Hindus I tried to save!

Itís all right. In Kurukshetra, Partha confronted his own family, arrayed in battle against him as far as eye could see. And the old man whom I removed from the earth today was also a Sanatan Hindu like me.

O People of Bharat, do you still not understand? Being a Bharatiya doesnít consist in being a mere Hindu. The vital thing is to be a real Hindu. That is the Hindutva preached by my Guruji. To attain that perfection, Hindus may have to shed the blood of Hindus. Never mind! The alchemy of blood may be necessary for the victory of Dharma. What of it? Dharmotsmat Kuladaivatam! Dharma is our household deity!

A man reached forward and struck him a hard blow. His ear buzzed and went deaf. Darkness filled his eyes.

Paperpulp art by SUBHA DE

Brothers! Please do not beat this body! I am ready to bear any pain. But I canít bear it when Hindus torture this body for fulfilling a great mission.

He saw other hands raised to strike him. People were pushing and pulling all around to get near him. His blanket slipped off when someone tried to grab him. Now he stood near the police van, silently imploring a policeman to retrieve the blanket. Someone broke through the police cordon and kicked him with terrible force. His legs faltered and he fell.

Look at the disciples of the prophet of ahimsa! So this is what ahimsa is all about! The old manís corpse is still warm and his disciples plunge into violence!

From where he lay, the assassin could see the police reinforcing the cordon around him. Since he was handcuffed and unable to get up by himself, he curled up on the ground and waited.

Over there lies the old man! And I, here! Strange bedfellows!

O policemen! Why save me? Itís these fools who bear the name of Hindus that need saving. Or are these all non-Hindus, perhaps? After all, the old man owed his loyalty to them. No, that cannot be. These people are stupid Hindus victimised by the old manís fraud. Alas! Now we can see why Greeks, Mughals, white men, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists vanquished these creatures. An unconscionable lot! A race bereft of pride! Half-humans without a sense of self-worth. Hey, fools! Emulate this Brahmin who has wielded a gun! Look at this twice-born who has shed blood, and be proud!

When the police pushed the people away, the assassin saw the crowd around the body of the old man. His face filled with contempt.

They weep over that corpse! The body of a man who was their biggest curse when alive! Wonít they ever learn the lesson of history?

Mourning the enemy! And handcuffing the saviour! Worshipping the enemyís corpse and attacking the patriot! What a topsy-turvy people!

A policeman helped him up and wrapped the blanket around him again. Before he got into the van, he turned around and stood still for a moment, looking at the people. Then he raised his manacled hands above his head in a salute. Turbulent emotions washed over his face.

So you are taking me to prison! Oh, the Age of Kali is upon us! And the decline of dharma! Listen! I lift up these hands you have manacled for taking up arms for the reinstatement of dharma and declare to the four horizons of this sacred land: The future belongs to me! To real Hindus! Long Live Akhand Bharat! Forget, for heavenís sake, from today that sinful old man lying out there with the rope of Yama wound tight around his neck. At least from now, become aware of who you really are and who I really am.

O Policemen, please permit me to touch the old manís blood just once! Let me use it to mark my forehead with a vijay tilak.

He climbed into the vehicle, exhausted.

The assassin:

O People of Bharat! You do not know how many births I have suffered, filled with agony. Hear how in one of my births I was cut into pieces while still in my motherís womb.

One day as I lay in my mother Ditiís womb, I saw Indra entering the womb in his atom-body, wearing the Vajra sword. I howled in horror. My motherís sister Aditi, who had become jealous of her for conceiving me with the sage Kashyap, had sent Indra, who was born to my aunt from Kashyap himself, to murder me.

After ministering to my mother and putting her into a deep sleep, Indra had crept into her womb, making his body as small as an atom.

The first slash of Indraís sword severed my right hand. Where could I, a foetus bound to the womb by the umbilical cord, run to? I began to cry out loudly. Indra cut me into seven pieces and each piece kept screaming. Indra, who was afraid my mother would wake up, whispered repeatedly, "Donít cry, donít cry." Cutting each of the seven pieces into seven more, he made forty-nine pieces of me. Thus it was on me that the first abortion was performed. My mother delivered me in forty-nine pieces. Think of my motherís grief in losing a son who would have been Indraís peer. And think of my terrible destiny ó turning my motherís womb into a battlefield!

In another incarnation I was born in Dwarka. There, I became a liquor merchant. I made huge profits by means of adulteration. When the Yadavas set out on the pilgrimage to Prabhasa, obeying the directive of Lord Krishna, I followed them with my jars of liquor. It was a pilgrimage Krishna had specially prescribed for the remission of their sins. The sons and grandsons of Krishna, and Yadava heroes like Balabhadra, Pradyumna, Samba, Ugrasena and Surasena, formed a noisy and unruly procession, under the influence of a liquor called mairekam. In the drink, I had mixed powerful powders prepared from the bodies of venomous creatures, and the essence of cannabis.

My carriage followed the pilgrim party, meeting their demands. The Yadavas vied with each other in merry-making. Soon, arguments broke out. Pushing and shoving and shouting obscenities, they walked on. All of a sudden, weapons were drawn. In no time, the Yadavas, comprising the Andhakas, Vrishnis and Bhojas, formed up and began to battle each other. My suppliers ran about, quenching the thirst of the fighters. The intensity of the conflict increased. The road was filled with bodies, blood pooling about them. When their weapons were broken, the Yadavas attacked each other with the blades of the eraka grass, which were as thick and sharp as swords. Three-fourths of the Yadavas fell dead. Then Balabhadra leapt into the battlefield like a madman and beat the rest to death. He then rushed at me. As I ran to safety, tripping and tottering, wading through blood, I slipped and fell. And died, my throat impaled on a broken spear-head embedded in the mud.

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Paul Zacharia is one of the leading bylines in contemporary Malayalam fiction