Part I – Rough writing – Initial words

Harkwillia maybe a name which disappeared gradually into the oblivion created by our narrow memory. Or maybe the social prejudices are to be blamed, which have abandoned it considering that the name brought out memories of harsh times. Whatever be the intrinsic reason, no one associates the salty airs of Kasaragod today with the Arabic name of its forgotten past.

It may have been this Arabic intervention on trade during the early 9th century AD which sparked the richer community’s interest on a repressive society and the ‘rich getting richer’ doctrines. But Kasaragod would get transformed out of their political outlook during the years of national independence movement, which I am to say, was filled with a repertoire of struggles, riots and fiercely communist ideals.

The year was 1919 when Mohammad Jamal, a paid worker at a local field which grew rice first hesitated at the act of repression from the hands of a wealthy landlord. He envisaged a notion of a revolutionary movement which not only would bring them freedom but also save them from continuing landlord oppression-ism. For his dream, he was banished from the land and received death threats if he ever came back again.

Most stories are beyond comprehension and if I couldn’t get absolute evidences, I wouldn’t have discussed the story of Jamal any further. But rumors spread along the locality that Jamal grew exceptionally rich after his banishment from the lands, on which he used to make a living, and even got married to the daughter of a prominent Islamic philosopher.

The rumors were strengthened into facts as Jamal returned years later on a sober October evening in 1938, aged, wealthy, fat and devious! He became exactly what he once repudiated with all his fervor. He brought back the land from which he was banished, made a fortune and brought a collage of slaves from the buzzing markets of Sultan Bathery in Wayanad.

What followed were years of discrimination, brutal harassment and mandatory acts of violence if works were not finished on time. The abominable fact was that, these crusades were not just limited to the fields owned by Mohammad Jamal but could be diabolically interpolated onto the whole of Kerala during that particular era.

Workers all over wreathed at the havoc that had be-fallen on them. Onto this fertile land, just at the precise moment in time, Communism was planted with auspicious care. It presented the workers with a faint degree of chance to escape from their daily strife and hope for a better resurrection. One should add on at this context that it was as much the lamenting working class mind as the sacramental image of Communism that made it sprout at the fields of Kasaragod and Kerala alike.

What happened next was something that could never be imagined with as much vigor as the occurrences themselves. The power and the selflessness you feel once you associate with a group of like-minded individuals shall show no bounds. In 1941, the same feelings arrested the minds of all the workers in Jamal’s fields and also at the fields nearby resulting in a massive assembly of oppressed people who turned more violent with every second that they remained together. They took up arms, destroyed homes, raped wealthy women, killed children and rampaged over fields.

By the time they reached Mohammad Jamal, he asked his wife to flee with their 2 children, and amassed enough strength to go out to the rioters with bare hands. He proclaimed with a courage, which reminded at least some of the rioters of Jamal’s days begone, that he was ready to be prosecuted. It sadly never lured the respect of the rioters, they beheaded him, stabbed his body several times to ensure ‘proper’ mutilation and dilation of their anger. Finally they burned his house and looted all his remaining possessions.

It took almost a whole year to completely calm the violence that spread like an uncontrollable chemical reaction through all parts of the state.

What remained was a society which shifted from oppression onto a perplexed reverence towards the working class which successfully marked the beginning of an era of workmanship in Kerala.

What happened to the family of Jamal, was something else. Being banished twice from lands, that were theoretically theirs the whole time, might have pained Jamal even in his afterlife. I would have thought of him wandering all over the globe in desperation to meet his long lost family. But when the day of judgement came and he was called upon to be reborn again, he would have lost all faith of finding them again.

But it is to be said that the call of destiny is unfathomably alluring. Mohammad Jamal may have been born again, this time into the womb of his youngest daughter Jameela. And to oblige her father, who showed paramount resilience at the most acute times of their lives, Jameela named her child Jamal.


Salma – Prologue

The story of Salma never began on the day I took my pen to give an author’s introduction to her physical beauty, nor did it begin on the day she requested me to give the world her story through my words. Sometimes I think that we live in an eternally repeating world where voids created by unsuccessful repetitions are filled by people who claim to be different from those who survive in a self-created melancholia. Maybe between the constantly revocable granting of life, the creator by plain mistake would have brought along the story of Salma, which through another repetition of unaccounted words I have now brought to serve you with.

I still remember the words I noted down in my pocket diary when I first met her; the day still remains etched in my crumbling memory. Winds were tearing apart the make-shift plastic roofs of small shops, which sell items that range from glass bangles to high-grade marijuana. The plastic roofs danced like shy ladies, making graceful steps, who induce you to explore into your deep and guarded passions. But the seduction never lasted long, maybe because of the worsening weather or because of my severe psychological tensions. The onset of monsoon in South India usually begins with the proud exhibition of the nature’s prowess, skies turn from a shade of blue to mild gray and before you could take your eyes off, they portray themselves with an evil tinge of regulated black. For me, I relate the entire phenomenon to a clinical depression. At first you realize that all your optimistic thoughts are weakened by a drop of cold cynicism, then like the clouds that create the tinge of gray, they form a veil of shadow on your mind, creating a false image which tells you that every quark of light from the Sun is forever lost, then it builds up slowly but surely and devours your mind in a field of black. The rain that falls then do not cool your mind, it freezes the nerves and paralyses your thoughts.
For a moment I forgot what I came to speak to you, I shall beg your sincere pardon. Well then, Salma first fell into my vision when it was raining, both on the outside and the inside of me. And at first even you may not comprehend the fact that she was one of those absurd creations by the creator in which he failed miserably to create blind repetitions.

The only peculiar thing I found that would have made her stand out in a crowd of women was that she found relief inside a rainbow colored umbrella that day, which opened inside out each time a gust came to greet the streets, which showed the name she wrote on the inside of her umbrella with golden ink, which many would have thought was for incrementing the overall beauty of the umbrella than to find it among a group of similar umbrellas. She struggled to keep it under control while constantly adjusting her hijab which made a slight leap with each wind, maybe to taste its momentary flights to freedom. I could promise you with sincerity, even though she was a good 50 meters away from where a crowd stood along with me glimpsing the image of a fluttering hijab the girl underneath as if in a cinemascope, that I could most certainly hear her frail body panting with each jump over a puddle, and how each drop made a delightful rhythm each time it hit her glass bangles and shattered into a million drops each churning out a kaleidoscope of colors. The crowd that gathered to glimpse the specter would have felt the auspicious elegance that was put on show, because suddenly as the hijab went farther away from her grasp a strange wave of anxiety emanated from the crowd. Their heads turned one by one, as much by a methodical and non-voluntary habit as a natural tendency to capture the resplendent throw of her guarded hair.

To the captious arrogance of the gathering, she grasped her hijab for a final time, pulled it away from her radiant hair and let it taste the winds that it always yearned for. The first reaction from the audience who watched the show patiently up till now was austere shock. And immediately after they gained possible composure a wise man took the command of speech and claimed rightfully that she shouldn’t have done such a dreaded act in public. The gathering felt enlightened and before they glorified the wise man as another ‘human God’ they cursed the girl who did an act which challenge their mere notions of faith and God!

Lost in the discovery of a religious saint, the crowd may not have noticed the gradual ceasing of the rain. I took my dismal looking umbrella and followed the tracks on the mud made by Salma’s fleeting footprints. All my shoes could ever have made on top of those tracks were mournful noises of rubber kissing dirt.

I walked home that day with my mind filled with reverberating thoughts of Salma. When the overwhelming power of them overpowered my brain, it dripped along through my hands into my diary that night. I remember the words because it still plays in my head every day and every moment my thoughts leave room for her. I noted down then, ‘There are dreams that you see each day with your eyes open. Some you forget, some you leave behind, but a very few among them shall remain forever within your existence becoming an etched part of you. And today I had a dream in which I took my life within my failing grasps, swung it around with the unruly winds and went running behind her forever and ever.’