The Dancing Waters

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CHAPTER 16

Though O.G was the usual entertainment factor at Ullas Villa for the boys during all the vacations, it was Shankaran Nair who gave them company in his absence. But unlike O.G he did not entertain them by telling fictitious stories or with gifts. Instead he chose to teach them interesting tricks and mind games such as Vedic Mathematics, riddles to solve, and also defence tactics. The boys nevertheless found it all interesting and looked forward to each day’s session with their grandfather. This vacation he had promised to teach them kalaripayattu and even showed them some difficult moves with such ease and agility that the boys were in awe of their grandfather’s stamina in spite of his age. He however told the boys that they would only start their lessons on an auspicious day in the coming month. So the boys eagerly waited for the day and meanwhile continued to attend their grandfather’s educational sessions every evening. It was during one such session that Kannan gathered up the courage to ask Shankaran Nair about the gun room.

Shankaran Nair went into a pensive mood and after deep consideration thought that there was nothing wrong in showing them his proud collection of antique guns, which also included a model from modern day weapons that he had recently purchased for an exorbitant price. Shankaran Nair opened the gun room for the boys to view his collection that he had placed on the walls of the room in order of their period and type. It was an awesome collection of guns from all eras and it was sure to be a priceless possession some day. This was obviously was one of Shankaran Nair’s excessive extravagances that had made him pawn his fields earlier. Shankaran Nair described each gun, its history, usage and cost to the boys in such depth that the boys were lost in a parallel universe of imagination. If they were an African safari hunter at one point in the next they were a British soldier ordering the slaves about. When they had reached the latest collectible of Shankaran Nair, the revolver, they gasped in excitement for it looked similar to the one the detective carried in their skit script. They asked Shankaran Nair if he could show them how it was used. Shankaran Nair though apprehensive at first agreed when they told him about the skit and how it would help their act look real, but only after securing the promise that they would never try it ever. The boys agreed and watched as their grandfather took out a box of bullets, and showed how it was filled into the revolver. He then demonstrated how the gun’s safety was pulled back and showed them the trigger that needs to be pulled so that the bullet was fired. Having fulfilled the boys’ desire, he decided to take out the bullet and put the gun back in its place. But just as he was about to do so, they were all taken aback by a scream from the veranda. Shankaran Nair put the gun back on a table in a hurry and ushered the boys outside and locked the door. He then rushed to the scene in the veranda where he found Janu half unconscious and a worried Janakiamma trying to calm her down. Shankaran Nair splashed water on Janu’s face and slapped her face bringing Janu back to consciousness.

“What is it Janu? What happened?” asked Shankaran Nair.

A ghost, Thampuran, a ghost. I saw a Karimbhutham there in the garden. Oh! I am so afraid even to look. It was beating its hands about and calling me towards it. A karimbhutam just as the one they see in Bomanchery fields. Maybe one of the lover ghosts is missing and the other has come in search of it” said a shivering Janu.

The boys who had almost got over the incident at the fields became worried and looked at each other in confusion. They wondered who was behind the new scandal for one thing they knew for sure, the story of the lover ghosts had been initially revived by their prank a few weeks ago. However, the rumours had not stopped even after Pisharadi’s death. Either the people were being paranoid or the superstitious minds of the people were being taken for a ride by someone or something in the fields.

Shankaran Nair, who had gone into the garden to investigate Janu’s story, now returned with a sarcastic smile on his face. He was holding something behind his back which he brought forward as he asked Janu, “Is this your Karimbhutham? My dhoti that was hung in the balcony to dry? It must have flown off in the wind and fallen on the banana plant and what you saw was the banana leaves that were beating about in the wind making the dhoti over it move along with it. So tell me Janu, should I be calling an exorcist to get rid of my dhoti?” asked Shankaran Nair mockingly.

The boys could not control themselves anymore and burst out into laughter. Janu who had been embarrassed beyond measure now, muttered something and walked into the kitchen. Even Janakiamma couldn’t help suppress her smile at the comic turn of events.

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