The Dancing Waters

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CHAPTER 27

Months had passed since Shankaran Nair’s demise but the wounds that had been inflicted on Kannan’s soul were still afresh. He became more and more bitter as each day passed by. The bitterness was transforming into a feeling of total detachment towards anything and everyone that symbolized Nellur.

Kannan was gradually metamorphosising into a whole new personality. Determined not to give up with life, he decided to write to Ali. He opened his small chocolate tin in which he had wrapped the piece of paper containing Ali's address around a beedi. He sat down at the writing desk in the library and began to pen his letter to Ali.

Dear Ali,

I have changed my mind. I want to come to Bombay. Let me know soon about your plans. I will need some money and directions. I will be relieved on 14th of next month.

Regards

Kannan

He then handed the letter to one of the guards along with a ten rupee note. The letters usually were sent only after scrutiny by the warden and Kannan knew that if this letter went through the warden it would either never reach its destination or his father would be informed immediately about his plans. Ali had instructed him well in the formalities at the school and shown him how to surpass them through the simple trick of bribery. He had handed Kannan a small sum of money that Kannan hid in a small pocket in his pillow. He had then sewn it up, deciding to open it only when it was absolutely necessary. The ten rupee note he handed the guard would assure that his letter was posted without the warden’s knowledge and similarly any reply from Ali would reach him before going through the warden.

Within a week’s time the guard handed over a letter to Kannan from Ali. Inside he found a ticket reserved for him on the Bombay express for the 14th evening. There was also a letter that read

Dear Kannan

I am so glad to see that you have changed your mind. As soon as you leave, catch a rickshaw to the Kannur railway station. The train will arrive around 7:45 pm. It should reach Bombay by around noon the next day. I will send some money to you through our friendly guard. Make sure to give him a 50 rupee note in return for his services. Also make sure to give me a call before you start from Kannur. I look forward to seeing you my brother.

Khuda Hafis

Ali

On the eve of his last day at the reform school, Kannan remained awake all night. He wanted to remember each detail of his past 18 months at the school. He walked about the dormitory in the dark listening to the humming mosquitoes that had initially disturbed him a lot but with time had become his lullaby; the small niches in the walls where Ali had hidden marijuana, his worn out mattress lying on which was no different than lying on the floor. They had all begun to grow upon him and he somehow felt he was going to miss these otherwise inconspicuous pieces of experience. Fate had brought him here in the most unfortunate of circumstances but he had learnt a lot about life in these few months. Now as he was about to leave, he realized he had changed from the bubbly and innocent Kannan that he once was to someone new. For the better or the worse, only time would tell.

In the morning, the guard passed on the money Ali had sent and as per Ali’s instructions he was paid his due. The warden gifted Kannan a book on Mahatma Gandhi and bid him farewell after giving him some good advice. For once Kannan thought he saw the man smile. His father, who had come to take him back home, hugged him for a long time and after all formalities were fulfilled at the warden’s office, they made their way to the bus stand. The train to Nellur had been cancelled due to landslides and the bus was their only option of travel.

“Do you want something Kanna?” asked Raman.

“Yes” replied Kannan “I am really thirsty; please get me something to drink.”

“Alright, stay right here. I’ll be back in a few minutes” said Raman and went off in the direction of the food stalls.

He returned with a bottle of water and a packet of biscuits only to find Kannan missing from his place. Since the bus to Nellur had arrived during his brief absence, Raman thought Kannan would have already boarded the bus. But to his dismay, Kannan was not found inside the bus either. Raman began to panic as he ran throughout the stand searching and calling out for Kannan, but he was nowhere to be found. People now gathered to help and comfort the sorrow stricken Raman but he knew it was of no avail, his son had run away, run away leaving everything behind, leaving his past behind.

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