Simon Aldfrid, my uncle, was a librarian. The best part of having a librarian uncle is that you don’t really have to go to the library to know Charles Dickens or Mario Puzo. Simon Uncle was more than a library himself. He believed that he belonged to the Angles and Saxons. Angles and Saxons had their roots in Germany. They migrated to Ancient Britain in the 5th Century. And was later conquered by Normans when Hitler rose to power in Germany. Simon Uncle says that his people were forced to serve the British Army and later they were deported to India when East India Company handed over the wealth, power and integrity of the Nation to the Queen. Simon Uncle belonged to that mixed race of Angles, Saxons, Normans and finally Indians.
When Simon uncle belongs to that race, so do I. And he told me I should have at least 3 children and they should each have three and so on. When he said this, his eyes slid an inch and he fell into a trance.
I am Godwin Aldfrid, nephew of Simon Aldfrid.
Godwin in ancient Angles literature means “a Friend of God”. I never had the chance to be-friend god. But I heard about the Ghosts.
I joined the school where Simon Uncle was the librarian. I was glad that he would be around. I met new friends and learnt to see the life fresh. This was a boarding school. I was happy about it.
There was a difference in my friends at primary school and those at boarding school. In my primary school, parents of my friends would sympathize with me, as I had none. And they made sure that their children are taking a note to realize how lucky they were to have parents. I always ended the conversation saying I have my uncle. In the new Boarding school, there were no parents. But a few confused minds.
There I learnt about the Ghosts. They were some frustrated Dictators re-born as senior students. They were supposed to be the guardians of hell. They were 2 and none really knew them. But they were everywhere. I began seeing them at night. And a friend said my bed is stinking of urine. I was hurt and spend lesser time in bed.
Obvious end of the Mystery
I go to Library when there is nothing to do. I loved to see Simon uncle overseeing the places where each author is supposed to sit. He knew what is there and where it is. He just knew everything my little brain could think of.
When I entered I saw his assistant, all smiles. He is Solomon. And thinks that Angles and Saxons really existed and that they were the supreme race on earth. It sounded like if they were not, he would loose his job.
“Where is Uncle?”
“He is inside with his favorite children.”
Well, I am his favorite. I thought. I could feel my chest pounding until I saw them sitting across a table and Uncle was talking about some thing. May be its Angles and Saxons.
They were 2 of them and were all ears to my uncle. The first guy was lean, terribly lean. He wore a heavy metal bangle on his hand – too heavy that his right side was always low compared to the left. His long fingers told me he could be an artiste. The second guy was dark and bald. He wore an attitude on his face – too much to let Uncle stop and think if this guy knew it better. His physique told me he could be an athlete.
Uncle looked at me. He smiled. Stopped his lecture. And called me to him.
“Well, Godwin. These are my children.”
He pointed to the artiste. “This is Jubith” and then he pointed to the athlete. “This is Sreejith”
Both gave me a cold look. The question was obvious. Who the hell are you?
“And this is my son. Godwin.” Uncle smiled at me. They did not care. May be its just because he calls every one his children. I wished to tell them that I really was his child. I stood close to my uncle.
They got up. Smiled at my Uncle. Gave me that cold look again. Walked out.
“They are good children. Just not the best.” Uncle smiled. Nobody got the certificate except me. And I knew why. I was either Angles or Saxons.
Arun Kumar ran in breathing heavily. Seeing Simon Uncle, he slowed his pace and tried to walk normal. Uncle did not seem to notice. I got up and went near him.
“Did you see them?”
I felt my throat dry.” No. Where?”
“Arey yaar. They just walked out.”
I was confused.
“They were two. One guy had a heavy metal bangle.”
They are good children. Uncle’s voice echoed and trailed off.
I was in 8th class now. 2 years were long and eventful. It is Diwali and we are all waiting near the parade ground for Ragesh. He had promised us a gift on Diwali. He had said that we would celebrate the day “King Size”. What was that? May be he will come riding in a chariot and take us all to a palace where they served great non-vegetarian food.
He came late. There were no Chariots and he looked like a thief. He gathered us all under a rock and opened the cover he hid under his vest. It was a bottle. A bottle of Beer. Some one said, “WOW”. I felt like a moron sitting under the rock holding the bottle. Everybody drank from the bottle.
I was a team player. I joined the team.
It was dark now and the fireworks blessed the place from heaven. Diwali was in the air and people were gathering in the parade ground to have a glimpse of it.
Ragesh was talking some crap about how-he-got-the-bottle stories. He was blabbering about his local contacts. Everybody was on a high. And everybody got a turn to boast about something. Everybody listened to the speaker with utmost patience. And silently nodded when the speaker concluded. We made no noise to catch the attention of people around. Someone pointed at me. It was my time to boast.
I had nothing in this world to boast about. Except the supreme race I come from. But no one would be interested in that except Simon Uncle. I decided to cook up a story.
“I met the Ghosts.” Immediately I had all the attention, focused.
“I saw them stealing a book from the library. They realized I have seen it when they were walking out. If I tell my uncle about this, they are gone. They pleaded to me. I said I would consider.”
There was a silence. They could not believe what I said. But soon all were glad and clapped their hands loud. I became a Hero. We did not mind the noise. Everybody was relieved of the frustration they were carrying since the day they joined the school. A rocket went up to burst into wonderful flowers. In the light of the fireworks, I saw 2 men standing behind the rock. Their face was barely visible. But the heavy metal that hanged down a fragile hand reflected colors that came from the Sky.
I could feel my sweat running down the forehead. I fainted and collapsed.
I opened my eyes. I could not open it fully, though. It hurt. I knew something has happened. The fan had n number of leaves and it looked like it was a complete circle – Like a stretched Kimono. The colors were just the shades of Grey. I am familiar with this place. This is the Medical Infirmary Room – fondly called MI Room.
I could see Simon Uncle sitting next to me holding hands. His eyes were full. I tried to move my hand, I could not; neither could I move my legs. There was something terribly wrong.
“None of your friends stood for you.”
It took some time for me to understand what Simon Uncle was talking about. Was he continuing something that he was talking before I opened my eyes?
“But I can’t leave my son behind for some ruthless…” The sound faded away or maybe, I was not interested. He might talk of the racial supremacy now.
I could see the shadow of the Ghosts in the night lit by Diwali. The heavy metal glare hit my eyes sharper. It felt like I will faint again.
“… And I got them suspended from School. The Ghosts are no more.” It sounded more like an echo.
What did he just say now? Suspended. Did I de-fame the Ghosts? With obvious fear and not love, my eyes were full. My hands and legs hurt worse. There was a hot liquid that was going down my stomach. It accumulated and begged to be free. I did not know what to do. I did not know how my friends would great me. Definitely I would not be given a war hero’s welcome. I would be labeled a Complaint Box. I did not want to do this. God, I did not want to. Why did you name me as your friend, when you never cared to listen to me?
I could see a pair of eyes coming closer. It was the doctor, examining.
05th May 1998
Simon Uncle decided that I would join another school. He was thinking of finding another job too. He started to hate the school. Now the Dickens, the Puzo and the Grisham would not have a person to govern them. They would wander like lost dreams all over the library and might escape their imprisonment into the school and might go to meet Simon Uncle in his new job.
But things were clear. I am quitting the school. I walked along the bathroom side corridor of my house. Nobody really cared about me after I was discharged from the MI Room. I realized that everyone loved the Ghosts and it was just not the fear. I wanted to tell something to myself, as no one else cared to do that. So I said
Whatever, my role in this play is over, its time to quit, its time to escape.
I entered the Trunk Room. This is where we keep our boxes when we first enter the school. We enter it again only to take the boxes & leave. I was leaving.
The Trunk room is dark and darker as you get in. I did not care. I saw my box. It should be heavy. I tried to recollect what was there inside it. It is been long – long 4 years. The box was on the top of 4 other boxes, all piled up together. It fell making a huge noise when I tried taking it down. Dust flew away choking me to gasp for breath. It was not normal for any one to enter the trunk room alone. But I was alone since the day we celebrated Diwali.
When the box fell down it revealed a window that had been shut since the box came in. The air around enjoyed the new get away that was discovered. And the light showed up brightening the trunk room. A massive shadow passed over my figure. I turned back to find none.
Huh. I was relieved.
I took the trunk that had fell down and carried it out. It was heavy. But I could manage to drag it along. Suddenly the door shut and I was surrounded with darkness. The window I discovered was far and the light from it formed a white thick line on heavy dark metal boxes. I was growing weak on the knees. The hot liquid that I felt when I lied in the MI Room accumulated again and it slowly started to slip free. My shorts were wet.
A matchstick was lit. A yellow flame grew strong and beautiful and I saw the person holding it.
He lit a cigarette. Smokes replaced the flame and it all died away. Darkness returned.
I stood like I was expecting him all the while. The box that I was carrying slipped down and the hot liquid flew stronger between my legs. And then I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was from behind. I did not have the courage to look back. I did nothing. Then across the fabric I wore, I felt the metal bangle. The sweat started coming back. I felt like I was slipping into a darkness that was worse. Suddenly I could see many – all like in an X ray. Simon Uncle, His Speech on Angles & Saxons, His Library, My friends at Day School, their Parents, My friends here at Boarding, Jubith, Sreejith and then there was nothing.
I belonged here
It was snow white around. And there was nobody else. It should have been 3 – 4 years since the trunk room incident. I don’t remember what happened there. Whenever I try to do that, a pain hit my head. Then I would stop and think of better things. I felt there is a membrane around me that I did not have when I was at Boarding School. The best part of this life was there was breeze all around. There was music. Not the kind of music I use to hear at School Mess. This was quiet, a music that was everything – it was more like the chanting of a mantra. The Aum. I never knew what it was. No one ever told me what it was. Now I know. I could see the water, the air, the earth, the fire and the sky with in me. I felt like an Intellectual. I was never hungry and I never felt taking a leak. I tried to turn my body and I could see the world spin. I could see clouds everywhere, but no human beings. This was absolute tranquility. This was where I belonged. This was heaven.
On 5th of May 1998, I was killed.