Damnation

This is for the Picture Prompt competition. The story is about Ajith, a boy of 21 working in a NGO. He along with his friends take a visit to the exotic islands near Andaman for a capturing the beauty of nature. But, it is they who are captured.

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7. Alacrity

We stalked the campfire with our eyes, each of us the proprietors of a stone chiseled dagger and a bag of amassed pebbles. The drivels of the kidnappers soared well past the midnight but we dutifully kept watch their alien intonations. The brewing tension and the condensing fear were throbbing around in the air. Raj and the boatman had calculated that the invaders were from the Palankar tribe, which was a big family with infinite fronts procured from various battles. We were seemingly in possession of the element of surprise. We had located Sasha and had made eye contact with her upon arrival.

The plan was to converge upon them with mere cover that was shading us from them when they retreated to sleep. Raj, who said he had championed many a fencers in sparring, was to take point, while Jagadeesh would hail stones from above. Sasha who was bound neither with shackles or its kin would retaliate when the moment shaped. We were waiting for the right moment to strike; the moment would sail through when they stripped themselves of their lethal tools of destruction. There were eight of them and from the boat moored in coast; we had reckoned that they were halting for the night before journeying back to report. They were in transition, this was a no man’s land and the geography favored none. We knew that their manpower was negated by our surprise and going by chemistry, they and we would react to produce tears and blood, the real life constituents of water and salt. We either liquidated them or they neutralized us, we were oscillating on defeat and success not between them.

They after consuming God-knew-what, were about to disarm when Raj marched in greeting them, they were taken by surprise and we stood petrified and transfixed as the scene unfurled to us its mysteries.

“Did you bring them”, one of them asked (as per the boatman’s translation and the following sequence and dialogues were translated to us by him).

Jagadeesh silently descended the tree and took place behind me.

“Yes, I did”,

“Give us them”,

“First give me the refugees”,

After this exchange of speech, the tribes produced three men from their tents. The three men ran to Raj, hugged him, and voiced something in their dialects. The boatman silently tugged at me and gestured me to run. But it was far too late as Raj pulled me from under the tree and shoved me to them, “Sorry mate, it’s all business”,

I slumped and before I could recover, they pronounced me as their property by dragging me and depositing me near the tent. One of them kicked me in the nose and the result was instantaneous, I blacked out.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The campfire had been flickered out of existence, but the perpetual banter of the tribes had not. The shock of the events had embroiled my fight with my heart, the alarms I had ignored were haunting me.

I woke up and looked around and located the boatman who was nestled near Jagadeesh, I woke both of them up and hushed their voices. Before, I could so much as twitch a muscle a torch emblazoned and convoluted the darkness bathing my back with its stamping glory. I turned around to face a glaring henchman. He was about to kick me when the boatman reiterated his physical prowess by deflecting the blow. He quickly apologized as the other seven came.

We expected some form of torture from, but they congenially greeted us and sat in a circle in front of the tent. One of the goon who was supposedly the leader rebuked the man who had been about to kick me and dismissed him to keep watch.

We sensed a glimmer of hope and so the boatman tried to widen the crevice by initiating a conversation.

“Who are you and what are you going to do with us”, the boatman asked after the first round of solemnity had weaned off and the translation of which he found irrelevant.

“Well you are going to be sacrificed in the Great Sacrifice tomorrow near the Sun God’s shrine”, the leader addressed me and the boatman translated.

The tone of his was matter-of-factly, and I instructed the boatman to say thus.

“Why us and who is Raj”,

The tribesman appeared confused for a second then his brow cleared, “Oh, Slarga, he was a member of the insurgency, he was our kindred soul, so we helped him escape”,

“What Slarga, I don’t understand”,

“Well, the story trace back to the Independence struggle in India, the revolutionaries were imprisoned in the precinct in Port Blair. Some of them escaped the place due to the relentless torture of the British colonists. They sought homage in these islands and tried to camouflage in that island as tribes”, He said pointing to South, I knew it to be the Island we had first visited. I nodded him on.

“The British could not find the latest pack of escapees, so they launched an attack on the Tribes of this regime. The refugees united with the tribes, and a battle was ignited. The truce was held under the promise that the revolutionaries would not leave the islands after they won the war. The battle devastated the tribes, but somehow they warded of the invading armies, but soldiers just kept pouring in. So, the Tribes struck a deal and the islands were thoroughly searched, the refugees were silently tucked away to another regime and returned only after the scouring was over.  A generation rolled by and the next generation which was a hybrid of tribal women and the refugees were mated into existence”, one of the tribesman chuckled before the translation ad he was heavily reprimanded and then the boatman translated and I hat suppress a grin.

The chief continued his contours hitting dead seriousness, “The revolutionaries passed on the baton and chronicled the stories of India to them. This kindled the desire for some of them and they formed a rebellious organization. The tribes are very possessive about their traditions and they feared the rebels might leak it out to the civilized society. Thus, they ordered every member of the Order obliterated. That was five years ago. Three ago it was officially declared that the Order was completely exterminated, but that year there was heavy torrential downpour that perturbed our living. This, our king held accountable, the offspring of the tribes and ordered a grand sacrifice. It is commence tomorrow, where all the corrupters of our tranquility indiscriminate of their status will be beheaded. Slarga along with eight others were the only remnants of the rebellion and they wanted to escape the fiasco. They kept on delaying the festival by projecting phony omens, but they too knew that it could not last long. He wanted someone from the inside. So, he requested me to help him escape, me being his cousin could not turn him down. He then went to Chennai, the supposed origin of the fathers of the rebels, sought face alikes, and returned with you. The day he returned, he footed an insignia that we had decided upon. For others it might have looked like a random symbol, but it was our symbol. His other cahoots were running out of ideas and I decided to check out one last time before giving up. The frequency of hunters in that island was great, but we managed to coerce the king to expedite us, as the possibility of escape is increasing”,

“So, tomorrow, we will replace those men and will be offered before the edifice”, I asked the boatman to translate with a flavor of hostility.

But, the boatman took an inquisitive tone and put out my and the leader nodded.

“But, what will Raj do with the refugees”, the boatman translated.

The leader shook his head. Just at that second, when our voices ceased to throttle, a grunt and a muffled scream reached our ears from what we assumed to be the third tent. “What is the sound?” I asked the leader through the boatman.

“Oh, it’s nothing, the girl was drugged with some needle Raj bought, she’s having trouble sleeping”, the boatman translated.

I sensed a loophole in logic, it was just gut instinct that raised the alarm, but I had learnt to trust it. I barreled myself onto the sarcastic leader and pummeled him in the face, I partially kicked and pushed the others and flung open the flap of the tent. Inside, was a naked Sasha with a man ready to thrust. Without a second thought, I propelled myself onto him and pinioned him to the floor. I punched him twice and blood started oozing from his nose. It was at that moment that the sensible part of me took the driver seat. I turned around to see all of the tribesmen approaching me with their swords dangling and every part of them spelling death. I tore my clothes and draped Sasha with it, then stood up to them like one of those heroes. Only, I knew I was no superhero and braced myself.

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