At (A)ravankolom Village…

At (A)ravankolom Village

12th January 1934

The following events take place in the village of Aravankolom in Tamil Nadu.

It was midnight, but Akhila was fully awake and agog with excitement. She was smiling to herself. Akhila was sixteen and was an extremely pretty girl. She looked up at the roof of the small hut in which she lived with her mother and stepfather. There was just one room in the hut. But her mother had used a piece of cloth to partition it into two. The smaller portion which was just one-fifth of the room served as the kitchen.

Their hut was situated on the outermost limits of the village, far away from the centre where the upper caste folks lived. Akhila belonged to one of the lowest strata in the caste hierarchy. Caste discrimination was rampant in Aravankolom at that time. Akhila had lost her father when she was eight. She remembered him as a dark frightening man who lost his temper at the drop of a hat.

But at least her father never drank, nor would he raise his hand on her or her mother. He would only yell at them. Her stepfather, on the other hand was terrifying. He would come home drunk half the time and beat her mother mercilessly for the smallest of reasons. Akhila’s mother had married him only because the pittance he brought from his job at the barber’s shop was of some help in running the household.

The daily routine was the same for Akhila and her mother. They would wake up at 6 AM in the morning and bathe in the river. They would then walk all the way to the construction site where a small house was being built and work through the day. Come evening they would be handed the usual five paise as their wages.

But tomorrow all that would change for Akhila. She had missed her periods for the second consecutive month this time and knew that something was wrong. She dare not tell her mother. She had told her lover Rama Vedan who was the zamindar’s son. He had initially appeared very scared. But soon he gathered his wits and wrapped her in a warm embrace.

He had said, ‘I think you are pregnant with our child, Akhila. Will you come with me to Madras Pattinam? We can get a doctor to examine you. We will have to run away together. If we are ever found out they will kill you and my father will thrash me black and blue and send me away to some distant place to study.’

Akhila had immediately agreed. When she had asked Rama Vedan about her mother, he had told her that they would pick her up later. They had made their plans. They decided that on Friday, unknown to everyone in the village, they would run away. They would board the train to Madras that stopped at the small railway station at Aravankulom for a few minutes at 1 AM.

And it was Friday night now. Soon she heard a tiny grating noise coming from outside. That was her cue. She opened the door of her hut gently and stepped out. Closing the door, she looked around. A dark shadow stepped from behind the huge Neem tree near her hut. She was surprised. Just by looking at the height of the person she realised it was not Rama Vedan. Soon the man was near her.

‘Where is Ra…?’ she began.

The man moved quickly behind her and put his hand over her mouth and whispered in her ears, ‘Change of plans, we will take you to the station and Ram anna will meet you there.’

‘But he never…’

Suddenly two more men stepped out from behind nearby bushes and one of them stuffed a piece of cloth into her mouth and gagged her. They tied her hands and legs tightly with thick ropes and carried her to a waiting car in the nearby road. They shoved her roughly into the boot of the car and closed the door. The men rapidly drove the car on a road parallel to the river.

They stopped at a point where there was a steep gradient leading down to a deep end in the river. They stopped the car at the edge of the gradient and got out leaving the gear in neutral. They stood behind the car and pushed. Soon the car hurtled down the gradient gathering speed. It fell headlong into the river and sank.

The men turned and were on their way back from the slope when they heard the sound. It was a loud, terrifying, blood curdling sound. It made the men’s hair stand on end. It did not sound human at all. It sounded like it was being made by an extremely fat pig that was being slaughtered slowly and brutally. The three terrified men ran as fast as they could…

                                                                                                                            To Be Continued...

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20 thoughts on “At (A)ravankolom Village…”

  1. Wow! Starting with a bang, bro! Super fast-paced and very intriguing- in your inimitable style. Love it. Looking forward to the next chapter.

    1. Thanks Tom. Actually your comment hadn’t come and I was wondering whether you liked it. Happy to know you enjoyed the post.

    1. Thank you so much. I will read your post in the evening. I try to finish my reading in the evening generally. Surely will visit.

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