Neeli

It was a good day for Kunju Nair. As usual, he finished his work at the field. But unusually he had a drink, though in a small dose. He was gazing at the wide green fields in front of his house. The sunlight fading away gave it a different grounded beauty.

Kunju Nair who was a well-built six feet tall man had not known what fear was. That made him stand tall and respected among his neighbours and other people in the village. He never intervened in other’s business.

He saw his friend Damuar coming towards his house through the paddy fields. The light and the surroundings gave him a picturesque view. They were good friends and spent their evenings talking about everything under the earth. But that day, Damuar seemed to be in a hurry. He came near Kunjar and said, ” Come let’s go to colony. There is a ritual down there. A famous witch from faraway lands is coming. Hurry up.”  Kunjar assumably astonished asked ” What happened man?” Damuar said” I will tell the story on the way. Come on man. We have to walk till there. Take that “Chootu” too. It may be dark when we come back ”

Then he started to tell the story…….

Neeli was a beautiful girl grown up in that village filled with beautiful nature. Mornings made her charm like sunflowers and evenings made her smile so adorable. Her slightly blackish skin seemed like she fully absorbed the sunset to her. Her beauty was as famous as the beautiful bharathapuzha. She was the daughter of Chelli and Chinnu. They raised her in their small hut near the mountains were the sun hides in the night.

Kutty chathan called as “Kutyathan” fondly by the people in the nearby village was a young man who was famous for his rituals as well as black magic. One fine evening, when he was coming back after a ritual, he saw a beautiful dame coming after a bath in the river. It was love at the first sight. The dame was Neeli. He couldn’t take his eyes of her. She was that beautiful. The sun sinking in the river gave her an aura making her irresistible. Kutyathan decided if he is marrying someone, it is that dame.

He asked the villagers about the girl and came to know that it was Neeli. He further investigated about her and felt overwhelmingly happy when he knew she was from the same caste. He somehow wanted to make her his wife. He wanted to love her like a god and treat her as his own soul. He wanted to have beautiful kids with her and climb the hills with them to pray in the temple above the hills,near the sky,where the clouds can be below their legs. He wanted to live a life like that in heavens.

Kutyathan informed his family and they went to Neeli’s house for asking them for Neeli’s hand. They welcomed Kutyathan’s family well. They decided to have some information about Kutyathan’s family. Neeli’s uncles were assigned to do that. As the future tells, they did it quite well.

Kutyathan’s black magic craft came as a problem for his pursuit to marry Neeli. Her uncles informed her parents that Kutyathan is a black magician and they can’t let Neeli marry him. Her family decided not to proceed with that alliance.

It was a big shock for Kutyathan. He didn’t drink even a single drop of water after that. He ran up to the mountains. He ran very quickly as if the world was going to end. He felt he was running with white horses from the hell. He climbed the mountains calling Neeli’s name loudly.

After a week, the village woke up with the sad news of Neeli’s death. Chelli and Chinnu were heartbroken. They couldn’t accept the death of their beloved one. She was so young and healthy like the sun God himself. It was bewilderingly painful for them to accept that their daughter had died. A murmur was spreading in the air right at that time. The air there was too sad itself that it spread the murmur like a leopard catching a deer. The air around there and the relatives believed it was Kutyathan’s black magic the sole reason of Neeli’s death. They assumed that Kutyathan was taking revenge for not letting him marry Neeli. Their anger soured up. They wanted to seek revenge too. But they knew they couldn’t do that unless it was proved. They sat down and discussed about the ways to make Kutyathan understand his mistake. An elderly woman in their tribe came up with a suggestion. She told about a famous witch in a faraway land. She was believed to be having God inside her and to speak all the truth in behalf of God himself. But she charged a lot of money and goods. Neeli’s family was hellbound to teach Kutyathan a befitting lesson. They send three men from their village to that faraway land. They took 2 days to reach there and came back with a good reply to them. An event under the monitoring of “Adhikari” was called up by Neeli’s family. Kutyathan was demanded to take the trail there. ……

As Damuar stopped the narration, Kunjar became excited and was eager to see the proceedings.He told Damuar who stopped walking after the narration for a short rest ” Come fast. Otherwise, the witch may start”….

They reached Kutyathan’s home a little late. The witch had started the proceedings. Adhikari was sitting on the chair in the middle. Kutyathan’s family was sitting on one side and Neeli’s family on the other.A small crowd had gathered too. It included some Mapilamar who were basically traders. They had lit “Pantham” all over. There were a couple of hens tied. Ladies from Neeli’s family were talking between themselves. They were cursing Kutyathan in between scolding him. 

Kutyathan’s family, on the other hand, was sitting terrified. Kutyathan’s mother was in tears. His father looked worried so was his little sister. Kutyathan sat without any emotion on his face.His relatives had to climb the mountain to find Kutyathan that day.He was sitting on the edge of that mountain looking at the clouds below his legs. Once, Kutyathan was told about the trial, he walked with them down the mountains. He didn’t utter a word though. 

The witch was sitting right in front of some Pantham arranged in a  beautiful way. She was whispering sometimes and she was shouting at times. She was famous for speaking truth in behalf of Gods. All in the crowd were eagerly waiting for her verdict. At last, the moment they waited for came. She shouted Gods had shown her the truth and she is going to reveal it. 

The witch shouted “It was Kutyathan who killed Neeli.He killed Neeli using his black magic. He should be punished”. The crowd exploded. Neeli’s family were greatly happy and the opposite side had the opposite emotion. Kutyathan’s sister bursted into tears and started crying loudly. But Kutyathan had no emotion…….

Kunjar and Damuar who were standing in the crowd were basically astonished. Kunjar thought how someone could see what had happened. He was not fully convinced. The slight high he had boosted his doubt. He looked at Damuar and said ” One minute, I have a couple of doubts. I have to ask the witch about it. Otherwise I can’t sleep properly today” Damuar just smiled. 

Kunjar walked through the crowd to the front.He smiled at the Adhikari and said” Namaskaram. I have a couple of doubts. Can I ask the witch about it?” Adhikari too smiled. 

Kunjar came near the witch. He looked carefully at her. He smiled at her. He asked her ” Can you tell  about the truth always”. She replied ” Can’t you see? I’m telling what Gods tell me and it is always the truth”. Kunjar said” Oh okay. So you can tell about anything on the earth,ah?” She replied ” Yes of course. Can’t you see? Kunjar asked,” If so, just tell my name dear”. The whole crowd went mad. Adhikari smiled at that time too. 

The witch surely didn’t expect that. She was puzzled. She knew the whole crowd expect her to tell the name.She said, ” Don’t play with gods, it is not the time for your silly doubts.”

Neeli’s family became furious. They didn’t like Kunjar interfering the proceedings. They stood up and furiously came towards Kunjar. At that time, Mapilamar watching the proceedings took their knife out and jumped in front of them. One of them said, “Stop there. Ask the witch to tell his name. Otherwise how can we tell what she is telling is truth. So stay back”. Neeli’s family were puzzled.

Meanwhile, the witch was standing puzzled there.She didn’t know what to say. The look on Kunjar’s face became sterner now because of the support he got from Mapilamar. The witch looked at her who was standing beside her with a Pantham. She now understood she didn’t stand a chance for a great escape. She cried out loud and said to Kunjar,” Please help me thambra. This is what I do for living. I have a family to look after. I always say what the crowd wants to hear. I don’t know what had happened ” . The crowd was stunned. They were shocked. Adhikari smiled at that time too.

Neeli’s family couldn’t digest it. They felt the belief they had in the system which the witch represented was shattered. Kutyathan’s family was so happy. The little sister hugged Kutyathan. Kutyathan had no emotion even then.

Kunjar who was applauded by the crowd and the Mapilamar especially went back to Damuar with a smile on his face. The crowd dispersed slowly. Kunjar and Damuar walked back. Neeli’s family returned with sorrow. 

But Kutyathan was emotionless at that time too. He kissed on his sister’s forehead and started to run. He ran through the dispersed crowd. He crossed Damuar and Kunjar. He then crossed Neeli’s family. He was running shouting “Neeli you are my soul. Although I saw you once, you immersed in me so deeply. I can’t have a life without you my Neeli”. 

Kutyathan ran towards the mountain and the crowd behind. He climbed the mountain  repeating the things he told. He had a Pantham in his hands. Kutyathan little sister could see it from far. For her, it seemed like a sunrise from the mountain. The Pantham in his hands was like a light going up the mountains. 

He ran towards the temple up above the mountain. He looked at the temple and uttered, ” What did she do? She was so innocent as you. What did she do?”. The. crowd was seeing all this from behind him. He yelled at the crowd, ” I didn’t kill my Neeli “. He ran towards the edge of the mountain. The clouds were still below his legs. He jumped into the clouds. The Pantham was still in his hands. The crowd was shell-shocked. They ran towards the edge. Kutyathan’s sister could see the light coming down from the other side of the mountain. Tears were pouring out from her eyes.She noticed the Pantham didn’t come down.She saw the Pantham again rising from the midway. She realised there were two Panthams now. The crowd had come back then.She saw both the lights moving in those clouds.  They were so close that it was hard to realise there were two lights. ……….

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