He sat next to Malini, listening to an unclear rant. Vyasan always dreamt of this moment. He recognised every word she spat out, yet never understood what she was on about. He thought about the hidden truth. None of Vyasan’s friends had even known anything about him but for the mere facts of the worldly living. He refrained everyone from knowing him, he trusted nobody. But no one knew of his intent. He never expressed this. Vyasan always told self that he was his judge, jury and executioner.
He heard a familiar voice calling out to Malini. He recognised that disdained smile. He couldn’t figure out the name. He stood up, momentarily leaving Malini’s side, to greet. He then knew it. No one will see him again. He was mere smoke of memory. He turned to see Malini with a photo of him garlanded. A wind blew, Malini dropped the photograph shattering the glass, he was being sucked away from Malini to be hidden.
Vyasan is a small time writer/ blogger/ author, you can define him as you please,who managed to gather a sizeable fanfare due to his blog, which obviously was because of his constant marketing to his friends and family and constant reminders to read them. He had gained just one fan whom he never knew and never forced to read his blog. This was his true fan. His fame had recently hit the fourth page column of the local paper. The first comment he received was that from his English teacher praising his work, the first ever, and ten years after he last entered school gates.
Vyasan got an opportunity to work on a book, when his only true fan, a publisher, wanted to promote young writers. He was offered a modest remuneration, which nonetheless elated him. He somehow hated the prospects of sorting contracts and discussing remuneration. Vyasan was a normal middle class Indian, who wanted to earn a lot of money but hated to do the accounting for tax. He had his shoulders weighed with the responsibility of being the oldest in the family, although his parent never mentioned or reminded him. He wished to see his dad to retire and start enjoying his life, his mum to rest and stop doing the daily chores of the household and finally his sister to establish a business in her industry.
These thoughts prevailed in his mind like a prerequisite. Vyasan awoke to reality when the ricketing bus finally halted after what it seemed to be several hours of joy ride. As Vyasan stepped out onto the air of freshness, he had this sudden paranoia mixed with greater elation, which was inexplicable to him, but of the prospect of being at the destination. He felt the irony as always, his moments of extreme happiness always came with the paranoia of losing it. This took him back to the moment when he chose this particular village in Kerala.
Valmiki has been a true fan of Vyasan ever since his second blog.Valmiki never met Vyasan in person but always sent his secretary Kamban to sort out all the legal bindings. And for Vyasan, Kamban was the only point of contact to Valmiki. When Vyasan got his offer, he knew he had to make the most of the modest remuneration and he chose to live a simple life for the duration of his contract with Valmiki. This made him choose this village. Once he made his choice clear to Kamban, Valmiki arranged for the rest. Nobody asked him anything. He told everyone he intended to, about his departure. He packed few necessary clothes, books, a pen, an ink bottle, his laptop, i-pod, PSP, a camera and few other gadgets. Vyasan loves his family more than anything in his life, but he was selfish.
With every step he walked into the village, he swallowed huge gulps of fear, the inexplicable one stained with the intoxication of joy. Vyasan didn’t dare to utter the name of the village. He felt like being on cloud nothing, a term which he uses to represent his situation of profound joy and fear, co-existing at the same instance of time. As instructed, he paced, casually towards the only tea shop of the little village. He could see a rusty name board, it said HOTEL JIJUMON. He looked again at his notes, and it confirmed. Vyasan thought that Hotel Jijumon was a strange name but told himself
“what’s in a name?”
It didn’t fit into his perception of a hotel. He saw before him a mud plaster walled, thatched roofed hut with ample space for seating about twenty people. This was the first time Vyasan has been to a hotel and not seen four seater tables, instead saw benches lined up like that he last sat in his school.
As he neared, a group of people, in one quick motion, stood up and gathered around a middle-aged, tall and hunky man with greying hair . Vyasan walked up to the group, thinking that the hotel must be a very popular one, in spite of its appearance. The transitional pace of silence to a welcome party bang bang was magical and the air transformed to that of festive. The president of the village panchayat along with the senior members and their family, were present to greet Vyasan. The traditional chenda (cylindrical percussion instrument used widely in the state of Kerala) was being beaten at full clip. Vyasan, usually shy, suddenly felt a sense of pride invigorating in him and took charge of the situation with grace.
Vyasan slept like an infant, curled up. He woke up to the song of the crows and smell of the green. He stepped out of his house, he preferred to call it a hut, after getting ready for the day, to have a cup of tea. He walked towards Jijumon hotel. Ramankutty, the tea master, stood there at the tea counter, as he would any other day of the year, wrapped in folded pink leaf dotted lungi’s, greeted him with a larger than life smile. Vyasan had his tea and his favourite breakfast, appam & stew, and walked towards the counter.
He looked at Ramankutty, and asked innocently
he was abruptly cut short by Ramankutty, who said
” Sir, sorry to cut through your conversation please call me Ramu..”
Vyasan, now smiling, gathered from where he was axed,
” ok Ramu, (smiled again) could I ask you for a favour please?”
Ramu, now obediently asked
” What would you like Ramu to do you for you sir?”
Vyasan continued,” Ramu can I occupy one corner of your Hotel, to carry out the work I intend to do, here in Perumbalam.”
Inhaling, Vyasan continued, ” I will need to use one plug point to attach my computer.”
Ramu nodded obediently, in shock, in disbelief rather. Ramu never imagined the celebrated person who walked into his village the previous day wanted to do his work at Ramu’s Jijumon Hotel. It was a matter of pride and glory for Ramu. Ramu looked at the shocked face of Vyasan. He felt strange.
Vyasan was shocked out of his wits. It was for the second time he uttered Perumbalam. He first did it to Kamban. He asked for another glass of tea, and pulled a stool out of the shop and sat out staring into the horizon, blowing into the glass and then sipping. Vyasan realised this village had something special, it was the people, he reassured himself. It didn’t convince him, he was more than sure that his tendency of lying is acting upon him.
End of Chapter -1