Tuesday, July 11

Romancing The Road

I remembered when I was about 9 years old. I was walking down this road that seemed to go on forever into the woods. I stopped at every tree along the way and looked up to the sky. Sometimes the trees were very close together that the sky was totally covered and this rays of light came in columns to the forest floor covered with blankets of brown leaves. I wish I knew then it was light or something natural. Those rays actually scared me, everytime I looked up into the sky or deep into the woods I see this curtains and rods of glass glowing like some tall ghosts standing still to capture its helpless victim.

This road took me deep into the mysterious hills and mountains over the ages. The road was pebbled and some parts of it was still its its original laterite red. There were some ponds and a small stream crossing the road. I could see short sticks or metal rods stuck into the river and a small rope, probably a nylon rope tied around it. Once, tired I stopped and got into the rived and pulled the rope. Out came a huge, to my miniature understanding and eyes, bamboo basket shaped like an old Japanese bomb. Eager to know more I pulled all of them out, one by one and finally the last one came out to reveal a shiny fluttering something in it. My heart stopped and I fell into the river and ran out shouting. A dark hand caught me and lifted me to the dry banking and uttered some words. I still remember those round eyes, red at the edges probably because the man cried or he was tired. I thought he was the devil capturing me and I would never return home. But I wriggled free from him and ran away, ran as fast as I could.

So I went home that day all wet and mother scolded me. Dad obviously was feeling humorous of the whole situation and shared a joke with my neighbor's. I smirked at them and ran in. The I returned to the lonely road again the next weekend when school was off and I had no one to play with except my brother. I went further and further, and I passed the nightmarish river where the devil lives. I could see a few villagers sitting on the banks and starring attentively into the river where one man was standing collecting something out of the bamboo traps. It was fish! And much to my delight, the bomb was actually fish traps. That was something they did not teach in school at that time, or I was busy admiring the huge mountain just outside the school. Tiny understanding and eyes remember. So I waved to them and they waved back and I walked on. Oh I get all this attention you see because I was the headmaster's son and all. I ran slowly for a while, sweat trickled down my arms and back. The mighty sun, beaming everything, throwing at me when I saw mirages on the road far ahead. Those things stayed in my mind far into the future, those days I went chasing it thinking the road was flooded. I walked longer and longer and there was no time to tell except that the day was still bright and I could still see the houses at the other end. I was safe, but maybe I wont go back home anymore if something goes bad and the villagers would mount a search party for me soon into the night. That was from a movie, something on TV2 if I haven't forgotten that was this people who went searching for missing campers.

After what seemed to be miles or maybe days without coming to an end I did not look back. The occasional bird still flew with its huge yellow tail and then a few others small with yellow beaks this time. I noticed the further I walked into this forest or woods because it was full of tree, the animals got stranger and stranger. I saw something like a monkey but with huge white circles around its eyes, but then it made this amazing great sound that I froze there momentarily. Something spiraled above the air from the jungle, followed by a thousand more I reckon, thousands of birds and other animals. Then the leaves, one by one, then by the dozens starts to float down the trees around it. This small monkey, with its white circled spectacles made such a mess, that I still hear its resounding shout to me some nights. So I turned and walked on figuring that I walked this far and surely they'll be looking for me now that I wont be allowed to get this far again anymore anyhow.

I came to a bend in the road, a small bend that let to a small hut of somekind. I did not enter the bend for it was the dark woods and then there were bushes all around where my grandma used to say giant snakes lived. In front of this hut was this metal rod of, the spear normally present in front of Hindu temples. It must be a small temple that they had everywhere last time. I went to one a few months ago, and they slayed a goat there. It was a feast, I ate mutton that day but I couldn't figure till today how that headless goat actually ran around the temple a few times. Headless but still inspiring because of its dripping read blood and me standing far away behind Dad's protective motorcycle. But the people just ate after that, and I recollected seing a lime stuck on top of the spear. I threw some stones and went near and saw there was this yellowing lime on the spear and peeking inside I saw the idols.

Nothing enticing there and I continued this walk deeper, by now sweating and breathing heavily. I was not much of a trekker and it was not a scouts expedition so there was no water or anything. The previous year they took us into the jungle for scouts trekking we saw a giant wild boar with daggers in its mouth waiting to slay anyone who came that way. After ages I presume, ages and aching knees I reached the end of the road. It was a huge wooden house and behind it were more structures. Giant factories with metal beams everywhere rusting to the color of blood. The yellow paint of tractors, the old ones with round lights were streaked with rust blood. I walked nearer and sat under a shade of one of the houses. The jungle was not really huge now, there was a huge clearing around the area and still it looked menacing. There were thick bushes everywhere and at any moment some naked person with body paints and spears and sticks will jump out and capture me.

My mind floated away, my body still tired and my eyes lazily admiring the silent mystery monuments around me. About a century ago, this place was a bustling pioneering settlement. There were about a hundred families who came from everywhere the British colonized. They were promised a rich land where they can settle and the future was bright and beckoning. These families worked in this huge wood mills and tapped rubber and lived a peaceful life under the hills. My fingers ran over a metal rivet holding tight protecting forever in its destiny the machine of its masters. The rivets each bigger than my fingers, ran all around everywhere from the machines to the walls of the metal boiler buildings. All rusted, their rust blood leaving abstract marks on the walls. A gliding bird, yellow and black brought my attention to that one fateful day years back. This settlement grew prosperous over the years, the managers were rich and they were actually colonizing much of the land surrounding the place. The town itself at the entry point of the island was a bustling with traders. This was a stopover port for traders manning the routes to Thailand and India and elsewhere. So there were a mixture of many people, natives of many language.

One night, some legendary day some month and some year that no one can remember, a gang of pirates came on silent sampan's which are I learned wooden boats frequently used at that time. They reached the head villagers house and demanded some money and threatened to take ransom of his wife and children. Then they raided the rich Chinese 'Taw Key's house. He was the owner of the mill and saw factory and had a lot of possessions. He defended his family, took out his shot gun and managed to kill a few of the pirates. He killed the leader who slashed his wife and children. He shouted from the window of his house on the small hill to the villagers. Many of whom had by now ran out into the huge field around them and was panicking. There was no electricity back then and the dark night was quickly coming bright by bonfires and fiery eyes.

In the morning, under the cloudless sky the silent breeze carried the songs of hungry birds. That's what someone told me, my friend that I never got to see after those years. So that morning, the traders from the town came to the village which was hidden deep in the island, the jungle and mountains. From quite far they smelled this burning scent of some animal. They guessed it must be the boar hunters or some villagers in the rubber plantation. When they reached the settlement they found bodies everywhere, some burned some with slash wounds and blood teaming with flies. That was a strange history, odd for a British settlement of that time. The story resonates still in my head, just like the long walk down the gray alley. The decimated village remained strong and deviant for years to come. Many more pirates came and philandered the villages along the coasts, islands and inland where the rivers from the sea would flow satisfying the violent cycle of prey and hunter. Such was the nature that provided with violent images of daggers and lightning and devils in my childhood. I sat there, my eyes wide, darkness approaching from thousands of miles away into my tiny eyes.

I got up and walked along the road, not turning back. Scared because of this superstition my grandma taught me, that said you must never turn back to see something or someplace when you leave it. It must have been my grandma or some friend from faraway times that I forgot. And when I reached the road, the dried sweat made my shirt stick to my body and the wind blew chilling and slowly erasing the fading memories. In a while, from inside the woods, from a small road came this motorbike and offered me a ride back home. Those familiar eyes, which I still remember took me home and he never told anything to my waiting mother. Of course I lied I was playing in the stream nearby which was an offence itself. So I was not grounded I remembered like some TV kid, but was given a few beatings with the sharp cane and I still slept that night with eyes wide open to the mystery stories of my childhood.

[+] This is a true story, least I have never verified the pirate attacks, but they said it was true, those who told me the story. It was from long ago, a place where I visited a few weeks back, the island of Langkawi.


Cinderella said...

British colonies,saw mills,pirates,monuments,temples,jungles....man what a mystifying (and slightly eery) childhood memoir it is !!

How dare you walk all the way alone ? It coulda been dangerous !!
I hope the caning part is true too.You deserve that.

And on a better note,I loved the title.And the description of the road in the first two paras.
Awesome !!


Shiv said...

Oh Gosh!! Is tat really true...If I had read tis before I visited Langkawi, me wud have dropped tat plan..anyways..

Keshi said...

If I was ur Ma I would have spanked ya...:) Nice dreamy memories.

**Scared because of this superstition my grandma taught me, that said you must never turn back ..

my mum says the same to me lol!


Ghost Particle said...

[cinderella]...hey I was just going on an adventure...sigh...

[shiv] actually it was a legend, and its a legendary island. You dont have to drop the plans, it happened long long ago...and I cant really verify the truth but many things happened during the british times.

[keshi] lol! hahaha...yeh, coz if we turn back the curse will get us. :p

Don Iannone said...

Beautifully written...I was there in your words...nine again...seeking adventure. Nice!

Nahuatl said...

Wow! Just.. wow! :D

Jeevan said...

If i walk in the dark, i will not look back, because of fear. my cousin uncle used to fear me every time, that in dark place only devil will live, so it will catch u when we go their. pirates attack was very bad. what was that man doing inised the river?

you have a good memories bro:)


I am sorry
I read thi syesterday but didnt leave a comment...was just taken into the TV n Mumbai happenings...This is good...Part of it reminded me of Hans of duke too!

V N said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
V N said...

*uff..these typos*

remember someone telling me long back that a clap from behind after dusk cud never possibly have anything human asociated with it. turn around if u wanna have ur hair go up in flames!


Keshi said...

yeah yeah all that silly stuff lol!


ant said...

Very well written post, friend. I felt I was really there and seeing everything unfolding around me.

Methinks I want more.


V N said...

the superman season over??

the new hoarding on top looks quite kewl though. and a bit eerie. i guess thats the intention, huh? ;)


Rose said...


I like ur style of writing..



Kuan Gung said...

Great story...thank you

Ghost Particle said...

[don] thank you! Yes, travels and adventure is always great and remains in memory forever...

[nayan] thanx bro.,..!

[jeevan] the man was catching fish actually...yes, the evils in our tradition, the stories and all!

[scribz] Hand of Duke! hey...yeh I can see the connection! Thanx!

[velu] true...hahahah...I did keep me from turning till today! Yeh...superman was there for 2 weeks...cant put too much ads...its free! The new one supposed to be ultra minimalist!

[keshi] hemm...but its nice to remember rite!

[antoine] you will get more!!! soon! hahaha....its always good when u are absorbed into it.

[rose]Thank you very much! U can find more down there...and nice stories in ur blog!

[Kuan] Thanx for coming! Yes...its from my past days. Liked your blog, the poetry is superb!


it rains around the world sleep welcomes the dream, and  enigmatic souls awaken along the eternal shores of destiny