The Mad God of Morsi (Part 3)
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
A celebrated journalist’s firsthand account of the mystical forces
Disclaimer: All the characters' names and places are fictional and bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead.
After returning to Kure, I had a word with the mukhiya and briefly sought his permission to counsel the women on the perils of compromising their well-being. Upon securing his nod, I sent for them to assemble at his courtyard. As I started deliberating on the severity of the issue and how their reproductive cycle could get affected, the confusion on their intent faces gave way to giggles. I understood. Learning about their biological make-up from a man, a complete stranger at that, must have come across totally unexpected and, least of all, not made any sense.
Realizing that his words were not making much of an impact, did Hridaynath wind up his counsel, albeit with a word of caution- not to fall prey to any freebies in the future. Then, he asked them to leave on a cue from the mukhiya. Little did Hridaynath understand then that the women were besotted by his persona and the sincerity with which he was trying to talk to them. Shailee was the only one among the lot who was a bit literate and assured Hridaynath she would keep his advice in mind. Hridaynath was a rugged man with a dark complexion, brimming with youthful energy at forty with sharp brown eyes and a pleasing personality. His strong jaw and taut features reminded one of some familiar mythological figure.
Meanwhile, Hridaynath continued with his talk…
That was a month ago. This time around, when I returned to Kure to complete my project work and investigation on the ‘mass hysterectomies,’ the mukhiya politely told me that he would arrange for my accommodation somewhere else as he was expecting some guests at his place. I could sense something was amiss.
People from this region were known to be highly amiable hosts. Despite having meager resources themselves, they treated their guests like a God. My new host family was no different. Much more warm and hospitable than I’d imagined. It was a pleasant surprise for me to have been welcomed by Shailee and her husband Sadashiv at the entrance of their courtyard. They made sure I was well looked after from the moment I stepped in.
I could see that Sadashiv had recovered well in the past month. He now walked with a slight limp and said it would go away only with him. But he kept talking to me with his hands folded, and that made me uncomfortable too.
Over the course of our conversation later, he told me about how a family property dispute with his brothers soon after his marriage led them to lead a separate life. Staying away from a joint family system was in itself a significant trauma for Sadashiv. That also explained why no one was around when he was being rushed to the hospital.
I expressed my happiness for his improving condition and appreciated their small but well-maintained house. What made the surrounding soothing to the eye was a refreshing green vine of bottle-gourd that had grown thick and spread to cover the periphery of their courtyard wall.
“Things are now looking positive once again. My brothers have realized their folly,” saying so he fell at my feet weeping. “Gundam has heard our prayers and said, ‘honor him who rescues your life,’ and I am not beyond His word.”
Feeling awkward, I hauled him up and made him sit beside me. In a firm and assuring voice, I asked him to control himself.
“You have got a whole life ahead of you. Who will look after your wife if you give up so easily? Now cheer up and start planning for your own family.”
My words made him go quiet. He looked forlornly at me and then at Shailee.
After a moment’s uncomfortable pause, I asked him about who ‘Gundam’ was that he referred to just now.
“Gundam is the holy incarnation of the almighty who looks upon us all,” he said with a lilt in his voice.
“But in that case, why did you not consult him before doing something stupid like that?”
“Well, my mind was clouded in fear of the debt on me, and he stays in and around Morsi, which is 480 miles away.” Looking at the sky above, he continued, “He is a free soul and not bound by time and space.”
The village people are more often than not misled by some so-called ‘messenger of god.’ Over here, every village has one of its own. Villagers believe in their sleight of hand tricks, and these God-men benefit from the blind faith of illiterate village people. This is a way of life in most of the rural areas around here.
Early next morning, Sadashiv’s pleading voice woke me up. On stepping out of my room, I saw that someone had uprooted the trunk of the bottle-gourd vine and pulled it in such a fashion so as to break it from the adjoining stem and branches. How cruel could one get!
Again, Hridaynath had omitted a few details. They were now playing on his mind’s screen.
Last night after shutting down his laptop as Hridaynath was about to hit the pillow, he heard a gentle knock on the door. The moonlight beaming through the colored plastic sheet in the roof had bathed the room in a shade of blue. Shailee entered through the ajar bolt-less door carrying a glass of hot milk. She said it was mixed with turmeric powder- a popular immunity-boosting concoction. Hridaynath expressed his gratitude towards the host and assured her he didn’t need it.
Shailee, who had till now lowered her eyes, suddenly looked straight up into Hridaynath’s eyes. Her hair was set loose, and it smelled of a mild jasmine scent. With her kohl-lined eyes, she seemed to glow with radiance in the moonlit room. Hridaynath didn’t stand a chance to turn down her unspoken command. In one gulp, he emptied the glass while spilling some on his vest.
After carefully placing the glass on the table, Shailee turned around and gently closed the door from inside. She let the patch of saree fall from her head and below her soft slender shoulders. Early in the morning, as they lay in each other’s embrace, Hridaynath was awakened by someone shouting outside in the courtyard.
“Time to Untwine you creep…drop-dead…I tell you!”
To be continued…
*mukhiya-head of the village or hamlet