Bharathan - A Novel By Kovilan

Translated from Malayalam by A. Purushothaman

Chapter Two

Bharathan was somewhat late to wake up. By the time he was awake, the morning sunshine had reached up to the bamboo legs of the coir cot. When he got up and raised the shutter completely, the sunshine flooded the entire garage1 as a huge wave shattering and breaking up. At the next door, Yageswar Prasad's goat wailed.

The goat is afraid whenever the shutter is raised and lowered.

No one uttered a word from Yageswar Prasad's home.

Bharathan looked over. The goat was struggling hard to get out of the garage pulling the rope tied on to the legs of the cot. Kneeling, the two kids were drinking the milk from each of its breast.

On Yageswar Prasad's cot, the bed is not usually folded. His children were still sleeping on the blanket spread on the floor. Their mother must have started her work in Madhu Chaturvedi's flat. Sushamadevi must have assumed that either the father or the goats may wake up the children.

Yageswar Prasad has not come. The children do not wake up in the din raised by the goats.

Yageswar Prasad was on night duty.

Perhaps he must have slept in the bank itself after the duty. Not so sure. He can also sleep if he goes to the rest room of estate office.

Till going to the bank in the night, sitting crosslegged on Bharathan's cot, both of them were talking. Yageswar had suggested that they could go to the gymnasium2 together in the morning.

Let him come at his own convenience, Bharathan thought. There might be many reasons for a person not to return. Perhaps Yageswar is dead. All worries end with death. But to be dead, a full life is to be lived. That is why it is said, the dead are fortunate.

Somehow getting ready, Bharathan came out. When the shutter was lowered, the goat wailed again. Even now the goat has not tamed to steel and its harsh noise. Till now, the goat did not get leaves and water from steel.

Even the morning sunshine had heat. Here the sun rises showering sharp arrows of sunshine. The sun does not kill man, it bakes him hot.

This is a desert.

In the beginning, these lands were barren. To this desert now hailed as the plains of river Ganges, Bhageerathan brought down the Heavenly Ganges3.

Ganges4 is far away. Far away from IIT, beyond the railway line and the Grand Trunk Road, in the distant borders of the vastness of the green sugar cane fields, she dances in the hot sun.

The bus was coming along the main road. Seven and a half, thought Bharathan. The first bus starts at seven and a half.

The bus came rushing. Bharathan wondered who the driver could be. Whoever it may be the fellow does not think that there are people also on the road. Out of habit, Bharathan signalled. Slowly, slowly, it seemed as if the bus shook once. The bus seemed to be dancing. Bharathan heard the brakes shrieking and the wheels screaming. Thereafter, a fall. Bharathan did not see the whole fall. As a lightning, as a ray of sunshine, the passenger hurled from the foot board. He flew in the air, along with the bus. For a moment, spreading his arms, he remained floating in the air as a paper bird. Standing, Bharathan slipped. When the bus dancing on the road rushed past in its valor and all paraphernalia, his eyes and ears dimmed. He also heard shrieks. He hoped the bus will stop. He was afraid the bus will roll over, hitting on the wall of the footpath. He was unable to wait till the bus stopped or rolled over. Then he was unaware whether he was running or flying like a kite severed from its string. Bharathan knelt down near the fallen passenger. As though to stop life from escaping, Bharathan's hands covered his head. Lying inclined on one side, stretching his arms and legs fully, he groaned.

Still alive.

Bharathan looked at the face, covering his chins with his hand. That was a child's face. It seemed as if the face was asking: what happened to me? Bharathan looked on for some time, as though he had seen this face somewhere and forgotten.

This should not have happened to you. Where did I see you? As if to refresh his memory, Bharathan touched him. As though seen yesterday. Bharathan touched on his shoulder, back and waist. Each turn, on touching, he groaned. Life was awakening in his voice, when he groaned on each turn. Bharathan wanted to turn him over on his back. He looked up to see whether someone was coming. Again lowering his face, he asked like a fool.

Can you get up? Can you lie on your back?

Surprisingly, he moaned.

Mother!

Bharathan is not his mother. In his chest, in his heart a grief parched. He will not be able to transmit life, to sustain life through an umbilical cord, to nourish him with breasts. He then remembered the goat, feeding the kids, even while wailing.

He is nobody. He is not even a conductor to nurse a passenger who fell down from the bus.

Bharathan hoped in vain that this accident would not have occurred if he was present in the bus. The first bus is always crowded. The sleepy passengers returning after night duty will not wait for the second bus.

Bharathan engulfed his hands and straightened both. Hands are not broken. He covered his legs and straightened both. Legs are not broken.

Bharathan asked.

Does it hurt? Does it hurt badly? Can you lie on your back?

Holding on his shoulder and waist, vainly speaking to him, Bharathan made him lie on his back. Scraped on the road and torn badly, his cheeks were totally disfigured. Blood gushed through the corner of lips whenever his lips moved. Each time calling his mother, with his thin voice, as if the blood and life drains out.

The blood pooled on the road.

Perhaps his jaw bone is broken. Looking at the face, one half handsome and the other disfigured, it is not certain whether he is dying or his life is returning.

Bharathan wiped off his lips and corners. Even then the blood did not dry up.

Once he moaned.

Water.

His eyelids quivered. As the sparkle of a drop of water he opened and closed his eyes. It appeared as though he smiled because he was able to see the world's reflection once more. Or opening his lips he might have attempted to cry.

Again blood filled up his lips, longing to wail.

Standing up, Bharathan wondered how to take him to the hospital. One person is enough. Only one person need come. One helping hand to assist. Standing up, Bharathan called out as if to nobody.

Can you come?

Somebody stood on the verandah of the Science Block. Raising his hands, Bharathan called him.

Can you come up here?

Somehow, that man came hurrying up. Bharathan looked at him, with a face full of gratitude, with a heartful of friendship.

Goyal.

Walking, walking faster and faster and running, Kamalesh Kumar Goyal came, and looking down, said in one breath.

Thank you Mr. Bharathan, today also you helped me. What happened to him? He had come to see me. He is my younger brother. Our mother is seriously ill. I am going home leaving aside the computer and research. Anil, Anil, do you hear me calling? Don't you want to go home? Don't you want to tell mother that I am coming? What happened to you?

Kamalesh Kumar knelt down beside his brother.


English translation 1997 A. Purushothaman

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