Bharat Rakshak

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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 16:49 
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Spy Story – Generations

Section 1: Mirror to the Past


The pages of the diary were already browned. Like every other industry, paper making also had frozen in time in around the fifties. The license, permit and quota system ensures that the companies produced certain reams of paper, which is lapped up by the customers. There was no incentive to make it good. A liberal dose of blue dye, used as a whitener, barely served to shade the brown tinge that the crude bleaching system failed to remove. It also made sure that the paper did not live beyond a decade without turning into flakes by the touch.

Maybe apt for this diary. It laid dormant under a pile of junk, carefully hidden by the author. He very well knew that it won't be found until the family moved from the old rickety place. That was a wise decision. Even though a casual reader wouldn't think anything about it, the reader whom he wrote it for, and the ones he feared of reading it, would find no difficulty in deciphering it. An untimely exposure to either would be catastrophic.

His foresight played out well. The young man opened it with trembling hands. The first page had the name of the owner in the precise, unmistakeable cursive hand he so well knew. A wave of emotion overcame him, making him gasp which ended in a sigh. His eyes watered up, blurring his vision. He wiped them clear, and turned the pages.

He was expecting a journal of sorts inside. To his knowledge, his father never wrote a dairy. In fact, he was immensely surprised to see the book where it was hidden. It took some effort to keep it out of sight of his mother and carry it safely to his den upstairs. He knew there will be something in that hidden book, and that something is not likely to be good for his mother. It was late in the night he could find occasion to open and try reading it.

What the reader found within was not a journal of events of the days the diary belonged to. It was a mirror to the past. Centuries in the past, in fact.


Last edited by Dileep on 13 Jan 2010 16:57, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 16:49 
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Folks,

I am starting the next novel. This time, I am not too sure about the acceptance or suitability to BRF. Following the advice of Rahul M, the staunchest supporter of my literary adventures, I am posting it here on GDF.

I recently read an old novel that is set to the period three centuries ago. There was a brief mention of spy work in that, which kindled my interest. A John Mathew have computers, cell phones and all other gizmoes. What did his counterpart do in the eighteenth century? At some point of time, I figured that it is worth to explore.

But the concern if it belongs to BRF remained. Would it interest the typical Jingo? What about the gizmo crazy ones? In fact I started off writing into a novel format instead of a forum format.

Then, the question arose, WHY do I write? Do I expect to publish it into a book? Would I get the same kind of excitement and satisfaction that I got from writing SS-1 and SS-2?

The answer was NO. I don't expect to publish a book, and writing something to be saved into an OpenOffice file ain't exciting at all.

So, I decided to ask. Now that I got a go ahead, here it goes. Feedbacks are most welcome. Post here, or e-mail to dileepks on gmail service.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 16:50 
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The night was pitch dark. The monsoon rains that lashed the land had, as usual, receded as the sun moved further into the house of Cancer. In the late seventeenth century CE, options for obtaining ligh were limited, so there was nothing to break the darkness that hung over the land like a thick woolen blanket. As the custom of the days, the people had taken the early supper and retired for the night. Only the sick elderly, lovesick young, and the people who worked the dark were awake. The highway, if it could be called one, was completely deserted. What would be named a major highway a few centuries later, was nothing more than a trail made by bullock carts. Still, to the standards of the time, it was the major artery linking the capital city to the port and trade centre.

The road from the south came down a gradient and entered a paddy field. After crossing the paddy field, it entered a coconut grove. It was an intersection where the trail leading to the village of Purathur branched off. A huge banyan tree stood at the intersection, shading the traveler's shack, water hut, and the stone pillar that aided the weary traveler to unload their burden. The tree gave the cool dark shade that comforted the traveler, but right now, it accentuated the darkness to a surreal quality. The wind had died down, calming the chatter of the leaves of the tree. The snoring of the lonely traveler who took refuge in the traveler's shack stopped for a moment, as he turned on his side, being uncomfortable on the rough mat he slept on.

The hushed clatter of horse hooves on the damp sandy soil came from a distance. It was on a trot, and the distinct clang of the handle of a sheathed sword on the shield that was hooked to the saddle horn was audible. As the road came down the from the south, nothing of the horse or the rider was visible in the darkness against the dark backdrop of the abundant brush grew on either side of the road. As the horse crossed the paddy field, a glimpse of the silhouette of the horse and rider was seen. It was one of those Arabian thoroughbreds that the kings of Malabar would give anything to get. The rider sat majestically on it, as he outline of the bundle of hair, kept in the traditional fashion of the Nair warrior.

As the rider approached the darkness loomed at the intersection just beyond the other side of the paddy field, he slowed down to a walk. Even his eyes, famed to be able to see in total darkness, couldn't see well.

There was a little clatter, as the horse who hesitated for a moment to walk into the darkness that felt almost solid. The rider prodded the thoroughbred forward, with a rattle of the bridle. The horse pulled its head low in an attempt to see better, and entered the halo of darkness. The handle of the sword again clanked with the shield.

Suddenly something wooshed through the air, and the noise of a heavy hard object finding its target on a human body was heard. A surprised gasp, the clatter of feet, and the neigh of the horse, all broke out at the same instant. A cry of surprise was heard, which ended as sharply as it began with a gag. It was followed by a wail of pain, which also was silenced immediately.

Scared by the commotion, and free from the weight of the rider, the horse had bolted. After a few minutes heavy footsteps were heard walking away into the trail leading to the village.


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 16:53 
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Enjoy indeed -- yea !!!

Nitpick 1
The pages of the dairy were already browned.

options for obtaining ligh were limited


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 16:58 
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The little kingdom of Vettom that was sandwiched between the bigger kingdoms of Perumpadappu and Nediyirippu had always suffered the fate of the small fish in the pond. After the golden years of the perumaals of the Chera dynasty, the region fell into disarray, with a number of kings starting to rule independently.

The royal house of Perumpadappu, who claimed to be the direct heirs of the emperor perumaals, were originally located at Vanneri. They were blood relatives of the house of Vettom, but that doesn't matter much in politics. Infighting and incompetence in the house had led to the decline of Perumpadappu. Being unable to stand up to the house of Nediyirippu from the north, they had to move their capital to the newly formed port of Goshree. They also had to get into an alliance with Vettom, against Nediyirippu. It would take several decades later for that house to see a strong and capable king, who would pave the foundation to the kingdom that remained till it joined the newly created Indian Union. Nediyirippu, on the other hand, were not blood relatives to the other kingdoms in the region. The kings of that house always had a quest to expand their domain, so Vettom took the grudge of those campaigns. At some point of time Vettom had to accept the sovereignty of Nediyirippu, but later they fought to independence once again. In the end, Tippu Sultan consolidated all the kingdoms north of Perumpadappu into his empire, which the British took over after his defeat and formed their Malabar district under Madras Presidency.

At the time of this story, Vettom and Perumpadappu were in an uneasy alliance. The Dutch had a fort at Goshree, which they named Fort Cochin. They controlled the trade at the port, and were trying to exert political influence with Perumpadappu. The British were headquartered at Tellicherry, and were allied to Nediyirippu. The only reason an open war is not being fought was that Nediyirippu hadn't recovered from their recent campaigns. Every effort was made in the form of covert operations to further their respective causes. The capital of Vettom had become a beehive of activity of political intrigue. The kingdom had its own problems to deal with, apart from external ones. Kerala Varma, the long reigning king, was assassinated, and the young an inexperienced Ravi Varma was on the throne. This had increased the fervor of the subversives.


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 18:04 
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Well interesting !!! :). Just finished my reading of the Rudyard Kipling book 'Kim'. The story of an orphaned boy Kimball O'Hara son of an Irish Sergeant. I found the style of English a bit irritating. But the whole book is about the intrigue, and spy-craft. About how British cultivated spies in far off lands, and how the information was passed on. It also shows the old days of India during the 1800s.


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010 21:14 
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Dileep, Please write and dont stop the mind. Thanks, ramana

BTW, Kalki's "Ponyin Selvan" has very good depiction of pre-technological spycraft. The characters of Ravidasan and his cohort are covert action operatives. The character of Nambi is a counter-intelligence operative. And the Mantri also is the intel chief. The chief protogonist Vandhyathevan has multiple roles: intel messenger, bodyguard, recce, counter intel.

Macmillan has an English edition.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010 06:17 
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“Ramunny Menon is missing”. The Vettom Palace stood frozen at the news. The news spread around, from the palace grounds, to the dining hall of the temple, to the bathing ghat at the lake, to the kalari, and on to the households. In those ages, where communication was mainly word of mouth, speculations and conspiracy theories went around like wildfire. Nobody really knew what happened, and everyone made their own addition to what they heard, before forwarding it.

The news came to the palace in the early morning. Its significance was so heavy, that the courtiers decided to meet among themselves, before they briefed the king.

They knew the king wouldn't take it lightly. Ramunny was not only his spy chief. He was his friend and classmate as well. Even Rama Panicker, the ageing prime minister, was feeble in influence with the king compared to him. The king, belonging to the younger generation, had taken Ramunny into confidence. He valued his friend more than the older ministers, whom he thought didn't share the same mindset.

This had created a rift in the council. The elder generation resented Ramunny's influence on the king, but dared not to express it in public. The king was well aware of this situation. The ministers had a substantial fear that the king might suspect foul play from their part. Knowing the nature of the king, he might even implicate them in the disapperance.

They were scared.

They did not have much information to report anyway. Ramunny was supposed to arrive the previous evening, but all that shown up at his residence was his horse without the rider. The family immediately raised the alarm, and a search party re-traced the road that he was expected to travel. Signs of struggle was seen near certain traveler's shack, with footsteps of the horse and humans abundant. Piece of an ornament that Ramunny used to wear was also located, confirming that the man was, in fact attacked and taken.

What confounded them was the total absence of any trace of blood. Ramunny was an expert warrior, a master of the kalari tradition. It wouldn't be easy to take him, even for another kalari master. There must have been an ambush of sorts, and whoever the assailants, must have taken him by surprise.

But the question was, where is him? There was no sign of blood, and no sign of any trail. So, they came to the conclusion that he was taken a prisoner. Possibly by the enemies of the state, or of himself.

By all means, Ramunny had no dearth of enemies in the kingdom. In fact much of the ministers would be glad if he dropped dead. So would be many of the subjects living in the capital. The spy master exerted so much power on the king, and instilled so much fear in the subjects, that everyone publicly mourned the missing of the man, but many celebrated deep within. But all care was taken not to make the feeling public.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010 17:27 
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It was the duty of Rama Panicker, the prime minister, to report to the king. He was not sure if the king got the news already. The spies worked independently from the general administration. So, even though their boss is missing, they might have already briefed the king. It maybe due to this practice, that the the age old custom of reporting to the king under the assumption that the matter is already known to the royal majesty.

Rama Panicker tried to scrutinize the face of the royal guard who came to inform him that the king has finished his morning pujas and would arrive at the main hall soon. The stone faced man gave no clue. He simply delivered the message in the typical monotone, bowed and left. With some effort, Rama stood up from the padded mat he was sitting on, spat the residue of the pan into the receptacle, and started off the laborious walk to the kings court. Years had not been kind to the man. He was suffering from arthritis even at the time of the old king, but the hereditary position had to be held on to. It was a privilege his family enjoyed for generations.

He passed the last pair of stonefaced guards, who withdrew their crossing spears to make way for the prime minister. His ageing eyes stole a glance at the face of the king, since the custom warranted that the subjects should not look the king in the eye. What he found there was anxiety. He stopped beyond the threshold, took his shawl from the shoulder and tied it around his waist. The ends of the fabric that was heavily starched were then tucked in between his legs. He walked inside the threshold, and bowed to the waist level. He then brought his hands together in front of his chest, and rose. He repeated this two more times, rose finally, took two steps forward, and stood, looking at the feet of his master and king. He would stay there, mute, till spoken to by the king


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010 17:28 
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Ravi Varma, the king, had ascended to the throne of Vettom around two years ago, followed by the bloody death of his uncle Kerala Varma. His half brother Rama Varma, who was the crown prince was killed in a accident the previous year, so everyone thought that it was a play of fate that the young man, only in his early thirties, had to become the king. Much of the subjects had their sympathy to the young man, who had to shoulder the tremendous responsibility. The younger generation looked forward to a reign of peace and prosperity after the turmoils in the late years of the previous king.

Kerala Varma was a strong king. A ruler who believed that an iron fist is what takes to rule a kingdom. He managed to alienate many of the segments of the subjects by his policies. Even though he brought the kingdom to a better stature among the ones around, and tried hard to improve the lot of the subjects, his strong and high handed ways had annoyed the powerful families in the country. They didn't have much recourse, other than to wait for the king to die and the crown prince to take over.

The king had two heirs, the sons of his two sisters. The royal family followed matrilinear succession, like all kingdoms did in the land. Rama Varma was the elder and heir apparent. Ravi Varma, a year younger was the third in line to power. Rama Varma grew up with the full consciousness that he will be king one day, while Ravi Varma was the easy going, tag along type.

As custom demanded it, Rama Varma, the crown prince started to get involved in the royal matters from an early age. To the surprise and chagrin of the subjects, he turned out to be a worse copy of the king. He was strong headed, self righteous, and no less arrogant than the big man. Even the king had to ask him to tone down his attitude at a couple of occasions. Even the old and experienced ministers and courtiers had to tolerate the excesses of the spoilt brat. But there was restrictions and limits for them to complain. He was, after all, destined to be their king.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010 23:40 
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Folks can anyone with graphic artist skills scan the old Chandamama for ideas and try to illustrate this new story? I think we are on the verge of another master piece.


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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010 00:23 
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Thankyou Dilip saar...


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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010 06:14 
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Marriages are always a tool of politics when it comes to the royal families, and the kingdom was no exception. In the matrilinear custom of the place, the consorts of the king held no title, and their offspring held no rights to the royal house. Children were considered to be members of the family of the mother. Kings normally married from the wealthy and prominent nair families. Outwardly, it was just a matter of privilege to have a king marry into your family.

But in most cases, the family of the royal consort held a lot of influence on the king. The feminine charm, and the power in the bed of the consort extracted a lot of concessions and bestowal of power to the family. So, whenever there was a prince available, there used to be a competition to grab him. No effort was spared to let the girls be in the sight of the princes and the elders of the royal family. There was no dearth of well dressed up girls whenever the princes attended a function, be it at the temple, or a public function. Even a secret affair with the prince was gainful, so girls were encouraged for even that.

Arakkal Kunjunni Menon had much more reasons to snag an alliance to the royal family. He was the lord of a big stretch of lands right at the northern border of the kingdom. Beyond his lands, across the river, it was the strong kingdom of Nediyirippu. Vettom was under sovereignty of Nediyirippu for some time in the recent past, before Kerala Varma severed the links. Kunjunni Menon had to forgo some lands that were in the domain of Nediyirippu, which hadn't gone well with him. He had expertly hid his displeasure with his sovereign, playing the part of a loyal subject well.

In normal circumstances, Arackal family would have never got an alliance to the royal house. Kunjunni Menon was married into a family near the capital. As a first step of approach to the royals, he was successful in getting his nephew Ramunny, the son of his sister-in-law into being a classmate of the princes. In those days, there was the custom to select a few boys of the same age as the prince to be his friend/classmates. They would grow up together, and depending upon their calibre, would take jobs at the courts and be faithful servants to the king. With a bit of influence with the trainer at the royal kalari, Kunjunni Menon was able to get Ramunny accepted there. Ramunny was as sharp and smart as the old man, so he could gain the trust and admiration of the princes, and into getting selected into the inner circle.

When the princes went to complete a prolonged ritual at a temple away from the capital, Kunjunni Menon took his niece, the beautiful Parukutty, to stay at a relative place close by. His intention was to snag Rama Varma, the crown prince. But as fate would have it, it was Ravi Varma, the third in succession, who ended up being enamored with Parukutty. Rama Varma, the strong willed, had already been in a covert relationship with a girl from a family nearby to the royal palace. He deferentially stood up even to the king, not only for himself, but also for his half brother, Ravi Varma.

Ultimately, the king had to give in, and allow the marriage of the princes to their respective sweethearts. Kunjunni Menon was not at all happy about the turn of events. Even though he got Ramunny into an influential position, getting the kings consortship was the key in attaining his goals.

But getting the third in line was not that bad, he thought. Especially when Ravi Varma is only a murder away from being the second.


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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010 07:28 
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Here is some details on the period info:

People are named like <family name> <given name> <caste/title>. Example, Nadamel Ramunny Menon. When addressing equals or less by age, just the given name is used. When addressing superiors by age, either the relation (like uncle) is used, or the name+title is used. Family name is only used for disambiguation.

Nair, Nambiar, Warrier, Marar etc are caste names of non-brahmins. Menon, Panicker, Kurup, Kaimal, Karthavu etc are hereditary titles given to them by the kings.

Elayathu, Nambi, Nambeesan, Namboothiri are brahmin castes.

The non-brahmins used the matrilinear system, where men are visiting husbands. Children belong to the mother, and heirs of their uncles. They didn't get anything materialistic from their father.

People ate only twice a day. Both rice based. One at forenoon and the other in early evening.


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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010 16:54 
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The tragic death of prince Rama Varma had shocked the little kingdom of Vettom to no extent. It was true that he was high handed and arrogant. It was true that the subjects feared him, rather than love and respect him. It was true that they feared the day he would wear the crown. But he was still the crown prince. The heir to the crown that ruled them for centuries. The heir to the royal family that ruled and protected them. Vettom palace fell into gloom.

And what a tragic death it was! He was riding his favorite horse as part of his morning exercise regime. The young group of men, including the prince, his half brother Ravi Varma and their classmates had finished their morning session. Then Rama Varma and Ramunny rode off, for one more spin. Who could have guesses that the prince, who was a master in horse riding, would get thrown by his dear horse? They were planning to ride across the narrow bund that led to the vast coconut groves on the other side of the lake. The prince was in the lead. When he entered the narrow section, something happened and he was thrown from the horse into the water. His body was tragically impaled on the bamboo poles that someone left in the water after fishing. He died on the spot, leaving the faithful Ramunny dumbstruck. The ride of the prince ran a bit further and fell into the water. The thoroughbred drowned in the shallow water.

Kerala Varma, the king was shattered. He was counting on Rama Varma to rule after him and continue his legacy. Rama Varma was strong, and was considered capable of countering the constant threat from Nediyirippu. He had grown into an expert warrior and master strategist. The only concern Kerala Varma had was his handicap in diplomacy. Even as the crown prince, he had created a few rows with the relative and ally, Perumpadappu. Kerala Varma had to make some extra efforts to mend the relationships.

Having to accept that fact that Ravi Varma, whom the king never considered to be in his own league, was a blow to Kerala Varma. But he had no choice. He was the next in line, and he shall become the crown prince. Kerala Varma decided to take what fate gave him, and started training a rather reluctant Ravi Varma in the matters of state.

Ravi Varma himself had no ambition of becoming the king. He was expecting his half brother to take the burden, and in due course, pass the baton to his own nephew. He too had no choice, so he reluctantly started getting used to being crown prince.


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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010 17:01 
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All coincidences to the current political scenario are purely incidental of course.
:mrgreen:


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PostPosted: 16 Jan 2010 06:10 
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The ceremony was simple. Everyone in the kingdom were constantly reminded about the tragic situation under which it had come into being. So, the anointment of the crown prince, which normally should be a happy occasion, was presently a solemn one. All forms of celebration were avoided, in mourning the departed prince. Even the customary 'hurrah' by the courtiers were hushed and hardly heard beyond the shed.

Arackal Kunjunni Menon, being the 'kaaranavar' of the prince's consort, was given a respectable seat in the audience. It was Ramunny Menon who accompanied the old man to the place. The other lords standing there bowed respectfully, and gave a wide berth to him to stand. Ramunny then had to rush back, as he had assumed being the bodyguard of the prince. Even though the new prince had the choice in this matter, he just went along, as Ramunny was the bodyguard for the departed prince as well.

While all the dignitaries kept a solemn demeanor, in respect to the occasion, Kunjunni Menon seemed happy. Even though he tried hard to hide it with a frown, the sharp eyes of some of the courtiers had in fact detected it. Some even ventured to whisper it around. Some mockingly said it is justified. After all he got a windfall by getting his son-in-law to be the crown prince.

After the ceremony, the prince went and formally occupied the official residence. Parukutty and her host of maids welcomed him with lighted lamps, and the tray with the eight auspicious objects. His mother, Subhadra Thampuratty, came forward and blessed him with whole paddy grains mixed with turmeric. He touched the feet of the mother, and formally entered the palace. The functions being over, he took the occasion to relax on the verandah, chewing the pan expertly prepared by Parukutty. The royal mother and the other relatives left to their own palace, leaving the young couple alone.

Ramunny entered the courtyard, followed by a visibly elated Kunjunny Menon. They saluted the prince as custom demanded, and stood aside. Kunjunny Menon stood there, smiling wide. He no longer hid his happiness. The prince felt a bit irritated at this blatant violation of courtesy. After all, he loved and respected his half brother, on whose death he had to take this responsibility. But he chose not to express his feelings. Instead, he invited Kunjunni Menon to a seat at the verandah. Ramunny respectfully stood.

Parukutty bowed to her uncle and stood there, half hidden behind a pillar. Kunjunni Menon smiled back at her, visibly congratulating her in the accession to the position of prince's consort.

“You will be the queen soon enough, my child”, he told himself. Ramunny Menon, who was standing to the side, nodded, as if he read the mind of the old man.


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PostPosted: 18 Jan 2010 06:27 
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Less than two years after the death of the crown prince, tragedy struck the royal family again. Kerala Varma, the ruling king, was assassinated.

He was on a scheduled trip to the temple. The annual festival of the temple was about to begin, and it was the custom for the king to visit, and hand over the flag to the head priest. The king arrives on a palaquin to the main gate of the temple, and walk in, barefeet, to the main entrance. The royal entourage follows the king, as he settles down on the throne placed on the raised platform to the side.

As usual, the king's palaquin arrived in front of the temple, followed by the crown prince and the courtiers on foot. The king stepped out of the palaquin and stood straight. His eyes half closed in reverence and his lips started chanting the mantra of the deity. After pausing for a moment, he started walking to the main gate. The crown prince followed three steps behind, and the courtiers thereafter. Troops from the royal guards stood on either side of the path, armed with swords and shield. Two guards, in ceremonial dress and armed with spears, stood at the gate. The troops bowed to the king as he passed in front of them. The king walked, with eyes half closed, and lips chanting the mantra silently.

As the king reached the gate, the ceremonial guards withdrew their spears and bowed to him. Then without warning, one of the guards quickly turned the spear and thrust it upon the king, aiming for the heart. The king himself was an expert in the traditional martial art of kalari, and he would have easily evaded the thrust in normal circumstances. But he was lost in the piety of the occasion, so it took a fraction of a second for him to realize what is going on. He made the classic evasion maneuver, but it was too late. The spear aimed to his heart struck the right edge of his abdomen. The needle sharp tip came out on the other side, severing the colon.

Ramunny Menon, who was walking a few steps behind the prince rushed in, sword drawn, and slashed the assassin into two before anyone could even think of responding. The king fell fainted, with the spear still lodged in his abdomen. The injured king was taken back to the palace, where the physicians tried to revive him.

But all efforts were in vain. The king passed away, leaving the country and the royal family in shock. The most shocked was Ravi Varma, who was not at all prepared to shoulder the responsibility. But he had no choice. He was the crown prince, and heir apparent. The immediate need was to calm the subjects and instil the confidence in them. Ramunny Menon, who had become the principal confidante of the prince, provided the moral support the poor young man needed. After all, they were classmates and friends. After the last rites of the departed king was over, Ravi Varma Assumed the throne. Once again, a solemn function was organized. Everyone who attended was in tears, including the prince himself. Ramunny Menon tried hard to give confidence to the prince. Apparently with great effort, he avoided being in tears.

The only other person who didn't cry was Arackal Kunjunni Menon, the uncle of the new royal consort..


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PostPosted: 19 Jan 2010 12:18 
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It was customary to conduct the first session of the royal court, right after the coronation ceremony. King Ravi Varma was tired, more from being emotional, than from the physical strain. Even the courtiers had the same state. Everyone remembered the court sessions of the departed king. He had made them into sessions of briefing, rather than sessions of counsel. He didn't like being advised. He just wanted his courtiers to take orders and execute them. Even the crown prince, or the aged and respectable ministers, were treated the same way. In the back of their minds, the courtiers were expecting a more active role under the new king.

The tradition in the kingdom was to grant the court positions as hereditary to the family. So, the ministers of various departments would normally continue the same portfolio. However, the king have absolute authority in these affairs, and it is not uncommon for them to re constitute, or re-assign the responsibilities. When a new king takes office, the old court meets first, and decisions on how the constitute the new court would be announced by the king in that session.

The courtiers assembled under the shade of the banyan tree that gave shade to the yard in front of he court hall. Hushed, mouth to ear talks were heard here and there. They were expecting no changes in their responsibility. After all, the king is new, and known to take a passive stance.

Rama Panicker, the ageing prime minister entered the hall first. He staggered to his seat, as best his arthritis ridden legs could carry him. He was followed by senior most of the ministers, Sankaran Nair, who was the treasurer. The rest of the ministers filed in after them, more or less obeying the seniority rule. Some had tears in their eyes, as they looked at the empty throne.

Ravi Varma appeared, followed by Aditya Varma, his nephew and crown prince. He was just eighteen. He was a bit bewildered to enter the formal court, just as his uncle was when he did it two years ago. They were followed by Ramunny Menon, in the capacity of the royal bodyguard. Instead of leaving after the royals reached the dias, he stood to one side, contrary to the custom.

The courtiers did the ritual salute to the royals. The king walked up to the throne, and stood there in prayers. Tears appeared in his eyes, and he remembered, paid respect to, and sought blessings of his uncle, the departed king. The courtiers cried. Ravi Varma then turned, brought his hands together to salute the court, and slowly sat down on the throne.

The crown prince knelt before the king, seeking blessings. The king touched his head in return. He rose and walked to the smaller throne. He too, saluted the court and sat down.

The new court was in session.


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PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010 07:29 
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“Anil!! Why aren't you sleeping?” The voice of Rajalakshmi Nambiar echoed in the hallway, as the shuffling footsteps approached the door. The young man who was reading the diary quickly marked the page and hid it under another book before his mother reached his room. He then picked up one of the guide books for the civil service examination and pretended to read it.

The door slowly opened, and the face of a woman appeared. Anil turned his face and smiled.

“I didn't feel sleepy mom”. She walked in and approached him. He sorrowfully noted all the wrinkles and the untimely graying hair. His fathers tragic death was not easy for his mom. He remembered how radiant she looked when his father was alive. He felt the pangs of pain that had been with him ever since they lost the beloved man.

“You were arranging and packing the stuff all day. You should be tired.” She said, as she looked up and down her son.

“Oh, I am fine, mom.” He insisted.

“Go to sleep now, my child. Don't get sick.” She patted his back and turned to depart.

“Uh, mom?” Anil called hesitantly.

“What is it son?”

“Isn't our family from Cochin?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“I was reading the history of Malabar, and saw that generally Nambiars are native to Malabar, not Cochin.”

“Well, your father's family were originally from Tirur. My family is from Palakkad, so there must be some truth in what you read.” She suppressed a yawn.

“Tirur. Isn't it belong to the old Vettom kingdom?” There was an unmistakeable excitement to his voice.

“Yes, but that was centuries ago. There were no kingdoms there after Tipu's conquests. Why do you ask?”

“Nothing, mom. It is part of the history paper.”

“OK. Enough studies for today. Go to sleep dear.” She left with that final piece of advice.

He waited for the footsteps to die down under the stairs, and then opened the diary again.

And he was startled to no amount by reading the first line.

It was his father's name. “Chirakkal Govindan Nambiar”


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PostPosted: 20 Jan 2010 17:12 
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Chirakkal Govindan Nambiar was sitting on one of the side benches in front of the palace office complex. Since the ministers were at the court, the office was deserted. The staff, after the sumptious meal after the coronation, had scattered around, celebrating a holiday. They were not expected to be back to work, as the ministers normally went home after the court session. In those days, the office did not function to a set time table. You work as needed, and if someone needs you, they will send a messenger.

Govindan was waiting his father, Narayanan Nambiar, who was the spy chief for the departed king. His matriarchal family were traditionally the police for a province, but Narayanan took his son to Vettom to help him in his work. In his late sixties, Narayanan was getting too old for his job, and he highly depended upon Govindan to execute his responsibilities. Since he lacked a nephew to take over his job, he wanted his son to do it, at least till his grand nephew, the heir to the grant, grew up.

He was sad that he couldn't attend the coronation. He knew Ravi Varma well. The king was six or seven years his junior, and he had the privilege of serving as opponent to the then princes at the kalari. He was more attached to the deceased Rama Varma, and his untimely death had a lasting impact on Govindan. While every resident of the capital celebrated the coronation, he had to travel to the port town of Ponnani on an urgent errand. He tried his best to reach before the function was over, but all he could manage was the trail end of the feast, with rice and watery buttermilk. There was a reason why he was delayed.

En route he had stopped at a traveller's shack to drink water. Another traveller, apparently a 'gosayee*' ascetic in safron was at the fountain. Their eyes met, and Govindan saw an imperceptible twitch. The gosayee drank the water quick, took his cloth bundle and left to the direction he came.

His spy instincts were piqued by the gosayee. Considering the political situation in the country, anything and anyone going on that road going in the direction of Nediyirippu, was a suspect. As he re wound the brief encounter, he felt something wasn't right. Gosayees never inverted the coconut shell after drinking. This guy did!

Nonchalantly, Govindan walked on. But within half an hour, the old man at the traveller's shack saw another gosayee coming from the south. This one did not stop at the shack. He seemed to be a hurry.

The new gosayee walked briskly till he saw a glimpse of the first one. He then slowed down, and followed him from a great distance.

*gosayee: hindustani speaking ascetic nomad.


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PostPosted: 21 Jan 2010 12:06 
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great going. Keep it up ,sir.


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Go-sayee -- from Gau Swami -- or lord of the cow -- the cow protector -- a holy brahman

Indian (northern states): Hindu (Brahman) name, from Sanskrit gosvāmī ‘lord’, ‘religious mendicant’, from Sanskrit go, a word with many meanings, including ‘earth’ and ‘cow’, + svāmī ‘lord’ (see Swamy).


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Govindan Nambiar woke up from his thoughts, as he saw the old man walking up from beyond. He was surprised to see his father at that time. When the court adjourned, the ministers normally came out in groups, and seeing his father all alone was completely unexpected. He rose from his bench in an instant and briskly walked to the man.

“Oh, Govindan! You came! Didn't see you at the ceremony. Why were you late, my child?” Narayanan's voice seemed a little hoarse.

“Will come to that in a moment, father. Is the court over yet?” Govindan was anxious.

“No.” The answer was brief, unusual for the old man.

“Then why did you come out, father? Are you not well?” The concern was palpable in Govindan's voice.

“Come, let me sit down, and I will explain”. Govindan hadn't ever seen his father this tired. He held out his hand to support him, but the old man waved it off. Together, they walked to the set of benches. Narayanan dumped himself into one of them.

“The majesty has relieved me off my troubles”. He couldn't complete it as he almost choked.

“What do you mean, father?” Govindan couldn't believe his ears.

“Yes, son. I am becoming too old for being a spy. The Majesty is kind enough to have the mind to relieve me off my responsibilities”. Seeing the panic on his son's face made the old man pull himself together.

“But I.., How?.... Who...?” Govindan lost his words for a moment.

“The majesty had bestowed the burden upon Ramunny Menon, and freed me, and in a way you as well”. Narayanan said without emotion.

Govindan couldn't believe his ears.

“Ramunny! Nadamel Ramunny Menon?” He asked again, as if to make doubly sure.

“Yes, that 'scholar' itself” Narayanan was smiling now.

“The majesty was kind enough to continue to pay me my perks. I can now happily retire to my farms at Chamravattom. It has been my long time wish to do a year's lent at the temple there.” A sigh escaped him.

Govindan wasn't hearing that. This meant he too will have to go back to his police job at the province. That was no big concern to him. What troubled him was what he overheard at the base of a banyan tree. The conversation between a gosayee and a beggar.

The name Ramunny Menon, in relation to some despicable events, appeared in that conversation. Govindan had rushed in to give the intelligence to his father.

But now it is too late. Govindan decided to keep it for himself. There is no need to give more trouble to the old man.

“Can I get you some buttermilk, father?” He asked while rising. The old man nodded and closed his eyes.


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Ramunny Menon was never late like this. In fact he used to be the first man the King met in the morning. If he is away on some mission, one of his messengers would meet the king instead of him. There was political intrigue all around. It was time to keep the eyes open. The king felt extremely vulnerable and insecure by the unexplained absence of Ramunny. He was his spy chief, confidant, and to top all, the only real friend he got. Poor Ramunny is fending off all the dangers for him. What would he do if something happened to him?

Ravi Varma woke up from his thoughts and saw Rama Panicker standing in front of him. He hadn't realized that time has passed so much, it was already time to meet his ministers.

“What Rama? I didn't see Ramunny today” The kings voice was loaded with anxiety.

“Eraan*, your majesty. You know that Ramunny didn't take leave yesterday..”

“Oh, didn't he? He was supposed to return in the evening.”

“Your command, majesty! He did start from there. But, he didn't reach the hut till the morning”

“Then? What happened, Rama? Tell me!”

“I venture, sire, this old mind thinks that he was attacked en route”

“Attacked? When? Where? Who?” The king was almost panicking.

“Eraan. At traveler's shack near Cherukara fields”

“When, Rama?”

“Last night, sire. Your servant doesn't know the time, as he ventures”

“Then what happened?”

“I venture, sire, this old mind thinks that he was taken away by the assailants”

“Taken away? Ramunny? Are you joking, Rama?”

“Your command, Sire! your servant will not joke to your majesty”

“What do we do, Rama? I can't figure anything!”

“I venture, sire, this old mind thinks that we should call the court and deliberate”

The king drifted into his thoughts with his gaze fixed down. Rama Panickar waited for his response.

“Everyone is waiting, Sire”

Rama Panickar's voice awoke the king from his thoughts. He arose from the bed and slowly walked out. Rama Panickar followed his lord, four feet behind as the custom. They proceeded to the court hall.

*The conversation happened in the customary formal language. What quoted is an approximate English translation.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 11:05 
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Folks,

I find that around 20+ readers are following this work here. It kind of agrees with what I had in mind. Not everyone likes period/historical stories.

This story just might end up being in malayalam in the future. Here is the above post in malayalam, for those who can read the script.

രാമുണ്ണി മേനോന്‍ ഒരിക്കലും ഇങ്ങനെ വൈകാറില്ല. തമ്പുരാന്‍ പള്ളിക്കുറുപ്പുണര്‍ന്നാല്‍, ആദ്യം കാണുന്നത് രാമുണ്ണി മേനോനെയാണ് പതിവ്. അഥവാ എന്തെങ്കിലും കാരണം കൊണ്ട് രാമുണ്ണി മേനോന്‍ ദൂര യാത്രയില്‍ ആണെങ്കില്‍, ദൂതന്മാര്‍ ആരെങ്കിലും മുഖം കാണിച്ച് വിവരങ്ങള്‍ തിരുമനസ്സറിയിക്കുന്ന പതിവുണ്ട്. ചുറ്റും ഗൂദ്ധാലോചനയുടെ അരങ്ങാണ്. കണ്ണ് നന്നായി തുറന്നിരിക്കേണ്ട കാലം. രാമുണ്ണി മേനോനെ കാണാത്തത് തമ്പുരാന് കുറച്ചൊന്നുമല്ല തിരുവുള്ളക്കേടുണ്ടാക്കിയത്. ചാര പ്രമുഖന്‍ എന്ന സ്ഥാനം മാത്രമല്ല, രാമുണ്ണി മേനോന്‍ ഒരു ഉറ്റ ചങ്ങാതി യും ഉപദേശകനും കൂടി ആയിരുന്നു തമ്പുരാന്. ആപത്തുകള്‍ അടുക്കാതെ കാക്കുന്നവനാണ് രാമുണ്ണി. അയാള്‍ക്ക് എന്തെങ്കിലും സംഭവിച്ചാല്‍ എന്തു ചെയ്യും എന്നു തമ്പുരാന് ഒരു രൂപവും ഇല്ല.

തമ്പുരാന്‍ ചിന്തകളില്‍ നിന്നും ഉണര്‍ന്നപ്പോള്‍ മുന്‍പില്‍ ഓഛാനിച്ച് നില്‍ക്കുന്ന രാമ പണിക്കരെ തൃക്കണ്‍ പാര്‍ത്തു. സമയം പോയത്തും, മന്ത്ര സഭ തുടങ്ങാറായതും തമ്പുരാന്‍ അറിഞ്ഞിരുന്നില്ല.

ന്താ, രാമാ, രാമുണ്ണിയെ ഇന്നു കണ്ടില്ല?
എറാന്‍, രാമുണ്ണി ഇന്നലെ വിടകൊണ്ടില്ലാന്ന് തിരുമനസ്സറിഞ്ഞിരിക്കും
വന്നില്യേ? ഇന്നലെ വൈകുന്നേരം വരേണ്ടതായിരുന്നൂലോ?
കല്പിച്ച്, ഇന്നലെ പുറപ്പെട്ടിട്ടുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. പക്ഷേ രാവിലെ വരെ കുപ്പാട്ടിലെത്തീട്ടില്യ.
അതുവ്വോ? എന്താ പറ്റീത്, രാമാ? പറയൂ.
വെടോണ്ട്, വഴിയില്‍ ആരോ ആക്രമിച്ചൂന്ന്പഴമനസ്സില്‍ തോന്നണു
ആക്രമിച്ചുവോ? ആര്? എപ്പോള്‍? എവിടെ?
എറാന്‍, ചെറുകര പാടത്തിന്റെ കരയില്‍ വഴിയമ്പലത്തില്‍ വച്ചാണ്
എപ്പോഴേ, രാമാ?
കഴിഞ്ഞ രാത്രി. സമയം അടിയന്‌ നിശ്ശല്യ, വെടോണ്ട്.
എന്നിട്ടെന്താ ഉണ്ടായത്?
ആക്രമിച്ചവര്‍ ബന്ധിച്ചുകൊണ്ടുപോയീ, എന്നാണ്‌ പഴമനസ്സില്‍ തോന്നണത്.
ബന്ധിക്കയോ? രാമുണ്ണിയേയോ? നേരമ്പോക്കു പറയാതെ, രാമാ!
കല്പിച്ച്, അടിയന്‍ തിരുമുമ്പില്‍ നേരമ്പോക്ക് ഉണര്‍ത്തിക്കാറില്ല.
ഇനീപ്പോ എന്താ ചെയ്യുക, രാമാ, എനിക്കൊന്നും തോന്നണില്ല.
വെടോണ്ട്, മന്ത്ര സഭ കൂടി ആലോചിക്കാം എന്നാണ്‌ പഴമനസ്സില്‍ തോന്നണത്.

തമ്പുരാന്‍ തലകുനിച്ച് അല്‍പ്പ സമയം ഇരുന്നു. തിരുവുള്ളം കാത്ത് രാമ പണിക്കര്‍ ക്ഷമയോടെ നിന്നു.

വെടോണ്ട്, എല്ലാവരും എത്തീട്ടുണ്ട്.

രാമ പണിക്കരുടെ ശബ്ദം തമ്പുരാനെ ചിന്തകളില്‍ നിന്നും ഉണര്‍ത്തി. സപ്രമഞ്ചത്തില്‍ നിന്നും എഴുന്നേറ്റ് സാവധാനം പുറത്തേക്ക് നടന്നു. നിയമേനയുള്ള നാലടി വിട്ട് രാമ പണിക്കരും തന്റെ തമ്പുരാനെ മന്ത്ര ശലയിലേക്ക് അനുഗമിച്ചു.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 11:12 
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^^ Please keep it in English onlee. Iam following it and I do not know Malayalam


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 11:21 
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Dileep wrote:
Folks,

I find that around 20+ readers are following this work here. It kind of agrees with what I had in mind. Not everyone likes period/historical stories.

This story just might end up being in malayalam in the future. Here is the above post in malayalam, for those who can read the script.


saarze, i am Malayalam challenged, and i follow your post, please do not deny me the pleasure.
TIA.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 11:41 
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Location: Dera Mahab Ali धरा महाबलिस्याः درا مهاب الي
What comes to BRF will be in English onlee. I posted a snippet just for kicks.

Remember. This is a 'mirror to the past'. The mirror only 'reflects'. It doesn't generate any vision. All it can do is, distort or modify the vision. Of course, if all you have is the vision through the mirror, you can be ignorant of the fact that it is a reflection, and take the vision for real.

In that case, ie if you remove the element of 'reflection', what you see is a historical romance in malayalam. I painfully realize that it is a tough job to tell what I have in mind via the english language, given the background is totally historic Kerala, where the characters think and act in malayalam.

But that is applicable only for the 'reflection'. That is the dilemma I have.

So, at some point of time in the future, I might take the 'reflection' and make it into a malayalam novel. It may not come to BRF, because of the limited audience here.

So, time being, enjoy the 'reflection' described in an inadequate language.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 12:43 
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you gone completely nuts ? :eek:


Last edited by Rahul M on 22 Jan 2010 18:42, edited 1 time in total.
edit.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 12:49 
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Dileep wrote:

In that case, ie if you remove the element of 'reflection', what you see is a historical romance in malayalam. I painfully realize that it is a tough job to tell what I have in mind via the english language, given the background is totally historic Kerala, where the characters think and act in malayalam.

So, time being, enjoy the 'reflection' described in an inadequate language.


I will take the liberty of
1) Saying I told you so by copy pasting the above in my CLJ (comman language jihad) thread
2) Act paki like by promising to harass you if my entitlement of taking pleasure from your stories is denied to me

:P

Common script/common language zindabad....


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 13:01 
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wot is this with BRfitese now a days!?
am getting my head spinning in a dizzy regularly these days.
Saarze, what have read, here in the North people think and
act in similar fashion, despair not, Anglais is perfectly understandable.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 16:49 
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Location: Dera Mahab Ali धरा महाबलिस्याः درا مهاب الي
The court hall was well occupied. All the ministers, except the prime minister and the spy chief, on whose behalf this extraordinary meeting was called, were absent. With the due respect for the place, the conversations were mainly whispers. Something like this has never happened in the state, even to the memory of Sankaran Nair, the oldest. No one really had any idea on how to proceed. Even though many of them thought in the lines of 'good riddance', that feeling was not even expressed in the whispers.

“I would say, Nediyirippu has something to do with it”, ventured Koma Kurup, the army chief and head of kalari, to Sanku Warrier, accountant. Most of Koma Kurup's life had been spent in fighting, or preparing to fight Nediyirippu, and his feelings for that neighbouring kingdom was well known.

“Nediyirippu has no reason to go against Ramunny. If it were you that had gone missing, I would have suspected them”. The sarcasm of the accountant is well known, so Kurup just smiled it away, and put the question back to Warrier.

“Then what do you think happened?”

“I see a British hand in it.” Sanku had no doubt.

“Why do you think that way?” Asked Kurup.

“I don't know. The 'mlechhas' will do evil things for no reason”. Sanku looked for an escape, as he had no data to back him hp.

“What with the mlechhas?” Chathara Menon, the minister for commerce and infrastructure butted in.

“Sanku Warrier here was telling that the British 'mlechhas' might be involved in Ramunny's disappearance. Explained Koma Kurup.

“They may be 'mlechhas' but the British will not do such a thing” Chathara Menon said with an un necessary fervor.

“The commerce minister should know. He always deals with them.” Commented Kumaran Nair, the city sheriff.

“Yes, they are traders, and it is my job to deal with them. The majesty give me my perks for that.” Chathara Menon added.

“Of course, and not to forget the ivory jewel chest gifted by Bradley Sahib”. Kumaran Nair said. The acid in his voice was barely concealed.

“What Bradly Sahib gave, I immediately submitted to His Majesty. It was the majesty who gifted it to me.”

“That is true” Sanku Warier intervened. “I was there at the audience. Bradley Sahib gave it to The Majesty, and he gifted it to the minister”

“Punya comes to the source of the offering”, isn't it? Quipped Appunni Kaimal, the palace administrator.

“What did the palace administrator mean?” Chathara Menon indignantly asked.

“I didn't mean nothing, lord. I just said a proverb” Appunni Kaimal, who was much younger than the others, bowed out of the conflict.

The whispering suddenly stopped, as they saw the slumpy figure of Rama Panicker walk down the verandah. They knew that the king will be arriving soon. There was a scramble to spit out the pan they were chewing, and also to adjust their attires. All of them stood at their respective positions and waited for the arrival in silence.

Rama Panicker came in, stepping over the raised threshold with some effort. Even though he was not chewing pan then, he gargled and spat into the receptacle. He walked to his assigned seat and stood there, like his colleagues.

In a few minutes, Ravi Varma and Adithya Varma walked in through the rear entrance. The ministers saluted the royals in the formal way, and the royals sat down on their thrones. The ministers too assumed their seats, which were padded mats on the floor.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 16:49 
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Location: Dera Mahab Ali धरा महाबलिस्याः درا مهاب الي
Admins, can we take this out of the burqua yet?


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 18:07 
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^^ Sanku eh? :wink:


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 18:43 
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Dileep wrote:
Admins, can we take this out of the burqua yet?

yes, why not.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 21:18 
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Dileep the pre-delibrations look like a BRF thread!


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 21:49 
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Dileep sir, from ur 3rd post itself i could make out the malabar background of the story and made me remember the likes of superhit and classic mammootty starrer movie "Oru Vadakkan Veera Gadha". I totally agree with u the fact that u might not be able to give life and originality to the characters of this story in any other language. But in a forum like this where people from different states visit and some have already become fans of yours, the "malayalam" move would be pretty unpopular :(. Sir, so it would be advisable to continue writing in english and if possible post the malayalam version in a seperate blog which malayalees like me can read with maximum pleasure & satisfaction.:D.
'' Ee novel thudarnum vayikanam ennu agraham ullathukondanu angane paranjathu. Allenkil chilarude reply kandu sir ithu niruthikalayumo enna pediyum und. :!: ''


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 22:14 
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Some of us can post links to Kerala history and culture of that period so there is conncetivity.


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2010 23:10 
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Dileep chetta.. awesome story.... Accept your point that you cannot truly and fully express the feelings of the characters in any other language apart from malayalam... If you want and can, for those of us who can understand malayalam but cannot read the script, you could use the english script and still use the malayalam words for the flow... It would ensure both a wider audience and the true and full communication of the emotions involved...


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