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Excerpts from a Novel I'm writing

These are some excerpts from my untitled big project. A novel about an imaginary island, mired in civil wars, poverty, murders and all. I intend it to be a Philosophical novel.

                                                                            1

It was an autumn night. The inert street lamps of siqandar city stood like silent spectators of imminent doom. The wind was blowing carrying unknown melancholia, probably singing a hymn of death. Everything was silent, enmeshed in the never-ending loop of inexplicable sadness. Houses, which stood like soapboxes always led to those alleyways where light and darkness had played hide and seek.

And Maria Rosario stood alone in that silence, killed by two bullets which had pierced her heart straight away, completely shutting out her existence from this weary earth, by an unknown masked man.

                                                                          2

On the very next day, the Dharma Desh Sentinel had a sensational story on its front page-

“Journalist killed by unknown men-: The sad plight of democracy in Dharmadesh”

Colonel Azad Qaramat was just out of his daily nap when he heard his wife and prominent NGO worker in Siqandar, Asiya, speak in hushed tones.

“ Most probably those Eastern Separatists would be having a role in her murder. Very sad indeed”

Qaramat pondered a while about the implications of this would be having on the never-ending war that has been waged by the Dharmadeshi army and the Eastern people.

                                                                           3

Molay Velzon looked at the misty hills and heaved a sigh. “ The war has ravaged my soul,” He thought. Sometimes thoughts are like stinging poisonous arrows, which could pierce deeper into the unknown recesses of your soul, bleeding you permanently.

The Province of Atamia has nothing now. Only burned houses and broken dreams….. The city of Cyrcano had been the cradle of the Atamian civilization once, frequented by bullock carts where drivers sat in their lazy manner, cracked jokes about prostitutes who happened to pass by, and also saul singers, whose lyrics meandered around separation and longing. That was in the past only.

Molay’s father was the chieftain of the Jingano tribe, who are famed for their fearlessness. They all wear a turban with a cuckoo’s face drawn on it and always carry a sword known as ‘ tinkhiri’. When he was a child, his father used to tell him stories about his forefathers, who ruled their kingdom with an iron fist.  Everything seemed perfect then, sort of a welfare state,

                                                                        4

Atmanand Pinglay, the prime minister has a chequered life. Educated at Eton and then at Oxford, Atmanand spent some time in the African Jungles, studying the folk cultures there. Once he even got wounded while the Second Congo War had been waging on, rescued by an elderly chieftain, who affectionately called him ‘Atto’ thereafter. Son of a well to do corn merchant, with so many lands in the Eastern and western provinces, Atmanand was born with a silver spoon. Precocious, with an innate curiosity and passion for learning languages, he was taught Greek only to be followed by German, French and Italian. By the age of 20, he had been through many classics, making him an adept in the field of Philosophy. He was particularly attracted by Marcus Aurelius and Cicero.

                                                                                   4

David McKenzie was born to a Boer trekking guide in Transvaal.  He had had a tough upbringing, ridden with poverty and consecutive academic failures.  He had trekked all over the Drakensberg mountains when he was a child,  He had been incompetent all his life, with his poisonous inferiority complex bringing him down. He tried many jobs, only to be rejected by many who subconsciously understood his incompetence, so he worked as a car washer, Pastry cook and even as a sailor. It could be said that all of these experiences had enriched his inner core, though he hadn’t become a toughie like James Roberts, he became someone different.

Mckenzie heard about Dharmadesh from a colleague,  Asadullah, who had been with him during a  trip to Malacca. He had been told that a group of mercenaries are preparing for an attack on the Eastern port capital city of Atamia, Cyrcano, on the orders of  Willaim Thomas, head of a mercenary company called Blueline inc, on the request of Atmanand Pinglay, the honoured prime minister of Dharmadesh. Mckenzie, charmed by the stories, agreed to be a part of the project, straight away.

                                                                       5

Chatur Dwivedi heard about the country of Dharmadesh from his grandfather’s stories. His grandfather was a civil servant, working in the Imperial Civil Service. Those were the days when the British had the world in their palms, and he travelled a lot. During one of his sojourns he alighted on the magic land called Dharmadesh, and it made him write a treatise, modelled on Sir William More’s Utopia. Those times, Dharmadesh , ruled by King Chandra Varma, had reached the Zenith of its civilization.  Surrounded by golden tombs on which the kings had deposited priceless time capsules Siqander glowed in the glory of its pinnacle. The rule of the day was democracy, albeit not compatible with today’s version of it, the Empire was divided into several ‘padas’, each ruled by a ‘ gamatya’ ( Governor), and further divided into districts ( Mukala ), and again divided into ‘ Mandalas’ (  sub-districts ) each ruled by eminent personalities chosen by the highest hierarchy.

                                                                  6

Maria Rosario had only one dream- To write about her beautiful country. She had been a voracious dreamer since her childhood, digging into the likes of Henry James, Virginia Wolf, Sylvia Plath Hemingway, Conrad etc.  She often used to identify with the Esther, the protagonist of the Plath’snovel- The Bell jar. Daughter of a prominent NGO Worker in Azad Nagar, the second biggest city in Dharmadesh, she did her schooling at the famous Lavonia Convent,  Situated in the suburbs of the Siqandar city. There she once published a poem about Sadanand Pinglay, the founding father of Dharmadesh during her School days. That poem was named as ‘ The red rose’.  She later studied in the famed Chandravarma University, securing a gold medal in arts. There she fell in love with Shamit Seth, son of a well-to-do merchant, who had been her senior. He ditched her soon, plunging her into a never-ending cycle of depression. She recovered well by reading the Upanishads, especially the Kathopanishad. The story of Yama and Nachiketa had found a place in her heart and there started her search for the ultimate truth.

She started to write about the mining mafia, pillaging the people of Atamia of their treasure troves. Soon she started getting death threats, but she relentlessly pursued her quest for truth.

It all ended on that fateful day.

Confusion- Stefan Zweig

This is a small but gripping work from Stefan Zweig, one of the greatest writers to have emerged from Austria, and an underrated one, mostly to those who are familiar to his oeuvre.  Stefan Zweig, with his indomitable style, has written this small novella beautiful.

Roland, a handsome, vivacious university student who loathes anything related to arts, much to the consternation of his refined father who venerates literature.  Due to his persistent nagging finally Roland yields and joins a course in English in the bustling city of Berlin.

As in the case of any provincial youth, Roland finds himself in the company of women and all the pleasure such a city has to offer. He feels liberated and born anew but soon everything comes to a halt as his father comes out of the blue to take a sneak peek at his son’s Berlin life. Caught red-handed, that too with a girl inside his room, Roland, with tears in his eyes understands that he has to go back and obey his father. His act of repentance takes him to a remote town, away from the cozy Berlin, and there he happens to meet a man, the man who, will, change his life forever.

This novella is all about Roland and his boyish admiration of this genius, a man who has devoted his entire life for the studying of classics and Roland starts reading a lot and strangely falls in love with this father figure.  Professor, with many shades is an interesting character. He loves the boy and at the same time torments him and the boy finds his personality marvelous and brutal at the same time. He tries to understand him but often gets pushed away in the most brutal manner.

Roland helps him in one of his dream projects and soon realizes he will not be able to understand his personality in its completeness.  Tortured and tormented he complains to the wife of his master and soon that becomes a shameful affair, plunging Roland in to the murky waters of guilt and shame.

The novella ends when he realizes that the Professor has an erotic side, that he always pushed his student away in order to hide that.  Unable to conform to the norms of the society, this man, a homosexual, gets denigrated and brutalized by almost everyone until he meets the boy.  Roland feels sympathy for him but his confusion makes him almost numb.

Years later, Roland, now a distinguished professor, opens up about this strange love which had once bloomed in his life even unknown to him.  He never saw his professor again, and still remains as an enigma to him.

This must have been a revolutionary attempt, considering the era when it was first published. Stefan Zweig, one of the towering figures in the European literature, has written this novella in an aesthetically perfect way. Zweig was a genius and this novel again proves his virtuosity.